From the moment Jack was born to this very moment right now, I have been doing a semi graceful job of "winging" parenthood.
Sure, I cracked open a book here or there during pregnancy and beyond. Yes- I actively decided that I would make my own baby food and breastfeed. But behaviorally? I have been acting upon instinct. I know that I want Jack to grow up to be strong, independent, well-adjusted, so on and so forth... but I never have put a lot of thought into what this would mean from me.
I don't think I'm doing it "right" all of the time. Most days I'm calling my mom or pretending like what I'm doing isn't reinforcing "bad" habits. From day one to today, I have been 90% laid back. Yes, for the first 5 months of Jack's life I was intensely frightened by the idea of SIDS and I still get anxiety when I think of my child near the water/on a boat. But other than a few neuroses... I haven't "freaked".
If Jack hits his head I say, "Oops, boom." letting him decided if it was worth crying over. When Jack wakes up from his nap after 45 minutes, I let him cry until he falls back asleep, because homeboy needs at least two hours. The majority of parenting decisions have been based off of instinct.. and I would say that so far it's working for me.
But what gets me... what really trips me up - is that my laid back, instinct driven, crying is okay and "bumps and bruises happen" attitude has left me completely unprepared to let go of my baby. In so many ways I still want Jack to be a baby.
I look at him now, he's walking and communicating. He's the size of a 2.5 year old. He shakes his head no at me when I sing off key and he gives me hugs at random. This child, he is NOT a baby. But somehow, I just can't let it go!
A month ago, we were in Home Depot buying our fake Christmas tree. Jack sat in the front of the cart, swinging his legs and laughing at his daddy's silly faces. The giant tree box blocked him from the view of the cashier. When the machine-like question of "will this be all today?" came out of her mouth, I jokingly replied "just this and a baby!". The woman craned her neck to spot Jack, looked at me, and said "That's not a baby, that's a toddler!". I opened my mouth in protest.. but couldn't really find the words. She was... she IS right.
I hate that word. The "T" word. I've been avoiding it. I mean, technically he's been a toddler for over 4 months now, but still... he's MY baby.
Maybe I would feel better if we were ready for number two - if dreams of another baby were in the near future. But that just isn't in our plan right now (who knows about the actual plan that will unfold in the years to come).
For now Jack is my only baby. And while the last bits of his babyhood fade away before my eyes, I feel happy, sad, bittersweet, excited, and melancholy. My love for him is still so overwhelming and it's crazy to me how my heart never stops growing for him. As he grows, from baby to toddler, from toddler to little boy, and so on... my heart is going with him.
Motherhood. It really is a wild, crazy, blessing of a thing.