A child's milestones are always exciting. When they're a baby, even the smallest new development can be cause for giddy celebration and happy tears. Sure, holding up your own head up may not seem like a big deal to you, but to a parent who has watched their infant just kinda lie there like a bump on a log for however many weeks, even this is interesting. However, the milestones I couldn't wait for my baby to reach the most were not often those you could find in a baby book.
For first-time parents in particular, milestones can often be a source of excitement and anxiety. "The book says they should start rolling over soon, but they aren't rolling over. Is everything OK? Should I call the pediatrician? Are they going to need physical therapy? Is this because I accidentally had a beer before I found out I was pregnant. I am failing!" But what you tend to learn (usually pretty quickly, in the grand scheme of things) is that every child is different and the swathe of normal is actually pretty huge.
Something I've personally found is that the milestones that have meant the most to me are ones I didn't see coming and I didn't realize had passed until after they had been the new normal for a while. The following are some of the milestones my babies (and I use this term fairly loosely, but that's OK because they're always our babies, right?) hit that I may not have even realized I wanted until I was staring them in the face.
Sleeping Through The Night
Duh, right? And I don't just mean going to bed and not waking up to eat or be rocked or whatever. (Fortunately my house has moved past that.) I'm still waiting for the day when I won't wake up in the middle of the night to find a small, back-lit child staring at me eerily. It's unsettling AF, people. Those two are damn ninjas and I never hear them coming. Unfortunately, there's no real sense that it's going to be stopping any time soon.
Not Needing 100 Extra Outfits Everywhere They Go
When it comes to newborns, there is no question: you are going to need at least two emergency outfits in case one of their many body fluids gets all over whatever they're wearing. You may not technically need a spare, but you absolutely have to bring one because, rest assured, if you dare to venture out of the house without that's when your child will have a blowout of Biblical proportions. I honestly don't think I could tell you when either of my children hit this milestone, but when I realized it had happened I was elated.
Burping Without Assistance
When you consider all the complex, intricate, interconnected systems a newborn infant has in place that enable them to survive outside of the womb, they seem almost miraculous. When you consider that they cannot do so much as burp unassisted it's like, "Who the hell designed this chintzy-ass baby? It can't even belch without me!"
It's not a big deal, but it's still sort of like you don't really have a set time when you know it stops being important for you to try to help them in their digestion. Eventually it just sort of happens and it frees up precious seconds of time.
No Longer Spitting Up
One of the many reasons for all those extra outfits. It's just really annoying. You spend months walking around with a stinky rag over your shoulder and stains on your shirt, and 900,007 outfits for your child because they are going to spit up on themselves and it's like, "Why? Why are you doing this to me. You can't handle your drink. You need to deal with this."
Getting To The Point Where Clipping Nails No Longer Feels Like An Indiana Jones-Style Booby Trap
I'm still fairly impressed and relieved that I didn't cut off my baby's fingertips by accident. I'm still fairly traumatized by the times I absolutely cut them. Science: you put a man on the moon. Can you pretty please find a better way to clip a baby's nails? Teeny tiny nail-cutting robots perhaps?
The Point Where They Get Most Of Their Food In Their Mouth
Not on the floor, or on their tray, or on their face, or in their hair, or on their shirt: actually eaten. One, it feels so super-wasteful to sweep up that much food every day and toss it in the garbage. For another, it sucks to have to rinse and dry entire outfits before I throw them in the laundry to wash them. Ain't nobody got time for pre-washing clothes.
Plus, have you ever tried to wipe a child's schmutzy face? They friggin' hate it. They squirm and turn away and then you just feel like some monster attacking a crying child with a wet wipe. I feel like I'm finally getting out this phase with my 2 year old and I'm delighted.
Make no mistake: I loved breastfeeding. I loved it so much I did it for well past the recommended one year. However, I would be lying if I didn't admit that after a while I was so done. (Of course now every time I see a nursing mother I'm like "OMG! LET ME NURSE THE BEBBEH!" but that's another story for another day.)
Not Gagging On Everything They Eat
It's goddamn terrifying! Totally normal, but still so, so scary and I was really happy when it didn't happen anymore. I swear to God, watching my son eat avocado took years off my life.
No Longer Feeling The Need To Put Everything In Their Damn Mouth
True story: we have a really lovely back yard, but there was a solid six months when we couldn't take our son outside because he would make a beeline for the flower beds, grab mulch and rocks, and shove them in his mouth. Absolutely everything went in his mouth. It's a wonder he didn't get tapeworm at any point. It was bad in an indoor setting as well, but we could better control what was and was not in his reach inside. I swear he saw the great outdoors as the world's largest all-you-can-eat buffet.
Surpassing Counter Height
Both of my children went through this period where their heads were just the same height as the counter, which meant they would constantly bonk their heads while taking a sharp turn. In fact, my daughter is currently this height and let me tell you, it's anxiety-inducing. Almost as anxiety-inducing as the stage that immediately follows their heads being counter height: their teeth being counter height. But once they clear that it's pretty smooth sailing as far as counters are concerned (minus them being able to reach things you put up on counters, but no matter).
Being Able To Tell Me WTF They Want
Not talking (though that's fabulous too), but being able to actually communicate. There's nothing more frustrating in this world than a screaming, wildly gesticulating toddler or wailing infant who knows exactly what they're going for, but resents you for not also knowing even though they are giving you zero hints whatsoever. When they can clearly tell you what's going on it's a game-changer.
Working The TV On Their Own
Because I hate being woken up to turn on Sesame Street at some godawful hour in the morning. It's like, "Kid, this is something you can very easily accomplish on your own. Please learn how. I will love you even more than I currently do. See this button? Push it. That's it. Just try. For me."
First 'Star Wars' Viewing
Star Wars, The Last Unicorn, Sleeping Beauty, really any number of cultural touchstones from my own childhood have been absolutely amazing to share with my children. Still, I knew all of these movies would be over their heads (or completely inappropriate) if I showed them before a certain age. I knew I had to be patient. The lead-up to my kids seeing Star Wars for the first time felt like a very long Christmas Eve.
Being Able To Read
Watching a small person read is basically why I had kids. My partner and I both come from long lines of readers, writers, and overall bookworms. It's a proud tradition and we know we have to keep it going.
Other People Not Giving Unsolicited Parenting Advice
Hahahahaha! Except this never happens! Ever. Keep dreaming though, parents!