My kids turned four and two this summer and I finally feel like I can breathe again. Not saying that this stage is easy, just that, for me, this stage has become “less hard” than the baby years.
During the infant years, all the talk is about milestones—rolling over, crawling, standing up, walking and talking. At each stage, we celebrate our baby’s achievements and we should. But we should also remember that we are passing our own parenting milestones right alongside them. They don’t get as much attention but parenting milestones shouldn’t be forgotten because we’ll look back one day and realize we are already past them. And then, we’ll realize that we should have celebrated them.
Sleeping without the baby monitor
Remember the days when you would stare at your baby breathing, just watching their chest rise so you knew they were alive? And then they moved to their own room and you learned how bright and loud your baby monitor could be. Still, you stared at the darn thing, waiting for a hand flicker or a face twitch to make sure they were OK.
Eventually you got to the point where you had the monitor next to your bed, but with volume off and screen off, ready for a quick push of the button in case you thought you heard something or wanted a quick visual check.
Before you know it, you forget to bring the baby monitor in your room at all. Your kids are still alive and you can still hear them through the wall if they need you. Or, if you are as lucky as me, they might just walk down to your room at 4am, crawl into bed with you, and play duck duck goose with each other until the sun rises.
Taking a shower with a free-ranging toddler in the house
We all remember our first shower with a free ranging toddler (or two) in the house. It wasn’t relaxing, it wasn’t long but you got clean and the job was done. And during said shower, you probably had the door open, listening for any blood curdling screams. You hoped everything would be OK while you were gone but if it was too quiet then you finished up and went to see what your toddler was up to, expecting the worst. Sometimes it really was the worst, like whip cream and flour all over the new couch. But, sometimes, they would be sitting in a pile of toys, watching Paw Patrol like a sweet innocent thing. You realized you could have showered longer, taken some more time to de-stress and actually shaved your legs.
Going places without a diaper bag
For years, you are attached to that thing. You go absolutely nowhere without it. It’s your lifeline to all things baby on-the-go. Or, like me, you would still have it in the living room and use it out of convenience, rather than grabbing a diaper from the back room.
Before you know it, you realize that you don’t need to be attached at the hip with that bag anymore. Finally, a bag with spare clothes, wipes, snacks and toys in your car is all the extra baggage you need in your daily parenting life.
I never knew this one would affect me so much. When my son rode a pedal bike by himself for the first time, I was jumping up and down and yelling.
Learning how to walk is their first taste of freedom. But this, riding a bike solo, for the first time—I don’t know whose smile was bigger, his or mine.
But on the flip side, that is when the change took place. That’s when I realized that I want time to slow down now. Watching him ride that bike, I felt like I was watching him pedal off to college.
You know the saying “the days are long, but the years are short.” If you are a new parent, hang in there. You are IN it but it will get better. If you are like me, and learning how to breathe again, enjoy it. Soak in all of the precious moments (shoot, even the not-so-precious moments) and don’t forget about celebrating milestones. Because from here on out, the milestones fly by—both for them and for us.