Tuesday, May 4, 2010

338 days young

Today, I realized that in a mere 27 days my beautiful baby girl will be a year old. Of course, I am actually fully aware that her birthday is June 1st as I was obviously there for this miraculous occasion but to know that she is closer in age to actually being a year old...celebrating a birthday than just 3, 6 or even 9 months makes me sit back and reflect.

People always tell you when you are pregnant "The time will fly" or "Before you know it she (or he) will be in college" however hearing those things and experiencing them first hand..is slightly different. College is still a long way off, but if the next few years go by as fast or (gasp) faster than this one did, I will literally feel like I blinked and probably wonder where the years went. Perhaps that is why I treasure each and every moment with my precious baby girl.

11 months old is an amazing age! She is way past the point of just needing to be held and cuddled all of the time (although we still have our moments) and she is also much easier to communicate with these days than even a mere 3 months ago. Now when she wants or needs something she points or cries out in a way that we know to mean "bottle", "tired" or "play". She is very independent and does not like you to do anything for her and looks at you with a furrowed brow when you do. At the same time though, she loves to laugh - is such a happy baby and has the most amazing giggle of anyone that I know.

Our little one is learning new things each and every day and I love to sit and watch her just watching the world going on around her. For example, today was a gorgeous sunny day here in Chicago and she and I sat out on our patio where she sat in awe of the leaves blowing in the tree overhead. Every time the wind passed through them her little eyes got wide and she smiled and giggled in appreciation of both the sight and sound. She would then look at me, point up at the tree and say "Mama" as if to say "Look Mama, look...isn't it wonderful!"

Least that is what I tell myself that my genius 11 month old was trying to say to me :-)

Our little Monkey, as we have been calling her since before she was born is becoming quite the adventurer and getting into more and more mischief every day. Just when I think I have moved something far enough away from her little hands she tricks me by learning to stand up by herself with the use of whatever piece of furniture is handy and then half hurling, half launching herself over to whatever it is that she wants to see. Inevitably, she ends up getting what it is and we then have to play the "no" game. It also doesn't matter what it is that she wants, if she gets it...it goes in the mouth. Paper, twigs, grass, old Cheerios that she has dropped on the floor and that have somehow gone under the kitchen rug are dug out and promptly placed in her open mouth. I have had to quickly get over the fear of her biting me with her sharp little teeth (all 6 of them) so as to pry the offending object out of her jaws.

Speaking of jaws, my husband and I have nicknamed out little angel.."The Vampire". She is going through a bit of a biting phase at the moment and it is something that neither of us is really thrilled with however we are doing our best to curtail it as we obviously do not want her to be the child at playgroup or elsewhere to all of a sudden haul off and chomp on another innocent child's arm. As a SAHM, I have quickly learned that Playgroup Bullies are not looked on favorably and nor is the Mother who seems unable to control her child...or at least reprimand them in some manner. Therefore, we are trying to figure out the correct way to discipline an 11 month old as she leans into your shoulder for what we think is a cuddle only to find out that the jaws are open and she is going for our shoulders. This happens moreso when she is really tired and seems to be a sign that it is time for bed, however it is not a habit I want her to have when she is 16 and as she is far too young to have seen the "Twilight" series and I don't actually believe is part Vampire...then it is a habit that we have to nip in the bud...no pun intended.

The coolest thing though these days in the eyes of this particular 11 month old...doors. She likes to crawl behind them and swing them open and closed...open and closed...open and closed to the point where I am truly begining to wonder how she hasn't jammed her fingers yet? Or worse...when will she and how many tears will there be? We had our first bleeding incident a few weeks ago where she crawled across the bathroom floor, slid on her knee and landed face first on the tile. She bit her lip and well, you can imagine the rest. I think she was more upset because of my reaction and although I didn't cry (yay Mom!) I am sure that the look of panic in my eyes didn't help matters one bit. So, I can only live in semi-fear of the day when the little fingers do get jammed in the door and in the meantime am learning to live in a world of closed openings.

Of course, we could probably go to one of the many baby stores and buy some handy dandy - "didn't know we needed this" type of gadget that would prevent the child from playing with the doors however I refuse to get sucked into this marketing scheme. My husband and I went to Babies R Us and stood in front of the wall (yes, wall!) of household baby proofing "necessities" and proceeded to get completely confused by door locks, cabinet latches, electrical outlet covers (who knew there were 10 different kinds..an outlet is an outlet, right?) and coffee table corner pads. We finally walked out of the store with the outlet covers, some cabinet latches and a couple of larger two sided entertainment door clasp thingies (I believe that IS the technical name) but talked the whole way home about the other ridiculous items on sale for this purpose. Door knob and oven knob covers baffled me as my thought was that by the time the child is old enough to reach either of these things, she should either know what to do with them or know not to turn on the gas. Toilet seat locks...that just sounds dangerous in the middle of the night. Fridge locks? Now, unless she is swinging from the handle of the fridge - I really don't think this is going to be a problem.

We came away realizing that corporations have some people believing that they literally have to pad their entire homes in order to have an infant/toddler but our thought was "she has to go out into the real world someday and that isn't padded necessarily for her comfort or safety - so why go to extremes now?" It also in all honesty, makes ME wonder if we are raising a generation of wimpy kids. I believe that children should be able to touch and explore within reason (as long as it isn't dangerous) as this is the only way that they will learn. I believe that safety is all well and good and that yes, certain precautions should be taken but when I look at the world my sister and I grew up in and that of everyone else from my generation and prior...well, it is a wonder we all survived compared to the semi-padded/pampered world that some of these kids are living in today. I for one, refuse to raise a wimpy kid.

However, with that being said..338 days into parenthood I have realized that I do worry more, I am more cautious and that I put her wants and needs before my own on a regular basis. I am not quite sure when this actually occurred since the first 3 months of her life are pretty much a blur for me but somewhere along the lines, I stopped being so selfish and learned that it really isn't just about me, me, me anymore or even me and my husband it is about her and us..as a family. 339 days ago, I didn't realize that my world had a whole in it..that is until she came along the next day and filled that space and has been filling it ever since.

Each day brings new things to learn, new experiences to have and the possibility of new friends to make. She and I have made some wonderful friends for both of us already through the various groups that we belong to and at times, we Mom's just sit and watch out little ones interact with each other. It is amazing how long you can sit on the grass and just watch them discover new things by themselves and with each other. How they interact at this age and how already, they are beginning to get into all sorts of mischief together. Just give some of them (including our daughter) a year and the antics will seem to some to be complete chaos. Perhaps they will be..but something tells me that for me and the other Moms that I know that we won't see it that way, we will probably see it as another wonderful stage in the development in our children and continue to (at least on occasion) sit back and wonder and marvel.

For now though, I am holding on to every previous minute of the remaining 27 days as I know my little ones first year will never come again. That these "firsts" are just that and that once they are done and repeated and repeated that they are no longer firsts and will at that point be life skills. Therefore, I document everything that I can in her baby book and through photography and video almost to the point of exhaustion. The first year is precious (as are all of the ones to come) as it contains so many milestones that I want her to have a timeline of them in years to come...at least that is what I tell myself. In reality though, I think it is more for me...so that I won't forget and so that in years to come, I can look back and see my precious baby girl as she is now and in some way experience all of those "firsts"...again.

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