Milestones. I really hate that word.
I know you’re not supposed to compare your children with others, but it’s really hard. When you’re sitting in Tot Shabbat with your 12-month-old who can’t sit unsupported yet, watching 10-month-olds walking (or even running) around, how can you not compare?
We were worried about our twins, but my pediatrician kept reassuring me, telling me “don’t worry, they’ll catch up.” But when my daughter was 9 months old and not yet able to roll over, he humored me and helped me schedule an evaluation with Early Intervention.
This program is AMAZING. Therapists work with the kids, and also work with the parents so that we can properly follow up between sessions. This interaction with parents and caregivers was especially valuable for me. I felt so helpless when I knew my children weren’t doing what they were “supposed to” be doing, but I didn’t know how to help them. Working with the therapists taught me how to help, and it made me feel much more empowered and confident as a mom. I always knew there was a problem, but now I knew what to do to help my kids.
When they turned 3, were advised to do physical therapy at a gym rather than at home or daycare, because there’s more equipment available at the gym. However, after six months, I realized this wasn’t working for my daughter. She was doing OK in the gym (when she cooperated–hey, she’s 3), but seemed to be having trouble translating the skills she learned in the gym setting to real life. She was able to walk up and down the stairs in the gym, but was still crawling up and needed support to walk down the stairs at home. She was content to walk in circles on the playground floor, while her brother and classmates climbed up and slid down the play structure.
I realized the stairs at the gym were much easier to navigate than the stairs at home or on the playground. So, I pushed for a change–instead of us going to the gym, I asked for a therapist to come to daycare. My daughter would learn to climb stairs using the actual playground equipment she gets to play on. She would learn to step on and off the curb where she needs to do this every day. This started a few weeks ago, and already I see a big improvement.
So, we are progressing. However, I still hate the word milestones. My children didn’t hit “milestones.” There was no day that they went right from crawling to cruising, or cruising to walking. There were many incremental steps in between, each requiring lots of help and effort from many people. I wasn’t sure how to acknowledge these incremental steps. Were they real? Were they actually achievements?
Then a friend introduced me to the term “inch-stones.” I love this. Not quite milestones, but small, bona fide accomplishments that deserve to be celebrated. Plus, many inch-stones eventually add up to make a milestone.
However, as much as I hate the word, I am beyond excited that my daughter recently achieved her first real “milestone”–a drastic change that seems to occur overnight. This wasn’t a physical milestone–it was an emotional one. After a few sessions with the new physical therapist at daycare, I went to hold her hand to guide her down the steps of our home. She looked at me and said, “no, Mommy–I do it myself.”
“No, Mommy–I do it myself.”
While many toddlers say these words, and it drives their parents crazy, this was a totally brand new attitude for my daughter. She would always wait for help and say, “hold my hand” before attempting to step down the stairs. I didn’t need to worry about blocking off the top of a staircase, because I knew she’d never attempt to go down by herself.
Now, here she was, holding the railing and slowly, carefully, stepping down our stoop. All. By. Herself.
The tears are welling up in my eyes as I write this. I am just so proud of her. I realize that, as children learn and grow, they’re not just learning physical skills–they need to learn confidence and trust in themselves.
My daughter has officially achieved her first milestone–going from “Mommy, hold my hand” to “no, Mommy–I do it myself.” I am so happy I need to gate off the top of my stairs.