I am a perfectionist.
Call it a curse, call it motivation, call it what you will.
I was that kid. You know, the straight-A’s, extracurriculars, Dean’s list, work-your-way-though college type.
Then I became a mom.
Naturally, I wanted to be the best mom I could be. I read the books, got all the magazines, found the best baby gear. I made sure to do tummy time, create fun sensory activities, read books, go to storytimes, even work on baby sign language. I wanted my son to have the perfect start.
Despite all of my best efforts, my son fell behind.
He refused to feed himself, didn’t want to pull up on the crib, screamed through tummy time.
I began to watch babies much younger than my son crawl, walk, and hold their bottles. Happy babies that slept all night while I was stuck holding a cranky, tired baby who refused to cooperate. I got jealous. I panicked.
At his 9 month checkup I expressed my fears to our pediatrician. As always, he listened and gave his best opinions. “I think it’s more ‘not willing’ than ‘not able'” he said.
Not good enough. We decided to have Baby V evaluated, just in case. As a former teacher, I know that early intervention is the key to success in most cases. I was adamant that we would get to the bottom of things. We didn’t tell anyone that our son was being evaluated because we didn’t want to hit the “panic” button quite yet. Deep down, I knew everything would be okay.
The evaluation went great. They watched him play, interact, “talk” and asked close to a million questions.
“He’s normal,” they concluded.
First I was relieved. No one wants anything to be wrong with their child. Then I was motivated.
I tried all the suggestions to encourage crawling, pulling up, and walking. The harder I tried, the harder he fought.
I would put his hands on the bottle and he would throw it on the ground. I would stand him up and he would sit back down. I would put him on his tummy and he would roll back over.
Finally, exhausted and frustrated, I tried to think of why my son just would not do what I wanted. Then I remembered: I’m stubborn.
Maybe he inherited my stubbornness instead of my perfectionism.
So I stopped trying so hard. I didn’t force him to do anything but what he wanted. I gave him more time for self play and exploration.
Wouldn’t you know a few weeks later he began to crawl… and take steps… and say “ma-ma”. All in one week.
Maybe it was my perfectionism that was hindering his growth?
So now, I’m learning that things won’t always be done my way. Sometimes I have to let my son take the reigns. He knows when he is ready to reach the milestones better than I do.
It’s time to seek out a new “perfect”, perhaps one in which I can relax a little bit.
No matter what happens, I’m learning to enjoy the crazy ride of motherhood even if I have to watch from the backseat sometimes.