Tag Archive | milestones

Forget the First Tooth: These Are the New Milestones

peanuts-celebrate-the-little-things

As a parent, I love milestones.  First tooth.  First steps.  First day without diapers.  Marking those life moments is just part of what parents do.  Isn’t that what those baby books are all about?

Here’s my question: why do the big milestones stop after the first year? Have you ever tried to find a commemorative book to celebrate the major life moments after the first year?  Sure, it’s fun when your baby stops doing that awkward army crawl thing to actually take a few steps, but what about that moment when your kid learns a word you don’t know? Or when you understand that your kid has more social skills than you’ll ever have?

I live for those moments, and even if the makers of baby books don’t memorialize them, I’ma celebrate them here.  (Confidential to Hallmark: Call me. Let’s work up a business plan for baby books for toddlers and school-aged kids.)

Here are my top 5 milestones that no one else has ever mentioned:

  1. Siblings playing together.  The date was June 8, 2013.  The sun was gleaming through our kitchen window highlighting the crumbs on the floor, and Sadie and Simon started playing some game involving an empty water bottle, a skillet, and a Big Bird “action” figure.  I watched the clock — 5 and then 10 and then 15 minutes went by and they were still playing in their own little world.  They didn’t involve me or ask me to referee any squabbles. It’s as if I wasn’t there, and it was total bliss– like zero calorie free range chocolate covered Doritos bliss.  It lasted for 37 minutes.  To celebrate, I chopped an onion uninterrupted and then went pee pee solo.  It was a perfect milestone.
  2. First joke.  Any of us could be raising the next Seinfeld (without the horrible taste in clothes; see black jeans and white sneakers), so why not celebrate what might be the birth of your child’s comedic genius?  This milestone was one of my favorite: Sadie made a joke, and she knew it. And it was actually funny.  It was more shocking than that day I looked at her little belly and saw that her umbilical cord had fallen off.  The joke? I can’t remember, but trust me, she’s the next Tina Fey.
  3. Sartorial mastery.  What about the day your daughter learns that wearing a skirt with a dress is not the best use of clothing?  What about the day she looks at you and says, “Maybe I won’t change my clothes seven times before dinner? Maybe just three times.”  What about the first time your son lets you dress him in any old shirt and doesn’t clamor for something with Spiderman on it?  There are so many milestones around clothing that I need a whole separate book for this category.  But my all-time favorite milestone around clothing was when Sadie recognized Ann Taylor Loft from the highway.
  4. Music to my ears. I’ll admit it, I cried real tears during these two special moments.  In the span of one week, both of my kids hit musical milestones that are still hard to talk about without choking up.  On Monday, October 7, 2012 Sadie yelled, “I see Willie Nelson!” as we drove by a bus stop.  Was it really the Red Headed Stranger from Abbott, Texas? No, but it was his doppelgänger– a man with two gray braids and a red bandana was waiting for the bus.  It’s super hard not to brag about this.  Then, three days later, we were listening to my new Johnny Cash-Willie Nelson album and Simon proved he knew the difference between Johnny and Willie.  He summed up his opinion thusly: “Johnny is boring. I only like Willie.”  I pulled the car over and gave him a hug and a lollipop.
  5. Gratitude: Lots of parents, including myself, chafe at the lack of gratitude for the hours we put in to the hard work of raising kids.  Sure, I’ve taught my kids to say “please” and “thank you,” and roughly 15% of the time they actually do, but the evening that Sadie sat down at the dinner table and said, “Mom, thank you for this delicious dinner,” I almost fainted in my nachos.  I mean, you hope you raise a child that understands the value of a dinner consisting of grated cheese over tortilla chips, but it may take years to know if you have.  Again, I hate to brag, but I’m totally raising a little foodie who is not afraid to express praise and gratitude for my hard work (I mean, that cheese doesn’t melt itself and those chips don’t magically appear in a beautiful pinwheel pattern on a microwave-safe plate.)

What milestones are you celebrating?

Advertisements

A Fortieth Year of Blessings

I didn’t think I had issues with turning 40. Then again, for years I thought I would be a high school teacher in Conroe, Texas so I guess people change.

It started one week from my 40th birthday when I got a headache so bad I thought I’d hurl my vital organs across my bedroom. I figured it was because I’d cried so hard during Willie Nelson’s Ravinia concert that I gave myself my first migraine. Because a girl’s gotta know how to treat herself real special.  But underneath it all there was some sadness about getting older (me and Willie) and some terror about my own  mortality.

Shortly thereafter I embarked on what I like to call “charming but morbid reflection”. And I can’t stop it. Everywhere I go I see mortality and finality.   I’ve had to drop the “charming” because now it’s really just morbid reflection.

Like when I took the bus the other day.  I did not embrace the ride as an opportunity to breathe in the aroma of my fellow travelers or to savor the slice of Americana that is the southbound Milwaukee Avenue bus.  No, I preferred to chronologically sort everyone’s ages so I could tell if I’m closer to the young people or the old people. I was pleased to be right in the middle until a group of high students got on.  At that point, I became one of several old ladies staring at everyone with a scowl on my wrinkled face.

But, even in my darkest moments, I know that being alive and healthy at 40 ain’t bad.   What’s wrong with being half way between my mama’s birth canal and my grave?

Yesterday, I watched as some teenagers whisked by me, their arses hanging out of their ridiculous and tiny neon shorts.  My first thought: They have their whole lives ahead of them. Me?  Only half. Maybe less.  My second thought: They’re gonna have to learn about pants that cover their assets soon enough.  Their days are coming.  But look at me! No one can see my butt cheeks!

Progress.

This whole line of thinking snuck up on me.  What am I doing bemoaning anything? I have the life I want– beautiful family whose flaws I appreciate and can work with– a first-world existence, loyal and talented friends, a Costco card. Really?  What’s the problem here?

The answer is nothing except I know it won’t be like this forever. That makes me crazy with terror and grasping. Sometimes life is so beautiful I have to turn my face away and stare at my problems for a while. Because the problems make sense to me– not enough money or time or patience or discipline– but these blessings make no sense. These beautiful children leave me a-quiver with gratitude that sometimes hurts my heart cells.  And my husband? The same. To paraphrase the Talking Heads, how the hell did I get here and who are these beautiful people who love me and wipe their snotty noses on me?

My worries and morose musings fit my mind like an old leather glove. My blessings bring the discomfort of the unexpected and the undeserved.  I don’t understand a thing about any of this, but I know I am blessed.  Deeply blessed, and it scares the shit out of me to imagine how to be worthy of it all so I’d rather think about death.  Because I’m weird and now I’m 40 so no more apologizing for that.