My first Mother’s Day was last weekend, and I have to say, it’s like getting an extra birthday in a year. You wake up and you know that this is a day to celebrate you, and that feels pretty darn good. And in my case, you wake up at 5:45 AM because your little guy just can’t wait to see his mom on Mother’s Day. For the record, he rounded out the day with a few good naps, so he made up for that little trick. He also got me a manicure and pedicure to use at a later date, and when I’m gone he’ll clean the house (perhaps with some help from dad), so I was very pleased with my extra Day.

The day also gave me the chance to reflect on my new role of being a mom. I’m a fan of metaphors, especially when a plain description won’t do. And I have been struck the past few months many times with how many situations will translate into lessons for the future years of motherhood. Some situations that have taught me lessons that will come in handy the next few years:

Wally Ben is in the phase between sitting independently and crawling. When he started being able to sit with some toys spread out around him and entertain himself it was wonderful to be able to set him down, and take a break across the room for a few minutes. When he first started this sitting thing, we’d sit behind him so he could lean against our legs. When we took away the training wheels and he hadn’t figured out how to keep upright by himself, he’d on occasion tip one way or the other with such a gradual quality you’d almost expect someone to shout, “Timber!” So we’d surround his back with pillows to prevent the beating the back of his head was sure to take from the ground while he was figuring it all out. He didn’t know the pillow was there behind him, and we weren’t right there to catch him, but if he fell we knew he’d be okay, since we had set him up with the tools he needed to survive. It was very intentional support on our part, even though he might not know it’s there until he absolutely needs it.

As with all baby phases, this sit by yourself and play thing didn’t last long. He’s now not content with just sitting—he wants to be able to get those toys that fall out of reach. But he has no idea how. So he reaches and does the slow timber fall thing, but this time straight forward. Somehow the instinct to catch yourself is a learned quality, so hands remaining to the side, he does an inevitable faceplant. (You know the saying…you’ve got to crawl before you walk, but you’ve got to faceplant before you crawl.) Now this entire process gets him very angry. I don’t blame him, though, I’d be TOed also. First you smash your face, then you look up and that darn thing you want to chew on is still out of reach, and you are basically just a head and torso, since you don’t know how to use those limbs yet. Imagine being limbless, stuck stomach-down with a bowl of Moosetracks a few inches in front of you. You’d cry too!

What’s frustrating as a mom is to watch your kid struggle, to know exactly what he needs to do to learn and solve his problem, and to not be able to step in and do the work for him. We’ve tried helping him however we can—we’ve tried pulling his knees up beneath him to get him in crawl position, we’ve put our arms behind his feet so he has something to kick off from, and we’ve grabbed his hands and “walked” them forward. But the most effective thing we’ve done for him is to let him cry while he’s figuring it out, since if he doesn’t get the chance to work on it on his own he’ll never make any progress. I’m positive sometimes the best thing you can do for your kid is nothing. Stepping back certainly paid off—yesterday morning he cried and fussed as usual on his stomach, and in the process pulled himself forward inch by inch, grunting and fussing all the way, like a marathon runner who broke both his legs, pulling himself toward the finish line.

And a final metaphor: I am a little sad to be leaving the sitting phase behind, because it means new challenges for me but also because he’s growing up so fast. But more than that, I’m glad to see he’s growing up and doing a fine job of it. I know all babies crawl, but somehow when it’s your baby, you just want to do a cartwheel, give him a standing ovation, and write a blog post about it because you’re so proud. So, three cheers for Wally! Hip, hip….

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