I never knew how much perseverance it took to be a mother until I became one. For the first five years of my son’s life, I learned to parent a child with speech sound disorder, anxiety, sensory aversions, and fine/oral motor delays.
Naively, I did not expect that becoming a mother to a tiny person would entail such significant obstacles. Additionally, not having the tools to understand him led me to feel great helplessness—the absolute worst feeling for any mother.
I would ask myself questions such as, why does my son not like food? Why does he hate sleeping alone? Why does he still drool at 3-years old? Why does he not pronounce his words correctly? Why does he pull tantrums when his pants or sweater ride-up?
Am I to blame for any of these difficulties? These pondering whys felt like such a burden on my soul because I could not find anyone who could genuinely understand me or my son’s daily struggles. I, who advocated for countless mothers and their children, was lost, confused, and alone in my parenting battles.
A mom knows when something is wrong with her child. We call this a motherly instinct, a nagging feeling that just does not let-up. That nagging feeling obliged me to take action. It helped me persevere and push forward when I was being told that his developmental issues would self-regulate. When my son was 3-years old, he was evaluated by an occupational and speech therapist. When I finally received a diagnosis for my son, I was conflicted. Part of me felt relief because I had the answers to my pressing whys. However, the other half of me was fearful because I knew my son would need additional resources to improve his motor and language skills. Moreover, his issues would not magically disappear without my interventions.
My son’s uniqueness enriched my life by forcing me to persevere in my quest for the answers, and my background in social services and education shaped my resourcefulness. But, my journey still felt heavy and incomplete because I knew my child relied on me to overcome his difficulties. The pressure that I felt to succeed was overwhelming. No mother wants to fail her child. So, I strived to find resources, books, and professionals that could empower and aid me in my struggles. As I became stronger and equipped with tools, I observed a lack of openness in women to confide about their parenting struggles for fear of being scrutinized or blamed. We can easily discuss when children do not sleep through the night or what diaper creams we prefer. However, we feel uncomfortable if we must speak the truth about our child’s invisible handicap and mental health, or perhaps our struggles of domestic violence and addictions. Because in doing so, we feel faulty and less of a mother.
Sadly, this layer of superficiality creates barriers amongst women and children. This silence perpetuates societal stigmas because if we do not speak about invisible disabilities, mental health, or addictions, then they do not exist. I want to break that silence by changing the narrative through my voice.
My son and his great obstacles combined with my parenting struggles inspired me to create Ooh Motherhood. OohMotherhood is a resource blog created to empower mothers by connecting them to resources and education. OohMotherhood accomplishes two things: it speaks about invisible disabilities, mental health, suicide, sex education, and addictions concerning children and mothers. More importantly, it finds resources and education to these issues, which can help mothers continue to persevere in their journey. What’s more, using cyberspace as the vessel, OohMotherhood can connect to a plethora of free resources and education that extends across borders. More importantly, making OohMotherhood a resource accessible and free to all mothers. A mother is a mother no matter what her socioeconomic status states. All mothers’ struggles are unique, but at the core, they unite all women because every mother wants the best for her child. Furthermore, if we can connect mothers and children by building bridges as opposed to creating walls and isolating them, then this type of outreach helps the advancement of all mothers. If we can help one mother, we automatically help her child, making our world stronger and empowered.
MariannA Bonfa is an avid mother-child advocate, caseworker, teacher and creator of Oohmotherhood.com. Her passion for helping mothers and children began in her youth through the White Ribbon Campaign. Her diploma in social services provided her experiences with NGOs and Youth Protection. Eventually, fulfilling her caseworker role for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Montreal. In 2014, she transitioned to teaching English as a Second Language to primary students in Quebec furthering her experience in the education sector. She continues to advocate for mothers and children on her blog, Oohmotherhood.com where she aims to empower mothers through resources and education.