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.
This evening I had the pleasure of cleaning up poopy bath water. Yes, O pooped in the tub. Thankfully he was done so it was just a matter of rinsing him off before the poop spread to all areas of the tub. However, I then had to scrub down not only the tub and the bath mat but all one million of his bath toys. Why does he have a million bath toys?!! Yeah, that was not fun. I know I change poopy diapers most days, I even have a dog and have no problem picking up her poop. This was extra gross to me. And extra smelly for some reason too. I was near the top of my gross-o-meter. To make it just a little worse, we were about 90 minutes past bed time so I really just wanted to get him in bed so I could also go to bed. I definitely could have done without poopy bath water tonight.
O got to bed, the bathroom got cleaned and I finally sat down to do a quick phone check including a glance of Facebook. An article or ad came up about Mother’s Day which is next week. I’ve been in a reflective mood in the past few days so of course I thought about the end of my day-poppy bath water.
Taking this one isolated incident of pure disgustingness and put it in context of the past year with my son, it really didn’t seem quite so bad. O had a bad bout of diarrhea in February. He would leak through diapers like he wasn’t wearing anything. Diarrhea on your lap is even worse than poopy bath water. He cut 8 teeth in 2 months, not just any teeth mind you, molars and canines. Also known as the most painful teeth to grow. I was waking up on average of 3-4 times to a crying, screaming, inconsolable almost 1 year old nearly every night. Poopy bath water isn’t nearly as awful as those 2 months either. We’ve for sure had our share of not awesome experiences: the time he fell off the bed, the time he nearly fell down a flight of stairs, the time he almost ate a handful of really dirty kitty litter.
Even with all this terribleness fresh in my mind, I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade any second of it if it meant I didn’t get to be the mother of my son. I am so very lucky. He is one amazingly great little guy and I tell him every day how I truly love being his mama. As I type, even 2 hours past bed time, he’s talking away in his room before he falls asleep. I imagine he’s telling his favorite toy, a stuffed Curious George sock monkey, about the day he had visiting his aunt and playing with Grandma and his cousins. And his pint size arms around my neck as he hugged me before I laid him down went so very perfect with the sweet double dimple smile as I tucked him in and said good night. If this is what I get in return, I’ll take poopy bath water over none at all any time.
Happy Mother’s Day to moms everywhere who suffer through most of the world’s most disgusting tasks all for the sake of their children. Most days they are worth it.