Hurtful Words

Imagine if you will, a mother, struggling with 4 children under 4 years of age. Not a struggle of life in general, not even a struggle in the sense of being a single mother but just having a hard time. Yet, fully in the process of adjusting to her new life.

Let me paint the scene for you.

It is a Wednesday Morning and it is time to wake up for one of the 4 as he will be going to Pre-school for the day. The twins I let sleep as long as I can, no need to have two babies who need me, awake at the same time as son number 2 when he needs my attention more. My number one son just entertains himself while I “work” with the other.

Long before he started Pre-school, I had noticed his behaviour was slightly “odd”. It seemed there were days when he was living “parallel” to the rest of us. He was there, yet he wasn’t really there. He had traits which were odd, like only ever wanting the same coloured bowl, re-doing things exactly when he didn’t like the other way. Just individual and special to us.

When he started Pre-school, his traits became more pronounced. He used to be very self harming when things didn’t pan out the way he had already played them in his mind, but when he started there, it got worse. I would have a battle getting him into the car to take him there.  All the while, my older son and my twins were almost scared to speak. He’d be a bloodied mess before we even walked in the door and then I would be told to ignore his behaviour and walk out.

My heart broke every single time, watching him scream and cower in a corner, scratching his legs until they bled.  I would get phone call after phone call, telling me “He isn’t doing this, he isn’t doing that. Come and pick him up so you can treat his wounds”

At that time we were between agencies as our family wasn’t the “normal” type of family who needed assistance. Sure, we had three special needs sons but their needs were totally unexplored. Uncharted territory is very hard to get services for.

We are now registered with Northcott, RCOPS, AGSA, NFED, OzED, Brighter Futures and the Commonwealth Carers Respite Center to name just a few (abbreviations explained on application). Back then, we had only just started our journey of Government run assistance agencies and as luck would have it, we qualified for help through BDCSA.

They, in turn, got us assistance through the Home Care program. This came in the form of 2 hours respite and 2 hours house cleaning per week. It was great (once my house mother pride got over the shock) having someone in the house with me during the day, helping me get through the piles of washing and dishes as well as an adult to bounce ideas off while we worked.

Back to the day the words were dropped which I still hear in my head when things are tough….

I had just gone to pick up my son at Pre-school. I had the twins in the pram this time as it was one of the “better” days and I didn’t have to rush in to get him. My older one was amusing his siblings and number 2 son was clinging to me, overjoyed that the day was over when the director came to me. She had all the niceties, as you do, and then asked me about the various services who are now helping us. I answered to the best of my abilities as I was keen to share for a good cause when she informed me why she needed this particular information. “See, I have just enrolled this family and they are doing it so much tougher than you and are so much more deserving of the extra help.”

I felt like the last piece of dirt that someone scraped off their shoe. No aspersions to the family “in so much need” but I had only just felt like I was starting to cope . For someone to tell me, a family with 4 under 4 (same as me) and NO special needs kids, was more deserving of government aid than us…..Yes, those words still hurt to this day.

Mind you, that day was the day I learned never to draw comparisons again. Sure, in my head I do, but I do not EVER compare one family’s hardships to another without acknowledging ,that, to the family actually LIVING it, it is as hard as your hardest day. My life is normal to me, I live it every day, it is not until someone draws a comparison do I realise it may not be so “normal” after all. This is the truth for every single soul out there, it is your life and you live it to your abilities, not other’s expectations.

With Love & Support,

Tarja Kelly

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