Monday, February 24, 2014

Best Advice I Can Give To New Moms

   I remember the days back when my daughter was a baby very vividly (hasn't been that long, after all). There was a lot of fun to that stage; she was learning to new things left and right. But there was also a lot of stress. If you go to the bookstore and pick out a parenting book, they all seem to have guidelines about what your precious baby should or should not be doing, along with ages. Like at so-and-so months, your child should be rolling over, or sitting, or walking, or talking. I threw those books away early, but what I couldn't throw away was all the people, all with the best intentions, telling me that my daughter wasn't doing what she should be doing.
   My daughter, apparently, was slow to roll over. Who knew? Well, everybody except me, it seems. Then she was slow to sit up on her own without support. I had well-meaning people left and right telling me that I needed to work with her, and I would look over at my daughter, diligently working on putting her foot in her mouth, literally, and somehow I just didn't think that a kid who could bend like that was gonna have a problem  with a weak spine. I just thought that at that particular time, she had other interests. Her foot needed to be in her mouth. I figured that once she realized her toes didn't taste very good, she would work on sitting.
   Then she didn't crawl. My daughter never did learn to crawl. That's not to say that she didn't get around -- she did-- she had just found an alternative method. My daughter rolled EVERYWHERE. If she was by the TV and wanted to get to the coffee table, she would lay down on her back and start rolling towards it, giggling as she went. She was also extremely fast at the butt scoot. People stressed me out with their constant, "Your kid isn't developing as fast as she should." But I would look at her, and to me she seemed fine. She just did things differently.
   She learned to walk 'on time' but there were certain family members that expressed disappointment that she did not walk early. However, within a week of learning to walk, she figured out how to run, and everyone was too busy chasing her and too tired to complain for a while.
   Talking was never a problem. She learned to talk early, and almost from the start, she could string sentences together. She talked like a little adult, which brought on complaints about the fact that she wasn't potty training fast enough. "She's obviously smart. Why can't you get her to use the potty? You have to be firm and consistent." As if I didn't know that. I tried everything. I took away diapers and made her run around in panties and took her to the potty every hour, and none of it worked. I felt like a failure, just because my kid wouldn't use the potty at the suggested age. But eventually, I just stopped worrying about that as well, to the fury of some. But hey, I felt justified. Everything my daughter had been slow at doing, she had started doing almost perfectly once she got around to the task. I decided to wait. My daughter didn't potty train until she was four, but once she did, she never had an accident. She never wet the bed, never peed herself because she couldn't hold it; once she decided she wanted to use the toilet she did so with ease and perfection.
   This has always been how my daughter has worked. She likes to do things when she is good and ready to do them. And if she doesn't want to do them, forcing her is like trying to move a mountain. Good luck with that. Sometimes parenting is stepping back and paying attention to your child's patterns. How does your child do things? What is the norm for your child? Because your child isn't one of those neat and tidy little statistics -- your child is unique and will do things in his/her own way.
   My daughter was slow, according to all of the books, and all of the people who held her up to other kids. Today -- my daughter is twelve. She is wicked smart and has a zany, goofy, fun personality. She still does things in her own way at her own time, and that's fine, because I've learned that there can be a method to her hesitation. She's watching, listening, learning, and she'll do whatever it is when she feels good and ready, and do it with confidence.
   So that would be the advice that I would give to other mothers. All the studies in the world cannot tell you how your child will work. They will not tell you when your child should do something. They will tell you how other children work, and around what ages the majority of other children did those things -- but those children are not your children. I don't really like to give parenting advice because I am far, far from an expert, yet, at the same time, I am a mother. I have been there, stressing because my daughter wasn't doing what everyone said she should do at the age they said she should.
   And I am telling you now, all that crap means nothing. It's just crap. So my advice is not to hold your child up to crap standards that may or may not mean a damn thing. Your child will move and learn at their own pace, and if you are really worried, you can always go talk to your doctor. But don't stress out because some book, or family member, or friend said that your kid isn't learning fast enough. Your child is unique. In all of the world, there has never been another baby like the one you have now, and there never will be another one just like that baby again, so how can you compare that special baby to someone else?

My daughter at 3 months. 

My daughter around 9 months.