Missing a First
Yesterday I stood by, stunned, while my six-month-old figured out how to do a pull-up from sitting to standing, and then repeated the laborious task over and over until a series of grunts and squeals signaled total and complete exhaustion.
After my shock wore off it occurred to me that I might want to document this moment, it being one of those milestone Firsts and all. I scrambled to find my phone, knowing my partner would want to see evidence of this major accomplishment.
Chaos ensued: I tripped over god-only-knows-what strange device we call a “baby toy” (read: torture device) that has, along with it’s many friends, mobbed my house like the plague; further tweaked my already-tender lower back; and heard a dull thump as my offspring collapsed backwards, taking the standing device along, and landed with two plump legs wiggling uselessly from underneath the large oppressor.
With both of us sprawled out on the floor, bereft, robbed of both dignity and grace, I thought - now did I really need to go get my phone?
The truth is, similar to my partner, I am afraid of missing a First.
First Smile. First Laugh. First Word. First Book. First Roll. First Crawl. First Step. First Run. And that’s just the early stage. Then there’s First Day of School. First Winning Goal. First Spelling Bee. First School Play. First Cartwheel. First Bicycle Balance. First Time Feeding the Dog. The list goes on.
When it was time to for my partner and I to return to work after our child’s birth, I replayed the same nightmare over and over in my head: I would return home from work, racing to see my baby, only to hear that I had missed a major First. I could barely stand the excruciating thought of someone else relaying to me what my own child had accomplished that day.
If I was going to catch all of those moments, however, I’d have to say adios to my own life and hola to becoming a child stalker. Not exactly an ideal situation.
Instead, I’ve recently found comfort in the idea that most of these Firsts don’t happen out of nowhere; rather, they are a culmination of many similar attempts, each one closer than the one before.
Every day my child’s grip becomes stronger, the sitting position becomes straighter, the muscles more robust and the confidence greater. Every day, every moment, there is a new achievement, most of which we as parents aren’t even aware of because it is happening in the brain, the organs, the nerves.
There are a thousand Ba-Ba-Ba’s before MaMa, and really, those B’s sound like M’s anyway, and before Ba-Ba-Ba there was Bbbbbbb-Aaahhhh and before that, Aaaaaa and Ppffaassgghh.
It’s much more fluid than the baby industry would have us believe, with enough products on offer to commemorate each waking moment of your child that you’d need a separate apartment just to store the memories. We don’t need more items to temporarily rid of us the unnecessary guilt that’s often communicated to new parents who choose to have a life outside of children. The lives we have are largely what shape our children and inspire them to become writers, readers, doers, makers, believers.
I am going to miss many important moments in my child’s life (let’s be honest, I probably won’t be invited to the First Kiss). Instead of trying desperately to capture everything, I choose to observe the journey, forgive myself for the Firsts I miss, and continuing pursuing my own commitments.
And while I’m at it, I think I’ll take that attitude into my role as CFO, where it’s so easy to focus on the goal - passing a budget, building a reserve, managing our investments - while ignoring the process.
In reality, that moment when each board member votes to approve the budget, or we close the year with a comfortable reserve, or we discover that our investments have paid off, is just the frosting on a long and laborious process of grunts and squeals, and a lot of collapsing backwards as well.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!