My baby had his meet and greet at Mother’s Morning Out yesterday. He’s in a great classroom with three very kind and gentle teachers. The surroundings are warm and comfortable and the table and chairs appropriate for his size. I fully expected him to wail the moment I put him down, even with me in the room, as at home, he often does this, and at church, well it’s a guaranteed cry at the Nursery drop-off. But at preschool? He took off exploring the new-to-him toys and didn’t seem to even notice whether or not I remained present.
All that is great. I’ve always really been blessed with wonderful, caring teachers and babysitters for my kids.
But, in the midst of these moments, these next steps or stages of their little lives, if I stop for just a second, I realize that milestones also represent a “moving on”. When your baby gets his first tooth, it somehow jumpstarts that “they grow so fast” movement. And when your child walks, it signifies that you no longer have a “baby” in some ways. When he begins speaking, you realize that you have a full-fledged toddler. And when he goes to school, well, it feels kind of odd being in the house all alone for the first time in years and you realize that those times will expand and continue for most of the rest of the time they live with you.
Milestones are awesome. We record them in books. We post photos and updates to Facebook. We send text messages to friends and family. But, they also bring with them a sense of loss sometimes. Loss of an age or a stage. Loss of control as your child becomes more and more able and independent. And anticipated loss, as you realize they’ll be out there in the big world alone at times, and then maybe most of the time, in the somewhat near future.
My kids are only one and five years old, but I can’t help myself some days. I think forward to their teen years and wonder if they’ll enjoy spending time with my husband and me or be the stereotypical kids who think mom and dad are so lame and annoying. I then anticipate them being grown men, and while praying that I live that long, I simultaneously think about things like whether they’ll remember to call they mom once in a while or if they’ll get married and have kids and move to Sri Lanka and spend all their holidays with their in-laws.
Sure, some of these thoughts or feelings are a little exaggerated. But, I don’t think I’m alone in finding milestones, big and small, a bit bittersweet. And maybe that’s a good analogy for the entire parenting journey. Each joy is equally matched with a challenge, and likewise all those moments of stress and strain are overcome by fleeting, but very real, moments of bliss when you look at your kids and realize they are yours…all yours to share this life with. What an incredible gift!
Bless your heart :-),