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November 16, 2010

When is it a Milestone?

Particularly in our information-rich culture, I think that most mommies are trained to look for milestones…the first word, the first step, the first poop in the potty.

We know the statistics of when our babies "should" do these things. We’re looking for them. And when they happen, we must document them, and journal about them, and create a new scrapbook page.

Having watched my girls' every move over the past 22 months, I have decided I’m a pretty tough judge. I want to be fair – and accurate! – when I tell you what our girls’ first words were, and precisely when they started walking.

I’ve realized, though, that being a tough judge is actually a pretty tough job.

Was I supposed to count Baby A’s very first unsupported step as “walking”? When I could take a guess at Baby B’s babbles, was I to count that as her first word?

Not this mama.

I didn’t count the girls’ first words until they were recognizable to someone other than me. And the girls were walking at least halfway across the den before I gave them full credit.

I don’t mean to sound like a drill sergeant, but I just don’t want to be one of those moms that proclaims her children can name the constellations when they can say the word “star.”

Of course I think my girls are the most precious, most beautiful, and certainly the smartest in all the land. I’m their mommy, and that’s my job. Maybe I’m just looking to counter-balance those superlatives, lest some itty bitty people start to get a big head.


Valerie said...

I could have written this. It drives me a little bonkers when someone claims her 1 month old is rolling over consistently...even though baby only does it when he is placed on a slant...or someone who says her baby is walking...even though it's only when she is holding baby's hands. I've tried to accurately document when my kids do things and not try to be too enthusiastic about them almost doing something.

MultipleMum said...

I have struggled a bit with this over the years (mainly because my kids have all been slow in the gross motor department) and have probably gotten more accurate as the time has gone on. I agree with you, and Valerie above, that it is tricky business, but in the end, I don't think it really matters! They all do it eventually. I don't think it means much to their level of intelligence or sporting prowess when they mastered these things? As long as they are 'within normal limits' (a fairly wide range) I reckon that is all that matters? But you know me - not one for details!

Rebecca said...

I stopped reading baby books, so I have no idea when babies are "supposed" to hit milestones. I have no idea...mother of the year, right here!

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

I agree it's not really that critical to know of a baby's first steps, or roll, or word.

It's just so interesting to me, though, as I think I thought the heavens would open and the angels would sing when our girls started walking. It was actually not very momentous, more gradual, and I never knew exactly when to "count" it. :)

Christina said...

In the beginning I was pretty bad about freaking out over things like that. I was so worried something was "wrong" with one of them. While I turned out to be right in Abs case, I figured out that it was ok if she wasn't like the other kids, and started to not freak out so much. She didn't walk until she was 18 months old. I threw the books out a long time ago.

Deanna said...

It's funny...I was just finishing up a post and looking at my category labels when my eyes landed on the 'milestones' label. I was thinking we haven't really had many of those lately...I guess we are kind of at an in-between stage right now. But, yes, I totally know what you mean about a gradual process.

We also had the issue of doing something, then not doing it again for months! Addison was the first to say anything intelligible, but then she stopped and STILL doesn't say anything much. So do I count when she said her first word, "dada", at 11 months (or whenever it was...), or do I count the "uh-oh" she has just recently started using in context?

Maybe it's a good thing I'm behind on their baby books! There might be a lot of scribbling out by now. : )

Quadmama said...

I think everyone has a different definition of important milestones, too. Sure, walking and talking. But having preemies who spent so much time in the NICU, small things were huge milestones, such as finishing a bottle, being able to be unhooked from monitors, going through the night without setting off alarms.

Mandy said...

I love how the older the girls grow, and the more they accomplish, the less important the "milestones" are to me. I remember worrying that they couldn't lift their heads and now I just hope they have everything down before they start school. I've learned to go with the flow and that works so much better in our house. I do feel like the ultimate slacker mom though, I have only officially recorded the girl's life in my blog. Those scrapbooks are still sitting at the bottom of my to-do list, neat folders of pictures just waiting to be pasted down!

Jennie said...

I got too stressed out about when something "counted" to even keep a baby book! When was it a smile and not gas? I still couldn't really tell you my son's first words for sure... when did mamama and dadada turn into mom and dad? And which day in the week he went from 3 little shuffle steps to strutting around the room actually counts? I couldn't say!

Anonymous said...

this is a good point. i try to be very scientific about it in my journaling: stood unsupported for 15 seconds, said "baaa" while pointing at sheep, signed more, etc. i start to get a little confused with all of the milestones. there has to be a little room for interpretation, right?

right now i'm focused on teeth. T still only has 4 and he's 14 months....seems a little slow to me :)

Helene said...

With Cole and Bella, I was rather obsessed with milestones and when they should be doing certain things. But with Garrett and Landon, I never really paid attention to it until they got to 18 months and I realized neither of them had really any vocubulary to speak of.

Marcia (123 blog) said...

LOL at Helene!

I am a huge slacker - I rejoice at the time, never write anything down and then I ask D, "when did they do such and such again?"

He is much better than I am but still not great. We have books we're supposed to write in and he actually does note down some of the cute things they do. That's why I tell him everything :)