I once read a book by a woman who joked about the day she realized she had reached a new stage of parenting when all of her kids were able to get their shoes and jackets on themselves, get into the car and even buckle themselves in without her having to lift a finger. What a glorious day, she shared.

I have yet to reach that stage, however I have noticed a few others that have stuck out to me. One is the day I realized my heart wasn’t jumping out of my throat when my children came to a flight of stairs. I remember my usual response-all blood drained from my face as I unsuccessfully tried to stop the word “noooooooooooo!” coming from my lips so that I didn’t either startle them into losing their balance or send them into a gleeful defiant strut down the stairs as they grinned back at me. Both are old enough to either be able to quite quickly navigate up and down the stairs or to know that they aren’t as agile as the big kids running up and down and they need to take their time. Big moment in parenthood. HUGE.

There’s also the stage where my son discovered he has orifices on his body…..and that he can stick a finger in them……especially the one on his butt. Yes, that was my son. It was a new stage of parenting because he was still in diapers. When I tried to teach him we don’t stick our fingers down there because we might get poop on them, he thought that meant not to reach down until after I had wiped him. It took some effort on my part to break him of that. I am happy to say that stage is over.

I used to be the mom who was not allowed to sit down at a social gathering. Oh, how I longed to be able to sit and chat with the other moms as their kids ran and played. I, on the other hand, had to not just keep an eye on my 2 young ones who wanted to run around too, but follow them around to steer them away from the fire ant mounds and the road. Just a couple of days ago, I realized that stage is over. At a friend’s house with a few other families, I sat back and slowly smiled as I realized I had no idea exactly where my kids were….but I knew they were at least somewhat safe. I had it narrowed down to outside with the big kids or in the back bedroom with the other younger ones, but I had full confidence that the knowledge they had gleaned over their few short years on this earth was sinking in and they knew where the safe boundaries were. There was no guarantee they wouldn’t still get into fire ants (this is Florida after all), but at least they wouldn’t be actively seeking them out, thinking their hills were a small sandbox to play in.

This also brings us to the stage where my kids officially have dragon breath upon waking up. Gross.

This morning was another huge step for parenthood in our house. We had a special activity to head to and not enough time for me to help them with everything while also being able to shower and present myself to the world as half normal looking (and smelling after exercising). Get this-my kids, ages 2 and 4, finished their breakfast while I showered and put their dishes in the kitchen. My youngest even turned the TV off by himself (not a big moment for me, but he thought he was pretty darn smart). They then went and got dressed by themselves. My son, who is in the midst of potty training (fun times), even went to the bathroom without consulting me first. Granted he ended up peeing all over, but I’ll be darned if I don’t throw a party for his effort! His reward for using the toilet is looking at pictures on my phone and when I told him it was time to put the phone away, he promptly brought it to me and said he picked some music just for me. It just happened to be a song I really like. What a big sweetie. When I told my oldest it was time to brush her teeth, she set her marker down, came closer to me and said “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you, what did you say?” Ummmmm, who are you and what did you do with my daughter? As we walked out to the car, my son topped it all off by picking a little flower from our front walk way and handing it to me.

So I get that this new stage may not actually be a stage and maybe it will last just today, but y’all, this morning I saw a glimmer of hope that after the past 4.5 years of parenting, we may actually be raising kids that will in fact be able to take care of themselves one day. Glorious day.