We spend lots of time commemorating our kids' "firsts." First birthdays are such milestones that some parents throw parties rivaling mitzvahs or quinceañeras or sweet 16s. First steps are cheered and videoed and plastered proudly on our social media accounts. Curls from first haircuts are taped into keepsake books. First lost tooth, first day of school . . . they're all monumental events, occasions to be joyously celebrated.
But what about the lasts? When you think about it, it's actually kind of too bad we don't realize the very last time we'll have to do certain things. I mean, if there was ever anything to cheer about, it would be the last time we had to . . .
Change a diaper. No more money spent on disposables or time spent on washing out cloth. No more lugging around all those changing supplies. No more searching around in public for a good place to put on a fresh diaper — and then a good place to throw it away. Would I celebrate the last time I had to do any of that? HECK YES I WOULD.
Clean up barf. If I knew the last time I scrubbed my kid's vomit off the carpet at 3 a.m. would be the last time I would ever scrub my kid's vomit off the carpet, I'd probably relish the task a little bit more. OK, so maybe I wouldn't relish it, but I'd definitely do a happy dance afterward because — yay! My kid is finally old enough to make it to the toilet!
Wake up in the middle of the night for a feeding. We love our kids, but we also love our sleep. So knowing that we never, ever have to pry our eyelids open in the predawn hours to feed someone again would be really nice. Worth a triumphant Facebook post, at least. Or maybe a parade.
Wipe a butt. Just because your kid is potty-trained doesn't mean you're in the clear — you still have to offer months, if not years, of wiping assistance if you don't want to deal with sore tushies and skidmarked undies. The sound of, "Mommy! Can you wipe my butt?" is not particularly something I'm going to miss — so if I could know the last time I'd have to drop whatever I'm doing to play Designated Butt Wiper, I'd probably schedule a celebratory cocktail or three.
Deal with a public tantrum. Little kids are great, until they don't want to leave the playground or you're at the grocery store past naptime. Then all hell breaks loose and they dissolve into a meltdown that invites withering looks from everyone within earshot. And since everybody's watching now (thanks, loud irrational toddler), you have to deal with it patiently and diplomatically. If there were ever anything to rejoice about, it would be the last time my kid makes a spectacle in public.
Tie a shoe. One that's not our own, I mean. Or zip a coat, button a shirt, fasten a jacket — basically anything that slows us down on our way out the door. I'm totally down for an "I Don't Have to Help My Kid Get Dressed Anymore" party. Who's bringing the cheese tray?!
Cut up a meal while our own gets cold. I can't count the number of lukewarm dinners I've eaten because I spent so much time portioning off a kid's meal into acceptable non-choking-hazard-size bites. To celebrate the last time, I'd cook up a feast so fresh that I actually have to blow on it before putting it into my mouth. Or I might even let it burn my tongue, just because I can. Whee!
Escort someone to a public restroom. The last day I have to leave my cart and navigate a kid to the ladies' room is the day I'll do the Running Man down the aisles of Target. Being able to point in the direction of the nearest bathroom and keep on shopping while my kid takes care of business alone? Yes, please!
Buckle someone's seatbelt. Heave. Tug. Adjust. Whine. Readjust. Search for opening. Click. Properly installed car seats and buckles are absolutely vital to our children's safety, but that doesn't mean they aren't also a gigantic pain. So if I knew the last time I'd have to struggle with fastening a kid securely, I would commemorate it with a road trip. (Next on the list: buy a vehicle that isn't a minivan.)
Clip someone's nails. I swear I don't come snarling menacingly toward my kids with a chainsaw when their nails start to look like they belong on Edward Scissorhands, but based on the reaction, you'd think that's exactly what I was doing. When we can finally leave the drama behind and they can tend to their own personal hygiene, I'll treat myself to a manicure in celebration.
Overall, I suppose it's good that we don't realize the lasts, because most of them would probably just make us sad — like the last time our babies ever fell asleep in our laps or adorably mispronounce a word. For things like that, we'd spend more time crying than rejoicing. I guess it's easier not to know.
But if anybody wanted to throw me a "No More Episodes of Dora the Explorer" reception, I wouldn't complain. Just sayin'.