By Jennifer Lindquist
I am a researcher. I always have been. Back in my twenties, I would spend hours on my computer looking for the perfect recipe, fun quotes to add to my bullet journal and craft techniques to try.
Then I became a parent. My searches stopped being recipes, quotes and craft ideas---they became baby centered. I would check the baby milestones list from the doctor and worry if she had not met one. Friend’s Facebook statuses would cause me to panic. My baby wasn’t rolling over. She wasn’t smiling. My husband would look at me and say, “She is two weeks old. She will get there.” And she did.
Then we hit sleep regression---she would not sleep and I thought to myself, “This will be easier when she gets older and grows out of this stage.” And she did. With a lot of work and much trial and error—she began to sleep through the night.
Then we got to walking. Her friends started walking and my daughter was still happily crawling at eleven months. The researcher in me came out again. The words “normal progression” were typed and refreshed on my browser. I sighed to myself, “This will be easier when she starts walking.” And one day—she did. She pulled herself up two days after her first birthday and started toddling around like she had always done it. And everything was perfect.
Then we got to talking. She was in an immersion school as my husband’s job had us living overseas and her speech was coming out muddled. This took a trip to the doctor who suggested putting her back into an all English school. “This will be easier when she starts talking correctly,” I thought to myself. I blamed myself for putting her in the wrong school and worried whether or not she would be able to do it. And she did. She started speaking whole sentences. And it was perfect.
Then came potty training. Once potty training hit that was the only playdate conversation topic between moms. Different methods, whether to use the Ipad or tv while doing it, what kind of rewards to give out and use. I tried those ways—and she had a huge accident on the front rug. I sat crying, frustrated while cleaning it up, “It will be easier once she is potty trained.” A month later it clicked for her—and she was fully trained before her third birthday.
And we moved on to pacifier weaning.
And transitioning into a big girl bed.
And the list goes on and on…. all the milestones that are so important on the chart, but so frustrating to coax out unless she is ready.
And now she is in Kindergarten.
We moved in the middle of the school year and went from average to behind. From 25 sight words to 165. From one-word answers to three sentence paragraphs. The words “behind for her age level” glared at me while reading an e-mail from her teacher. I sat on the floor, just as I did with the potty training and started to cry. Then I remembered feeling the same way with all those other milestones that came before. I remembered the frustration I felt at tasks that now are second nature to my daughter and I smiled.
Being a parent is like taking a cumulative exam. Once one problem is solved another one can come and take its place, if you allow that. This time—rather than Googling, rather than running to Facebook to see where other kids were at through my friends status updates, I watched, I nurtured and I waited. Two weeks later I wasn’t getting those e-mails anymore from the teacher. Does she still have to do some catch up over the summer—yes? Is she still slightly behind? Yes. But she is learning and trying and doing her best just like she did with walking and talking and potty training.
I realized that my daughter will always do her best and when she is ready she will hit those milestones. The best thing I can do as a parent is to encourage, to take the time to work with her and to be patient.
Once I felt ready to talk to my friends, I realized that so many moms out there feel the same way—feel those same pressures, do the same research and feel alone and behind. Talk to a doctor as well if you are concerned---they can help either put you at ease or help find a solution if needed.
So to all you moms researching, checking off milestones and worried about the progress of other children---it will soon come.
Take a breath.
Hug your little one and know when it is their time—they will do it well.
Jennifer Lindquist graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead MN in 2005 in business and French. She currently acts as Social Media Manager for Sleeping Baby. She is also a photojournalist and has been featured in various newspapers. She has traveled and lived all over the world with her family. She currently lives in Georgia with her husband, five year old daughter and cat.
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