Little baby cries on the floor of our small blue house. Trying to calm the tears of tummy time, I join her on the floor. This does not help and instead she firmly places her face into her mat and screams as if she has been abandoned to the elements and will never see her family again.
Deciding that this is enough, I scoop her up, my hand greeted with tears, spit up, and baby boogies, and place her in my lap. In the safety of her mama’s arms, she lets out a few sneezes and some excited coos as she flexes her fingers over my arm.
I had seen it coming. The numbers had been creeping upwards. Everyday the odometer was reaching for that next milestone. Today, my 2007 Toyota Corolla hit 100,000 miles.
The word milestone has an interesting origin. The term originally referred to actual stone markers used to indicate the distance traveled (mile) along a road. This practice dates back to the Roman Empire and today, we see this mile markers on major highways in the form of small signs along the guardrail.
The milestone marked the physical passage of distance and we use the same term to describe significant events in our lives. Birthdays, graduations, marriages, jobs, relocations, births are all important markers that punctuate our lives with before and after moments. The first job out of college reconciled my fears regarding employability with an English degree. The birth of our child changed our lives as we became parents. When we moved into our house, we had a distinct realization of the “before” and the “after.”
Instead of the passage of physical space, these milestones mark the passage of time. Depending on the speed at which we travel through life, we meet these milestones at different times. It took 11 years for my car to reach 100,000 miles. My first car–a 1998 Dodge Neon–didn’t make it past 92,000 miles before it succumbed to the rust caused by New England winters and road treatments.
But this is how life works. Sometimes, we hit milestones, and sometimes we miss them. Sometimes, we are in a place were we can pull over and take a picture or two.
There is an understanding within the general public that once you have a child, every concern, worry or overreaction is excused with a simple phrase, “It’s okay. She’s a new parent.”
New Parent Syndrome: The irrational sensation that now everything becomes a hazard, every sniffle is a reason to call the doctor and no one can care for your child like you can.
I think it is a very common feeling in the world of parenthood. I recently read an article about how parents are putting more and more pressure on themselves to be the best. Every birthday party needs to be Pinterest-ready, and every toddler needs to be reading, writing and thinking bigger thoughts than what snack they want to eat.
In our struggle to be the best, we struggle to just be.