Emotional Well-being and Mental Health
Please see the linked documents for information on what we are offering parents and pupils at Beecroft Garden to help support you with positive mental well-being.
By Shay Whitton
Becoming one of “Those mums”
Being one of ‘Those Mums’ sneaks up on you. You don’t realise it until you are there.
You suddenly look around and are alone in the school yard defined by a label you had no intention of creating and really would like to hand back. Yet here it is squarely on your back, in that spot you can’t reach to take it off.
If you have a kid with ADHD, ODD or ASD or any learning challenges you know what I mean. There are just these moments in time where your identity as a parent goes there. You are the proud owner of ‘That Child’. Kids with brain challenges that are behavioural challenges.
So you cease being ‘just a mum’.
No longer do you get to be a mum of an only child or a mum of all boys or all girls. A mum of twins, triplets or two or three or four.
You are no longer a divorced, widowed or single mum.
You don’t even get to be a step mum or adopted mum.
You don’t get to carry the label associated with your neurotypical awesome kids names either. You and they loose that crown as well. They become 'That Childs' Brother or Sister.
You are now and forever more one of “Those mums”. The mum with the troubled child. The one who is either the ‘bad parent with no boundaries and too soft’ or the one that people say “ oh it’s so sad. I don’t know how she does it”. You become this “She is “ INSERT CHILDS NAME HERE’s Mum”. Then the rest of the conversation follows.
You’re the mum of the child is that is badly behaved; the bully; who is in trouble; who is disruptive; awful; horrible; nasty; mean or nightmare. Essentially what others are saying is, we don’t want you with your child with our kids at our school.
Or they don’t say it. Worse they ignore you, exclude you and say nothing. Suddenly you find yourself and your child alone in a huge crowd.
Insidiously you become one of ‘Those Mums’. Surprised you are here. You were so focused on what needed to be done you didn't see it creep up on you.
So here is what I can tell you about “Those Mums”
‘Those mums’ go to so many specialist appointments their heads spin and their bank accounts cry.
‘Those Mums’ give up careers, self care, marriages and friendships because it gets too hard to navigate, explaining, managing and apologising for 'That Child'.
‘Those Mums’ start avoiding friendship with neurotypical parents because they feel uncomfortable as its not relaxing being with them and their kids as you feel worried and judged.
“Those Mums’ nod politely when are they are offered the next piece of pop advice from the next network marketing cure all.
“Those Mums’ want to swear at the next person who tells them their child has too much device time and that is the problem.
‘Those Mums’ worry when they have to excuse themselves from work again to go pick up their child. Will they keep their job?
‘Those Mums’ navigate the use of visual charts, timers, medication and vitamins to get ‘That Child’ to school like a modern day Nanny McPhee.
‘Those Mums’ see the years of hard work to get ‘That Child’ to tie a shoelace, choose to read a book or eat broccoli and are exhausted thinking of how much else is ahead.
‘Those Mums’ are experts in Trains, Dinosaurs, Harry Potter, Pokemon, Yugio, Power Rangers, Ninjago, Chess, Minecraft, Mario Cart, Fortnight, Sports or whatever is the latest obsession of their neurally diverse kid.
‘Those Mums’ are constantly thinking how the hell will we get them through high school, let alone university a job or happy marriage when they fight you on brushing teeth.
‘Those Mums’ are Ninja’s at navigating the anxiety of eating anything that doesn’t look the same colour because it looks like vomit. Thermomix’s and blenders are our saviours.
‘Those Mums’ make a million white bread toasted cheese sandwiches, while trying to think about how to get some good nutrition into their child, worried about vitamins and fibre and the long term effects, yet needing something in their stomach to go with the cocktail of medications they need to get through the day.
‘Those Mums’ are behavioural experts in the constant teaching of simple things like understanding that frustration, anxiety, sadness and crying are not anger even though anger is what they see and get.
‘Those Mums’ are experts at trying to explain that strangers smiling isn’t weird, it's polite. So is looking someone in the eye or shaking hands. All while making the other person understand their kid is not being rude, they just have sensory overload.
‘Those Mums’ barely hold it together while teaching safe and unsafe anger when their child is smashing things and trying to hurt themselves with knives or take pills. Yet somehow they do.
‘Those Mums’ quietly die a little more inside as people look weirdly at their child in the movies with headphones so they aren’t scared by the sounds,
‘Those Mums’ dread explaining the use of the hoodies ‘That child’ wears to restaurants, malls or parties so they can hide, block sound or shut out light or feel safe when overwhelmed while the rest of the family has an outing.
‘Those Mums’ hearts break when their older siblings ask not be around or to go to a friends or stay away as they can’t handle it or don't feel safe.
‘Those Mums’ are so decision fatigued they wouldn't know what help to ask for when offered. So they say thank and I'm okay or don’t ask for any.
‘Those Mums’ feel helpless when confronted with the deepest utter sadness, anguish and self loathing that comes from recognition by ‘That Child’ that they are different. Don’t seem to fit in. Don’t get people. And feel such levels of shame for their previous behaviours that they say they hate themselves and want to kill themselves. Daily.
‘Those Mums’ are epic.
‘Those Mum’s’ are my tribe.