Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Working Mom Blues

Being a working Mom ensures many things.  For example, it forces me to leave the house.  It also guarantees that I remember to shower, brush my teeth, change my clothes and run a comb through my rebellious hair.  I get to talk to more adults, which is also a bonus, although most of them have some kind of mental illness (or are really not very grown up at all).  Still, it keeps my brain from turning to complete mush from the constant noise or too many episodes of The Price Is Right.

It also makes sure that I miss out on a lot of things too.  There is an old Nursing chestnut that says something along the lines that you get to spend all the holidays with your friends... at work.  Shift work makes it difficult to schedule things like appointments, which, in a house that has Specialists up the wazoo, means that I don't always get to go.  We also have three kids with commitments at various points in the day so the scheduling tends to get a little interesting.

Last week Sean took Wyatt to his first speech assessment.  According to both my husband and the reports that came home, Wyatt is doing very well in this area.  To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Other than making different sounds, what could they evaluate?

Officially, the exam is called an "Early Response to Learning Intervention (ERLI)" and is given through ErinOaks.  In the course of the hour or so that they spent there, Wyatt was evaluated in a variety of areas.  Each area was graded as "No concerns were observed or reported in these areas", "Difficulties were identified in these areas" and "Continue to check progress in these areas".  Thankfully, notes were given as well, so that we could understand exactly how he was meeting or not meeting each of the assessment criteria.  Wyatt was assessed in the following: (note, this is taken directly from ErinOaks Kids ERLI form)

  • Social Communication [The child's ability to communicate and connect with others, including greeting, making eye contact to communicate, sharing interest and enjoyment]
  • Play Skills [Play skills an communication development are closely related]
  • Understanding Language [The child's ability to understand language, including following directions, responding to questions, understanding words and concepts]
  • Expressive Language [The child's ability to express his or her wants, needs, ideas and feeling s in a variety of ways including gestures, sounds and words]
  • Speech/Articulation [The ability to pronounce speech sounds and coordinate speech movements]
  • Stuttering
  • Behaviour
  • Other [e.g. feeding/swallowing, motor skills]

Wyatt rated "No concerns" in his social communication, which was no surprise to anyone here.  He is very vocal.  There were also no concerns with stuttering or his behaviour as well.  I was happy to see that there were no "Difficulties" noted;  most of the above was rated as "Continue to check progress".  The therapist provided a list of behaviours/activities/actions that she observed Wyatt performing that we are to continue to build on.  For example, under play skills, she indicated that he should continue to explore toys and working on being able to bang them together.  Under "Understanding Language", anticipating daily routines and attaching meaning to familiar terms were listed.  What do these have to do with speech you may ask?

Language acquisition is a major part of our development.  In order to communicate, you need names for things.  We have words for thinking, remembering, knowledge, reasoning and communication.  By attaching meaning to a specific routine for example, such as "lunch", Wyatt will learn an important association. Children with Down Syndrome are visual learners, so attaching sounds (words) to a witnessed action is also an important part of this.  Hopefully, at some point, Wyatt will be able to hear "Where's Daddy?" and turn his head to find him.  To typical children, this is a very easy thing to learn.  Zoe has been able to do this for months.  For those with DS, it takes a lot longer as they have to develop each connection individually.  He has to connect Sean's "Sean-ness" with the sound of "Daddy" (which is tricky for sight learners;  he learns my mouth shape but the sounds I'm making might as well be an ambient radio on in the background for all the relevance they hold).  Wyatt has to develop the ability to think of the word "Daddy" when he sees Sean.  He also has to further his object permanence and his awareness of himself and other beings in space and time.  Our ability to learn language also affects our ability to develop memories;  with that in mind, he has to have the words "Daddy" and "Where" in his repertoire before he can start remembering where Daddy actually is.  Finally, he has to connect those words and a memory with an action of his own so that he can turn his head and look for "Daddy"... which, in itself will take longer due to the slow reactions of his muscles. 

With my absence most of the time, it will be Daddy that Wyatt remembers more.  I will say that there has been great improvement since my return to work;  now, when I get home Wyatt greets me with the biggest smile and an enthusiastic giggle-shout.  A few months ago, it would take time for him to warm up to me after a prolonged absence.  In a little selfish sense, this stings a little, however in the bigger picture as long as he is making these connections, it doesn't matter who they are with. 

There are days that I feel that I am missing out, it is true.  However, I stop and remind myself that I am fortunate to have my husband at home and that at least one of us is sharing all the major moments with the kids.  Quinn spent a lot of time in day care and as a result we missed a lot of "firsts"; that won't be the case here.  Not being home all the time makes what time we do have together that much sweeter and I can savour it that much more.  After four 12 hour shifts, his laughter is music for my soul.  He seems to smile with his whole being; he is almost radiant as he chases away any lingering blues that I might have.   As he continues to further his skills and starts to sprout teeth, we will be closer to that elusive "Mama".  Until then, everything he does gives us plenty to talk about.

Don't forget to vote for Down Wit Dat as's Reader's Choice for Special Needs Parenting Blog.   You can vote once a day, every day until March 21 using an email address or signing in through Facebook.  You can vote HERE.  -Jxox


  1. The grass always seems greener doesn't it? I am still pretty desperate to ge back to work. To leave the house, as you put it. And I used to love the way that the kid's are delighted when you return home. Yet when I worked full time I know how sad I felt at missing to much of my eldest daughter's development. No easy answers. Thanks for sharing in Love All Blogs

    1. Thanks for the comment. It does seem that way. I'm still trying to find that balance. I hope to one day before they are all in college. :D

  2. I'm with you Blue Sky there is no right or wrong. I wish I was at work but then I would miss all of the fun times.

  3. There are times when I think I would be a better mother if I did work. To have time being an adult is the break you need to not find being with the children a job. Obviously that 'me' time can be found in other ways and in my case I have to as Dominic's various issues mean I'm in no position to be able to get a job. You and your husband obviously have an amazing and strong relationship, you've found something that works for you and the children. Quite how you juggle it and blog, now there's a post I'd like to see!

    1. I'm not so sure how we do it... oh yes I do! There is a pile of undone dishes, housework, etc always waiting. However, those things can continue to wait. Kids first. :)


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