Why Mothers Measure In Months

by Mama Bice on February 15, 2014

So often, I see memes like this:

meme

And you know what, they bug me. A LOT. Normally these are posted by people who are not to the point of having children yet, which makes it even more annoying.

Basically any mother will tell you that from one month to the next, our children learn and change drastically. During the first year it is the most drastic, during which time it is still “acceptable” to refer to your child’s age in months. But for some reason after that first birthday people like to make fun of referring to a child’s age in months instead of years or “1/2″ measurements. This especially comes up in reference to full-term breastfeeding.

First I have to ask the masses, why does it bother you if I refer to my toddler as “30 months” instead of “2 and 1/2 years old?” Are your math skills not up to par? Does it take too much brain power? Does my reference to months actually effect your life at all? Some commenters and meme makers like to take it a step further, insisting that referring to our babies in terms of months is just a way to cover up our inability to let go of them being a baby and rationalize our child still breastfeeding/sleeping in our bed/being carried/[insert parenting issue here].

I simply have to assume these cynics have never paid attention to the development of a child, especially when that child is your own. For instance – my son at 12 months could not walk – at 13 months he could. What a difference a month made! At 29 months my son was still breastfeeding, at 30 months he had self-weaned. Again – the difference a month makes! At 18 months he had learned to jump down off the sidewalk at the park without falling. That month he also chose to go down the slide on his own for the fist time. He was 32 months old when his baby brother was born, I will always remember him singing Twinkle Twinkle at their first meeting and his avid interest in the placenta.

stairs

These are all moments after the first year that are in my memory at a specific time and place. To me the month it happened is important. It is a milestone, a special moment. It is something scribbled down in a baby book or documented in a photo. In my mind he was not “2 and 1/2″ or “almost 3″ or “a year old”.

23 months

One day when I am not living in this moment, in this day-to-day rapidly changing world, I will probably tell him “You were 2 and a 1/2 when you weaned,” or “You walked just after your first birthday”. But today, those vague time periods are not specific enough. They are not important enough to describe that exact moment he learned something new, that moment he became his own person a little more than the day before.

32 months

So next time you hear a mother say “He is 22 months old” don’t roll your eyes. Smile and know that this mother is simply relishing in this fleeting time in her life as a mother. She is giving homage to the breakneck pace at which her children are growing and learning.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly February 15, 2014 at 11:01 pm

My first is only 5.5 months, but I totally get it (obviously)– she’s not 5 or 6 months, and at this age, it makes a big difference. At 13 months, I know she won’t be “about a year.” You’re right about the difference a month makes, and for lots of parents that lasts forever. In my dad’s mind, I walked at nine months; my brother was born at 13. He describes it (now more than ever after the birth of his first grandchild) like it was yesterday. For those who don’t want to hear about the exact age, they obviously don’t care about the rest of the story either.

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Cheryl February 16, 2014 at 1:43 am

I get it and all. My question is, when does it stop?! When does a mom or dad begin using years and not months for memories?! I have LITERALLY heard, “my daughter is 98 months old.” (this is seriously a question)

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Marque February 18, 2014 at 8:27 am

Personally, I think I will start referring to my daughters age in years when she hits 3 or 4. There really is no time when moms need to stop. It is just a preference. :)

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Lis February 19, 2014 at 4:58 am

She stops when she feels like it. Or her kid starts consistently answering himself and gives his age in years. I don’t know exactly when,the point is, it’s not up to other people to decide or judge her for it, or assume she just can’t let go or some other reason seen negatively by our culture.

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cait February 16, 2014 at 1:58 pm

amen! thank you for articulating this.

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Bailey February 17, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Very well said! My daughter is only 8 months, almost 9. But I’m sure I will get some interesting looks when I continue referring to her age, as months. I was saying she was X weeks, until I got too confused hahaha

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Brigitte February 19, 2014 at 2:31 am

Interesting how different people interpret intention around this issue! I’ve never thought of it from your point of view before, so thanks for that.

Here’s my point of view: As a mother of two, I do appreciate that every month makes a difference. However, I’ve always seen this issue as one of insider’s lingo, just the same as pregnant women using weeks to say how far along they are. I remember before I was a parent, I struggled to interpret what “31 weeks pregnant” meant, because I didn’t know how long pregnancy was supposed to be and I couldn’t always do the math in my head. However, if someone told me they were 7 months pregnant, I immediately knew that meant they had 2 months left to go. Now that I’ve been through it twice myself, I have a much more intuitive grasp of what “31 weeks” means.

I will give my children’s ages differently depending on who I’m speaking to. It has always struck me as a bit exclusive or at worst even elitist to use months when speaking to someone who won’t have an immediate grasp of what “30 months” means. I only use months with “outsiders” up to 12-15 months or so. However, if I’m speaking to a fellow parent or someone who works with young children, I will tend to use the months up to about 24-30 months. It doesn’t mean the “outsiders” don’t care, it just means they don’t have a good grasp of parenting jargon.

Anyway, that’s the way I’ve always seen it. Thanks for showing me the other side of the coin.

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Jamie February 25, 2014 at 5:07 pm

I agree with all of this! I was the same way before I had my son: when a pregnant friend would tell me she was “25 weeks” I had no idea what that meant. When I was pregnant I would refer to time in weeks to other preggos and mamas, and in months to anyone else. It actually IS hard to do the math quickly in your head when you’re not familiar with it and in the middle of an on-going conversation. My son is almost 7 months old and I stopped using weeks to measure his age when he was around 12 weeks old. There’s no way I could tell you how old he is in weeks right now lol. I will probably stop using months exclusively after 1 year, and will do the conversion after that (i.e. 18 months to “insiders”, 1.5 years to “outsiders”). As others have said, it’s just a personal preference.

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Ashleigh February 20, 2014 at 12:12 am

aww…I love this! I will admit that my fiancĂ© & I have always wondered why some mothers tell age by months, but you made it so beautiful I am glad be be a mommy who calls my baby girl 15 months. :D

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