Baby Books are all fine and good. It’s cool to have a record of when each of your baby’s teeth erupted, I guess. It’s helpful to have written documentation of the first years of your kid’s life, because the lack of sleep will prevent you from effectively storing any memories of it long-term. You’ll need that baby book when your kid starts asking questions about his history and all you can remember is you’re pretty sure he was the one who barfed in your hair at that wedding. By all means, pull out that baby book and show him that his babyhood was important and full of details that you knew at one time! But let’s be honest. The date your baby’s lower right cuspid erupted or his head circumference at his six month checkup are not really the mountaintop parenting experiences that you’re going to hold near and dear to your heart when he’s grown.
What experiences will you cherish, from your parenting journey? Which moments are the ones that make you take a deep breath, smile, and say to yourself, “I’ve got this!” These are the Mommy Milestones. These are all for you, sister. You don’t even have to remember to write them down in a book to impress someone; just give yourself a high-five and keep on trucking.
The first time you sleep four hours in a row.
That’s long enough to have a dream AND correctly store a long-term memory! I know people always get all excited about baby sleeping through the night, but in my experience, I’m a lot happier if I just don’t even plan for that to happen ever. Everyone asks, “Does he sleep good at night?” And I cheerfully reply, “Yes! He sleeps awesome, many many times throughout the night, and especially when I’m holding him, nursing him, or deeply uncomfortable! He’s a great sleeper!” Don’t you dare tell me about your three week old who sleeps all night and then wakes up in the morning and caresses your face gently. That four hour chunk of sleep made me feel like a human again, so don’t burst my bubble.
The first time you eat hot food the moment it is served.
Food that isn’t tepid, congealed, and dry is a whole new ballgame, isn’t it?
The first time you breastfeed your baby in public.
One of the many moments in parenting when your inner dialogue is screaming to high heavens while your outer demeanor is desperately trying to remain unnoticed and not attract any attention. (Get used to this feeling of outer calm and inner turmoil…it’s called ‘parenting’.) You might be thinking, “We’re doing it! Ahhh! Is anyone giving me the side-eye? I’m pretty sure my nipple is covered, right? Oh, please don’t pull off and smile at me right now! Eat, kid, eat! I can’t believe this is working! Woohoo! We’re doing it!” But on the outside you are cool as a cucumber, and no one even seems to notice or care.
The first time you leave the house with more than one of the following:
- A shower
- Non-pajama outfit
- Non-diaper bag purse
Bonus points if you get all four at once! Be careful though, you just might end up with another milestone:
The first time you go on a date with your spouse and don’t talk about the kids until you’re on the way home.
What was that? Was that romance?! Intimacy?? Connection over shared interests? Welcome back to your marriage, darling. We’re glad you’re here.
The first time you go shopping for NEW jeans.
Screw trying to get back into your pre-pregnancy jeans! Why is that some glorified accomplishment hanging over our heads?! You are a new person, and those old jeans are out of style anyway. Drop those suckers off at
Goodwill and hit up the mall with your bestie. She will tell you the truth: you deserve to have jeans that FEEL great, and the number on the label has no power over you.
The first time you go grocery shopping with multiple children by yourself and don’t leave crying.
Never mind the fact that your toddler peed his pants, your preschooler knocked over a massive display of carefully balanced cereal boxes, someone mistook your girl baby for a boy, and the cashier asked you when you were due (and you’re not actually pregnant.) Yeah, those things all happened, but did you lose it? Did you fall apart and abandon your full cart of groceries and threaten all of your kids with eternal time-outs? No you did not. Because you have reached a new frontier in parenting: the part where you realize that perfection is neither obtainable NOR desirable. You laugh in the face of obstacles, leaping over them with your head held high.
The first time you leave your child with the babysitter and don’t write a ten page typed document explaining how to do everything the way that you do it.
Gone are the days of your control freak obsession with the clock and the rules; flexibility is the new law of the land. Breathe deep and relax those shoulders. Your kids will be fine.
The first time you send your kids off to their first day of school and celebrate rather than weep in your minivan.
Look at them go! They are heading out into the world, just like we hoped they would someday. They are literally doing the thing that you have been working toward! Success.
The first time your toddler has a meltdown in public and you don’t give a flying leap what anyone else thinks about your parenting.
Confidence in your decisions and abilities feels pretty good, doesn’t it?
The first time your kids are old enough for you to see that they ARE happy and healthy.
You no longer worry if you made a mistake by breastfeeding, bottle feeding, working in or out of the home, co-sleeping, etc. All of those things that new mothers worry about have one-by-one disappeared into the past, and the only image before you is the beautiful person you have had the pleasure of raising. You did that!
Despite what popular opinion would have you believe, there is freedom in motherhood. There is power in motherhood. There is joy, and growth, and depth, and confidence in motherhood. And yeah, there are messes, and tantrums, and sleep-deprivation, and mommy wars, and laundry. But don’t let anyone reduce your journey to a caricature. We are not a bunch of insecure worriers, judging other mothers and forgetting our education in order to obsess over diapers. We are raising the next generation of people. We have been entrusted with the power of possibility, limitless potential in the form of a new person, and we are doing this. These kids, our kids, are loved and cherished, disciplined and taught, molded and influenced, supported and lifted, and sent on their way into the world because of US. Own that. Be proud of that. Yes, absolutely take note of all your child has accomplished in his life so far, but don’t forget to notice your own successes and milestones. This is your journey, too.