The biggest waste of energy I experienced in life has been wasted worry. The biggest regret I have in parenthood, instead of enjoying. Being a mother is supposed to be fun for both of you, but when one of you is experiencing and enjoying life, while the other is joining in, but worrying, comparing, fearing for the future, and doing so, when your child is perfectly healthy, is it a waste of time, a waste of energy, a waste of precious memories. I didn’t really understand this for a few years, but it’s a message I really want to pass on to parents of kids who have developmental delays.
Comparison is Essential, yet unimportant
For professionals, unfortunately assessments need to be made. In order to address your kid’s delays, unfortunately, they have to follow that dreaded ‘developmental chart’. It can be a very painful read. If for any reason you have to, or decide to avoid other children your kid’s age, the reality can sometimes hit you. Professionals however aren’t judging here, they see it as a positive thing to decipher exactly where to direct your child’s therapy needs. I know it’s a difficult task, but trying to see that development chart as being for that purpose only may make things a bit easier.
Preconceived Ideas, Self Doubt and Other People
How did you imagine your child to be before you had them? Like you? Happier than you? More popular than you? More successful than you? Perhaps that is the circle of life? If your child was planned, perhaps for a long time, that image stays within your mindset? Perhaps if your child with developmental issues is your first child you just don’t get to see that life isn’t really like that. People who mould their kids into the way they want them to be, in my opinion aren’t always the best type of parent. You kid is unique, different, a separate entity to you, that child you planned to have is never the one you get, whether they have delays or not, and thank goodness they aren’t. Don’t spend time romantacising about a child who doesn’t exist. Preconceived ideas are never reality, and how boring life would be if they were.
Self Doubt, well yes, I guess that is a big one, and when your child doesn’t meet those milestones, this can creep under your skin with the constant insecurity that you did something wrong, that you aren’t doing enough, or someone else can do something better. The fact of the matter is that parenthood ain’t got no instruction book. If your child is happy, fed, watered, warm, and feeling loved, the world is their oyster. That basic security in their life is everything. Them not being able to speak yet, or hold a spoon has nothing to do with your parenting skills. As a good parent, of course you can encourage, of course you follow advice, and of course you give them all the opportunity you can to learn, but if they aren’t ready yet, they just aren’t ready, and no one is going to teach them those skills any better than you, so when they are ready, they will show you. Stop giving yourself a hard time, you are doing amazing. Their difficulties are no ones’ fault. Believe in yourself, you may have extra challenges just now, but you can do it, I promise.
Other People – Uggghhh, the younger the child, in my experience, the stronger the judgement. Some people appear to have ‘little people’ lodged in their list of expertise. Why? Because babies are hard, toddlers are challenging and I think most people who get through it give themselves a pat on the back, and very often a know-it-all attitude proceeds. I am trying to think of some good advice about how to cope with ‘other people’, but I can’t really think of much except, ignore them, you know your child better than anyone, its a tough one I know, but you can do it. When playing with your child in a public place, just focus on them, focus on their smile, and the fun they are having, does that other mother from the other side of the playground really have to influence your happiness, no she doesn’t. Hold your head up high, your kid is perfect and so are you
Therapy stress – are you doing enough, are you ever doing enough, are you feeling guilty because you haven’t done enough. Are professionals judging you if you feel enough hasn’t been done? You know what, do what you can. You may only have a few speech therapy lessons, you might have occupational therapy, behavioural therapy, play therapy, you might be inundated. You know what, just fit it what you can. You may be too tired, your kid might not feel like it, there could be a host of reasons, and that’s ok, life goes on, a few missed sessions isn’t going to do much harm, and a good therapist should understand sometimes life has other priorities. Obviously don’t be a lazy git and do nothing, It needs done, but so does play, hugs, McDonalds, and everything else kids love. Fit activities into your daily life, you can do it, have faith.
Life might not be how you planned it, it might be hard seeing your kid struggling, professionals might have tried to give you some insight into the future. Sometimes you might feel low, its all ok. Don’t be a hero though, if you see signs of depression, get anti depressants, thats ok too. The biggest bit of advice I would ever give parents is never, ever, ever, let anyone put limitations on your child. No one can predict the future,
If your kid gets a diagnosis, see it as an opportunity rather than a negative thing. If they are autistic connect with some autistic adults, down syndrome, that community, any other diagnosis, that one. Social media is great for this, and in my experience the most experienced people who can help you understand your kid, are the ones who share their diagnosis.
Remember we only live once, and your kids are only young for a short while, sometimes the things you worry about cannot be answered yet, so don’t focus on them. Instead focus on your wonderful little bundle of love who will teach you so much about life, so in exchange put the worrying to the side, and join in the fun and games. That’s the reason you had your kid in the first place.
Good luck x