In April of 2015 we welcomed our daughter Gracyn into our family. She was 3 pounds, 8 ounces and the cutest little blonde headed baby I had ever seen! At that point, we didn’t know what was going on with her or why she had stopped growing in-utero. After a few days, she was diagnosed with cCMV. When they gave us the diagnosis, they gave us a very grim outlook, telling us they couldn’t promise any form of a life for her. We would just have to wait and see how she does. Thankfully she has beaten many odds and is as fun as ever! Through this though, we have had our setbacks. For example, she was born deaf and now has cochlear implants, she has some developmental delays, she has stereotypic movement disorder which deals with overstimulation, and she struggles with eating. With all of this, we see 3 therapists, an audiologist, a “teacher” at her school for the deaf and a doctor in just about every category. My world has been so crazy the last year and a half that I have never stopped to think what this experience has taught me. But here it is.

1. Never expect more from your child than what your child can give.

With my daughter Xandrie, she was physically leaps and bounds ahead of most kids. She could stand holding onto something at 4 1/2 months, sat up by herself around 5 months, crawled around 7 months and was walking before 10 months. She was my first daughter so this is all we knew.  Then we had Gracyn. Gracyn on the other hand couldn’t even hold her head up until almost 5 months old, didn’t begin to crawl until almost 14 months, and still isn’t walking. Now I have Silas and I can honestly say, I don’t expect anything from him. He can do all things on his own schedule and I’ll be proud of him whatever that time frame is! It’s hard not to compare your kids to others’ kids, especially when yours seems to be the one “behind.” Sit back and enjoy the ride, your kids will only be little once. So when they do decide to sit up, walk, talk, whenever that may be- make a big deal about it! Because let’s be honest, after about a week or whenever they get into the first thing they weren’t supposed to, you will be wishing they were still sitting in a cute little swing, minding their own business.

2. Every child really is different.

Yes we have all heard this, but how much weight do we actually give this statement? Raising Gracyn has been a whole new ball game compared to Xandrie. I thought Xandrie was strong willed- until Gracyn got a little bigger. She personifies strong will. But I know for a fact that God gave her this will and personality to endure what life had to offer her. He made sure she would be able to handle whatever obstacle or “disability” life threw at her. And then there is Xandrie. She is a pretty laid back, go with the flow kid who has been a champ through this season of life with Gracyn. Even when we were spending multiple nights at the hospital or 4 days a week going to the doctor, she was good. Not to mention, she has a very “motherly” personality and has loved helping take care of Gracyn. Each child is different, but God made them that way. Let’s embrace it as parents instead of trying to change it.

3. Communicating with kids is hard but they have feelings and desires too.

Most of us can say we have struggled communicating with little ones but for myself, Gracyn has shed new light on just how difficult it can be for them. There are days I can tell how badly she wants to tell me something and she just can’t. This leads to a melt down for her and frustration for me. So many times I have literally said out loud, “What do you want?!” But think about it. What if you lived in a world where you had something to say but no one around you spoke the same language? How frustrating would that be for you? Very! That is how kids live every single day. They want us to understand so bad but we don’t speak their language. So give them grace. When they are upset, pause to think maybe they have something they really need to get across and can’t. See past the meltdown to the root of the issue.

More than anything, Gracyn is teaching me to slow down. With her, learning has been tough. Things most kids learn on their own, has taken a lot of hard work for Gracyn to get. I try not to take advantage of all the little things my kids do, even learning new things! Parenting isn’t just about raising “good kids.” It’s an adventure that can be a blast if we allow it to be!!

Written by Stacia Tiller