James & Desmond's Story
"Some people need help and I was one of those people."
I lost my wife right after my son Desmond’s birth. She had complications with the Cesarean. We stayed in the hospital for four days, and then we came home and she passed that first night. It’s easy to be a dad, but it’s hard to learn how to be a mom. Desmond is three years old now, and it’s not been an easy road. In the two years after he was born and his mom died, I had another son pass away, I had a stroke, and I lost my job. I was given a social worker who made a referral to St. David’s Center. That’s how we got connected to Sue in the Home Visiting program.
What was I going to do if I couldn’t pay my rent or buy food and I had this little boy? He needed a stable home.
It’s tough but I’m having to learn how to be a mom and a dad. That’s what’s been so great about having St. David’s Center’s Home Visiting. I can call up Sue anytime for parenting advice to say, “Hey, this guy is running up the wall. What do I do?”
When Sue started making her visits, she gave Desmond a notebook. As we would go over how to fill out paperwork and get appointments made, she’d nod to him at certain points and say, “Did you get that?” He’s just playing around, but it shows how much he likes to be involved and say and do what I do.
He used to do these tantrum things where he’d throw himself down and hit his head against the floor. Before, I would walk around for five seconds to try to calm down myself and give him space to calm down. I would be frustrated because he was frustrated and I wouldn’t know why he was doing it. But I wasn’t addressing his fits and engaging with him like he wanted, and that was the problem. I’ve come to learn that if I can just sit there and talk with him for those five seconds, it will be okay. It lets him use his words to talk to me so I can try to understand what’s bothering him, and he has calmed down a lot. He doesn’t do those tantrums anymore.
I didn’t know much about child development, either. Without Sue, I probably still wouldn’t be able to communicate with my son. I knew Desmond wasn’t talking like he should be and Sue helped me set him up with speech therapy, which I didn’t even know existed. Sue also made herself available to do a lot of footwork for us like helping provide transportation and coming along to the sessions for support. Desmond is starting to speak now.
Every day is a progression and all I try to do is make today better than yesterday. I feel like I’m establishing a relationship with him where he won’t wait to come to Dad when he needs help.