Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Milestone Path

It's been a while, and there are so many topics I want to write about.  Everything from the politics of parenting, to observations of other people and their children, to emotional terrorism, and a variety of other things.  Look for those in future, I suppose.  Today, though, today I want to write about milestones.

From the moment you get pregnant, your life seems to be measured in milestones.  Checking off that first trimester and emerging from all of the issues that come with it (if you had any) and breathing a little easier as you get out of the danger zone.  First ultrasound, first announcement to friends and family, that long awaited gender reveal, life being ticked off week by week until you hit that calendar date you circled in red as the light at the end of the tunnel that you'd be done.  Then the milestones shift.  They stop being your milestones that you track and start becoming someone else's.  They are the milestones your baby hits, and you watch closely to make sure the list is getting ticked off.  Can he/she do this or do that at the appropriate age?  Are they ahead of the curve on some things?  Are they behind the curve somewhere else?  Should you start to worry about this or about that?  You make a list of things to ask about at the next pediatrician's appointment.  You check off the list to reassure yourself that yes, everything is fine.

Right now I'm standing on the precipice of a different milestone.  As of next Friday, my daughter will be 6 months old.  Half a year.  It doesn't seem like it's been that long.  I don't mean that in a weepy sentimental "she's growing up too fast" sort of way.  I mean it in an actual timeline way.  It doesn't feel like 6 months has passed.  She's gone from tiny snuggling newborn to wiggly infant with personality and preferences, and it's been kind of awesome.  It has also made me think about some things.  A year ago, we were just telling our family and friends about her impending arrival.  A year ago, I was growing and incubating a human.  I have a hard time really thinking back on that because it honestly feels like it that all happened to someone else.  Again, I don't mean that in the context most people do when they make that statement.  I don't mean that she's changed me so much that last year I was a different person than I am now.  I'm still me.  I just feel like all of that happened to someone else.  Even while I was pregnant, I felt like it was all happening to someone else.  I never connected with being pregnant.  I never felt this deep connection with the baby.  I never made statements like "I'm already just so in love" because the truth is, I wasn't.  I feel like that whole portion of my life was an out of body experience where my brain and the rest of me weren't really connected.  I didn't marvel at her movements.  I don't miss them now that they're gone.  Pregnancy was something that happened to me, not something I participated in.

That said, parenthood has been a total opposite.  Parenting is something I participate in.  It is something that feels real.  I'm in it.  I'm there.  I don't miss her kicking me as a fetus but I do miss her smile when I haven't seen her for a while.  Now she isn't an abstract.  Now she is a person, and that feels so much more important.  I didn't do amazing and important work by growing and birthing her.  I could have done that in a coma.  I'm doing something important now when I'm taking care of her and keeping her safe and loved.  It's probably not the most important thing I'll ever do, but it is important and I'm usually pretty good at it.  Six months has taught me to love her, to appreciate her, to understand her.  Six months has taught me how to be a mom.  Six months has helped me learn how to be me while still helping her learn to be her.  Six months went by fast.  The next six will go by fast as well.  But that's ok.  I'm always ready for the next milestone.  I don't mourn what I loss as she gets older, I celebrate what she's gaining, and so far she's turning out to be pretty cool.


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