I have heard all the warnings and horror stories. “Enjoy it while you can!” they said when my coffee was safe a few feet away from my daughter. “Get ready!” they wrote when I shared news of her crawling into my studio. The words were coming from the best place, from moms who had experienced the craziness that comes from a moving toddler or from someone who knew we may be in for a rude awakening. It was all true.
But you know what no one told me?
No one told me how walking would change EVERYTHING, in a good way.
I was prepared for the opening of cabinets with baby locks and for potential spills only fought by moving cups onto high places. You know the cycle... first you can put things on the floor out of reach, then it moves to the coffee table, then the side table, and next you're wondering if it's realistic to start hanging things from the ceiling. I was not, however, prepared to observe. I was not ready to see my daughter as a new independent being. And I was DEFINITELY not ready to see my daughter as anything other than the little baby who had just barely passed age one.
Suddenly I could watch her and enjoy her as an individual. No longer did I have to carry her from place to place, or guess where she wanted to go. No longer could I rely that where I put her she would still be five minutes later. Instead I saw an explorer. I saw a little person seeking out new experiences. She showed herself to be curious- how long would it take me to notice she had her hands in the dog's water bowl? What would she find when she opened that drawer or that cabinet? Better yet- what would those flowers look like up close? What would they smell like? Or taste like for that matter?
Suddenly I wasn’t walking my daughter around our property, I was walking WITH her. She was showing ME where she wanted to go. She wasn't even looking back to make sure I was there. Her only care in the world was what lie ahead. So I watched. Was she more interested in the leaves or in the roots? Did she like to walk on the grass or on the driveway? She could decide, and I could watch it all.
I think sometimes people, especially parents, get tunnel vision. Personally I know I get caught up in checking social media to stay connected with family and friends back home. I get overwhelmed by the growing list of tasks that need to get done as soon as I can hand Camryn off to Matt. I regret to say sometimes it’s enough for her to notice.
Walking toddlers force you to look up. Sure it’s mostly because at any moment they can get too close to the stairs or find that piece of garbage that looks so tasty, but it is something else too. They force us to be PRESENT in a way that those stationary little babies did not. They force you to see them for the people they are and for the people they are growing into way too quickly.
In this house, walking changed everything. And I am loving it.