Milestones no one talks about
New parents tend to get a bit obsessed with milestones. Starting from the first time Baby smiles or rolls over to that very first step, many parents tend to observe their kids with one eye on the calendar.
“Harper is 6 months old now — shouldn’t she be sitting up unassisted?”
I’d like to urge you to let go of your expectations of what your baby “should” be doing at a given time, and instead focus on some of the milestones that go under the radar.
These formative experiences will probably be more memorable than the traditional milestones — and make for better stories, too.
Your first restaurant disaster
There’s a sweet spot during the baby phase when you’ll probably be able to saunter into a restaurant, bucket seat in tow, and enjoy an entire meal in peace while your bundle of joy sleeps away.
For me, this miracle occurred two times, at Fuji Ja and Victory 44.
Other meals will be less relaxing.
Consider, for instance, the time we cleverly decided to bring our colicky infant to Midori’s Floating World Café, a quiet little restaurant known for its delicious food and languid service.
On this cold evening in December, each member of our party took turns walking around outside with the screaming infant snuggled under a parka until the meal was finally over. In other words, you might want to give Bite Squad a chance.
Meeting a Sanctimommy
From the “concerned” mama at the playground who tells you that Baby Bjorns cause hip dysplasia to the grandmother at the grocery store who knows why your baby won’t smile at her (it’s because his feet are cold, you negligent monster), there’s just something about being a parent that welcomes unasked-for advice and judgment.
I encourage you to fight the urge to apologize for your existence when you’re confronted with these invasive observations.
If you’re quick on your feet, feel free to respond with a snappy retort. A mock-serious “Thank you for that helpful advice!” is another escape strategy.
Or you could just look her straight in the eye, like I did with the cold-feet grandma, and ask, “Excuse me, are you judging me?”
A direct response like this tends to make the passive-aggressive haters extremely nervous.
The Baby Excuse
This is a widely accepted explanation
for a variety of situations — why you can’t attend the neighborhood chili cook-off, why you’re 45 minutes late to lunch, why you’ve been wearing the same pants for a week — and you might be surprised by its effectiveness.
“Wow, I so totally wish I could go to your bridal shower, but Maya is so unpredictable these days. You know how it is … babies!”
It can be tempting to invoke the Baby Excuse all the time, but be careful not to abuse it.
Parents who use the Baby Excuse too often might find themselves with an ever-shrinking circle of friends. Plus, we’re all adults now — we should be able
to say no without shifting the blame
to our offspring.
Clearly we could go on and on documenting these alternative milestones — The First Time You’re Soaked from Head to Toe in Vomit, The First Time You Use
a Receiving Blanket as a Diaper, The First Time You Fail to Notice Your Baby’s Obvious-to-the-Pediatrician Medical Ailment — and I encourage you to do
so in your own family.
Add a section to your baby book that catalogs all the “firsts” that add real color to the parenting experience.
Because this isn’t just about your changing baby, it’s about your evolution as a parent, too.
So in addition to the “first bite of solid food” and first-haircut information, don’t forget about the first time you broke down crying at Target.
Shannon Keough lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two children. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.