When E was about one year old, he was diagnosed with gross motor delays.
I knew something wasn’t quite right when he was about six months old. He had never wanted to push his head up during tummy time and, even though he sat tall and strong, he was no where near pushing himself up from laying down.
I knew my baby was smart. I knew he was amazing. But, I also knew he needed some extra help.
Help came in the form of developmental therapy (and tubes). In six months, he was caught up enough not to fit the definition of “delay” and graduated out of therapy. But motor skills were never as easy for him as some kids. He has to work at things a bit harder, practice a bit more. Yet, many people have been shocked to hear he had any type of delay because he’s so funny, clever and – frankly – a little monkey.
I learned a lot during that time though.
I learned the pain of being different when a mom, having heard about his motor and speech difficulties, said, “Well, is he…you know, smart?” while pointing at her head and wearing a strange look.
I learned about judgment when I watched the other babies his age crawl all over the place…or even walk all over…while he sat happily in one place.
I learned unequivocal love when I whispered to him that he didn’t have to be smart or athletic for me to love him SO much.
I learned confusion when I felt out of place when talking with moms of kids his age, yet even more out of place when talking with moms of kids dealing with much more severe diagnoses or delays.
I learned sheer joy when he walked across the room for the first time – just a week into therapy and a few weeks after getting tubes.
I learned a mother’s worry as he hunted Easter eggs…having just started to be able to bend down and stand back up without falling over.
I learned outlook when I noticed his smile always outshone every other kid’s, never feeling less than them or lacking in something.
Now, he is almost seven and doing amazingly well. So, why am I thinking about this?
This weekend, he finally took some interest in riding his bike without training wheels and practiced more (he has honestly known since before he could talk that physical things were harder for him…and often shies away from the potential failure). And he’s doing it! He’s not ready to take off on his own quite yet, but he’s made it around the yard a few times! And I could NOT be more excited for him.
I know lots of kids (most even???) are riding by this age. And, having been in a place like this before, there’s a moment of hesitation before I share my excitement. Will others even care? Will they see it as a joy…or will I again hear, “Well finally!”?
Yet, I realize now it doesn’t matter. No one should not steal our joy. My kid is not your kid. But he is awesome and I am proud. He’s mine and I wouldn’t trade anything about him. He should be celebrated…and he will be.
Go, E , go!!