Learning to Walk

Gussie is walking! Like really, really doing it. Letting go of the furniture, standing up from the floor by himself, walking. It is amazing.  It happened practically overnight. He had taken a few steps tentatively from one of us to the other a month or so ago, but then lost interest. Who can blame him? His funny little one-leg-tucked crawl is fast. He's perfected it. It's his preferred way to travel.

So last week, he started taking a few steps away from the furniture to try to get the cat. He'd been walking around holding onto the furniture but showing no interest in letting go for awhile. Anytime he realized he was standing up by himself, he'd look around like, "WTF?" and slowly lower himself to the ground. But the cats, the cats were just too tempting. Indie was just a few feet away from the couch, and well, Gus just let go! The look on his face when he realized what he'd done was so cool. I clapped and said, "Good job!" and he broke out into the world's biggest grin. It was super fast after that. He kept doing these little journeys from various pieces of furniture out into the wide world. He got more and more adept. (He went from looking like Baby Godzilla to looking only slightly drunk in less than a week.) If we weren't there or didn't realize quickly enough to clap for him, he clapped for himself!! How awesome is that?

The reactions I've gotten to his new "talent" have been mixed. It seems to be some variation of one of two things. People in the first camp say "OMG! Watch out. Your life just got way harder. Get your running shoes." People in the second camp say "That's so great. He has so much more independence now." I find it very interesting. The first one is more about the parents, the second one more about the kid. I know it may complicate things in some ways, but I'm so happy. Because he is happy. I saw it in his eyes. And that helped me see it through his eyes. I hope he can always be that joyful and confident and proud of his accomplishments!

And He is so proud! I think it's really cool. I have a lot of trouble feeling proud. I even had arguments in my head with myself about whether it was okay to feel proud of him for walking (it was my first reaction). I thought, "that's just what babies do and why am I feeling proud?" Then a friend of mine told me that I totally had every right to feel proud. That I was here for him and loving him and that (Shelley and) I had a lot to do with how joyfully and confidently he took those first steps. I'm working on believing that.

Sometimes I think that raising children, in addition to being about evolution of the species, is about the parents' evolution. At least for me it feels that way. This gig is hard. As I've said before I know I think a lot, but I doubt I'm the only person that has shit come up for them when raising a kid. It makes you face your demons. Partly because you want so badly to banish them so your kid doesn't have to fight them, partly because you want them out of the way for your own sake, so you can just enjoy this amazing little person in front of you. I think learning to walk is a good metaphor for it. You take a few tentative steps. You fall down. A lot. You keep getting back up and trying again. You are unsteady on your feet but so excited about your newfound freedom. Then, you get more confident, more steady. Perhaps even start running. But you always are on the lookout for something in your path, waiting to trip you up. Maybe, just maybe, I'll have it mastered by the time he's 30.

Mirror, Mirror

Parenthood feels to me like a giant effin' mirror being thrust in my face all the time. I examine, and re-examine, and over-examine almost every decision I make during a day with Gus. I guess it's not totally fair to blame it all on the parenting. Some of it (okay a lot of it) is just me. But it does feel like decisions are more dire now. Before, if I forgot to eat or chose to eat badly, eh - it's only affecting me (and maybe Shelley cuz I'm supercrank when my blood sugar's low). But now, it's also affecting little dude. In multiple ways. There's cranky mom and also bad-model mom. I don't want to be grumpy with him for no reason. I also want him to learn to eat well. Anyway, you get the point.

The thing about mirrors, though, is that sometimes they can be distorted. Sometimes the glass is warpy or there's a crack that throws off the whole reflection. And, no matter how perfectly the reflection is coming through, it's also about what I choose to see when I look. I'm kind of a master at seeing all the wrinkles and flaws. But for Gus's sake, I need to get better at seeing the good stuff. I don't want him to necessarily experience the world in the way that I do. I want him to experience it in his own way. I want to be careful not to distort what he sees with my own warpy glass.

And, I am a mirror to him. I try to mirror back at him what I see on his face. If he's joyful or grieving or proud or whatever, I try to be attuned to that. I want him to feel felt and known. I want him to be as satisfied with the reflection of himself that he sees in me as he is with the one he sees in the mirror.

'Cause right now, he LOVES what he sees when he looks in a mirror. He smiles. He laughs. He leans forward and kisses his reflection. It is the cutest thing I've ever seen. And, I must confess, I'm freakin jealous! I wish I could look at my reflection and be that happy with it. I think, for his sake, I have to find a way.

The great thing, though, is that he's a little mirror, too. And the reflection I see of myself in his eyes blows me away! He doesn't care what I look like on the outside. He doesn't see all the flaws (inner and outer) that I do. All he seems to see is awesome. And needs met. And love. I'm sure as he gets older he will see things he doesn't particularly like. But that's okay too. All of what he sees is Mama.