Maxine is starting to let go when she is standing up. She has even taken a single step here and there. In another life, I might have been tempted to push her to do things before she is ready. But Max gets to reep the benefits of my parenting experiences with Evelyn.
So Max is somewhat on the later side to be doing things. I’m completely at peace with this. Max is a cautious baby. She doesn’t do anything until she can do it with control and safety. I believe in encouraging her when she makes the decision to work on something new. I believe in applauding her efforts to try something new. But I don’t like to give her the impression that my praise of her-that my love for her is contingent upon her stepping outside of what is comfortable for her. My pride and my love are unwavering and they don’t ebb and flow with the development of new motor skills or speech.
I feel like, as a society, we put too many expectations on our children. We expect them to live by graphs and charts and we have a tendency to panic when they aren’t keeping up with their peers. To what end? Maybe Max would have walked earlier had we worked on it more. Maybe when people ask me if Max is walking “yet” (we will get to the word “yet” in a minute), I could answer yes. But what would that have done to her little psyche? What would that teach her?
Whenever I feel the urge to push Max to do something, I have trained myself to stop and think about my OWN motivations. Is that chart looming in the back of my mind? Did someone just ask me if she was doing “X yet?” Am I having a moment where I am thinking that her not walking, not eating solids, not doing algebra “yet” is a reflection on me as a mother? Because that’s my own problem–my own insecurities.
When Evelyn was younger, it would be like a knife in my heart every time someone asked me if she was doing “X yet.” It was like fueling the fire burning inside of me…the fear that she was different, the fear that she wouldn’t catch up. And as the gap between normal and Evelyn grew, that word, “yet,” became more and more piercing. And when people would say, “don’t worry, she will catch up” a little piece of me would die and I wouldn’t know why. I know now it is because it felt like it wouldn’t be okay with people if she didn’t catch up. In a lot of cases it isn’t okay with people.
I never felt better when I put aside my desire for Evelyn to do things like other kids. It was a true epiphany to know that Evelyn should do things like Evelyn and that her mama shouldn’t worry about what anyone but Evelyn can do. And I carry this package of enlightenment with me like a little gift to myself when I might be tempted to enter either of my children into the endless competitions that they will be forced to endure throughout life. My kids will be sitting most contests out. We will work on playing hard and loving. This gives us the competitive edge.