When my kids were younger, I had an eye-opening conversation with my number one parenting resource: my mom. She and I were lamenting about how fast kids grow up when, in the course of chatting, I asked her if she cried when she dropped me off at college. I couldn’t remember if she did.
“Yes, but not because I was sad.” she said. “It was because it was the first time you’d hugged me in years.”
At the time, I wanted to hug my own mom a million times over and say how sorry and selfish I’d been. As a mom of two young kids—kids who over-touch me, overstep my boundaries, and laugh when they catch sight of me in my underwear—the thought of them not hugging me for years is unimaginable. But in hindsight, the story helped me reflect and reframe a lot of parenting frustrations, including stressing about certain milestones.
Developmental milestones are important, absolutely. And if you have concerns, always bring them up with your child’s healthcare provider. But it also helps to remember no two children are the same and won’t hit the same milestones at the same moment.
Sometimes it can help to pause and notice where you and your child are right now, rather than stressing too much about the next phase. Each moment has a certain specialness. Time inevitably moves on, and these moments will turn into memories.
Not sleeping through the night… more late night cuddles and early morning snuggles.
Not crawling yet… means you can still plop them down to play happily in one spot.
Not talking yet… means knowing your child on an instinctual level—understanding their needs by the look on their face, the sound of their babble, or the movement of their body.
Not weaned from breastfeeding yet… your body is still a source of nourishment and comfort.
Not walking yet… more time spent safely in your arms.
Not potty-trained yet… more freedom to explore new places together without worrying about bathrooms nearby or a puddle on the floor.
Not sleeping in a big kid bed yet… contained rest for them and hopefully more rest for you.
My kids are older now, and I’m sure it’s easier for me to look back on some of those hard moments in early parenthood with a warmth earned from the experience of getting through it. In my current moment, I’ll still snuggle my kids on request and let both of them climb into our bed on Saturday morning or any morning. Too soon, I know I’ll be the one creeping into their room to wake them up each day.
Right now, I’m trying to savor the specialness of this time and leaning into every hug I can get.
This article was originally published on June 13, 2020 and has been updated for timeliness.