When I Failed to Recognize his Anxiety

Dear sweet not-so-baby boy,

I’m writing this letter to you as an apology. You are beyond a doubt the sweetest, most kind-hearted, gentle soul I have ever met. I’m so sorry for what I have done over your past 8 years, and I’m sorry for what I have not done. Kellen Thomas, you mean the world to me, and I have truly let you down.

I’m sorry that I thought you would grow out of it. That is a horrible mentality for a mom to have. It made me blind to what your needs truly were. Once you hit what I thought was old enough, I pushed aside your instant tears because I thought you should have grown out of that. I assumed that at some point you wouldn’t be so sensitive anymore. I had no idea that deep down, you were struggling and me shrugging it off wasn’t helping.

I’m sorry that it took me 8 years before I discovered that the way you twist up your sweet little hands is really the beginning signal that you are overwhelmed, uncomfortable and confused. I’m sorry that you couldn’t come to me in those moments, so you developed a tick to help you self soothe. I am so sorry that my response when I saw you do that was to forcefully tell you to knock it off.

I’m sorry that “walk-it-off” was the constant mantra you heard from me when you’d be playing and then get hurt. Sure I’d kiss your ouchies, but I’m sorry that I didn’t realize that all you needed was a longer hug and extra reassurance. 

I’m sorry that I signed you up to play sports that I thought a boy should play. And even when they moved so fast you couldn’t keep up, you tried your best, twisted up hands and all. I’m sorry that I made you feel like you couldn’t say you didn’t get it.

I’m sorry that my expectations for you at school were so high that you thought you had to hide your struggles. Leaving months of homework scrunched up in your locker rather than bringing them home and asking for help.

Most of all,  I’m sorry that my projection of what a little boy should be/do/act clouded my vision of the wonderfully amazing son that you actually are.  

You are MY son. You are fearfully and wonderfully made at the hands of God.

So, my little monkey from now on, when you cry, no matter what the circumstances are… run to me.

When you are overwhelmed at life or sports… come to me.

When you feel the anxiety creeping up and you don’t know what to do… twist my hands.

When your feelings or body are hurt… cry to me.

When you are confused because the words or math problems are hard… bring them to me.

You are the perfect son and I wouldn’t trade you for anything.

Thank you for turning me into the mommy I never thought I’d be.

I’m here for you always and forever,


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12 Responses to When I Failed to Recognize his Anxiety

  1. Lisa April 25, 2017 at 8:32 am #

    So beautiful. Grace to you, Mama.

    • Marsha Roth May 2, 2017 at 10:21 pm #

      Thank you!!

  2. Kelly April 26, 2017 at 6:49 am #

    Beautiful and you are not alone!!!!! ❤️

  3. Nancy April 26, 2017 at 6:21 pm #

    I was the “Kellen” in my family. Your love and understanding will go a long way as he continues to grow.

  4. Alice May 2, 2017 at 10:16 pm #

    I have a “Kellen” who will soon be 21, he’s at college now. There were years I was 1st in line at carpool, went to lunch every day especially at first when he was young. We were fortunate to find a terrific therapist, he saw regularly as a young boy, less so as a teen but was always there for a “tune-up!” He went off to college confidently, by Thanksgiving he crashed, we got him back for a “tune-up” and since then he’s been great. He’s got a dog, which is very helpful when they are away and alone, he’s found his niche and we’ve realized we have to see him regularly and talk (not text to hear his voice), regularly as well. He still has anxiety times but finally recognizes it and reaches out via phone or visit before it gets too bad. I don’t personally suffer from anxiety and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone but with help and yes, with medication when needed, it gets a whole lot better. I hope this helps.

    • Marsha May 7, 2017 at 5:31 pm #

      Thank you so much!! We have seen such improvement in him since we finally took notice! We have discovered little signals to give him when we notice he needs extra love and we are discovering more and more that when asks questions about things there is almost always a deeper meaning! I’m so glad to hear that your son is successful now!! Gives me hope! Thanks for sharing!!

  5. Sandi Smith May 4, 2017 at 2:29 pm #

    I feel like I have been where you were. My son is eleven now and because I learned who he was, things are pretty great now. Sometimes we still struggle with other adults and their interaction with him, and them respecting who he is. Thank you for writing this

    • Marsha May 7, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

      You are welcome!! It’s nice to hear that there is light at the end of the tunnel! Thank you for reading!

  6. Paula May 4, 2017 at 10:44 pm #

    My son’s name is also Kellen. He’s 20. And I totally get all of this.

  7. Eniola May 5, 2017 at 1:58 pm #

    Very beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Victoria May 11, 2017 at 3:08 pm #

    Thank you for this. My son is 3 and is also sensitive. The part about him being too old for tears really hit home. Sometimes I get so busy with his baby sister I forget he is still small too.

    • Marsha May 11, 2017 at 8:25 pm #

      We have reflected on that so many times Victoria! With questions like, “Did we force him to grow up too fast?” “Did we push him out of the crib too fast because another baby came along?” As long as you recognize it, that’s the first step! It was for us!