There's this phenomenon that happens when your child is being evaluated for any sort of difference.
You are inundated with mixed messages.
Pelted by. Poked with. Swimming in. Slapped repeatedly by.
On the one hand you're told, "Accept your child for everything they are!"
On the other hand you're told, "What's the cure for your child's issue?"
On the one hand, "Relax! God doesn't make mistakes?"
On the other hand, lists of questionnaires from doctors asking you how you might have caused this during pregnancy.
One hand, "Your child is perfect the way they are."
Other hand, "I could never handle a child with issues."
And so on, and so forth, world without end, amen.
This is what I got for... oh... probably three years of Maura's life. I still get it at times, but for three straight years or so, it was constantly there.
I was told to accept my daughter but cure her, because I shouldn't really accept her as disabled. I was told to calm down, but that I wasn't taking this as seriously as I could be, as I should be. I was told it was great that I was laid back, but good moms are Warrior Moms. I was told not to be dramatic about things. I was told how having a child like mine was too hard. I was told having a child like mine was easy. I was told she would catch up. I watched her fall further behind. I was told that everything had to happen by age 5 or else she'd be behind forever. I was told how that wasn't true, that development could happen well into her 20s. I was asked, "Was there anything that happened during your pregnancy that could have caused this?" in a dozen different ways. I was told not to give up hope. Evaluations made her sound more disabled than anyone gave her credit for. I was told that I was the expert on my child. I was told that they knew what was best for her. I was told to trust my instincts while everyone around me told me how those instincts were wrong. I was told I wasn't doing enough. I was told I wasn't investing enough time in my child. I was told to take time for me. I was told they couldn't help us.
I was told a lot of things.
So many things.
It's amazing, the moment you say, "I think there's something wrong with my child," everyone comes out of the woodwork with an opinion on what you should be doing. Most of those people aren't there to actually help, though. They're just there to plant a seed of doubt in your brain, which is already an acre of doubt and doesn't need more seeding.
I don't know when it stopped with Maura. Maybe when she developed epilepsy? People take seizures pretty damn seriously, and it's something they know, and is real to them.
Maybe it's when I was able to stop taking all the "advice" thrown at me. Like when one preschool mom told me the key to potty training was consistency, and I just needed to be consistent with Maura. I told her she could come over to my house any time to help out.
She never did.
But I knew she wouldn't show.
It was all around the time Maura was 4. A year into therapy for myself, three years, multiple tests, and MRI and EEG for Maura.
Three years of mixed messages being thrown at me until I was finally able to send a message to the world.
"I got this. I'm the expert on her. I don't care what your opinion is. No, I'm not going to rub her down in essential oils because that won't fix her brain. What's on paper doesn't matter, and doesn't tell the whole story. She is who she is, and if you don't like that, there's the door."
So to you moms and dads who are starting a journey of your own, be warned — there are many many many opinions out there. People will tell you what to do, how to do it, and what to feel. They will be everywhere, and they love to give their opinions unsolicited.
Here's the thing —
You don't have to listen to them.
Just nod, smile, say, "That's nice, but we're going to keep doing our thing, thanks."
You do you.
Your path is your own, and you can hike it however you want.