Momma Chat: On the Space Between

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I watch him playing quietly in his crib, tap-tapping at the stars on his glow turtle. He doesn’t seem to notice the bars between us. But I do.

He’s been napping in his crib now so that I can use that time to get more things done. But I watch him sleeping there, and I want to pull him out to cuddle.

On the second night of sleeping without his swaddle, he slept like a baby: he kicked me in the uterus all night long, until I could escape in the morning for an hour of sleep while his dad played with him before work. Being a mama is sometimes like being on touch overload; it’s a relief to not be touched for a solid 5 minutes.

And yet, I missed his little hands when I woke.

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From the early days on, people ask: “Is he sleeping in his crib yet?” Or, if you’re baby wearing, “Can’t you put him down?” and “Won’t he go in the stroller?” I use his readiness, rather than age, as a guideline to determine when to facilitate his independence. I do that partly for him and his sense of security, and partly for me and my need to soak up every day I have with him, knowing I only get just this one chance.

Just one chance to enjoy this day with him.

There will be many more years where he is too curious about the world to hug mama.
And more years when he is too cool to hug mama.
Then years when he is too far away to hug mama.

But maybe if I hug him up good now…maybe someday after I let him go, he’ll think to come back for another hug every now and then…

…because I’ll have held him until he was the one to pull away.

_1060082It’s a work in progress, learning to trust nature, when so much in our culture tells us “follow these 7 steps and train your baby!” like if you just press a cookie cutter to the dough, you’ll get a perfect cookie every single time. Like kids don’t have agency all their own. (Like that even works in baking. Cookies have agency too, dagnabbit.) I want to trust nature. Theoretically, I believe in it. But I’m scared of making the wrong decisions and finding out too late.

I shouldn’t be.

He sits all by himself now, and still loves to stand and to dance. Then, suddenly, after months of me agonizing to myself about whether he would learn, without any prompting, he’s started to enjoy rolling. He goes from back to front and front to back, like it’s no big thing. If I were to do this over again, I wouldn’t force tummy time on him like all the articles said to do. Before, he hated being on his tummy and he would often puke. Now, he rarely spits up…I should have listened to him, rather than the experts. I suspect it’s more comfortable now on his tummy because his stomach and esophageal muscles are stronger, so he doesn’t throw up. After a while, I did stop forcing tummy time on him and we built up his muscles doing “airplane” and carrying him in the sling, which really helped his neck muscles. He never complained at any of that. When he could sit unassisted, I stopped pushing him altogether, and just followed his cues. He did the rest all on his own.

And suddenly he’s ready to learn to sleep without the swaddle. I fretted for ages about how to wean him, but he showed me on his own, with no challenging weaning period. I still use it here and there when I feel it’ll help him sleep better (like during naps when outside noises might startle him awake), but if I wear him down to sleep in the Ergo, then slowly sneak us into bed, he can sleep the rest of the night unswaddled. No 12-step plan. Just following baby. And Nature. She’s smart, that lady.

Now, I just can’t wait until he turns six months old so I can start feeding him solids. I sneak him tiny dots of juice from my papaya salad lunch, a little squeeze of lime, or a smidgen of pad thai sauce just to see how he reacts. Not even enough for him to swallow, just the tiniest amount to explore the taste. Maybe not the prescribed way to introduce solids, but it’s whetting his appetite for real food. He watches us drink coffee in the morning and tries to grab the cup. We thought we’d discourage it by giving him a tiny dab of the bitter coffee to taste. He contemplated it for half a second and then lunged for the cup. Apparently a coffee fan, just like his mom and dad. I’m betting he’ll be a coffee snob by the age of six.

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Thing I Love About Cy Today: He’s a little bit afraid of the dark. When we drive home from some place at night, and we go through a dark patch, he holds my hand a little tighter.

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5 thoughts on “Momma Chat: On the Space Between

  1. My first will turn 4 in March and my 2nd is due in July and there are still days where I doubt myself and wonder if trusting my gut (and my children's cues) is the best way to go. Then my daughter snuggles in my lap and tells me "Mama, your the best Mama ever" and I realize that nature's pretty smart after all.

  2. How utterly gorgeous he is and how very lucky to have a mama and papa who are paying attention and loving him.

  3. I'm not a parent but there has got to be something to be said about each baby learning and doing at its own pace. I know baby 'manuals' are there for the overanxious, loving parent and you want to everything right by him, but you are so right. He's got his own agenda, his own speed, and his own way. My dad likes to tell me that half the fun of having a kid is figuring it out along the way. And I know that you all will have a lot of fun along the way. I'm looking forward to grabbing a cuppa joe with your mini hipster child :)

  4. Oh, my goodness, I was just thinking I hadn't read your blog in forever and so I popped by to find the most adorable little baby boy! (I can say that because I'm the mother of girls.) Congratulations, Jade! I'm so so happy for you! And follow your instincts; they are right on. :)