While talking to my mom about LM the other night, I got some advice from her.
“You better accept him for who he is,” she said. “Otherwise you will cause some real psychological damage.”
Ouch. Thanks, Mom. But at least she told it like it is. Because while I like to think I will accept whoever LM turns out to be – whether he’s gay or straight, into music or sports, good at math or English – I know she has a point.
I constantly worry about my son. I’m a super-worrier, and sometimes I take my concern to the next level, a level that’s not healthy for him or for me. I’m just always worried there is something “wrong” with him.
My fears have some basis in reality. While I was pregnant I had a couple scares that there was, in fact, something wrong with him. Some wonky bloodwork upped his chance of having Down syndrome (further testing showed he didn’t). At one point an ultrasound measurement had my MFM (high-risk OB) concerned that his femur bone was too short. I thought I might have a dwarf, but he was perfectly fine.
However, I’m still worried about how short he is now at 14 months. He has been on his own growth curve, in the range of 10-25th percentile for height. It’s not like there aren’t kids shorter than he is. But what if he ends up as short as, say, Danny Devito?
LM has always been small, only weighing 5 pounds 10 ounces at birth. At his most recent doctor’s appointment he had even lost weight; if he hasn’t regained it by our next appointment, I’ll probably have to see a specialist. So I’m worried he’s not growing properly – and not just on the outside but developmentally as well. Other kids younger than him are already walking.
Next worry: Maybe his walking problem, if there is one, is actually caused by his weird feet. His doctor has been concerned that they’re really short and puffy on top. She wants to wait and see what happens with them. But what if that’s the reason he can’t walk yet?
He also isn’t talking. He says hi but that’s it. What if he has a neurological condition? Or what if he’s just not smart?
And then there’s the fear of autism. LM has a tendency to sit and stare into space when we are out in public. At home he’s all over the place, laughing and smiling and interacting with us. But I take him to baby gym class and he just sits there while the other babies crawl and climb around. I think this probably means that he’s just shy, that he’s overwhelmed and intimidated in a loud, busy environment. But what if it’s something else?
Relax, you say. He’s very social with people he knows. So what if he is just shy? Well, I was a very shy kid (and actually am a pretty shy adult) and it’s not easy being that way. Of course I’d wish him to be confident and outgoing.
As I run through the list of these worries in my head, they seem perfectly reasonable. But say them out loud, and I get the above response from my mom. Being worried that he will have some physical or psychological condition that might make his life more difficult is one thing; but I realize I am worrying about other things as well. Maybe he won’t be smart, or outgoing, or tall. Maybe he won’t “fit in.” Does that mean I will be disappointed?
I don’t want to be a tiger mom. But I might be headed in that direction if I don’t check myself and stop comparing him to other babies. Soon enough, he will be able to pick up on my vibes and fully understand the words I’m saying. I have to lighten the pressure I put on him, and on myself. I need to love him for whoever he is, and that doesn’t just mean whether he’s good at music or sports. I have to love him for all his quirks, for the things he may not be good at, for the issues he might encounter, for the struggles I may have to help him get through.
What are your expectations for your children? Would you accept them even if they didn’t live up to your ideals?