Thursday, May 9, 2013

Milestones- are they just for kids?

When our first son was 6 days old, I called my husband at his office in a panic.

"I've....Made....A....HUGE....Mistake!" I managed to blurt out between ginormous, postpartum hormone-fueled sobs. Fearing our newborn baby boy's very life was hanging in the balance, I explained that in my sleep-deprived fog, I had scheduled the all important 1-month well baby checkup for the wrong day, and that our precious cargo would in fact be 33 days old at the time of his visit. I didn't know how this could have happened, because I had taken my planner (this was the pre-smart phone era, back when a pad was still made of paper and had no "i.") with me to the 2-day visit and carefully scheduled out the next 6 months worth of checkups, each one clearly noted and annotated on my calendar. And now... this.

What about all the critical development that would take place in that span? What about all the milestones? The all-important MILESTONES! You know the ones you read about in What to Expect When You Don't Know What the *&^% to Expect So You Cling Onto Those Books For Dear Life?

Less than one week into baby ownership and I had failed to stick to the recommended maintenance program. Did this void the warranty? Would child protective services come after me and take the baby away?

Three phone calls, a lot of pacing, and half a jar of jelly beans later, the very kind staff at the pediatrician's office had talked me down off the ledge. I called my husband back with the good news- those 3 days would not be the determining factor in our child's future.

"Hmm," he said thoughtfully.
"Hmm," I agreed.

Fast forward nearly six years and two babies, and the conversation was a little different.

"The pediatrician's office just called and it looks like we're three months late for Eli's 18-month check up. Did you know we were supposed to take him in for an 18-month checkup?" I asked my husband in a remarkably calm voice.

"Did you know he's 21 months old?" he asked.

"Hmm," I said thoughtfully.

"Hmm," he agreed.

Now trust me when I say I'm not exactly proud of my Slacker Mom tendencies with baby #3 and I did get that appointment in right away (much to Eli's dismay, since even his advanced age was not enough to get him out of the shots required at the 18-month appointment). And while I am confident in his development I still sat there and filled out the detailed surveys checking each and every last milestone. Yes, the MILESTONES.

There are the large motor milestones: Can your child walk up the stairs while holding on to only one of your hands? Only if you can catch him. Can your child climb onto a chair, a stool, or a bench, or stack pillows on top of each other in order to reach things in higher places? Yes, and I'd appreciate if you'd stop giving him so many ideas.

And the fine motor milestones: Does your child pick up a marker or crayon and imitate writing/scribbling? Your Honor, I submit the dining room wall as Exhibit A (I think it's an A. It might be a dog). Does your child eat independently using a spoon or a fork to feed himself? Uh-huh, and I can't wait for him to be able to pronounce the "r" in "fork" because it's a bit embarrassing when Mr. Independent Eater screams out for his desired utensil in the middle of a restaurant.

There are cognitive milestones, communication milestones, creative milestones, social milestones, sleeping milestones, waking milestones. 4 full pages, front and back, of questions about milestones.

Contrast that with my own recent annual appointment, which was all of 3 minutes long and most of that was devoted to an ill-fated battle between a very full bladder and a very small container. Let's just say there are certain milestones that a woman who has birthed 3 babies should not have to meet.

But you see, there was no discussion of milestones at all, and considering I have a very big birthday (the kind that ends in a 0) looming in a few months, I think I could have used a little milestone check-up.

Sure I've hit the traditional societal marks: college? Done. Grad school? Got it. Career? 4 and counting. Marriage? Check. Kids? Check, check, and check. But what about the more subtle milestones? The things we feel we "should" be able to do by a certain age?

If only there was some sort of roadmap for being an adult, a handy chart or list of milestones to check off to make sure we're staying on track, or an easy prescription to fill when we fall behind. But I guess that's just for kids.

Because part of growing up means that you're now in charge of your own milestones, of deciding for yourself what is important and what isn't, what constitutes success and how to measure growth.

So even though I'm approaching age 40--or 480 months, if you prefer--my large motor milestones might be slightly lacking (I can't fold a fitted sheet and if you can, you just might be a witch), my fine motor skills could use some work (I can't apply eye makeup without looking like a victim of domestic abuse), and my social development might be a bit off the mark (giving a speech to hundreds of people = cake. Making new female friends = brutal), it's taken me nearly 4 decades to realize I am who I am for a reason. And that's one heck of a milestone.

On the way back from my doctor's appointment I called my husband.

"So what did the doctor say?"

"Not much, but I'm right on track," I told him.

"On track for what?" he asked.

"Me." I said with a smile.

"Hmm," he said thoughtfully.

"Hmm," I agreed.

Eli demonstrates the all-important self feeding milestone. 

1 comment:

  1. LOVE this! But we sometimes still look outside ourselves for that adult check-list of milestones, don't we? Grown up indeed (or at least confident) is the person who never wants the affirmation that comes with it...