Since the day he was born, I have parented O based on two principles: respect and trust. They are small words, but they are profound words. Words that in times of uncertainty and unease, have helped lead the way… and in times of strength and joy, words that have been enthusiastically celebrated.
Respecting and trusting a two month old, a six month old, a fourteen month old, a whatever month old — it looks a lot like this. It is fundamentally different than the ways many babies and toddlers are raised, yes, but it is beautiful. I haven’t been perfect about it (when it came to getting O to sleep, I /had/ to let some of it go), but it’s meant so much to me to try and be with it’s premises as much as I could.
This means that I didn’t do tummy time with O until he was able to discover it on his own. I honoured his timeline, and I had the mantra of “in-time”, NOT “on-time”, on repeat in my head. This wasn’t the Olympics, and he’d eventually find where he needed to be. Heck, come the start of kindergarten, he’d be running around and causing a ruckus just like every other kid there. There felt no need to rush it.
It slowly became apparent that O would be taking the long way around as a means to development of his gross motor skills, however. At six months he rolled into his tummy. At seven months he rolled onto his back. He is still a bit funny about doing both, however. At 12 months he mastered sitting on his own (yes, you read that right). And just today, at 14 months, I witnessed him get from his tummy to a sitting position for the first time ever. I was so, so, SO happy to be there to witness it, surgery bruises and all.
Now, and because you’re probably wondering, he has yet to crawl (though he does some fierce, exploratory circles on his tummy), yet to stand and yet to walk. And you know what? It’s taken me a long time to say this, despite how deep my intentions were in respect and trust, but it’s gonna be okay. It really, truly is.
As anxiety is wont to do, there have been times aplenty that I have struggled. Did I cause his delay? Should I have pushed him anyways? Is it my fault he currently has the gross motor capabilities of a 6-9 month old? Should I have listened to the naysayers who told me differently? Have I been stubborn and foolhardy for my gain alone? Insert doubt after doubt after doubt.
Do you know how hard is to to watch a kid half your child’s age do things that they cannot? Or the heart wrench at yearning for their freedom and independence of movement as they howl in frustration for the umpteenth about not being able to reach something just outside their grasp? The wanting of so much more for them, and for them to be like all the other toddlers in that last play date you attended, but knowing you are powerless. Insert worry after worry after worry.
But you know what?
I listened to him. I honoured his choices. I let him guide the way. I did what was in my heart. I was lead by a gentle, slow and patient love that believed tremendously in respecting and trusting him. And as he now gets extra, special help from various specialists so that he can learn more, I continue to do all of those things everyday and always. This is no ones fault. It is simply how the cards laid.
He is who he is, and I am who I am. And at the end of the day, week, month and year, we’re gonna be okay.