Raising a speech-delayed child is very challenging. It is so much more than just getting them on the same level as other children. It can be failing to get through to them or them failing to get through to YOU, causing them to act out. Some people have graced these clusters of undesirable behavior with the title of phase. These behavioral phases punctuated with frustration can be like a ‘no shoes on in the snow, uphill both ways’ type of trek. It feels lonely, too, filled with plenty of time to get lost in your own insecurities and the fact that you actually miss this child who is physically right there with you.
When you’re completely worn out, when your child is going through one of those phases and their frustrations are exclusively showing themselves in temper tantrum form, and when the next (and next and next) meltdown feels like you are mentally borrowing from Peter to pay back Paul, what can you do? How can you recharge yourself for the next bout? (Because surely it is coming.)
Sometimes I just have to get away. I need to separate myself from everything and remind myself that none of us asked for this. And I know that my speech-delayed daughter is not thrilled with the communication breakdown over the simplest of things either. This constant source of frustration is not my fault and it definitely isn’t hers. It is just something that happens to be a truth in our lives and there isn’t anything to be done about it except to continue moving forward. For her and for her future.
I hate these “phases.” You heard me. I said it. I hate them. The one where my kid wants to spit everywhere, or when she thinks it’s funny (no, hilarious!) to scream bloody murder in the store, or when she was really into hitting and biting me. Those phases? Yep, those can take a hike. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. I hate them.
I know that more than likely they are a way for my speech-delayed kiddo to express herself and that someday they might result in positive changes. She can grow and learn all of those awesome developmental things. The things that will make her a well-rounded individual someday. One who will listen to me when I tell her that we do not throw food or pull my hair, and one who will definitely not tell me ‘No’ at every single turn.
Today, I found myself missing my daughter. She was right there with me and yet I missed her. I miss the relationship that we haven’t even had a chance to experience. The kind where she will be able to come home from school and actually tell me what she did that day. Or when she will be able to tell me what is wrong instead of just breaking down and losing her cool. It happens rarely, but I really just long for the times when we both understand each other.
She’s right here, eating her cereal as I type this. But even as I sit only five feet away from her, I still miss her.
And just about the only thing that helps when I feel this way is to know that I am not alone. Not just as the mother of a speech-delayed child, but as a parent, in general. I know all parents have those moments, days, weeks, or months. The kind where it would be easier to just lay your head down on the desk and watch someone else take care of the difficult bits. But we need to continue to trudge on. We have to move those weary feet one step at a time because nobody can steer this parental ship like you, mama.
And in the words of anyone you will talk to about these phases, it will get better. It will pass.