The Other Milestones
By Aruna Bewtra
When I became pregnant I suddenly became a very… diligent person. (I use “diligent” as a kind way of describing some rather obsessive behavior.) I read all those books that outline in detail what could go wrong at any given stage and I made sure to watch for any and all symptoms. After I gave birth, I read all those other books that outline in detail exactly when your baby should be doing what. I wasn’t exactly a walking encyclopedia of milestones, but it was close. The first year of my daughter’s life was very, hmmm… detail oriented.
And then one day, my daughter must have been around 3 or 4 years old, a friend of mine came over with her new son. Her firstborn. While I scooped him up and sniffed in the new baby smell, my friend began to talk about rolling over. “The doctor says he might roll over any day now, how old was your daughter when she first rolled over?” I blinked at my friend, and suddenly realized, I had no idea.
Now, obviously this information is recorded somewhere in a baby book. And I certainly remember feeling, “Oh it could happen any day now!” But, how old she was exactly, where we were, what we were doing? Those specific memories are gone. When I really thought back on it, certain milestones (her first steps, when she first slept through the night) did stand out. However a lot of them (sitting up unassisted, pulling up to stand, cruising) are now great stories in her baby books that I have no recollection of at all.
What I do remember, however, are all those other milestones. The ones not in those books everyone reads; the milestones that were game-changers in my life. For example, one of my proudest moments of motherhood thus far was when I taught my daughter to blow her nose all by herself. Gone were the days of that dreaded suction device or shadowing her and constantly wiping her nose: life changing. Or the first time we were out somewhere and I could say to her with confidence: “Go and use the loo,” and both she and I knew she could do it on her own. That first unassisted bathroom trip was truly magical.
And then there were the milestones where she melted my heart in her own unique way, where she was showing me who she was, and who she might become. Like the first time she grabbed her “Baby Beluga” book out of my hands and demanded that she be allowed to “read” it on her own. Or the first time she saw me fretting over something and came over to hold my hand. And I still remember exactly where we were when she first demanded nail polish, jewelry, and a very specific dress and hairstyle before we could leave the house.
It’s been my experience that all babies will grow up and meet all the milestones in those books, some do it sooner, and some do it later. But the really important milestones for kids are the ones that are unique to each child and parent bond. Those milestones don’t need to be recorded in a baby book, because we will remember them forever.