When I first found out I was pregnant, I figured the least of my worries was whether or not I could handle being a good parent. I was naively confident in my yet to be utilized parenting skills. After all, I grew up in a big family where we learned how to help change diapers the same day we ourselves were potty trained (Ha!).
Our parents taught us how to love and take care of each other at a young age. I knew how to hold a baby, talk, teach, and play with children. My mother and father could run a household of 14 in their sleep (and sometimes they did....LOL). I had the rare benefit of learning from that kind of example.
"This was going to be one of those blind-fold-me-tie-both-hands-behind-my-back-piece-of-cake-I've-got-this kind of situations. Or was it?"
The first year after I had Chase, I thought, "Yep---I got this." Slap an "S" on my shirt and call me Super Mom. Single mom, working full time, breast feeding Chase in one arm, while folding a load of laundry with the other hand, and still had time to play peek-a-boo, and get in a few minutes of exercise, while Chase was napping.
I lived on 2-3 hours of sleep, but I felt good and accomplished. However, toward the beginning of the 2nd year, things started changing. I started noticing the developmental delays with Chase. By the middle of Chase's 2nd year, I stopped saying, "I got this", and started questioning, "Do I, got this?" Then by the end of the 2nd year, and after getting Chase's diagnosis and assessment results, I thought, "WOW... I definitely don't, got this!"
I was just dropped off in a foreign country, and I didn't know the land, the language, or anyone there. My family hadn't experienced anything like this with myself or any of my 13 brothers and sisters, or any of my nieces and nephews thus far. Phrases like 'speech delay', 'cognitive processing delay', 'stemming', 'behavioral interventions', 'IEP's', 'occupational therapists', 'NPA's' - I had no idea what these phrases, acronyms, and titles meant, and how this was going to work out.
Fast forward 10 years since I began this unexpected journey, and I've learned a lot, but I'm still learning, as Chase changes and grows. I've found in my journey, that most of us have an area or areas in our lives in which we feel confident, accomplished, or expert; whether it's a profession, task, sport, hobby, etc.. Then life places us in circumstances, where we know very little or nothing at all, and we must rise to the challenge, seek out information, learn new skills, and be committed to becoming experts in new arenas in our lives.
In no arena does this hold greater truth than in parenting our children.
Parenting means earning a PhD in your child; knowing your child's strengths, challenges, preferences, dislikes, abilities, talents, tendencies, personality, and how he/she processes and perceives life in general. Parenting means being committed to nurturing and pruning each child as a whole - spirit, soul, and body.
Becoming experts in our children includes researching and utilizing the wisdom and expertise of others (doctors, therapists, teachers, coaches, our own parents, etc.) However, knowing our children also protects them from misguided opinions and influences of others, that may lead us and our children in unnecessarily difficult or even dangerous directions.
Getting a PhD in your child is not for the faint of heart. It will test you, stretch you, and humble you, while simultaneously strengthening and refining you. The rewards are immeasurable and priceless, resulting in a child that possesses a sense of destiny and purpose.