Call me crazy, but very little in motherhood stresses me out more than a well-baby visit to the pediatrician. My daughter just had her 15-month appointment, which means that I have sweated through approximately 47 of these thus far. Part of the problem is that my girl inexplicably screams through the entire thing. This time, we were in the waiting area, and a nurse walked by and said, “Hi there!” and Little Miss began to wail. Later on, in the exam room, I was literally going, “WHAT??” over her screams because I couldn’t hear what the doctor was saying. Sigh. It’s a phase, right?
But here’s the real thing: does anyone else feel like well-visits are just a giant guilt trip? It’s like that old-time TV show: “Emily Gonzalez, THIS is your life!” And then instead of running through all these highlights and successes, we just go through all my failures as a mother. Her ears are waxy, she crosses her eyes in pictures, she’s constipated, she’s addicted to carbs, she still drinks a bottle at night, she can’t sleep without her binkie… I could go on. To be clear, my daughter’s pediatrician has never so much as shot a disapproving look at me. I am well aware that I bring the guilt on myself.
The thing I am most insecure about, however, is the thing that my rational self knows I probably have the least control over. To illustrate this point, I present the following:
That is my baby girl in our back yard at 9 months old. I had put out some of her favorite toys in an effort to entice her to crawl. But she didn’t crawl toward them – she waved at them. It was a funny moment that also sums up her personality really well, and I’m happy I got it on film. I have to be honest, though, it was a really frustrating moment too. Motherhood has been full of those frustrating moments for me. Baby girl is the most insanely beautiful, special, smart, funny little thing I could have imagined, but in terms of her physical milestones, she has really, erm, taken her time. Mini push-ups during tummy time? What are those?? Roll back to front? Why would she want to do that?? She was a good sitter, but then she was content to JUST sit forever. She didn’t crawl until 10 months and now, at 15 months, she isn’t yet walking.
So far we have laughed it off, attributed it to laziness (we even nicknamed her “vaga” – “lazy” in Spanish) or blamed her roll-y thighs. The truth is that it stings when I go through my Facebook newsfeed and see my friends’ babies whizzing through milestones early. And I do worry. My girl’s pattern has been to arrive at milestones late, but she’s eventually gotten everything. But what if she’s a late reader? Will that establish a pattern of school being really frustrating for her? If she’s the last kid to ride a bike, will her friends make fun of her? I know I’m getting way ahead of myself, but the thought of anything bad happening to this kid, even though I know it’s inevitable, just breaks my heart.
Back to the doctor’s office. I dread going to these appointments, not because I think there is anything wrong with my little girl, but because I am self conscious about my parenting. Even though I know that a lot of my baby’s development has nothing at all to do with me, I blame myself for her lateness. Because assigning responsibility is the only way to pretend that I have some semblance of control over the situation. (Control. Babies. Ha! I should know better.)
The fact is, I’m not going to love her more if she reaches milestones early, and I’m not going to love her less if she reachers them late. She is still perfect in my eyes. And I have to remember what her pediatrician always says – she hasn’t read the baby milestone handbook!
Though, come to think of it, I think I need to burn my copy.