Milestones: Worries, Wins, and Whoopsies

So your beautiful little porky pēpi is here and they’re growing and learning. What happens now?

There is an unspoken set of milestones that your pēpi is now expected to meet at around the same time as all your friends babies and all the cousins. There are medical guidelines too but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about that one kid that can crawl at 4 months old and is walking at 6 months and obviously they also say “mum”, “dad”, “please” and “thank you” straight out of the womb too. If your baby isn’t the first or even the second you probably feel a doubt about whether you missed teaching them something somehow, and you may even begin to think maybe there is something wrong.

At some stage every single kid will have their first injury. It might be on the roof of the car as you wrestle them into their carseat, it might be a face plant on the floor right in front of you when they’re learning to sit and reach for a toy, or it might be their first roll which just so happened to be off a piece of furniture. It might even be all 3 and some, in fact it probably will be. I don’t know the statistics but the majority of our tamariki will be fine and it won‘t make you a worse parent. It will probably make you feel horrible though, even if there was no way you could have predicted or stopped it. Some professionals will give you the “yeah just have them on the floor from now on” if you tell them what happened, which you obviously know now but it’s too late to give that advice now. Some mums might even give you the same speech even though each of their kids will have had a whoopsies that they weren’t prepared for at some stage too. It doesn't make any of us bad parents it just means we didn’t have the benefit of hindsight. If someone gives you this speech it might make you feel like you never want to tell another person what happened in case they judge you. At some stage you’ll be the experienced mum and you might even be tempted to give the same speech. Refrain if you can, we‘re all learning for ourselves and it’s hard when you’re learning everything all at once.

At 8 months old my son isn’t yet crawling, and that’s okay. He does some things recommended for his age, and some recommended for older babies. I can see the frustration in his face as he leans forward to grab a toy and his legs slip out from beneath him and he ends up on his puku. It frustrates me too because I know the learning is all his and I can’t help. It won’t be the last time he struggles with something that I can’t do for him but it is the start of learning how to support him to do the learning himself. It’s helpful for me to remember nobody ever got refused for their dream job because they crawled 2 months later than their cousin. My frustration in wanting to help is totally separate from his learning and I have had to learn how to deal with that. I haven’t mastered it, I still get an occasional thought that crosses my mind about whether I’ve done something totally wrong that has caused something permanent to be wrong. In reality there is no evidence to support that my pēpi is anything other than normal and it’s just a matter of time and patience.

There is no wrong way to learn how to support your pēpi, the fact that you do is important but it doesn’t matter how. They will figure it out eventually. Trust your gut. You got this māmā!

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