My son had his 14-month developmental milestones check-up this week.
Full marks for gross motor, fine motor and problem solving skills.
Below average for social skills.
Borderline for communication skills.
Then she asked if I had ever made it to any of the baby & toddler groups in the area.
“No,” I reply, and my heart sinks with shame.
Three months ago I bumped into her at the health centre and she asked how things were going etc and I said I’d been thinking about joining a baby & toddler group or starting a class because neither of us are getting much socialisation. So she gave me a list of the groups in the area.
I went home and read the list. Googled the locations of the groups. Put them on my calendar.
But social anxiety said no.
I never went to any of them.
My son has no cousins and none of my friends have children. He is alone.
“Do you use any childcare at all?”
“Do you have any friends nearby?”
“Yes, I have a friend in *neighbouring town*.”
“Does she have children?”
“Does he have any cousins?”
“No. The closest he has are my youngest cousins who are 6 and 4 but they live an hour away.”
“Will he be going to nursery?”
“Yes,” I lied. I firmly plan to homeschool. But by this point I felt awful. Like it’s my fault that he isn’t talking yet, and she knows it too*.
She assured me that he is not considered speech delayed yet and is still within the normal limits for communication. And I know he is. I know he’ll talk in time.
But this is just another example of how anxiety can take over.
And I Was Already An Anxious Mess
I caused a bit of miscommunication by not telling the lady at the front desk I was there. Because when I first brought him to the drop-in clinic – held in the same room – I told her I was there but I didn’t need to and I felt like an ass. So I just walked right on past and took a seat outside the room.
My appointment time came and went so I knocked on the door (after much deliberation about whether or not I should).
No answer. She must still be with a previous appointment. I sit back down.
15 more minutes pass.
15 tense minutes where I’m anxious about everyone else in the waiting room and what they’re thinking of me and I know they’re watching us because the only thing that is moving or making a sound is my tiny adorable human.
Please stop trying to play with the fire extinguisher son. I know you like red things but it’s important that you don’t break that. Yes, there’s another one on that wall. Please, just sit with Mummy.
He pulls a notice off the pinboard behind my head. I scramble about in a low-key anxiety attack trying to find all the pins that dropped.
I sit back down. I wonder if I should ask at the front desk or if that would sound pushy. She’s probably just held up somewhere. I don’t want to be that Mum.
A physiotherapist passes and asks if I’m waiting for a physiotherapy appointment. I notice that one of the notices behind my head asks to please keep these seats free for physiotherapy patients.
I panic and knock again.
I sit back down. I consider just legging it.
Another health visitor passes and asks if I am waiting on the assessment.
“Did you tell the front desk you’re here?”
“No.” I felt like an ass.
She went and told them for me because anxiety makes it impossible to adult properly, and my health visitor arrives.
I honestly feel like I do something awkward every single time I see her. I also never answer the phone when she calls because I get umpteen sales calls a day so have stopped answering numbers I don’t know.
I wonder how close she is to calling social services on me for being weird and distant and awkward. I probably come across as vague and evasive.
I’d be suspicious of me too.
The meeting begins and the focus is mostly on Caide and whether or not he can stack blocks on top of each other and put Cheerios in a little urine sample bottle.
But Then It’s Question Time
Most questions were generic questions that were easy to answer. One took me totally by surprise.
“Are you on any medication?”
I hesitate. Why on Earth is she asking that? I better be honest. I don’t want to get caught hiding anything. That won’t look good.
“You’re still taking fluoxetine.”
Still? I have never told her I’m taking it. Maybe a slip of the tongue.
“Is it still 40mg?”
Do they share my medical records with the health visitor? Are they allowed to do that? That sounds like the Named Person Scheme that the Supreme Court ruled against. How does she know this?!
Then the above questions about Caide’s socialisation.
In my already anxious state, the questions were exaggerated to mean something they probably were never intended to.
That I am a terrible mother for isolating my son from his peers.
I’m avoiding these groups for my own benefit but it is proving detrimental to my son. I don’t want him to be the socially awkward hopeless case his parents are. I want him to thrive.
But my anxiety is already failing him.
I Know This Isn’t True
But logic < anxiety. It takes over the thinking part of the brain and inserts irrational thoughts that don’t feel irrational at the time. It ties up your thoughts into neat little negative-thinking loops that are almost impossible to break.
But I know it isn’t true.
But what if it is?
*I would like to mention that she did not ask all these questions in a row like that. It was not an interrogation. She is a lovely lady and I am not bashing her at all. I’m telling the version of the story that happened in my head, the way anxiety saw it.