Great Expectations

I've started and stopped this post at least three times. I'm not sure I want to publish it, but if you're reading this, then, well, looks like I hit publish. It's a somewhat sensitive subject and I haven't talked about those on here for a long time, but I feel like I'm ready again. I feel like the 5 people reading this are good people who can take this info to heart and not use it for evil. So here goes...

I like to go about my days thinking that I am the kind of mama who doesn't and won't ever pressure my kids to be anything other than themselves. In most situations, I think that this truly is my attitude: kids all grow and develop on their own timelines, and as their mama, I'm really in no hurry. But... there are timelines: those dreaded milestones that plagued this new mama years ago when Boo was a teeny tiny baby, the timelines that still exist but somehow I managed to forget about them (or maybe just not care) the second time through babyhood with Baby Tickle. And while she's ahead in many areas (especially her motor skills; apparently, she's got better motor skills than most adults), she's behind in one: speech.

Boo started speaking 3-word sentences by the time he was 18 months. He was -and still is- a rockstar talker. Baby Tickle, on the other hand...well, she's a rockstar, just not of the speaking variety. At just barely 2-years-old, she now says about 10 -15 words. She knows the main baby signs and uses them when she really wants to. But, her speech isn't really clear, and she's not putting words together other than "more, please" (notice she's quick with words related to food? that's my girl :) She's basically not saying as many as other kids her age are saying, and it's really hard for me not to compare not only her to other kids, but to her brother at this age (I know! BAD mama for comparing the two developmentally! Bad!).

So our pediatrician has given us the names of some speech and hearing specialists for testing. Just to see. The doc says that it doesn't hurt to have her hearing checked, to see if she's just hearing our words muddled. She just turned two, and may, in fact, just one day start yapping up a storm. She's certainly "talkative" in that she babbles all day, plus she's quick to learn tunes to the songs we sing and hums them back almost after the second time she's heard them. She's also really starting to work hard at mimicking our words when we talk. So I know she's progressing already since our pediatrician visit. But still...better to find out if there is a speech or hearing issue now and start working on it sooner than later, I suppose.

Then, part of me can't help but wonder if it's my fault. If my casual parenting ways this time around served as the main culprit. I didn't try as hard on developing her speech with her as I did with Boo. Sure, I worked with her on it, and we read a lot every day, but I definitely wasn't as focused on her speech as I was with Boo. Part of it is that I feel she's never needed me as much as Boo did; she's so freakin' independent, we even had a sitter who said "she really didn't need me at all except to get her food and change her diaper!" I just always feel like she's going to be fine... but I need to make a conscious effort to remember that she is, still, a developing little human who does, in fact, need me to guide her. Oh, darn mommy guilt. I'm sure she'll be speaking soon enough so she can blame me for this and many other things when she's in therapy, right? Maybe she's just not talking on purpose and then one day before she's 3, I'll pick her up from her bed in the morning, she'll give me a huge hug, smile that dangerous enormous room-stopping smile of hers and say loud and clear "mama, I'm just kidding. I can speak in full sentences, read on my own, and do basic algebra already. See?"

Until then... the specialists await. Gulp.


Helena said...

Oh, my dear. I want to reach out and give you a big hug.
A hug because I feel your pain, and I know your dilemma. And yet, you must let yourself off the hook... because she will be who she will be whether or not you played classical music or read to her while she is in the womb, or were the absolute perfect, doting mother every day since. You will help her to become who she is to become because you are a beautiful mother who loves her passionately.
I struggled with that with my magnificent son... I thought he talked slow... until I realized he was reading the newspaper and knew every road sign and what it meant. Now he's ten and he's programming. He's amazing, and so will she be. And you. You go, girl. You're a phenomenal mother... Hug!

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Trenches of Mommyhood said...

I completely understand. I went through this myself with #3.

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Amy said...

This is a great post Marlynn. Let's say I can really relate. People will say, "she is fine". And they are right, but you also have to push to get answers. I get it, I really do. It is always hard to hear anything even vaguely wrong with your child- but know that all of us have our flaws, and most parents have something they worry about with their child.

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ml said...

M- I wholly and completely hear what you are saying. Mommy guilt is worse than Catholic guilt! My second child is (as you know) also very independent and I've taken the same approach of being hands-off simply because her personality dictates it. I will go out on a limb and argue that your approach with "Tickle" is not what makes you a bad mother, but is the very thing that makes you a great mother. You cater to her unique traits, and when something is awry, you seek the support and care needed. Her speech capability is not a reflection of your parenting. You are a damn good mama. (And I never swear, so you know I must mean business!)

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marlynn said...

oh my goodness, THANK YOU, each and every one of you. I apologize about the very delayed response, but I don't know where my head is these days. We just found out our insurance won't cover a single cent of speech therapy, and the quote I got for the evaluation alone is INSANE!!! So I'm searching for alternatives. Feels so pathetic to find myself price shopping for my daughter's development, but at worst we hold off for a few months, since her pediatrician said it's not a "have to do" situation until she turns 3. Ugh. I really appreciate your support and kind words. Thank you!!!!

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Krista said...

Your description of Baby Tickles sounds exactly like our experience with my daughter, our first child. Her brother, 22 mos younger, is way ahead of where she was at that age.
We took her to speech therapy (thankfully, insurance covered it). The therapist said she doesn't usually work with kids under the age of 5, because a lot of language development happens later. I'd be more than happy to share the specifics of it if you are interested! It wasn't rocket science, and it all made so much sense -- once we saw what she did!

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