After watching and hearing about every baby we knew taking their first steps, O finally decided to join the pack. He’s on the high side of 15 months old and although he’s well within the range I was beginning to worry. Was I doing something wrong that was dissuading him from walking on his own? Was he too dependent on me? Was I not pushing him enough? But then, the other day, we were outside playing, he just let go of my hand and walked away from me, 12 steps. That’s right, twelve, just…boom, 12 steps!
This milestone, more than any other, has been bitter sweet, almost more on the bitter side even. I loved it when he rolled over-he was so cute! I was so proud when he started to crawl-wasn’t he getting strong! I was thrilled when he said his first word-wasn’t he so smart! But while I’m still really happy that he’s walking, it’s more relief than happy. He has finally moved up in the world from a crawler to a walker. So many people were asking about his walking it seemed that was all anyone cared about-I know this isn’t quite true. The questions always came with reassurances that he would take those first steps when he was ready and that as soon as he starts I would be wishing he was still crawling. I suspected that the delay had largely to do with the fact that you can’t drive cars and trains on the floor when you are walking upright so what was the point? And man that boy can really go on all fours! He’s like a tiny yet really noisy lightening bolt streaking across the floor.
But at the same time, it was so very sad. There is no longer a question, my baby boy cannot be considered a baby. He’s walking now, walking away from me on to bigger things. I understand and rationally know this isn’t exactly accurate. The first thing he did after he sat down was come crawling back to me with the biggest grin on his face that clearly said, “Did you see me mama?! I can do it all by myself!” He needed me to tell him he did a good job, that I saw him succeed, that it was okay for him to start to take these steps on his own. He needed me to be supportive of this new independence that in my mind marked the end of babyhood. And as much as I want him to stay a baby forever, he can’t. I have to be okay with him letting go of my hand no matter how much I want to hold on and never let go.