by KATE HUNTER
It all seemed such a big deal at the time – those looong minutes watching my son on his play mat … will today be the day? Maybe … maybe. Tape in the video camera? Check. Should I call Jim and tell him to come home in case it happens? He has a board meeting, but holy moly, our first-born child was about to ROLL OVER. Someone alert the media.
Now, my chubby roller is a lanky eleven-year-old working on his spin bowling and I can’t remember how old he was when he rolled, or crawled, or uttered his first word. We’re blessed that our kids did all those things about the time they were meant to – I realise some aren’t so lucky.
But as time has marched (or rolled) on, I’ve been thinking about those less celebrated milestones – the ones that exponentially improve the quality of parents’ lives. Some are subtle – they sneak up on you. One day, all of a sudden, you’ll wonder why your mood is a little brighter than normal. And you’ll realise – it’s been a week since you wiped a bum, other than your own.
This is no small thing and absolutely cause for celebration.
Here are some more milestones that matter I’ve compiled from my own experience.
1. The ability to fasten a seatbelt. Sometimes I was envious of my mum, who would her five kids into the station wagon to drive to the shops, warning the eldest to hold onto the youngest ‘nice and tight’. I swear that’s why mum had time to serve nutritious meals at a properly set table every night – she didn’t waste a combined total of 62 minutes a day buckling and unbuckling seat belts and car seats. This might seem an exaggeration to anyone who hasn’t fumbled between a booster seat and a baby capsule trying to find a buckle, but trust me – 62 minutes is conservative.
2. Putting on swimmers. Many families with small children avoid getting a home swimming pool because of safety concerns, but also a fear of getting the kids ready to swim. Only the most advanced three year old can put on a one-piece swimsuit without it ending up like a twisted, ropey g-string. If the swimsuit is wet, a further degree of difficulty is added and the whole thing is best avoided if possible.
3. Making a bowl of cereal without slopping the milk. Hallmark should print cards: ‘Congratulations on the occasion of your little girl making her own Weet-Bix. We hope she enjoyed it as much as you enjoyed your sleep-in.’
4. Putting on a DVD. See above.
5. Making a cup of tea. Now we’re talking breakthrough. Remember all those night feeds? Time to pay the piper, kiddo. White with one, thanks.
6. Holding on. When a three year old tells you they need to wee, what they mean is they are wee-ing. When you are out and a nine year old tells you they need to wee, you can ask them to wait until you get home/get to the next servo/have finished your coffee.
8. Knocking on the door. Many parents when asked what they would like more than anything will say something like, ‘A few minutes in the toilet, alone.’ Or (more rarely) ‘A Sunday morning shag without interruption.’ A fear of parental nudity leads seamlessly to an ability, even an eagerness to knock.
9. Doing your own hair. Mothers of daughters in some cultures set off fireworks when this milestone is reached, and I’m not surprised.
10. Going on a sleepover, and staying all night. This is bittersweet. For most, it’s more sweet than bitter. See point 8.
Kate Hunter is Mamamia’s contributing editor and an advertising copywriter with over 20 years experience and one Gruen Transfer appearance to her name. Kate is also the author of the Mosquito Advertising series of novels. You can buy them here.