On rushing our children through life…
A dawning sunny day and the trees outside the window where I sit writing glow orange in places from where its rising hits a few branches just right.
Light streaks in, forming harsh lines that slant onto my children’s faces, and onto the boxes that I haven’t yet unpacked from our move, leaving behind harsh lines of dark shadows too.
My ten month old practices saying her older sister’s name. She’s walking and talking and is doing all of this much earlier than I expected.
I’ve learned, however, that I don’t care about reaching milestones on specific dates. Kids will get there, but our expansive online connections and resources—which have many perks—have equally encouraged parents to stress out about what our kids should be achieving and when.
Instead, there’s a bell curve for what’s normal within a child’s development—and we as parents need to remember to honor each child’s individuality, as well as their personal readiness.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t get help when it’s needed or encouraging growth, but it also means letting go of our own hang-ups that our kids, seemingly from birth, need to meet unnecessary American criterion to be in “first place,” and on top.
I’m sometimes hesitant to share my baby’s rather early “firsts” because I don’t want to be one of those gloating parents who, by default, makes other parents with children at the other end of this bell curve feel upset or worried.
Our kids are all perfect.
Still, I do occasionally share photographs of my baby walking or news that she’s finished cutting her eight teeth, because these are special and important events within my daily life that I want to tell my friends and family about, and we all know that social media has become a handy way to do this.
Yet, bragging about kids online is something that also happens.
I’m not saying definitively that there’s anything wrong with this and, further, I don’t appreciate when people complain about their kids on mediums like Facebook—personally, I think the latter is a huge violation of a child’s privacy.
But, at the end of the day, when I’m sitting here once again, and the light again streams through the windows of our house, cutting dark and boldly lit lines onto the floor, and as the baby and her older sister play within them in their pajamas, I will know what matters.
What matters is not what date my baby spoke my oldest daughter’s name or at what precise hour her walk turned into a full-on run.
Not that our child’s first words and steps should not be celebrated, but, nestled within these milestones, is the relationship that, for example, my baby shares with her sister, inspiring her to so work at saying her name; prompting her to stumble over to where she plays—and this is what truly matters.
I have many lessons that I’m still working through on my own life’s journey, but one that I’ve uncovered and will hopefully share with these two, tiny ladies is this: there is no rush through it.
Life unfolds and happens whether we like it or not, and I want to enjoy each step, each moment as they happen rather than rushing towards an arbitrary finish line.
Photos: Flickr/baby walking; Author’s own.