At Charlie’s physical therapy appointment on Monday they did an official “assessment” of his progress and where he compared to “normal” kiddos his age.
To be honest, I had completely forgotten about the assessment. In the past this would be notable. However, Monday’s appointment was just another therapy session our calendar. There was no worry leading up to the appointment. No performance anxiety. The results wouldn’t change how we would proceed with therapy services. It was simply a progress report to see where we are, how far we’ve come, and what our future goals are. Simple as that.
Now before you start thinking I’m too relaxed let me shed a bit of light on the subject.
Motherhood has changed me. Mothering Charlie in particular has changed me. And only for the better.
You would think that with the countless therapy sessions we have on a weekly and monthly basis I would be wound tighter than a drum, stressed by our schedule and fixated on our many “goals.” Quite the opposite is true. I believe there are a couple of reasons for this. 1. You only know what you know – and thus make accommodations accordingly. 2. My primary goal as Charlie’s mom is to ensure that Charlie the best Charlie that he can be.
Yes, it may sound cliche and over simplified, but it’s true. I don’t obsess over milestones, goals, or what other kids his age are doing. And no, this isn’t limited to Charlie – I’m the same with Henry. This doesn’t mean that I have low standards for my children – that is far from the truth – our expectations are high. Really, what parent doesn’t long for her child to reach their full potential – whatever that may be? But our expectations for each child are as unique as the individual.
Back to the assessment. I knew that Charlie would be “behind” and would score quite low in the gross motor section. The assessment is in comparison to “normal” kiddos, and when you aren’t walking at almost two years old, the scoring clearly reflects that. But really, the kid is a crawling/cruising maniac and I can only imagine that walking is in the not-so-distant future. Even so, his score reflected a significant delay in gross motor skills.
The other portion of the assessment was focused on fine motor skills. In this area Charlie excelled. Stacking blocks, coloring, placing small items into a container. In fact he scored within the “normal” range. If they were to use this assessment to determine what services he needed, his scores would have actually worked against him – as in he wouldn’t qualify for services because of his high score. But for our purposes that wasn’t and won’t ever be the case – Charlie’s diagnosis of Down syndrome will always “qualify” him for services regardless of his assessment scores.
Overall, we were pleased with the assessment and Charlie’s “performance.” Yet I walked away with mixed feelings. How could I not be bothered about the significant delay in gross motor (and it will happens – when Charlie determines its time to walk), but at the same time be so proud and pleased with his high score and achievements in the fine motor area? Wasn’t I contradicting myself?
I’m still not sure. I realize that I may have a fairly relaxed attitude about many of the Down syndrome related issues that we may face. Because really, it is what it is. My love for Charlie isn’t dependent on the results of an assessment test. It won’t change how hard we work together to reach each milestone. Yet, part of me wonders if its OK to want to quietly cheer when the words “within normal” in relation to Charlie are used. What parent doesn’t want to shout it from the rooftops when their kid does something great, let alone “normal?” Yet can you do that without losing focus on what is important? And does it really matter?
With that final question I decided that I had done enough deep thinking for the day. It was time to whip up some bran muffins with the boys and play a few rounds of Animal Scramble while they were baking in the oven. Because when it boils down to it, my role as mom is to love, support, and encourage my kids. To celebrate their successes, while helping them reach their individual goals. And to toss any doubt, worry and comparison out the window. To let go of the things that I can’t control and rest in the knowledge that my children are healthy, happy, well-adjusted and thriving. And that yes, its OK to shout from the roof-tops that I’m proud of their every achievement. Even the normal ones.