Ah milestones. The bringers of great joy and anxiety.
Those of you familiar with this blog will know that I try to not take milestones too seriously. I have, more or less, held the view that things will happen with Hannah when they happen, and that I will enjoy the journey along the way.
I do, of course, encourage Hannah and I try to provide her with as much stimulation and support as possible, to build all of her skills. But what I don’t do is compare her growth to others, or stress when she isn’t the quickest to achieve a milestone. After all, Hannah has proven time and time again that she does these things on her own terms, when she is good and ready.
My resolve to ignore comparisons has only really been tested once – at a joint first birthday party for all of the babies in Emma’s Mother’s group. I was slightly taken back by all the standing and walking tiny tots, and I briefly wondered whether Hannah’s development was on track.
A quick check of the internet assured me that, as with all milestones, there is a wide window of normal development and Hannah sits well within that. Armed with the knowledge that Hannah still had several months before I needed to be in any way concerned, I got straight back into the job of enjoying each moment with my little girl.
The past Few Months…
My genuine belief is that Hannah has been capable of walking for a while now. She has always been keen on standing and, often when playing while standing, she had let go of furniture to pass toys between hands or reach for objects. She has demonstrated excellent balance and she is happy to walk for long distances, if she has a parent’s hands to hold on to. However, when it came to letting go intentionally, Hannah had so far been reluctant.
That all changed a few weeks ago. For the first time, Hannah pushed herself up off the floor, completely independently. The signs were there that she was nearly ready to give it a shot. Since that day, she had practised standing over and over and over again. She had even managed to turn it in to a game.
There were two things that struck me over the last couple of weeks as I watched Hannah practise – firstly, she is tenacious. Once she has an idea in her head or a goal in mind, she doesn’t give up on it easily. The second is that she does it all with a smile on her face. This little girl loves learning and I adore that about her.
Finally, on Easter Monday, the time came for her to give this walking thing a real crack. We were sitting around and enjoying good company. Hannah was doing her thing, furniture cruising and exploring her surroundings.
As I absent-mindedly watched her, Hannah let go of the furniture and took a step before grabbing back on. Just one. It happened quickly and it was one of those moments when you question what you saw.
“Did she just take a step?” I asked Emma and the rest of the family. None of us were too sure.
I sat down on the floor, a few small steps away from Hannah.
“Will you walk to me?” I asked. I held out my hands and, with a big grin, Hannah let go of the coffee table and took a couple of wobbly steps in my direction.
I could have rushed to get the camera before that, but I didn’t. I don’t really care that I didn’t capture this moment on film, because I was fully present when it happened. There will be plenty of other opportunity to record some wobbly stepping, but in that moment, I was just there to enjoy it and share it.
Hannah has stepped several times since. She is gradually building her confidence and, like with her standing, she practises when she wants and on her terms.
One final anecdote…
The second time that Hannah walked was the next day. Emma and I were playing with Hannah on the landing between the bedrooms of our townhouse. I was in Hannah’s room and Emma and Hannah were on the landing. Hannah scooted into her room at lightning pace (she is an incredibly quick crawler) and she shut the door behind her – this is the latest evolution in our never-ending games of hide-and-seek. After shutting the door, she stood straight up.
“Are you going to walk?” I asked Hannah. With a big grin she stepped forward. One foot, then the other. She walked a total of five steps.
“Open the door quickly, she’s walking!” I yelled to Emma.
Emma opened the door just in time to see a standing baby drop back onto her bottom, a big grin on her face. Due to Hannah’s love of all things hide-and-seek, Emma had just missed her best walking so far.