Monday, October 4, 2010

Walk This Way

It’s official: Ryan can walk. Life as I know it is now over. He’s been on the verge for several weeks now, lurching from object to object, taking a step or two unaided before unceremoniously plopping down on the floor, careening wildly between pieces of furniture. But we managed to capture a solid 6 or 7 steps on video the other day.

My favorite part of the video is watching the expression on his face transform from a victorious grin into a round-mouthed “uh-oh” face as he starts to list to his left. He’s been determinedly and deliberately working on his walking skill, and he is truly proud of his accomplishment (and not just because Mummy & Daddy cheer like a couple of whackaloons every time he takes a few steps). He grins and chortles and hoots with excitement every time he gets from one place to the other on his own two feet. After all, self-propulsion is a pretty big deal!

Being able to walk represents a huge leap in terms of his independence and freedom. If he doesn’t have to hang onto my hands as he explores, he gets to decide where to go instead of allowing himself to be steered away from all kinds of interesting places. He doesn’t have to wait for me to have my hands free to trot across the room. He might even get to spend less time strapped into a stroller once he gets a bit steadier on his feet. He has his hands free to feel and pat and grab and explore the world around him.

And as exciting as that is for both of us, I can’t help but feel a tiny pang that he doesn’t need me quite as much any more. Learning to walk on his own is just the first of many little steps towards independence for him. Today, it’s walking on his own, but soon it will be getting on the school bus by himself, driving a car on his own, getting an apartment away from home. But then, that’s the whole point of being a mom: teaching him how to not need me. So as bittersweet as these moments of independence are, they’re also signs that I’m doing my job right. And I know that if I continue doing my job right, he won’t always need to have me around – but he’ll always want to have me around.

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