I remember going to do my glucose test three years ago when I was pregnant with Daniel. I recall this one mom bringing in her toddler to also have his blood drawn. The nurse took them in and – with a little of bit fussing – managed to complete the task on time. She thanked the phlebotomist and headed out. The phlebotomist then ushered me in and immediately started to make fun of the mother.
“He’s still in diapers, can you believe that?” she said while shaking her head and sticking the needle into my vein. “What is that mom doing? He’s about four and still in diapers. That’s a damn shame.”
“Yeah, she should know better,” I said with an awkward grin. In truth, I wasn’t sure why she was even mocking this woman with me. Maybe she was a first time mom just like me doing her best to raise her little boy. And yet I sat and listened as this professional mocked the woman for not having her son trained out of diapers.
Looking back, I wish I had spoken up and said something in her defense. But seeing as I was not even a mom yet, I didn’t know what to say.
That was the moment when my anxiety kicked in and the fear raising mine sunk in. The fear of judgment on how I raise my child.
Daniel is about to turn three next month and enjoying all the things about summer so far. Next month we plan to celebrate with a few friends and family. I’m both excited and worried at the same time about it for a few reasons. One is because my son is TURNING THREE! That means for three years I have been doing the deed of being a parent. Somehow.
The other reason is because of a problem I have known about for a while: his speech delay. He doesn’t speak sentences like I imagine most children do at his age. He doesn’t communicate with us his wants or needs. He knows how to show us what he wants and he understands a little of what we say, but he doesn’t know how to speak to us. His vocabulary is small and most of it is just echoing what we say.
Many moms say this seems to be normal for boys in general. Others say that their kids have some sort of delayed something so its natural. I plan to get him evaluated and do all the necessary steps to see about getting that fixed.
Some tend to sympathize with me since they are either in the same boat themselves. Others have been encouraging, supportive, and offered excellent ideas or suggestions.
But then there are some who have offered thoughts that tend to be more critical than supportive. While I don’t expect everyone to understand when I seek out help or vent, it tends to kick my fears into overdrive. Sometimes it’s not even because of verbal or written communication to others. It can be a look from a parent at the store when my son is having a tantrum. It can be the noise that comes from our table when we are out eating. I worry a lot about how others view my parenting skills when they witness his behavior.
What are they thinking? Do they think I’m an idiot? Too free? Not disciplining right?
I have lived with social anxiety all my life. I’ve managed to cope with it in my adulthood, but it almost feels amplified when it comes to parenting. The constant worry that someone is laughing or judging. The fear of widespread gossip or just disappointing thoughts on my decision making. The awful feeling of knowing someone out there thinks I am doing a bad job.
Anxiety is weird like that. While it makes no sense why I would think that way, these are the thoughts I often tackle as a parent. With no relief, all I can do is try my best to ignore it.
I think what helps is that I tell myself my son is happy. Bottom line he’s a healthy and happy boy. He laughs, he runs, he plays. He’s a lively child with a ton of energy that is difficult to contain.
With my son’s speech delay, I need to tell myself it’s not my fault. I have to remember that every child is different, including Daniel. That no matter what sort of disability or learning issue he may run across, my son is perfect in his own way.
“Regardless of what he may or may not be, he is still just Daniel.”
The words of a friend that still rings now. No matter what, he is an amazing kid. My kid.
What matters is that my son is happy. That our family is happy. While it may not be easy to tune ou my fears that comes with my anxiety issues, I know that I am doing the best I can. Nobody can be or is the Perfect Parent.
We strive to do the best we can for our littles and hope they turn out to be decent human beings. In my case, this too will be something he conquers.