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July 09, 2007

How Can She Be Behind Already?

Two nights ago, out of the blue, Kevin announced that he'd been poking around on some websites that covered developmental progress for infants, and that at seven weeks, Kavya was already behind on quite a few things, like being able to hold her head up unassisted. Apparently, she should have been able to do that weeks ago. He said we probably should be spending a lot more of her awake time actively playing with her, doing tummy time, etc. I waved it off with an airy, "Oh, I'm not going to worry about it if she's a few weeks behind on a couple of things." I'd decided long ago that I wasn't going to be one of those obsessive moms who compulsively checks their child's progress at every step, determined to make them the smartest, fastest kid in the class by hard work and sheer force of will. I was going to be much more relaxed about it all, and I thought I was fine, really I did. Until the next morning, when I burst into tears.

It had been a tough morning. Instead of sleeping peacefully, like she usually does for much of the morning, Kavya was up and fussy. After several hours of trying to feed/change/rock/soothe her, I finally got her into a cheerful mood. At which point I was desperate for just half an hour of reading a good book, ideally while dressed in clothes that weren't covered in spit-up, and while eating a lunch that was actually hot. But when I put her down in her moses basket, I immediately felt this incredible wave of guilt. It was my fault that my baby was stupid, for exactly this reason -- because instead of actively playing with her, I took every opportunity to rest a little, to read, to eat, to relax. Oh, sometimes I would hold her and snuggle her and even read her a story. But certainly not every chance I got.

And now Kavya's paying the price for her mommy's selfishness -- at not even two months old, she's already slower than the other kids. I don't need her to be the fastest, really I don't. But I don't want her to be significantly behind already! Maybe it's too late. Even if I start active playing with her every chance I get, will she ever catch up? These first months are supposed to be so important. And if I do start active playing with her every moment, will I ever get to take a shower again?

I think Kevin's already sorry that he told me about the websites he researched, because since then, he's had to spend way too much time reassuring me that she's okay. I know I need to be reasonable about this, that it's really all right to take a few moments for myself, and she'll be fine in the long run. But how do you make the guilt go away?

You can read more from Mary Anne in her journal, An Ongoing, Erratic Diary.

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