As parents, we all have decisions to make. We make the decisions about what’s for breakfast, can “Jenny” have another lollipop, or can “Andy” stay up 15 minutes late to watch the end of his favorite show. In the grand scheme of parenting, those are the easy decisions, but the reality is, there are many more important and difficult decisions to be made. The ones that keep us up at night, the ones that make us feel sick when we think about them, the ones that we may never know if we made the right decision. Those are the ones that really matter, the ones that earn our title of Mommy or Daddy.
When a parent comes to the crossroads of making a difficult decision, we often look to others for insight. We look to the professionals, friends who have had to make similar decisions, and of course the internet. Scouring the world for information to help us make our difficult decisions is our job. We must take all of the information and partner that with “gut feeling”. As a parents, we often have that deep feeling that something is not quite right, it is important that we pay attention to that feeling, give it some credit, decide if it is worth pursuing. In my experience, my gut feeling is usually right.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 years ago, I started to wonder if I had failed my son. Had I put too much pressure on him to be the perfect little boy, or was there something more going on. I worked with all of the knowledge I had on parenting. I read books, researched the internet, listened to my “gut”, I knew something was not quite right. I started looking for help, but kept getting the “he is just a rambunctious little boy” or “things get better when they turn 4”. Unfortunately, things did not get better, they got worse. It took a lot of searching, a lot of begging, and finally people started listening to us, we started to get help. No matter how hard we tried, though, the help was not enough. There seems to be little, to no, continuity in mental health services for a young child. Also, he is a very bright little boy and so we were often told that he didn’t have the problems we were reporting. It was heartbreaking, gut wrenching, devastating. (We are now starting ‘Intensive In-Home Therapy’.)
While I cannot say that the feelings we got from friends and family were real, we often perceived the reaction to our concerns and search for help to be less than supportive. We often heard that he was spoiled, that we had indulged him too much, and that he just needed a “good spanking”. I tried all of their well meaning ideas, but my gut still knew more and I followed it.
After this, we realized the true need for early intervention services if we had any questions about our children’s development. We knew that Spike had a need for speech articulation therapy and we pursued that. She is now receiving speech services and doing really well. I can see improvements daily and am so proud of her progress. Also, when we took Samoo to his 4 month well check he was doing very well, however at his 6m well check he had fallen well off of his growth curve. He had gone from 50%ile to less than 10%. He had stopped meeting his developmental goals. He was not making any of the babble sounds he was supposed to make, he was not putting any weight on his legs, and he was not able to handle any solid foods at all. My gut said something was amiss, so when our pediatrician mentioned her concern and the desire to refer him to our county’s early intervention services, I agreed. Thankfully, that gut feeling and following the pediatrician’s suggestion, I am happy to report that Samoo is also doing great. He is now eating baby food and even had a few bites of real food on Thanksgiving. He is putting weight on his legs, sitting himself up, and almost crawling. All of this, thanks to early intervention services.
Although we feel we have done what is best for our children, we are still met with skepticism at times. There are looks and whispers across the table, comments, and other subtleties. I am, quite honestly, thankful for those things. It gives me the opportunity to reevaluate what we are doing for our children, it gives me the opportunity to look at myself as a parent, to look deep in my heart of hearts and be sure that when I am making those difficult decisions for my children, I am making the best decision with the knowledge and information I have.
You will never understand the life of another until you have walked a mile in their shoes. I’m glad God is walking with me, in mine.