As caregivers, we are always waiting for firsts, the first time our child sits up, first tooth, first step, first word and more. There are many milestones to celebrate in a child’s life. Witnessing a first is magical, the room grows a little bigger and brighter somehow after these moments. We celebrate them by letting family and friends know our child’s accomplishment.
Although we wait anxiously for firsts in our children’s lives, the moment of a first is not the moment that made the difference. It was the moments before that mattered. It was the hours Lavin spent teetering before he sat upright, having fine-tuned his muscles to hold his body up when seated. It was the repetition of blending letters into words that allowed my students to become readers. There was a process before the magic moment. It was the process of failed attempts, explanations, patience, gentle guidance, feedback, and love. Yet we give the moment of mastery all the glory.
I often daydream about all the skills Lavin will soon master. When he crawls we will have so much fun exploring the house, when he walks we will go all around the yard searching for treasures, when he talks he can finally share his beautiful ideas. All of these things are exciting to get carried away with. What I try to remember is the moments today are leading to these milestones. He isn’t going to remember the first steps or first words. He is going to remember our patient hands guiding him, the comfort we gave him when he stumbles, and the encouragement we offer when he stumbles. I hope he feels pride when he accomplishes all of the little, and big, things in life. But what I really want him to know deeply is that his family is here for him and there is so much joy in the space between accomplishments.
The joy between accomplishments is where most of our life occurs. Let’s remember it is not the moment of a first that makes the difference. It was all the love, work and thought that came before. It is the failing, struggling, and continual act of being present for a child that matters. We should still celebrate the event; the event still holds great power. However, let’s also take more pleasure in the process. That is where most of our time is spent and that is where our impact is made.
For today I will enjoy the process.