THE BLOG

In Your Own Time, Baby

02/17/2015 03:20 pm ET | Updated Apr 19, 2015
Shanell Mouland

But your baby was born after mine? I remember because I was snuggling my little blonde bundle when I heard the news. I was so happy for you. I was just coming to the end, or so I hoped, of the sleepless nights phase of childrearing and I was feeling a little accomplished. My little doll would soon take her first steps; speak her first words and when those things happened, I would have all kinds of good advice for the moms of children coming up behind her. It would be my pleasure to share my insight. I waited.

Then one day, you called to tell me your little one had said his first word. "Mama," he said. You were bursting with pride and as I listened to you detail the moment it happened, I imagined you writing it down in his baby book later that night with a satisfied smile on your face. I told you how happy I was for you. What an occasion it was. I made excuses to let you go and then I cried. Kate hadn't spoken yet. Hadn't uttered a sound. I cried with selfish disregard for anyone and when I was done crying, I went to my sleeping infant and said:

In your own time, baby.

Soon, I would see a number of your social media posts detailing your little one's triumphs, in true new-parent fashion. How clever he was, speaking in sentences now. I watched and re-watched the videos of him and listened as you clapped and cheered behind the recording iPhone as you documented one landmark or another. I watched your photos and videos garner likes and comments of other proud and excited parents. It was all going as planned for you. I was so happy for you, and then I cried. I cried with abandon and bitterness, and when I was done crying, I went to my sleeping baby and said:

In your own time, baby.

You don't call, anymore. Or is it that I don't call anymore? It doesn't matter. I know I have been a less than stellar friend. I struggled to continue with feigning excitement because my reality was overwhelming me at times. I wasn't strong or fair and for that I am sorry. The Internet had been bombarding me with evidence of talking babies and absurdly young potty-trained children and I was scared. I was so scared, and then I cried. I cried with resolve and intention and then when I was done crying, I went to my sleeping toddler and said:

In your own time, baby.

Eventually, I would learn the specifics of why my sweet baby was not meeting the milestones of so many babies that came after her. It had a name and knowing that name would help. It was called autism. Autism would make those milestones into mountains and fruitless comparisons would become more trouble than they were worth. We would travel a different path and we would begin to climb those mountains togethers and ultimately, we would bash right through the mountains and leap some altogether and then I cried. I cried with pride and delight and then I went to my sleeping child and said:

In your own time, baby.

Finally, I would see fit to share these breakthroughs, these turning points, on the same social media outlets that have been so cruel for so long and when I did, you, you who are reading this now, responded with such enthusiasm and devotion that I cried. I cried with wonder and satisfaction and then I went to my sleeping baby and said:

You did it in your own time, baby.

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