The day I decided to have kids, I resigned myself to worrying for the rest of my life. For the remainder of my life, I will worry about my children. I will worry about their health. I will worry about their safety. I will worry about their overall happiness.
During my pregnancy with Myles, I was obsessed with potential pregnancy complications. Every time someone posted a Facebook status or article about obscure birth defects, I’d scour the internet for additional information. I went to my doctor’s appointments armed with questions and the Google medical degree, I spent hours acquiring. The doctor would turn to me and ask if my family had a history of the ailment in question, and I always responded no. She’d then ask if I knew anyone who had the ailment or had given birth to a baby with the ailment. I’d sheepishly respond, no, but that I’d seen a post about it on someone’s Facebook page. The doctor would smirk, assure me that the odds were good that my baby was healthy, and ask me to please refrain from reading the internet. Of course I ignored her advice.
Thankfully, although tiny, Myles was a healthy baby. He had 10 fingers, 10 toes, and an adorable little face. There were no deformities: he didn’t even have his dad’s finger toes (toes the same length as his fingers), or my large forehead. He was perfect in every way. I was grateful and relieved.
After briefly relaxing, I then began worrying about Myles achieving his developmental milestones. Each week I received emails from a parenting site with updates on what babies his age should be doing. The emails were informative, but frightening. I found myself obsessing over whether he would roll over on time, sit up on time, or laugh on time. As he achieved each milestone, I relaxed…until I received the following week’s email.
Everything was going well until we reached the 12 month mark. As I browsed other mothers’ timelines and reviewed the weekly parenting emails, I saw other one-year-olds walking. Meanwhile, my chubby, extremely heavy baby was content crawling and being carried. Thirteen months came and went-he did not walk. Fourteen months came and went-he did not walk. With each passing month, my anxiety grew.
At Myles’s fifteen month doctor’s appointment, the doctor asked if he was walking; I hung my head and said, “no, not yet.” I quickly followed up by saying he can pull himself up, cruise around the furniture, and is a world-class speed crawler: he can get from the front of the house to the back of the house in the blink of an eye. She smiled. She then asked if he talks; she said he should have 5 words in his vocabulary. I looked at her in disbelief and thought she can’t be serious. I replied he says bye-bye and da-da, but we aren’t sure if he is just making sounds, or saying the actual words. The sitter (we affectionately call her abuelita) insists he says callate (be quiet in Spanish) and agua however, when I prompt him to say those words, he gives me a quizzical look and rudely resumes whatever activity I interrupted. The doctor ended our appointment by saying don’t worry, but that he should be able to say 10 words and walk by his eighteen month appointment. I was worried.
Finally, two weeks ago, midway into month fifteen, Myles begrudgingly started walking. I breathed a sigh of relief, one more milestone down, only 1,000 more to go. Unfortunately, although he can walk, his preferred mode of transportation remains crawling and being carried in his parents’ aching arms.
In May, Myles will be 18 months; hopefully I will have good news to share with the doctor. I want to report he is not only walking but running, and he is a gifted orator in Spanish and English. If however, the report is less than stellar, unless the doctor expresses concern, I will try to stop worrying. I am learning children cannot and should not be held to strict developmental guidelines. They mature according to their own timelines and are special in their own unique ways. They are all perfectly imperfect.