Little Petey is doing two new and wonderful things. He is walking (two or three tentative steps at a time) and he is going down the stairs backwards (quickly, successfully, and confidently). He is joyfully practicing these new skills over and over again. It is so sweet to the the grin on his face when he thinks to himself, “I DID it!” after he manages forward motion on two legs.
I remember when Fritz was learning to walk. He had the same pride as he got better and better. But a few things are different with Pete.
For one, Pete’s mom is not the same person as baby Fritz’s mom. I remember those years of early motherhood. I hovered over Fritz. I agonized over every fall, scratch and bruise. I spent hours crouched over while little baby fingers grasped mine and fat baby toes padded up and down the hallway. And I was his biggest cheerleader.
With Pete, I’ve walked him a few times, but only a few. He has older siblings with shorter statures to help him get around. I don’t fret over his falls; I don’t call my mom, the nurse, asking for symptoms of a concussion (I still do for the older kids, but not Pete yet).
And I honestly don’t know if I’m his biggest cheerleader. It’s not that I’m not encouraging his every step with as much enthusiasm as I did Fritz’s – I am. But the competition is stiff here. I can beat Bill, but only because I spend more time doing it than he does. But Pete has 4 older siblings who think he’s just the most amusing and wonderful thing on the planet, and they stand around him telling him to do it again and again and again clapping the whole time.
Those who question an adult’s capacity to love more than a few children and thus encourage small families are missing the point. A family’s love is not limited to the love of the parents for the children and the children’s love of the parents. It is rather the love of each family member for each other family member. And here, at Chez Moi, we got a whole lotta lovin’ goin’ on.