As I gaze into my son’s sleepy eyes, the rest of the world melts away. He has a smile that makes everything okay. He’s not shy with his smiles; he knows how to bat his eyes, smile, and wave his arms to get everyone’s attention. But I’ll never grow tired of his smile; its magic never wears off.
Noah’s seven months old now, and wow, time has flown by. Parents of older children never cease to say, “Enjoy these moments. Time flies.” I now find myself saying the same thing to moms of younger babies too. One of the moms at our playgroup said she doesn’t like to tell moms of newborns that it goes by “so quickly” because, in the moment, it feels like it’s never going to end. But, I’ve felt like every moment passed too quickly – both in the moment and looking back.
Noah’s been trying to crawl since he came home from the hospital, and to him, that feels like forever. It is his forever. I’ve watched him learn to support himself on his elbows and, eventually, his hands. He started crawling backwards sometime before Thanksgiving. At first, he looked like a little inchworm. Push his butt up in the air, toes and hands on the ground, push with all his might, and end up an inch or so behind where he started. Then, he’d collapse on his tummy, kick his feet and paddle his arms like he’s trying to swim, and repeat. He can do this for hours and hours.
By Christmas, he was moving backwards more consistently. Mostly on his hands and knees, he rocked back and forth trying to gain momentum. Much to his dismay, he’d still end up going backwards rather than forwards.
It seems like a real-life nightmare to me. He’s trying so hard to move forwards – to reach a goal, but he’s only getting further and further from that goal. He’s tenacious (stubborn?) and strong, and if effort was the only requirement, he’d be set. I want to help him – to give him the secret that’ll allow him to take off in any direction of his choosing, but I know this is something he has to do on his own. He has helpful cousins that give him crawling lessons every weekend. Grandma and I do too, but we can demonstrate until our muscles ache, and he’ll still need to figure it out on his own.
In the last week, he’s figured out how to move forward in a sort-of crawl, topple, roll, and reach sort of way. He can move from sitting to his hands-and-knees, pivot around, and lunge himself forward. It gets him closer to where he wants to be. It results in far more tumbling and tears. It’s exhausting to watch. I wish I could bundle up his energy and put it in my coffee.
In a playgroup of seven babies, he’s the only one that didn’t take a nap during their 3hour playdate. He makes more noise than all of the other babies combined. He doesn’t cry or scream. He just shrieks like a pterodactyl and babbles constantly. He has so much to say. He babbles nanana and dada all day long. He only says mama when he’s crying. I try to tell myself that means something. And when he’s in his crib trying to sleep, he babbles diediedie as if he’s yelling at me for putting him to bed.
He is social, and he loves attention. He waves and hollers at everyone we pass when we are out. He expects everyone to smile and wave back, and when they don’t, he looks at me with wide eyes and an open mouth as if to say, mom, why don’t they like me? Did I do something wrong?
The more he wants to go, the more he wants to stay. He’s filled with joy when he’s able to reach a toy that seemed out of reach, but he always looks back at me for reassurance. I smile at him, I encourage him, he reaches back for a quick hug, and then he takes off again.
He’s fearless too. He can’t stand on his own, but he certainly thinks he can. He pushes himself off me, using my necklace as support so that he can stand before deciding that he doesn’t need me, letting go as if he’s ready to start running. He weebles and wobbles before I catch him. I will always be there to catch him when he falls.
He has a sense of justice. He has a snack, so I should have a snack too. He grunts and waves as if to say, “I want some too!.” You have coffee. Where’s mine? He has his own cup for morning coffee. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep this up. He looks at me sideways as if to say, I know this isn’t coffee! You called it water at dinner and tea before bed, but it all tastes the same!
He’s affectionate. He yearns for independence, but he comes back for hugs and kisses all day long. Just when I think the days of cuddles and contact naps are over, he cries out for me and insists on sleeping on my chest all night long. He kicks his legs and readjusts himself over and over as if he can’t figure out why he doesn’t “fit” the way he used to. He nuzzles his head into my chest and drifts off into a deep sleep.
I’ve missed this – the feeling of his breath against my chest as he surrenders to sleep.
I miss the newborn cuddles and the fresh baby smell, but I love watching him play, learn, and grow. I know that when he masters crawling, he’ll be on to the next challenge. I know that once he learns to talk, he still won’t always be able to tell me what he wants or what he’s thinking. I know that these challenges that he faces now are only the beginning, but I’ll be here for every one.
I’m grateful for the time I get to spend with him, and I look forward to the future as much as I cherish the past.