“Is she walking?”
I hear this question, or some variation of it, all the time. Strangers ask it. Acquaintances weave it into each greeting. Family members express their concern. You see, my daughter is 19 months...and not walking, nor does she really seem that into the idea at all. I don’t tell those inquiring that last part; instead I rattle off her skills, accomplishments, and make an array of excuses including:
She’s a preemie.
Her cat-sister is easier to play with at scooting-level.
She isn't walking, but she has over three books memorized and says more words than the average kids in her real and adjusted ages.
She can point out body parts on humans and animals!
She’s more verbal, like me.
I’m sure I’m smiling when I say these things. My sore cheeks prove that. Inside, though, I’m worried. Did I do something wrong? Why didn’t I go part-time earlier? It was clear immediately after my maternity leave was over that she wasn’t going to accept bottles, and that was over 8 hours without nourishment on workdays. People assured me she made up for it nursing endlessly when I came home, but I don't think that’s true. Some family members blame my attachment parenting, and I worry that they’re right. But then I think about my fellow AP mommies—their babies walked on time. That makes me swirl down to the first postnatal worry: her prematurity. Will it be a lifelong hinderance?
Motherhood is a phantasmagoria of worry and comparisons to all other babies.
But It doesn't have to be. We don’t need to excuse our children for being themselves. Accomplishments should be part of natural boasting and not be forced into a defense strategy.
Here’s the true reason why my daughter isn’t walking yet: she’s an individual. She likes cats, owl books, the sound blocks make when they hit a wood floor. Oh, and she’ll walk when she’s ready.