I’ve always been an over-achiever. It started young, and through school it just became a part of who I was. I was always at the top of the class, on special committees and groups and councils, even at work still I have made a spot for myself as one of the key members of our team, even if I haven’t had much room for promotion yet. Eric is a lot like I am… He excels in whatever he puts his mind to, and he likes to challenge himself. He finds new ways to accomplish the things he wants, he loves to do puzzles, he picks up on things quickly.
Sometimes I wonder if that isn’t part of why it’s so hard for me with Danny some days.
Danny is … not much of the above. Now, that doesn’t mean he’s a stupid child by any stretch; he is very smart when he wants to be, picks up on a lot and misses little. He has a stubborn streak a mile wide, and when he sets his mind to something, he will accomplish it. The problem comes in that he doesn’t often set his mind to things, or at least, the things we wish he would.
Whether it be the CMV and some as of yet undiagnosed disability or learning disorder, or his hearing loss and the fact that he is in daycare and not being stayed at home with one on one, or just his general self, Danny is often the “one left behind” in groups. I’m a part of an online community of mothers, and I’m a part of two age groups, one group of moms of kids due in July 2006 and one group with kids with in April 2008. Once Danny and the other babies were born, he quickly established himself at the back of the pack with one other baby. I’ve worked hard to overcome the fact that everyone else hits things a good ways before I do, and they’re a good group of ladies who don’t make a deal out of it, who are friends…but it’s rough sometimes, there’s no denying it. When nearly everyone else was walking and Danny still wasn’t even crawling, it was rough. Now, they’re all often discussing how much their children are saying, or understanding, what new words they’re picking up, how they’re starting to talk in two, three, four word sentences…and it’s rough.
At daycare, we purposefully hold him behind a room because it’s where his development is, and because the younger room has a much better listening environment. I fully support the decision, and am glad they’re willing to accommodate us, because I know he gets so much more out of being in that room – but every time someone asks me if Danny’s been moved up to the next room yet, there’s a moment of awkwardness.
When we approached Danny’s cochlear implant surgery, I was lucky enough to find two other blogs of children about Danny’s age, who would be getting implants at around the same time. I was thrilled! Here, at least, Danny would be on equal footing. Here, Danny would fit in. One of the toddlers celebrated his first hearing birthday this week, the one year mark of their cochlear implant activation. He understands everything his parents say, to the point of having to spell words around him, and has over 150 expressive word approximations. He has more than caught up to an age appropriate level for language. I am absolutely thrilled!! I have followed this little guy and his mom for so long, and know first hand what they’ve been through, and this is just so exciting and wonderful and incredible. Genuinely and truly, I am thankful for the progress he’s made, and very happy for him and his family.
…At the same time, it sucks, because once again Danny is left in the dust.
They say you can’t compare your child to anyone else, and I agree with that. I follow that. Eric had some spots where he was “behind” the general crowd for a while, and he’s caught up and then some. I know in the long run it usually balances out. I try to set aside the immediate fear that comes from it too, because with CMV there is always that little voice in the back of your head that screams “brain damage! disability! apraxia! epic fail!” I also try to focus on how far Danny has come in such a short time, because he has had so much going on and has accomplished so much that surely that’s taken away from his language development.
But dangit, just once I wish I wouldn’t be left feeling a million miles behind. And I hate that I’m “that mother,” the one that always feels bad for herself when someone else has exciting news. I wish I could get used to it. In Danny’s therapy session yesterday with our Claire, she reminded me that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I responded that I knew that, but I couldn’t help thinking some days that Rome wasn’t built in a million years either.
We’ll get there.
He’ll get there.
And one day, I’ll stop wishing for it to be a little bit sooner, a little bit faster, too.