The first time your baby sleeps through the night, those first few wobbly steps, seeing that first pearly white as it begins to bulge through your baby’s swollen gums–all are carefully outlined in parenting handbooks as remarkable milestones to be documented in every baby’s life. They’re even remarkable to experience from a parent’s point of view as they signify the earliest beginnings of independence. They may even be the first time a parent feels a true sense of pride while witnessing something their baby has mastered.
I remember each time my boys took their first few steps and the emotion I felt as they stumbled along, waving their hands above their bouncing heads like tiny little gorillas. It was an exhilarating moment, for sure, but also made my heart ache a bit knowing that was just the beginning of their journey to independence. It wasn’t until my oldest began sleeping through the night without wetting the bed that I realized there were a slew of other simple, yet monumental firsts that no one ever mentioned to me. And what’s different about these firsts is that they offer nothing but pure joy for the parent to experience; they leave no trace of sadness whatsoever, only excitement. It got me thinking, why didn’t anyone ever tell me about these fantastic firsts to look forward to in my kid’s life?
1. Waking up dry. No more mad dashes to buy Pull-Ups at the grocery store right before bedtime. Praise the Lord!
2. Drinking from a straw. Get your kid to drink from a straw and ditch lugging a sippy cup everywhere, along with the panic that encompasses you the moment you realize you forgot said cup. (Just be sure to supervise them so they don’t jam the straw in their mouth or down their throat)
3. Wiping. Yes, potty training is a HUGE milestone, but the real big one is wiping without help. This takes years to master, but is probably the most fantastic thing, in my book anyway.
4. Pumping. On the swing! Watching happily from the park bench while your little one hops on a swing and pumps his legs until he almost touches the clouds is somehow exhilarating yet peaceful all at the same time.
5. Tying their shoes. This dramatically cuts down the time it takes to get out of the house on a busy morning.
6. Clipping (or biting) their nails. Having three so close together, I felt like I was a nail-clipping machine for years. It was a strange and unexpected relief once my oldest was able to cut his own nails.
7. Taking a shower (on their own). So much easier than a bath and great for families who travel often since you never know if a bathtub will be available.
8. Working the TV remote. I realize this could score me the World’s Laziest Mom Award, but it’s nice when the kids wake up on a Saturday and flip on the TV themselves. It’s usually good for an extra hour or so of quiet, alone time for all of us. Just be sure parental locks are on inappropriate programs–a lesson I learned the hard way, but that’s a story for another post.
9. Swimming. Living in Houston where every neighborhood has a pool that is open at least 5 months out of the year and almost every backyard has a pool that’s open year-round, the ability to swim is a lifesaver (no pun intended). Especially for energetic boys with a mom who doesn’t like being splashed or getting her hair wet.
10. Cutting their own food. I forgot how enjoyable it is to actually eat at the same time as everyone else instead of being a human food processor. With one cutting his food on his own now, I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. At dinner, I no longer visualize the scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie’s mom hops up and down from the table helping everyone with their meals at the expense of her own as Ralphie narrates, “My mother had not had a hot meal for herself in 15 years.”
And these are amazing firsts that I figured out in just 8 years. I can’t wait to see what else people have been keeping a secret in the years to come.