ADJUSTING TO MOTHERHOOD AS A DYSPRAXIC WOMAN
I am a dyspraxic mother to two little boys; ‘L’ who is nearly four and ‘A’ who is two months.
Having dyspraxia has always made me prone to tiredness. It often takes me far longer to conduct practical tasks than it does a neurotypical person and I often have to concentrate harder in order to not get my words jumbled up when speaking to others.
Even after a good night sleep, this often leads to exhaustion. Unfortunately for most new parents, sleeping becomes a luxury! Even before having children, sleep deprivation caused my speech to become a lot more slurred and my ability to process information slowed right down, so as you can imagine, I found the lack of sleep in the early days very tough and the baby blues hit me hard. I also had great difficulties breastfeeding ‘L’, but being the stubborn person I am, these difficulties were overcome after many episodes of blood, sweat and tears! By that point, a routine had also been established making myself feel more confident. When pregnant with ‘A’, I was dreading the return of sleep deprivation but thankfully he is a fairly decent sleeper, we did not experience many difficulties breastfeeding and I escaped the baby blues – hooray!
I have always had the tendency to do the bare minimum if I slept terribly the night before, however after having ‘L’, I realised this was only making me feel more anxious and guilty if we spent days not leaving the house. For me, getting out was initially a massive leap out of my comfort zone. The practical issue of manoeuvring a pram made me feel very nervous but after testing it out a couple of times, I found it was not as difficult a task as I feared it would be. My first ever post-natal walk was a trip to the nearest supermarket and I remember feeling delighted that I was able to successfully push the pram without knocking over any shelves or people! When I first had ‘A’, I was really nervous about going out as ‘L’ can get very hyper at times and I was worried about him running off. Ironically, I now find it easier to get out the house than to stay in as it allows ‘L’ to burn off energy whilst ‘A’ can have a good snooze (win, win!). Getting out has also enabled me to address my social anxiety. Yes, there have been times where I have felt very awkward and by the time I get home, I always feel shattered. However over time I have been to some wonderful groups and I am lucky enough to have found a few fantastic mummy friends. Overall, I feel taking that leap outside my comfort zone has been beneficial for both myself and my children and therefore worth it.
Alongside parenting, I have been studying psychology with the Open University. When I tell others this, they often tell me how organised I must be. At first I felt inclined to disagree with them but I have since come to realise that even dyspraxics can be organised if they employ effective coping strategies! Before becoming a parent, I would frequently question my place in the world. Whilst I was fortunate enough to have a job, it was never what I wanted to do. Since having children and starting my degree, I think I am finally finding my voice and I feel more ambitious than ever before to be the person I have always wanted to be.