09 Oct Milestones
Have I ever told you why I hate parenting books? It’s not that I think they’re evil or that no one should read them. In fact, from what I hear, there are dozens of very wise, very useful books out there that can be that beacon in a storm for some moms and dads.
One day, when B was about two months old, I cracked open one of the many parenting tomes I had been given as a baby shower gift. This one was one of those “what to expect” spinoffs, and since I hadn’t read it before, I decided to start at the beginning. By the time I got to the “Week 4” entry, I was crying, because you know what it said? It said something like, by now, you should be able to easily discern your baby’s cries. You’ll know when she’s hungry and when she’s wet and when she’s tired and when she’s over-stimulated….
And, in my postpartum hormonal haze, I was like, You mean there’s a difference between her cries? Shit.
That one little paragraph in one book made me feel wholly inadequate as a parent. And as I listened to other new moms at my playgroup, I realized I wasn’t alone. Women were spending hours fretting whether their child rolled over on time, whether they smiled or waved or could do long division. They spent hours online at night googling whether the baby is dying because his poop is chartreuse.
I closed the book and tossed it across the room, furious at how it made me feel. Then, I sat there and thought about it a bit more. Did I really need to discern B’s “I’m wet” cry from her “I’m hungry” cry? …She cried. I felt her diaper. If it was wet, I changed her. If it was dry, I gave her my boob. If she rejected nursing, I rocked her to sleep.
And if none of that worked, I asked Kris for help and he magically soothed her, or I turned to my friends for advice. Usually one of them knew exactly what to do. (They read it in a book.)
If all else failed, we cried together. And everyone felt better afterward.
I tossed our parenting books because they stressed me out and made me question my instincts. But maybe your shelf is full of them. Maybe they have a calming, reassuring effect on other parents. And if so, I think that’s awesome.
Oh, so, there was a point to this post. Miles. Miles’ milestones. Miles-tones? MILEStones. I could trademark that: MILEStones™
Yes, well. He’s nearly a year old now and I find myself comparing what he’s doing to what B did at this age. In short: He’s walking. She wasn’t. He’s not talking. She was. He tends to fall off the bed. She didn’t (though I think that speaks more to Kris and I’s development as relaxed parents).
There are other subtle differences, and if I focus on them closely, I might get a little anxious. Case in point: On the airplane yesterday, a sweet older woman was blowing kisses to Miles. She asked me, “doesn’t he blow kisses? My babies loved to blow kisses at this age.” And I told her that no, he doesn’t blow kisses, though I had tried to teach him; and he was not picking up on much sign language either…
Just then, Miles looked at me, gave a knowing smirk, and blew his first kiss. And for the remainder of the 4-hour flight, he would not stop blowing kisses. It was precious, and so funny, because I felt like he was saying “duh, Mom. Of course I can do this. I was just waiting for the right moment.”