I was talking recently with one of my friends about raising kids and all the craziness that goes on when they are toddlers. My kids are nine, seven and a half, two, and nine months. In talking with her I was remembering when Justin and Little Miss were just 2 1/2 and 11 months and we had just moved to Germany and didn’t know the language and were extremely isolated. It was during this time that Justin not only wasn’t progressing, but it seemed like he was regressing altogether. I had taken him to several doctors who didn’t know at the time what was wrong with him. It was a very, very dark time and I think I cried every day for that whole year and suffered with depression.
During all that craziness, I had Little Miss, who was typically developing and watching me trying to teach Justin sign language and engage with him. I was solely focused on saving Justin from whatever was causing him to slip away from us, and so I spent less time with Little Miss and prayed and hoped that she wouldn’t be adversely affected by my lack of attention on her. Out of the blue, she came up to me one day and showed me the sign for “milk.” I couldn’t believe she knew how to sign something I didn’t ever remember showing her, she had just watched me trying to teach Justin to sign “milk.” I was so happy for her, but I burst into tears because I was immediately so sad for Justin. Why couldn’t he learn as easily as she had?? I felt so guilty that I couldn’t celebrate Little Miss’ huge accomplishment, and was instead crying for Justin’s lack of success. I thought about how the next few months and years of development would unfold for my daughter—what if she passed up her older brother in development?? How could I celebrate one child’s successes when the other one struggles??
This question plagued me for a few months as Little Miss’ development took off and Justin’s didn’t. And I didn’t have any magic answer, but I know that through prayer, time healed and made me less anxious and hurt about Justin’s development.
Fast forward to this morning. My Little Guy is 2, and speech delayed. And if you don’t think that hit a panic button with me—it most certainly has!! There were a few months of tears with him where I worried about his development too. As I sat down to check my e-mails, he came up to me and signed “car” and then walked over to the closet where we keep his plasma car and pointed at the door for me to open it. When I asked him if he wanted the car, he said “Yeah!” It’s so exciting to watch him grow and develop through these verbal stages. My first thought is to marvel at how natural and easy talking is as I watch my toddler learn the stages of talking. Then I’m struck with my second thought of how this process isn’t natural for Justin but is instead a constant uphill battle.
I was reminded this morning of a talk by one of the twelve apostles in our church, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. He was talking to all of us about not envying others’ successes and said,
“Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed.” April 2012 General Conference
I love how he said that we are not “diminished when someone else is added upon.” During the time that I have been typing this, my Little Guy has come up with 2 other objects and labeled them as he handed them to me. And I’m going to go celebrate!!! And when Justin comes home from his 6 hours of therapy today, we’ll celebrate his day too!!
I feel like I’m slow to learn some of these things sometimes, and I’m so grateful for time passed that allows us to grow, mature, and gain inspiration on how much we truly are blessed with. Loving my kids all individually helps reaffirm to me how much our Heavenly Father must love each one of us individually—even when my race seems to be going at little slower pace;)