My sons were walking at 8 months old… They were potty-trained at 2, reading in Kindergarten and driving the day they turned 16. Well, not exactly. In fact, these were comments I heard from fellow mommies about their kids while I sat back questioning why my kids weren’t up to speed.
As long as my kids have been on this Earth, they have been “behind the curve”. They were in no hurry to leave my belly; I had to evict them. They took their first steps around 14 months, potty-trained at 3 ½, began to read late in the 3rd grade, and one of them will have their driver’s license at 17, and other one got his at 18. They simply have never been in a rush for any of the chart-worthy moments.
This was so challenging in the early years; I couldn’t help but worry. With all of the photos on Facebook and the books with all the charts, I felt compelled to compare and concerned that maybe I was doing something to cause this discrepancy. I felt so inadequate as a mom knowing my kids were behind the projected norms. But fortunately, I got a clue and realized that there are very few norms when it comes to kids; even their teeth fall out at different rates. Every kid is so unique and amazing, and they do their own thing in their own time.
Having raised my sons, who have steadily flowed down their own path, on their own timetable, I learned that it is my job as a mom to “hold the space” for them to grow and be exactly who they are. As a parent, holding the space simply means to love and support them while they grow, knowing that they will do everything they need to do in their own time.
These milestones, in fact, aren’t necessarily better when they happen faster, they are better when they happen at the right time. For example, when my son turned 16 he told me he didn’t want to drive. He had some fears about the road, and who could blame him with all the people in such a hurry going nowhere. I could have pushed him to drive sooner, it would have made my life easier, but if I had, who knows what may have happened. Being a new driver is challenging enough, let alone being a driver who doesn’t feel safe on the road. He turned 18, we bought him a car and now he is a driver. He drove on his timetable, not the state’s, not mine, not his Dad’s or his brothers.
My kids started school late too. They were born in September and November, and when you’re born in the Fall, your parents have a choice to send you to Kindergarten at age 4 or 5, just before your next birthday. We knew our kids were still very into play and dressing up, and the thought of taking that time away from them to put them into a structured environment, wasn’t the right choice for them. It would have been easier for us for many reasons, but we followed our instincts and kept them home the extra year. As it turned out, it has made perfect sense as we watch their lives unfold.
We live in a fast-paced world, there’s a lot of pressure on us adults to keep pace, and in turn, we tend to put that same pressure on our kids. I try to imagine how I would feel having somebody behind me, trying to push me and make me grow before I’m ready to grow. It makes me feel very uneasy and defensive. So rather than worrying about my kids keeping up, I now walk beside them with love and pride at who they are in each moment. I hold the space for them to grow, and I breathe.