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Milestones: The Most Important, Difficult And Rewarding Part of Parenting

27 Dic 2013 – 03:41 PM EST

Thanks to social media, we’ve all used to capturing and sharing picture-perfect moments. And whether we realize it or not, these snapshots set up expectations for our own lives—especially when it comes to our kids’ milestones. In every feed there are pictures of friends’ children looking adorable and happy, celebrating this first or that special day. This was especially the case during back-to-school this year.

The flood of first-day photos had my friends clamoring for shots of my boys—after all, they were starting kindergarten. And I know just the iconic image they were expecting: an idyllic shot of two smiling kiddos ready to start their formal education. And I agree, a picture like that would have been great. But that totally wasn’t our reality.

The school had decided to separate the boys into different classes. In theory, I supported this decision. I want them to be close, and it’s amazing to think that they’ll always have a special bond that others can’t relate to, but I also want them to become their own people apart from their twin relationship. So yes, separate classes makes sense. In theory. Until the first day of school rolls around and the waterworks start. You see, the boys were not exactly on board with this plan.

We’re now a couple of months removed from that day and of course things have gotten better. (Just like I knew it would back in September but that was little consolation as I watched the boys struggle with separation anxiety.) Today, they still have their moments but mostly they’re adjusting as kids do. The first-day jitters was just one of many milestones to come and a learning experience—for them and for me.

How many more of these heart-wrenching moments lay ahead of us where I have to be the strong, sensible one on the outside while turning to jelly inside? How many more times when they’ll bounce back emotionally much quicker than I will? Many more, I know. We’re just getting started.

But along with the emotional scars, there’s pride too. Something that seemed completely overwhelming to them just a few short weeks ago is almost mastered. How cool is that? They’re so much stronger than they know. Let’s just hope this dad is too! Because we’ll have our share of picture-perfect moments, but I also know there are more tears, more jitters, and more growth ahead.

Which of your kids’ milestones have been the most emotional for you?