It was just under six and a half years ago when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I had just quit my job to go back to school and get my teaching certification. I had no plans to have a baby anytime soon, I was just blessed early. It was in the midst of a child development class when it hit me; I have so much more to worry about than if they are being fed the right milk. So began the most anxious, yet enlightening, years of my life.
It began in the womb. Making sure he was hitting all of his milestones. Did he kick at the right week? Is his head measuring correctly? It was exhausting. Pregnancy is the last time where you honestly have the time to care for yourself. It’s never been more important than those nine months. But instead of taking care of myself, I was sitting there worried about if this little man, who had not even come into the world, was doing what he needed to do.
Then he was born and with that came a new set of questions. Was he cooing at the right age? Is he crawling at the right age? Why didn’t he begin to walk until 16 months? I signed up for baby email updates. Biggest mistake of my life. Talk about a monthly dose of anxiety! Comparing my child to millions of others was the worst thing I could have done.
It was at about three years old when I realized something had to change. I ditched the emails, parenting articles, research, milestone calendars, and in turn, ditched my anxiety. This was my child, I was going to take charge and worry less.
Be Confident, Not Judgmental!
What we need to understand is our children are all different. I should not compare my child to yours. I am a mom, not a doctor. Yes, I took child development classes, but I don’t have a degree in just that. I am a mom, my job is to love. It took some experience and time to learn this.
My oldest didn’t walk until he was 16 months old. Yes, seems late, but my gosh did he take off! He went from crawling to a literal sprint. I then read that a long period of crawling is good for their brain development (yes going back to the research, I know).
He hadn’t been potty trained by his three year appointment. No sweat. This kid went from not potty trained to an expert in the matter of weeks after that appointment. He has wet the bed maybe three times in his life.
Speech. Don’t get my started on speech. I understand it is important to observe speech. It can give clues to the doctor on if there are larger issues. I stressed big on this one. You could barely understand anything he was saying at two. I waited though. Thanks to a confident and informed doctor, I learned to wait. Then one day he woke up and became Einstein. We understood everything he said. He had always understood everything we said. The whole time we worried about his speech he had in fact been learning. That was apparent when he finally clicked.
Our oldest also seemed to be scared of everything. Something else we were worried about. Could he be autistic? It was always in the back of our minds. The doctor, again, reassured us to give him time. He eventually learned to accept his surroundings. He realized what he had been missing by not going to the loud movie theatre, or on that awesome steam locomotive. We just had to show him, not allow him to dictate his own life. I mean, he is only a little kid.
The Great Enlightenment
My son is now five and about to enter kindergarten as a normal, sometimes brilliant, child. He can read small sentences, knows all about the solar system, and can call you out on pretty much anything. Funny that I spent so much of his childhood, so far, worrying about his development.
My advice to all of you is to first and foremost, listen to your doctor. If your doctor sincerely has concerns, then listen. If your mama gut is telling you to get a second opinion, then please do. If your doctor tells you to wait, wait.
I learned so much about children from having my son. I learned they are resilient. They are their own person. They learn and hit milestones on their own terms. Sometimes they are waiting because they have a good reason.
I learned to not compare, to just love him.