Ten years ago this month, I pushed an 8lb miniature human being out of my nether region. My husband described this feat as like watching someone you know, from out of nowhere, perform like an Olympic athlete (I’m guessing my labor was most akin to wrestling. Perhaps fencing…). And while I agree that any woman who goes through childbirth in all its iterations, does indeed perform an amazing feat, it’s nothing compared to what it takes to reach the milestone of parenting a child day-to-day for ten freaking years.
For proof, let’s just look at parenting by the numbers for some of the big milestone birthdays:
By age 1:
You’ll have done approximately 750 loads of laundry. Changed almost 4,000 diapers. Missed over 50 social events in order to stay at home with the baby. Lost 44 DAYS of sleep. Let me repeat that in case you fell asleep reading it: 44 DAYS of SLEEP!!!
By age 5 (I collected this data using highly scientific data collection methods. Trust me.):
You’ll have tried to put socks on your child over 1,800 times. Wait, let’s double that because- 2 feet. That’s 3,650 times you’ve tried to get your kid to hold still so you could help them put a sock on. When my kids were little this took me at least ten minutes every morning, so if I’m typing everything correctly in my calculator, that’s over 608 HOURS of sock application.
By age 10 (More data! Totally true!):
I have provided well over 10,000 meals to this kid. I spent 10 days in the hospital with her over the course of 4 separate events. I spent over 2,000 hours reading to her, including a LONG year where all she wanted to read were the Rainbow Magic Fairy books, so give me bonus points for my pain and suffering, and say I’ve read to this kid for over 4,000 hours. That’s 166 DAYS of wishing Jack Frost and his goblins could just once beat the fairies.
By age 18:
I will have spent $228,450 to raise this kid to adulthood. Being a parent is expensive!
See what I mean? Forget push presents or Mother’s Day, give yourself a pat on the back and demand high fives from your mom posse whenever you make it to a milestone birthday and throw yourself a party. Ok, maybe not an actual party because you’re already throwing your offspring a party and who wants to clean the house twice?
But you should look for ways to celebrate your year, decade, or quarter-century of parenting because you’re amazing.
Just in case you need some ideas, here is my list of how I’m celebrating Nell’s milestone: her 10th birthday.
- Look at baby pictures & maybe weep a little. How is it possible she was ever this little? There’s no way she ever fit inside of me. Her foot size is just one size away from my own now! Holy smokes, where did the time go? What happened to my baby? Etcetera etcetera.
- Drink some champagne. Being a mom for a decade is totally worth celebrating! I love this kid, & I love being her mom. She has made me the person I am today. ‘Nuff said. Cheers!
- Spend a day doing something I’m passionate about. I’m actually not spending my entire 10th anniversary as a parent with my 10-year-old. Instead, I’m teaching a playwriting workshop to some teenagers that day. I may have felt a small twinge when I told Nell what I would be doing on her big day, but the truth is, I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to do something I love. She may have felt a small twinge when I told her, but I hope that she gets the idea that sometimes as a mom, you follow your own passions. 10 years ago, I became a mom, but I didn’t stop becoming an artist.
- Tell every other mom friend I have who also has a kiddo turning 10 this year how awesome she looks. Seriously, there’s something about parenting for 10 years that makes us hot. We have a lot figured out by now. We get decent sleep, and our kids are starting to do more and more for themselves, which gives us time to wash our hair regularly and put on some lipstick.
- Make Nell do her own laundry. The time has come, Little Cupcake, for you to take care of your own dirty laundry. And be sure to wash that shirt of mine your borrowed last week. Welcome to double digits!
- Bake a cake and eat an extra slice after the kids are in bed. Of course, she’ll get all of the standard fun of celebrating her birthday with family and friends. But when Nell and her sister are tucked in their beds that night, I am going to eat a second slice and feel ZERO guilt over it because stretch marks.
- Drink some seltzers out of a can with Nell and then recycle the cans. A 10th anniversary is traditionally celebrated with gifts of tin/aluminum, after all, so I want to make sure I’m keeping up with that tradition.
- Start a mother-daughter journal. I feel pretty close to my kiddo now, but since I teach adolescent development, I know what’s coming next. Developmentally, it’s important for kids to separate from their parents- to strike out on their own- but to still feel like their folks are paying attention. I’m going to test out the journal and see if it helps us navigate the shoals of adolescence.
- Take BOTH of us to get manicures and pedicures. When Nell was in nursery school, her teacher led a parenting group one night and told us we didn’t have to give our kids everything they wanted. At the time, this was news to me. A decade out, I see the wisdom of making your kids wait for special things. I created a whole list of these things she could do and when, and she has survived the wait. The first on this list as finally arrived, and I think I’m as excited as she is to finally be able to wear nail polish. But if you’ve had to wait for something, I figure I should make it worthwhile, so we’re hitting a salon for the works.
- Get myself a new primary care doctor. My health is something I’ve been neglecting while taking care of everyone else. But as my own big milestone birthday approaches, it’s time I had a check-up.