My boys are 9 and 4 now, so I'm long past those baby milestones. As they've gotten older, I've come to just expect them to do new things and fall into routines with ease, whether it's homework, dressing themselves, or practicing their respective sports and hobbies. But thinking back to those early days, when I was so excited for every new movement, tiny accomplishment, or growth spurt, is a good reminder to not take their big kid achievements for granted.
As a new mom, I waited in anticipation -- and even had my baby calendar and video camera ready -- to mark the first smile, the first time baby slept through the night, the first time he rolled over. The whole family was constantly on the lookout for a new tooth, or listening carefully as we coached baby to babble something that resembles "ma-ma" or "da-da." I can remember literally jumping up and down with excitement the first time we found my son standing up in his crib.
Especially in that first year, there seems to be something new every day, and we can't wait for the next stage. As they continue to grow, however, so does the distance between major developments. Those first awkward steps that brought so much euphoria turn into a full-on sprint into toddlerhood and the preschool years before you know it. And that’s followed by the marathon that is grade school.
Sure, I was overcome with emotion on that bittersweet first day of school, seeing his first base hit, finding out about his first crush, but other events that might be important to a child are sometimes lost among the sea of activities and responsibilities.
There's no doubt that we are busy and life sometimes seems like a never-ending to-do list, but making a conscious effort to notice those everyday moments is what makes it all worth it. Perhaps no other quote about parenthood is more spot on than this: "The days are long... but the years are short." Take a minute to etch those milestones into your memory, and you'll always carry them with you.
Dawn Papandrea is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, women's lifestyle, and personal finance. Her work has appeared in Family Circle, Parents, WomansDay.com, and more. She lives in Staten Island, NY with her husband, two fast-growing boys, and a living room full of toys.