We’ve Only Just Begun

So, I think I have an almost toddler. Is there a word for that? She’s not quite a toddler yet, because she is not exactly toddling around, but she’s certainly not an infant. Infants stay where you put them. And love to snuggle. Infants gaze adoringly up into your eyes as you cradle them in your arms, listening to your soft voice and drifting gently into sleep. I know this because I’m pretty sure Penny used to do these things. In fact, I am certain of it, as there is proof in the countless Facebook and Instagram pictures that are taking up loads of space on my phone.

As I was scrolling through photos my sister took of Penny from the last time she was here in December, I was shocked by how young Penny looked. She had a lot less hair for one thing. And a few less rolls. She had just been learning to sit up at the time, and could barely figure out how to use the new toys she had just gotten for Christmas.

Now, at 10 and a half months, Penny catches a glimpse of those very toys and takes off toward them in her ever so unique (yet quite effective) style that I like to refer to as the “one-legged crawl.” Dragging her right leg behind her, she moves those arms and left leg in perfect precision and gets to her destination in record time. Heaven help he who try to stop her in her tracks and steal a quick kiss. There will be protests. But when will that scrunched up, gummy cry face ever stop being cute? Maybe when she’s an actual toddler and throws her first tantrum. We shall see. But maybe when she’s a toddler she will once again like snuggling with mom and dad before bed. Because right now, there’s no snuggling. There is sitting upright, refusing to lay back into that once so comfy crook of the arm, instead trying desperately to grasp for anything within reach until she is finally plopped into her crib to fend for herself among a sea of pacifiers and Roger bunny. Sigh. I’m only a little bitter.

However, as I mourn the loss of infanthood, I am embracing the impending arrival of toddlerdom with open arms. How many times will I get excited when I ask for a toy Penny is holding and she hands it me with the most prideful of smiles? Or laugh when I ask if she wants some more food or water and she flaps her arms excitedly and says “Yeah!” (I swear, it really sounds like she’s saying yeah! …Ok, more like “Hahhhh.” But close!) Or feel proud when I tell her not to touch the cord/dvd player/something she shouldn’t be touching and she looks at me in surprise, then slowly backs away and goes for something else instead? (Clearly this is proof that I will have a perfectly behaved child who always does what she is told without protest, no?) How many times will I be shocked by how quickly she can cross a room when I turn my head for half a second?  Or feel my heart melt when I go to get her from her bed after a nap and she waves hello to me? Many more, I am sure.

There are times when I feel like a seasoned pro who really knows her stuff. After all, I braved the time of frequent nighttime feedings. I mastered the swaddle and the hip sway. I survived the sleep regression of 4 months, and the reinsert pacifier every hour crisis of 6 months. I can get out of the house in under ten minutes, and I usually only forgot one or two necessary items!

And then I realize, it’s only just beginning. And I actually know nothing. But one day I will know something…only to feel like I know nothing again. And such is the life of a parent.

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