Amid the Parenting Struggles, It’s the Little Things

There are little things that parents who have had “normal” children take for granted. It’s ok. I get it. My oldest child has always been, and is still in a lot of ways, the “perfect” child. He’s so well-behaved that it feels like I have to pick at something small to make him seem worse than he is. Sure, he doesn’t help out around the house as much as I’d like but what teenager really does? He gets straight As, has a plan for college, and is pretty much loved by everyone who meets him. He won’t even pull out his phone in class without asking permission first. He is just too good. He crawled, walked, and spoke well before the milestones said he would. He could read at an early age and was reading at a college level before he went into middle school. He’s smart, athletic, and adorable. And most importantly, he’s kind and protective.

It’s a shock to go from that to a “abnormal” child. I use the quotes in both cases because I’m using society’s definition. No child is normal or abnormal. They just do things their own way. My youngest started following the same trends, hitting most of his motor skill milestones as early as his brother or in some cases earlier. I had no idea that there was going to be a problem. I knew at some point before his first birthday that he didn’t say his first word. By that time, my oldest had already started 2 word sentences. I didn’t think about it. Every kid is different. Milestones, blah blah. Except by 2, he was still practically non-verbal.

When I wrote “A Special Place for Noah”, I reiterated a simple point: every little thing matters. The joy I feel every time my youngest looks me in the eyes to have a conversation with me just can’t be described. He’s engaged. He makes eye contact. Even at 3 by the time he started preschool, he still barely spoke or looked anyone in the eyes. It’s tough knowing that you are doing everything that you are supposed to and still sucking at  your one job. He went from not speaking, to speaking at us, to now actively engaging in conversation. He reads visual cues from an expression on our faces. He’s empathetic, comforting his friends. He plays with kids now, not just next to them.

It seems silly to other parents that don’t understand. They don’t understand that every time a child makes eye contact with you, when they spent so much time avoiding it, is a huge moment. Any time that they don’t have a meltdown because their routine was messed up in some way is a huge moment. All of these little things matter. I don’t care if you think I’m ridiculous in celebrating these little things. Great, your child was potty trained by 2 and speaks exceedingly well for their age. Guess what? That perfect mom isn’t telling you all of the story, only the parts that makes her look like supermom. I used to look at my youngest after seeing posts like that and wondered how I screwed this all up. But I didn’t. I did everything I could. I’m doing everything that I can do. That’s enough for me to go to sleep fine at night.

Some kids just have a slower path but eventually they all get where they were meant to. Sometimes you just have to remember that everyone is different, some requiring a bit more time and patience.

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