I’ve always known that it’s not the traditional milestones that truly take my breath away as a mom. Ryan is less than two months away from being two years old, and I get the distinct impression that I’m supposed to be planning a big party or – at the very least – occasionally muttering “how could it be?!” to myself.
In reality, I haven’t even decided whether I’ll actually be having a party, let alone a date for said party. I’d be just as happy throwing some burgers on the grill and celebrating with a handful of family and friends. Maybe I’ll spring for a few balloons or a cake shaped like a truck, but that’s probably as exciting as it will get.
You know what I can’t stop thinking about, though? These three things:
- His legs are getting longer. Mike and I have always chuckled over the fact that even though Ryan measures solidly average for height, he wears teeny-tiny little shorts. He’s long-waisted, which is a polite way of saying he has short legs. This is why he wears 2T and 3T shirts to cover his legendary belly yet still sports 12-month and 18-month shorts. But all of a sudden, seemingly overnight, his legs look totally proportionate.
- His proper use of “thank you.” I handed him a sippy cup the other day and without prompting he said “tank ew” and walked away. I almost fainted. To be thanked for a simple parenting task is a whole big pile of wonderful.
- He’s becoming more cunning. When I put him down for a nap and he is displeased by the prospect of napping, he now calls out for his Dad. And vice-versa if Dad puts him down. He’s smart enough to know that the parent who put him down isn’t coming back; his best chance is for the other parent to rescue him.
Each of those three things brings tears to my eyes. Because those things, all of which happened on an otherwise un-special weekend, are the moments that really illustrate how quickly he’s growing – physically, verbally and cognitively.
I can wrap my brain around the fact that he’s turning two. I’ve had a year to get used to that idea. There’s no surprise in that. For me, it doesn’t compare to the moment when you’re driving in your car and you start singing “Wheels on the Bus” and you glance in the rear-view mirror and you see your toddler doing the motions that go along with the song. Motions you didn’t teach him.
Those moments make me realize that this whole raising-a-kid thing is so fleeting. That if I’m not paying close attention, if I’m too busy or worn out or rushing to run the bath water before a tired toddler has a meltdown, I will miss the real milestones.