Technically, I have a toddler. He will turn three this fall. That is smack in the middle of toddlerhood by most people’s standards. And, in many ways by my own as well. But, there are still moments I look at him or hold him and I still know he is a baby.
I frequently fear that the next time I look at him I will fully have a little boy and any traces of my sweet baby that exist today will be gone. It feels like we are a ball bouncing back and forth between babyhood and boyhood (this is probably why the experts dedicated “toddlerhood” to this phase). Each day I see more and more boy than baby. But, every now and then, there is a soft reminder that there is still a sweet baby inside him.
In my house, there is a big boy bed in what used to be my son’s nursery. On it lies a regular sized pillow and a comforter. This makes me remember that just a couple months ago we would have to go in his room in the middle of the night because he woke up cold and didn’t know how to get his covers back on. We don’t anymore. As I watch him sleep some nights, his little hands and fingers poke out from under his blanket to pull his covers to his neck and he snuggles himself into his bed.
But, his soft, swaddle blanky is still snuggled to his chest, lovies sit on his bed and, every now and then, he needs momma’s middle-of-the-night cuddles.
Ninja Turtles, swords, super heroes and Legos have taken over my living room. Play fighting and wrestling are regular occurrences. There are boxes and drawers of dinosaurs, airplanes, and cars, too. Each has their own sound effects and movements that accompany his play. He imagines and creates his own story lines and often asks us to participate.
But, when I crawl down on the floor to join him he usually ends up curled in my lap.
Where diapers used to sit, there are big boy underwear. There is a potty chair that hangs from one of our toilets and a stool that sits in front of it because he likes to stand “like daddy.” His changing table is now simply a dresser.
But, but next to the dresser sits the chair Seano and I spent many nights rocking our baby to sleep. As we read in the chair before bed each night, he curls into my body and, every now and then, lets me rock him to sleep.
There are words that amaze me and sentences so long and articulate that I stare at my son wondering, “where in the heck did you learn to talk like that?” I think, “I certainly didn’t teach you.” Then, I remember, his dad and I have been talking to him, reading to him, and teaching him since before he was born so we probably did have a hand in all of his growth. 😉
But, there are also meltdowns because he can’t quite figure out what he is feeling or needs. As he works through this, there are times where he’s just sad and needs his mommy or daddy.
“I can do it myself,” is the most common phrase we hear. What do two very independent people create when they conceive a baby? A free thinking child with an unprecedented amount of stubbornness.
But, then there are sweet, pouty lips and puppy-dog eyes when he comes back and says, “Mommy, please help me.”
He climbs anything he can get a good hold on to pull himself up. He sees tables, counters, rocks, cars and so many other not-meant-for-climbing items as jungle gyms. We tell him no and he finds something more appropriate to tackle for his next ascension.
But, then he asks for boo boo kisses when he doesn’t make it quite to the top without falling or scraping a knee or hand.
Man, I struggle to get a hold of this growing up stuff. I’m in a constant orbit of being excited for what’s to come, proud of what he’s accomplishing, and wanting to hang on to my little baby. Maybe I will see him as my baby forever. When he towers over me, when he’s fully capable of taking care of himself, and when he has children of his own, I imagine, there will be some part of me that will still see my baby.
How are you managing the change from baby to little boy? Does anyone else have this same mix of emotions as their kids are growing up?
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