Brilliant Moms—Our Unsung Heroes

Brilliant Moms—Our Unsung Heroes

Linda Silverman, Ph.D.
 
 
In my career, I am blessed to be able to work with dedicated, tireless, compassionate mothers who will move Heaven and Earth to help their children. Some children fit in well at school, academically and socially. The ones I see are not as fortunate. I don’t know what would become of them if it weren’t for their mothers. Mom is the only one in the world who sees who they really are, who sees their strengths, who sees their potential. Children who do not fit the mold are lucky to have mothers who advocate for them, despite the looks and the jeers they face as “overinvolved” mothers. But who advocates for the Moms? Who honors the important role mothers play in their children’s development?
 
Moms call the Gifted Development Center for guidance. When a Mom sees that her daughter is asking names of objects at 11 months, memorizing books at 17 months, and asking complex questions before she’s two years old, she gets anxious. “How will she fit in with the other children?” “What will the teacher do with her if she’s already reading in Kindergarten?” “Should I hide the books? I don’t want them to think I’m another ‘pushy parent.’”
 
Developing faster than other children makes a child vulnerable, and Moms are keenly aware of this vulnerability. When they can ignore it no longer, when the fear of “What will happen to my child?” rises in their throats, they gulp twice and call a specialist for advice on their child’s unique development. They battle that screaming voice in their heads, “Do you realize how foolish you’re going to look if you’re wrong and this is all in your head?” Nearly all the Moms who break down and make that phone call are glad they did. They were right; their children really did need assessment and support.
 
Many of the children we assess are twice exceptional: gifted with learning disabilities. While they excel in some areas, they struggle with writing or reading or spelling or math or concentrating or connecting with other children. They may have auditory, visual or sensory weaknesses. These need to be treated as early as possible to promote optimal development. Mom notices before anyone else when her child puts his hands over his ears in noisy situations, or loses her place when she reads, or doesn’t learn how to ride a bike at the same age as the other kids. Mom worries. Well-meaning friends and relatives may say, “Don’t worry. He’s smart. He’ll outgrow it.” Not true. Kids who struggle holding a pencil and cutting with scissors often become students who hate writing. They need early intervention. They need Mom to be supported and given some direction, such as “Have you thought of contacting an occupational therapist?”
 
Twice exceptional children are often misunderstood. Teachers see how smart these children are by their vocabulary and their contributions in classroom discussions. When their written work is not at the same level, teachers wonder why they don’t “try harder.” Moms know how hard their children are trying. Moms see the tears in their children’s eyes when they are faced with a writing assignment. Their hearts break for their children. The recent scandal involving wealthy parents bribing colleges to admit their children makes it even harder for mothers of dyslexic or dysgraphic children to be taken seriously.
 
Moms rarely recognize their own brilliance. We give workshops on “Whoever Heard of a Gifted Mama?” It takes incredible intelligence to orchestrate the needs of one’s entire family in our complex society. Being smart is not the achievement of good grades in school. To see brilliance in women, we need to look for these inner qualities: 
 
  • Sensitivity
  • Intensity
  • Curiosity
  • Perceptiveness
  • Complexity
  • Reflectiveness
  • Perfectionism 
 
These beautiful characteristics are different faces of intelligence. Take some time to acknowledge that you are smart. Recognize how vital your insights and support have been to your children’s optimal development. Feel how deeply you are appreciated.