For every first, there’s a last (and it can break your heart)

Milestones in our kids' lives aren't always cause for celebration, Dan van der Meer writes.

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It feels like only yesterday my wife and I were celebrating the avalanche of ‘firsts’ that come in the early months of parenthood – a first bath, first meal of “solids”, a first tooth and, eventually, a first step.

But the truth is that first step was taken by our firstborn more than 10 years ago, and now I’ve noticed that we’re either celebrating or commemorating the last of everything.

Our 10-year-old recently lost yet another tooth, and it struck me how it might actually be the last baby tooth she loses as she heads into the next phase of her development.

I’ve got to say, it got me a little down. My babies are growing up and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Of course, there are a few “lasts” that I have celebrated with open arms.

When it dawned on me that I had changed my last dirty nappy, that was a moment to enjoy!

When I realised that, barring illness, my kids will sleep through each and every night … man, that was a moment to savour.

And when I can get through a day at home without any crying occurring – at all – that will be an awesome day.

But as they grow older I’m also going to be losing “moments” with my kids that, quite frankly, I will miss incredibly.

There’ll come a time in the next few years when Christmas will change significantly around the house. No more elves and shelves, no more pics with Santa, no more milk and carrots on Christmas Eve for the big guy and his reindeer.

Same goes for Easter.

There’s also no doubt going to be a period of time where my kids won’t want to know me. I’ll be uncool, not funny, and literally an embarrassment to life itself.

The awkward teenage years are ahead … say it ain’t so!

“It struck me how it might actually be the last baby tooth she loses as she heads into the next phase of her development … I’ve got to say, it got me a little down.”

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve noticed how much more attention I pay to conversations with other blokes about their kids, now that I’ve got kids of my own.

And one thing I’ve notice a lot, from the many conversations I have with fellow fathers whose kids are a fair bit younger than mine (think 0-4 years), is how often I hear guys wishing their kids were that little bit older, so they could get a decent night’s sleep/stop changing nappies/get some more “us” time with their partner, etc.

I completely get that. Those first few years, especially with your first, are a time you can’t prepare for until you experience it.

But as tired as the cliché is, they really do grow up too fast.

I guess the point is that I think it’s a good tip to take a step back every few months or so and just enjoy your kids for what they are and what they bring to your life.

I know I didn’t do it enough and I’m trying to do it more often now as we enter the next chapter in our little family’s existence.

For every time a Facebook friend of mine posts an exciting announcement that a new bub has entered the world, I write the same three words each and every time.

“Enjoy every minute.”

As a parent, you really have to remember to do so because, before long, they’ll only be wanting to speak with you when they want to borrow the car/need some cash/move out of home.

Trust me, that moment will come soon enough.

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