Sunday, August 17, 2014

Part II: Chasing After Milestones

I feel compelled to follow-up on my last blog post, which focused on El's natural gross motor development prior to her first birthday.  
I supported El's development by observing and giving her ample floor time for unrestricted movement and play.  As her first birthday quickly approached, she was not crawling or mobilizing forward.  It wasn't easy as a parent to idly sit back and watch her development naturally unfold, oh-so-slowly.  

I was frustrated with the time it was taking, and then frustrated with myself for my impatience. 

I mustered up what discipline I had and stayed true to my beliefs. I did not buy equipment that claimed to strengthen and teach babies to move, I did not prop her into the crawling position (Okay, I did it one time!), and I did not crawl around the floor to show her how it's done. 

I knew what she was working on was important, necessary and not always visible to the adult eye.

The day after Eleanor's first birthday, she began crawling.  Not the butt scoot backwards, or pulling herself in circles on her belly crawl, but good old-fashioned forward crawling.  

Now she crawls everywhere, loudly slapping her hands on the ground like a playful puppy.  She surprises me by magically appearing in the kitchen. She crawls back and forth between her Dada and I searching for belly buttons. And today, she made her way down the sidewalk and took a left, as if to say, "Hello world! Here I come."  A neighbor commented... 

"she seems so confident."

I recently read Teacher Tom's blogpost Falling Behind.  In a nutshell, he discussed the idea of how young children are often labeled behind, or on the opposite side of the spectrum, advanced, when in fact they are developing at their own individualized and perfect pace. 

Not long ago, I felt like El was falling behind and left in the dust of her toddling, crawling, climbing peers and now I can never go back to her pre-crawling days. I already feel nostalgia for the times when she was content laying on her back so she could hold books with her feet, and flip through the pages.  There were surely moments that slipped through the cracks because I focused on what came next. 

Even though this milestone can be officially checked off the list, I trust that El will forever challenge me to trust her as she moves through life.  It is her journey and I'm thankful to be along for the ride as we continue to find joy and meaning in every chapter we experience together. 

Previous related posts

Meet that Milestone Today

The Benefits of Allowing Your Baby to Struggle

Practice What You Promise


Concepts and Practices of the Pikler Approach

Don't Stand Me Up; Janet Lansbury

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Chasing After Milestones

I am very much a mover.  With a background in both dance and early childhood development, I have written and presented workshops advocating for authentic movement experiences for infants and toddlers.  After having my daughter El, I was (and still am) excited to watch her gross motor development naturally unfold. 

But in all honesty, I wish it would unfold a little faster. 

In previous blog posts I've discussed, disclosed and processed my internal impatience with El's gross motor development.  At first it was the 'rolling over' milestone that made me nervous, now a week shy of turning the big 1, El is not crawling, pulling up to stand, and avoids putting weight on her legs.  

I am continually challenged to TRUST that she knows what she's doing.  So far, her process has proven to be nothing short of fascinating and it gets her there eventually. 

However, what still surprises me is the undercurrent of anticipation, anxiety and the twinge of isolation that accompanies not being 
perched on top of the developmental bell curve.  

When I openly acknowledge that I struggle to be confident in El's gross motor development, I am met with the response, "Every child is different! You can't compare!"  
Unfortunately, it is human nature to compare and categorize.  I can't help but notice that at the park I am the only parent in our playgroup that still totes a blanket for El and I to camp out on.  As the other parents chase after their little movers, we are stationary like content little Buddhas. 

And then the overcompensation seeps in.  Last week I observed El as she stacked blocks. I Googled, "How old are children when they begin to stack blocks."  Baby Center said,  "18months."  

18 months!  

My baby is advanced at block stacking!  

That's why she's not crawling! She's too busy becoming a block stacking prodigy!

"Earlier is not better," said infant specialist Magda Gerber, but regrettably and with much guilt I admit, as a parent, earlier feels better. 

Despite my inner conflicts and insecurities, I remain committed to supporting El's natural gross motor development. 

When it comes to parenting, what I feel and what I know are often at odds.  But luckily, my brain routinely reminds my heart that her process is perfect and always will be.  

I'll someday reflect on our early days together and become overwhelmed with wonder and disbelief that El was once a small baby who loved nothing more than to cuddle on my lap, flip through book after book, and watch the world go by on a blanket in the front yard.  

Be sure to check out..

 Related posts 

The Benefits of Allowing Your Baby to Struggle

Practice What you Promise

Resources on natural gross motor development

Sitting Babies Up, the Down Side; Janet Lansbury