Four reasons to be a fully proud Mum


Some days I feel kind of sad.

It hurts me that other children laugh at my children. At their mispronunciation. At her dyslexia. That they mistake their quietness for weakness and use it to knock down their confidence and reduce their self-esteem.

I feel tearful when I think of a whole family that has rejected them and I wonder if, I alone, representing my side am actually enough.

My heart weighs heavy in my chest as I watch him struggle through one overwhelming situation after another and as I watch her drag her exhausted body out of bed and into another difficult day.

Life can be so tough.

◊◊◊

Some days I feel screamingly angry.

Why do we collect illnesses and disorders like others collect fine art, postage stamps or old coins?

Why is so much expected of us, even though it’s clear that we cannot deliver?

Why do we always have to wait so long, in waiting rooms, for diagnoses, and for support?

Why oh why can’t I be: stronger, fitter, less tired, more patient, more flexible, calmer, more at peace, more confident, better at German, tidier, less stubborn, more stubborn, more understanding and less angry?

Why, sometimes, could I just not give a damn?

Life can be a fucking challenge.

◊◊◊

Other days, like today, I feel heart-swellingly proud.

You see, today is the last school day and today each one of my four children brought home their report card and looked at me with eyes filled with anticipation.

The autistic/ADHD/OCD one, (that’s the one that yesterday, had a meltdown at his sister’s school festival – because there was too much noise and too many people – and, the day before, had a meltdown – because I went to town and I only got home as the storm was starting, thus I might have been injured – and on Saturday, took a meltdown in the wine shop – because it could be that he would knock over a glass bottle and break it and also because there was just far too much glass all around) waved at me not only a card but also a certificate. The certificate clearly certifies that this, named young man, the one with all those difficulties, achieved the highest grades in the whole class.

We drove together to pick up his little sister. Him beaming and waving his award under my nose, me congratulating and attempting to look for endangering traffic.

The little one has just completed first grade. It’s not been the easiest year. She can’t understand her brother’s meltdowns. And there are times when having two impulsive ADHD siblings is a somewhat hair-raising adventure.
Being bullied by a couple of girls from her class hasn’t helped matters at all. Plus despite her making me espressos on a regular basis, the sensitive little soul notices that I am still tired.
To top it all she added asthma to her medical records. And like us all, lived through a recent family member’s suicide.

That little one, won’t be graded until next year, but her report rang in songs of praise. Praise in English. Praise in Maths. Praise in Music, in Sport, in politeness, in orderliness (which must be mentioned because it is an absolute first on any report card ever crossing this threshold) and in general behaviour; the only real criticism was her being a little shy.

Hallelujah! Praise the (fast growing) number four!

Now. I’ll be honest and tell you, the other two weren’t the best reports I’ve ever seen. But I expected that.

And I was still proud.

Because my eldest daughter, she’s still at school, but she’s 19. And she’s got one further year to go. It’s a different system, you see. She’s restless and yes, in this coming final year, she needs to buckle down. But she knows that. And I can see just how capable she is. She sings stunningly, in her school choir, at all the concerts, at events, even in old people’s homes and a few weeks ago she stood up and sang at that family funeral to comfort all of us. All alone. Just her and her voice. No music. Nothing. She was nervous, but she did it and I cried a pocketful of proud tears.
She’s in the school drama group and a few weeks ago she performed her socks off for her audience. Which, naturally, included me. And she has two jobs. You read correctly. Two jobs. I know a few high school kids who have one job. But if I’m honest, not many. But my biggest little girl reliably works two.

Actually, she’s not my biggest little girl. She’s my eldest little girl. The biggest is my second eldest… It might be a genetic thing. My second toe is longer than my ‘big’ toe. Perhaps it has something to do with that…

So my tallest child looked somewhat forlorn as she handed me her report card. She’s the one who’s a perfectionist but also has really bad dyslexia, and ADHD, with a hefty dose of depression thrown in.

Her year has been spent trying to find rays of sunshine on mainly overcast and rainy days.

I am incredibly proud of her because I know that she has torn herself out of bed each and every day. That, despite feeling lost and lonely, she entered her classroom and gave all that she could give at that time. I am ferociously proud because she relentlessly climbed on a bus and trudged through therapy every single week.

And I’m impressed because on top of all that she continued as a school first aider and voluntary fire-girl (along with her brother, though obviously, he’s a fire-boy) and she learned lines and acted her socks off with her sister in the aforementioned school play.

I’m in awe that she not only managed to pass every single subject, but in some she even managed to get good grades.

To each and every one of my children:

I can see you
I can hear you
I love you
And you make me so proud!
Thank you!

Life can be bloody emotional!

 

 

 

 

 

26 thoughts on “Four reasons to be a fully proud Mum”

  1. I can feel your pride and love through your words, Sarah, and I’m proud with you. You have awesome kids, who will make it through life, with you supporting them wherever and whenever they need it. Wow! x

  2. Obstacles build character, compassion, generosity of spirit and strength…

    Your children may not have it easy but I think that you will find that throughout life they will be the truest of friends, steadfast of partners and they will deeply value and support others like themselves who they recognise have also had to struggle for every little victory.

    Teaching them to be proud of the little things, hard won and much valued is something to be proud of indeed.

    Emotional indeed… I feel it in your words, your heart is on the page, Take strength and carry on, one day at a time, you (all of you) are going in the right direction.
    Be proud, you all deserve it !

    1. It’s times like these when it really hits you, that all the hard work and the energy you put in is paying off.

      You always want your children to have a good life, but actually you are right, obstacles are character building.
      I always think that it’s important to teach our children to take pleasure from the small things in life. When things are difficult it’s the little things that give enjoyment or take the pressure out of the moment.

      Thank you kiwidutch for all your wise words.

  3. I have been missing out on so much here. Thank you for visiting my site and thank you so much for who you are and for the children you are raising. My youngest daughter has 3 of 4 that have a mixture of ADHD, OCD and….well, there is something else but my memory fails me. They all did well in school this year (not ‘A’s but well as you have said) and my daughter was pleased. My second oldest was ADHD (ahhh! now I remember Oppositional Deviant) as is my daughter’s oldest girl but she is also emotionally delayed as well. In any case, I did not know what my son’s problem was so many years ago now and it was always something new every day. I commend you and admire that you still have all the hairs on your head (I am assuming you do) and that your kids have such a wonderful and loving mum. Take care.

    1. You are welcome.
      It’s hard to remember all the diagnoses isn’t it?
      Sometimes it’s good to get a diagnoses, put a name to it, look it up, see what’s wrong. Know it’s not your fault as a parent. But I often feel like a hit a wall: I have the diagnosis, finally, but no one can give me advice on how to deal with it. Especially with all the autism stuff, they just tell me that they don’t know themselves how to help him. That’s really tough. He also has OCD. It’s interesting that a lot of these disorders go hand in hand quite often.
      I read up on Oppositional Deviant years ago because it was one of the diagnoses I thought might come up – that’s a really tough one Renee. At that time we were also told that he showed signs of developing, now I’ve forgotten what it’s called… It’s not personality disorder, but something like that… Anyway, possibilities included bipolar and schizophrenia.
      Thank you Renee for your lovely comments and telling me about your family.
      I still have hair – but my husband told me recently that his is starting to fall out! I must have been too tired to notice!!

  4. I only have one child, and so I am always amazed at how large families cope. You mothers of multiple children must have some secret reserve of hutzpah I can’t even imagine.

    My daughter is 9 now, and for the last school year she lived with her dad and her step mom who’s a pediatrician. For most of her childhood she was unruly, abnormally energetic, late to communicate and totally out of touch with the world around her. It was frustrating, awkward and depressing. I couldn’t get anyone to listen to me when I’d say how difficult things were. The teachers at the public school would tell me she had issues behaving and doing her work, but I couldn’t get any help. Referrals and doctors visits always ended up as dead ends and I felt that there must be something wrong with me as a mom.

    Now it turns out her step mom got her through some specialists down in their neck of the woods, perhaps using her doctor connections made a difference, and the spud’s been labeled as having ADHD and some math learning disabilities. There’s this vague “she’s a little emotionally delayed” business too, but still, even with the “diagnosis” I’m not sure we’ve really accounted for the whole of her difficulties and it’s still hard to have what we perceive to be a normal parent child relationship.

    As hard as it’s been, I cannot imagine adding a foreign language barrier to the mix and 3 more children besides. So, I honor you for your perseverance and am not one bit surprised if you feel tired and frustrated at times. Your post brought bittersweet tears to my eyes, and I couldn’t help but feel that you are an inspiration to us all in keeping your eye on the silver lining within the storm clouds.

    I am sorry to hear you refer to your recent tragic loss. My condolences to your whole family, and my congratulations for the grace and loving support your family showed during this tragedy.

    Sorry for the long comment, but your openness and your story touched me and I couldn’t resist sharing.

    Best wishes to you always,
    Janie

    1. Never be sorry for a long comment, I’m always pleased by them!

      It isn’t always easy having a large family (the volume of washing would make most people’s hair curl, I suspect) but I think that when all the children are healthy it’s not such a big deal. You need to be strict and at least semi-organised and that’s about it.
      But as soon as you have one who’s unhealthy (whether from a bug or a disorder) life becomes tough to balance. Two of my children have ADHD so that’s challenging.

      Thank you for sharing with me about Spud. I’ve commonly come across the misconception that ADHD is a diagnosis thrown at every child that doesn’t conform or fidgets in class and tablets are handed out like sweets. In my experience that wasn’t the case at all. Like you, I went to doctor after doctor trying to find out what the heck was wrong with my son. I banned sugar – no difference. I banned TV – no difference. I was extremely strict – didn’t work. I was lax – didn’t work. He just got worse and worse and worse. Finally, a doctor diagnosed him but gave him supplements and that made no difference. Then he was given homeopathic medicine which made no difference. At that point he himself asked his doctor (as she changed the homeopathic prescription yet again) “What if this one too doesn’t make me feel better?”
      She LAUGHED and said she had so many different types of Globuli (that’s the little round homeopathic balls) that she could keep trying them out on him until he was 16!!
      To let you understand at that point my son: had had to resit a school year, was starting to be really aggressive because he was so frustrated, was constantly running away from school, had been at the hospital several times due to impulsive accidents, hardly slept, was under pressure from school to go to a school for difficult children (which is like a prison), was starting fires, was constantly putting his own life in danger, couldn’t fill out a worksheet (the list goes on and on).

      So we went to another doctor and she tried him on a specialised ADHD medication and the difference was INCREDIBLE. But it didn’t last so we went through another bunch of doctors, a lot of medication and finally, last year (when he was 13) they found the right combination of medication for him. That medication though, naturally doesn’t help the autistic part.

      My daughter took until she was 15 to get a diagnosis, despite me going to many different doctors and therapists. She has to this day never been offered any medication. But she finally now gets ADHD training (started this year).

      I think you really have to know the right people to get proper help, or be extremely lucky. It is such a battle.

      The whole time you are questioning your own parenting skills and other people are questioning them too.

      I’m glad Spud’s step mum has been able to use her connections to get her a diagnosis. I hope you can accept that none of this happened because you are a bad mum, it just happened. I understand completely what you are referring to “it’s still hard to have what we perceive to be a normal parent child relationship”.
      I hope that now with the diagnosis, she can get real help and support and in turn you can get real help and support.

      Thank you for all of your lovely comments, they are much appreciated.

      1. Hello! It was good to hear back from you. In case you were wondering, I do feel like I’ve come to terms with the fact that what the Spud is going through is not due to me being a bad mother. Although it broke my heart and was a very difficult thing to do, sending her to live with her dad and step mom helped a lot, but not perhaps in the way most people might think. Having her live 24-7 with other people taught me and others that it wasn’t me being difficult and whiny, that she had a problem no matter where she lived, and that she really did have a problem not brought on by any lack of adequate parenting on my behalf. Curious how so many people were just ready to point the blame at me instead of believing the spud, who is a beautiful little girl and can be quite charming when she wants to be, was the problem, or more accurately, has a problem.

        And, when in comes to silver linings, I have a unique one. I fortunately have a pretty good relationship with my ex and his new wife. They have never blamed me for any of the spud’s issues; the guilt and blame always came from other quarters.

        Anyway, thanks for your ear. I hope that things are going well over in your corner of the world.

        Best wishes.

      2. Sorry that I have taken so long to reply, life is especially mad at the moment.
        It’s interesting that you write that Spud can be so charming. Has it often happened to you that some people cannot see a problem at all? While others, see a child that they can find nothing positive in? That has definitely been the case for me.
        I’m so glad to hear that you have a good relationship with your ex and his wife. That is truly wonderful, I’m sure it helps Spud a lot too.

  5. I’m a little late but I still want to congratulate your four amazing kids for the efforts and accomplishments. And congratulate you for taking care of four busy kids every single day. That would make me tired too, no matter how much caffeine I’d ingest. I hope you’re enjoying a great, relaxing summer with your family. It looks like you deserve it, for many reasons.

    1. I’m sorry for not replying sooner!! Thank you so much!! I really appreciate your comment!!! We spent part of our summer in Scotland which was really therapeutic for all of us. I felt a bit out of sorts when we returned, missing friends and my own culture.

      Thanks again!!

      1. Not since 2010. I’d love to go but there are many reasons why it may not be as fun as we’d like. Plus I want to take them to places and make sure they’re old enough to remember. And it’s very, very expensive to fly there and then rent a car. I can spend a third of that on a 2-week vacation in the US…

      2. I know what you mean. We haven’t been back altogether for many years as it’s not affordable. Plus for you it’s a really long flight, especially for the boys.

      3. Wow that’s long!!! I’m not a happy flier so I wouldn’t cope with that so well! Visiting family and old friends is lovely but tiring too! Moving would make a big difference. So big changes could be ahead for you!

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