Sleeping in a bed, underwear, first word, using the potty, first haircut, writing his name. These are commonly celebrated baby milestones. Sure those steps are great. Of course they should be acknowledged. Here are six unsung milestones that deserve celebration too...
Transitions from Mama to Mommy to Mom.
The first time baby says "Mama" is magical. Finally I feel like the mom I am! He says it so sweetly and he's proud. It's said long after Dada, and cookie and every other two syllable item in sight. He holds back to increase the build-up. He knows what he's doing.
"Mommy" comes months after, usually quietly. It grows slowly. It muffle-morphs until you finally hear it clearly, from the crib. "Mommy. Mommy. I'm up."
"Mom" comes abruptly. You are "Mommy" and he's sweet and sometimes whiny. Then one day he says "Mom" and your head turns like you heard a gunshot. It's not just the word, it's the tone. He's condemning. And just like that, he has proclaimed himself a big kid.
Buckles himself in the car seat.
This happens in two stages for the five point car seat system. The first stage is clicking together the top buckle. This is not be celebrated. You still have to tend to the bottom. You encourage, you assist, you insist he tries. Finally, the payoff. One day he buckles the bottom too. Happy day! Now you open the door, he jumps in, and you close. You're in the car in no time. Errands feel easier. You don't mind pickups. Life is breezy.
Holds his own drink.
Maybe he breastfed or maybe not. Either way, you sometimes gave him a cup. You needed a minute while you chopped the salad or he demanded juice just like his older brothers. He's in the high chair while you cook. At first you stand beside him, holding the cup/bottle with your pinkie, as you cut tomatoes. You drop something and pull away your finger. The cup falls and his anger flares. Over time, he becomes fine on his own. He picks it up when he wants. He's in control of his thirst. He's happy. You have a free arm again.
Reaches 6 Months Old.
Tell me I can run a mile to keep my children safe and healthy and I will. I'd run 20 miles. If it were that simple I'd do it. So when I had a mental breakdown at the pediatrician's office over worry of SIDS I decided to actually look at the statistics. The lack of control, the utter terror of finding my baby not breathing, crippled me in my weaker moments. Statistics can be comforting. 90% of SIDS cases occurs between 1 and 6 months. Reach 6 months and your baby has a significantly lower risk of SIDS. If you're like me, that's an accomplishment to acknowledge. That's a milestone to be grateful to have crossed. The stress gripped my stomach into knots. At six months, I allowed myself to finally breathe again.
Yay, he's out of diapers! You're so proud until you realize you're still wiping his heinie, only you've got less control. He's like a grenade that can go off at any time, anywhere. It's not easier. In fact, now you're summoned to clean him on his schedule, whenever he's ready. You teach him how to clean himself but he's never thorough. You worry about kindergarten when he won't get assistance. He's running out of time. But slowly and surely they learn. It's touch-and-go at first, you still have to check, but gradually he gets it right. Later you're impressed and no longer needed in that department. Like sorority house living, you miss that intimacy but you wouldn't go back.
Pumps his own swing.
"Mommy, push me!" It's the seventh ask at the playground today. You're on the other side tending to his younger brother. He got his time before. He pouts when you say you can't right now. It's like you said never ever again. He practices and watches his older brother. He learns over time and one day he stops asking. You offer and he says he's a big boy and can go higher than a plane. This one feels bittersweet but you're happy he's happy. Some days he still let's you push for old times sake. He's so sweet to let you.
Every step forward, every insight, every discovery is amazing. Don't just treasure the easy picture moments, easily shared on Facebook. Love the little things that make him proud. Notice the best part of the ordinary day.