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My daughter, Isabelle, rolled over late. She crawled late, walked late, and learned to use a fork late. “Late” was a word that I began to dread. My pediatrician constantly reminded me that my child wasn’t hitting her milestones, as Izzy parroted “Hitting milestones!” from the cold exam table.

Izzy was, and still is, a talker. She couldn’t walk to get herself a snack, but she could tell me exactly what color gummy she needed from her comfy spot on the living room floor. So I worried. My curious and clever toddler was not toddling. Other parents would tell me about how their child walked at 10 months or on their first birthday, and I began to wonder if my 15 month-old would ever get up and go.

As moms, we are instinctively worried about our babies. But we’re also conditioned to worry. Conditioned by our friends, by strangers, by the internet, and even by our trusted doctors. Is she getting enough tummy time? Why won’t he grasp his toys yet? What am I doing wrong?

Rather than sitting around and waiting for the next big milestone, I chose to distract myself from the everyday woes of motherhood. I tried a few mommy and me groups, and always felt like I was watching from the outside of the clique. As a twenty four year-old stay-at-home-mom with zero mommy friends, I wasn’t sure how to approach other parents without feeling totally awkward. I would talk with moms at the park, and of course the friendships always ended as soon as we got in the car. There was no exchanging of numbers, no playdates set up.

After failing a few times to find the right group for us, I decided to give it one final try. I remember so distinctly the first time that I took Isabelle to a parent-child class at The Little Gym of Doylestown. Her teacher met me at the door, introduced herself to my little one, and brought us into the gym. There were at least ten other babies in there- some walking, some not. No one felt bad for me because my kid was scooting around on the floor. No one told me to try a walker or some fancy shoes. They just asked me her name, how old she was, and welcomed me into the group. Over the course of the season, I got to know all of the moms in our Tuesday class and even began to meet them outside of the gym to get our kids together.

These kids were running circles around Isabelle (literally), yet I managed to leave my worries at the door. There was something about the music, the colors, and the laughter in the gym that made it impossible to care about anything other than having fun. In a matter of weeks, my daughter was using our living room as her own personal “little gym.” She was running around, climbing on the couch, and falling all over herself. While I’m positive that she would have eventually learned to do these things on her own, I have to give at least a little credit to her “Birds” class at The Little Gym. For the first time, she saw other babies her age tottering around and she wanted to keep up with them. She pulled herself up on a big blue mat and took off.

For us, The Little Gym of Doylestown isn’t just a place to take gymnastics. It’s a community of parents who come together once a week to build each other up, establish friendships, and occasionally goggle over how cute each other’s kids are. There is no “late.” There is no “early.” There is only serious fun. - C. Feighan

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