You Celebrate Your Children’s Milestones – Do You Celebrate Yours?

Childhood is full of milestones. So many of the skills that we use every day are learned during those early years of development; reading, writing, walking, talking, all of these activities arrive with triumphant recognition by the parents. Growth charts on the wall mark the progression of height, and every school year now comes with some sort of ceremony to mark the rite of passage from one grade to the next. Each birthday is a chance to celebrate anew, and the seasons pass with acknowledgements regarding how far the children have progressed from the year before. But what about you?

Have you grown in the past year? Have you gotten better at anything? Have you accomplished anything important? And if so, did you mark the occasion the same way you would have if your child had done it? I hope so, but if you are anything like me, it’s possible that you might not have.

We are in the last days of 2015, heading into a new year and new adventures. As I look back over the past 12 months, I have a tendency, as a parent, to make a big deal out of my children’s milestones. Remember last year, when the kids were smaller? Remember when they couldn’t do this or that? Can’t you see the growing signs of maturity emerging? Isn’t it exciting? But I don’t go through the process for myself with the same level of detail. It’s as if my life has been swept aside for the lives of my children, and the things I do don’t matter so much anymore.

My wife finished grad school this year and got a master’s degree. I expanded my position at the church and oversaw the installation of a new A/V system (a project years in the undertaking) and also oversaw the installation of a new playground here at the co-op where I live (also a project years in the undertaking). I made some progress with my writing. I made some progress with my teaching. I have accomplished a lot of things in the past year, and yet it is tempting to not care about any of it. Even my birthdays seem less important now that I have so many of them. Kids’ birthdays are events; mine are notches lost amidst notches.

As I look back over the year, I realize that I need to look back further; I need to look back to my own childhood. I need to remember the sense of wonder and accomplishment I once felt as I reached new heights and learned new skills. I know so much more now than I did then. I can do things so much better. Why is it less exciting? I need to recapture some of that magical fire that has dimmed over time. And I think to do that, I need to start with simply recognizing the things I have done recently, and then I need to celebrate them. And so do you.

As we wind down our year, take a moment to think about who you are outside of parenting. And if you don’t have children, look at the things you have done and compare them to the first times you did them. Have you made progress? Are you better now than you were? Celebrate! And yes, keep looking forward and striving for better things. Just don’t forget to be happy with the steps along the way.

Posted in New Year, Parenting.

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