Just To Get Better (Flash Fiction piece)

He’s delayed,” the woman over the phone says, all a-matter-of-fact, as if the mother should be used to this thing by now. “In my opinion, I’d look into more therapy.

More therapy. Ironically, all the mother hears is, more opinions.

“Thanks,” she says regardless. “I’ll look into that.”

Then with a goodbye and a schedule to call back by the end of next month, the specialist hangs up and leaves the mother to her thoughts.

Maybe she should be used to this by now. Maybe she should just accept that the next several years of her life, maybe as long as she is a mother, that therapists, doctors, specialists, anyone with an MD or a PHD will be trying to help while sometimes not helping at all. It just isn’t easy to know the hidden thoughts behind the advice. The, you know, your baby did come really premature, don’t be surprised if he’s physically disabled or never catches up to the rest of the kids, thoughts.

Most of the time, the mother can almost forget that those thoughts are in the back of everyone’s minds. Because she sees everything. She knows how the baby is strong and determined and stubborn. She sees the little ways in which he holds his own bottle better than yesterday, or sits just those few seconds longer without toppling over. Still, it’s a wound she always carries, the idea that he might not be like the other kids his age, might never catch up, or walk, or run, or play the way they do.

Screw that. It’s bogus, the expectations and limitations we set on people from birth! From milestones to standardized tests to IQ scores to followers on Twitter, can success really be quantified so simply? What about all the inner stuff? What about the kindness, the selflessness, the charity? What about just doing better every day?

That’s what the mother wants to believe, what she hopes for herself, her child, every person out there who doesn’t quite fall into a groove and feels lesser for it. She wants to believe that people are on this earth just to get a little bit better, every single day.

What a better world it would be for these babies if from day one, all anyone ever cared about was that they got a little bit better, a little bit stronger, and a little bit happier. That’s the life the mother wants for her baby.




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