Baby Mary is now more than six weeks old. I really enjoy the newborn stage where their little bodies are still curled up from living in small spaces, and they blink back the light, and everyone needs to talk softly to give the baby time to adjust to the new world. But she’s now entering the next stage where she wants to start experiencing her environment, safely from The Momma’s arms, of course. And I love this stage too.
When my oldest began spending time awake, I remember asking myself, “What do I do with him?” He didn’t want to eat, didn’t want to sleep, didn’t need a bath or a diaper change, he couldn’t play with anything. He just wanted to stare at me and practice cooing. But parenting children over the age of 18 months teaches you the fine art of talking to yourself. I’ve had plenty of practice in that, and can now sit and stare back at my baby and babble away.
Last night I wanted to go to sleep, but Mary didn’t. We lay on the bed, and I listened to her try to vocalize. I watched her kick her legs, not in a fussy way, but in a deliberate let-me-see-what-I-can-do sort of way. I watched her move her arms in the direction of my face, and I leaned in really close so she could reach me. And I watched the expression on her face change to one of obvious pleasure at her success. I had thought she was randomly moving her arms, but her happiness indicates that touching me was her goal.
This behavior – to reach out for an object – is one of those milestones that doctors use to gauge child development. I’m pretty sure she’s “advanced” in this. But not only am I not going to start googling infant tennis camps for my daughter with superior hand-eye coordination, I’m not even going to bother to look up the average age where they do this. It’s not that I don’t care that she’s progressing, it’s that I don’t need to compare.
With every child, I seem to be more relaxed and more appreciative of who they are as individuals. My husband’s grandmother used to say that after three kids you got good, and it would be a pity to waste all that experience. She was right.