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Why I Struggle to Take My Son to See a Therapist

Becoming a mother changed my life in ways I could have never imagined. When I found out I was pregnant at 21, I was scared. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t married. My partner and I both worked at a bar and weren’t prepared for the turn our lives were about to take. The minute my oldest was born, I remember the nurse saying, “do you want to hold him?” I literally didn’t know what to say. It felt surreal. Parenthood was a steep learning curve for me and my (now) husband, but as soon as that baby touched my arms, he was mine.

I’ve now been a stay-at-home mom for eight years. We’ve had two more children and got married almost five years ago. During that time, we’ve had astronomical highs and rock bottom lows. We’ve overcome every obstacle thrown at us as a family and things have always managed to sort themselves out. Recently, however, I’ve felt helpless.

My oldest needs to see a therapist. I know, it’s not the end of the world. It’s hard for me to explain why this is affecting me so much, but I think it’s because I wish it was me instead. I wish I was the one who was so sensitive at school. I wish I was the one who spent too much time worrying about everything, especially things I couldn’t control. I wish I was the one who felt self-conscious when I believed others were teasing me. I wish I was the one who couldn’t fall asleep at night because I couldn’t quiet my mind. I wish it was me.

I wish I could take away his stomach aches and insecurities. I wish I was the one who the teacher took out into the hallway to get me to calm down. I wish I was the one worrying in the office while my parents were called. I wish it was me because I know how he feels. I know what it’s like to feel frozen by fear. I know what it’s like to be so overwhelmed by my thoughts that it makes me want to explode. I know what it’s like to be a young kid with big emotions. I know what it’s like to be unable to explain my actions or be nervous to tell adults how I feel. I know what it’s like to feel scared that my parents won’t show up to special events at school, or to wish I felt safer in general. I know what it’s like.

I know how he feels, but I don’t know how to help him. I’ve been with him for eight years. That’s 2,920 days that I’ve had to help him prepare for school, and it hasn’t been enough. I feel like a failure. I feel like it’s my fault. I feel like if I was there for him more, he wouldn’t be struggling right now. I feel like if I never lost my temper, he would never say heartbreaking things like, “I’m the worst in our family.” I feel like if I helped him more with reading, he wouldn’t cry at school when he was having difficulty with it. I feel like it’s OK that I had to go to therapy, but I hoped it was something my son could avoid.

I hate that I feel like this. I hate that I’m taking all of it so personally. I hate that I’m being so selfish. I hate that I’ve avoided taking him to therapy because I thought I could fix every problem myself. I hate that bringing him somewhere to help him makes me feel less-than. I hate that the exact stigma I speak out against so passionately didn’t carry over to help my son.

Every time I feel like I’ve gotten a grasp on a new aspect of parenthood, the rug gets pulled out from under me and I’m back on my ass. I’m not an expert in anything except for trying my best. I don’t know all of the answers. I can’t tell you that what works for my family will work for every family, but I will continue to share our truth and our journey. I want all of my children to have amazing childhoods and grow up to be well-rounded adults, and for now, that means that I need to put my pride aside and take my son to therapy.

Getty image by KatarzynaBialasiewicz