When my boys were babies and toddlers, their milestones were pretty apparent. Sleeping through the night. First smile. First tooth. Rolling over, crawling, walking. Blatant and cherished reminders that our chubby, sticky little precious treasures were growing up.

The milestones continued. Learning the alphabet. Tying their own shoes. Learning the world is round, and the moon isn’t made of cheese.

Somewhere along the way, the milestones became less obvious. Goodnight kisses became fist-bumps. Matchbox cars got traded in for Nerf battle-axes. Old Navy commercials became a source of embarrassment because the pretty blonde girl makes my 9 year-old feel weird – in a way that makes him want to yank her ponytail and run away.

As my boys have grown, I’ve had to train myself to actively look for the milestones. Because as they’ve gotten older, their milestones aren’t as tangible as they used to be. There’s no more first locks of hair, no more first baby teeth, no more handprints from the first day of school. At 7 and 9 years old, the instances of tangible milestones are beginning to spread further and further apart.

So I keep an eagle-eye out for the hidden milestones, and tuck them away in my heart: Their awkward endeavors at humor. Attempts at bartering with me. The fact that they brush their teeth without being told. The way my second-born hunkers down at the dinner table, fighting like a man to overcome his issue with food textures. He hasn’t puked up his food in I don’t know how long. That’s a big milestone.

I’m with my kids 24-7. I very rarely find times when I’m not with them. That’s the nature of homeschooling, and for our family, it’s been a good thing. But since I’m with them non-stop, it’s so easy for me to sometimes want to tune them out. Forget to listen. Forget to look for milestones that are no longer blatant.

My daughter is three. There’s a noticeable difference between how I’ve tracked her progress, and how I’ve tracked her brothers’. But heck, I’m a different kind of parent than I was when they were her age. Much more relaxed. I have a better handle on what it is I’m doing as a momma. Part of me wants to feel guilty for how that sometimes translates – example: the pages of her baby book are mostly empty. Honestly, after moving a couple months ago, I’m not even sure where her baby book is.

And now we have a fourth kiddo on the way. It’s funny how my perspective has changed. I’ve become a baby minimalist. Give me some onesies, some diapers, a swaddling blanket, a nursing cover and I’m set. Will there be a baby book for this one?

…probably not.

When I look at the spectrum of ages in my sweet family, it forces me to realize a few things. I’ve got a lot going on. I’m not a perfect parent – not even close. There’s no way I’ll ever remember to write down every milestone. Some may even go completely unnoticed.

But when I catch them, I hold onto them tightly. Like tonight, when we played Pictionary with our 7 year old for the first time. Or when our 9 year-old said goodnight to us not with a kiss or a fist-bump, but by telling us to enjoy the beautiful full moon.

And then surprising us with a full moon of his own.

Heaven help us, the teenage years are coming. I can only imagine the kinds of milestones we’ll be facing then.


22 thoughts on “Milestones

  1. mjpendlebury says:

    First of all….I love you! Thank you so much for this amazing post! Clearly you are one of the most awesomest mama’s there are. Not only do you clearly provide for your children in more ways than a lot of people can handle but, you’ve just made a totally anxiety ridden and self doubting mama feel way better about her kiddos baby books still being on the shelves at the stores (my kiddos are ages 5.5 and 3). You Rock Myndi!

  2. Shannon Esposito says:

    *giggling* I have twin five yr. old boys that think mooning each other is the funniest thing in the world. I think it’s more important to be in the moment with your kids, enjoying it than trying to record it. I barely take pictures anymore, and I was a professional, I’m more focused on just being present with them instead of watching them behind a camera.

  3. Liz Rutschman says:

    Love this…it was really great. So true about not knowing where the baby books are….I haven’t moved in over three years, and have no clue where either are! Maybe I’d better get on that.

  4. Ginger Calem says:

    Myndi, you are so in tune with your ‘momma-self’. Since I am IN the teenage years with my two boys and little Miss just 2 years behind, consider me in the trenches. It’s so hard to see all those milestones when you’re going every direction at once. This is a great reminder that when we see them, we need to savor them close to our hearts.

    And, you just totally reminded me of a big milestone coming up in my house that I had planned to blog about and forgot. Yay!

  5. Debra Kristi says:

    This is such a beautiful post Myndi. Your children are so blessed to have you as a mother. I stopped recording things in my second child’s book. It’s hard. You are busy being a mom. And the mooning? Well, my little princess monkey loves to bear her pretty little thing. She thinks it’s the funniest thing EVER.

    We just went through the big milestone – braces. Yay!

  6. Fabio Bueno says:

    Wow, Myndi, you put in words something I’ve been thinking about for the last few months. It’s heartbreaking how sometimes their childhood and those fantastic moments slip through our fingers. Specially with the young ones, it’s easy to take for granted their magic.

  7. jenbriley3 says:

    You make me laugh so much!! I’m right there with you…Grants baby book is filled out…Shelby’s is a little…Joshua–I think we have one?? πŸ™‚
    Gods gift is seeing the change in our kids and maturing into beautiful people with a heart that loves Jesus!!
    Thank you for sharing!!
    Love you!

  8. Kara Flathouse says:

    I love this and I feel the same way. I just told my husband the other night that by homeschooling and being with my girls so much I tend to not pay as close of attention to them as I did when my two oldest were in school. But at the same time I feel like there is very little I miss since they are always with me:)
    And the baby book thing I’m guilty too. But now we have blogs and facebook posts etc. I figure that’s a pretty good baby book when you think about it:)

  9. Karen McFarland says:

    Hey Myndi,

    What a good Mama you are. Yes those early years flash by too quickly.

    I also did the home school thing. And boy did my husband and I get flack for that. But I’m pretty proud of them and who they’ve turned out to be now. My two boys are sixteen months apart and yet as they grew up and even now, they are inseperable.

    Yes, keep hanging on to those milestones Myndi. They will be your treasure later when they’re all grown up. πŸ™‚

  10. Tameri Etherton says:

    Stop right there. Your kids brush their teeth without being asked? Dear Lord of the Rings, what am I doing wrong?

    You know, I was just thinking the other day, where the heck are my kids’ baby books? I have them somewhere and I’m sure they are mostly empty. Can you go back and fill them in when your kid is 13 and 21? Eh, what they don’t know won’t hurt them!

    You’re a super fabulous mamma. I am so impressed you are having a fourth child. Bless you, Myndi!

  11. Emma Burcart says:

    What a sweet post! I am glad that you are finding the milestones to celebrate as they grow older. Will you make the 10th birthday one. In my family it was a big deal because you became a double digit and the chances of making it to triple digits is slim. And, look out for the teenage years. My baby brother is 17 and all I can say is wow! I don’t remember ever being that age, but my dad said I was BAD. He might have even used another B-word.

  12. patriciasands says:

    Boys will be boys! Your posts are sooo good – there’s always a reality check about what is really important in parenting. Congrats on #4. You are a true momma!
    p.s. Just like Tameri, your glasses crack me up too.

  13. timlobrien says:

    Really enjoyed your post Myndi! I was the oldest and my baby book won’t close properly it is stuffed full of so much stuff. My brothers that are nine years younger, eh, not so much. I have four children so I just keep the handy point and shoot digital camera close by and capture everything that way. If they ever want to go and look at their baby books I’ll just point to the computer and say its all right there.

  14. Angela Orlowski-Peart says:

    All the best with your pregnancy, Myndi. Wow, the 4th one πŸ™‚ I admire mothers who can handle four kids — I have my hands full with “just” the two of mine, but then again, they are handful πŸ™‚

    This is a beautiful post. I kept nodding my head and smiling while reading it. Oh, those childhood milestones are so precious, and the kids grow way too fast. But there is always so much more around each corner, which makes me wipe my tears of sentiment away, and smile again, thinking about what the next milestone will bring.

  15. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    Congratulations on your new baby girl! Wow, reading your post brought back memories of when my kids were young. We raised four kids, too. I look back now and wonder where in the world all the years went. they grow so fast. I love this post, especially your nine-year-old told you to enjoy the full moon. That’s awesome! Enjoy every moment and take lots of pics and videos.

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