I knew that adopting older children meant missing out on some of our children’s early developmental milestones. That didn’t really bother me. By adopting older children, our kids were already walking, talking, sleeping through the night, and there was no need for nappies.
Back in December, at an expat mums’ Christmas lunch in Paris, I got talking to the mum sitting next to me. We exchanged the usual pleasantries: where we lived before Paris, how long were we were staying in Paris, could we speak French. Then we got talking about our kids.
She asked: “At what age did your children start speaking?”
I was floored. I don’t know.
Then it hit me. How many of our children’s early developmental milestones have I missed? And that got to me.
What have I missed out on? What am I not going to be able to tell my children?
- I don’t know when they first spoke
- I don’t know their first words
- I don’t know when they first got their baby teeth
- I don’t know when they started rolling over, hauling themselves up on furniture, taking their first steps
- We never celebrated their first birthday or first Christmas
And when it comes to baby pictures, all I have are two photocopied photos given to me by the children’s social worker.
But you know what? There is no point dwelling on the past. I can’t turn back the clock.
And maybe the older developmental milestones matter more
I can look forward.
We will be around for many more milestones. And over the past five years we have celebrated a lot:
- Meeting our kids’ for the first time
- Wonder Boy starting his new primary school
- Super Girl losing her first baby teeth
- Wonder Boy growing his first big teeth (he came with very few teeth)
- Super Girl learning to read
- Super Girl learning to write – we danced around the kitchen when she wrote her name for the first time!
- Super Girl learning to ride her big girl bike
- Super Girl’s very first day at school (I totally blubbed)
- Super Girl’s reception graduation
- Both kids learning to swim
- Both kids school Sports’ Day (I’m the crazy mum cheering wildly, and losing badly in the mums’ egg and spoon race)
- Wonder Boy learning his times tables to 12
- Wonder Boy devouring all seven Harry Potter books
- Wonder Boy thrashing Daddy at chess
- Wonder Boy and Super Girl learning to ski
- Both kids learning French
- Both kids speaking French (fluently)
- Both kids running rings around me in French
- Both kids first flight on an airplane
- Both kids living abroad
- Adopting our dog
And then, you blink and they are all grown-up
And soon, Wonder Boy will start high school, that brings a huge lump to my throat. This is a HUGE milestone. One milestone I won’t be missing!
Then he’ll become a teenager, transforming into another species, mute, attached to a phone, offering me nothing more than a cursory teenage grunt. I’m not sure I am ready for that, yet.