It happened yesterday, in a sneaky manner, the way it always does. A childhood milestone I didn’t know existed blindsided me with unexpected force. Somewhere during the long days, the short days, the easy days, and the hard ones my child grew.
It was simple enough.
I sent my second grader to school with her long red hair hanging loose and wild down her back. When she hopped off the bus and gave her sisters a hug it was pulled back in a wind swept pony tail. No big deal, the teachers at school regularly have to pull the loose ends back out of her way. A short while later, she was out on the trampoline jumping and giggling and her hair was loose again rippling with each jump, making me smile.
Soon, we all piled into the car to take the little one to soccer and then it happened. I glanced in my rear view mirror to see my seven year old with her hands full of hair, sweeping it all back effortlessly into a pony tail. She glanced out the window, some form of feminine confidence on her features and I found myself staring hard out the windshield. The gravel dust in the van suddenly making my eyes a bit watery.
It’s just a pony tail. It’s not a first step or a lost tooth. It’s not writing her own letters or riding her own bike. Yet for years it has been me who has been combing and brushing and twisting hair ties. It has been others who had to help my young sweet girl get her red mane under control but then she grew.
As parents of a young child/children we are constantly witnessing and anticipating the childhood milestones in our kiddo’s lives. From the first time they sleep through the night (HALLELUJAH!), to first steps and first words, waving goodbye to diapers and giving first day of Kindergarten kisses; their is so much we look forward to, reminisce in, and perhaps even shed a tear for as our children grow. For me personally, these big changes haven’t been strikingly difficult. I do my best to video record those wobbly first steps but I’m not a kindergarten drop off crier (at least not yet, we will see when I send off my youngest). No, for me..it’s the milestones they don’t warn you are coming that get me. The subtle ones. The ones that you don’t know are a big deal until they happen. They get me Every. Single. Time.
Some of those milestones are simply full of rejoice. Seriously – there is nothing like your child finally being able to realize early enough that dinner is making a repeat appearance and getting to the appropriate location on time. My two year old can hurry up and reach that childhood milestone as quick as she wants! One day my oldest daughter was a ticking time bomb of illness doom and then she grew.
It’s not just my oldest that this happens to! It’s about how I looked out the window the other day and saw my 4 year old pumping her legs and swooping up high on the swing. She used to need me to stand behind and get her started, to remain there and keep her going, and then she grew.
It’s walking out the door on a cool morning and realizing you didn’t have to zip up coats, tie shoes, or tug on mittens. It’s when your child turns on the computer, logs in, and pulls up a YouTube video to dance along to without a single click on your part. It’s strong arms swinging a dangling body across the monkey bars without your support. It’s when you walk downstairs one morning and see your child sliding a jelly sandwich into a baggie to finish making their own school lunch.
It’s those moments that I pause. It’s those moments that I sometimes have to swipe a tear or spend some time just staring in disbelief. It’s those childhood milestones that squeeze my Momma heart tight.
It’s these moments that I realize I’ve spent all this time nurturing, supporting, providing, hugging, kissing, guiding, pushing, leading, and loving and then they grew.