Courtesy of Christie Drozdowski

The Fact That My Baby Is Growing Up Doesn't Make Me Sad — At All

Ad failed to load

I've known no greater joy so far in my life than being a mom. Even with all the work and effort, lack of sleep, exhaustion, and the change of pace, there really isn't a way to describe the delight and miracle it is to grow, birth, and raise a tiny person. Watching my daughter change and develop from a baby to a budding little girl over the past nine months has brought many emotional moments for me, but I refuse to be sad about my baby growing up.

I can't say that I haven't shed tears after she had her first bath or reached for my face for the first time. I've expressed emotion for sure — I might feel like a robot if I didn't — but once it's happened, I don't dwell in a place of sadness over it. According to WhatToExpect.com, my daughter has hit a whopping 18 milestones in her 9 months of life so far. And there's still over a dozen more in the next 15 months ahead of us, and for that matter, the rest of her life. Childhood is a series of firsts, and the way I see it, my reaction to everything she experiences for the first time can either encourage her to explore or inadvertently shame her for growing up — and I want my daughter to always feel like I support her growing up and gaining independence.

My approach to motherhood in this area stems from my own struggle for independence as an adult based on my parents' resistance in “letting me go.” So even before her birth, I decided to immediately begin practicing in the art of letting go. It was at about the four-month mark — when she was almost rolling over — that something clicked for me. That was the first major movement-related development and the one that really gave me the opportunity to practice what I had preached. I remember posting a video on social media of her clumsily rolling over as she tried to grab for a toy just out of her reach. In the video, her father and I were encouraging her to roll to the toy herself instead of easily giving it to her. We coached her along the way, prodding an arm here and a leg there, until the toy was in her hands. I captioned the video, "This is what parenting is all about to me. Love. Teach. Let go. Repeat." That expression perfectly exemplifies my approach: to neither push her nor slow her down in meeting milestones but to embrace her own timeline and simply celebrate with her whenever it happens.

Ad failed to load

It's not my right as her mother to hold on to her childhood because I feel like she's growing up too fast. It's my responsibility as her mother to do everything I can to help her become a capable individual no matter her stage in life — and that sometimes means letting go.
Ad failed to load

I know most loving parents already encourage growth in their babies, and it's completely natural to feel nostalgic over their earlier phases in life. But I've decided not to let myself say things like, “I wish you would just stay little,” “You were so tiny then,” or “Please stop growing” out loud in front of my daughter as she ages or even to think it to myself. It keeps me from being happy for her as she grows up, and it selfishly focuses on my own need to keep her “my little baby” instead of cultivating her development into a well-adjusted child, teen, and then adult.

This isn't to say I don't record her milestones and her successes. I have a baby book for her and even a daily journal to record little moments in her first years. I'm just keenly aware of the need to balance this desire to savor it all with space to let her be her own person even as an infant instead of solely an extension of myself. It's not my right as her mother to hold on to her childhood because I feel like she's growing up too fast. It's my responsibility as her mother to do everything I can to help her become a capable individual no matter her stage in life — and that sometimes means letting go.

Ad failed to load
When I first started doing things without them, it must have felt like they were losing me instead of being the ones choosing to let go, and I don't ever want my daughter to feel that way if I can help it.

Occasionally, I fear my mentality towards my baby's milestones and growth will make me seem detached or distant. Will she grow up not knowing how proud I am of her because I choose not to make a massive emotional deal out of her developments? I don't want to be the opposite extreme. I just want her to know she is free. Because I see everyone else over-celebrating (in my opinion), I sometimes feel that I'm making too big a deal out of not making too big a deal over it all. I'm tempted to get caught up in how she's not “little” anymore, too, but I'm just not interested in that.

Ad failed to load

I obviously can't remember my parents' reaction to these early milestones as I was growing up, but I can remember the first sting of unwarranted guilt I felt when I started making some of my own decisions as a teenager. I never felt like my parents were living vicariously through me, but in a way I think they saw my accomplishments as their accomplishments, too. So when I first started doing things without them, it must have felt like they were losing me instead of being the ones choosing to let go, and I don't ever want my daughter to feel that way if I can help it.

Courtesy of Christie Drozdowski

My mom says that a mother always hurts the most when milestones are met: after an initial few tears, a kid runs happily into the first day of school while their mom sits in the car and cries; a kid can't wait to drive on her own for the first time while their mom worries over their safety; a child moves into their dorm room without looking back while their mom sits on her daughter's bed back home in tears. And though my own mom fully expects me to relive these same scenarios with my daughter, I intend to exceed her expectations. Don't get me wrong, I get the heart behind the sentiment, but why must I feel so sad whenever my baby girl grows up? Crying (the sad kind), worrying, and mourning aren't my idea of what I want motherhood to look like for me. I don't want to have to put on my happy face for my daughter as she develops and does new things and then hide my true emotion from her. I want my first reaction of elation to be the only reaction, because my own life is too short for anything else.

Ad failed to load

I don't want to make any of my children feel like they need to be or stay a certain way because above all, I understand life goes by quickly. I'm trying to embrace it all as it comes without living in my child's past nor her future — and I want the same for my daughter, too.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

6 Early Signs You're Going To Have A Short Labor, According To Experts

As far as I'm concerned, a short labor is right up there with winning the lottery in terms of lucky life events. (And when I was actually in labor, I would absolutely have traded a bucketful of lottery winnings for a speedier birth.) While some women…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Here Are 10 Ways To Boost Your Baby's Immunity To The Flu

As I'm sure you've read in the thousands upon thousands of articles written about it this winter, the flu is spreading like wildfire and it's bad. Really bad. This strand of flu is the worst we've had in a very long time and it's the most widespread,…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Khloé Kardashian Asked Twitter About Her Bump, & Moms Totally Delivered

Like her younger sister Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian managed to keep most of her pregnancy a sort-of secret. But unlike Jenner, Kardashian chose to publicly announce her pregnancy several months before the baby's due date. While there's no wrong wa…
By Sophie Hirsh

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

An Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the t…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack