The monopoly of the “first”

Time for a confession, friends: my name is Shannon, and I am addicted to first times.

I feel safe betting every future cup of coffee I may never get to drink that I am not the only one. I am practically obsessed with firsts – first smile, first word, first steps, first trip to the zoo…

Ha. If you thought this post was going somewhere else then let me welcome you to the Parent Zone. Door’s that way if something suddenly came up, grab some whole-grain Goldfish on your way out.

Anyway, where was I? The monopoly of the “first”.

On Monday I had the chance to go to a great presentation about building multi-ethnic, economically diverse churches. Now that Zara is two months old I’m refocusing heavily on my call to ministry and taking every opportunity I can to learn and meet others, and this was the perfect follow-up to a workshop I did right before she was born. Arthur, of course, is entirely too active to sit anywhere for longer than 10 minutes – let alone for six hours. And, given that he doesn’t still nurse it would be…somewhat less than appropriate for me to hook him on the way I can Zara. #understatement

Fortunately, my in-laws were free and, as is usually the case, more than happy to have a play day with their oldest grandbaby. My mother-in-law and I spent Sunday afternoon coordinating drop-off times and dinner plans over text…and then it happened.

She asked to take him to the pumpkin patch.

Arthur’s never been to the pumpkin patch.

pearl clutching firstThis was a tough moment. On the one hand, my MIL made a perfectly reasonable request. The weather was supposed to be good, Arthur would certainly enjoy the pumpkin patch, and there was no good reason to say no.

Buuuuuut, I whined mostly to myself (and yes, to Brian), I wanna take him there first! Insert foot-stamping as appropriate.

Our children have so many first experiences in the first year or two of their lives, and indeed throughout. As they get older, though, we can’t (and for many, shouldn’t) be there to share them. With Arthur especially, I was around for some but since I was working during his infancy I know there are things he did with someone else watching first – even if my Grammy was tactful enough not to tell me. I’ve been telling Brian since mid-July that I wanted to take Arthur to pick out pumpkins since he’s old enough to get something out of it now, and however unreasonable it was I worried about the sense of loss I would feel by not getting to take him for his Very First Time (TM).

My MIL didn’t know any of this, of course, and wouldn’t have made the suggestion if she did. So my choices were A) share my neurosis and request that she change her plans, which would probably cause some hurt feelings; B) go along with it and seethe silently to myself (and not-so-silently to Brian); or C) get over myself and be happy that Arthur would get to have a fun afternoon with people who love him almost as much as I do.

In case you wondered, he had a great time. And now I know he’ll enjoy himself when we take him ourselves!

In the course of what was actually only a 90-second conversation with Brian, I realized that I need to let go of the monopoly on their first times. There are some that really and truly matter to me, and I can speak up for those as needed, but sharing the others with grace just makes room for even more joy – and even more firsts. In that little moment of grace, I remembered above all to be grateful for all the love in our family…definitely not for the first time.