The other day, my 5-year-old daughter told me she had a loose tooth. My heart started fluttering -- I wasn't ready for this milestone! -- and I jumped off my seat and ran to her to wiggle it. As it turned out, she didn't have a loose tooth at all, but rather was really hoping she might soon so she could get a visit from the tooth fairy. False alarm.
Sorry, honey, I told her, assuring her that 5 was still a bit young to lose a tooth and she would probably lose one in the next year; after all, it's genetic.
Then I realized I have no idea when I lost my first tooth. None. My mother died when I was 16 and took with her an army of knowledge I can't ever get back. My dad is great for some things, but remembering milestones? Not so much. A mom remembers, though. Sadly, I don't have the benefit of that advice, and since I know how it feels, I never want my kids to feel that. That's why I write everything down.
From the moment my children were born, I have been recording every little thing I think they might want to know. Pregnancies and labors can be genetic, too, so I would love for my daughter to know what mine were like in case I am not here to tell her. Here are some milestones all moms should be recording for their little ones in case, god forbid, they don't make it to see them grow up.
Take it from someone who has been there: Once that knowledge is gone, it's gone forever.
- Pregnancy and labor: My pregnancies were textbook simple like my mother's and my deliveries fast, easy, and natural. Since first-time mamas are often nervous, I want my daughter to have that genetic reassurance.
- Walking: Both of my kids were late walkers. My daughter walked at 15 months and my son at 18 months. I would have been spared a lot of grief and worry had someone reminded me that I, too, was a late walker. I only found this out when my kids were both well into running.
- Sleeping: My daughter slept through the night at six weeks, but my son took much (much!) longer. It would have been great to know what I did just for a frame of reference.
- Illnesses: What childhood illnesses did I have? Am I immune to things my kids get like fifth disease and other things or do I need to worry?
- Growth: When my daughter was a baby, she was vastly underweight, like in the second percentile. We were all very worried. I would have been saved a lot of worry to have a mom to reassure me that I was also an underweight baby and all would be OK. It was.
- Strange movements: My son and I both share a weird habit of tensing our muscles when we get excited, but right now, he also waves out his arms. His pediatrician says it's nothing to worry about and isn't a sign of anything, and I know I do it, too, but don't wave my arms anymore. I would love to know how my mom redirected me so I stopped. Or was it natural? I will never know.
- Thumb sucking: My 5-year-old still sucks her thumb and I know I did for even longer. I wonder how my mom got me to stop and I wish I had some memories of the techniques she used on me since it worked and I don't feel traumatized by it.
These are just a few of the milestones I am being sure to record. And the fact is, even if I am here -- and I hope I am -- I will likely forget so many little things that will be helpful to my kids when they have their first baby. After all, according to my mother-in-law, my husband walked at three months, talked at birth, and went to law school by age 3. So I am thinking this technique is useful for all moms, not just those who experience loss.
What milestones are you being sure to record?