“Guilt to motherhood is likes Grapes to Wine”
This seems to describe my life quite well as we have a few worries with Monkey at the moment -Shyness, Fussy Eating and Lack of Speech. With each of these three things, I keep asking myself, is it my fault? Have I encouraged these behaviours? Am I not doing a good enough job? I feel guilty that potentially decisions I have made over the past 19/20 months have led to these attributes.
Is he shy because he is with me all the time? Would he be more social if he was at nursery? Or would that make the shyness worse? We go to toddler groups and on play-dates every week. He spends time with people other than me every day most weeks. We see both sets of Grandparents every week, he has 4 doting uncles who he sees regularly. We go to play-centres and baby cafes. He mixes regularly with children older than him, younger than him and the same age, and yet he is terrified of strangers, hates me to leave him, even for a second (though he is usually ok with daddy or grandparents) and even sometimes gets scared of other toddlers who he sees regularly. Is it just his nature or is he picking something up from me?
The fussy eating particularly does my head in. I worked so hard in the first year of his life to make sure he ate a huge variety of food and he loved most things! Not everything but nearly. Then 13 months came round and boom, no more pasta. No more broccoli, or really much fresh fruit or veg at all. The list goes on. I have read repeatedly that fussy eaters aren’t born, but that they are created by their parents. My question to this is, HOW? If it is my fault how did I do it? Where did I go wrong?? As the problem has got worse I know there has been times I have exacerbated it by being stressed and putting pressure on him. I know that and am trying very hard to remove those aspects from mealtimes in a bid to help this fussiness. But where did it come from in the first place? Where did I go wrong?
I also worry hugely about the lack of speech. I am terrified of the fact that he may not be speaking by his 2 year check and the judgement I will get from the Health Visitor. I have again read repeatedly that delayed speech is a sign of the parents not communicating enough, not helping them learn to speak. That toddlers who speak well at this age are a credit to their parents. So is it my fault that he doesn’t use words yet? We have read to him daily since he was a newborn. We sing constantly, make up the daftest rhymes for mundane daily tasks. Sing his favourites – ‘wind the bobbin’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ millions of times as well as introducing him to many other rhymes. We talk all of the time! I was talking to my lovely neighbour a few days ago and she laughed and said that hubby and I are two of the chattiest people she knows, so it can’t be through lack of talking to him. Do we not give him a chance to speak? We listen, we encourage but we don’t want to pressure him either.
I know lots of kind people who have said they didn’t talk until they were three and there was no long term problems at all. Everyone seems to know someone who was a late speaker so why do I worry about it so much? He is getting closer, I know he is. There has been a few times recently where his babble has been a bit too close to a word to be coincidental. For example when Daddy said ‘in a minute,’ Monkey got cross and ran across the room shouting na naaaa, which could have been a ‘no now!’?? Am I just clutching at straws? I just worry that despite our best efforts that the delay is somehow our fault. That he watches too much telly. That I don’t talk to him enough maybe? Does he not talk because he already gets what he needs from us? He shakes his head, he points, he pulls us to where he wants us to go. He lets me know it is time for his nap by cuddling me and waving. By doing what he asks silently are we not encouraging him enough to use words instead? Oh who knows.
Guilt. My life as a mummy seems to be riddled with it.
On the reserve side he does so well with so many other aspects and yet I struggle to feel proud. I give him more credit than I give myself. It is so easy to feel guilty, but much more difficult to feel proud of myself. Proud of him, yes, but me? No.
He is such a good sleeper and has been ever since we did the cry and wait technique at 4 months old. Did we do that? Or did we just help him achieve it sooner? Would he have got there anyway? He is very coordinated. He walked early and now runs a lot. He kicks a ball really well and has a seriously strong throw. His fine motor controls are fantastic too and he threads spaghetti through his sand sieve with ease. He loves drawing and painting and is really good at it now. He feeds well from a spoon and has a good stab with his fork. He’s great at putting his coat on and his learning with his trousers and tops.
He understands sooo much. If I say “sit on the step so I can put your shoes on”, he trots off to the step and sits down. If I say “Shall we go upstairs to get dressed?” He takes my hand and takes me upstairs. He knows where his relatives live, if we walk past the path to Uncle Simon’s house he points and says ‘er er er’, the same goes to the paths leading to Grandma and Granddad’s house. He can point out the animals in his favourite books.
For the most part he is such a wonderful, happy little monkey that I push all of this guilt and worry to the side and enjoy the time I have with him. I tell myself that he will learn to speak when he is ready. That the fussy eating and shyness are just phases he is going through. That I am doing my best. But I never quite manage to convince myself.
I’m sure that these worries will pass and be replaced by others but Guilt, I think, is to be a lifelong companion. That, and Wine 🙂