At the risk of sounding like my mom, I’ve come to realize our kids do grow up so fast. Even though some of the moments (like the teen years), can seem brutally drawn out, my mom was right. One moment my kids were just babes in arms, and the next they are walking, talking...and then marching onstage for their high school diplomas, hoisting a futon and my life savings into the rear of the SUV, and heading away to college. And all of these milestones have been such tearjerkers for me.
All of these moments – their first steps; their first words, etc., are events that we moms long for, but when they finally happen we are sobbing wrecks. I've shed a bucket or two raising three kids; here are the milestones I've found to be the most emotional.
Smiling, laughing, rolling over, talking and walking their first year: The first smile is a moment moms dream of. I’ll never forget when my son was born and the doctor and nurses rallied around his incubator proclaiming: “this kid is rolling over.” A jock is born, flashed through my mind. When my oldest daughter uttered “Mama,” my heart exploded with joy. And when my baby, now in college, turned her giggle into a guffaw, laughing and laughing at her siblings, it made me weep.
Would that we could raise our kids in an emotional cocoon. The first time I realized I couldn’t protect my kids from life’s hurts took place at my oldest daughter’s two-year-old birthday party. I remember sitting in the kitchen with the other moms and smiling with glee as pint-sized kids in costumes (her birthday falls near Halloween) raced down the hall to the bedrooms. Suddenly there was my little pink tutu-clad ballerina and she was crying. The other kids had raced into her room and left her standing outside in the hall on the other side of the door. My heart broke, foreshadowing many heart-tugging moments to come.
3. School Beginnings and Endings
Nothing brings tears to a mom’s eyes like leaving a sobbing preschooler who is holding onto your arm with all his might screaming “Mommy don’t leave me!" I still choke up when I revisit those first school days — and every time I walked out the door and left my toddlers with a babysitter. But then fast-forward, suddenly your youngest is decked out in cap and gown and walking down the aisle of the high school gym with a diploma in hand. Kleenex please.
4. Sports Drama
Standing on the sidelines witnessing your son wipe out on the soccer field and accompanying him to ER with the paramedics can make a mom’s heart tremor. Comforting a daughter when she doesn’t make the tennis team cut also pains, and watching a coach scream at your kid— that one brings out the Mother Bear in me.
The hardest moments, at least for me, have been facing the "roots and wings" milestones, when it's time to let the little ones fly from the nest. All through high school and curfew violations, teen temper tantrums and dealing with moods, I thought I would welcome college. But the whole time I was setting up the IKEA-coordinated bedding and fumbling with the steel futon in my kids' new door rooms, then hugging them and heading home by myself, I felt differently.
I remember calling my sister after dropping off my son a couple years ago and sobbing, only to have her remind me: “You said all through high school how college couldn’t come soon enough.” And yet it did.
Which milestones have been the most emotional for you?
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