WARNING: There is a rant coming your way. You might want to leave now while you still can (but I really hope you don't - sniffle) or grab a coffee and come back prepared to take a moment to read my plea about "milestones."
Oh good, I am so glad you stayed...here goes.
I don't know if you've noticed over the course of reading and following the blog that I am not really one for comparing other kids, worrying about when milestones will be reached at what time, or giving praise for how quickly some kids do things compared to others. I am not sure how many times I have been asked...
"Is she walking yet?"
I always just answer in the most honest way that I can and hope that it satisfies the person asking. I find it interesting how our culture and society is always worried and focused on that next step. We just don't spend enough time focusing on the present (which if y'all have been reading for a while, know how I feel about "being present"). Enjoying the phases our kids go through in that moment. Let me ask you this...
"What is the next milestone you are going to ask me about if I tell you she IS walking?"
What do you want to know about after the walking? I have no idea what is after this. Is it talking? Running? Reading? Drawing? I'm not sure.
What I can tell you about the way that I see things is that every child reaches milestones when they are ready. We can't force them to feel confident enough to take that first step, say their first word, turn the pages in a book or feed themselves with a spoon. All we can do as parents is be there to teach, support, challenge, be patient and give them a soft place to land when the first 50 attempts end in a little heap on the floor or a huge mess on the wall. Developmentally, as our children show interest in these things, we start to fill our tool boxes with the necessary items to help them achieve, progress and grow.
Even before Hazel came along and taught me about being present, I mean really forced me to live in the moment, I never placed much emphasis on what milestones kids were reaching when. I would always be there to celebrate their success but never wonder when they were going to do certain things. Of all my nieces and nephews, I couldn't tell you what age any of them were when they started to meet milestones and become the little people they are. I am just proud of them. All of them. For the things they can do and the things they are learning. I like the people they are becoming and to me that is all that matters in the end. I'm just glad to be a part of the journey.
In the last 18 months (cause Hazel is 18 months now...crazy!) I have met and become so close with so many other mamas who have babies with DS. I embrace every single milestone that their children reach. I am proud of them. I know what goes into being a mom of a child with special needs. I know how much effort and energy goes into OT, PT, and Speech. I KNOW some of what's in their tool boxes. I get it.
Are all our babes reaching milestones at the same time? Of course not. But we all take out our hammers, levels, and cordless drills and give it the best we got.
Mamas to typical children: Do your children reach milestones at the same time as their peers? Of course not. But you take your measuring tape, screw driver and chalk line and give it the best you got.
Children are individuals and that is what makes them ours. That is what makes them the people we love. Watching them overcome challenges and hurdles is what makes us beam with pride. To see something that was once so difficult become so easy, makes us proud.
In the end we are all the same. We all want what is best for our babies. We want to provide the foundation that they need to become stronger, successful, stable, productive members of society. It's just that the tool box we use is filled with different tools and tricks.
But it's ok...there's more than one way to build an empire (just ask the Romans).
Sometimes we share the tools of others because they make sense to us and sometimes we hoard our little boxes and stick with what we know works best for our kids. Either way, we have all spent the time slowly collecting the tools that are helping us do what we need to do.
Make our children happy.
So I guess I just took the really round-about way of telling you all that Hazel has started to walk.
She took her first steps at 16 months and has been practicing at her own pace ever since. She is still very wobbly and it ends in a heap on the floor a lot of the time, but she is proud of herself. She is confident and she gets back up and tries some more. To me this is a success. Looking at her determined little face makes me feel like my box has all of the right tools stashed away in it. I'm sure in the future I will take some away and add others, but for now I feel fully equipped to build my empire. My empire is Hazel's confidence. As long as she gets back up and tries again, I am proud.
She was not letting go of that stick for anything. Also, she was giggling and laughing the whole way walking down the sidewalk.
Keep on gettin' back up baby girl. You got this!