Hair-Raising boys with added interest.

I can’t say I went into motherhood with much enthusiasm. It was one of those things I thought we might get round to at some undetermined point in the future which we approached with trepidation. Some kindly folk, brimming with enthusiastic benevolence, would like to pat my pregnant tummy and ask me what I hoped for, “A kitten, or a puppy, would be nice,” was my usual quip.

He was born 3 weeks overdue, more accurately, extracted at that time. It was thought that my continual denial and his tardiness had stretched the accepted limits of medical caution far enough. While they stitched my abdomen back together we were offered the distraction of a tiny child to admire. An overwhelming swoon that ‘love at first sight’ brings hit me like a brick. He looked too beautiful to be anything other than a borrowed baby whose gorgeous ‘real’ mother would be along to collect at any time. Surely this ‘gift’ couldn’t be mine?

We gave him an explorer’s name, Mungo, it means ‘friendly and affable’ and was a nod to my distant Scottish ancestry and my haggis eating tendency. Babies, let’s face it, are generally pretty similar looking. I can’t tell baby photos of my younger two apart, but Mungo was exquisitely formed. He was only 6 ½ pounds with a head of dark hair, eyelashes like Bambi, rosebud lips and skin softer than anything I’ve ever known. It wasn’t only his parents that were in awe, there was a stream of midwives and medical staff at the Royal Cornwall Hospital who asked us if they could come and take a look. For my brief stay I felt like the parent of a celebrity.

Thirteen years on, I’ve found myself genuinely appreciative of how this child has mellowed me. While my son’s features were being assessed during his first post-natal check, I remember this powerful surge of maternal aggression, “There’s nothing wrong with him,” I said.  I was emphatic, “He’s fine”. Not knowing at the time that ‘FLK’ had been jotted on his birth notes. Word sounds don’t form easily on Mungo’s lips but we can admire people’s ‘shoes’, and indulge in the pure pleasure of saying other single words, like ‘Marmite’ and ‘pie’ which he can utter with clarity. It’s a lucky thing that my Funny Looking Kid’s easy, affable nature makes him endearing and engenders goodwill from everyone he meets.

Mungo has no diagnosis, just a vague label: General Global Developmental Delay. It tells us nothing. Except that ambitious parental hopes feel hollow. With hindsight we might have just as easily have called him ‘Murray’, like the mint, ‘too good to hurry’.

When my second son, Alex, was born we invested in an ‘all terrain’ double buggy. I’m not sure if the places we took it were quite what the manufactures had in mind, it was certainly tested to its limits. Sensible parents don’t take children in pushchairs on cliff paths do they? With ours we bumped our precious offspring down steep inclines, narrow steps, and rocky paths. They may have incurred the odd bramble scratch or were snagged by the undergrowth but I don’t recall any squeals of complaint. We’d have to unload them and sit them on the soil or grass while we heaved this buggy over stiles and fences and reload them again on the other side. I’m rather proud of my reckless and adventurous approach, even if as adults we found the process exhausting. However, I probably gave them too many ‘adventurous’ ideas which come back to scare me now.

Milestones in human lives, like talking and walking, I now see as miraculous achievements. Although Mungo only managed his first faltering steps at two he now enjoys long, rambling hikes. Sometimes he’s unstoppable and my nails have been gnawed to bleeding discovering I’ve lost him. I rely on kind strangers who meet him on his way to apprehend him, while I run frantically to seek him out.

My children’s survival probably has more to do with prayer for protection than anything more practical. I have to walk away when I see both Alex and his younger brother, Sam, climbing trees and scaling cliffs, it makes me feel queasy just to witness and I’m terrified that Mungo, who likes to do what they do, will follow if I don’t draw him away. They net result is that one child has been over-protected and the other two are left to free-range. I’ve watched the alarm on some passers-by and tell them, “It’s alright, I used to have more children,” by ironic way of reassurance.  I beg my boys to be cautious and lavish them with excessive hugs to show them just how cherished they are.

We’ve just acquired a little girl dog who’s now the focus of the family’s adoration. A good friend asked me if this wasn’t just something else I’ll keeping losing, however not being one to worry about things that might not happen I’m keen that this tiny Jack Russell will be my saviour and quickly learn to “Seek Mungo!”

8 thoughts on “Hair-Raising boys with added interest.

  1. Loved this blog! I totally understand about the whole milestone thing, our 2nd son has autism and looking at milestones for him went out the window years ago!! I’m just pleased he can dress and feed himself and sleeps all night in his own bed. I know he’ll never have a ‘normal’ life like others his age but he keeps me on my toes and wouldn’t be without him.
    Look forward to Reading your test co-ordinating nightmare blog lol

  2. A’real ‘ and moving account Jessica Said from the heart and read with many a thought. A friend has a boy with CP wrote words calls Holland about having a special child which summasies all the expectations of people surrounding issues of Things not being what people expect.

    I was a tester last yr Wow with family like and coordinating testing u need a mummy of the year award! X

  3. Hi Jessica, it’s nice to meet you, and I love this blog. That picture is just precious! And your response to passers-by: “it’s all right, I used to have more children” – priceless. I may have to use that one sometime.

    I have two boys, an extremely dramatic 11-year-old, and a nearly 13-year-old with autism. Both pregnancies were surprises, and I too wondered what I had done wrong to deserve it, but of course instantly fell in love with both of them.

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  4. This is a wonderful, frank and loving post. My eldest, 10, has asperger’s and so I understand how you have to chuck out the rule book and make it up from scratch.
    I will be back.

  5. Hi Jessica- I came here from BMB- lovely post- definitely write more…..I blog about my autistic daughter, if people don’t like, they don’t have to read!!


  6. Hi there, popped over from British Mummy Bloggers. This is a lovely post. My son has just been diagnosed with Asperger’s so I appreciate any information that Mum’s pop into the blogosphere. Hope your dog does find Mungo for you. I think perhaps we should get one as Nipper does like to run off when you least expect it.

  7. Pingback: Parallel Universe « Jessica Milln's Blog

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