Julia has been crawling backwards since she was about six months. It was two months of her rocking on all fours and inching the wrong direction. She’d get stuck in all sorts of places – underneath the couch, under the bed, she’d get pushed up against a wall and not know where to go from there. We worked on it everyday – I would put her on the floor and help her move one arm forward and push one leg forward hoping that she would eventually put two and two together. I’d crawl around in front of her thinking that if she watched me, then she would want to do the same. But she would only give me the biggest belly chuckle ever as if to say “Mom, what are you doing crawling?” The silly things we do to help our children.
Last Thursday, Julia started crawling. I put her on the floor as I usually do, backed away from her and sprinkled toys on the opposite side of the room. She stared at her toys for quite a while and then she finally started to do it! She put one little arm out and pulled one little leg forward and suddenly she was within reach of her toys. Seeing the determination in her eyes, hearing the super heavy excited breathing and the pitter-patter of her hands hitting our floor, I witnessed the purest joy in her eyes when she realized what she had done. She was so proud of herself. Yet in those moments, I suddenly felt bittersweet about it all.
Milestones are a wonderful way to measure a baby’s development and when big milestones are reached, they are usually celebrated. In Julia’s eight months, we have celebrated so many milestones. First smiles, first foods, sitting on her own, and now crawling. I think back to all of those firsts and I smile just thinking about them. From Julia being able to show affection and interacting with us when she first started smiling, introducing her to the wonderful world of food, being able to sit and participate in social gatherings, and now, having control over her environment and crawling to and from things that she likes and dislikes. They have all come at just the right times, but it always feels like they come too fast.
So last Thursday after the first initial crawl, I found myself feeling a mix of two different emotions; so happy that Julia had met another big milestone and feeling sad that my daughter is growing up too fast. For just a few moments, my heart longed for Julia to be that wrinkly little newborn that cuddled on my chest and slept for hours and hours. And then, I suddenly realized that this is what parenting is all about – you teach, you encourage, you celebrate and then you learn to let go a little bit. The beauty in all of this is watching them explore their world, watching them learn, watching them grow, and watching them become motivated to move on to the next phase. I knew in those moments that it was selfish of me to wish that Julia would stay this little dependent and tiny infant for her whole life.
Now isn’t the time to wish back and be sad about Julia growing. It’s time to acknowledge and celebrate the fact that she is developing normally, that she is healthy, and that she has the ability to control some of her world and to embrace that. Now it’s time to look forward to the next phase, whether it is first steps or first words; I know it will come all too fast. But for today in these moments, I’m happy to be celebrating just crawling.