Of all the milestones babies reach in their first year here on earth, walking (to most parents) is the most monumental. We applaud them when they first smile, sleep through the night, roll over, eat solid foods, clap their little hands, and crawl. But those first steps. We wait for those. With baited breath and a stuttering heart.
The first time baby puts one foot in front of the other, unaided, the whole parenting game you thought you had going on is suddenly turned upside down. The rules change mid-play. You want to holler foul the first time they fall down. But fall down they will. Over and over again. Your sweet angel baby is no longer content to rest quietly in your lap. They want down. They need down. They have places to go and who are you to hold them back!
So you revise your strategies. You baby proof all those spots they couldn't get too before. You continue to drag your stroller everywhere, but with the knowledge that they will only sit there for the ride and once arrived, will demand release from the straps. You now have to remember to put shoes on them because, hello! They are walking.
Sugarbaby took her first tentative steps a few weeks ago at a friend's house during a fish fry. I was sitting at the table gorging on hushpuppies and fried crappie, drinking a cold one, when out of the blue she took 5 steps across the kitchen straight to me. Everyday since then she has ventured a few more steps. I had been waiting on this day. So excited for the time when I wouldn't have to constantly hold her due to unsanitary floor conditions. Or worry about her adorable outfit becoming unwearable, simply because she crawled everywhere and oh lord it doesn't matter how many times you clean your floor, your babies knees and hands will still look like a used Swiffer.
But walking doesn't automatically make them more self-sufficient or your job as a parent any easier. While it gives your arms a break, it does a number on your legs and back. You will now be chasing baby everywhere. Baby will think that is super funny. "Look at mommy bending over again to get me out of trouble. Ha ha! Mommy can't fit under the clothes rack at Old Navy to retrieve me. I think I'll just do this over and over until I drive Mommy batshit crazy." I hate to tell her it's too late for that.
Sugarbaby has taken this whole mobility thing very seriously. She's downgraded to one nap a day instead of two. Probably to have more hours in the day to practice her toddling. But I can't help but feel kind of sad. Like she is walking away from me instead of too me. Because isn't this just the first of the multiple walking milestones? First there is just the walking. Then there is walking in the door of Kindergarten. Then there is walking to get in her very own car. Then walking on the stage for graduation. Then walking out the door to college. Then walking down the aisle.
How could this sweet baby do all that in the next 20 or so years?