As parents, we naturally look for our child’s accomplishments. It is a unique gift we’ve been given. An Olympian can have his whole country cheering for him, but the only people he wants to see in the stands are his mom and dad.
When my 2-year old daughter Lydia runs a crayon across a piece of paper, she immediately calls for me to look and cheer for her accomplishment, even if it’s just a scribble. I am glad she wants my praise because it is easy to give. How can anyone ignore these eyes?!
She has grown so much in the year since she came home. Despite having only one functioning ear, she can hear a pin drop and mimic a tune. Her words may not be absolutely clear, but those that know her can understand what she’s asking for. All the tests by the doctors just confirmed what we already knew… that she is a healthy baby… a lot on the petite side true to her Jiangxi roots. We have spent the last year marveling at the person Lydia is becoming. It was us, her parents, rejoicing loudest of all when she overcame separation anxiety at the church nursery.
But despite all her many achievements, I have found myself becoming her worst critic. The weekly flow of therapists in our home is beginning to wear on me. With each visit, we talk about Lydia’s weaknesses and after each visit, I find myself suddenly becoming discontent with her progress. I don’t like feeling this way. I don’t like measuring my daughter up against some standard set by a council.
I have only myself to blame for this. I was the one that sought out these early intervention assessments for Lydia. Because of her special need, I wanted to be sure we weren’t missing something. I wanted to ensure her vocabulary would develop properly. I am thankful these services exist and that many of them are covered by insurance or provided free through the state. The speech, occupational and physical therapists we’ve met with have provided us with good information and observations. If you asked me six months ago about glottal sounds and sensory disorders, I would have given you a blank stare. Now I can hear when Lydia is using her throat versus her lips to produce words. I can also see that her need for constant movement may be connected to a need for sensory stimulation and not her plot to exhaust me by 8am.
I see merit in the services these therapists are providing, but lately I’ve felt that I need to stop participating in the cross-analysis of Lydia. I need to focus on her accomplishments and stop looking for all her weaknesses. My daughter doesn’t need a 24/7 analyst at home.
On the one hand, I’m happy to have a few “babysitters” visit each week and play with my daughter, but I need to step away from all the scrutiny they bring. I need to see her as my daughter and not a special needs patient. The love and nurturing I can provide is more powerful than any therapy session. She needs me encouraging her to use any words, even the glottal ones. She needs me chasing after her and cuddling with her. She needs me to be her mother… not her therapist. They get an hour each week but I get a lifetime!
She will have many coaches, teachers, doctors and specialists in her life… but she will have only one mother.