Be Confident

I almost made a massive mistake regarding my eldest son. Today I was seconds away from ruining his confidence based on his choices. My partner was the one to step in and make me realize there are things that I do as a mother that goes against teaching my son to be a confident human who can love himself.

I try to tell my children to love who they are despite what other people say. This is a core image I want them to hold for their entire lives. I try to teach my children to love their bodies and minds and encourage understanding that their bodies are temples. If they love their temples and treat it well good things will happen to them. I want them to love themselves wholesomely, so they can grow with the world and enter as brightly as they came into it.

My eldest son struggles some days with loving who he is because other people bully him for his personality and his disabilities. This year has been one big disaster of other boys trying to tear him down for whom he is. This year he not only had boys his age bully him but adults as well. School had become a mental prison to him. I have watched him come home in such a state that I tore into his teachers and started fighting back against his fellow peers. No child should through life being told he is a disappointment nor should have the words kill yourself said. No human should have this abuse placed on them.

His disabilities do no define my son if anything I applaud his strength in living with them. He refuses to let his disabilities hold him back. He is this amazing little man with a bold sense of the world. Despite struggling with autism and juvenile osteopathic arthritis, he courageously faces each day with a can do attitude. His issues do not lie with himself but from others. Others see his disabilities as inconveniencing and annoying. Instead of treating him with open mindedness and encouragement they meet him with discouraging opinions. My eyes have been opened this year to how vile and disgusting people can be to others and chose to target those different. My son is being activity bullied due to his differences by his teacher and peers alike. It is my job as his mother to fight for him and show him love for himself to combat those discouraging lack of values in others.

I lost sight of that image today, and I am so grateful my partner reminded me of why we teach him to be confident. As he picked out an outfit that had pink stripes, green shorts, and a fedora with gold flecks, he came to me beaming with pride of his new-found outfit. I looked at it and almost told him to put it back because I didn’t want others bullying him based on looks. My partner stopped me mid sentence and said doesn’t this make him look great. I stopped and re looked at my child, he had the biggest grin on his face. Pride filled his eyes, he was unique. Instead of making him put the outfit back and chose one to fit the norms of society I let him keep it. It doesn’t matter if anyone else dislikes it; as long as he is happy in his body, no one else can take away the pride that he feels.

I often forget the message that I try to convey to my sons. Love yourself and be prideful in your choices. It is not our place in the world to dash the hopes and dreams of tiny humans, instead it is our place to lead by example and show them the pathway to true self happiness.

My son on Canada Day 2018.

Written by Ali Johnson

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Trying To Be Super Mom

I parented hard in the last two days, so much, that when my husband called me supermom tonight it felt good to hear. I just got my tiniest human down at ten twenty-seven pm. For the last day and a half we had to manage through RSV and bronchitis.

We were between hospital and home starting at night again in the morning to return due to my eighteen months old laboured breathing. His fever soared to high temps of 39.4 degrees Celsius with no sign of relief. We have been here once before when Max was six months of age. Last time we had this he stayed one week on the pediatrics ward of the Guelph Hospital. Recognizing the signs this time around I’m glad we took a pro active approach.

Going through this again was draining on my emotions and my ability to feel like I was doing my job as his mother. When we had to do his x-ray and nebulizer I felt like the worse mother who existed. The x-ray for infants and toddlers seems like torture devices. As I put on my lead vest, placing my baby into the tube holding his arms above his head, he screamed so loud. I felt so useless, the only words I could say to him was I’m sorry. Tears streamed down both our eyes. I would never cause my children pain and seeing him in distress tore my heart out. I know that these treatments are to help him but non the less I wish I could have stolen his pain away and made his world harm free.

Not my child but a picture to show the x-ray tube. Instead of a calm baby shown here Max was screaming. His looked terrified. I think this was the second moment in the hospital I felt like a failure.

The moment that hit me the hardest was trying to place a nebulizing mask on my sons face. As advised from the nurses I had to hold my son down and keep the mask on his face. The first nurse left Max and I to our own devices. Maximus with his strength of fifty babies on steroids; fought hard like Muhammad Ali in the ring, left me feeling defeated. I was thankful another nurse took sympathy and held the mask while I tried to wrangle Maximus to stay still. Essentially I channelled my inner Steve Irwin and crocodile wrested my stressed toddler. In these moments I felt so primal that afterwards I wanted to break.

This emotional ride of Maximus being sick has left me feeling defeated. I waited for the cab for thirty minutes with him sleeping in my arms. From the wheezy breath sounds and small whimpers escaping from his lips I had a moment of panic. How can I be a good mother when all I wanted to do was get home and cry. I felt utterly selfish at this moment, I wanted to be a good mother but instead I thought of myself.

Since we got home he was given a plethora of medication, adding to the layers of distress. After napping with Max to monitor his breathing I put on Thomas the Train and took a shower. I got my moment of clarity that even feeling defeated is part of the mother package. Being alone today and handling a sick child was my wake up call that even with life throwing some serious wrenches I can do this. When my husband called me supermom; I choked back my tears of self-doubt, and plan to hold on a little longer.

This is a stepping stone in learning motherhood. I can either sink or swim or roll with the punches. I sit here typing feeling relieved to know my baby will be OK, all of this will be OK. My muscles may be sore from rocking my child, my body tired from the last day and half, but I feel clear in how much I love my children and what it takes to make sure they have a mother that cares. I will give one supermom moment at a time until my last breath.

Written by: Ali Johnson

My husband The Caveman, Mr Max, and myself.