I read this article today: “Better Language Skills at age 3 if minded by relative-study” http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/better-language-skills-at-age-3-if-young-minded-by-relatives-study-1.2275577 It caught my eye because I am very focused on teaching Jack and Fiona Language right now, and I can see how Fiona is behind Jack in saying words. I know it doesn’t mean anything when comparing babies, it’s only I am very conscious of all the communication Jack gets in comparison to Fiona. Last night after Jack and Fiona had their bath, Jack wanted me to read Dr. Seuss ABC. This is a new thing for him, lately he’s been engrossed in books and actually wants me to be involved. This is a big change from the past few months when my morning reading session became unbearable for the babies. They were not about to sit and listen! Fiona’s hearing aids were upstairs, I always take them off after dinner, before bath time. I was too lazy to go get them, plus me walking out of the nursery would have caused a great cry by both babies. I felt so bad the whole time knowing Fiona was only getting half of the experience Jack and I were having. I did teach her one sign, Duck that she understood. Over the weekend we hung out with another family with kids. The babies loved it, but there were several times and circumstances that I had to take out Fiona’s hearing aids. Mainly when it was too loud and they wouldn’t have done her any good. In those cases she isn’t understanding what everyone else is understanding as far as language is concerned, and it’s impossible to teach everyone how to best communicate with Fiona when she doesn’t have her hearing aids on. It will definitely be a much more difficult road for Fiona than jack. I’m glad I have the resources to be able to stay home with Fiona and Jack and take care of them. “The research found that language skills are the only element in which children who are cared for by their own extended families fare better by the age of three.”
The article was about much more than language development, it was actually about the “influence of childcare arrangements from infancy (nine months) up to the age of nine years, on a child’s physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional development.” The article talked a lot about the parent’s socio-economic status and how that greatly influences development. I think research like this is very interesting, but it is filled with flaws and misrepresentations. My husband’s family was very poor, they grew up on a farm in Ireland. Neither mom nor Dad had any education outside of life experience. All ten kids grew up to be smart, successful, people. I think that children are resilient and can overcome many of these stereotypes the article talks about. It just might be more challenging. The last sentence in the article was the most interesting and personal, “Children whose mothers had depression when they were infants had more social and emotional problems by age three.” I’ve thought about my mom’s depression a lot while I was trying to have kids and after they were born. I was petrified I’d have my crying bouts in front of Jack and Fiona. Oddly I haven’t had any crying since before I took the Zoloft, and none in the three months I’ve been off the Zoloft. But it was a great worry because my mom was very emotionally unstable when we were kids. I was constantly afraid I’d make her cry. I never want my babies to feel like that at all. I don’t want them to walk on egg shells like I had to do with mom.
This morning there was a moment, a very common moment in the daily life of rearing children when the babies are slightly cranky, there are no plans to go anywhere, just a day at home. A thought comes in my mind, “what am I going to do for the next several hours” as I look at Jack, his little chunky legs and runny nose, as I listen to Fiona screeching for who knows what, I look around at things that need to be done. This is a moment when the alcoholics would take a drink, the drug addicts take something to take the edge off, to numb the situation or to make it seem more interesting. I need to just be here, that’s all, through any discomfort, boredom, frustration, just ride it out. I’m not going to say “think about how lucky you are” or “just be grateful” that’s not the place I need to go. There’s something beautiful about the uneasiness of these moments that should be recorded “as is.” There’s an opportunity to learn and grow through all of the back pain and fatigue and “I wish I could just do nothing today” that is priceless. I know if I can let my body sink deep into the mud and not fight to get out I may see something clearer about myself, about life. I am a stay at home mom. I could send them away to a daycare if I really wanted to, but I don’t want to.