So with the decision came 11 pages of paperwork that I had to complete. When I first looked at the forms, it seemed overwhelming. Do you remember when your child first responded to his/her name? Me... not so much. I do remember the first time he said his own name. It also seemed invasive: What are your sleeping arrangements? How do you discipline your child? My mommy guilt kicked in and I wondered if I was a better mom, would I still be filling out that form.
I realized that I'd received a secret message of my own from my family of origin, "Asking for help is a form of failure. You should be able to figure everything out on your own." I'm sure my parents never intended to pass this along, but I burdened myself with it at some point. After some heart-to-hearts with Jesus, I rephrased it into, "It's okay to ask for help." This was incredibly freeing. I don't have to have all the answers.
But I still let the forms sit there unfilled.
There was something else holding me back. I felt like the forms were a test and some of my answers were going to be wrong. I felt that I must have done something wrong, obviously, since I am in this predicament of not knowing how to help my child. "Ah," I imagine the doctor saying, "You co-sleep. That's the problem right there. If only you'd made a different choice, he'd be fine. See what you've done?" There it was, the feeling that somehow I did this to him, made him angry and anxious and scared of people. Is this all my fault?
I put the forms away. Maybe we would not have him evaluated after all.
Over the next few weeks (yes, I had the forms that long), I looked back at some of the parenting choices I've made and I had another revelation. Raccoon is not the first child I've parented, so I have more perspective about the things that really matter to me. I co-slept with SB too, and I don't regret any of those nights that I held her close. But I also don't judge those who have made different choices. Where everyone sleeps isn't a measure of more or less love.
Concerning Raccoon, I accept the choices I've made and my family's story, flaws and all. I've made plenty of mistakes with him, but I do know that there has been love every moment. If the tester has questions, I don't mind. I'm not afraid anymore of being myself and embracing the failures as well.
The forms are in the mail.
Illustration by me