As Judah makes his way through the world – in a very literal sense, as he crawls, cruises and learns to walk – those baby steps take him off in new directions away from us as his parents. He’s off to explore his world and do things for himself. It’s a bittersweet part of motherhood – of parenthood, really. On the one hand, you’re proud of your child for their budding achievements but on the other hand, each step forward is another step farther away from the cuddly, snuggly days of babyhood.
Judah’s growing independence reveals to us just how fast our little one is growing up.
I remember all of the little milestones from before Judah was a year old: rolling over, sitting up, clapping, smiling and laughing. Since his first birthday, more milestones have come tumbling into our lives: words, crawling, cruising. It’s like there’s something new every day and we can hardly keep up.
We’ve noticed too, how once pleasantly easy mealtimes have become more of an engaging challenge for all of us: Judah wants to hold the spoon instead of us feeding him. He’ll drop food on the floor despite gently repeated “no’s” – he’ll even look you right in the eye when he does it! We know he’s finished with his sippy cup when we hear it clatter on the floor. Judah is making himself known and he’s got quite the personality: charming, sweet, easygoing, yes – but wildly stubborn, too. (Just like his mom.)
As Judah discovers, interprets, and processes his world, he’s coming more and more into his own. He is quite literally learning to speak for himself: to express his needs (baba, eat), his interests (hat, bubble), or his joys (Mama, Dada). It is genuinely fascinating to watch him grow into his own little person.
And yet at the same time, it’s hard to watch, too, knowing that the infant days are long gone. Before, we used to be able to rock him in our arms, placing him in his crib fast asleep. Now, we’re lucky if Judah will hold still for one minute during his bedtime routine. We put him to bed awake, but calm; we watch on our video baby monitor as he settles himself in for the night, usually clutching a stuffed animal. It’s as though he’s saying to us, “No need to rock me anymore, Mom and Dad; I’ve got this.”
Even though Judah still isn’t walking, we know it’ll be happening soon. He’ll desperately cling onto our hands as we practice walking with him but that it won’t be long now until we’ll be chasing after him. The last thing he’ll want to do is hold hands.
As a new mother, that thought is at once marvelous and conflicting.
I have to remember too, that as a new parent – and yes, because Judah is our first, it’s all still new – I’ve gained independence, too. From weaning to daycare to just learning how to be confident in what I’m doing and how I parent on a daily basis: my husband and I have found our own growing independence as new parents over these past thirteen and a half months.
Judah’s declaration of independence lies in every shout, giggle, smile, and step as he forges ahead into toddlerhood. And we proudly watch it all, ready to catch him when he falls, to kiss the scraped knee, to cuddle and snuggle and give kisses when he wants them.
No matter how independent he may be, we will always offer Judah our hands to help, to guide, to catch, to hold for every step he takes into his own.