Recently, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised the developmental baby milestones in order to better reflect the majority. The revisions got me thinking about the overwhelming pressure on mothers (and parents as a whole) to have their children meet child milestones. From the time a child is born, we’re bombarded with checklists about baby milestones and the stages of development that are considered standard for them.

The pressure begins—and before we know it, we’re hovering over our child with a long checklist and a pen. 

Lifting head up by two months.

Rolling over by six months.

Crawling by nine months.

Walking by twelve months.

I find myself keeping tabs on his developmental behavior, on a constant verge of worry and what ifs.

Sometimes, well most times for me, mom guilt and self-blame creep in. Because I start to think that if I were doing more or if I had more time on my hands, I could teach my child everything that he needs to learn and succeed.

And not to mention the added pressure from family, friends, social media, apps, baby books and so on. I often felt like I should be the one to face criticism because, after all, I’m his mother and it’s up to me to teach and show him the way.

Related: Montessori fosters well-being through life 

But I can only do so much before I stretch myself thin—which is why they say it takes a village to raise a child. Because moms and parents can’t do it all. We have babysitters, family members, daycares, schools and community centers that we also trust to teach our children when we’re not around. Reaching milestones is important, but child milestones are also a guide—not a one-and-done way for how it should be.

But the pressure that falls on us to meet those baby milestones still exists and can be overbearing at times—and quite frankly, I’m tired of it.

Related: Your guide to baby milestones

Because of this internal and external pressure, I find myself comparing my baby to other kids—wondering why he barely repeats words back to me (even though he can say them) or wondering why he shows disinterest in some activities that other kids his age seem to enjoy.

My son isn’t behind in any obvious way that I know of right now—he was even walking by 9 months, which many people seemed surprised by. But the pressure to have him do more still exists. And the lingering baby milestones checklist makes its way to the forefront of my mind.

I find myself keeping tabs on his developmental behavior, on a constant verge of worry and what ifs.

What if he’s behind? What if there’s a problem? What if I’m not doing enough to foster his development and build his skillset?

But the truth is, my child is going at his own pace. He is an intelligent boy in his own capacity. And I’m proud of every milestone that he meets—before time, on time or even after the expected time. 

Because there is so much magic in being present and observing what your child is doing in the here and now.

I certainly know that sometimes, a delay in development is in fact a cause for concern. As a mother, I have learned to trust my instincts and, if there is a genuine concern, I know that I can seek medical or expert advice so as to not delay any possible diagnosis.

But right now, I’m not going to spend my son’s childhood measuring his success by how many baby milestones he accomplishes early or on time. Right now, I’m going to foster his development the best way that I can—and his accomplishing of those child milestones will fall into place as they should.

Related: When it comes to developmental milestones, earlier isn’t better

Every child is different. Every child is raised in different environments and has different upbringings and circumstances—so each child develops at different rates. Their own rate. Just because a child the same age as my baby may seem more advanced, that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with my kid.

I have learned to stop worrying so much about what my baby isn’t doing and start paying attention to what he is doing. He’s not perfect, and it’s unfair to try to pin my expectations (or even society’s expectations) on him from adolescence. Because doing so could be a harmful way to raise him—having him always feel the need to meet the next milestone rather than treasuring the moment that he’s currently in.

Related: I wasn’t prepared for the grief each milestone would bring

I want to be a companion on this learning journey with him. I want to be his biggest cheerleader. I don’t want to judge him, compare him to others or doubt his abilities. I want to feel confident in the steps that he takes—and I want him to feel confident, too.

The incessant pressure to achieve is always there, but I’m learning how to turn down the volume and block out the overwhelm. Because there is so much magic in being present and observing what your child is doing in the here and now. And right now, that’s where I want to be. Present. Cheering him on. And believing in him.