She gets an A+ for ridiculous cuteness, though.
People mean well. At least I want to think the best of humanity, so I don't think they're trying to cause me pain when they say, "She is SO SMALL! She is STILL CRAWLING? She is NOT WALKING? She only has SIX TEETH?" They just want something to say. Kind of like when you're pregnant and they tell you look like a house. (Actually there's no excuse for that.) And I'm in a profession where a lot of people are invited to give their input into my life constantly. I can't claim that I didn't know it came with the territory.
Truly, I think she wasn't ready to be born when she was forced out. I think she would have gestated for several more weeks, maybe even a month. She has been working out of that unreadiness since the beginning.
She gained weight very slowly, and is still quite petite. I went through months of darkness, believing it was my fault for not giving her sufficient breastmilk. But even now, when she eats plenty of all kinds of nutritious, nutrient-dense foods, she is small.
I begged and pleaded for advice on Facebook when she wouldn't hold her head up well, screaming and struggling her way through tummy time. I still feel guilt and sadness about forcing her into that situation. Again, well-meaning people told me to seek my doctor's advice, to get a second opinion, to see a physical therapist. (To my doctor's credit, she was never alarmist and always told me to give it more time.)
She stubbornly refused to crawl, instead figuring out her own system of scooting on her bottom. She finally tipped forward and onto her belly in her twelfth month. She slithers throughout the house now. She is remarkably quick and efficient with it.
Her first tooth finally emerged, sharp and white and pearly, the week before she turned one.
And now, nearly fourteen months, she shows no signs of walking and even dislikes being held up to stand.
If one more person asks me if I am concerned about this, I may drop the good-natured facade.
There is nothing wrong with my child. Of course, I am her mother, so I am allowed to think that she is perfect and flawless in every way. I realize that she has issues, as does every person. She can be temperamental. She is demanding. She is a baby. That's part of the deal. We don't use the expression "you're acting like a baby" for no reason.
No, nothing wrong with my baby . . . except that she runs against all that it is to be American. We want things fast, huge, and responsive. We want what we want at the second we want it. We want plump, physically strong babies to remind us that we are the dominant culture of the world, with the hope that future generations will continue this trend. I am as guilty as the next person of falling into this trap. Slowness is weakness. Smallness is vulnerability.
I had a crazy thought as she and I lay together in bed this morning. What if she develops slowly all her life? That is to say, what if she doesn't develop into a woman until late in her teens? (My mother didn't.) What if she ages slowly and gracefully? What if she doesn't become ill and die until later than everyone else in her cohort? Wouldn't that be nice?
So if you're a mama who is worrying herself sick about why her baby won't do whatever everyone else in the playgroup has been doing with ease for months . . . give yourself some grace. You haven't done anything wrong. You have a baby who is teaching you what it is to wait and observe. That is currently very unpopular. But you don't want a baby just like everyone else's, do you?