Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On being the mother of a late walker

My babe is 17 months old and still not walking. We have some anxiety about this. Okay, a lot of anxiety. Sure, he's still in "the window," but what happens next month if he hasn't decided to walk? How much do we encourage him to stand and walk? Should we push him more? Some birds need a little shove out of the nest. He can walk, we think, he just doesn't know it yet. He is strong and active. He walks around the furniture, and he pushes his train or my birth ball around the yard. He's a quick crawler. Give him 2 seconds and he's across the room, opening the baby gate and climbing the stairs, or crawling down the driveway toward the street.

We love our big baby. We love that we've had this extended period of not-walking, not-chasing. Of babyhood. He'll do it when he's ready. He had a rough start as a young baby: months and months in the PICU with breathing problems. Maybe he needs to be a baby longer because he missed out on so much during those months in the hospital. That's fine. 

And yet. We wish he'd walk, on time, like the other children. Is he wounded from his hospitalization? Did the drugs stunt his development? Is this a harbinger of difficult times to come? It's hard to not wonder.

Every day, for months now, we wonder if today's the day that he'll take off running. Each day is not the day.

When you're a parent, struggling through the day-to-day mucky-muck of parenting, every little thing seems like a big hairy deal. Probably, in another few months, we won't even remember this anxiety, as the three of us transition into toddlerhood.

Sometimes, in those faint fleeting floating dreams as you're falling asleep, I dream he's choking and I wake with a gasp. Anxiety is a puma that lives in our house. Does every mother experience this?

We strive for a peaceful life. So, instead of worrying, we are working harder at play. I want him to use his whole body, I want him to find the pleasure in movement. We dance. We do yoga (affiliate link) (he thinks Mama's downward dog is hilarious). We pretend we're elephants or monkeys. We climb on top of and into the laundry basket. We make forts. We chase the cats. We chase each other. We are having so much fun!

Really, mostly, we're okay with our big boy who prefers crawling. There are important lessons in parenting here.

Be patient. Everything changes.
Be kind. Kindness toward himself and others might be the most important lesson I want him to learn.
Relax and find the humor. It is present in everything and so much easier to find if you cultivate a light heart.
He'll do it when he's ready. Relax and yield to the power that's larger than you.
He is the teacher. Look for the lesson.
Childhood is fleeting. It's not a race. We're on a long lazy float down the river, and we're here to enjoy it.
Just because he's not walking now doesn't mean he won't get into college.
Show him what is possible. He may not know what he can do. 
He is perfect in every way. Treasure his tiny, strong body.
Do not compare your treasure to your neighbor's.
Play more. 

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