Heavy title...I know. But what mom hasn't had this question lurking in their head at one time or another either during pregnancy...or perhaps when their child is well into their 20's! For some the word "normal" can imply boring, average, or uninteresting. For a mother, that word can have implications for their child's dreams, future, and health.
Noah is my first child so I am sure I will be asking this question a lot more with him than with child #2. I have already shared that I am a worrier by nature...and becoming a mother (while being German, female, and the daughter of Kathy Rimpel) has quite honestly compounded worrying to another level completely. I often "worry" on a weekly basis at least if I am raising Noah right...if I am teaching him skills that he needs at his age...if I'm being patient enough...if he's happy...if we'll end up on Supernanny...if he's developing appropriately.
"Developing appropriately?" Yeah...sounds like a lot of fancy-schmancy buzz words used by parents who only let their child eat hummus, favor attachment parenting, and play with only wooden handcrafted toys bought in Sweden, but take a look at my Google search engine and you'll see some key words being searched like "my child doesn't like to play independently", "what is normal for a 16 month old temper tantrum", and "my child doesn't like tv...is that normal?" I want to know where Noah stacks up, particularly with behavior.
Perhaps to be even more candid, a lot of this has to do with comparing him to other toddlers his age that I know. When I see Noah around other children his age I would use more ACTION verbs than linking to describe what I see him doing. For example, he outruns them, outyells them, and is much more impulsive. Noah is not the child who stops, observes, and studies a new toy, rock, or flower...he grabs, rips, or throws them. Noah is not the child who sits, builds, and stacks. He is the one that runs, bounces, and demolishes. So I ask you, any experienced mother, is my child "normal?"
I have already gotten a few nods and smiles from veteran moms either at church or in the grocery store saying things like "well, he's a boy" or "he's fearless" or my favorite "what a personality". Am I supposed to be taking comfort in this? It doesn't really tell me that Noah is acting like other boys his age...it just tells me I have my work cut out for me!
But, when I worry about how "active" my son is compared to other children I see and notice who can sit for 30 minutes straight playing with their blocks or like watching Sesame Street by this age, I need to stop and think about what a wonderful child God has given me. He keeps me on my toes, for sure...but he has a sweet side others may not see when we're in public. For example, one of his favorite things to do (and one of mine) is listening to me sing. When I ask him "Noah, should we sing a song?" he will stop in mid stride and look at me intently as I pull him into my lap and start singing "I Am Jesus Little Lamb" or " Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" clapping after each verse and staring at my face with an amazed smile the whole time. He also is in that "helping" stage wanting to help with small tasks like putting his shoes away, loading a plate in the dishwasher, or today at Kroger, throwing bread, bagels, or chips in the cart and smiling when he's praised for it. Reading books is a habit he enjoys together or alone in the evenings and he also loves everything in nature and can pick out a rock, flower, or leaf a mile away. Lately his obsession outside has been visiting the mums I placed by the front door and "petting" them (not picking off the petals like mommy said) and smelling them. A truly adorable little moment that I will not forget :-)
So in summary, I do have one amazing, awesome child and need to just keep reminding myself of this when I feel overwhelmed with the job of raising a small child to have manners and a friendly disposition. Parenting is a lot more work than I ever thought it would be...but that doesn't mean I don't see how worth it it is :-) I am truly not the same person I was before I had Noah...nor do I want to be. So while I will most likely continue to "worry" to some degree about the normality of my child and his "development" at the same time I hope to be more aware that maybe I am the one who is "normal" for feeling like that and feel a bit more at ease. I welcome any comments/feedback from other moms out there...am I alone? :-)