Saturday, November 22, 2014

Growing Up: the Milestones and the Other Stuff

Today I've been pondering this...  

Our children are growing up every moment of every day.   There are big moments and then there's all the other stuff, and a mother's reactions to "growing up" can really run the gamut. 

We're always on the lookout for the exciting milestones that let us know, she's growing up!  We joyfully let all of Facebook know when our babies give their first smiles and cut their first teeth.  We cheer them on when they roll over for the first time, smack their lips at their first taste of mashed food, and take their first steps.  We love to announce when our little fashionistas start dressing themselves and when our little sluggers join their first team.   Milestones, in my opinion, tend to be a mother's public pride.  Our little ones are growing up and they're doing it well!  There's so much to rejoice in!  

In my experience though, it's never really in the milestones that our baby's growing up hits us between the eyes and catches us off guard.  Every mom knows there are times when you look at your child in the most ordinary of circumstances and wham!  you see them growing up.  It's a look they give, or a word they use, or just an inflection in their voice.  It's something that makes you see them as older than they were just the very minute before.  It's usually something very small.  And it evokes less pride and more pondering.  It even tugs a little at our heartstrings.

My Clare, who is two and half, has been growing up a lot lately.  Both kinds of growing up.  As far as milestones are concerned, she's officially finished toilet training.  Yay!  Yay! Yaaaaayyy!!!  She's been our easiest so far, but that doesn't diminish her accomplishment.  I'm really proud of her!  I praise her a lot and shower her with, "You're getting to be such a big girl!" with true joy and sincerity.  Toilet training is a big deal in the list of things that mean "growing up."  But it's not when I'm helping Clare get her teeny tiny "big girl" underwear back on that I think, Woah.  She's growing up fast!

The big things don't catch me off guard.  

Today I witnessed the other kind of growing up - one of those moments that comes seemingly out of nowhere and almost knocks you off your normally unshakable mom feet.  Clare brought a Lego creation to me and said "Look at my decorations." 

I think I stopped breathing for a second and felt a little pain in my heart.  Just a few weeks ago Clare was tirelessly gathering pine cones and sticks and bright fall leaves to bring into our house as decolations.  And we all loved it and would do whatever we could to get her to say the word decolations over and over.   

Today she said, "decorations."  I didn't wonder when I'd be able to get on Facebook and proudly announce her newest accomplishment.  I privately held on to that "growing up" moment and pondered the dichotomy of my reactions to the various ways kids "grow up."  

They're always growing up.

I'm so proud of their accomplishments, both large and small, that are part of maturing.

I love the more complex relationships and interactions and conversations that big kids are capable of.

But a little part of me mourns the loss of the small things that make their littleness special.  

As one is lost, it is replaced by something equally special, but the old "little" ways will never be again.  Clare's decolations are gone.  It's more than just a word.  It's the things that make Clare who she is at age two.  They're being replaced.  And I'm mourning that a little.

(but they're being replaced by the things that will make her wonderful at age three, so I'm rejoicing too!  Kind of beautiful how it works that way, huh?!)  


  1. Your mothering posts just make me smile and then take a closer look myself at my own family:) Today our 8year old did above and beyond in helping us ready for visitors, and my husband and I did take a moment to look incredulously at one another and exclaim, "he is growing up!"

  2. Yes! It's little things out of the corner of my eye that stop me dead in my tracks and make me pause to note the time passing and the growing up happening. So many little things lately...


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