When Developmental Milestones Aren’t Met

When Developmental Milestones Aren't Met“Skill not mastered.”

Those were the words used to kindly tell me that my son isn’t meeting the developmental milestones he should be at nearly 16-months old. His new daycare teacher had completed his 1-year evaluation and slipped it in his backpack.

Consistently Cruising/Pulling Up — Skill Not Mastered

Walking Unassisted — Skill Not Mastered

Saying words such as “Mama,” “Dada” — Skill Not Mastered

Imitating Play — Skill Not Mastered

Initially, I was angry and then, in denial of it all. I had convinced myself that my son just hadn’t adjusted to his new classroom yet, but after the shock went away, I was faced with the realities of what my intuition had been screaming at me for months. My son was behind.

I discussed the evaluation with his teacher, still hoping that there was a mistake, but I knew deep-down there wasn’t. His teacher sensed my sadness and said, “This doesn’t mean he is a failure.”

The words stunned me because I had never thought of my son as a failure. The only failure here was me. For months, I had ignored a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right, but I told myself that “every child is different” and was reassured that “he is learning at his own pace.” When really, I was too afraid to admit that I felt like it was all my fault that he wasn’t meeting the necessary milestones.

I worried that it was because I was induced. Or maybe it was because I quit breastfeeding one-month short of a year? Or maybe it was because I was a working mother? If I was home, this wouldn’t be a problem. Was it because I carry him too much? Do I not talk to him enough? Have I been missing the signs of something more serious?

The answer is simply no. No to all of it. My son isn’t the failure and neither am I. The only failure that would be in this situation is if I didn’t do anything about it.

So I let go of my guilt, anger and denial. I embraced his new teacher and thanked her for the evaluation, for taking an interest and genuine concern for my son’s health and well-being. I started picking her brain for every piece of advice she may have. We visited the pediatrician to be sure he was healthy. We are working on practicing our sounds and currently every animal is an “og” (or better known as a dog), but I’ll take it.

I still don’t have the answers for why my 16-month old doesn’t say “Mama” or why he won’t walk. I don’t think of him as a failure and more importantly, I don’t think of myself as a failure either. If I step back and really listen to what my gut is telling me, I know that it’s not that my son can’t do those things. It’s that he doesn’t want to and I’m learning to be OK with that. I’m learning to let him do things on his own time and stop pushing him to grow up so fast. I’m learning to enjoy the last bit of baby he has left. Because let’s be honest, there will come a day where I will wish he couldn’t scream my name or run through the Target aisles like a madman, but until then, I’ll happily accept “ogs.”

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2 Responses to When Developmental Milestones Aren’t Met

  1. Janet April 12, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

    Really? You think it’s just because he doesn’t want to? Or you want a reason to stay home?

  2. Michelle April 13, 2016 at 9:51 am #


    I do think that my son’s delayed development is partially because he doesn’t want to. He seems perfectly happy crawling and shows little to no interest in walking. Recently though, we found out that he is need of tubes in his ears and the ENT thinks that may help, as the fluid is making it hard to hear and can often throw off balance too. Plus, it will help with all those dang ear infections!

    As for staying home, sure it would be lovely, but not an option for our family at this time. I think all moms, working or not, question if what they are doing is right for their family at same point in time. I just happened to question it in this instance; however, I don’t think it would change our current situation.

    Thanks for reading!