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The hectic life as a mom, wife, daughter, + writer equates a continuous and simultaneous running of all cylinders.

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milestones

Grow, but stay this way forever.

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.

Epic Proportions.

You know what’s kind of amazing and slightly magical about parenthood? We have the power to make our children believe that even their smallest acts are something of epic proportions. Take yesterday when my son enthusiastically showed me no less than 900 times how well he was able to hop on either leg. ‘Amazing!’, ‘incredible!’ ‘so good, dude!’ I proclaimed over and over again along with a litany of other enthusiastic adjectives to showcase my happiness in seeing him relish in his own gratification of this skill set.

“We retain the power to help them —brick by brick— build their self-esteem”

Now, I know what you’re thinking… tell me again what the hudson on bikebig deal is about jumping on one leg? To which I’d reply, ‘absolutely nothing!’ But what I’ve learned as a parent, is that we retain the colossal, ever-important power to help them —brick by brick— build their self-esteem, solely based on how we react to the things that make them feel good. We can single-handedly instill in them, the message that what they have to say or do is worthwhile, and that their accomplishments are truly something to celebrate. And why wouldn’t I want to make him feel overjoyed at the fact that he can count to 50 or put on his own underwear or give me the lengthy discriptions for why each magnatile spaceship differs from one another?

It’s all important stuff if they think it is. It all matters if it matters to them. So even on those days when I can’t bare to watch yet another lap around the playground while he rides confidently on his bike, lap after lap after lap, what I need to keep in mind is that while it might be exhausting to give attention to all those things our children display, every time I do, I’m helping him stand a little taller and create a happier world in which he lives.

You Are Here.

Have you ever noticed that there’s no sense of contentedness when you’re a parent? You barely make your way home from the hospital before people are already asking you when you’re planning to have your next one. I can distincly remember comprehending the ridiculousness of such a question, and the fact that I’d just dedicated the last 10 months to growing a child and more recently, at that point, the last 22 hours birthing said child, yet I too, still fall victim to the continuum model of motherhood. It’s this ever-present parental momentum that seems to plague me throughout each stage of kid’s childhood. And while I’d love to be focused on the truly astounding characteristics my children are currently exhibiting, basking in the gloriousness each stage brings, I feel this nagging pressure to be constantly looking forward to those things my child should be doing next, keeping me from being —and enjoying—the present.

Take for instance: crawling. A truly imperative milestone in and of itself and one with which has been proven to increase brain functionality, stimulating those areas which help with memory capabilities, better reading comprehension, and lifelong hand-eye coordination. Yet, instead of celebrating this crazy talent that my little one had so proficiently mastered, I set my sights to the next stage: walking. How insane is that? I mean, let us take stock of the fact that a mere 6 months ago, he were more a stationary object than anything else, akin to that of a decorative pillow over an actual human, and by all intents and purposes, he just sat there eating and pooping. But alas, he’s mastered a fundamental skill all by himself and I can’t even give him enough credit to let him just do that for minute? What a jerk he must think I am. I mean seriously, can you imagine such pressure? What if adults were expected to learn at such lightening speed? ‘Ohh, you just learned quantum physics? How cute! Now, teach yourself how to perform brain surgery.’

You Are Here.

Yet, I can’t take total credit for the complete and utter sabotage that I place unto myself. It’s also part and parcel to the fact that as parents these days, we’re inundated with milestone reminders that tell you exactly where and what your child should be doing at that exact, finite moment, similar to those mall directories that give you the ‘You are here’ coordinates. And so, if perhaps your child is not ‘right there‘ and say, ‘over here‘ instead, they give you this artificial cause for concern and so starts the cycle of constant trajectory thinking and your time for relishing in the beauty of today’s talents, are thrown swiftly out the window.

So, in an effort to satisfy the ubiquitous resolution in the new year and preserve a bit of sanity for myself and wonderment surrounding my children’s childhood, I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to shut off the continual mile markers and establish my own coordinats for happiness. And so instead of measuring my child based on are you here?, I’m starting to think in terms of how happy are you here?

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