Most moms have probably heard the jokes about how unfortunate it is that kids don’t come with instruction manuals. Like, how much easier would motherhood be if the parenting books were kid-specific? I did the best I could, preparing for my son’s arrival, but there were still plenty of parenting and baby milestones that the books did not mention.
Honestly, maybe this is a good thing, because motherhood really and truly is just a little more fun when you're not entirely sure what you're in for (and yes, this is a lie I have told myself countless times, so just go with it). But I mean, when pajamas and snuggles are involved, things are great and the surprise only adds to that greatness. Still, it would have been nice for there to be a chapter on, “Why You Should Not Stay Up Late Googling Infant Health Issues, Dena,” because that’s a lesson I definitely didn't learn in time. Or, “Why You Never Want To Go To The Park When Your Phone Storage Is Full Because You Will See A Deer And Your Kid Will Be Awestruck And You Won’t Be Able To Capture It.” Sigh.
Of course, hindsight is 20/20. Now that my son’s officially a toddler, I’ve been through a fair amount of milestones, and I know I have many more to look forward to. I’ve learned that some of the most impactful moments aren’t the ones listed on any growth charts. For example:
The First Time They Tell You They Love You
Life is amazing and everything is perfect, and if you try to remind me that there is darkness in the world, I will cut you. Please, just let me have this perfect moment of unabashed love. Sure, he’s just repeating syllables that I’m asking him to repeat, but he certainly has some grasp of the meaning, right?
The First Time They Tell You They Love you, Unprompted
I’m not crying, you’re crying. Stop peeling onions and hand me a tissue, please.
The First Time They Need The ER
Disclaimer: Actually, there’s no thoughts that go along with this one. There’s too much sheer panic buzzing through your mind, and all your focus simply goes toward breathing.
The First Time They Run Toward You For A Hug
I didn’t know it was possible for my heart to explode and for me to turn into a puddle at the same time, but it’s happening. I’m a mess that’s been sprayed all over the walls.
The First Time They’re Sweet Toward Your Family Pet
I knew there was a point to all the stuffed animals we continuously bought our kid. He’s learned how to be gentle and soft and kind; to gently pat animals and to not pull on their tails and to be "careful." Now, if we could just get him to leave the dog bowl alone, all would be swell.
The Moment They Make Their First Friend
I thought it was impossible for my kid to get cuter, but posing him next to someone his age who is almost his cuteness equal is pretty glorious. I suddenly feel like I need to take pictures and sell them to greeting card companies. Oh, and when they hug one another because now they're best "buddies?" Dead. I am dead and I'm dying and I'm dead.
Their First Belly Laugh
In my case, it was the result of some of his dad’s hiccups, leaving us both to wonder if there was any way to make hiccups last forever. OK, maybe not forever, but at least to hiccup on command in a way that doesn’t seem fake, because, seriously, baby belly laughs are life-changing.
The First Time They Repeat Something You Don’t Want Them To
Guys, I can’t even talk about it here because it’s still so raw and personal. Let's just say it involved a magazine cover from this summer's Olympics depicting a swimmer. That's all you need to know.
Their First Public Diaper Issue
Bless you, strangers who did not openly judge my partner and I as we both handled the diaper, um, trouble in the back of the car, in the snow, in a grocery store parking lot. Bless you.
The First Time They Seemingly Enjoy Gross Food Combinations
I mean, I like ketchup as much as the next person, but typically as an accoutrement to french fries. Not as a generous cheese topping.
The First Time They Ask For The Other Parent
Sorry, can’t talk right now. I'm busy picking up the pieces of my heart since it was ripped out of my chest and thrown through the ceiling fan moments ago.
The First Time They Reach For Your Hand
I hope his future romantic partners are cool with me hanging out off to the side, still holding a hand, because this is perfect and I could do it forever.
The First Time They Open A Closed Door
Oh, so that’s what people mean when they say it feels like the rug was pulled out from under them. Every semblance of safety and privacy I’ve maintained has now been destroyed because this two year old has the run of the house.
The First Time They Interrupt You While You're Trying To Work And Start Typing All Over Your Document
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(It's the best, you guys.)
The First Time They Injure Themselves While You’re In Charge
I’m considering bringing letters to all my friends' baby showers with “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL THE FIRST BLEED” on the envelope. The inside consists of one page with, “you are not a bad mom” written on it over and over again.
The First Time You Can Actually Play Together
At two years old, my toddler is typically entertained by things that don’t exactly entertain me. Still, every so often, we can get into an awesome session of blocks, or puzzles, or we can enjoy some time in the sprinkler together, and I realize we have more in common than half our genes.