A few weeks ago, I woke up with a snowflake stamped on my face. It wasn’t there when I went to bed. I freaked because I thought I had ring worm, then saw it for what it was, and thought, “Well, that’s a first.”
We celebrate and document our children’s firsts. From steps to lost teeth, we have videos and pictures (and boxes of teeth) to memorialize each milestone. As moms, we do all we can to keep memories of our children fresh in our minds. But what about our firsts? Moms of all stages can attest to the constant barrage of newness, so here’s to a few motherhood firsts.
Do you remember the first time you wore poop? (That may be the first time someone has asked you that question!) I do. It was my initial outing after having my first child, no baby attached to my boob, fresh clothing, sunshine. Then it hit me — that wave of unmistakable odor. I began to hunt it down like a hound, sniffing around the car with my nose to the seats. How could the smell be everywhere? Then a quick glance in the mirror revealed the culprit. Right there, on the shoulder of my sky-blue tee, lay the yellow mustard marks of a newborn. Guess what? I kept driving. At some point in this journey, you choose to just let the chips (or other things) fall where they may.
I once bathed my child in the sink at JC Penney. She had been in the mall play area for all of 30 seconds when a fellow playmate threw up all over the front of her. Even though she was two, I fit as much of her in that sink as I could. After a proper cleansing (and a dousing of holy water) I loaded her, half naked, into a mall-provided fire engine stroller and wheeled her around as I scoured clearance for a new shirt.
Not all of motherhood’s firsts involve bodily fluids (most of them do, but not all). The first time I saw my oldest daughter, she was dangling above me and a blue curtain. Her tiny, purple face was covered in goop (that’s the medical term for it), and I swear I could have fit a Texas grapefruit in her wide open, screaming mouth. You know what I thought? I thought, “Oh my gosh, my baby’s ugly!” Then I cried tears of shame because obviously I had already failed at motherhood. Don’t worry; they brought her around to me, and my whole world melted over her perfection, but my first moment of genuine motherhood was spent believing I had birthed E.T.
Falling in love with a stranger was one of the most surprising firsts. The moment those lines (plural because I took 10 tests) turned blue, I felt love like I have never known. So tiny, only a microscope could have made her visible to me — but I loved her, this life that was rapidly taking over mine. Only better was watching my husband fall in love with our daughter for the first time. On the morning of her birth, he cradled her in his strong arms and bent over her, softly calling to her, “E.T. phone home.” (Just kidding.) He sat for hours staring into her face, repeating her name as if the very sound of it would make her more real.
First times can be painful. My daughter yelled at me recently, “You’re the worst mom ever!” It didn’t sting because I knew she was just expressing her anger, but when her younger sister repeated it, my heart shattered. Her big sister was using her words as a weapon, knowingly wielding them. She, however, didn’t yet understand the power of words, and just took what her older sister said to be true. Our first time facing verbal conflict flowed into a first-time conversation about our influence over other people, and my first time extending grace for my daughter’s personal attacks.
We grow with our children. Do not be fooled into believing that parenthood came to you because you have “arrived.” My daughter’s first day of kindergarten was the first day I learned I could do hard things (and the first time I realized why the pick-up line is the bane of human existence). I am 32 years old and my firsts are still piling up. I plan to memorialize them in my own way. Few may appear on social media, but others I will tuck away as reminders of my life’s fullness. In the end, my firsts will define where I end up, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.