The Dark Side of Childhood Milestones

Linda Sharps

Our household doesn't exactly have a fantastic track record with timely potty training. When I started the process with my youngest son, he initially showed the exact same lack of interest his older brother did, and I figured there was little chance of our diaper budget diminishing any time soon.

Then seemingly overnight he happily traded his Size 4 Cruisers for some ridiculously tiny boxer-briefs—and he's never looked back. As hard as it is to believe, I am officially past the diaper stage of parenthood.

Back when my oldest was a toddler and my youngest was a baby, I couldn't wait to be done with diapers. Sometimes it felt like that's all I did, all day long: change one kid, wipe someone else's butt, throw away a stinky diaper, remove someone else's diaper only to get pee in my eye, etc.

Now that we're here in this glorious diaper-free lifestyle, however, I kind of miss them.

The thing is, now I have to take the 3-year-old to the bathroom twenty million times a day, including the middle of the night. He can't really deal with his underwear yet, at least without some truly humorous and buttcheek-exposing results, so I usually have to help wrangle him in and out of his clothes. I still have to wipe his butt. And I have to be insanely careful with that 3-point carseat harness, now that there's no diaper padding in the crotch area.

I'm just saying, you don't know what guilt is until you've pinched the living hell out of a small child's nutsack.

The whole thing makes me think of the childhood milestones we look forward to, and how sometimes they aren't quite as awesome as we think they're going to be. For instance:

Solid foods. Aw, baby's first bite of rice cereal! So adorable! Such a big moment! Such a benign food item that marks the beginning of their bodily secretions permanently changing from "vaguely gross" to "dear god the carpet the walls my hand my hand MY HAND OH JUST BURN IT WITH FIRE."

Mobility. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I'm not appreciative of the good health that's allowed my children to grow from tiny stationary grubs to the galloping monsters they are today. Mobility is a good thing! Yay for mobility! HOWEVER. Every time I hear a new parent talking about how they can't wait for their baby to crawl/walk, I have to physically restrain myself from grabbing their shoulders and telling them to PRAY THEY HAVE A LATE CRAWLER. PRAAAAAAY. Once your kid can get from Point A to Point Pointy-Thing, it's all over. You can babyproof the shit out of your entire house and your inchworm child will still manage to find the one unsecured power cord and happily cram it in their slobber-hole. You'll run to the bathroom for exactly five seconds and when you come back out your kid will have discovered a permanent marker, a pair of kitchen shears, and possibly your vibrator.

Putting on their own shoes. Oh man, at first this seems so great—you can actually get ready to leave the house without tweaking your back bending over a child's feet. Then again, I hope you weren't planning on going anywhere any time soon, because your independent "I can do it!" kid is going to take approximately 27 ice ages to get those shoes on. First you'll have to remind him about fifty times—"Hey, hurry up and get your shoes on!" "Are your shoes on yet?" "HELLO. SHOES."— while he wanders around the living room getting distracted by Legos, and then he'll dreamily fool around with the velcro tabs for about half an hour, and finally he'll stand up and announce that he's ready and you'll look down and the shoes will be on the wrong feet.

In all seriousness, I can't believe how big my boys are getting and how quickly we've left babyhood behind. It's just amazing to think of everything that's already happened, and everything that's still ahead. What a privilege it is to bump along this parenting road, enjoying (and complaining about) all the milestones along the way.

Do you have any seemingly-great-until-they-happen milestones to add to the list?

Read More