By Leah Maxwell
We all know what’s on the traditional list of “it’s worth it” parenting moments -- those things that make up for the hard parts of raising children: your baby’s first smile, every time your toddler says “I love you,” the thrill of watching your child walk across the stage to accept a hard-earned diploma (even if it’s just for preschool graduation)... These milestones are all just as great as people tell you they will be, but did you know there’s also a secret list of unexpectedly awesome milestones that blow the others out of the water? Here are eight surprisingly gratifying moments of motherhood.
When your kid wakes up and serves himself cereal without waking you up. Bonus points if he can turn on the TV and navigate the program guide so you don’t have to crack an eyelid until you’re good and ready.
Image ©iStock.com/Oktay Ortakcioglu
Solo Bathroom Trips
When your kid can use the bathroom himself. If you think you’re off the hook for potty stuff as soon as your kid’s out of diapers, think again. The real triumph is when your kid tells you he has to go and all you do is say, “Great! Have fun!” No bribing, no hand-holding, no cheering, no wiping. Welcome to the other side.
Your Bathroom Essential
If you have newly “toilet independent” little ones at home, do everyone a favor and stock your bathrooms with Charmin Ultra Strong toilet paper.
Better Board Games
When your kid is old enough to play board games that don’t make you want to change your name and move out of state. I won’t call out a specific offender, but if you had to throw one game on the fire, that’s exactly the one I’m talking about.
Image ©iStock.com/Diane Labombarbe
When your kids rush to help each other when one of them gets hurt. Sure, they spend most of their time antagonizing each other, but the true test of their relationship -- and the real tearjerker for Mom -- is when they show they’ve got each other’s backs.
When your kid can puke in the toilet. If you’ve ever dealt with a sick toddler and The Bowl, you know how important a milestone this is. May we all get there sooner rather than later.
The Little Sherpa
When your kid is old enough to haul her own luggage through the airport and you don’t have to take a car seat or a diaper bag. Go ahead and strut your way to Gate 8B, mama; you’ve earned it!
When your kid learns to read by himself, especially if it means you never again have to force your way through the “favorite” books you’ve come to despise. (Now if only you didn’t have them memorized.)
An Extra Set of Hands
When your kid can play “gofer,” whether that means fetching the baby’s pacifier, bringing you a new roll of TP, or taking the car to pick up ketchup at the store. Here at last is that extra set of hands you’ve always wanted. Level up!
Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.
Image ©iStock.com/Cathy Yeulet