I saw a video taken a few days ago of a friend’s baby taking his first steps. Oh, how exciting it was to see! I remember that time for my two sons. My daycare provider for my older son was careful to never mention seeing any firsts while I was at work. She always let me believe that I had seen the first crawl, the first step, and even found the first tooth first. I enjoyed and celebrated every one of those milestones when my sons were young.

As they got older, the milestones were still coming, but I didn’t notice them as much. There was the first time they each caught a fish, the first time they dressed in a baseball uniform and played their first game, the first time they read a written word, and so many more. After another decade, we reached the milestones that keep mamas on their knees in prayer: the first time they get behind the wheel of a car, the first time they pull out of the driveway by themselves, and the first time they are out on a date.

A word to the moms and dads who have children younger than mine: the milestones don’t end with high school, or even college, graduation. I thought they would. After graduating from boot camp last month, my Marine is at a school. This year will mark the first time he has been away from home at Christmas.

Meanwhile, I have to make it through a milestone, too: the same one my son is. It’s the first time I will not see my baby for Christmas. I have no doubt that he will be fine; my Marine is a strong young man. His mama? Not so much. Yet this, like other milestones, had to come at some point.

Marking the milestones of life is not for the weak-hearted, though it seems that way at first. It is simple to rejoice when a baby takes a first step, or uses a baby spoon by himself. It’s exciting to see your child read a book or ride his bicycle for the first time. Then you arrive at the keep-you-on-your-knees-in-prayer milestones that help make you stronger. Those are the ones that prepare you for the more difficult milestones when your children reach adulthood.

A few years ago, someone who is much older and wiser than me advised me to prepare for those milestones. I took her advice and soon afterward, I started a new hobby.  Last year I ran for a public office. I have increased my work schedule, and developed some new skills. Being in a quiet house is still quite foreign, but it is tolerable when I think about a dance lesson that evening or a political meeting I must attend. I’m no longer identified as my sons’ mom. I’m my own person.

The milestones don’t get easier; they get harder. This doesn’t mean that they are a sad experience. It means that there will be even greater rewards. To date, the best prize of all has come in seeing my children grow to become independent adults. I can’t imagine it getting any better than that, but my sons and I are not finished reaching all the milestones. The best may be yet to come….


~Temerity Dowell

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