“The path of development is a journey of discovery that is clear only in retrospect, and it’s rarely a straight line.”― Eileen Kennedy-Moore
There is a deep desire for mothers to have their children meet every milestone in the “normal” timeframe. After two kids, I wish I could say this fear subsided. It’s not our fault! Every pediatrician appointment is a checklist of what is considered “normal,” from how much they weigh, what they eat, the number of dirty and wet diapers, and how many words they are speaking. For both of my kids, the milestones that brought on the most stress were eating, sleeping, and speaking! Worry about speech became evident for both kids around 2 when the pediatrician started asking at checkups about how many words my toddler was speaking.
When my daughter had just turned 2, I got together with a few local moms and their babies. I couldn’t believe it when an 18-month-old there said “Mommy, I want an avocado.” My jaw fell. I was so impressed with a full sentence and that they were asking for healthy foods! I immediately felt like I was doing something wrong as a mother and started playing the comparison game about milestones. I was fearful that I had messed up my kid somehow. I thought that obviously, the lack of words reflected shortcomings in how I was parenting. In retrospect, I realize this isn’t true at all! I was doing my best as a first-time parent. Children progress at their own pace.
What I wish I had known at the time was that there is no shame in connecting your child to an expert who can help them with whatever milestone they are struggling to reach. Both of my children went to Speech Therapy at different ages. My daughter went when she was four years old, and my 2-year-old son is currently working with a Speech Therapist once a week. He has made SO much progress in the past 3 months. Hearing him say “Bless you!” when someone sneezes never ceases to put a smile on my face. I know that eventually both of my children would have reached the milestones I was concerned about but working with a professional to give them specialized help based on their individual needs and struggles helped them to navigate the roadblocks much quicker. There is no shame in asking for help and there is certainly no shame in asking for help for our kids!