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.
You can’t help but just want to hold onto them, you know? I feel the same way with Miss M.
I keep glancing at this picture. It brings back such a torrential stream of memories. I do want to hold on, but as much as I bear down and clench my fists, time keeps moving on.
Oh, how I feel your pain. And pride. My daughter was my “only” for 10 years before the boys came along (our surprise). I treasured and cherished and documented every milestone. I’m glad I had that opportunity. It helped me to be more in the moment with the boys but as a result, because I was so “in the moment,” they don’t have the photos and scrapbooks that my daughter has. A trade off. And not much consolation for you, I’m afraid. Just know you are doing exactly what you should be doing, in *your* moment with her.
Thanks, Jane. The motherhood and presence element always has something to teach us. I keep learning everyday. Nice to hear your voice chiming in on my words. xoxo
All we can do is our best – good advice for anyone of any age.
I actually had a similar reaction once when I only had one kid and we were at a party with kids her age and someone brought over a newborn. I got hot and sweaty just thinking about how I’d never get all those milestones over again that she had already accomplished.
And I did have another baby and get them again but I remember thinking I had to hold SO tightly.
In truth with a second you feel it just as much and maybe I feel it more because I’m pretty sure he is the last and with her, I was so young to be 100% sure.
Motherhood presents complexities that I never fathomed. Holding on and letting go is the beat of my days. I will never quite conquer that feeling.
I hear you. Even though I promised myself not to get carried away with documenting milestones (and forgetting to actually live them with my boy), something inside of me is shrinking when I thinks of all those beautiful huge things that have passed and will never come back.
I get caught up memorializing and documenting my daughter’s moments and sometimes I want to step back and just sink into what is transpiring. There are a few times when I’ve done just that and it has really changed my perspective.
Thanks for mentioning the extra impact as mothers of only children…I agree. This is it for us.
I was vigilant about milestones when my son was very little…and it has become harder as he’s gotten older. There’s the “loosening” as a parent, but I think also it is because the milestones are so much harder to detect now; the changes are less obvious. I think now there are a lot of “lasts” (sigh, not to add to the “sadness”)…the last time they needed to hold your hand crossing the street, the last time they needed you to accompany them at a birthday party…
So I have to pay extra attention to the milestones now, but they are there: the first time he can bike to his friend’s by himself, his first sleepover, the first time he prepares a meal, the first time he can think, talk, and even cry about a social issue…my heart and stomach take a punch when I look back on old photos but I am loving these middle years too.
Hugs, Rudri. xoxo
I feel this way with Daniel…I try to hang on as much as I can. It makes me sad how fast time is going by. xoxo
It appears every minute they grow farther away from their beginnings. It helps to remind me to pay attention even more.