Reading Between the Milestones
I checked the milestone charts.
There is surely someone charging rather huffily toward my front door as we speak, prepared to revoke my membership in the Laid Back Moms Club ™ along with all the benefits it entails. (YoBaby without judgment! Dora the Explorer presweetened cereal!) But alas, I could not help myself.
I was on babycenter checking out a few forgotten tips about newborn care when I snuck a click over to the toddler pages, just to see how my 23 month old might stack up next to her peers. Or if I am to be truly honest about this, to see in which ways specifically my geeeeeeenius 23 month old might be blowing her peers sky-high out of the water.
Oh come on, like you’ve never done it. (And then squealed out loud like a 13 year old girl when the results were to your liking.)
(And then started to call friends about it.)
(And then hung up realizing that it would not be one of your better ideas.)
I was delighted to learn that my daughter has an above average vocabulary, and can draw a straight line ahead of her time. She also gets an A in “exploration of genitals.”
Walking up stairs? Eh, not so good. Kicking a ball? Yeah, we’ll just skip that one. Did I mention she’s advanced in exploration of genitals?
See, that’s the great thing about looking up achievements that your kid is not supposed to be achieving anyway – you can arbitrarily dismiss any of them. It’s like shopping for milestones; you just return the ones that don’t seem to fit.
After my foray into this forbidden corner of the internet, I dug out Thalia’s somewhat neglected baby book from the bookcase with the intention of recording her great feats of intellectual excellence. When I opened to my lopsided notes traversing the unlined pages in back however, I was surprised that it wasn’t actually milestones at all I had been scribbling all these months.
Mostly, I had recorded things that made Nate and me laugh.
I found quirky memories like Thalia referring to a birthday cake as a “happy cake.” And that the “first song she composed” was a little ditty in which she banged on her toy piano while rocking back and forth Stevie Wonder style and chanting, Big Bird, Big Bird, Big Bird over and over. I read that Thalia’s first two-word phrases were “Oh, no!” “Oh, man!” and “Oh, my!” And that when she was first reciting animal sounds, she didn’t bark like a dog, but instead panted quickly in an imitation of our slobbery English bulldog.
None of these things were so much evidence that Thalia is a geeeeenius. Just proof that we were paying attention all these months. Evidence that Thalia is loved.
And they made me smile. Even more than the milestone chart.
Every baby lifts her head or takes a bath, or, eventually, recites the alphabet. It’s not that these things aren’t important or worthy of recording, but they’re not special, at least not to me. What’s special are the days in between those days, the firsts in between those firsts: The first high-five. The first painting you hang on the refrigerator. The first knock-knock joke.
That’s when I remembered why I wanted membership in the Laid-Back Moms Club™ in the first place, even if sometimes I can’t resist breaking the rules. I don’t want to be a prisoner of the milestones. I don’t want to give them too much power over me.
Just then, my newborn daughter who had been cradled on my chest all this time awoke. She craned her head to the right in an awkward, sleepy stretch, then straight up to face me. She met my eyes while holding her chin aloft for a good thirty seconds.
And I raced to the phone to call anyone I knew.
Care to read this again with fewer typos? Check out Time Out NY/Kids where Mom101 is cross-posted every Monday. And grateful thanks to Beth from Role Mommy for filling my shoes on TONY Kids for the past four weeks, and making them look mighty small in the process.