Our Children’s Lasts: The Overlooked Moments We Should Cherish

My daughter was sick a few weeks ago and crawled into bed with us. The poor girl couldn’t breathe through her nose and wasn’t able to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. Of course, this meant that I couldn’t get comfortable enough to fall asleep. Despite being seven, my daughter still hasn’t fully grasped the concept of blowing her nose. So, as I laid in bed, rubbing her back to try to comfort her, my mind started wandering.

It’s dangerous when that happens.

My initial thoughts were on her comfort, and I started wishing for a Nose Frieda. If you don’t know what a Nose Frieda is, I highly recommend searching for one. It is both the most amazing and disgusting invention of the 21st century. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to remember when we last used it or even what happened to it. As the minutes passed by, other “last time” scenarios starting running through my mind. (I can’t be held accountable for the randomness of my thought process in the middle of the night.)

We always talk about our children’s “firsts,” but the “lasts” generally seem to slip through the cracks of our awareness.

This is completely understandable. Stress, anxiety, and sleep-deprivation rule the lives of parents during those first years.  

Remembering your child's lasts, not just their firsts

Since my daughter started school, though, I’ve become far more aware of all of the lasts. You see, I only have one child. This was a purposeful decision, and I am confident that it was the right decision for my family, but this doesn’t mean that I don’t get nostalgic. That I don’t get baby fever. That I don’t miss those sweet baby milestones. I’ve been so wrapped up in watching my daughter grow, learn, and achieve every new “first” that I completely forgot to cherish every “last.” 

All of her lasts are also my lasts.

Some of the lasts might not be something we really want to cherish, except that they mean the end of an era. Her last bottle meant that our daily feeding ritual of a bottle and snuggles ended. We still snuggle, of course, but snuggles are no longer a guaranteed part of our daily habit – especially since she always likes to be on the move!  I can’t remember when she had her last bottle. Her last diaper was a victory of epic proportions (OMG, potty training!), but her last diaper was another step on her road to autonomy. I can’t remember the last time she wore a diaper.

It is so easy to keep our focus on the firsts. We celebrate each first and then eagerly wait in anticipation of the next stage, the next step, or the next thing our children are going to do. We tend to forget about all of the things that they are not going to be doing anymore.

So, as I laid in bed with my sick daughter that night, I thought about her lasts–and realized I remembered nothing about them.

Her last bottle.

Her last night in her crib.

The last time I rocked her in her nursery rocker.

Her last night in footie pajamas.

The last time I had to help her down a slide or up a ladder at the playground.

Her last car ride in a rear-facing car seat.

The last time I helped feed her.

Her last stroller ride.

Her last onesie.

The last time I gave her a bath.

The last time I “wore” her.

Her last epic tantrum.

Her last nap.

Her last day at daycare.

There are lasts that haven’t happened yet (at least, I hope not), but I know they will happen eventually, and I’m not looking forward to that day.

The last time she asks to get in bed with me.

The last time I kiss her owies.

The last time she sits in my lap.

The last time she falls asleep in my arms.

The last time I read aloud to her or she reads aloud to me.

The last time she holds my hand in public.

The last time she lets me pick out her clothes.

The last time I tie her shoelaces.

The last time I will pick her up (the end is nigh with this one – sigh).

The last night she holds her Toppy bear tight in her arms as she sleeps.

celebrating your child's lasts, not just their firsts

Because our baby and toddler years are over, I’m trying to focus more on the present. On not only what the things are that my daughter is going to be doing in her life or what her next stage of life will bring, but also to celebrate the end of certain milestones. Even though the end of many of these milestones may make me sad, they deserve celebration nonetheless.

My little baby is no longer a baby. She is now a big (little) girl who is growing into the beautiful adult she will someday become. In a few years, she will be a tween, a teen, a college student, and someday, she may even be a mom herself.   

New firsts will always be just around the corner, but I need to remind myself not to let the lasts pass by unnoticed.


Caroline is an Arizona native who moved to Iowa in 2007 ‘for love.’ She and her husband live in Coralville with their 8-year-old daughter. Caroline works full-time at the University of Iowa and recently earned her MA in Higher Education Administration. Caroline is a self-taught sewer, fabric hoarder, Starbucks lover, wannabe graphic designer, and avid reader. Her greatest aspirations are to raise a kind, strong, and fearless girl and have a clean house.


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