Last night, while having cocktails with a coworker, we talked about the trend of destination birthdays as the new way to celebrate turning 40-years-old. It’s an attractive idea, especially since turning 40 is on the horizon for me. However, the notion of a destination birthday inspired me to think about parenting milestones that seem as important as our children’s milestones. It’s easy to forget about all that we achieve as parents and the milestones we secretly celebrate. Just as we cheer and applaud every new milestone our children make, it’s time we cheer and applaud for our own milestones. Here are a few of mine in no order.
- The first time I didn’t get grossed out by poop, vomit, or other bodily fluids my child expressed from her body
- The first time I slept late, after putting my child to bed
- The first time I had sex without feeling like a gross mommy
- The first work trip I took without sobbing from mom guilt
- The first time I cooked one meal for our family and everyone enjoyed it and ate seconds
- The fact that I still get carded for alcoholic beverage purchases every time. Bonus points for when the teller comments on my “youthful” appearance.
- The first time the daily grind didn’t feel like the grind
- The first time my daughter finally stopped crying at the preschool drop off (which took nearly four months of daily cuddling and reassuring)
- The times I get to enjoy “me time.” Nails. Drinks with girlfriends. Writing. Whatever.
- The fact that I still make nap time a priority for myself.
I love those eureka moments I have when life just works out, like getting our school-work routine down to the hour or picking up my daughter from preschool and she doesn’t want to leave. Those milestones validate the choices I’ve made. Even when the milestones have been sad (like experiencing the death of my dearest friend) or sobering (like the day I realized I needed a job change), I still learn from them.
As my family ages, I know that there will be more milestones to celebrate: like the end of potty-training. I want to cherish all of it. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Annual family trips. Life is too short to be spent celebrating any parenting milestone in secret. So, have a blast during your first “date night” without the baby/babies, and let go of the parent guilt. Enjoy the extra cocktail when you can. Rather than beat yourself up about all the things you’re doing wrong or comparing yourself/family to others (we all do it), celebrate “what you have right now” and know that you are awesome.