Casey and Connor are just about 2 weeks away from being 3! THREE! How did the time go by so quickly? And because my miracle men are turning 3 we are getting ready to embark on a new adventure- Preschool. Uggh. Don't mistake my uggh for anything other than my disbelief that my little babies are now not so little and are ready to take their first steps toward their futures.
I am thrilled, so far, with the school where they will be going. It is just a few blocks from our home and it is a wonderful program where up to 3/4 of the students in their class will have some form of disability or delay and the remaining 1/4 will be typically developing. It is likely that some of the children in their class will be with them in elementary school and they will be comfortable with the boys and the boys with them. Their teachers seem wonderful and caring and the therapists and their assistants all seem fantastic as well. I know that they will thrive.
I am still sad. Not for them- solely for myself. My babies will now be out there in the world without me for about 12 hours a week. They will encounter other adults and children. I have to trust that everyone they meet will be kind and caring and I have to trust that they will be safe. This is especially difficult given that the boys are non-verbal and we have to rely on their moods, gestures and occasional temper tantrums to decipher their wants and needs. My stomach is in knots but I just keep praying that God will watch over my babies and that the school district has done their jobs and hired and contracted the best people for the job. Having faith is easy on paper (or computer screen) but in the dark of night when I am laying in my bed unable to sleep it is a different animal altogether.
Which brings me to my biggest issue I am having lately. Having 3 kids is a lot of work. Having 3 kids under the age of 3 is a bigger challenge and having 3 children who are all unable to communicate at this point is by far the biggest challenge I have ever faced. Casey and Connor are essentially non-verbal. They have a few signs they can use when prompted but rarely do they do so spontaneously. They can sign milk, more, eat, cracker, cereal and fish (which is for both the actual fish and the delicious cracker version). If something hurts them or they are tired or frustrated or sad or bored they have no way to let us know. They get frustrated that we aren't figuring out their wants and needs immediately and then they throw themselves on the floor and cry or throw toys over the baby gate into the kitchen or hit one another or the baby. They only act out when they need or want something and I have to be honest- it is extremely frustrating.
|Connor Thomas in meltdown mode. Good times!!|
If you have never been in a situation where you have ZERO idea what someone wants or needs and they just cry and scream or hit you or their sibling you can't truly understand what I am saying. It makes you feel like an inadequate parent, it makes ME feel like a complete and utter failure. And it frustrates me which makes me feel worse because I don't want to be *that* mom. The mom that wishes the day would be over so she can put her kids in bed and close the door and BREATHE. I LOVE my babies- I don't want to wish away their childhoods.
I adore my children. I would give my very heart and soul to be able to protect them and ensure that they have everything they need. To not know what they want or need kills me. I didn't realize what a big problem this was until the other night when Connor fell down the stairs. At first, we thought he was just shaken up and didn't immediately see anything wrong with him. We put him in the bathtub and it was not until I went to wash his hair that I saw the gash on his head. He was bleeding- not badly but bleeding nonetheless- and we took him to the ER where he got 2 stitches to close a wound that went all the way down to his skull. I felt like the biggest failure, completely incompetent as a parent. Had Connor had a way to tell me he was hurt, I could have attended to his needs immediately. Instead it was just luck that I saw it and I feel ill when I consider what could have happened had it not been bath night and had we not gotten his head closed up before it got infected.
This communication gap we have is becoming a bigger problem than I wish to admit. On the days when I am alone all day not only can the boys not tell me what they want they don't always grasp what I need them to understand when there is no one else here to help me keep them safe- don't sit on the baby, no climbing on the table, don't hit the dog, please, for the love of God- don't throw your milk again because it explodes all over the floor and I have already mopped it up twice already! Then I get frustrated and I feel like I want to rip my hair out or cry. Sometimes I do both. And then I feel like an awful mother for not keeping my shit together. It's quite the cycle!
I don't complain about our lives much. I have so much to be thankful for and so little to be sad about but I have to admit- it is really difficult caring for children who do not speak. It's difficult to gauge what they understand and what they don't. At one evaluation the estimated cognitive age level for the boys was about 18 months. Imagine having a child with the energy and the will of a 3 year old with the understanding of an 18 month old. It can be trying. And you have to know I feel like a supreme jerk for writing these words. I do. I just don't know how to help and I am so tired of not knowing what to do to help them understand or to help them tell us what they need and want. I feel like I am letting them down. I *am* letting them down. And that is my biggest issue- I am failing my sons and that just breaks my heart in a way that I can't express.
|Casey with a bite mark on his back from Connor.|
Set aside the fact that in 3 years of being a mother I have never been called mom or mommy or mama by my children, that I have never heard the words I love you from them- those are painful things but in the grand scheme of things they are not that important. I would give ANYTHING to know what the boys want and need. I would do ANYTHING to help them. We have been going to speech therapy every week for over a year and they can now make awesome animal sounds but those sounds are not yet translating into anything we can use to make their lives better. I have faith that eventually they will but as of yet, they are not.
I think at this point I am going to end this rambling nonsense. I feel like I am bitching about the two most incredible little boys I know but please, PLEASE know that is not my intention. I am just trying to survive the toddler years. I needed to get all that out of my head and onto a screen where I can come and reread it later to see that while we have numerous blessings there are some challenges and that it's okay for me to feel overwhelmed at times. I have to trust that God didn't give me more than I can deal with- that He knew I would figure it out. I just haven't yet. I just keep praying hard for patience and gentleness and then I pray for forgiveness when I screw up- which is often. I hope that my boys can forgive my many shortcomings and just know with no doubt that I love them more than my own life and that my frustration is not with them but with my own inability to help.
Thanks for reading my therapy posts. If you have experienced these feelings and wish to share, please do so. I think it helps to know you are not alone and I KNOW there are other parents on this journey who read this blog who either ARE feeling this way or have felt this way. Can anyone out there offer any insight? Comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org