I’ve spent some time this year reflecting on what has shaped me as a therapist. One of these things is my own experiences a a parent. 14 years ago tomorrow our first born child was born, lived for a short while then died. A truly amazing experience – becoming a mum – but a truly horrific one too.
What jumps out at me this week is recalling the kindly paediatrician talking about the syndrome my child had and the “facial and physical features” “associated with” the syndrome that my child had. Whilst I recognise that he was trying to prepare me – instead it terrified me – so much so that when he was born I couldn’t open my eyes.
When I finally did open them and looked at my son I was blow away by the love that I felt and how he was perfect to me. I am reminded of this moment and how families might be feeling often as I meet with parents whose children I am assessing or working with.
Would I have felt differently if I had been prepared that he would be “lovely” and “precious”. Would I have felt less terrified and protective of him being judged and found wanting? Who knows? I know that I appreciated everyone who welcomed him briefly to the world and said “he is beautiful”. We couldn’t take away his syndrome or keep him but I can always keep what he is to me.
To every parent. Your child is not a cluster of symptoms. They are not “syndromey” or “disordered”. They are your child. A unique individual. Loved by you and beautiful to you. And to be valued and respected by all. Full stop.
And for me as a professional may I always remember that whatever skills we are assessing this is someone’ child first and foremost. Unique and beautiful and loved. This is important to me. Full stop.