It’s a phenomenon I have yet to understand, how it seems the entire world is ready for your baby to grow up meanwhile here you are desperately clinching on to every ounce of babyhood that remains. It seemed almost as soon as my Lola turned one emails geared towards toddlers began filling my inbox: “All About Your Toddler This Week.” Toddler? But wait, she’s only 12 months she isn’t a toddler yet.
Nowadays it seems like toddlerhood comes more quickly than ever and while I am learning to see the beauty in my baby’s growth, that’s the thing – in my eyes, even at 13 months, she is still a baby. I look at photos of her and it is clear that the metamorphosis to toddlerhood has begun. Physically she’s changing. Developmentally she’s changing. A part of me is excited to watch as she continues to evolve into her own person. A part of me is in awe of how we got here so fast.
I see glimpses into toddlerhood all around, in the way her lips quiver and she cries when I utter the word “no” and the way she holds on tightly to her belongings until she is ready to share. I see it in her ability to mimic those around her whether it is blowing air, wiping her hands or copying a sound. I also see it in the way she leans over and gives me a kiss when I ask for one grinning all the while.
And that’s just it. Whether I’m ready or not, she is. My baby is ready to move on to what is next for her and it is my job to be there while she does. To clap with excitement at her accomplishments and kiss the ouches; to let her have some I can do it by myself moments because although she can’t quite form the words to say so, it is clear that she longs to do so many things on her own. But my job is to also be there when she seeks the comfort of her mama’s arms, when she longs to be rocked, soothed only by the sound of my voice. When her favorite place is nestled against my chest, our hearts beating on one accord. To be there when she longs for the things that are reminiscent of babyhood. Things that perhaps I have secretly been longing for too.
One day her baby signs and babbles and words will be replaced by phrases. One day there will be no denying that I am in fact the mother of a toddler. But today I rest in the in between. This space where my little one isn’t quite a toddler but less and less like a baby every day. Less like a baby and forever my baby.
Because I think that’s how it works. No matter how old they are or how big they get, they will always fit into our arms just perfectly. They will always be our babies.