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Common Wild: The parenting milestones we don’t celebrate (however really ought to)

The first few years of our child’s life are punctuated by a series of seemingly very important milestones. We always comment that they grow up overnight, but sitting on the lounge-room floor, trying to teach a floppy and disinterested baby to roll over can feel like watching paint dry.

There is always much excitement and revelry when we finally get to fill in the date on a line in their baby books. But this isn’t the case for everyone. Milestones, for some, are surrounded by anxiety. They watch, as one by one, babies the same age seem to leap forwards. They can be a constant reminder of a tougher road ahead. They can be a brutal hint of something that has been lost.

This doesn’t mean not celebrating our children’s achievements. But it does mean we should tread carefully and be aware of our audience when we do.

Maybe we should place more emphasis on the milestones that help us lift each other up. The ones that let us know we aren’t alone in the chaotic and all-encompassing parenting experience.

It can be both reassuring and empowering to finally admit for the first time to other parents, or even to yourself, that you are barely staying afloat. That is a milestone of relief that’s worth celebrating.

Or how about the time when you masterfully negotiate with a child in a way that feels respectful and didn’t rely on your standard fallbacks of bribery or yelling.

And then there are the more tumultuous ones. Just how soul crushing it is the first time your child experiences a real disappointment and as their tiny face crumbles, your heart crumbles, too.

Or when you nail a tricky question from a curious child with honesty and integrity and a look of satisfaction and relief washes over them.

And we can all remember the first time we experienced that split second that seemed to last forever between a deafening thud and the wail from your child from the next room and you remind yourself of the paediatrician’s words that in this instance, a cry is always a good thing.

Whether they say it with words, a look or a squeeze, there is the magical moment they let you know that you are exactly what they need, right when you need to hear it the most.

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