Finding milestone moments

cold morningThe exact text message I sent to my husband this morning read, “Holy *#%@! Our baby is going to elementary school!” That’s because this morning I registered our oldest child to start on her journey of public education beginning next August. The required precision of paperwork and orderly fashion of lines in the registration process were overshadowed by the sheer magnitude of today’s notable milestone. And in just a few short months, today will be overshadowed by the first day of school.

In truth, most days have some sort of milestone. While the “big” ones are easily noted and just as easily remembered – first giggle, first time rolling over, first tooth, first steps, and so on – I’m finding that there are milestones even in the most mundane moments. Whether it’s the first time she dressed herself, or first time she cleaned up her toys without being asked, or the first time she spelled her name, each of these moments got flagged in my head as an important “first” in her maturation and in the development of her independence.

One of the mantras that I remind myself of daily is that parenthood is fleeting – as soon as you adjust to one thing, that changes and something else reveals itself. While I thought that would end during the infant stage, it has continued to prove true. After all, if life is a journey and not a destination, it’s inevitable that there will be milestones every step of the way.

Even so, today was a big one. Signing up for elementary school was both invigorating and terrifying. How did time already go by so quickly? And how much faster is it about to go? When I told my daughter I’d signed her up for school today, she said to me, “First I go to school, then I go to college, then I get a job, get married and become a mommy just like you.” While her overly simplified view of the journey is absent of an actual understanding of the timeframe associated with it, the summary of the next 20 years stopped me in my tracks. She’s right – time is about to fly by even faster than it already has and if we don’t appreciate each of the moments and each of the milestones, they’ll pass us by just as quickly as they arrived.

I wish I could say I was good about tracking them. When I found out I was pregnant with our oldest, I kept a detailed journal of my entire pregnancy and her first year of life. With my second, I started a journal half way through the pregnancy and kept it through most of her first year, more or less. And now, with less than 4 weeks to go before my due date for baby number three, I figure that tomorrow is as good a day as any to start writing in the journal. (Insert birth order joke here.)

It’s a challenging balance – how do you find time to honor the important moments and actually live them? And as life gets busier and the moments multiply, how do we ensure they don’t just pass us by? What do you do to honor, celebrate and remember milestone moments?

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4 thoughts on “Finding milestone moments

  1. so true and nice. just made me cry.. feels like yesterday when I would see her having “Tummy time” at daycare with her friends.. oh my !can’t believe they’ll splitting into different schools and directions..

  2. Yes, time is flying by! She is one smart cookie- and her wedding is planned too – on a beach in Mexico. Keep the tradition and memories- photo of day one of school. That is a tradition you can keep with all three for the first day of school for every year – now you have an 12 year plan to follow.

  3. I love your writing Ryley. I make a photo book once a year and in the intro I write down the funny things Henry was into or said or did. I find more joy in the ways he is uniquely himself than when he accomplished the typical milestone. I regularly jot stuff down on my phone so I can remember later. I just love the silly things that make me laugh. They are so fleeting…both the things I love and those I don’t (bossy bossy)! Before I know it, he’s onto the next thing…

  4. This idea of time being fleeting is definitely real to me as a full-time working, trans-bay commuting mom…and as a parent who didn’t meet her children until they were older (6 and 8). So I have definitely had some sadness about never experiencing those FIRST firsts…but just like you said, there are firsts every day (even when it’s “the first time he played on his phone for the entire roadtrip without asking and none of us noticed because we thought he was just asleep in the backseat”…!) and each one can be something to celebrate, if you want it to be!

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