Hello, my name is Jenny and my kids are weird.
No, really, they are. I have three kids and only one of them is “normal” or “typical.” And I know, I know, everyone says “normal is just a setting on your washing machine” – I get that everyone has their quirks. But when it comes to child development, I only have a 33.3% track record on producing a “normal” kid.
(this is not the “normal” one by the way. This is the 2nd of my two weirdos.)
When my oldest, now 14, was a baby and then a toddler, my husband and I thought we were GREAT parents. I mean, first shot out of the gate and we popped out an angelic, easygoing, super-smart kid. He walked a little late, but he talked WAY early and could ready by age 4. And he was just so….GOOD.
Let’s just say we were a bit SMUG.
So when our 2nd child, a girl, came out screaming didn’t stop screaming for oh, mm, a few years, our world was ROCKED. Turns out, we weren’t actually nailing this parenting thing -we just had an easy kid the first time.
When our daughter, at age 2, started exhibiting signs of developmental delays (speech, social, and motor, all) – we were worried, but not CRAZY worried – after all, like her big brother, she also showed clear signs of intelligence, especially when it came to letters, numbers, colors, etc.
BUT – she didn’t get better with time. We had speech therapy, occupational therapy both at a clinic and at special preschool for kids with delays, and we worked REALLY hard with her at home. By the time she was five years old, she was shipshape. My girl was AMAZING and reaching her full potential and I couldn’t have been happier! (You can read her story here.) But…I was also EXHAUSTED.
Because two months after she was diagnosed with severe developmental delays, I had baby #3, another boy. While I was big and pregnant and crying over my daughter’s diagnosis, I put my hand on my belly and said, “Dear Jesus, please please please let this baby be perfectly normal because I cannot go through this again.”
I have NO DOUBT that Jesus heard my prayer, but I also have NO DOUBT that He knew what was best for me, and for whatever reason, what was best for me was to have another child with developmental delays. He wasn’t as hard as his sister, and seemed pretty “normal” but by the time he was 2, I was rushing him into our local “help me grow” program for early intervention for speech. By now the denial that had delayed us starting my daughter’s therapy was long gone and had morphed into a hyperawareness of me monitoring every. little. milestone.
But my mother’s intuition was right. He needed help. He wasn’t as off track and his big sis, BUT – Jonah being 100% himself – he took a lot longer to get over his delays. Speech therapy, OT at special preschool, and finally at age 7, he is finishing a 6-month stint at the Brain Balance center and is fully up to or past age level in ALL areas.
He has no diagnosis, just “developmentally delayed” – an “atypical” kid in a typical world. Though now he seems entirely “normal,” it took a LOT of work for us to get him there.
Having “weird” kids has been humbling for me. I was the girl that everything seemed to go RIGHT for. Married my high school sweetheart, had the perfect first baby. No one in my family had kids with “special needs” – and since mine looked 100% “normal,” when they didn’t act that way, it could be embarrassing. The looks and raised eyebrows and what-not, and the underlying question I knew was floating through everyone’s brains, “What’s wrong with that kid?”
The truth is, there was nothing “wrong” with either of them. They were fearfully and wonderfully made by God to do great things and fulfill His plans for them. And to teach ME, their mama, that whatever HARD God calls me to in parenting, He will EQUIP me for! I did SO many things I had no idea I could do. I learned to be an in home speech and occupational therapist. I learned to wade through evaluations, paperwork, and IEPs. I learned to ADVOCATE for my child. I learned that those two hard-working, determined, intelligent kids could do ANYTHING they set their minds to, even if it takes longer than most.
So, yeah, 66.67% of my kids are weird. They aren’t “normal” – but I am no longer embarrassed about it. I used to not want to say anything about their delays because I didn’t want people to look at them weird or think anything was “wrong” with them – but now I LOVE talking about how God has made them, what He has done in their lives, and hope that it’s an encouragement to other moms, too. My children – weirdness and all – are a gift to me, and I don’t want them to be anyONE or anyTHING other than what God intended!