This week something magical happened. My baby walked.
Even more magical was the fact that we were all there to witness this miraculous milestone. During a 15-20 minute span Lola took several steps. Again. And again. “She’s walking,” Her big sister excitedly proclaimed! Lola’s face would light up and it seemed as soon as she realized what she was doing she would move faster and fall to the ground. Eventually she decided that she had had enough walking. After cruising around the ottoman she reverted back to crawling. Which is ok. Baby steps right?
When she took those steps a few things happened to me. I suddenly had this overwhelming desire to hold her in my arms. It felt like she was growing up at an even more rapid rate than before. That desire to press pause hit me. It is perplexing to think about how the school-aged version of my Lola is far away and yet so close. And then a small voice inside me told me to just take it in. To put the camera down and watch. I listened. We all sat there staring as she smiled, those tiny toes touching the ground and her little bottom and knees moments later hitting the mat that was beneath her. Each time she fell she would laugh and revert back to crawling. In her falls was a lesson to be learned, a lesson for her mama who sometimes struggles with the falls that happen in life, those adulthood falls always hurt a little bit.
Not once did she cry when she fell to the ground. She giggled, pulling joy from her plummet. She knew that she had achieved something no matter how many seconds it lasted. It seemed she was both excited and proud. And after finding herself on the ground she got up. Sometimes she tried to stand up other times she got on all fours and made her way to a stationary object in order to pull herself up. The point being that she got up.
In watching my baby engage in a milestone I dreamed of witnessing first hand I was reminded that in life sometimes you fall. But what matters most is what happens after you fall. What matters isn’t how you get up but that you do. It is a lesson that I hope to teach my baby as she grows older. As she tries new things only to learn that not everything will come that easy.
Perhaps I will remind her of the time long ago when she was learning to walk and how she took baby steps. I imagine I will tell her how it took time, how there were times when she would fall and be forced to get up as best she could. A time when she no longer looked to me or her daddy to pick her up but found the willpower to get up all on her own. A time when she kept at it knowing that with time and practice she will master yet another milestone.
Since then I’ve watched her even more intently. I’ve watched her become more courageous with each passing day. Letting go and moving more quickly, taking more steps and even clapping at her own success. And with each day I become a little more courageous too. Realizing that as she lets go a little bit I do too. I’m still working on that hold and release thing remembering to let go of her tiny hands long enough for her to stand, long enough for her to step and subsequently walk. I’m learning to give her a chance to experience what comes after the fall. A chance for her to get up and show herself that although she will be no stranger to challenges that come with life and coincidentally she will be no stranger to the overcoming of them either.
For now I relish in the fact that she takes her steps making her way to my arms or the arms of her daddy. They remain one of her favorite places. But I also relish in the fact that even now she is learning the value of perseverance. She is learning that a fall doesn’t have to be the end and that perhaps it can simply be seen as a chance to start again.
As I watch her it feels like each step is pure magic. A dance between gracefulness and imbalance. But equally magical is the in between. Those moments when she falls to the floor and looks up still smiling; contemplating her next move.
p.s. Here’s a short video of Lola taking some steps today.