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  • Maia Dunphy

The M Word: Milestones

You’ll find as a new parent that many people will only ask you about your children. Sometimes it’s because you have nothing else in common, but usually, admittedly, it’s because they are genuinely interested. Personally, I am slightly bored of being constantly asked if my son has hit various ‘milestones’. It started early on with well-meaning neighbours and supermarket randomers alike:

“Is he holding his head up?”

“Has he started smiling yet?’

“Any sign of a tooth?”

“Is he crawling?”

“Not walking yet I see?”

“Is he on solids?”

“Is he a good eater?”

“Is he smoking yet?” (Just checking that you’ve stuck with this….)

“Is he out of the Moses basket/ your bed/ into his own room etc etc yet?”

“Still no teeth then?”

“Has he said ‘Mama’ yet?”

The list is endless as any new parent can pay testament to. But they often only serve to either A) state the obvious (one lady in a check out queue asked me if my baby had a tooth yet whilst he stared up smiling with what was clearly a mouthful of gums), or B) make a new Mum worry that her baby isn’t doing things at the right time. Wooh hooh! More stuff to worry about!

I think we should measure these important junctures in parental points rather than baby ones. I call them Mama Milestones, and reaching each of them is far more important. Think about it – your baby will reach each landmark or breakthrough in his or her own time. There’s not much you can do about them – no amount of playing peekaboo will make a tooth appear quicker or see that first step taken. But Mama Milestones are not only inextricably linked to those of baby, but possibly even more significant for everyone’s welfare.

So instead of asking mums about their baby’s development, I ask about their own:

“Have you managed to leave the house on your own yet?”

“Have you stopped needing a cushion to sit on at all times?”

“Have you mastered breastfeeding in public without taking off virtually all your clothes?”

“Are you out of the giant maternity pads yet? You’ll miss them when they’re gone.”

“Have you perfected leaving the house without forgetting at least two important things?”

“Are you back wearing bras that don’t unhook like festival hammocks?”

“Has the absolute fear that you’re doing something wrong lifted yet?”

“Have you got on a bus with the buggy?”

“You went to a café, fed your baby, met a pal for coffee and got home without crying and had a lovely time?”

YOU’VE GOT THIS!!

I look back on the last 15 months, and as much as I remember every single one of my baby’s milestones, I’m also pretty proud of my own. I remember the day his reflux stopped and I could go out wearing half decent clothes. I remember the feeling of getting on two buses and a train to meet my sister for lunch and being almost confident about it. Getting through our first flight alone at only eight weeks. When he cried his eyes out in a restaurant and it didn’t make me panic. The first time I went alone to a mum and baby film screening, him in a car seat, and me with my coke and popcorn, feeling genuinely relaxed.

Yes, baby milestones will come in their own good time. But sometimes it’s us who need reminding of how well we’ve done when we hit our own.

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©2020 Maia Dunphy.