Freddy will be one years old in less than a month. ‘Time flies’ or ‘Time slow down’ is what everyone says, and what I also now say. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since this little ball of personality and energy entered our lives, and I asked a friend the other day where all the time went. A lot of tears, ugly crying, worrying, joy, love, and giving into motherhood is where it went.
I’ve been thinking a lot about milestones – there are many in the first year. Freddy recently had his 10-month development check with his Health Visitor and it was boring and routine and absolutely fine, much to my relief given the angst within my motherhood community about it. His development is ‘appropriate for his age’ and I was told to carry on.
It reminded me of the early days, when the newness of the newborn was beginning to fade and amidst the midnight feedings, unexplainable crying, numerous nappy changes, and all-day napping that I would wish for him to smile, laugh, and engage. When those things emerged, I would wish for him to hold his head up, sit up, and play with toys. As those things emerged, I wished for him to eat real food, feed himself, hold his own cup, stand on his own, crawl, and enjoy books. And now I find myself wishing for him to walk, talk, wave, and run around on the jungle gym unaided.
These things are all milestones of sorts, and while I routinely remind myself to slow down, to enjoy this time while he’s little and needs me, to savour every cuddle and sloppy kiss, I still find myself wondering when he’s going to make the next step, literally and figuratively. I am certainly not alone in this. I’ve seen a pattern amongst friends and other mothers I know to eagerly await (sometimes maybe too desperately…me) for these developmental achievements.
“She’s already in 3-6 month clothes!”
“I think he’s saying Daddy already!”
“We really think he’s going to walk soon.”
“She can already clap and wave!”
I think back to that period where I was terribly concerned about Freddy being able to hold his head up so he could sit upright. I desperately wanted him to be off his back, sitting, and playing with all those colourful and noisy toys we’d purchased. I was getting bored and worried. I saw older children in restaurants and at the park and couldn’t wait for Freddy to be that big, too. Looking back, I’m annoyed with myself. Annoyed that I seem to have willed away that lovely time when he was chubby and sweet and immobile. Just a little baby doing what little babies do.
Let’s be honest though. It’s partly survival (“it will get easier/more fun”), partly self-affirmation (the baby is alive and well), and partly the pressure of being a parent in today’s childrearing society (tummy time, television, ‘breast is best’).
Now, in his last month of being my ‘baby’ before he becomes my ‘toddler’ (yes, I know, he will always be my baby. Cue Mariah Carey), I’m trying not to will him to walk, or wish he could wear those shoes that are too big, or play with pavement chalk (other than taste it and crawl away). They really are only little once and they really do grow so fast.