Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The little toddler emerges

River has been transitioning from a baby to a toddler for several months now. But suddenly, it’s clear he’s no longer a baby. He’s a little person. While that comes with some sadness that the baby days are over and will never be repeated, I mostly feel excitement that I have a little buddy now and am getting to know him better each day.

Today I taught him the equivalent of “give me five.” But instead of saying “give me five,” I say “mano,” or hand in Spanish. It came about by accident, when he was pointing at a painting of a hand. I held up my hand to demonstrate what the word means. I held up his. And soon we were high-fiving each other.

I see his new maturity in the way he’ll now pause and cuddle with me or Mark, as though he’s making a conscious decision that he feels good in our arms. Of course he’s more methodical in his movements and activities, with each new little piece of knowledge gained affecting how he interacts with the world the next day.

He’s on the verge of walking and we expect it any day, though we recognize it could take weeks. He lets go and stands without support, shaking a little from side to side as though he’s going to do a hula dance.

As much as I’m enjoying all this, I did buy my tickets and I am going to leave for three weeks. I told Mark about my fears. As I thought, he didn’t think there was any reason to worry.

“He’s not going to know you’re gone,” he said. “He’s perfectly happy when you’re not here. Of course, when you come back again, he remembers and he’s happy, but he doesn’t miss you when you’re gone.”

That’s not quite what our babysitter says. She has told me of River looking at the door, waiting for me to come in. Nevertheless, I do know that most of the time I’m gone, River is having a perfectly grand time. I only hope that three weeks isn’t so long that he forgets entirely, or that he becomes angry.

As much as I dread being away from him for that long, I’m trying to look forward to the benefits. I can’t remember the last time I’ve slept in until the time I want to get up. Even on the days I was away from home, I had to get up to pump. This will be the first time that no baby and no pump will be calling me in the morning. That is a pretty grand thought. I’m going to make a rough trip – a 10 hour flight followed by a four hour trip across town and up and down staircases on three trains, followed by an eight hour flight followed by a night in a hotel and then a three hour bus ride – much more quickly and easily than I would towing a little one. I’m sure I’ll make use of that transit time, either reading or sleeping or writing, but certainly not just zoning out as I probably would before River’s birth. I now appreciate quiet, alone time for what it is worth. Not having River there will make it easier to accomplish the things I want to do.

Nevertheless, I imagine I’m going to ache for the feeling of his arms around his neck and his warm, solid body against mine. I’m going to long for his sing-song, happy voice. I’m going to wish his wet diaper was seeping pee onto my shirt.

But, as I’m learning through my reading of The Power of Now, there is no point in projecting or analyzing the future. I should enjoy the moment as it presents itself now. Right now it is a very satisfying combination of great time with River and progress back into a career. I am grateful.

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