The negative (skip to the positive section below unless you're having a downer day)
These days I spend a lot of my time being dragged around by Emerson as he practices walking - he directs me by holding on to one finger and I am forced to retrace whatever 20 feet or so of sidewalk/grass he happens to be obsessed with that day. Or we walk around the block while he tries to explore everyone's front porch (he has a thing for stairs) and I desperately try to pull him away from walking up to strangers' houses. The point being that I have way too much time to think about how insipid motherhood can be.
Before Emerson was born, I imagined by this point in his development I would be delighting in the new things he would be learning every day and I would enjoy taking him on excursions to festivals, museums, parades, etc. I would be teaching him sign language and French, showing him to great works of art, and promoting his budding music skills. Instead, I spend my days begging him to walk and talk on his own. Just a single word - doggie, baba, shit for all I care - just any word!! He could care less about the events we take him to, which I'm sure has a lot to do with vision, but I keep hoping at least the colors and sounds and movement will interest him. He'd rather practice walking.
During pregnancy, even hearing the phrase "developmental delays" sent a shiver down my spine, so having it come true has been.....well, in ministry we call it "exploring our learning edges." In life I call it just plain crappy. I have been thinking a lot lately about why this problem bothers me so much - much more than the average person. The psychoanalyst part of me thinks it must be related to my type-A personality and growing up in a state who's mascot is a hive of busy bees. We Utahns still haven't gotten over our Mormon pioneer ethic of achievement and working until you drop (or until the Second-Coming, whichever comes first).
There is another part of it besides my impatient personality, though. A lot of other parents whose children did things early or on-time keep feeding us the same line: Don't worry, he'll be walking/talking before you know it, then you'll look back and wonder why you ever wanted him to do it!
Don't get me wrong - I miss those days when we could stick him on a blanket and he would be happy and stationary just as much as anyone. But I think people don't realize that even though his other areas of development are behind, his cognitive development is not. This means that when he turned 6 or so months old, he had the same drive and frustration about moving independently as his same-age friends. The difference is that his friends mastered crawling within a couple months, while it took him 6 months. The same goes for walking and talking - he's frustrated, we are frustrated, and this has been going on for another 6 months with no immediate end in sight.
Trust me, I have never wanted to go back to his pre-crawling days, and I promise you I will feel the same way when he masters the other major skills!
Ok, enough venting. Although Emerson's progress is not what we hoped, we do try to take comfort in some of the things he has picked up over the past few months. Such as:
- Dancing (this milestone was slow in coming too, but now that he's caught on, he dances to EVERYTHING. His favorite is turning on the clock radio by our bed first thing in the morning and rocking out to 80s-90s music).
- Pretending (with a little pushing, he will now pretend to feed a doll, brush our hair, "share" his crackers with me, etc. Not engaging in pretend play is an autism red flag, so his development in this area has been reassuring).
- Some sign language.
- Fake coughing (he picked this one up out of nowhere. He even covers his mouth ever so politely!)
- Throwing a ball...and anything else he can get airborne (unfortunately he also learned that he can throw objects at the dog's face to get her to leave him alone. We're going to have to work on curbing that one.)
- Climbing on all the furniture (the kid won't stand, but he'll dive head first off a chair!)
- And finally, eating everything in sight.
So we are enjoying these new things and mostly enjoying his very funny, unique personality that shines through more every day. We are going to Utah in another week and grandma and grandpa always get him to do new things, so I'm looking forward to that too.
As frustrated as I get most days, I am doing my best to keep perspective on what's ultimately important: having healthy and happy children. A friend's recent blog post about her nightmare experience in the hospital with an incredibly sick toddler and a dream I had about losing this second baby have reminded me of just how precious life really is.....even if things aren't turning out exactly as you expect them to.