I started this blog with the intention of getting down all the reflections and insights I had as a mom that someday would turn into witty, poignant essays. It was supposed to keep me from feeling like my head was full of stuff I couldn’t get out, to be the in-between repository of ideas so they would not just fizzle like Fourth of July sparklers, leaving a trace for a while (“I’m sure I’ll remember that in the morning”) and then just fading, leaving a thin trail of fog that rises up to cloud amorphously around the bug lamps with the tired puffs of other faded inspirations.
So far, my ceiling is still pretty foggy and my blog doesn’t have a whole lot of sparks etched on it. Life keeps happening. Writing does not. But one thing I want to be sure to document about this life is that the little one who started this whole thing is now really finding his voice. And with it he’s finding me.
EJ took a long time to find his “M” sound. Other people had been hearing “mama” from their kids for months, but it was all D’s and B’s around here. And though EJ babbled animatedly early on and was singing on pitch to his CD’s, we didn’t really have any words to speak of until 16 months. We’d been doing baby signs with him for a long time, but the signs didn’t come until the words started forming on his lips (and thank goodness, otherwise how would we have ever known the difference between “peas,” “cheese” and “please”?)
Now, at 19 months, my son is catching up to his peers but still not going to win any verbal development records. What is the most striking to me is the shift in nighttime and post-nap awareness that has come with this new ability to communicate. I asked other moms on an email list a few months ago when he might stop crying when he wakes, and it seems like we’re moving in that direction. Now, he calls, “Mama.” This is lovely, and frightening.
When he wakes at night before I’ve come upstairs to our family bed, the tone is whining, insistent, pleading. I rush to brush my teeth or put on my pajamas (because goodness knows it’s late enough that I should just go to bed). Then we snuggle down and he asks, as though he’s just come up with a great idea for what comes next, “Nurse?”
Today he woke from a nap and called out “Mama. Mama!” more as “Hey, I’m here” notice. When I turned the doorknob, he stepped back and pulled the door open, patted the bed and said firmly, “Nurse.” We were running late for music class, but his insistent tone told me it was not going to be a fun event if I didn’t listen and execute.
Even though I mostly feel comfortable as an attachment parenting mama, I’ve still doubted myself, wondering if he really is a kid who needs to eat frequently or if I’ve helped him create a dependence on nursing to self-soothe. Same with the attachment to me – am I really what he wants or does he need something else? I struggled with leaving my son with babysitters and couldn’t imagine night-weaning without major heartache.
Now he really does seem to get it when I say that I will come back, and he’s pretty clear about what he wants. One night when we were out of town visiting family, he declared – with both clear diction and his fingers to his lips – “eat” just as I was trying to get him to bed. Not wanting to wake my sister’s kids with the crying that ensued when I said “but it’s sleepytime,” I led him into the kitchen, where he ate everything I offered him for about the next half-hour. What novelty to know I’m giving him what he wants! When he tosses in the night, sometimes he wants to nurse (and says so) and other times he just wants a warm body. (As we are officially in fall now, even November, so do I!)
I don’t know what development leap is next or what I’ll think about this all in a few months, but for now, it’s still in the category of amazing to know so clearly that my son is capable of choosing what he wants, and to get a clear message that he wants me and what I can provide.