With daughters nearly 12 and 15, those “firsts” that were plentiful in their early years come fewer and farther between. But they still remain oh so sweet. This summer has had more than we expected, making it even better.
With my oldest, I was so typical in anxiously awaiting her firsts. When would she first laugh, first crawl? What would be her first word? More seasoned the second time around, I just wanted time to slow down with my younger daughter, wanting to savor her journey just a little bit longer.
The last time I cried about a first was when my youngest raised her hand on her first day of kindergarten, eager to participate. I walked away, assured that she was fine, and then almost ran to my car to keep the tears from falling in public. I had not been prepared for it, but I was overcome with the knowledge that she was growing up on me.
We’ve been deep in the middle of the school-age years ever since, dealing with the homework, the after-school programs, the vacations. I’ve answered the “What’s for dinner?” question every night for the last two thousand plus nights. We’ve had dozens of award ceremonies and holiday celebrations and parent teacher conferences.
Last summer, we were getting ready for my oldest’s first year of high school and my youngest daughter’s first year of middle school. That, I thought, would be the last “first” until we came to driving.
This summer, we’re all in a musical together…for the first time as a whole family. And this weekend, my youngest daughter had her first costume fitting (our first family costume fitting, making it more fun for all of us), and the girls got their first contact lenses.
Don’t worry, I didn’t cry and embarrass the girls! But I did try to let the moment sink in, and realize that there are still so many unexpected firsts and joys that come with parenting, long after the diapers are gone.
I’m pleasantly surprised to say that, even with all the new challenges, parenting still gets better every year.
April McCaffery is the single mom to two daughters.