In raising children there are certain momentous occasions we call milestones. Baby books list things like “waves bye-bye” and “holds cup,” but neither of those were half as significant to me as when my baby learned how to blow her nose. At last I could see an end to the perpetual slimy upper lip. Likewise, I can’t recall when her teeth came in, but I can pinpoint when the whole process was over because I finally got some sleep at night. And when she could finally zip her own jacket--hallelujah!
Truly Notable Events
I’ve concluded, then, that those Hallmark baby books just don’t reflect what is really important to us parents. I polled several moms, and here’s what we agree are truly notable events: when they learn to pump on a swing. (Do I hear an amen to that?) When we make it through a department store without a full-blown tantrum. And when a TV show holds their attention long enough for us to finally get a shower or a cup of coffee.
Sometimes You Just Gotta Laugh
My daughter, now in the throes of those particular milestones, posted a Snapchat video one time. She was a victim of sleep deprivation and was finally breaking down into hilarity. This was what she came up with:
“This song is inspired by The Greatest Showman’s “A Million Dreams” and it got me thinking-- what would my dream be?
‘And every night I miss my bed
With children calling over head
A million needs are keeping me awake
I dream of what the world could be
When all my kids are over three
The “toddler milestones” is all it’s gonna take
The laundry, dishes . . . sleep will have to wait.”
It Goes Both Ways
Now there are some milestones which are equally significant though we remember them with dread: when they learn to climb out of the crib. When they learn to turn a doorknob. When they learn to start a house fire.
Of course, some milestones go both ways. We’re delighted when they can help dress themselves because we’re not dealing with a boneless jellyfish anymore, but the twenty outfits they go through in a day is just too much. And it is so cute when language develops until you realize there is no way to turn it off. Ever been around a five-year old? They can make one sentence last fifteen minutes without taking a breath. These kids want active participation too; a simple “uh-huh” doesn’t suffice. Plus, after they learn to talk, they can learn to talk back!
Marking the Path to Maturity
It never ends. There are milestones through all the ages. First Haircut (wait, you had a boy?). First Solar System Science Fair Project. First Day with a Learner’s Permit, which can also be labeled as First Gray Hair. (I tell you, I’ve never been the same since. In fact, when our fourth came of age, I turned to her father and said, “This one is on you. I absolutely refuse to put my life into the hands of a fifteen-year-old-behind-the-wheel one more time.” I still choose the back seat when we go anywhere together as a family. True story. Ask my kids.)
My cousin reported that she cried when her first-born left for college. The following year, however, when both sons were leaving the nest, she turned cartwheels down the street! You may not be there yet, so I predict your favorite will be like mine: the first time they say those three little words all mommies long to hear: “no more diapers.”
Milestones—marking the path to maturity.