All of us like to set goals and deadlines for ourselves... ("I will lose 10 pounds by next month... I will paint the bedroom before Christmas... I will get my in-box emptied by Friday").
We set deadlines for our children's milestones as well. You often hear someone state that their child has to be potty trained before the new baby arrives or that the pacifier must be a thing of the past by the time the child reaches a certain age.
I have definitely had my share of these moments as a parent, being convinced that a certain skill must be achieved by a specific date or that a habit needed to be broken by a particular age.
I was especially textbook-following with my first child. I did everything when I was told (Bottles gone by 12 months... check! Crib gone by age two... check!) When he failed to walk at 11 or 12 months like his little buddies in our playgroup, I went into panic-mode. He didn't fully walk until 14 months, which was so late in my mind, yet in retrospect was perfectly within the normal range.
I relaxed more with my second child, who happened to hit milestones early yet hold on to comfort items (like his beloved pacifiers) much longer than I would have allowed my first child to do. I started to learn it was ok to stretch the limits of normal.
This was good practice for having baby number three, for whom everything has been slow. He sat at eight months, not six. He walked at 17 months, not 12. Still, I got stuck on a few of those self-imposed mothering deadlines, anyhow. I thought he needed to learn to run by the time he turned two, and he did, somewhat, though it never looked quite like a normal run, and it still doesn't. He chooses not to move fast very often, and some days even a slow walk is a struggle. Knowing his stroller will be outgrown at some point and he will need assistance for longer outings, I looked up "child wheelchair" the other day, and then decided that was the saddest thing I have ever Googled, but the fact that I was able to type the words and consider some options for the future was a good sign of acceptance.
I remember finding it odd when Joshua had to remain on formula past his second birthday. At the time, I prayed he would be done with it by age three. Now with his third birthday less than a month away, I realized that I actually no longer view a specific end in sight for this nutritional support he receives. Somehow in the blur of day to day life, I have let this former deadline go. I am no longer thinking of how he "must" learn to eat better by a certain age, and I am not worrying what anyone else thinks when we are out and they see me pouring formula into a sippy cup with a soft spot (which actually looks quite a bit like a bottle). Instead of viewing the formula as a negative, I have started to view it as a positive, allergen-free, high calorie lifeline for Joshua. It is a part of him and it may be for many years.
The silver-lining to having a child who needs to take his time with things is not only that I have gained patience, but that we have a baby for a little longer than most. It is hard to complain about still needing a crib, stroller, diapers, pacifiers, blankies, baby foods or formula, because truthfully, this is a beautiful stage of life that typically passes too quickly.