Both joy and sadness follow parenting milestones

There have been some major events in the Bardsley house. After months of work, my 4-year-old finished reading three full sets of “Bob Books,” the phonics series they sell at Costco.

We went out to lunch at the American Girl Bistro to celebrate. Afterward, we headed to swimming lessons at the Mountlake Terrace pool where finally (oh, finally!) she graduated from Tadpole to Seahorse.

As I sat on the bleachers watching my daughter dunk her head and speed underwater, I felt immense joy. But there was also a twinge of sadness.

My baby is no longer a baby. She’s a reader, a swimmer and a left-handed drawer of happy pictures that say M-O-M at the top, right next to the yellow sun. She can set the table, get out milk and pour her own bowl of cereal. Give her some gum and she’ll blow you a bubble.

The milestones are cruising by so fast, I’ve got whiplash. How did four years go by so quickly? Pretty soon I’ll be the mom driving after the school bus on my daughter’s first day of kindergarten. What will I do when I come home?

The other day we had friends over. They have an infant and I realized our whole house has turned into a baby danger zone.

We used to live in Fort Knox. Now we don’t even have a lock on the knife drawer. The only thing keeping my children from playing with steak knives is maturity — and I’m not even concerned!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m mighty glad to be done with wiping butts and unfolding strollers. No more 3 a.m. feedings for me. But it’s also hard to realize those days are gone forever.

Sleeping through the night, using the potty, riding a bike, walking home from school, driving, getting a job: All those accomplishments happen painfully slowly — until they don’t.

Right now my daughter is reading and swimming. Before I know it, she’ll be going gray and managing her 401(k). I just hope she picks out a nice retirement home for me.

My son is hitting milestones, too. The other day I was chauffeuring him in the car and he told me, “Mom! Guess what song this is!” He then proceeded to fart out “Ode to Joy” with his armpit.

Right now he has the most musical pits in the entire family. But before I know it, I bet my daughter will learn how to armpit fart, too.

At least she hasn’t mastered vowel-consonant-E words … yet. I still have that going for me. That’s why I’m spelling it. Later tonight we’re going out for some I-C-E C-R-E-A-M.

I only have 702 weekends with my daughter and 494 with my son before they head off to college. I want to make each Sunday count.

Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at teachingmybabytoread.com.

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