When my daughter hit the 6 month mark, she rolled over for the first time. Her head look toward the ceiling and her feet scrunched up, as if she transitioned from a baby to a roly-poly bug. It occurred in a split-second, on a random weekend afternoon at my parent’s home. We drove to Dallas for a visit and like a brief whoosh of wind, we witnessed one of her first milestones.
As a young mother, I did not really sink into these milestones. I noticed, but I am not certain I recognized the enormity of these moments. My foray into motherhood happened haphazardly. In a fog, I stumbled trying to walk into motherhood. Balancing a full-time career, a sick parent, and taking an aerial view of motherhood created a fault in my core. I experienced my own personal earthquake in those early days and I realize now those pieces that drifted away I will never recover. Writing and acknowledging this sentiment now, I am close to tears.
The rolling-over memory is one I choose to remember today because of a conversation I had with a few parents over the weekend. We huddled around the pool, watching our kids play at a classmate’s birthday party. Screams of glee, horseplay, and splashing became the centerpiece for the afternoon. Our kids rushed by us, grabbing drinks, asking if they could stay for five more additional minutes and we all collectively said, “Wow, they are growing up so fast.” Then one of the parents said, “I don’t want all the milestones to go so fast. I want to keep holding on.” These particular parents also shared the same pool I did: We parent only children. I said, out loud, “Yes, I know what you are saying. I feel like we want to hold on more because this is it for us. We only experience these milestones once.” As I said this, my palms became sweaty, the growing nervousness chattering inside of me, understanding as my daughter grows older, the window closes on more and more firsts.
I am aware that we are only two years away until she hits double-digits. In a few months, she will start third grade. This week she is undergoing end-of-the-year standardized testing. For the first time, this morning, she said, “Momma, I am nervous. How long will I be testing?” I paused. Knowing that she will have a lifetime of various tests, I gave her a huge kiss on her cheek and hugged her tight, reassuring her that there was no need to be nervous. “Just do your best. That’s all you can do.” It seemed to work. She skipped to the car, waved goodbye and walked toward her classroom.
Taking a deep breath, I know one day my assurances will not be enough. She will map out her own tribe, looking in other directions to find her footing. In friends. In teachers. In books. In herself. For now, I hold on, clenching my fists tight, keeping each milestone in my hand, collecting them like little treasures so years from now, I can remember.