We all enjoy celebrating baby and toddler milestones such as eating solid food (without spitting it back out), using the potty (without having an accident immediately beforehand) and sleeping through the night (without kicking a nearby parent in the groin). But we rarely celebrate parenting milestones with the same fanfare.
If any milestone is deserving of a page in a scrapbook, it’s the first time a parent sleeps for more than seven consecutive hours, whether that happens at night in a bed or face down in an office. So, why aren’t we celebrating such achievements? The first time you use the bathroom without interruption should be photographed and showcased as your Facebook profile picture. The best day of your life isn’t your wedding day anymore, it’s the day your kids went to sleep before 9:00 p.m. Celebrate!
Not all parenting milestones deserve a parade or even a golf clap, but no milestone should break a parent down to tears. Happy tears are usually appropriate, and every parent can sympathize with someone having a cathartic cry about the collective stress of parenting. But much like tripping over your feet on the sidewalk, even the most frustrating things can be quite funny. So, why not celebrate the frustrating milestones too with at least a chuckle, if not a full belly laugh?
Consider these 10 parenting milestones and why they should make you laugh instead of cry.
1. First time staying awake for 24 consecutive hours.
Reason to Cry: The night before, you were up 21 straight hours, and you can’t remember what day it is anymore.
Reason to Laugh: You tried staying awake all night at every sleepover you went to growing up, but you never came close to making it. Now you can tell all of your childhood friends at your next high school reunion that you finally did it. The only downside is that even though nobody could put your hand in a cup of water, you still ended up with urine on yourself.
2. First unscheduled doctor’s visit.
Reason to Cry: Your child is sick or hurting and that makes you feel even worse than he or she does. Furthermore, unscheduled visits to the doctor always seem to happen on the same day you were planning to leave for a vacation or on a day you really can’t miss work.
Reason to Laugh: The magazines in the waiting room are older than your children, who are handling the situation much better than you.
3. First accident during a diaper change.
Reason to Cry: There is something about the freedom of having a diaper taken off that makes babies want to urinate or worse as soon as their bottoms feel the open air. Unfortunately, that leaves you in the splash zone every time you change diapers, and nobody escapes splashes forever. Once soiled, it’s hard to forget where your hands have been the next time you eat — or the stains your shirt has absorbed the next time you wear it to the grocery store, the playground, or the mall to get a new shirt.
Reason to Laugh: Just like snowflakes, no two number twos are exactly alike in shape, density or color. If God does do humor, this may be the best example of it. Wear your homemade, formerly favorite shirt like it’s the parenting version of a tie-dye shirt.
4. First time stepping on a toy without waking the kids.
Reason to Cry: Like in an evil Toy Story plot, toys somehow locate themselves directly underneath the footsteps of parents, and when stepped upon, they can make you scream as if you just stepped on a plastic land mine.
Reason to Laugh: When you are able to swallow a nighttime scream that could wake every child within three blocks of your home, you are allowed to laugh at the idea of releasing it at the first sign of disrespect or lack of appreciation by your children.
5. First time cooking a meal with one hand.
Reason to Cry: Perhaps more than at any other time in the day, babies and toddlers want to be held as soon as their parents begin cooking dinner. Their hunger and overwhelming desire to be held means you often have no choice but to cook dinner with your baby or toddler in your arm. Making the situation worse is that you know, regardless of what you cook, that your kids aren’t going to eat it.
Reason to Laugh: If people really wanted to brag, they wouldn’t say they could do something with one hand tied behind their back. Too easy. A true expert can do something with one hand holding a screaming baby or kicking toddler. Parents, moms in particular, are true experts.
6. First time enjoying a cartoon.
Reason to Cry: You used to be a more qualified television critic than the people who judge the Emmys, but now you sometimes find yourself enjoying the last 10 minutes of a cartoon even though you’re the only person left in the room. Who have you become?
Reason to Laugh: You get HBO for free because you complained about the cable going out during an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, but you don’t have the time to watch HBO.
7. First time using your face as a landing pad for vomit.
Reason to Cry: The worst part isn’t getting thrown up on. It’s you knowing it will probably happen again and again and that you aren’t sleeping anytime soon. You might as well make a doctor’s appointment for yourself too.
Reason to Laugh: Nostalgia for the college parties you can’t completely remember.
8. First time standing throughout an dinner in a restaurant without eating.
Reason to Cry: You haven’t eaten since the day before and your friends and family side with the strangers sitting near your table. They would rather you stand hungry by the door with your crying child for an hour than have to eat in earshot of your children.
Reason to Laugh: Some people stand in line for days to buy a cell phone, which reminds you that you need to find where your toddler put your phone.
9. First time forgetting to bring snacks.
Reason to Cry: If kids ever sense a lull in their 24-hour cycle of entertainment, they will demand “snack!” and be inconsolable until their demand is met. These tantrums are worst when you are away from home and forgot to bring their tribute, particularly if you are on a long car ride, in a wedding or at a place you mistakenly thought would have food.
Reason to Laugh: You are getting the last laugh after warning your kids earlier that they would be hungry if they didn’t eat their food.
10. First time realizing you prefer a normal day with your family than a wild night with your friends.
Reason to Cry: Your single friends aren’t going to understand you or think you are cool anymore.
Reason to Laugh: As much stress as your family may give you, those are the people who make you happy. And taking your kids to the playground is much cheaper than going to a club with friends, even though the hangover in the morning may feel the same.