August 29, 2012

My Baby Turned One...And Something Started To Shift

My little man when he was really little
Something happens when your baby turns one. Especially when you know that it's your last baby.

My baby turned one three months ago. And in the past few months he has started to show his independent self more and more. He is walking...he's actually running now. He is learning to communicate his needs and wants more and more. He is no long a passive observer, content to be carried around or lay back in the stroller and just take it all in. He wants to be out there, mixing it up, getting hands-on...and getting into all kinds of trouble. He still loves and needs his mommy. He ventures out to explore, then comes running back for a quick reassurance that I'm still here for him. But I can see the tether between us stretching, and it both excites and saddens me.

On vacation a few weeks ago my baby decided, on his own, to wean. Now I realize that fourteen months old is a perfectly acceptable age to wean. We got in that full first year, so that makes me happy. And, really, we were down to just two, sometimes one, nursings a day. And I should be happy to have my body back to myself after, basically, 4 1/2 years of it belonging to someone else. But I still felt sad to let that special time go. I kept thinking about how this is my last time nursing my baby, ever. I do this a lot when I'm rocking him to sleep at night these days...thinking how I won't have this closeness much he's going to keep growing and growing and he won't want me to hold him like this as much...that some day, a time will come when I won't get to hold him close at all. I tear-up just thinking about it. My last little baby is slipping away from me into big boyness. Quintessential bittersweetness.

My not-as-little man who climbed up on this table on his own
While all of this has been going on with my adorable little man, something has also been going on inside of me. I've gone rather introspective of late. As this bittersweet shift from babyhood to toddlerhood began for my son, I had to figure out who I was going to be now that I was out of the fog of the first year with a new child...and not planning to re-enter that fog again.

I could continue as I was, sort of floating through the days, weeks and months, taking things as they come. But, while being a mom has taught me to live in the moment much more than I have since I was a kid myself, I am still a planner and a doer, so that felt inconsistent with me. I could certainly go back to work as a freelance consultant, as I did after having my daughter. But, after some of this introspective time, I realized that I didn't want to. (And thank you to my wonderful husband for making not going back an option for me.)

Hmm. It turns out that having children changed me. Or, maybe it's more appropriate to say that having children helped me get back to who I was before. Before I took what I can only assume was an extremely important detour. The detour that allowed me to meet my husband and some very wonderful friends and have all kinds of interesting experiences.

My path has certainly been a winding one, but for the first time in a long time I feel certain again that I am on the right one. Of course I have always been on the right one, it's just sometimes hard to I was walking a path through a dark forest for a very long time with no way to see if I was headed in the right direction (and sometimes feeling certain that I wasn't), and then, suddenly, I emerged from the thick trees and could see everything laid out before path meandering through the hills and my destination shining in the distance. That is how I feel now.

So as I emerge from the first year fog of baby number two, I find myself in an amazing place. It scared me a bit at first, this shift from where I was (the forest) to where I am (the hills): the overwhelming desire to do it all at once (forgo the path and sprint over all of the hills to get to my destination...sometimes I forget that it's about the journey); the feeling of being inundated with new ideas, drives and desires and not being able to wrap my brain around things, or mentally (or physically) organize it all. But I am beginning to feel comfortable in it. Shedding the old me like an outdated Cosby sweater. Reinventing myself. Starting a new phase of my life. Seeing now how all the pieces fit together. At least the pieces I've collected so far.

I am clearly not even close to figuring it all out. But I am getting comfortable with my new place. And I am really excited about what lies ahead. Though I am sad to leave behind my kids' current stages, I am equally excited about those to come. (Well, maybe not the teenage years.) And I can't wait to watch the evolution of this new, creative-mom-me...what will I look like tomorrow? Next month? Next year? I have a lot of work to do as I try to figure all this stuff out. So I'm working on my own curriculum...a personalized masters program, for me, by me. And I'm setting new goals as a parent as well (more on that to come). Basically, I'm putting the kind of time, energy, focus and thought I used to put into my old career into my new one.

And all because my baby boy turned one and something started to shift for me. I can see again that things are ever-changing. I am ever-changing. All I know for sure is that good things lie ahead. Good things abound.

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