I know we need milestones to keep an eye on how our children are developing, but sometimes it feels like only exist to lurk over moms' shoulders and make them nervous every month of every year for 18 years. Especially in the first year, those milestones just served to up my anxiety level. When my daughter didn't laugh on target, my milestone-addled brain was bombarded by a million thoughts, reflecting what I felt when my baby didn't reach her 4-month milestone.
I have to admit, until my daughter was a few months old, milestones weren't even on my radar. When she rolled at three months, I thought, "Oh! I guess that's what you do now!" I was so wrapped up in simply keeping her alive and helping her grow, that I didn't really take a break to check in and learn about the milestones she should be reaching, and when. Our pediatrician seemed to think everything was on track, so I left it at that.
However, that first roll was the beginning of me paying attention to the milestones my daughter should be hitting as she grew. And, of course and according to the books I decided to read to inform myself about said milestones, the ability to laugh was supposed to happen shortly after she starting rolling over. The problem? It didn't. Nearly two months later, my daughter let out the biggest belly laugh when a friend sang a silly song for her (apparently my partner and I didn't sing songs silly enough) and I was so relieved and excited to hear her laugh. I even learned the extra silly song, just in case.
Until that moment arrived, two months later than it was "supposed to," I was a mess, navigating a slew of feelings that left me feeling afraid for my daughter. Turns out, all babies grow and develop at different rates (weird, right?) so do yourself a favor and avoid feeling the following things if it takes your little one just a tiny bit longer to hit a milestone you've been looking forward to.
I Worried She Might Not Ever Laugh
It was slightly irrational, but I was fairly convinced that my daughter was never going to laugh. In fact, I was so worried my partner and I had failed to teach her how to have a sense of humor, since neither of us are exactly laugh-out-loud funny ourselves. What if she never laughed? What a terrible thought.
I Worried More Things Were Wrong, Too
That one missed milestone made me worry my daughter might never hit another milestone again, even though that was a pretty irrational worry, too. Still, I couldn't help but remember the stories about kids who just stopped developing, and that little worry crept to the front of my head as that 4-month milestone came and went.
I Wondered What Her Laugh Would Sound Like
All those YouTube videos of babies laughing can really make a mom wonder what her baby's laugh is going to sound like, and my little one seemed determined to make me wait to figure it out.
I Panicked Enough To Take Her To The Doctor
Like the paranoid new mom that I was, I took my daughter straight to the pediatrician once that milestone came and went. Luckily it coincided with a visit for immunizations anyway, so I had a reasonable excuse. I wanted to know, from an expert, that I shouldn't worry. And of course, the doctor told me not to worry, and that babies meet those milestones in their own time.
I Felt Silly For Wanting To Take Her To The Doctor
Then I felt like a paranoid new mom for insisting on taking her to the doctor to ask why she hadn't laughed yet.
I Felt Reassured When I Remembered The Other Milestones She Had Hit
During those months when my daughter didn't giggle, I tried to remind myself of all the other milestones she had already hit. She had tackled those developmental moments like a champ, and sometimes even ahead of "schedule."
I Felt, For The Most Part, Fine
For every moment that left me panicked, there was a moment when I felt totally fine about the fact that she hadn't yet started cracking up. Some of that has to do with the fact that I don't have the most amazing sense of humor myself, so I knew that I certainly wasn't going to be causing her to chuckle on a regular basis.
I Felt Extra Compassion For Other Moms
Not every mom reading this is going to have the experience of actually getting to see their child meet that milestone. Not every mom knows the relief I felt when my daughter belly laughed when she was 5 months old. So, when she did finally laugh, I felt a surge of extra compassion for moms who don't get to see their children hit their milestones. Some moms don't get to see their children reach any milestones, in fact, and I can't imagine how hard that would be.
Honestly, we could all stand to give extra compassion and kindness to all moms, because we all just want our children to succeed.