Youth is opinion without experience. When I had my first child I was 24 years old. Being someone who is very clinical in their approach to new experiences I held a lot of beliefs based on “expert” opinions that I had read in books and articles. I was so naive to what being a parent was all about that I thought I had it covered because I had purchased glass baby bottles and was never going to let my kid watch TV. I am not ashamed to admit, I was an idiot.
If parenthood isn’t about defining your parenting theories and implementing them in a strict scientific lab study then what is it about? In a word…
I walked into parenthood hoping that my kid was going to hit every milestone on time (or maybe earlier)! I assumed my child would excel in ways others did not and I became very competitive (silently of course). I wanted my kid to beat yours. I wanted my son to be smarter, faster, more charming, better behaved and not for his benefit, but for my own. As a young mother, I was still pretty self-centered. And I believed that my son’s future success in life wouldn’t really reflect his achievements but my own as his mother.
Imagine my horror when at two years old, the brilliant child that was going to trump all others, still wasn’t talking. He didn’t point, or clap, or gesture in any meaningful way. When he tried to talk his words came out jumbled and indecipherable. It only takes one doctor to agree that there’s something wrong with your perfect baby before every book you ever read, every article you ever studied, and every parent you had ever thumbed your nose at, punches you in your hubris filled ovaries.
There is no book out there that transforms you into being an advocate for your child. There is no sage advice for parents who find themselves floundering in a sea of labels and diagnoses. There is no adequate theory that teaches you how to be a mom. And I say that because there are a ton of books and articles on how to be the perfect parent, but none that show you how to stay afloat when “normal” disappears.
So what did I do? I adapted. I adapted by putting aside preconceived ideas of what it means to have the perfect child. And I did what I had to do to help my son.
My son had a speech delay. It wasn’t the end of the world. It wasn’t even the end of my pride in him. But it was the end of my belief that my child needed to be better than yours. It was the end of my silent competition. And it was a lesson I needed in humility.
My child isn’t perfect and Thank God for that because I’m a better parent for it.