When I hear the words “young mom,” I immediately picture a woman in jeans and a t-shirt, bent over running after a mobile being on all fours clad in footie pajamas, weighing under 20 pounds and wearing a diaper. I am pretty sure that all moms picture an approximation of the same thing.
This was the week of Chasing Down My Daughter. If Eva wasn’t crawling towards our dog’s water bowl to splash her hand in it mischievously, she was heading towards the electrical outlet to poke and prod at the plastic baby-proofing cover. She’s been crawling for about a month now, and with each week, her speed has picked up exponentially. (Or it feels like it anyway.) She is on a path of exploration around our apartment, with each lap around the living room revealing a new random hazard such as a wayward coin or tiny pebble that’s been transported into our apartment by a pair of shoes—all objects that peak my daughter’s curiosity. Fortunately, she has this wonderful habit of pausing to pick up everything she finds, like the coin or pebble, turning to me and making an inquisitive sound while holding up the object for me to examine. She’ll hold it up while staring at me expectantly, waiting for me to take it from her hands. And I always do, I always take it, look down at it with surprise and exclaim, “thank you, Eva!” Then I fold it into my hands to get it out of sight and find a place to dispose of it immediately. Where do all these things come from, and how do they all find their way to our floor? And thank you, God or higher-spiritual-being-whomever-you-are, for giving me a daughter that won’t put strange things in her mouth without checking with me first.
Eva also sees her toys in a new light. Not even a month ago, her interest easily swayed towards anything new, so the trick was to hide a batch and rotate the toys in regularly. Worked like a charm. But now, Eva could care less if they were all old, new, or magical. The charm is that she likes throwing them out of her bin, and then leaving them there. The same holds true for objects packed in a box, the items in my purse, even the multiple cards and odds and ends in my wallet. We know babies who do things like walk around collecting their toys to put them away. I’ve been told it’s a phase they go through when they’re older—I’m hoping that stage is just around the corner.
The toys, once they’re all strewn about, they become catnip for our dog George. It’s hard to be mad at him for stealing one of Eva’s toys that’s lying around. Let’s face it—baby toys and dog toys are totally interchangeable. The biggest difference is that all of our beagle’s toys squeak for maximum chewing pleasure. A few of Eva’s toys squeak, as they all make some kind of noise, whether it be a rattle or crunch, so they entertain both dog and baby equally.
Eva and I also checked out her first Mandarin music class. It’s going to be a challenge to raise Eva bilingually, but I figure the only thing I can do now besides find a magic potion to drink that reminds me to speak to her in Mandarin at all times is stick her in a Mandarin-speaking environment when possible. She loved it. They could have been speaking Swahili, truth be told, but the folksy tunes, toys and parachute tarp the moms flung into the air at the end kept the babies enchanted for the full hour. If Eva learns even a few words in Mandarin Chinese from this class, it will all be worth it.
So after this week of running around, chasing after my daughter and carrying her to and fro her different activities, I was struck by the fact that Eva is now 10½ months old. TEN AND ONE-HALF MONTHS OLD. Her young life is off and running, and as bizarre as it may be to think, she’s already more independent. This is just the beginning. Oh, all the places she will go, things she will do, and people she will meet… Gone is my stationary baby that was content to gaze at me while gently gnawing on whatever toy I’d put within her reach. In her place is my happy speed-racer curious to know everything from what’s behind door #1 to what’s going on in the bathroom.
Scrolling through now-old photos of her, myself, us… how is it even humanly possible for babies to sprout so much in such a short amount of time? Add that to the list of things one never thinks about until they become a parent: In less than a year, my daughter has morphed from a slow-moving, wrinkly little baby about the length of my forearm into a two feet tall (at least!) chubby little crawler with eyelashes the length of my thumbnail. She has gone from barely able to hold up her head to crawling around like a maniac. She is awesome. And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. It’s amazing babies aren’t resting all day long, if you think about it. They do more growing and developing in one week than a hydroponic tomato plant on steroids.