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.


Anonymous said...

My favorite part is that he clapped for himself. A great start in life! That's his & his alone. Pray that it lasts through his lifetime. His own self-esteem that no one can give him or take away.

Donna Munoz said...

I am still clapping as Greg walks tall, strong and proud. At 17 he walks to the car to drive himself to get to the girl or the boathouse and soon--to get on planes/or trains going to school or to explore the world. It is a big job Mama-- and it is about us and them at the same time. Love~