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Friday, August 28, 2009

A Bittersweet Symphony

I don't know what happened to my baby boy. One minute he was a helpless, snuggly little newborn in my arms, and the next, he's a full fledged toddler, asserting his independence at every chance.

In the past week, The Babe has had two huge milestones. It started with baby steps. He'd stand up and take a step, then down to his knees and crawling again. Then he'd take two or three steps. Then five, then ten, and now, no more than a week after those first steps, he's toddling all over the house. He's so proud of himself, too, which makes it all the cuter. He'll stand up, walk to me, and look up at me with laughter in his eyes. If he could talk, I know he'd say "Look at me, Mom! Look what I can do!"

The other milestone has to do with sleep. Not sleeping through the night - he's been doing that for some time now. His new trick is rejecting me entirely in order to sleep. For his entire life - almost a year now - he loved to be rocked and cuddled to sleep. He wouldn't go to sleep without his head on my shoulder. And I complained about it, cursing myself and my "damn attachment parenting ideals," and now I wish I would have appreciated it more because now, it seems, he prefers to be alone. I try to rock him to sleep when it's time, but instead of putting his head down on my shoulder, he arches his back and shrieks. So I put him down on the floor, and he toddles over to the couch, pulls down a pillow, lays his head on it, and falls asleep. On his own. Without me.

And that's not all. Now, instead of showing me he's tired, he just finds a comfy spot and falls asleep. Today he fell asleep on Beastie's new winter coat; she'd been trying it on and pretending to make a snowman, and I had neglected to put it away. Apparently the soft pink faux fur held some appeal, and he bear-walked over to it (he bear-walks when he's in a hurry), plunked his head down, and out he went. Without me.

Tonight, he came to me for a cuddle and a quick nurse, then scampered away and laid down on the couch. He sang to himself for a minute or two and then silence. Sleep. Without me.

He'll be a year old in just a week, and while I knew this independence was coming, I didn't expect it quite so soon. EJ was in preschool before she'd sleep on her own. Five was around two. Beastie still prefers to be rocked and cuddled 90% of the time.

I'm not surprised that he's walking. My kids all walk on the earlier side of normal. EJ took her first steps on her first birthday, Five was eleven months, Beastie was ten months and one day -so walking at just about one was completely expected. But going to sleep by himself? This has thrown me for a loop.

I know he will still need me many nights. I know, because he's my fourth baby, and all of my prior experience shows that even when children are sleeping independently, they still need their mothers from time to time. But its bittersweet, to see him growing from a tiny bundle of blue to a rough and tumble toddler. I swear to you, there is no way he's this big already. No way. Sometimes I really think I might have fallen into some sort of time warp, or maybe, this whole thing has been a dream. I think maybe I'll wake up in a few hours and he'll still be three months old, snuggled next to me in our wrap.

Maybe it would be easier if I wasn't pregnant. If I had non-pregnant hormones I could probably handle this much better. Instead, I find myself sobbing over his accomplishments and wondering where on earth the time has gone.

Looks like it's time to get him some walking shoes and a big boy bed. Sigh.


Witchy Mom's Homeschool said...

Just today we put our 2 year old in a "big boy" (toddler sized) bed, and then took his crib and gave it to our 4 month old daughter (who is moving up from the basinette). It's bittersweet, to be sure!

Evie and Chris' Mommy said...

I know how you feel my 30 month old daughter (my first born) won't let me do anything anymore. She throws a fit and yells, "NO, you do it, I do it myself!" I just wanna cry! Plus, there are things she just can't do yet! I have to sit back (as polietly as I can) and wait my turn! That is once she has tried and realized she needs my help!