Lately, I have been stuck on “milestones” for my kids like super glue. Anxiety cranked up louder than The Trolls soundtrack in my mom mobile. We are in the phase of potty training but also flying past the 6 month baby mark when people expect your babies to basically speak Spanish by then.
I never thought I would get caught up in this, but I am. Ella will be 3 in September and we are just now in full potty training mode. She just wasn’t ready. I now feel like that Clorox commercial scrubbing all surfaces and toddler potties. I am also hung up on milestones with the twins. They are 8 months old and they don’t sit up yet. They are pretty close- but behind. We just went to occupational therapy, who had to reassure me that they are developing beautifully for their adjusted age- 2 months behind. Why did I need validation from OT? Because Ella walked at 10 months, I see Amy on Instagram whose son is 11 months running around and the twins aren’t even close—It’s all NOISE!!!
Let’s not forget the people that are incredibly comfortable giving unsolicited advice–“She should be using the potty” “she should be in a big girl bed” “they aren’t sitting up yet?” “she should be doing Trigonometry by now”. Everyone, bring the noise down a notch! This gives me SO much anxiety, that I cannot breathe. Of course we all want our children to hit milestones and me of all people being a special needs educator for years, understand that we need to watch for developmental delays but there is a line that should be drawn. Did our mom’s have THIS much noise when they were raising kids?
What made me reflect on this was thinking about teaching. Even though I was teaching students with actual developmental delays, I never once wondered who crawled first, who walked before one years old, who spoke complete sentences by 15 months. I could not tell which children were breastfed or bottle fed. I could not tell what students had parents that let them cry it out for a few minutes or if they were strapped to their mamas in a carrier on their chest 24/7.
Do you know what I could tell when I worked with my kids? I could tell which families value kindness and manners in their household. I could tell which students felt secure and extremely loved at home. I knew which students had family movie night or which students earned a trip to a theme park because of good behavior. I could see how my kids handle hard things they are faced with (which with my kids was sometimes a simple Florida thunderstorm or loud noises in general) I could see them using the tools they were given at home to emulate in school. I could hear how parents speak to their children because of how they spoke to others in class. I could see their solid routines at home and who had chores and responsibilities.
When I looked at my students, I never once saw their milestones. I saw their hearts, their actions, their inner voice, their dreams, their struggles and their triumphs and I saw their parents and all of the love that was poured into them daily. I saw that each one of those kids were a child of God. Made perfectly in his image – meaning, the noise does NOT matter.
As teachers, we are trained to focus on testing, data, and benchmarks. As a mama and teacher, this naturally was my mindset. Are my kids meeting each benchmark? This is my natural mentality- what I was trained to do, what I am certified in.
What do I really care about? If I was sitting in a parent/teacher conference today for Ella– I think I would care about Math and Reading obviously, but I think it would be way more valuable to me if I knew that she was kind in school and including others. I want to know what kind of person she is molding into. The Reading and Math will come later but is she a good person?
All that being said, let’s be easy on ourselves Mamas. I have to include myself in this – we have to block out the noise and focus on what the importance is and what truly matters. I have slowly let the anxiety of meeting benchmarks and milestones important to me. I am focusing on loving and being present with my little ones, it is truly all they need. We are imperfectly perfect and so are our children. Embrace it and block out the noise Mama!