Meet My Neighbor – Motherese

I am so honored to have my friend Kristen from Motherese visiting my little “home” today as part of Never True Tales Won’t You Be My Neighbor.  It’s good timing for her visit because I’ve been a bit under the weather (as you know if you read any of my past like 27 posts) and could use a distraction from the cabin fever I’ve been facing.  Luckily I have an abundance of Purel scattered about.

I met Motherese back in November and haven’t missed a post since.  It’s usually the first blog I read in the morning and she leaves me pondering her words throughout the day.  Many of you know I’m a big “wonderer”.  I wonder about the small, insignificant things and the big, life altering things.  I write often of these little curiosities that overtake my head and it’s as if Kristen is also inside my head because the things she writes about, so often are what I’m wondering.  She just articulates them so much better than I ever could.  Her words are captivating and honest.  Her thoughts poignant.  I have absolutely LOVED getting to know her over the past few months and I know you will too.

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?



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41 responses to “Meet My Neighbor – Motherese

  1. Pingback: On Pea Soup and Edgar Pine « Motherese

  2. Milestones. Hmm. It’s sad, really, that I’ve lost track of keeping track of these little bitty markers of aging and development and, more importantly, or movement from infancy toward adulthood.

    My first born walked at 8 months. Yup. 8. My third born? I can’t tell you. I never wrote stuff down. I don’t know first words. I don’t know first foods. I wonder, does this make me a horrible mom? Am I supposed to remember all of this stuff? Write it all down? There is so much to keep track of–grocery lists and developmental milestones alike–and sadly the grocery list has taken the front seat for a while now!

    Milestones. Hmm. I pretty much sweep them under the rug now and go by instinct. Boy #3 doesn’t talk too much (wink, wink Becca) but I’m not worried yet. He’s nearing 2. It’ll happen. And if it doesn’t, we’ll deal with it. But I have to give them, and myself, a little more room to breathe. A little more space for things to move in their own natural direction without any pressure from me.

    Great post, again!

    • I definitely notice a big difference in the way I have marked time with my second than with my first. When Tiny Baby started waving bye-bye, I got so excited because I actually noted it in his baby book. Those other milestones? Not quite as well-recorded!

  3. So great to meet you! I’m a big fan of Kristen too and have found some awesome blogs through her. I suspect yours will become a favourite too!

    So enjoy this post, have had a very similar experience with my second son (who will be, sniff, sniff, one this weekend). His physical milestones have been slow in coming. He doesn’t pull himself up yet, he doesn’t crawl (though he does bum shuffle), he only just learned to get from lying down to sitting. I’ll admit he’s eager and ambitious to walk now though, and trying hard!

    What resonated with me most about your post was “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.”

    So well said and really something every mom should read. Looking forward to reading more.

  4. I’ve not been good at documenting milestones now that I have three boys. I do remember all three of them said Mama first. 🙂

    I probably remember more of my first borns milestones because they all came later in his life. He had pretty severe learning set backs and when he finally learned to talk and share his feelings and so forth, it was amazing.


  5. My biggest milestone? Becoming a mother. In general, I kind of look at milestones like I do expectations. They are wonderful when met, but when they are not, we are awash in worry and angst. If only we could stop caring so much about these things…

    Great post. Thanks to you both!

  6. I’m with ADR–becoming a Mama was my biggest milestone. A whopper!

    Miss D. walked late and I fretted about it–ha! WHY? She never walked! She took two steps and then RAN. Hasn’t stopped since.

  7. I wouldn’t worry too much about milestones. He’ll do it all, in his own time.

  8. I love this, because there’s so much freaking pressure on those baby milestones. All of mine reached the physical ones insanely early, minus one: the important one…sleeping through the night. All my kids were upwards of THREE before they did it (that’s years, not months) and I was told so much advice (tried it all), and remember feeling the greatest relief when our doctor said, “It’s a milestone like any other, and some kids will be faster and some slower, but they all get there.” And they did.

    Thanks for playing along with Neighbor Friday, girls! Be sure to sign the linky! 🙂

  9. Wonderful post. If only we didn’t compare our little ones (or ourselves) to prescribed measures of accomplishment. They are averages, after all, are they not?

    My elder did everything – and I mean everything – very early. And his brother, just 18 months younger, couldn’t have been more different. Everything late.

    In the years that followed, both proved to be very much their “own” selves; elder was exploring the world and talking it up (still is), while younger rarely spoke but taught himself to read, and is artistically gifted. They still couldn’t be more different. So you listen to your gut – as the parent – and tell the experts where they can put their, um, expertise.

    My greatest milestone?

    Not the obvious (motherhood) – being published, in print, in a magazine, under my own legal (maiden) name, and getting paid for it. The very first time. And that came at age 50. A helluva long time to wait, but a very sweet moment indeed.

    • “If only we didn’t compare our little ones (or ourselves) to prescribed measures of accomplishment.”

      If only.

      Your words made me consider the ways in which comparing our kids based on their milestones is really just another way of competing among adults.

  10. The most memorable milestone belongs to my youngest son. He had terrible ear infections the first year of his life and couldn’t hear because of the fluid. As a result, his speech was delayed. He was three and still hadn’t talked. After a year of speech therapy he was able to order his own dinner in a noisy restaurant and be understood byt the server. I cried.

    • To me, this is an example of a real milestone worth noting and celebrating. I see your story as one worthy of inspiration: we should all look at our kids – at their particular strengths and challenges – and then celebrate how they develop and overcome them, rather than hew so closely to the milestones we find in books. Thanks for sharing your story.

  11. I have to confess, I’m kind of a milestone junkie. Lucky for me, IEP has been on time with most of his milestones and I haven’t had to make peace with his schedule not jiving with any of the books. But I’m sure that sooner or later he’ll invent his own timeline and I’ll have to get over it. Just because I like to keep to a schedule doesn’t mean everyone else does…

  12. I love this! Let me tell you why. We mothers (and fathers?) often compare our children to other children. But, in the developmental world, there is no such thing as comparison. Charts are made for the parent’s convenience but beyond that? Nothing. Scientists understand the folly in ascribing detailed characteristics to each child. Individuals are, well, individuals. We each have unique characteristics that set us apart. If someone were to assume that each child fits into a description they would be completely wrong.

    Besides, whether a child walks early or late doesn’t matter. Eventually they will walk and nobody will know that they walked early or late.

    My daughter started crawling WAY early, but walking? She refused to walk until she was ready. I was okay with that, husband was okay with that, and that was that. Now you can’t even tell she walked late (for her).

  13. All my kids did their physical milestones late. My son walked at 15 mos and he was the earliest. My younger daughter, our “athlete,” walked at 17 mos. My mother always said I walked at 18mos. I didn’t believe her till I had kids…

  14. Sorry, can’t much participate in the dialogue unless canines count as children. Uh, no? They don’t? OK, no problem. But I did want to mention that I added a link to your blog from my essay today since I’ve been thinking of yesterday’s forgiveness essay nearly nonstop since reading it. Thank you again. It is a web of complexity with tendrils quietly stretching into places that I hadn’t considered before. Still mulling….

  15. I love what the doctor said. “Put it near him and he will reach for it when he is ready. ” May this be your new mantra for all childhood.

    Milestone. One son graduating 8th grade this year, the other touring colleges around the country.

    Mom throwing tantrums on a daily basis!

  16. Thank you, Becca, for sharing your space with me today. And thank you, friends, for your wonderful comments!

  17. Funny how this post is so timely for me right now. I have never been concerned with milestones. Hannah was late walking and very early talking. Luke was pulling up at 6 months old, but didn’t walk until 15 months. I was never worried. But I have to say, I’m a little concerned with Luke’s hesitation to talk. I keep telling myself that it will happen when he’s ready and NEEDS to speak (when his big sister doesn’t say everything for him) but it’s hard to ignore where everyone else’s kids are at this point. And I wonder when the right time is to intervene and see if there is reason to be concerned. There’s so much leeway in when the milestones should be reached and so little consistency in what I read so I have to listen to my gut in judging when things “should” happen.

    Thank you Kristen for coming by today and writing such a perfect post for me! Wish you could hang out longer! 🙂

    • As usual, Becca, you and I have the same thought patterns: knowing something intellectually, but still questioning it emotionally.

      I know that both of our boys will do what they need to when they’re ready – and I hope that we both can find peace and grace in the meantime!

  18. Biggest milestone for my children and for me: sleeping through the night (as Amy mentioned in her comment above). They got a small, first taste of independence by learning to self-soothe, and I got my sanity back (as much as any mother can, I should say). We’ve all been happier since.

  19. Ooh, milestones are such a great thing to think about. Sometimes we get so busy, we let them pass us by. Getting my college degree was a huge milestone because it was a long, rough road getting there. Getting married was another because I didn’t think I ever would (not in the “woe is me” way; I just wasn’t sure it was for me… apparently, I hadn’t met the right guy yet). Thanks for your comment on my blog. It made complete sense and was really thought-provoking. You’re right – arrogance can point to insecurity. I hadn’t thought of that. Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  20. I tried so hard for so long to ignore the milestones competition, and that worked for my first child. But then I joined a messageboard for the second child, and the comparison factor ratcheted way up. I had to re-learn how to just accept that my child would eventually hit those milestones … just not on my schedule. The other side of this coin is that now I am really careful not to brag too much on my GENIUS children for fear that I’m feeding someone else’s competitive leanings.

  21. Not a big milestone marker here. I like what the first commenter said, more by instinct than by the book.

    I do LOVE when they can read to me the first time, when they write their own stories, when they are old enough to start telling me what is on their mind, but these things aren’t something hit at a marker, but are more of a gradual process (that I enjoy watching).

  22. With four sons to look back upon, how in the world can a choose among the milestones?

    I’m just thankful for them all. Some came early, some came late. I’m thankful for the grace that helped me weather the unexpected as I walked the milestone path.

  23. Kristen, here’s a milestone I know my daughter didn’t meet quite “right”: finding walking on two feet apparently too risky, she decided to make it half way up there and walked for three months on her knees, carrying things with her hands. My husband and I would just look at each other and our strange child, apparently from a different planet, as she marched around like this. Right when I was out of my mind with worry about her orthopedic condition, up she went, and then never stopped running.

    And I love the idea of things that are near but just out of reach and how we’ll continually work towards them. Maybe that’s true of all of life.

    Thanks for this.

  24. ck

    My daughters also took their time with the milestones that made the charts, too. And like you, my favorites were the ones they did early – smile, cuddle, hold my hand, cling to me when I tried to put them down.

    Watching them crawl, then toddle and finally run away from me always made me a little bit sad. And paranoid…I was really lazy when it came to baby-proofing!

  25. our families biggest milestone was bringing my 1st born home after 3months in hospital, she hit all her targets really late but she got there in her own time, my little boy is text book baby & just as amazing as his big sister x

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