Our whole life is about milestones, even death is a milestone – not usually celebrated the same way, as say your first kiss or bow chicka wow wow, but still a milestone. Milestones are literal markers on a road to tell you how far you have come, and the dictionary describes milestones as a significant event or stage in life, progress or development. I like milestones, they are life’s goals and I am very motivated my goals – I have this personality quirk where if someone tells me I can’t do something, it is my new purpose in life to prove that person wrong; to me a goal is a guide telling me I can’t do it and unless I reach my goal that annoying voice doesn’t go away.
Well when you become a parent, not only do you have your milestones to think about, but also your child’s. Some people are a lot more relaxed – my partner being one, than I am when it comes to children reaching stages in “appropriate” timeframes. I think a lot of parents see these markers as a way to confirm they are a good parent – no scratch that, they are parenting appropriately to societies expectations. Also, as we all know this world is full of judgmental people comparing one another and it’s nice being able to buy some time by reaching a developmental breakthrough, before the parent next to you analysis your child’s brilliance (or lack thereof) and makes an assessment. For example, last week Cillian and I were at the library minding our own business, me more than him, he kept on trying to pet the older kids – we are in the process of learning gentle since there are days I am convinced he is half hyena and open palm petting is our way of being gentle. Anyway, we were playing and this mom came by with her little boy who was roughly the same age as Cillian, and while I could tell we most likely wouldn’t be making each other friendship bracelets in the near future (yes I made a judgment), I believe in the sea of awkward indoor play you should always be super friendly, we are all the new kid in class in those pits. While her son and my son did a great job ignoring each other and were busy destroying our lovely building block creations, I felt I was being interrogated. Each time Cillian could do something her son couldn’t, she felt the need to provide updates and excuses. It’s sad that on top of everything else a new parent goes through, we now feel the need to excuse our kids for their progress in early life.
You think about when can a baby hold their head up, when they can roll over, when they can crawl (Cillian decided crawling wasn’t for him until the day before he started walking… all or nothing just like his mom), talk, walk and so on, eventually growing up and hopefully a contributing member of society that doesn’t live in your basement. As each milestone is reached or skipped (see that is the thing, some milestones are loosely set in there, others are more definite), you start focusing on the next one. When we believed our baby thought crawling was beneath him, we reprioritized by getting him to ride a bike – the ones where there are no pedals (I am aware most of you may not see the logic in that), Cillian rode it with more grace and steering ability than his mom and dad.
With all the crazy, competitive, perfectionist parents in this world, and yes I am including myself in that – I know it will be a battle for me not to compare Cillian’s abilities or lack thereof to another child. I also need to remember that milestones are personal, and each ones value is different to each individual. Thank god my parents realized early not to put too much importance into sports, or else they would still be waiting for me to reach any milestone related to any sporting activity. For some friends career goals are a priority, for others traveling, and some family matters – which means each of these people might have a milestone that others wouldn’t even consider relevant or significant enough to be on their life’s todo list. The struggle is to find a balance between focusing your child and instilling goal orientated traits, without making them a miserable dick to be around, because they have 0 personality and see every person as their competition in “winning life”.