I recently took my daughter to her friend’s birthday party at a skating rink. I had some errands to run so we agreed that I’ll help her put her skates on and then stay only until she feels comfortable skating again. While she went into the rink, I stood there watching her and another friend skate on the carpeted sides, and not in the rink itself. It was a good strategy for them to regain confidence, but as it went on, my impatience was rising. I had other things to do and couldn’t wait forever. I was contemplating calling her and telling her to get a move on skating in the rink, when the birth of my younger son suddenly flashed through my mind.
I have opted for a home-birth, so when contractions started that May morning I called my midwife to let her know. After an hour or so, when we established that birth was really underway, she headed my way. Looking back I suspect that she came earlier then was really necessary because of our history together with the birth of my first-born. I was sure, back then, that I had plenty of time before birth actually happened and my midwife almost missed it… In any case, with this birth she had arrived early, and at one point was getting impatient with the birthing pace. It probably didn’t meet her expectations or maybe she had something else to do. This was all very subtle, but it really bothered me. I did not say anything, though, and eventually my son was born and all was well. I often thought about that moment, though, because it was a little black dot on an otherwise wonderful day. I didn’t tell anyone and was also criticizing myself for making too much of it. No harm done, what was the big deal, really? I still do not fully understand why that moment stuck so strongly in my mind and why it bothered me so much. However, it bothered me so much that I have opted to have an unassisted home-birth when it came time for my next birth. I must say that I remember that experience as euphoric just for the fact that there was no one there to judge, or poke or check or measure or interfere or even just entertain. It was me and the baby in our normal environment, at our own pace.
Remembering all this, I chose to just leave the rink and let my daughter get to things in her own good time, which worked out just fine.
It started me thinking though, of how much we are run by our time expectations and constraints, and how we project it onto our kids, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. We constantly ask ourselves and others (and are asked by others), when will they learn to crawl, walk, tie their shoes? When will the first tooth come out? When will they learn to play with other kids? When will they learn to talk, read, write, calculate? When will they stop writing backwards? When will they learn to spell, to swim, to wash their own hair?
When will they learn X, Y and Z? The list is unending, but the answer is really just one. Like all of us adults, our kids will learn anything and everything at their own pace, in their own good time.
And that is just how it was meant to be.