As any new mama knows, it’s all about the milestones. The first smile, that first step, maybe the first word. We wait, wringing our little fingers in hopes that our child falls in line with those pesky developmental norms. And every time a baby rolls over or sleeps through the night, we are praising sweet baby Jesus and pulling up Instagram to share with the world.
And while these events are deserving of all the pomp and circumstance, what about the stuff that really matters when you’re in the ever-loving trenches? The milestones you won’t find on developmental milestones chart, but are truly deserving of a victory lap?
I’m talking the mama milestones. The stuff we’re really celebrating up in here. These are a few of the parenting landmarks that really made my day. You won’t find these suckers listed any helpful chart at your pediatrician’s office, but I’m telling you — they are worthy of celebration. So grab yourself a glass of bubbly, and hear me out.
When the only butt you’re responsible for cleaning is your own. Listen, everyone talks about the end of the diaper era like it’s better than an empty house and glass of wine. Don’t get me wrong, nixing the nappies is FABULOUS, but it doesn’t always mean the dirty work is done. Wiping butts continues far past the last diaper, guys. And a five year old is capable of producing a turd that will bring you to your knees. So, cheers to the day when the only butt you need to wipe is your own, because that is the you-know-what. (Pun intended.)
When those chubby little fingers can finally buckle their own seat belts. The day you stop hauling kids in and out of carseats, adjusting and untwisting the five-point harness straps, tightening and perfectly aligning the buckles is a very good day. There is nothing more freeing than heading to the car confident in the knowledge that the only seatbelt you need to wrestle is your own. Blessed day, indeed.
When they’re capable of washing their hands after dinner. I’m sure I’ve spent days, weeks of my life even, cleaning up or hosing down children post mealtime. From carrying squirmy babies sheathed in mashed avocado and banana to guiding my three year old to the bathroom sink to help her wash her sticky hands, it’s a good day when you can casually send your child to go wash up without fear of flooded bathrooms or walls covered in tomato sauce handprints.
When they can entertain themselves in the morning. So, I’m not quite to this point yet, but I hear it’s pretty freakin’ amazing. The motherhood mecca, if you will. I’m still in that zone where children come bounding into my room like puppies begging for mini-muffins at the crack of dawn. Did I mention they run right past their father on their merry way to scare me awake? Because they do.
The day they can play in another room without the fear of imminent bodily harm. Nothing more to say here. It’s a true milestone when you can sit on the couch and “zone out with your phone out” for a few precious minutes without worrying that your kids are eating little building blocks or about to pull a dresser down.
When they can put on their own shoes. After years of trying to shove my children’s limp, little feet into shoes while they whimper about the tightness, scratchiness, and/or stiffness of said shoes, I can finally bark an order and they will (eventually) meet me by the door with shoes on. I’m not saying the shoes match or are seasonably or situationally appropriate, or are even on the right feet, but they have shoes on, and that’s enough for me.
When you can ditch that flipping diaper bag. This is my personal favorite because I was SO PUMPED to add that puppy to my baby registry. There are hours of my life spent drooling over interior pockets and matching antimicrobial changing pads that I will never get back, I kid you not. Little did I know, it didn’t matter how many side pockets it had or whether it was compatible with my stroller, because it was always a black hole of baby paraphernalia and trash. Diapers were crumpled up into tiny balls and shoved haphazardly inside dirty, and pacifier and snacks crumbs littered the bottom of it. It might as well have been a trash bag because that’s what it felt like I was carrying. As soon as I changed the final diaper, I dropped that sucker for sale on my neighborhood BST site and rewarded myself with a new purse as retribution for carrying that monstrosity for four years.
When they are finally old enough for the real deal cough syrup. Don’t get me wrong, I love Zarbee’s, especially the nighttime version with that adorable, drowsy bee. But when your pediatrician gives you the green light to buy the good stuff, you can kiss those long nights filled with humidifiers and essential oils and elevated pillows good bye because we are all about to be sleeping.