Day 1: Can smile at your mother-in-law even if she is sitting inexplicably close to your exposed nipples.
One month: Can embrace total inaction when faced with a daunting to-do list while having zero energy. There’s no end to how much you won’t get done when you’re too tired to do anything.
Two months: Can pee while wearing a sleeping baby in a public bathroom while not touching the toilet seat with more than 50% of your thigh skin.
Three months: Can operate the release mechanism of a nursing bra while not at all understanding the release mechanism of a nursing bra.
Four months: Can see yourself in the mirror and repeat “You are the parent now” and recognize that “you” means you, and not someone who lives inside your mirror and still feels like a child inside.
Five months: Can explore objects in many ways (shaking, banging, throwing, dropping) right when your baby is also reaching this milestone.
Six months: Can roll away from spouse and stay completely asleep while muttering “your turn” in a tone that is at the exact midpoint between pitiful and scary.
Seven months: Can transfer an object, in this case, your baby, from one hip to another as a disc slips from your back to a remote, off-site location.
Nine months: Can opt-out of onesie snaps, all three of them, all the time. You are wild and you are free and you are unbeholden to crotch snaps.
Eleven months: Can convince the baby you are reading him a board book when what you’re actually doing is talking to a friend while loudly, and a little uncontrollably, interjecting animal noises into all the conversational pauses.
Twelve months: Can understand the strings of syllables springing from your toddler’s mouth that are neither English nor not-English.
Fourteen months: Can accept your child’s wish to choke to death as manifested in his collection of tacks, watch screws, and the neighbor’s LEGO man hats because can you ever really have enough?
Sixteen months: Can yell “BE CAREFUL!” over and over again, but you do not. You understand that toddlers have an irrepressible need to climb to the highest point of any room and sit on all the air.
Eighteen months: Can wave “bye-bye” to the notion that you will ever locate a balance that feels right between “time working” versus “time being with your child,” and that maybe balance is for bridges and birds and buildings and, weirdly, a lot of things that start with the letter B.
Twenty months: Can manage not to make a mean face when the adoring couple at the park says their daughter is “41-months-old,” even though you’re pretty sure you didn’t ask to do mental math.
Twenty-two months: Can respond to your child’s endless stream of free-association while successfully having your own thought, even if it’s boring like, “We need bananas.”
Two years: Can stack a tower of blocks and see that the next block represents your child’s life, which is built on top of yours, and sometimes the foundation cracks, and sometimes everything comes tumbling down, and sometimes more than one person is crying.
Two and half years: Can pause long enough to appreciate that your child’s hair smells like sea salt, mixed with fresh apricots, mixed with mud.
Three years: Can watch your child walk away from you eagerly, with no apparent plans to turn back, and feel an emotion that, if it had a name, would be one of those long German words that slam seemingly opposite feelings against each other because what else are you going to call sorrowmixedwithrelieffeeling?
Four years: Can wake in the night because you think your child is calling for you, but it could also be your inner voice calling out for another child.
Five years and up: Can recognize that all your thoughts about raising children, what’s important and what’s not, are just synapses firing at random as you try, and fail, to find time for a sandwich.