Today my oldest daughter turns 5. I have no idea how that happened! Just yesterday she was a precious newborn baby. Sitting at the computer last night I took a trip down memory lane and looked through five years worth of pictures. We had captured all the big milestones: first bath, first time sitting up, crawling, eating solid foods, walking, first Christmas and first birthday. What stuck out at me the most and made me a big mushy pile of nostalgia were the more subtle firsts. The changes and milestones that happen more gradually and more subtly, which as a parent, you might not cognitively recognize in the moment. Here are five fantastic (and more subtle) firsts from my daughter’s first five years.

1- New Titles

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My daughter was the first grandchild to be born (on either side of our family). Her arrival sparked a chain reaction of title changes. On this day five years ago we were too caught up in oogling the ten precious fingers and toes, and the cute little face that we were seeing for the first time. While all this excitement was going on, I had taken on a new title; for the first time, I was a Mother, my husband a Father, on that same day four new Grandparents were born, along with an Aunt, Uncle and an Aunnie.

2- First Love of a Pet

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As my daughter grew into an active one-year old it was easy to spot how loving and social she was with those who were closest to her. What I was slower to recognize was the love that she had for our cat, Reese. Reese was her first pet, and watching her love, nurture and care for him was a beautiful thing. Reese passed away over two years ago, and it breaks my heart every time she mentions how much she misses him.

3- First Friend

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As a toddler Parker was outgoing and social, she loved her friends and teachers at school. She happily interacted with everyone and anyone she met. Her first partner in crime, play date, and sleep over friend, ‘B’ will always have a special place in our hearts. Memories and pictures like these will certainly be pulled out on prom night, college graduation, and of course made into buttons for their bachelorette parties.

4- First Sister

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When Parker was nineteen months old her first sister was born. Up to that point in her life, everything revolved around Parker. I loved those first few months, watching Parker adjust, and understanding that she now shared her life with her new baby sister. Parker was nurturing, loving, helpful and protective. When her second sister was born, and Parker was almost four, she displayed the same, yet matured qualities. She truly is the ultimate double big sister.

5- First Day of Kindergarten

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The first day of kindergarten is a big deal. The first day of kindergarten is not a subtle milestone and it is not a gradual milestone, but the path each child takes getting there, is. On the first day of kindergarten I was extremely emotional. Reflecting back on Parker’s daycare experience and her two years of pre-k, I thought about all the people who taught Parker, loved her, cared for her, and made her laugh. Our whole family is blessed to have these amazing individuals in our lives.

Today, as Parker turns 5 I have tried to come to terms with the fact that my baby is growing into a big girl. As a busy, working mom I work extremely hard to capture all the big events, milestones and firsts that happen in my daughters lives. Going forward I will make a more concerted effort to keep my eye on the subtle changes, because sometimes those are the sweetest and most meaningful!

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