Milestones rarely creep up on mothers. Instead we are prone to urging them on, to lying on beds facing our red-faced infants, cajoling them to roll over; to plopping wriggling toddlers on potties and sweet-talking them into being big girls and boys.
These are the milestones you read about in the parenting books and search for on the Internet. These are the milestones which we celebrate.
Then there are those that sneak up on us.
You’re lying bed one night, reading yourself to sleep, when a voice calls down the hall, “Moooooom.”
“What honey,” you call back, or, if it’s particularly late and you’ve answered similar shouts already, maybe it’s just, “What?”
There’s a back and forth, maybe it’s about creepy shadows or just how to pronounce a word in the book they’re reading in their own bid to fall asleep.
It isn’t until you’ve both settled back in bed that it hits you. She didn’t call for “Mommy.” She called for “Mom.”
A subtle change.
One you’re not ready for.
Little girls have mommies, have women who help them zip their pants and cut up their food. Little girls have mommies who tuck them in at night and read them stories with all the voices. Little girls have mommies who can fix everything that is broken.
Big girls don’t have mommies. They have moms.
They have women who buy their clothes, but only after checking to make sure “this shirt is OK, right?”
They have women who tuck them in at night but aren’t needed to read stories because, “Mom, I’m on chapter 12 already, and you wouldn’t know what’s going on.” They have women who can leave the food whole but sometimes cut their grilled cheese into small triangles just for old time’s sake.
They have women who would cuddle them closer if they weren’t so darn big.
They have moms.
And it happens in just a moment, when you aren’t looking, without any urging at all.
Because this is motherhood … to push our kids to talk. To walk. To hurry up.
To slow down.
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