Here’s the best kept secret that only parents of kids who are taking their time talking and developing know about: Early Intervention Programs. Here’s the skinny: after evaluating whether your toddler is developing normally in the areas of speech, motor skills, cognitive and emotional functioning, sensory perceptions and a host of other things, states may help kids catch up in said areas (read: therapy). I never knew about this until I had a kid. Now, I’m knee deep in the process.
When we live in Los Angeles, A. qualified for California’s equivalent after four evaluations done by a social worker, occupational therapist, sensory occupational therapist and a speech pathologist. After our one at-home evaluation, he qualified for New Jersey’s program.
But after going through this process twice, I wonder who is the early intervention for: him or me? I seem to walk away from these sessions thinking that I am the bad mother and that I have failed as my son’s first teacher. I know it isn’t entirely true but for a woman who is pretty hard on herself it’s hard not to think that it is. This intervention says: Stop your bad parenting!
I do what all the parenting mags advise. But I also know that he drinks more milk than he should (I’m as guilty as Katie Holmes for letting him continue to use a bottle); that he watches more television than he should; and that he rather play cars than sit and have me read to him. Will I continue to try and wean him from the bottle, play with him outside and read to his wiggly body? Of course! But I’m still happy I have a little help for him (and me) make up developmental ground.
Today I received a card addressed to: “My Beautiful Wife.” Inside the pink envelope was this sentiment:
The most important job in the world doesn’t offer an hourly wage or days off or paid vacations. But it does offer real feelings, shining faces, bedtime stories, small victories, priceless memories, and many wonderful moments of joy…
Always remember, there’s no more important job in this world than the one you do every day will all your heart. Have a Very Happy Mother’s Day.
For M., this was a sappy card. But as he always does, he chose a card that was perfect to lift my spirits. Lately I have had a difficult time with being a working mommy and there are times when I feel that I’m failing as a worker or as a mommy. This card reminded me that everyday, whether I am at my computer or not, I am working and the end product is a happy child.
I have never been a strict schedule kind of girl. I’m not sure why. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person. I believe in being on time, but when it comes to me (and even Baby A) our daily events happen around certain times.
During Baby A’s first year, I had a schedule to go to the gym. I would wake up at 4 AM on most weekdays to workout and shower. On the weekends, I would sleep in and, if I went, it was a bonus. This schedule helped me lose 50 of the 60 pounds I gained when pregnant.
When we moved to Los Angeles we didn’t join a gym right away. I decided I would get up early and head to the track for my workouts. Weather, work and waking up got in the way of that plan. Even after joining the gym, morning workouts have proven to be difficult. But now, I have a schedule.
It allows me to go to the gym two weekdays and on the weekends. It gives me a plan. It alleviates the self-imposed guilt I have when I leave Baby A with M. It gives me the balance I need and have difficulty requesting. It’s a beautiful thing.
When I was a girl, I would fall asleep with my butt up in the air. As I got older, I became a tummy sleeper; inching my way down the bed until my feet hung off. Baby A does the same.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been staying in A.’s room until he falls asleep. Each night he goes through his own ritual. He moves his zoo—a momma and baby giraffe, two teddy bears, a bunny and three puppies—to one side of his crib; lies on has stomach and crawls to the end of that crib so that they bury him.
Observing him makes me wonder: Are our sleeping habits genetic? Science hasn’t found anything about positioning; however, an animal study published in the journal Nature found that whether we are early risers or night owls may be. That isn’t applicable here. I do know this: watching my son fall asleep makes me feel a little bit closer to him. Something I didn’t think was possible.
Today was an easy day. No time outs. No being a chew toy. No throwing up hands up in defeat. It’s been a while since my day hasn’t been filled with toddler drama. Could it be that my sleep-deprived child is finally mellowing out?
Probably not. But at the end of today, I don’t feel beat down by the pressures of motherhood. And for that, I am truly grateful. I realize that tomorrow is a new day—one that could very well feel like the difficult old ones I have been experiencing. Right now, that doesn’t matter because tonight I’m going to sleep with my shoulders lowered and my jaw relaxed. *Sigh*
There must be something hardwired in the young that doesn’t allow them to fall into ruts. At least that is what I believe is true about Baby A. Things were going swimmingly, easily, and predictably. Rise at 7:30; nap for 2 1/2 hours at 12; park around 4; watching the Upside Down Show at 8; and bed at 9. Rise, rinse and repeat.
For two weeks, my nearly 2 year old doesn’t want to nap, doesn’t want to eat and doesn’t want to sleep. Each day is different and keeps me on my toes. Makes me think that he’s testing me. “Hmm, I wonder where mommy will push or drive me today so I can fall asleep in the stroller/car” is what I imagine him thinking. It definitely has me working on my mommy skills…or is it my cruise director ones?
While I find all of this a bit annoying (I miss a nap time where I didn’t play chauffeur), I catch myself thinking about new places to go in the city with him: Wondering if he’s too young for the Hammer Museum or if it’s too cold to go to the beach. Slowly but surely I’m enjoying exploring this city that I have lived in for nearly 20 years (gulp). Yes, he’s a bit too young for some of my favorite haunts but together we’re discovering new ones. And at the whim of his tiny pointing finger, I’m discovering sights that I’ve never noticed before.
I’m always amazed how periods of great stress can help me see things with such clarity. It isn’t the life altering events such as a death or a divorce that I am talking about, but the everyday grind to seem to crescendo like a great piece of music. The times in our lives when everyone, everything needs to be done. Right. Now.
2010 so far has been one of those periods. (I’m happy it hasn’t included those life altering ones since I’ve been there, done both and lived through them.) Lots of work, lots of baby growing and lots of juggling. I’m not a Master Juggler— one ball always seems to not get the lift it needs.
That ball is usually an important one. And lately, it’s either me, or M., or both. That’s unfortunate because if I can’t give attention to myself and my husband then I’m really not being a good mom and role model to Baby A. So, it’s during these times that I always seem to realize how off my life-work balance is and how it always seems to be off. I seem to be an all-or-nothing type of girl, even though I never used to be. At least, I don’t think I was.
Despite my frazzled disposition, I’m grateful for these times because they make me step back, take a breath, and make long-term changes that hopefully will ease the stress during the next busy period.