My son turned 1 on September 28. He had the best treat in the world and got to meet my parents for the first time, plus my husband’s parents drove from Idaho to see him. He was showered with so much attention his birthday week by grandparents that it’s taken a few days to get him to understand that (unlike GG and Grandpa, and Grandma and Papa) my husband and I will not hold him, carry him, play with him, and entertain him constantly. It’s been a bit rough.
But also in this time frame, he figured out how to move the baby gates by watching those that couldn’t step over (upgrades happened immediately!), the concept of feeding himself, walking the whole living room (not just the few steps to mom or dad from the couch), and that nap time is sacred.
The funny thing, though, is that even though he expected us to mimic grandparents and carry him everywhere or entertain him constantly, he stopped just snuggling. He used to crawl up to us and we would put him in our laps and just be. Watching TV, reading a book, or just playing with his pacifier…he was content to just be held and calm. I tell myself he’s just growing and developing so fast that he’s becoming a busy-body. I say to my heart as it breaks when he pushes me away for the fourth time in the 30 minutes I’ve been playing with him that he still needs me and loves me. I repeat over and over the words my grandma used to say in her comforting voice that calmed me every time even though I knew it already: “This too shall pass.”
A little background before I go on…a few years back, my husband and I learned our Love Languages. If you’ve never taken this test, DO IT. Now. Seriously, stop reading and take the test! I’ll go more in depth on our Languages and the journey to find them in another post, but basically learning my spouse’s Love Language (his is Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service) and him learning mine (Touch and Quality Time) made us better lovers. Not sexual partners – lovers. I am explosive when I am angry – be it at him or some client that makes me want to punch them in the face. I never knew until I discovered his Language that when I would yell he took it personally. EVERY time. Even when he was just the sounding board. While when he would come home and not hug me, or the simple thing of not holding my hand in public made me feel undesired and unimportant. To further this confirmation of our Languages, when I was a nanny and a preschool teacher I reflected later that the kids I fell in love with faster were always the cuddly ones. In fact, at my last nanny job where I was with the family for nearly three years, Andrew was SO cuddly that he was the reason I wanted a son. He would wake up from nap and just want to be held for 20 minutes, or was totally content just hanging out on the couch reading for hours.
…back to my little man. When this new stage of independence erupted so quickly and took me totally off guard, it hurt. A lot. I mean I actually cried one day when he wouldn’t cuddle! My brain and heart are at this war of being proud and happy I have such an independent and strong child, while being devastated with this feeling of being forgotten. (Bloody hell…he’s ONE! What will happen when he REALLY gets independent!?)
Then the other night, I realized when my son woke up for the third time from teething, nightmares, being cold – whatever, that when I went into his room still 3/4 asleep, I no longer had to nurse him to get him back to sleep. I still nurse him before and after he wakes at both nap and bedtime, but not regularly during the night anymore. He just wanted me, that was it. I picked his huge, yet tiny, body up from sitting in his bed because he was too tired to stand and had every intention of walking back to nurse him, when he wrapped his little arms around my neck, stuck his soothie (pacifier) in his mouth, laid his head on my shoulder and sighed.
I had to try very hard not to start bawling! So instead, I wrapped my arms tightly around him in turn, nuzzled my nose into his full head of hair, then laid my cheek on his head and began to hum and sway. Within moments his arms went limp, but I held on just a while longer. His independence and strength is growing in leaps and bounds, but at night he’s still just the little boy that loves to cuddle with his momma. I now may need to get my cuddle fix in the middle of the night, or when I first put him to bed, but I’m ok with that. Because nighttime is now my favorite time of day.