Parenting is not for the faint of heart. If I’m going to be brutally honest, it’s been a very rough year for me as Ryo’s mother. At almost 3 years old he is probably the most challenging, active, and mischievous child I have EVER come across in my life. And unfortunately most would agree with me. Especially his grandmas and grandpas and those that love him the most.
I feel like I complain a lot on social media about how hard being a mother is. I go back and forth between trying not to brag about how wonderful, smart, and adorable my son is, then on the flip side feel guilty when I vent about our struggles…especially when I think about those dealing with infertility as I once was/still am and how other parents are seeing their children go through countless painful procedures or dealing with hospitals and doctor visits on a daily basis.
I know I am so blessed that Ryo is healthy and thriving. He’s the one thing I’ve prayed and wished for for my entire life, yet he drives me absolutely bat**** crazy on some (okay, most days). If Ryo has one superpower, it’s knowing exactly which buttons of ours to push.
I can’t turn my back for a second, I have to have him on a leash when we leave the house (UPDATE: No leash two days in a row this week!), and most days lately, I question whether or not I’m cut out for this. I turned 30 something at the end of the May and physically and emotionally it’s been unbelievable draining. If only I could have a tenth of his energy and stamina, I would be a quite a productive and rich woman.
On top of that, I am in the process of working with a team of specialists regarding my health (UPDATE: I finally have an an initial diagnosis…more on that later), but with fatigue and pain on a daily basis, my “spoons” are used up way before our bedtime routine even begins.
Now that Ryo’s getting bigger (and heavier), I have anxiety taking him pretty much everywhere if I don’t have an extra set of hands to help me. I have stopped grocery shopping or running any sort of errands by myself with him. I have to constantly apologize to strangers when we go out from him hitting kids smaller than him or stealing food/toys, and it feels like I’m fighting back tears all the time when I’m with other mothers and see how well behaved their children are. I’m always asking myself:
Is parenting supposed to be this difficult?
“Is this normal to feel this way?”
“Is my child really a typical boy or just a difficult two year old?”
“Am I this weak/out of shape that I can’t even handle a 29 lb child?
“What am I doing wrong?”
It’s not anything you can start to understand unless you experience it firsthand. There’s no way I feel comfortable leaving him for a weekend, let alone a week to go on a vacation, nor do I trust anyone to be able to handle him who is not familiar with what could happen (no offense to any friends/family). It’s just not something you can wrap your head around unless you are me, who sees what happens, what could happen, and what I prevent from happening 24 hours a day.
See, he’s a runner. He’s curious, and unafraid, and completely oblivious of any consequences or the feeling of fear or anxiety of strangers. He takes off literally full speed at the first site of something interesting. Why might I ask is does it always have to be a busy street, parking lot or a cliff?
And as smart as he is, he knows when we’re not looking or when I’m having a bad day physically, and takes advantage to sneak away when he feels like it. No freaking joke, if I turn my back or drop my guard, he turns into a ninja with lightening quick reflexes (he has his Japanese side to thank for that) and can slip away undetected. These images both above and below captures perfectly what it feels like for me. My most prized treasure running full speed away from me or on the edge of a cliff, not caring about the dangers in front of him. Us holding onto him by a small piece of fabric. My heart in my throat and my palms sweating.
The other day while at the splash pad, he broke out of my hold when I was on the toilet, unlocked the door leaving it wide open for all to see, and ran out of the bathroom. Thankfully another mother saw him and grabbed him for me but man! There are so many “what ifs”. How many chances am I going to get until something really bad happens?
On a road trip Tyler was about to put him in his car seat at a busy gas station and he broke away and ran through the parking lot with cars pulling out everywhere.
He’s finally strong enough to open restaurant doors and it takes less than 5 seconds for him to escape into a busy parking lot or street.
It is terrifying and exhausting. Things like this happen multiple times a day, even with us being extra cautious.
Although I hate the word and vowed that I wouldn’t become one, I have come to accept that in a huge way, I am a real life helicopter mom.
Most importantly I’ve come to accept that it’s my job as his mother to protect him no matter how nutso I look while doing it.
I’m not ashamed anymore to walk around with an almost three year old on a leash, looking like a crazy lady hovering like a hawk while at the park while having to ignore my friends, or that I am unable to make phone calls or do anything that takes my attention away from Ryo. It is what it is, I accept it, but I’m still struggling. I had no clue how hard emotionally this would really be.
When Ryo was kicked out of pre-school (nicely asked to find an alternative school) back in January, and at the advice of a wise friend, I finally accepted the fact that we need to seek out some help. Ryo’s pediatrician referred us to Kids On the Move, an amazing early intervention program in Utah County for a free assessment with their therapists and a nurse to do a vision and hearing test.
It turns out a lot of behavioral issues that we’ve been seeing (besides possible ADHD and ODD Oppositional Defiant Disorder) are actually sensory issues. He failed his hearing test due to another ear infection and found that he has vestibular and proprioception issues. Along with being uncomfortable with textures and temperatures, Ryo sometimes feels very icky in his own body. He doesn’t understand why he is feeling overwhelmed and doesn’t know how to communicate or have the necessary tools to deal with certain situations in a more positive way. As for the running and bouncing off the walls, his body is hypo-sensitive and is looking for ways to stabilize himself. The more he jumps, the faster he runs, and higher he climbs, his surroundings and his body feel more in tune with one another.
I had no idea.
Just like when Ryo had to get tubes in his ears last fall, I really wish I would have know earlier there was a problem so he could have gotten the care he needed immediately.
We have occupational therapists and behavioral specialist coming to work with us every other week and hitting it hard before he turns three (when they turn your case over to the public school system…we actually have his assessment tomorrow!). I’m so grateful that there are resources like this to help moms like me that feel helpless and hopeless at times. You have no idea how comforting and relieving it is to hear from specialists that I am doing everything that I am supposed to be doing as a mother in regards to discipline, yet there are still routines, exercises and proper tools they are giving me to parent more effectively. I highly recommend looking into their program if there’s even a question that something might not be right with your child, whether behaviorally or developmentally. Trust those mama/daddy instincts because you are probably on to something.
We also go to their amazing parenting classes every month with perks of pizza, free child care, and two free books per parent to add to our home library.
The moment I realized and accepted (though it’s still a process) that he is not a typical toddler and that my body is not like everyone else’s, is when I finally could breathe easier and be a little gentler and kinder to myself.
Just when I think I’m about to lose it, he tells me “Good job, mama. Good job!” when I brush my teeth or take my shoes off when we come in the house, and tells me “Thank you mama!” when I hand him a drink, or I catch him grabbing a younger toddler’s hand and helping him navigate a difficult obstacle at the gym, or offering to share his favorite pirate ship with a friend.
Then without prompting this morning he wakes up climbs out of our bed, but then instead of rushing downstairs like he normally does, he turns back wakes me up with “Snuggle mama! Snuggle!” tells me “I wuv you too!” and gives me the sweetest kiss and cuddles without any prompting.
It’s all those little things that add up to make me feel like I’m doing at least a few things right.
He’s resilient, stubborn, and way too opinionated for someone so little… but my Ryo has the best manners, his smile will melt your heart and his hugs and kisses touch my soul. I thank God and my lucky stars that he’s one of the happiest kids I know, and that’s what is really important in this world. Having an innate sense of joy and enthusiasm for pretty much everything about life is one of the biggest blessings he could ever have.
Thank you for being a constant example of all the good in my life, radiating your happiness to everyone you meet, and making life infinitely more joyous. Keep making the world brighter with that sweet smile and contagious laughter. Love you always and forever my baby monster.