A Mother’s Intuition


Even if you’re a brand new mom and totally winging this gig called parenting, your maternal intuition is already so much stronger than you realize. It’s one of our superpowers. Mama instincts are present from Day 1 and never leave. But the reality is that we live in an age of information overload. The answer to every question is literally just a Google away. As a result, we spend way too much time thinking in our heads and not enough trusting in our guts. There is so, so much noise in the world today. It’s more challenging than ever to simply be still, to get quiet, and tap into the most reliable parenting resource that we have…ourselves.  


Take your inner knowing during your child’s earliest months and years of development, for instance. Have you ever gotten the feeling that something wasn’t unfolding exactly as it should be? Maybe you find yourself struggling with your child’s behavior in ways that you didn’t anticipate? Perhaps you’re noticing differences when comparing your child to other kids her age at the local playground? Or maybe there have been other red flags that are impossible to ignore no matter how hard you’ve tried? Whatever it is that your inner voice is saying, I encourage you to tune in to her.  


It’s not always going to be easy. When it comes to parenting, everyone has an opinion, right?  So when your laid-back pediatrician tells you not to worry because everyone knows that boys mature more slowly than girls…or when another mom at a birthday party tells you that second children are prone to speech delays because their older sibling talks for them…or when your MIL tells you the story of how your husband skipped the crawling stage and went straight to walking… take it all with a grain of salt. Keep an open mind, and then decide if what you’re hearing from the outside matches what you’re hearing on the inside. All of these people are well-intentioned; but, if your mama gut is telling you something different, trust that message first and foremost. 


My dream for as long as I could remember was to be a mother. I’ve always loved kids. I babysat every single weekend as a teenager and spent two summers as a preschool teacher. In college, I switched my major from pre-med to education so that I could start a family sooner and more easily. The decision to resign from teaching and become a stay-at-home mom was an easy one. I was made for #momlife.


So, imagine my surprise when my babies arrived and I was an anxious, fumbling, bumbling hot mess. Nothing about motherhood came naturally, which totally floored me. I could not get my firstborn to stop crying and traumatic is the only word in the dictionary that comes close to describing my experience with nursing. Postpartum anxiety and depression are loud. They’re intense. It’s like sitting in the front row at a heavy metal concert, right next to the speakers. The quiet wisdom of my inner mama voice had no chance. She had been drowned out and I was lost.     


I was fortunate to take my children to a pediatrician who never minimized any of my frazzled new-mom concerns. On the contrary, I felt like she was way more assertive about intervention than I was even prepared for at the time. Her gentle suggestion at a two-year-old well visit that something might not be “typical” was absolutely jarring. I remember feeling intense anger toward her when the shockwaves subsided. How dare she imply that my child’s language skills weren’t developing as expected! He’s meeting all of the milestones listed in my parenting books and talking a ton. Sure, we can’t always understand what he is saying, but that would come eventually, right? What the heck did she know? She probably went to a crappy medical school. I had an elaborate narrative forming in my mind in an attempt to combat my fear. Like many parents, I found it so much easier to hide safely under a blanket of denial, than face uncertainty, or even scarier, the truth. As it turns out, the doctor was onto something.  


A few months later I found myself calling Early Intervention (the Birth to 3 system in New Jersey) and our family’s special education journey began. I truly cannot say enough great things about this service. Basically, if your child is under the age of 3 and you have concerns about his/her development, reach out to the program in your state. A team will come to your home, assess your child, and if they are eligible, provide intervention services such as OT, PT, Speech, and direct instruction. In some states, these services are completely free. In others, families have to pay for a percentage of the cost, based on household income.  


There is a mountain of research touting the benefits of acting quickly when a child has a developmental delay. The earlier that targeted intervention is provided, the better the outcomes. Just Google the term neuroplasticity as it relates to children and see for yourself. There is absolutely nothing to lose by requesting an evaluation, and so, so much to gain!


Both of my children reaped the rewards of this program. Even with my background as a special education teacher, I started out feeling completely unprepared. For several years, we had a revolving door of therapists in and out of our home. They became part of our family. In addition to teaching our children, they trained us in the strategies and knowledge needed to essentially do what they do for the other 23 hours of the day. Lessons were disguised as play and incorporated into our daily routine in real-time. Therapy sessions felt like playdates. There were lots of games, lots of movement, lots of laughter, and a TON of growth. Early Intervention is truly a genius instructional model.  


Sadly, I meet many parents along the way who fail to take advantage of the golden opportunity to get help for their children during this crucial developmental window. Either they aren’t able to move past feelings of denial, or they don’t want to pursue evaluation for privacy reasons. I hear things like: “She’s fiiiiine. I didn’t ___ until ___ either, and I turned out okay,” “I don’t want people coming into my home,” or “I don’t want my child to be evaluated and labeled by the State.” I really try my best to be patient and understanding; however, it seems to me like these reasons may have more to do with opinions coming in from the outside world than what’s best for the child. It’s most definitely not up to me to judge though.  


If you and your family are debating about whether or not to make that first call, I implore you to get as quiet as possible and tap into your motherly instincts on this one. And guess what? The exact same advice goes for almost every other parenting dilemma that you will encounter.  There’s an infinitely wise voice inside that already knows the path to take. My two wishes for you are that you’re brave enough to listen and that you’re surrounded by people who will guide you gently and lovingly when life gets too loud.  

The IEP Parent's Guide
to the BEST School Year EVER!

A month-by-month checklist of Best Practices 

This is the guide you need
to step up your advocacy game. 

Simple, monthly action steps to keep busy parents on track all year long.
*Relevant for all grade levels and disability categories.*