I was obsessed with my daughter’s milestones. The first time she really smiled at me. The day she practiced harder than an Olympic gymnast at rolling over and I cheered to the point of embarrassment. I remember the exact outfit she wore when she first moved those chubby knees across the floor.
But, let’s be honest, as moms, we have those other milestones. The ones rarely discussed in everyday conversation, but we’ve all experienced them. The dirty, the awkward, the mortifying. We all have to go through them but we sure as hell can’t prepare for them. There’s a first time for everything, and maybe, like the first word, or first walk, it's time we start celebrating them.
1. The first boob slip
It happens to the even the most discreet of nursing moms. Whether you’re out at Olive Garden and your precious little whips her head around because she caught the enticing sight of yet another waiter walking by and you just took a bite of penne with your only free hand, or you walk out of the bedroom into a roomful of in-laws and you forget to slip your nursing tank back into place, it's inevitable.
2. The puke that just wouldn’t quit
We all know babies spit up. It’s normal and totally expected, and that’s why we register for lots of burp cloths. But no one tells you about the stomach emptying. The one where you swear you burped the baby enough, but he just upchucked all over you. And the couch. And your dog. And the carpet. And you don’t know where to start. Sometimes, it even continues for weeks and months, and they call it something cute, like “reflux.”
The doctor just cleared you. He deemed you healed and ready to roll and you have a partner that’s more than happy to oblige. But you would rather be puked on again by the baby than stick anything back in there. Once the “Stop! Wait! Hold on, go slower!” is over, you can secretly be proud you’re back in the game. It’s like when you lost your virginity—the anticipation is over.
4. The quick face lick
You have no wipes or napkins and your 9-month-old has banana smeared all over her adorable face. So, you lick it off. And never tell anyone.
And every mother will experience it. We will all face a situation where we will snarl and growl and do whatever it takes to shield our children.
5. The first time the bear within is unleashed
Let me first say, I’m a very passive person. Even a pushover at times. I hate conflict. That’s why I was so surprised when my Mama Bear fell out at a local indoor play area when I witnessed an older boy grabbing a toy away from my 15-month-old and shoving her roughly. I was there before I realized I had moved and snatched the toy back. “Don’t push her!” I said in a mom voice that would make my own mother proud. Maybe it wasn’t the most adult way to handle the situation, but it was the first time I realized how powerful that protective instinct is. And every mother will experience it. We will all face a situation where we will snarl and growl and do whatever it takes to shield our children.
6. The first time it doesn’t hurt to poop
Vaginal or C-section birth, that first time we poop is terrifying. But here’s something we all secretly breathe a sigh of relief for, but never tell anyone about: when we can poop without thinking we’re splitting in two all over again.
7. The first fever
I used to work as a triage nurse and dealt with phone calls all the time from parents of feverish kids. But the first time my daughter spiked one, I was all, “What do I do? Do I give ibuprofen? Someone hold me.” That first time your child gets sick is no man's land. Once you’ve come out on the other side, there should be a small amount of bragging rights allowed.
8. That first meltdown
It doesn’t even have to happen in public. It doesn’t have to involve throwing things. But I can bet most moms will remember that very first time their sweet infant uttered that piercing shriek and flared their arms because you took the power cord away and it made you stop in your tracks, wondering why they would even have an opinion at this age. Note: It will happen a lot sooner than you think it will.
9. That first time you realize you are their whole world
Caring for a child is exhausting and, most of the time, it’s a pretty thankless job. The first time my daughter looked up at me from in her crib and smiled—really, truly smiled at me—I realized all that nursing and burping and consoling wasn’t just for a boob-obsessed infant. I was her complete world, her source of happiness and comfort. That made it all worth it, a hundred times over.