My Mom whom always takes splendid, transcendentalist moments out of her day to absorb the beauty of her surroundings and to basque in the glory that is nature, always thought it important to instruct my sister and I to do the same growing up. In fact, we still have a running joke dating back to childhood when she would tell us to ‘Look at the sun!’ and then immediately follow that up with, ‘but don’t look at it!’ Meaning, take in the beauty, but don’t stare directly at it for fear you’ll burn your eyes. It never ceases to amaze me just how powerful a distant memory can be, imparting a lasting imprint on our lives. For me, the essence of this memory woefully sums up my feeling of parenthood.
“…the guttural instinct like that of a wave precipitating its former…”
I washed and worried for that little umbilical cord to finally fall off to showcase my son’s perfectly adorable belly-button. I waited intently for him to master the skill set of lifting his head on his own. I couldn’t wait until sitting was a viable possibility. I eagerly awaited with much excitement, at the prospect of being able to finally introduce solids. When will he learn to walk? Will he soon be running? I anxiously anticipated actually engaging my little human in real conversation. Is he ready for school yet? When will he be able to write his name? Read? You get the picture…
But what happens immediately following those thoughts is the guttural instinct like that of a wave precipitating its former; to immediately rescind and counteract the wishful propulsion. These milestones serve to signify his growing and maturing; his body transforming from baby to toddler and beyond, and I find myself most anxious about whether I’m truly ready to move with the same momentum. Am I ready to see the chubby infant days full of cuddles nearing to an end, as I witness with such bittersweetness, his growing confidence?
It’s an excruciating juxtaposition wanting them to become the best version of themselves, which includes celebrating newfound capabilities, while mourning the loss of their baby selves— and their inevitable need for mom. And this especially holds true with my second —and last— knowing full-well how quickly these first few years fly by. I won’t ever again experience these early celebratory milestones and so souring past them with such fervor becomes the double-edge sword.
So why then do I do it? Why do I perpetually wish for the next milestone to be reached? For the greater accomplishment to be conquered, or for the bigger milestone to be undertaken? Part of me thinks it’s due in large because once they exhibit a certain capability, I internally put my mind at ease regarding their ability to do so. I stamp the ubiquitous ‘check mark’ off my never-ending mental list of things they need to learn to do. In addition, I am well aware of societal pressure that’s bestowed upon parents. On a daily basis, I’m inundated with no less that 25 articles telling me where my child should be at this exact, finite moment in his development. And, of course, there’s always that parent at the park who swears her little gifted one has already master fractions at 2.5…’Um, your’s hasn’t?’ It’s everywhere and it makes it incredibly challenging to live in the moment, contented with where you child is at that moment in time. Not looking to the next, not worried about what’s coming, just being.
This notion to grow, but stay little, to conquer, yet still need me, will always plague me as a mom— to some degree. And I’m fairly certain I’ll never figure out that magical equation for how to accomplish this perfectly, however, for now, I’ll shift my focus to celebrating the milestones as they come, while relishing in the day-to-day life every day.