Mommy Markers: How parenting milestones get Camouflaged in day-to-day living
By Christine Thomas
While cleaning the bathtub recently I noticed that all the toys were gone. Oh no! I must have absently grabbed the plastic basket filled with floating ducks and dolls for our garage sale weeks earlier. As I wiped my sponge along the smooth porcelain rim that day, I realized the small clues of raising small children were disappearing from my home.
My teenagers no longer had toys in their rooms. Gone were the puppy posters, the Polly Pocket cars, and even the baskets of stuffed animals. Their current décor consisted of technology: Ipods, phone cords, boom boxes, CD’s. The younger two had grown up so much that their toys actually fit in their rooms. I no longer saw the tale-tell signs of childhood that used to dot every floor in our house like litter along the roadside.
The morning of our garage sale, when my youngest ran to fetch her Barbie box to set before eager buyers, I gasped in alarm. “You can’t sell Hannah Montana! You just got her for your birthday.”
“Yeah, but how much do ya’ think I can get?” Greed and dollar signs clouded her seven-year-old judgment.
Before I could answer, my daughter had accepted four quarters from a sleepy mom who handed Hannah to her gleeful girl (not much older than my pajama-clad sweetheart). I shook my head in sadness. My daughter was just like me, selling her memories for coins.
Looking at all the hastily scribbled price tags on the toys I had so carefully shopped for, picked up, and put away for years, made me realize how easy it was to let the many milestones of parenting slip by without notice, camouflaged by day-to-day duties.
I lugged around a diaper bag for my babies, then toddlers, and soon the months (which felt like years) of potty-training were over and I’d crossed a milestone of parenting– a little lighter. Only I hardly noticed my baby step away from the baby days because my arms were full with a long-legged child on my hip and an overstuffed purse on my shoulder.
I’m fast approaching the milestone of no more naked kids in the house. Just the other day while walking into my bathroom, I heard a yelp and a thud. My son picked himself off the floor and quickly grabbed a towel to cover his nine-year-old body.
“You don’t have to be embarrassed. I’m your mother,” I reminded him nonchalantly. What is this? He’s too young to deprive me of looking at his chicken-legged, noodle-armed, downy-haired, little body! I inwardly screamed, unwilling to say good-bye to this mommy intimacy. But the next night I heard the shower running in a different bathroom. Another milestone passed. His naked body just a memory to recall when I appreciate his changing form through clothes.
I don’t need to keep hot wheels and kiddy kitchen utensils to remind me of the sweet memories of my children’s childhood, but I do enjoy remembering those days. Taking time to recall details of their development is like taking out old clothes from a closet, removing them from the hanger, feeling their texture in my hands, smelling their fragrance. From time-to-time I just feel the need to re-experience certain snapshots of their younger days. Actually I think I’ll take some of my garage sale money to buy candles for the bare rim in my bathtub. That way I can leisurely reflect on fond moments of parenting without interruption.
Christine Thomas is a stay-at-home mom in Denton, Texas, who capitalizes on the stages of her childrens’ milestones as fodder for her freelance articles.