There are some milestones in childhood that mothers look forward to with great anticipation, and others we look forward to with a fair amount of dread. There are the usual suspects, sleeping through the night, able to feed themselves, first steps, first days of school. We usually mark these milestones with a little fanfare. Write it in the baby book! Take a photo! Share it with friends and family!
This is not about any of those types of milestones.
This is about those milestones that we don’t often take a moment to pause for and recognize, as important as they really are. This is about the milestones that aren’t recognized for the monumental achievements that they are. I’m here today to talk about those milestones we don’t celebrate, that may slip by unnoticed, and I’m here to tell you if your kid misses even one of these little milestones, then, you’ll definitely notice. The sheer amount of time that we, as moms, regain when our child crosses these marks is amazing.
1. They’re able to blow their own nose.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal to those who don’t have children, or maybe if you’re like me and your children are teens and preteens you may have forgotten (blocked it mentally, some might say) the time when you had to follow your toddler around the house with a wad of tissue saying, “Blow. Again. Again. Again,” until their little nose was snot-free. Only to repeat the entire process 10 minutes later. The moment your child has the dexterity and coordination to blow their own nose you have gained back several hours of your life.
2. They’re mature enough to leave home alone for five minutes.
Once you have children, running to the corner store to grab a gallon of milk or a cup of coffee is no longer a simple or fast process. The moment your little one is mature enough to stay home alone while you run to grab that gallon of milk your whole life has just changed. You no longer have to dress yourself and another person, put your shoes on and another person’s, put your coat on and another person’s, just to go buy a gallon of milk that the other person will either consume in a blink of an eye, or spill all over your freshly cleaned kitchen floor.
3. You no longer have to bring them in the bathroom with you.
Oh sure, they’re likely to follow you in there anyway, but that’s not the point. The point is that you have the possibility of going to the bathroom and taking care of business without first having to gather up your little person and something to entertain them, get them situated on a relatively clean spot on the floor where they can’t reach anything, and then pee as fast as humanly possible. Also, being able to shower without someone pointing, poking or pulling is heavenly.
4. They’re able to swallow a pill.
This one may sound weird if you still have little ones, but if you have older kids, trust me, there will come a time when you will be glad that you can give your child a regular tablet of Advil instead of measuring out multiple spoonfuls of the grape-flavored liquid crap to make their fever break. I can’t tell you how many preteen and teen children I have spoken to who have never mastered the ability to take a pill. They have a headache and can’t do anything about it because mom doesn’t carry chewable medicine in her purse. Crazy!
5. They can pour their own drink.
I’m not talking about them pouring their own glass of milk while you hover, ready to jump in at a moment’s notice to avert disaster. This is them pouring a glass of milk and you don’t even have to think about mopping the kitchen floor or replacing a brand new gallon of milk after it gets wasted all over the kitchen. If they can pour their own glass of milk, then fixing their own bowl of cereal is not far behind, and that means not having to spring out of bed the instant they open their eyes on the weekends. Oh no, you won’t actually be sleeping, but you’ll be able to lie in bed for a few extra minutes. Trust me, it’s a big deal!
6. They can wash their own hair.
This one may be more of a big deal for girls than for boys, but there’s a huge amount of freedom you gain when your child can bathe themselves and wash (and rinse!) their own hair. It means you can do something else while they’re taking a bath. Like sit down! My kids were both freakish about getting water in their eyes in the bathtub (pool—whole other story) so it meant no longer having to hear “Don’t get it in my EYESSSSSS!” over and over again.
7. They’re able to wipe their own butt.
This is the biggie, maybe the biggest of all of them. First day of kindergarten? Pish! Leaving for college? Who cares? First date? High school prom? None of these amount to much of anything if your child hasn’t achieved this milestone! Plus, the amount of freedom and sheer ecstasy you can derive from being a mother and not hearing “Mom, can you come wipe me?” from the bathroom is bigger than anyone can really put into words.