When my kids were babies, at almost every pediatrician appointment, I had to fill out one of those milestone checklists. Is he crawling? Yes! Is she saying 5 words? Absolutely! It’s nice and reassuring when professionals with expensive medical degrees tell you that your baby is doing what they are supposed to do.  

However, as a mom, and as my children grew, I thought there were some benchmarks that were missing. Don’t get me wrong – walking, talking, and using the potty are all good things, but man, it is awesome when they start doing things for themselves.

Parents need a break once in a while.  We need to rejoice in the little things that give us some more freedom to scan Facebook and play Candy Crush.  

Some of these milestones were big strides for my kids. A few just make my heart hurt.  Unlike those on the official developmental milestone charts, different accomplishments happen at different times for kids. Over the years, my children have taught me what growing up really looks like.

Blowing his or her nose with an actual tissue

Yelling “Go get a tissue!” means so much after having snot rubbed on your pant leg or shirt sleeve for years. When a child can blow out their own mucus without your help, it feels like there are just fewer germs on your person. When a bout of allergies racks my household, I just hand them a box of tissues and hope they won’t leave the discarded Kleenex on the kitchen table.

Sitting up in the bathtub long enough for me to clean the bathroom

The kids’ bathroom was so clean during the toddler stage. While my babies were in the tub, playing around, I was able to supervise them and clean the toilet at the same time. Those few minutes, dedicated to the chore, were like gold. Now that my kids are older, I don’t even go their bathroom to see how dirty it is. It’s an “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy.

Getting into his or her car seat without needing help to climb up or click the buckles

Trying to get the kids out of the house is hard. It’s slightly easier when they can get into the car and strap themselves in. I’m not sure how I will feel about the “Driving Themselves” milestone. I still have some time before that happens.

Wiping their own ass

After years and years of cleaning butts, a mom can rejoice when the little monsters start taking an interest in wiping themselves. This one was a big one for me. There was a time when I feared being called into a college dorm bathroom with, “Mom! I need to be wiped!”  

Saying “I love you.” Conversely, not wanting you to touch them ever again

Every parent longs for the day when they hear those three little words. After all the caring and nurturing, it’s the least our kids can do. It’s so sweet when they want to snuggle and shower you with praise.  “I love you, Mommy!” “You’re the best, mom!”

There comes another day, later on, when they don’t want to snuggle, let alone, touch their parents. The only time my older son lets me hug him is when he is sound asleep and doesn’t know I’m doing it. I try to sneak into his room at least once a week to cure my heartbreak.

Eating something other than chicken nuggets

My children are horrid eaters. I know I’m not alone in this struggle. We had to put butter on my son’s pizza for a while just so he would eat it. Going to a family picnic or a restaurant was a nightmare. I was overjoyed when both of them started eating the food I make for dinner. There are still chicken nuggets in the freezer. We just don’t buy them in bulk anymore.

Stop crying at drop off, (the kids and the parents)

Nothing in the whole world is sadder than the look on a little person’s face as their parent drives away from day care. It’s hard for the parent too. I can’t even count how many times I have lost it in the parking lot after drop off. Until, one day, your little person just says, “Bye Mom” and goes on their merry way to play with their friends. It is such a relief from the stress and guilt of leaving them.

Making their own breakfast and lunch

it is glorious to be able to sleep a bit longer on a Saturday morning.  An independent child, who takes it upon him or herself to make their own breakfast without waking the parents, is a gift from above. When hear my kids downstairs watching TV and shaking cereal into bowls, I smile and roll over for a few more winks of sleep.  

Weekday mornings, on the other hand, are crazy and exhausting. I have found it helpful to have my son pack his own lunch. This leaves me five more minutes to feed myself, which often gets overlooked.

Finding porn on YouTube

Yes, this will happen to you too. Gone are the days of catching your son with a worn looking Playboy from 1992. Now, the whole internet is out there, promoting all things pornographic. I spied my son watching a YouTube video entitled “Texts Sent to the Wrong People,” which highlighted individuals in various stages of undress, sexting inappropriate pictures to the wrong contacts, like their own mother. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, “Go talk to your Dad!” was all I said. 

Appreciate the things that I like

I’m a big reader. The day my son asked me to read him Harry Potter was one of the best days of my life. He was finally into things that I liked. I didn’t have to pretend to like Batman anymore. We had something in common.

I also celebrated when my daughter started liking the music I listen to. We learned all the words to the “Nashville Soundtrack”. I was so happy I didn’t have to sing “Let It Go” every night before bed. (Who am I kidding?! I love “Let It Go” too.)

I could probably come up with a hundred more, I also know that as my children grow, there will be new milestones that aren’t documented by developmental specialists. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t special to us.