Walking Through the Last of All the Firsts

There is something magical that captures a parent’s heart the day you meet your new baby. There’s a world of firsts, the first scrunched up squiggly stretch, the first time he opens his eyes, the first cry she squeaks out. There’s the stressful first experience with a car seat and the first real threat of being scared and worried over this tiny human. The joys of bringing home baby are quickly engulfed in excitement over every move. We live in an amazing world of first time journalism as we can document with a simple tap of a keyboard. We never need miss a beat, there are moments of deep pleasure over that first smile and better yet when the giggles and cooing begin.

We can connect on a much more intimate level with other parents that are distraught over their child never sleeping through the night or the anticipation of a parent whose child slept through the night for the first time. We proudly promote triumph when that giggling baby walks across the room for the first time, all the pride of the world showcased in his smile. Our camera’s shutter fast and furious during the first birthday celebration from presents to cake on the face. 

The firsts begin to roll together as we walk through the early years. The events that shape our children become our everyday story. There is a never ending supply of humor and wonderment. My son could carry on a conversation with anyone willing to give him the time. He was never without a love for others. Our daughter was always more reserved, she always questioned people before making decisions of trust. These were completely different tiny humans with buckets full of first time events and their stories were both the same and different. 

There are tough first experiences too, and they sharpen our endeavor to relish the good. When your baby is poked with shots for the first time, oh your mamma heart how it hurts! When they fall, when they learn to climb everything and mom has her first real moment of panic. I’ll never forget the day I had a candle burning out of the way on a shelf above the tv and our son had chosen in the two minutes I walked into the kitchen to climb onto the entertainment center and pull that candle down full of hot wax. Thankfully it was minor, there was no fire, and he was left unscathed; but it was the first time I truly understood the fear of raising kids. Families march through life in stages of first time experiences.

The first day of kindergarten, how can we possibly be here already? You wait at the bus stop in an unknown social circle of experienced and new parents and their kids, all the while your heart is torn between joy and sadness. The bus arrives, more camera shutters, lots of tears and the bus swallows up your child to begin the next adventure. This is the first stage of independance, the next thirteen years will test you in all manner of ways. There’s the first birthday party for her bestie, the first recital, the first spelling bee. There are new sports to explore and first game days. All the while you can feel the steamroller picking up momentum.

Walking Through the Last of All the Firsts | Duluth Moms Blog{ Photo Credit: Through Laura’s Lens } 

Junior high begins and it’s all it’s cracked up to be and more. It’s full of fresh ideas and first relationships. There’s the inevitable first fight with her bestie, the separation of friendships as each friend travels a different road. Every first day of a new school year brings a new set of emotions. In our home I began an early tradition of baking chocolate chip cookies for the first day. When my kids arrived home we would sit down with milk and cookies and they had the space to tell me anything and everything. The first few years were always exuberant, there was joy and giggles. As we reached junior high we eased into new territory of expectations and heavier responsibilities, but the cookies were a great calming mechanism. I began to aslo make sure there were cookies on the last day of school to celebrate a victorious year. I’ve had to be very intentional in this act of the first day, making sure to get it off from work. I once hinted that I might not be able to do so and the look of sadness that reflected back at me was enough to melt me forever. It had to be an absolute commitment as it became more than just tradition for them. Our daughter plays soccer and when she started on the high school team there was always a practice or a game on her first day of school, so I started bringing the cookies to her. For my kids it’s a been a way for them to remember that conversations are safe and encouraged and mom made time for it to happen. 

Our firsts have nearly slowed down for some time now. We’ve experienced the joys of the first dance, the first deep conversations of life and love. We’ve gone on first family vacations with first airplane rides. We’ve experienced heartbreak and loss. Now we are entering Lasts. I sat in a room full of parents of Juniors just a few month ago to learn how to successfully get your student through the last year of school. We hadn’t gone through this with our son as he walked through a different journey that I’ll  share another time. Our daughter is about to walk through a year of Last. The last season of soccer, which we will both miss tremendously. The last spirit weeks, the last dances. There will be no more music concerts where I will hear her sweet voice above the others. I know there are lasts she’s looking forward to, the last school lunch is at the top, the last school bus ride, the last of high school drama, and we’re both happy to be done with fundraising. She is our last so I’m feeling the shift begin. She will of course continue to have new first experiences but I will more than likely walk through them from afar, it’s a bittersweet excitement that is looming closer every day.

One of the greatest gifts you can earn as a parent is the opportunity to become a runner up mom to your children’s friends. I’ve never been the mom that tried to fit in and become “one of the gang” but I am the type of mom that isn’t afraid to say the hard things in a gentle way. I’m not afraid to capture the hearts of her friends and love them where they’re at. My daughters friends especially know that my home is open all of the time without judgment or anger. I have watched not only my baby girl journey through school but also her friends. We protect our kids every day all year long and watch them grow into amazing people. As I sat at the Theme concert for the music department this past April, I couldn’t help but tear up at the amazing growth these tiny humans have made. They’ve honed their skills over abundances of firsts and created practices to refine the first stumbles into beautiful tangible art. From squeaky first notes and wobbly scales to fluid tones and pitches. I was mesmerized at how they’ve impacted my life as a mom. Now I will stand with the experienced circle of moms as we watch their final year of firsts become lasts. My daughter is fully aware that I will spend much of her senior year in tears. She has given me the single best gift any mother could ever hope for and that is to not shut me out. I have been allowed to be presently present in her life. I suppose I will need to ship those chocolate chip cookies to her at college for a while. One more year, sweet Cricket, one more year. 
Walking Through the Last of All the Firsts | Duluth Moms Blog

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