I was preparing to write about how I am failing this week (month, year?) as a mother. I haven’t been as good at balancing grief, family, housekeeping, business and publishing a book as well as I would have hoped. I was about to vent these frustrations when the baby did something new for the very first time—he deliberately reached for me to pick him up. This is a milestone that I eagerly await in all my kids, and has given me so much joy this afternoon, I thought I might instead spend this time recounting all my babies’ favorite achievements.
As far as milestones go, of course I love the major ones as much as the next mother. I love when they roll over for the first time, adore their precious first steps, and pooping on the toilet forever has a tender spot in my heart. But my favorite milestones are ones a little less celebrated. For example, I love the obligatory dancing phase. This is the point in development when they dance to anything that sounds remotely like music, including the vibration of an automatic toothbrush, or the sound of power tools in the neighbor’s yard. Each of my children entered this phase around the same time so I assume it is pretty universal. My favorite part about it was the fact that they would dance, immediately, at any rhythmic sound, even when they would prefer doing something else. Their little faces, serious, sometimes even unhappy, while nodding their heads and shaking their little diapers. With all four, it was like our culture mandated that they dance. We could even trick #1 into dancing when he was crying or upset. He would come over to lodge his complaint and we would tell him, “Shake your booty,” and he would, while still crying. Precious. Same with when they clap to music. The sound of a baby clapping in the backseat on our way home from a long day gave me the boost I needed on many occasions.
I like to see how the timing of when they reach certain milestones is part of their unique personalities. #3 is incredibly physical, and reaches all of his gross motor milestones early (running backwards, climbing, jumping) but all of his language milestones later than the others. To this day, he is the strong, but silent type. He can quietly climb to the top of the pantry and help himself to the treasures of the top shelf. #2 is too big and too talkative for that type of stunt. But he is the one who comes up with most ideas, and gets to split the spoils in exchange for planning and administration.
Still, the best milestones are the ones you’re not expecting. How at six months, #1 blew me a kiss, or how the other day #3 did five somersaults across the room until he smacked into the wall, or how my now almost one-year old baby clasps his hands together in silent prayer before eating. I’ll never forget an 18 month old #2 taking his binky out of his mouth to tell me to “Just relax.” Or how #1 got on the school bus and yelled out the window to me, “Be a good boy!”
I am suddenly reminded of the song from White Christmas, “If you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep. And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.” This little exercise has given me the lift I will need to get through the second half of this day.