Has anyone seen my baby?

I was in the library last week, and a mother I do not know saw R pull himself to standing.

“How old is he?” she asked, smiling as she offered the typical introductory question.
“Ten and a half months” I replied proudly as if his simply getting older is a personal accomlishment of mine.
“Oh wow, he’s advanced isnt he?”

Little did this stranger know how shocked I would be to hear those words. I literally had no reply as I objectively assessed my sons progress.

My boy is almost eleven months, and every day he discovers more about his world. Having not been able to see until five and a half months, and having leapt forward in all areas of his physical development in the last three months, he is very much in a ‘blink and you’l miss it’ stage of life. Every day I realise there is something new he can do, and every day he is struggling towards the next step. He was barely creeping before he was crawling, and barely standing before his new cruising trick, and I can see that letting go is only around the corner.

Hold on! Where’s my baby? Where’s the little snuffly thing that used to keep us up at night making random noises in his sleep? I think because of R’s eyesight or lack of, we experienced the newborn phase for longer than many other parents usually do. My baby was still lying on his back flailing arms and legs at 6 and a half months, when most others are sitting up and playing independently.

Maybe this is why I’m finding the last month or so, although exciting, a bit bewildering. After 9 months of endless worry and appointments, when people ask me how he is, I can finally say, (vision aside) amazing! That lady in the library was correct, he is in terms of his physical development (if not advanced) certainly not behind anymore for his age.

I am so incredibly proud of all that he has accomplished in his short life, and the perseverance which he approaches each new stage of his development. It’s almost as if he stays up all night practising, nonchalantly displaying his sitting up unaided in the morning as if he was born doing it. It appears to me that overnight he has changed from a completely dependent 7 month old newborn, to an incredibly independent, aware, and confident 11 month old toddler. The truth is he is still somewhere in between, not understanding a word that comes out of our mouths, but confident enough to try a quick taste of the radiator for funsies.

All I know is I cant take much credit for it. I’m just along for the ride. Watching my son who has already achieved so much, I can only pray that he can take this bravery, perseverance, curiosity and above all love for life, into his adulthood.

 

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Emerging Adulthood

Apparently there are now 5 key milestones identified by Sociologists which identify becoming an adult. Although there is a new trend of not reaching all (or in some cases any) of them by the age of 30 or even 40, I can say I’ve reached all of them. (round of applause?) Moved out of my childhood home? Financially Independent? Married? All at once by the age of 21. Finished my education? Sure. A parent.. Yes indeedy so I keep pinching myself to remind me.

So according to ‘Society’ I am an adult. Apparently I should be overjoyed. That’s it! My life is now mapped out ahead of me, I’ve made what’s said to be all my important decisions, and all before my mid twenties.. Well done me.

But have I? I mean, I got married. I made that decision, dont get me wrong, best decision ever. And with that came moving out, becoming financially independent, ie: our own wedding, our own rent, our own furniture, our own plates and towels, none of the monetary help that I slightly enviously observe many of my friends having. (Although we did find people being extraordinarily generous in terms of gifts)

I’m all for the joining of two people, financially as well as emotionally, and I’m definitely in the “whats mine is yours what’s yours is mine” camp, but I cant help but notice that I would never have done step C (finish my education) or step E (have a baby) without the incredible support of my husband. Or i may have done, but at the expense of step A and B (financial independence and moving out.)

Which leads me to think of my own parents. My mum for the most part raised my brothers alone, and in many ways me also. I can’t always say I’ve appreciated this, but by not far off the same age as I am now, she was alone, with two kids and a mortgage, having reached all those stages and then lost the one that holds my whole world together-the marriage. That above anything else, would (God forbid) send me running back home, unable to work, unable to be the mother I want to be, unable to get out of bed most likely.

My paternal grandmother was divorced with a child by the age of 19. One of 13 herself, I wonder how she managed to bring him up all alone, no hint of the influence of a father in my own dad’s life until he turned 62. (a story for another time perhaps.)

So yes, I’m past the stage of ’emerging adulthood,’ and I think I can take some credit for that. But it’s only through the grace of Hashem Himself, and the courage and strength of the truly adult women in my family who went through inimitable sacrifice to help me get to where I am today.