The most well-meaning, but for me, useless, piece of advice I got while Shierry was a newborn was to "cherish every moment, it goes by so fast." I was grateful time was going fast. I don't really understand what "the speed of light" is, but with a completely helpless, confusing newborn in my care, I wished time was faster than that. I found the constant doctors’ appointments actually easier to deal with than a crying, inconsistent baby. At least at the doctor, I knew exactly what to do.
Now that she’s an utterly adorable and charming eight month old, that advice makes a bit more sense. But of even more relevance to me at the moment are two adages of my grandmother. “Plants aren't children, you can throw them out” and “Who cares, as long as they’re potty-trained by kindergarten.”
Literally, if your kid is being fussy or being hilarious and you forget about watering your plant for, say, five weeks, throw it out and feel that sense of relief. It’s alright, you can get a new one. Or not. It doesn't matter. Maybe you’ll find that you no longer care about plants or, if you’re like me, that not only do you no longer care about plants, but that you only ever cared about plants because you wanted people who came to your house to think you cared about plants. This mantra can be extended to other aspects of your home. The dishes aren't children, they can stay dirty in the sink for an extra day. The laundry isn't a child, it can stay abandoned, out of sight for however long it takes you to run out of clothes.
As our babies turn into toddlers, they’re supposed to acquire all these new skills on a roughly predictable timeline. However, we were super late starting solids because, with her complete palate cleft, it took us so long to even find a bottle that fed her formula efficiently. Without a natural barrier, even the completely pureed foods go right up to her nose and out her nostrils. She sometimes panics when the food backs up in her nose and she can’t breathe. Then, the meal is over. I don’t know this for a fact, but it seems like her crawling is a bit delayed, and I can’t help but feel that it’s partially due to all the time she has spent in the hospital at pivotal developmental moments. As for her speech, she tries, she babbles constantly, but the sounds are not the syllables and mimicking of the other kids. But, whenever I fret, I remember my grandmother’s words. “As long as they’re potty-trained by kindergarten” to me means, don’t worry about whatever other supposedly normal and perfect children are doing when. When she’s able to and interested in doing something, she’ll do it. We can’t will anything to happen. All we can do is help her along. The only thing we can force her to do on time is get to her specialist appointments.