Confessions of an amateur mother

On December 31st, 2014, Russell was born. When he entered the world, only a soft whimper came out of his perfect little mouth. This was the night I became a mother and the first time I had ever held a newborn in my arms. Prior to motherhood, I had almost no experience with young children. 

All I knew was that I would be the best mother and have the world’s most perfect, well-behaved child. He’d be intelligent and athletic.

“How could he not be incredible when I’m devoting all of my time to mothering him?” I thought.

Time passed and all was going as planned. My son was well-tempered and rarely cried. Russell was sweet, loving, cuddly, obedient and always smiling. People would tell me how amazed they were by how joyful my child always was.

I was convinced that I was making him this way. I’m a stay-at-home mom, loving, gentle, and I try really freaking hard.

I’d often see mothers with babies who wouldn’t stop crying. I assumed the mother was doing something wrong. Boy, was I wrong.

“I’m just a great mom” I thought. “I must be better than others. The reason he doesn’t cry is because I’m meeting all of his needs. I don’t give him a reason to cry.” 

At 6 months old my son was diagnosed with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia and Nystagmus. 

I sat in the Opthomalogists office one day as the doctor told my husband and I that Russell may have developmental delays and a variety of other issues that often come with the visual impairments that he had. 

“Did I do this?” I thought. I felt scared and confused. “What if my child can’t live a normal life? Is this why he never cries? Does my child have special needs? Did I do something wrong during pregnancy that made him this way?”

Soon after, Russell got an MRI, which showed that only his right optic nerve was underdeveloped and that his brain appeared to be normal. To say that I was relieved is an understatement, but the whole experience gave me a lot to reflect on. I was learning that life doesn’t always go as planned and things are never perfect. Because of Russell’s bad depth-perception and lack of vision on the right side, athletic ability probably won’t come as easy to him as others kids. On top of that, I knew there would other difficulties that came along with being visually impaired.

My thoughts at this time were somewhere along the lines of, “This is okay. I can work with this. Russell is still the sweetest and smartest boy.”

A vision specialist, Bess, started coming to my house and I learned that he was behind in most aspects, especially verbal communication. 

I did the best I possibly could, and yet it wasn’t good enough. “Is this all my fault? It has to be. Am I not reading to him enough, or doing enough? Am I not a good mom?” I went from having convinced myself I was the best mother, to feeling like I had failed as a mom.

With the help of Bess, I learned new ways of helping Russell develop necessary skills and catching him up to where he needed to be.

My son was still incredibly well-behaved and obedient. When I’d see other moms with there children who were throwing tantrums, I knew my son wouldn’t ever act that way.

Then, When Russell turned two, somehow a switch in his brain turned on and he suddenly became… not so well-behaved. My child turned into the screaming, temper-tantrum throwing kid that nobody wants to be around. I was absolutely dumfounded. Taking him in public got more difficult. Russ would scream when I put him into a high chair at a restaurant. He once hit someone when we were sitting in the pews at church. He would kick and throw things. I was mortified.

It was a massive wake up call for me.

I became the mother that I often found myself being judgmental of and it actually made me sick to think that I ever thought negatively of another parent- A parent who obviously was trying so dang hard to make all of the right parenting choices.

Russell was a two-year-old and I was just a mom trying to teach my son wrong from right.

I was like any other devoted mother. I was doing the absolute best I could. Parenting is not a simple thing and It is difficult.

I learned that judging another parent is never okay. It’s embarrassing to admit that I was so naive, but I know I’m not the only mom out there who is or was this way.

Through my experiences what I’ve come to realize is:

Kids are irrational and difficult regardless of your parenting skills.

As a mother, we have to accept that some things are out of our control. Our children are born with their very own, unique soul. They will have their own set of struggles just as we do.

We don’t know the trials other parents and children have been given, so comparing ourselves to them or judging them doesn’t make sense.

Just because your child throws a tantrum when you are out to dinner with all of your friends, doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. 

And if you are concerned that you aren’t a good enough mom, it’s probably because you are a great mom

-written by Mama Tribe Blogger, Mackenzie

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