Recently we visited a friend one afternoon, and when we got home I exhaled dramatically, “WHEW! That was crazy! That house is NOT set up for a toddler!”
We’d spent the entire evening chasing Anna around their house, keeping her from the stairs, out of the toilet, away from drawers and cabinets and from pulling lamps over on her head. It was exhausting.
But here’s the exhausting reality. I do the same thing at my house, all day long.
There’s not a house in the world that’s set up for a toddler.
It’s been two months since my last update and, my, how Anna has grown. Most notably, in the past two months she’s transformed from a sweet baby into a toddler who is most certainly not going to get her security deposit back.
And perhaps I should clarify — the reason I’m calling Anna a “toddler” and not a “baby” is because of this month’s most exciting development: Anna is walking.
She, quite adorably, took her first steps on Christmas Eve during our church’s worship service. She spent some time as a sometimes walker/usually crawler, then one day she just sort of figured it out.
She’s still wobbly and sometimes crawls, but she almost always walks when she has somewhere to go. She can even do fancy moves like stopping and turning around, picking up toys, and walking through a room strewn with blocks and plastic food. Sometimes she and Thomas do laps in our living room. He race-walks around her while she shrieks with laughter and tries to keep up.
Anna spends all of her time climbing and exploring. It’s good, right? It shows that she’s growing and developing, and she’s curious and learning about the world around her. I hope so, because that’s what I tell myself when she empties the Tupperware drawer again.
I know that this stage of intrepid destruction will end eventually, and I know that the best thing I can do is manage it, and create safe spaces for her to explore and make messes. And every single day I remind myself that I survived one climber, I can survive another.
Anna continues to be a phenomenal napper, subpar sleeper, and incredible eater. She easily eats three times as much as her siblings. Her favorite foods are proteins. She loves cheese, any meat, and eggs. I mentioned that preference to her doctor and she laughed and said, “Well, yeah! A growing girl knows what she needs!”
That’s when I should have asked about Anna’s other strong preferences. Perhaps a growing girl needs to play in the cat food?
Anna has started babbling in a different, deliberate way. You can tell she has a lot to say, but her immature lips and tongue won’t cooperate. With raised eyebrows and her head tilted in seriousness, she says quite clearly, “DA! BO KE NA BE VOOO.”
I have an alarm on my phone set to remind us when it’s time to get to the bus stop. When she hears it, her head pops up like a meerkat and she starts babbling and toddling very quickly in no particular direction.
This is just one example of how Anna is claiming her place as one of the kids and not just “baby along for the ride.” She wants to be included so badly, even when she doesn’t know what’s going on.
This month, because I keep getting mastitis, we switched up her bedtime routine and now Tom puts her to bed. Her transition to this new routine was almost immediate (and, if you’re wondering, it didn’t help her nighttime sleep one bit). It’s the beginning of what I can already tell will be the theme of her year: Anna is becoming one of the big kids, whether we’re ready or not.
Perhaps you noticed that I didn’t write a 13-month update. It was an intentional omission, a decision I made when I realized that your 13-month birthday would fall very close to Christmas, which is a busy time for
Santa parents. Prioritizing and saying no is one thing I’ve gotten a lot better at as a parent, it’s one of the luxuries you have as the fourth child — your mother gives herself a lot more grace in a lot more areas. It’s a change that, I think, benefits the kids just as much as the mom.
This month I got sick. Very, very, very sick with my fourth bout of mastitis. The doctor I saw taught me a lot about mastitis, and I learned that my recurrent mastitis isn’t caused by over production or milk stasis, but it probably caused by your biome or the way you nurse. The doctor didn’t tell me to wean you, but she said that’s what she’d do if she were me. And she said I might continue to get mastitis as long as I continue to nurse.
When I got home, I told your daddy what the doctor said and his response was maybe what most people’s would have been, “GREAT! Let’s start weaning today!”
As soon as the words came out of his mouth, I could feel a lump rising in my throat. I’m not ready yet. If you had seen how sick I was, you would agree that weaning makes the most sense. But it doesn’t to me, not yet.
Prioritizing, saying no, figuring out what is best, letting go, holding on; it’s an ongoing process, and we do best when we give each other grace. In this case, I’m holding on. It’s probably more for me than for you, I know. Letting go has always been hard for me.
Things will change as you get older and I get wiser and more experienced, but always know that I hold on not because I want to contain you, but because I love you. And know that while my grip is weak and imperfect, Jesus holds you with hands that are loving, unfailing, and sovereign. Now, always, and in every circumstance, it’s my prayer that you’ll draw near to Him.