Written by Hillary Boucher of infinitely learning
When you look back on your life it is easy to pick out milestone moments. It’s different for everyone, but learning to ride your bike or learning to drive are probably easy memories to recall.
Milestones are peak experiences that define a journey. You have to go deeper to remember the hours and days leading up to milestones and the frustrations and grumps that sometimes come along with them.
You may notice this in younger children and toddlers: right before they hit a major milestone, like sitting up or walking, they become restless, difficult to soothe and generally uncomfortable.
I notice this in myself, even as an adult: when life is asking me to change, to grow and stretch beyond my comfort zone, there is a certain discomfort that precedes my impending growth.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” -Anais Nin
Today’s big milestone
Today, on our third day of summer vacation, my first born successfully swam underwater.
At first it was a dunk. Then again to see if it was really so. And again and again along with exuberant, “Mom! Look! Dad! Watch!” His excitement birthed into new bravery as he dunked under and pushed forward, swimming farther and farther each time. My heart swelled as I watched him unfurl in joyful confidence.
What struck me was that this milestone was his alone. All I have done is loved him, nourished him and brought him to lakes and swimming pools when the weather gets hot. He did all the rest. I never worried, wondering if one day he would be able to swim under water.
Today he continued to practice nonstop, high on his accomplishment, until a short while later friends invited him on a boat ride. He looked at me and exclaimed, “Mom! First I swam under the water and now my first boat ride!”
As he ran down the beach to join them, his smile beaming brighter than the sun, I waved and was reminded once again it is my job to get out the way so he can bloom. He’s learning all the time and one of the best ways to support him is to relax and feel confident about the journey.
Will he ever learn to read?
Then my attention turned to a certain homeschooling milestone that I am emotionally invested in. While I may have had zero anxiety around him learning to swim underwater, I have been worrying about when he’ll finally start reading.
He’s 7.5 years old and reading hasn’t “clicked”. I love him, care for him and give him access to books and inspiring stories, but he’s taking his own sweet time and it’s me who’s left biting my nails.
Despite my best attempts to relax while I wait for him to reach this exciting milestone, waiting for him to read causes me to feel uncomfortable.
Intellectually I know that some random Tuesday it will all click and in the meantime adding my stress only distracts him from his journey, but because we’ve taken full responsibility for his education sometimes I feel the pressure of the status quo.
Every so often I need to be reminded that one of the reasons we choose to homeschool is because it affords him the luxury of working at his own pace and the freedom to discover himself and his capabilities on his own timeline.
It’s days like today — full of confident smiles and a big milestone — that help me trust that new skills are learned all in good time. Rather than worrying, I can work on compassionately supporting him while he grows and learns.
Sometimes learning new skills happens in small incremental steps and other times in incredible leaps and bounds.
Have you had a time when waiting for a child’s milestones was a struggle for you? I’d love to hear your story!