In parenting, we know about the traditional milestones to expect with our children. Rolling over, sitting up, eating solid foods, walking, potty training, and so on. There are endless books and pamphlets given to parents to help recognize these small moments in time that help our children develop into tiny humans.
But no one tells you about the unexpected milestones that creep up on you. The ones that make your heart ache for baby snuggles, tiny diapers, and midnight feedings. Well, almost.
My husband and I have three children. We had those three children in four years. It felt like we rinsed and repeated the newborn, baby, and toddler phase for a decade straight. Baby gear was a permanent fixture in our house from 2009-2014ish. Any mom can attest those years are blissful but challenging. As much as I adored our babies, I longed for the days that they would have some independence and didn’t rely on me for every. little. thing.
And in what seems like a million years later and the blink of an eye all at the same time, I’m starting to get there. My kids can pour their drinks. They can play without me watching them every second. They can buckle themselves in the car. One can even sit in the front seat.
But every once in a while, something will happen that sucker punches me in the emotional gut.
My youngest is seven. He asked me to pick him up a few weeks ago, something that I hadn’t done in quite some time. And I did. For about 5 seconds before I had to put him down. I can’t hold my youngest anymore. He’s too big. Unexpected milestone.
We’re been a faithful minivan family for twelve years. I love my sliding doors. They were a lifesaver as I juggled a newborn car seat, diaper bag, and held the hand of a toddler. But we’re starting to car shop, and are test driving SUVs. Minivan years are behind us. Unexpected milestone.
I sold our last stroller. They’re ordering meals off the adult menu at restaurants. They’re all tall enough to ride every roller coaster. I registered my oldest for junior high. I am wearing the same size shoe as both my son and daughter. Unexpected milestones.
I knew this was part of the deal. I knew they wouldn’t stay little forever. I was silently begging for them to grow up when I was doing 3 am cluster feedings. But I didn’t know it would be so hard.
I’m sure most moms have heard, “The days are long, but the years are short” or “Enjoy every minute, it goes by too fast!” I remember getting told that more times than I can count and smiling through gritted teeth while I was wrangling three small children.
But I know sooner rather than later, it’s going to slip out of my mouth and I’m going to be saying that to some new mom. And that in itself will be another unexpected milestone.