Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Milestone = Mild Groan

Yesterday morning I received an e-mail from BabyCenter announcing, "Your baby is 6 months old!  He is now rolling over in both directions!"

Oh, he is, is he?

Like Big Boy before him, (Not-Really-So) Tiny Baby is off the charts in terms of height and weight (and sheer cuteness, naturally), but is lagging a bit on some of those pesky developmental milestones.

When Big Boy was younger, I would graze on those child development checklists (like the ones in this book, and in this one) the way Big Boy now eats his vegetables - reluctantly, but with a vague sense that it's "what one does." Reluctantly because he didn't always measure up.  He hit all of the cognitive and social benchmarks, but weeks or months would pass between the standard for movement milestones and when he actually achieved them.  He rolled late, he crawled late, he walked late.  And mostly that was okay with me.  After all, none of those lists quantified the moments whose qualities I cared about - the first time he nuzzled into my neck, the first time he held onto me when I was holding him, the first time he reached out his arms to me.  But those pesky creatures known as Other Moms sometimes got - and get - to me.  Big Boy was perfect in my eyes, but I thought to protect him best I needed to start seeing him through the eyes of others as well.

Big Boy did not crawl until he was almost a year old.  When we visited our pediatrician for a well-check, hearing the questioning tone of my peers like an alarm in my head, I asked the doctor - a soft-spoken, no-nonsense gentleman - if this was cause for concern.  His typically laconic response:

"Put things he wants near him, but just out of reach.  He will move toward them when he's ready."

And, of course, he did.  Moved toward them and away from infancy, away from complete dependence, and toward a life of milestones that likely, maybe even hopefully, will not be in step with anyone else's checklist.

What was the biggest milestone in your life?  What was the most memorable of your child(ren)'s milestones?


  1. This is another terrific topic. I hope a lot of parents comment on this.

    We are raised to chart and measure and compete. We are given prescribed milestones of achievement. They can be so restrictive. And worrisome.

    One of my boys was years ahead (developmentally in all ways); the other seemed to be a year or two behind (little, and rarely spoke, but seemed happy and attentive). At first I worried, and over time, I just sensed that I didn't need to, based on observation, on that sixth sense we have as parents.

    A great milestone? At age 4 - my little one (who rarely spoke) looked out the window from his car seat while I was stopped at a red light - and read a billboard, aloud... his 5 and a half year old chatty big brother sure as hell couldn't do the same! He hadn't been talking. He had been listening. And teaching himself to read.

    Let's just say, that's something I'll never forget.

  2. Man, that Wolf can write, can't she? She's a quirky little one but I am fascinated by her.

    My oldest was enormous. Came out at 10 lbs 3 oz and filled out the three-six month clothes no problem. He walked at eight months and it was the craziest thing to see. A baby, still considered an infant by most, walking around while drinking a bottle. Really. It was something.

    And now? Now my two other little guys are pretty normal. I don't worry about them. Or even wonder, really, if they are on the right path, meeting the benchmarks. Because like you, I have a sense that everything is just fine and I would know it if something weren't.

    Wolf is right, this is a great topic. And another great post. Thank you.

  3. Ah, milestones.

    First of all, love the cameos by Sarah and Wolf. We have quite the little posse forming, huh?

    This is an incredibly rich and riddled topic. As parents, we are given these objective measures. And, on some level, I am grateful for these yardsticks. They tell us when to be relieved and when to ask questions. On the other hand, they are the source of SO much angst and anxiety. Our kids are unique and do things on their own time. Arguably, parental instinct is a much better measure of whether there is something to worry about or not.

    A fertile topic indeed!


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