I like to be prepared. When I was pregnant, I kept “Things to Expect When You’re Expecting” close to my bedside, religiously reading each chapter as the weeks progressed. Then when Dylan came, “What to Expect the First Year” was my new point of reference. And yet still, the most valuable parenting lessons I’ve learned have been on the job. Nothing and no one can prepare a first timer for the ups and downs that earmark the actual parenting experience. And just as I was getting the hang of taking care of this here baby, he transformed into a full-fledged toddler.
Though the toddler may resemble that little squishy baby parents have come to love, they are much more sophisticated and require much different care. And despite my incessant preparations, I have not prepared for this next chapter of development. I’m winging it. Which really means I have been babying Dylan and [kind of] holding him back. Solid foods? You mean chokables. Sippy cups? Bottle is King! Independence? How about holding mommy’s hand. So when I took Dylan to his 1 year check-up and his doctor was reading off the list of milestones to ascertain his progress, Dylan was on point. It was mom who was falling behind.
Dylan’s ready to walk, push the limits, explore, feed himself, and generally grow up. But mom? Not so much. It takes me back to the time he began holding his bottle on his own. I was thrilled and yet continued to hold it for him out of wanting to milk the babyhood bonding for all it was worth. I learned to let go but for Christ’s sake, I still swaddle the kid up for bed every night. So it’s time for me to bite the bullet, swallow the pill, and buckle down for the next set of “firsts” that I’ve been resisting. It’s time for mom to give Dylan space to foster his growth, his independence, and his curiosity. Because despite his age, intellect, and self-sufficiency, he will always be my baby, in the same way we’re all somebody’s baby. Ready or not, here he comes.