“Every baby develops at their own pace.” This is something that you will hear a lot as a new parent. This gives your mind a little bit of peace as you move through the days. You tell yourself that your baby will sit up on their own when they are ready, your baby will crawl on their own when they are ready, your baby will start to coo and babble when they are ready. You just wait, excited to be a part of their moments when they happen.
Yet, the check-ups happen often and at each appointment, you get the same question. “Is your baby hitting the scheduled milestones?”
For a parent, this question can make you overly anxious, especially if your child is one of the many that beats to their own drum and wants to set their own pace. That tiny little devil named Comparison creeps in and you find yourself looking at other babies, wondering how old they are as they take wobbly steps across the playground.
Up until this point, my daughter has been on track for all her milestones, early even. I would start to get a little nervous and then we would wake up one day and it would just happen. She would be sitting, she would be crawling. Just like that.
Walking has been the hardest milestone to tackle so far and I feel like everywhere I look there are younger babies wobbling around. I can’t fully express to you how this makes me personally feel, and I feel like this is a common feeling shared among parents who’s children don’t follow the curve of the developmental charts. You feel like you’ve failed. You’re frustrated with yourself for not doing more and you look back at everything you’ve done over the past months leading up to now. You wonder what you should have swapped out to ensure your baby was hobbling along with the others.
I’ve said this once, I will say this a thousand times; parenting is lonely. That inner voice you had before you became a parent that makes you doubt yourself and question your worth suddenly gets a megaphone when you become a parent. Every emotion you feel has a side order of guilt.
Those people who joke about parenting being the hardest job in the world, really have no idea. It is a lot more than just organizing programs, carpools, and playdates. The emotional and mental toll of being a parent is unmeasurable and something a lot of people who aren’t in the same situation will never understand. We don’t get to log off at the end of a workday, we are on 100% of the time. Can you even imagine being so thoroughly mentally and emotionally consumed every minute of every day?
That’s being a parent, and no… it most definitely isn’t easy.
Outside of the doctor’s office, everyone else questions you about their milestones as well. It’s like you are in competition with every other parent and their child and those parents want you to know exactly how advanced their little baby is. They will tell you just when they reached the milestone your baby hasn’t yet, note their child is younger and then reluctantly add… “But she’ll get there. Every baby moves at their own pace.”
I know babies who had started walking as soon as 8 months, and then I know other’s who started when they were around 2 years. Everything else in their lives was comparable, there was no big issue or rhyme or reason to it. That was just when they were ready. So how can there be a chart that says when our babies should accomplish what tasks when that is such a huge gap? How is that second mom supposed to feel about her baby’s development when the chart states walking should take place between 12-18 months?
I can tell you what I am feeling, I am feeling a bit stressed, a little worried and overwhelmed and definitely guilty. I practice with her for a few hours every day, I don’t like to overdo it because she gets frustrated and I don’t want her to associate walking with frustration. Yet, I can’t tell you how many messages I get a day asking me if she is walking yet. It’s frustrating and disheartening.
I tell myself I am just going to release the reigns a bit. I am going to sit back and let her tell me when she is ready, but a part of me can’t help feeling like I should be doing more to help her along.
For anyone who is feeling this way, I am right there with you. It’s hard to let them figure things out all on their own, but that looks like the only way to progress.
Whether or not I am capable of this is irrelevant right now, I am going to have to figure out how to step back and let her take the lead on this.