Childrearing

I Was Smug About My Early Walker

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toddler-walkingMy daughter crawled into the middle of the circle and stood up, her legs bent like a snowboarder’s, her little arms stretched out for balance. A hush fell, followed by gasps. She was the first in the group to stand alone.

The other moms buzzed with excitement. I felt a thrill inside as I watched my delicate daughter bucking both inexperience and gravity to do the miraculous – holding herself upright for a full frozen moment, her plum dress draped softly around her, her bare feet planted on the wooden floor.

Against my own better judgment, trying to stop myself even as I did it, I mentally compared my baby to the others lolling about in their mothers’ laps, wondering if this spelled auspicious things for her future. My elation grew as I pondered the possibilities: Professional dance? Acrobatic jewel heists? The Olympics?

The mom sitting next to me leaned over and whispered, “I wish mine would do that!”

I mumbled something about each baby doing things in her own time, but secretly I felt smug. I tried to dispel the smugness, but the feeling hung on for the rest of the day, surfacing again when I told my husband about what our daughter had done in the baby group, recounting that collective gasp in which an entire roomful of mothers paused for a beat to marvel at our daughter.

I thought my heart would explode when, one golden afternoon just like any other, some inner logic in her body told her to move from the spot where she was standing on the green carpet in the middle of the room toward me. Those few tripping steps felt like a bigger deal than the moon landing. All the air left my lungs and I hugged her, dizzy with the moment: the freshness of it, the fact that it could never happen again, that it had somehow even happened in the first place.

In our baby group, she sat serenely in my lap, hardly deigning to crawl into the middle with the other adventurers now that she had started her biped cruising around the house. I told a couple of the other moms that she’d started walking, but somehow it didn’t seem real until they’d seen it for themselves. A month after she took her first steps, she rose to her feet and wobbled around the group, but the reaction wasn’t as dramatic as it had been when she stood. Someone asked when she had started walking. I relished the reaction when I said nine and a half months, though I acted like it was no big deal.

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