We made the decision to stop at two kids. With our eldest, every first was exciting and new and terrifying because those are the swings and roundabouts of parenthood – a mix of being thrilled and yet on edge as our children learn, grow, adapt, and find their running feet.
Those firsts in babyhood can take our breath away as they learn to shuffle, crawl, and walk. Then school creates more and more challenges for their little resilient minds, and we are brought through so many new firsts with them. We live in their fears, anxieties, worries, and their joys, cares, and happiness.
With a second child, a third or fourth, or that first child who is your first and final foray into consuming parenthood, those firsts will also become lasts. Yet, it can take us a while to realise that it will be the last time we will hold the fingers of our little one as they learn to grip the ground with their toes, that the first handprint will be the last first handprint, and that first day of school photo will be a last first photo.
It is wholly bittersweet when we realise those cherished moments will be tinged with a distinct melancholy as the evolution of our children’s lives turns out to be a lot quicker than we realised. Once they were babies and suddenly, they no longer need or want us to hold their hand or plait their hair.
How can we pause long enough to cherish all those firsts that will become a last?
Appreciate The Moments
Mindfulness has taught us to truly be in the moment rather than watching our lives through a distorted camera lens or filtered with intense background noise. Firsts can happen when you least expect them, but if you can appreciate the moment and truly attach to what’s happening, a first will live longer in your mind than any photo ever will.
Celebrate Those Small Moments
For many of us, some of those firsts have passed us by because we have been "too busy" or otherwise preoccupied. We can chastise ourselves for not "being there", but the truth is that we will miss some of those moments, and that’s okay. But that does not mean those firsts can’t be celebrated. Mark those moments, no matter how small, and know that with every first our child experiences, they are growing in a million and one ways.
Parenthood never truly ever ends, and we may think that the season of firsts sits heavily in early childhood, but think about the firsts your children will experience as an adult. Be thankful for every early moment, every teenage first that makes you worry but excited for them, the college degrees, apprenticeships, proposals, first keys, the first grandchild.