A Different Kind Of Normal

A recent post by Sleeping Mom @ Sleeping Should Be Easy, reminded me of something I came to realize when Livi was only a few months old: our “normal” is different.

In her post, Sleeping Mom urges us not to compare our children and their skills too much as every child has his own personality and develops at her own rate.

But when Livi would cry all the time and not sleep and only wanted to be held, I could not help but compare her to other babies. In my sleep deprived state, I could not understand why other babies slept through the night, enjoyed playing on the floor and happily lounged in their swing while Livi did not.

And then it hit me. Life with a high need baby simply is different. Our “normal” is different. A normal day for Livi would be a bad day for other babies.

By comparing Livi to other children her age, I was not doing any of us a favor. I was setting myself up for frustration. Not only that, when I stressed myself out over it, Livi, being as sensitive as she is, would pick up on my stress and we both would end up having a bad day.

I know it is not easy to not compare your child to others, especially when he has high needs. It is frustrating and in a way alarming when your child cries so much more than other babies.

Trust your instincts and adjust your expectations and it will get easier. If it is too frustrating for you, simply avoid spending too much time with babies that are not high need. Also make sure to surround yourself with friends who are understanding, supportive, and nonjudgmental.

Try to find other families with high need children. Their normal will be much closer to your own and their support and experience will be invaluable. If you cannot find anyone in your area, try to connect online. It is what I had to do but I found it extremely helpful and uplifting.

And remember: Even though our good days may look bad to others, they are still good days for us and we should enjoy and relish them.

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16 comments on “A Different Kind Of Normal

  1. Glad to hear your take on comparisons and what’s considered normal. Not every kid fits into those ranges and categories so I agree it’s more important to enjoy them for who they are!

  2. I think that’s an important message for all parents. We sometimes look at another child and think, wow, my child won’t eat that, or my child doesn’t speak yet…and we get nervous. But we need to remind ourselves that our children are individuals and will develop at their own pace and that is okay! πŸ™‚

    • hnMom says:

      Exactly. I agree that it is an important message and one we cannot talk about often enough. It is so easy to doubt yourself and your instincts and start “forcing” things. Especially as a first time parent or when things get difficult.
      I also wish that others wouldn’t put so much emphasis on when certain milestones need to be met. For example, I keep hearing that my husband and I both were potty trained at Livi’s age (whether that is true or not I don’t know). In the beginning, I would worry myself sick over comments like that but I have found over time that when Livi is ready, she will let us know. And it is a much easier transition as opposed to us trying to force her to do something she is not ready to do.

  3. Oh, this is so true. I’ve had to limit talking with certain friends in the last year as I have found that some of their “advice” has done nothing but leave me in a puddle of tears. I took it really personally and worried about it at the beginning, but now I either refute what they say with facts that pertain to my child, or I just thank them for their input and inwardly chastise them for the poor parenting decisions I think they make. πŸ™‚ I’ve come to realize that no one knows my child like I do, and the bond I have with her is something no one can replicate, so I could care less what someone else thinks I should be doing. πŸ™‚

    • hnMom says:

      Yes, I have had similar experiences. I do like your attitude though and you are right, of course: no one knows your child like you do. We just need to trust that we know what we are doing. πŸ™‚

  4. The way I deal with it is by thinking my child is so bright and personable that she isn’t content to just sit and watch πŸ˜‰

    • hnMom says:

      That is a great attitude, I love it. Livi is definitely much busier than others her age. But it can be quite exhausting sometimes. πŸ˜‰

  5. This is something I found comforting when I was told our son was deaf (the test was done incorrectly and his hearing was fine…) but I think it can apply to a high needs child as well. It was written by a mom of a baby with Down Syndrome and really reminds me to enjoy the children we have rather than get too focused on what’s “normal”:
    http://www.our-kids.org/Archives/Holland.html

    • hnMom says:

      Thank you so much for that link. That was written beautifully an you’re right, it is very helpful. The analogy is very much true.
      Given the fact that it was written by the mom of a child with disabilities, I am once again reminded that I am very lucky to have a healthy albeit challenging child. πŸ™‚

  6. fibromomof2 says:

    Thanks for this posting. I often find myself comparing my son to my daughter (who isn’t high needs). I’ve found my days are often frustrating and beyond exhausting, esp since I suffer from chronic fatigue & fibromyalgia. My son is almost 13 months and I just discovered info on hn babies yesterday. It’s been a challenging year, but finding out he is a hn baby is a small relief because I have always taken his fussiness personally as though it was a sign I was a bad parent. I’ve had many people say that it’s him, not me but that never seemed to help much when I was exhausted and he only takes 1-2 20 min naps a day.

    • hnMom says:

      First of all, I am amazed at how strong you are. Dealing with chronic fatigue AND fibromyalgia is a huge challenge in itself. To take care of two children on top of that, and one of them being a high need child, must be so difficult. I truly admire you for that.
      I’m glad you were able to find some relief by finding out that your son has high needs. I remember it clearly how relieved I was when I finally had an answer. I always thought it was my fault and even though finding out didn’t change the way Livi acts, it did change my attitude and I was able to concentrate on finding ways to help her rather than look for ways to change her or me.
      I hope things get better for you soon. πŸ™‚

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