My baby started walking last week. Honestly, although first steps are probably the most celebrated childhood milestone (followed by baby’s first word and first day of school), I think learning to crawl was a more momentous accomplishment, since it transformed my snugly newborn into a little man on the move. This new development is momentous nonetheless. Our son will continue to crawl faster than he can walk for some time, but my husband and I are aware that this is the beginning of the end of the infant era.
Each major developmental milestone is bittersweet. I am incredibly proud of my son; he has devoted many hours of focused practice and endured lots of bumps and bruises in his efforts to learn to walk. When he finally got the hang of it last week, he squealed with joy as he tottered around, grunting with frustration whenever he lost his balance and ended up back on his bum. Even now, a week later, I still stop what I am doing to watch him walk. It is so adorable!
For months, my husband and I have watched our baby develop the strength to support himself on his legs, then the skill to pull himself up to standing, then the confidence to stand unsupported, and then the coordination to lift one foot. Seeing him figure out how to put everything together is like hearing a symphony for the first time. It is magical.
At the same time, however, seeing our son stagger around the house, especially in his smart winter vests and sweaters, is visual proof that our baby is growing up. He is really beginning to look and act like a little boy. My husband and I can no longer supervise our son’s playtime from the kitchen or computer desk; we need to follow him from room to room. He is no longer content to snuggle on my lap in a plane or in Church; he wants to get down and explore. Soon my baby may not want to cuddle at all.
I am glad that my son is becoming more independent. It is a natural part of the maturation process that will continue his whole life. I want him to explore his surroundings and learn about the world, secure in the confidence that his parents will protect him from dangers and pick him up when he falls. For now, our son’s early steps are mostly towards my husband or me, but soon he will start running away from us and it will become increasingly difficult to keep him safe.
Last week, my son learned to let go of the furniture and walk, but I am still afraid to let go of him.