It's still a milestone - no matter when it happens.
a stone set up beside a road to mark the distance in miles to a particular place.
an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development.
I have a problem with how we associate milestones with time. As a social worker, we use milestones to gauge children’s development but also to gauge parents. I’ve never felt it was very fair because you could be the best most proactive parent in the world and your child may still "show delays" in development of their milestones. So for me, in my practice, I used it as a guide. I knew what “should” be happening and I used as many factors as I could to assess a situation. I never used milestones as the biggest determining factor in a parent’s ability and or willingness to parent or a direct reflection on development.
Now that I have my own child, and am experiencing the wrath of "delayed" milestones myself, I’m now even more thankful that that was how I practiced.
My daughter is just about 13 and a half months old (I had to do the math to figure that out – otherwise I’d answer with “She’s just over a year.”) And up until this week she was not crawling. She didn’t roll over until she was 9 months old. She hated tummy time and when I say hated I mean HYSTERICAL hated. She’s a girl that knows exactly what she is willing and not willing to do and you will NOT sway her. Not sure where she got that from….
So when she turned 1 and wasn’t crawling people would innocently make comments like “oh I bet she’s crawling and into everything” to which at first I felt awkward saying “Well no…” and then eventually would very bluntly say “Nope. She’s not crawling at all.” As much as I became bold with my answers, it was hard not to feel something as babies around her in her age range were soaring past those milestones and she just sat and watched them go by. Literally.
I knew she would crawl. I knew she would walk. I was never worried. From the start, she showed that she liked to assess things and not try them. She would practice things in her crib when no one was around but she wouldn’t do any of it in front of us until she could do it perfectly. Crawling was no different. She woke up today and crawled across the room. No practicing, no scooting, no army crawling. Nope. This girl perfects it then she’ll show it to you but she’s going to take her sweet time perfecting it.
And to be honest, it’s not even the delay part that irks me. I know enough from my profession that kids develop however they develop and for the most part, they’ll all catch up around the age of 5 really no matter what. For the most part.
I think the part that I struggle with the most is other people’s reactions when the milestone is hit. For me, I feel no less joy or happiness when my child does something for the first time then the parents who’s child hits those milestones on time. I feel no less pride because she met the milestone later then other children. So when a mama expresses that excitement, it would be helpful if you were just as excited for her and her child as she was for yours when you told her that your baby started eating solids/crawling/said first word/walked for the first time “on time”.
However, all these muted reactions have taught me an extremely valuable lesson. As a parent, it’s important that I validate my child on all of her achievements – big and small no matter when they happen and let them feel that love and attention. I would never want her to feel like because she learned to ride a bike later then other kids or didn’t drive until she was 30 (it could happen!!!) that that moment is celebrated less then if it had happened sooner.
Thank you mom and dad for celebrating my graduation from University with so much love and pride even if it took me 7 years to get there. I am more greatful today for that then ever.
Just remember - it's still a milestone no matter when it happens.