Since Nez was born, I’ve always been looking forward to the next stage. It’s in my DNA to get excited about the future and all of the possibilities it might hold, which at times keeps me from enjoying the now or living in the moment, but that conversation seems better suited for therapy than a blog post. The point is, I’ve said time and time again “I can’t wait until Nez can smile at us” or “I can’t wait until Nez can dance to music” or “I can’t wait until we can start feeding her solids,” each time imagining the joy that would come from seeing her interacting with us and the world in a new and deliberate way. ‘She’ll be more self-sufficient and we’ll have a better relationship’, I’d think to myself.
While I have a general idea of when certain developmental milestones are supposed to take place, I’m not someone that checks a book or blogs to make sure Nez is hitting those markers on schedule. I trust that she will, and figure that if she doesn’t, we can cross that bridge when we come to it. As far as I can tell, she’s been pretty by the book about picking up new skills like scooting, babbling, picking things up and putting them in her mouth, etc.. And each time she develops that new skill I’m amazed and excited, pulling out my phone to record and quickly upload it to our shared family folder in the sky.
What I failed to think about during my wistful moments of daydreaming is that with each new leap comes a new set of challenges and responsibilities. She began scooting weeks ago and now crawls with purpose and speed. How wonderful! Except she has a laser-like focus and determination to beeline towards the most dangerous spots in our house, like a cement fireplace surround with sharp edges or her insatiable desire to put all of Nuggy’s disgusting toys in her mouth even though I’ve spread out 4,000 of her own toys across the room. We say ‘No Thank You’ in a stern voice (our version of ‘DON’T DO THAT’) at least 50 times a day while picking her up and redirecting her towards her colorful blocks, only to repeat this scenario two minutes later.
She can feed herself the bottle now like a big girl, yet randomly decides she’s done and flips herself over on the couch before scooting feet first safely onto the ground. Yet as soon as I turned my back this morning in only a matter of seconds, she decided to go face first, falling off the couch and getting her first bruise.
Now that she can eat solids, we have to think about how to bring her little containers of purees with us out into the world so we aren’t once again homebound as we were when she napped once every two hours. Spoons, bibs, ice packs, puffs… the packing list has only grown and her diaper bag is only getting heavier. In the past week alone as we’ve tried to introduce small bites of roasted carrot or a cereal puff in an effort to teach her to chew with her four new teeth, she’s begun to choke, scaring the shit out of us before quickly dislodging the blockage on her own and asking for another bite.
All of this is to say that as much as I love seeing her accomplish new feats and grow into a fully functioning person, the level of attention and responsibility that’s added is anxiety-inducing in a way that differs from the newborn stage. I love seeing that she can crawl over to a new toy and entertain herself, or that she can track a squirrel running outside. I love that she can sit at the dinner table with us and enjoy her meal while we eat dinner, like a big happy family. As I write this I realize it’s actually forcing me to be more present and in the moment, because she doesn’t need to get another black eye on my watch…