Raising a child who has developmental delay is all about waiting. Waiting for the next milestone. It is all about learning how to cope with the waiting, and to find ways to live life to the full whilst you are waiting.
I think there must be a built in “biological milestone clock” in a parent that gets really uncomfortable when one’s child is not meeting milestones in the usual way. Rationally I know he is delayed and I don’t have any real reason to want to rush him. In fact I am convinced that it is best for him to develop at his own pace. Yet I have this strong desire to see him reach his next milestone.
I found it really hard to wait for Matt to crawl. My first coping technique was to set dates in my head – “I will not think about Matt needing to crawl until he turns 1 years”. This helped me not obsess about it and get on with life. The only problem was that when he turned 1 he was still not crawling and I had now set up this expectation in my mind. So BIG DISAPPOINTMENT when that date arrived and he was still sitting. I set myself a few more dates to look forward to, yet each time the anticlimax was too much to bear - so I tossed that coping mechanism.
It was then that I discovered the technique of celebrating - by intentionally looking out for and rejoicing in the tiny, mini, small achievements as well as the big it has helped me to stay positive.
I have found it easier to live life whilst waiting for Matt to walk. I think it is because he is fairly independent with crawling, and is exploring and interacting with his environment. So walking doesn’t seem to be as desperately needed as crawling was when he was just sitting. I think I have also worked through more of my grief with Matt’s syndrome and am more at peace – so that makes the waiting easier.
However the last few weeks have been increasingly challenging. Matt seems to have the capacity to walk but doesn’t seem that interested in doing it on his own. He will walk well with me supporting his hands. With his dad he will walk with only one hand supported (he seems to think that mom needs to still give him two hands). Sometimes when I try to encourage him to walk he will just drop to his knees and choose crawling. Most days I am fine with this and don’t force him. But lately I have found myself getting frustrated with him, irritated that he doesn’t want to try, and annoyed that he prefers crawling. I think when there was no sign of “walk readiness” it was easier to focus on other things and just get on with life. Now that he seems to be on the verge of walking, the fact that is taking so long is slowly chipping away at my patience!
So I guess it’s time for me to get back to being focused on celebrating the tiny, the mini and the small achievements that do happen every day!