I WILL Be There When She Walks (and Other Milestone Myths I Perpetuated)

This post is brought to you by the new Huggies Little Movers Plus Diapers, available only at Costco.

If you are a parent, you’ve witnessed the wonder of a milestone – the first tiny crooked smile, the “mamamama” blurted out to everyone’s surprise, the very moment you realize the baby is not in the exact spot you left him one little minute ago. Oh, and the first steps. The first off-balance, awkward steps when everybody in the room is wide-eyed and ready to cry or squeal or both.

That moment, and all the emotion that went with it, exploded in our home recently. The baby girl who I once said was trying to ninja-kick her way out of my womb was ready to walk far sooner than I was prepared for her to be mobile.

There she was in the middle of the living room, wearing a floppy hairband and three bracelets and her Huggies Little Movers Plus Diaper, standing tall(ish) and (sort of) steady, with her eyes on her brother across the room. If she fell or took a break mid-way, I reasoned, her tiny bum would be cushioned by the best diapers we’ve found for softness (oh, that baby skin) and absorbency (it’s the one-two punch of protection), thankfully available at a great value at Costco. No matter how adorably camera-ready and geared up she was to amble across the room that day, she didn’t. Why? Because I wasn’t there. No mommy, no milestone.

PHOTO CREDIT JESSICA ASHLEY

PHOTO CREDIT JESSICA ASHLEY

Let’s rewind a bit.

Years and years ago, I was a nanny to a tiny girl with big, baby doll eyes. On one of the 12-hour days I spent with the baby, her mother beamed, “She took her first steps last night!” And I beamed back, “That’s so great!” What her mom didn’t know— and I was sure to keep to myself — is that the tiny girl had really taken her first steps two weeks earlier when nobody but me was watching.

I knew then that the privilege of that moment and celebration didn’t belong to me and should be saved up for her parents. And it worked! So when I had my son a decade later and I began to see signs he’d soon take his own first steps, I didn’t dare let him out of my sight. NO ONE, I swore, would witness that moment before me. And somehow that worked, too!

Another decade later, my own baby girl was teetering toward that milestone. This time? I told the nanny and her grandmother that she would be taking her first steps with her family. And if she toddled toward them when we were not around? Please keep it mum for mum.

Always a blur. PHOTO CREDIT JESSICA ASHLEY

Always a blur.
PHOTO CREDIT JESSICA ASHLEY

The luck! It also worked. More or less. One day, my girl took a wobbly step. Then she took two. I wasn’t there, but my son squealed to tell me the big moment was going to come soon (wink, wink). A few days later, she toddled eight full steps right into her brother’s arms, and I got it all on video as proof that we were there, that we were witness to that one milestone.

If you’ve been there, cheering on those first steps, you know that one milestone skips quickly to the next, and soon your little one is running and screaming down the hall, climbing the bookshelves and leaping off of the slide, the couch, the countertops, any surface higher than her head. My daughter is doing many of those, sometimes faster than I keep up with my cheers and camera. Thank goodness her diapers are keeping up, with Double Grip Strips that move with her and keep her comfy during afternoons at the park, and a Trusted Leak Lock system that provides up to 12 hours of protection against leaks while she bounds toward the next milestone.

PHOTO CREDIT JESSICA ASHLEY

PHOTO CREDIT JESSICA ASHLEY

I try to remind myself that those milestones aren’t really one-time things—  they are the beginning of many times and even more milestones. Like putting on her own socks or peeing in the potty, reading a board book aloud on her own, walking to school, going to (gulp) college.

But before we fast-forward that far, we can take in those moments (because we WILL be there — right, babysitter? right, grandma?), reassured that they build on themselves, that they are not goodbyes to babyhood but more hellos to bigger and greater adventures.

This post originally appeared on Alpha Mom.