Friday, January 14, 2011

Mommy Guilt

I used to feel that mommy guilt is a complete waste of emotion. I used to ignore it. Yet the more I ignored it the worse I felt, the more anxious I felt, and the more guilty I felt even though I thought I was doing the right thing in ignoring it.

The worst case of mommy guilt for me is when it's related to medical issues. Salem is 8 and has Noonan Syndrome. When she was first diagnosed I often felt that somehow it was my fault. I did IVF and she was a surviving triplet. I would often look at myself in the mirror and wonder if I had a hidden case of Noonan Syndrome and unwittingly passed it on to Salem. The geneticist reassured me it was a spontaneous mutation (awful term huh?) and that it wasn't my fault. Thus we began the process of medical intervention, speech/PT and horse therapy, etc and I threw myself into being the best mommy I could be to give her all the help she needed. She's now a thriving 8 year old in 2nd grade and while we still deal with issues related to NS she's amazingly on track.

I have felt mommy guilt often over the years since Salem's NS diagnosis. Especially at times when I've lost it and screamed at my kids, broken a promise or broken their hearts by doing the right thing in disciplining them. But it was never as intense as it was when Salem was so medically fragile. I learned to stuff it thinking it was unfruitful.

Today I had to deal with the intense mommy guilt feelings all over again but this time with my youngest. Raina is 5 1/2. The kiddo has issues not quite so medically defined as NS. She has extreme social anxiety. When she was 4 they thought she was autistic but later we all decided that her social anxiety was mimicking a lot of autistic symptoms. So we started working on her speech, social anxiety and sensory issues. Now she's 5 1/2 and honestly she's come a long way in developing social skills but her sensory issues can at times be off the charts and I've not seen a huge improvement speech wise even though she's seen a speech pathologist twice a week since May 2009.

In December she failed her hearing screen at school. We went to the audiologist and we were referred back to her doctor to clear up fluid in her ear and then instructed to come back. That second appointment was this morning. We now know she has mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears. Neither ear drum responded today either. They'll send the report back to her doctor to get a referral to an ENT to see if she has fluid in her middle ear that we cannot see or if there is nerve damage or a bone issue.

I made it all the way to the car before I gave in to the guilt. It literally over took me. I just cried and cried and felt sick at my stomach. I could look back and see that what I thought was inattention or her zoning out was actually a hearing problem. So of course I feel guilty. Intensely guilty. I should have noticed this sooner. I should have been more in tune to her. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN.

And when I gave in to those feelings and let myself cry and feel sad and overwhelmed something amazing happened. I self-talked myself out of it. I told myself I was being ridiculous. There as no way this was my fault. I am not an audiologist or a speech pathologist. There is no way I could have known. I am a mommy not a super mom - slash audiologist - slash speech pathologist - slash all around know it all (even though sometimes I may act like an all around know it all).

So I talked myself down off the ledge of mommy guilt by letting myself experience it without stuffing it deep inside. Then I remembered something Ty (my therapist) once told me. It's good for me to feel ALL emotion. Even the overwhelming ones or intensely sad ones. And I did. Probably for one of the first times. I didn't try to judge what I was feeling. I didn't try to stuff it. I just simply felt it and when I did the Leah that knew better spoke up. Now the anxiety is gone. It may be something major yet it may be something minor. I just have to trust God to mark our path regardless of what happens when we see the ENT.

So for today - at this moment anyway - I am not going to worry about it. Of course I am praying it's something as simple as needing tubes but I am choosing not to obsess over what if's. It is what it is - my emotions are what they. Rather than stuff them - I did the right then and began to experience them so I could process them. Before I always tried to process without experiencing them. That doesn't quite work.

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You." Isaiah 26:3.


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