Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Most Last Firsts

When I got married, I thought about all the “firsts” I’d now experienced for the last time. I’d had my last first date, my last first kiss, my last first impression of a potential significant other. And now that my husband and I have decided that our family is complete, I’m going through my last firsts with my children.

Even though Katie is not quite 5 months old, I’ve already had some last firsts: I’ve changed my last size 1 diaper, I’ve done my last breastfeeding, I’ve picked out my last newborn-sized baby outfit, I’ve seen my last first rolling over, I’ve seen my last first attempt at a crawl, and as of today I’ve fed my last first bite of solid food. Soon to come is the last first crawl, the last first step, the last first word. Before I know it, it’ll be my last first day at daycare, my last first day at school, my last first dropoff at college.

Firsts are exciting because they are so full of potential. The first date could turn out to be the beginning of an important relationship, the first kiss could turn out to be the most amazing kiss ever, the first step could lead to a career as an Olympic sprinter, the first day of school could start an education that ends with an M.D. or a Ph.D. The unknown is a completely blank slate. There’s a thrill in the unknown because it could turn out to be anything. The uncertainty leaves the possibility of both disaster and something fabulous.

But there’s a different kind of thrill in a last first. The comfort of the familiar, the known, the trusted. In a relationship, the excitement of the unknown in a first kiss is replaced with the comforting knowledge that the kiss will be welcomed and loved despite your garlic breath or smudged lipstick. The excitement of wondering whether the first “I love you” will be returned is replaced with the sweet knowledge that you are loved whether or not the “I love you” is spoken aloud. With children, each first moves their unseen potential closer to something tangible. The first step is a step toward independence from Mom and Dad. The first word is a step toward expressing the child’s thoughts and feelings to you and to the world. The first day of school is a step toward becoming a productive adult. The potential to become anything becomes slowly narrowed – but it is exciting because it means your child is becoming a unique individual with his or her own skills, preferences, and interests, unlike any other human being that has ever lived or will ever live.

And it doesn’t get any more exciting than that!

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