The other day, I had a moment with Heidi that made me cry. To be honest, a lot of days she makes me cry, and it’s not always a happy cry. Sometimes it’s frustrated crying, sometimes it’s angry crying, sometimes it’s for-the-love-of-Mary-and-Martha-please-go-to-SLEEP crying.
But these tears were kind of sad. It was the middle of the afternoon and about time for Heidi’s nap. I used to swaddle her very tightly, rock her to sleep, and lay her in her crib. Sometimes I’d just cuddle her and I would nap also. Around two and a half months, we started swaddling her with one arm out to get her used to the freedom. Then a few weeks ago, she started sleeping unswaddled and never looked back. I always think she looks like such a big girl, sleeping in her crib all spread out as opposed to just a little burrito with eyes.
Anyway, I wrapped her lightly in a blanket instead, put her pacifier in her mouth, and started rocking her like usual. She was getting very sleepy and her eyes were starting to droop. Suddenly, she got really mad. She started squeeling and stiffening herself. I became exasperated, assuming she was fighting her naptime. At this point, I really…really…had to go to the bathroom, and I didn’t have time to calm her back down. So I lay her in her crib, her arms out, without even covering her with a blanket. I quickly went to the bathroom, fully expecting her to just lose it while I was gone.
But I never heard a thing. When I came back into her room, it was very quiet. I peeked into her crib, and her sweet little hand was grasping her blanket up to her face and she was fast asleep. I was surprised that I suddenly wanted to cry. She didn’t long to be held tight to my chest like she always did as a tiny baby. She didn’t seem to need me in that small way anymore. In fact, she basically said, “Put me down, Mom!!” One of my favorite things to do with Heidi has always been cuddling. When she was really little, I’d swaddle her, tuck her in the crook of my arm, and lay on the couch napping or watching a movie or even just watching her sleep. In the hospital, I took her from her little plastic crib several times, even when she wasn’t crying, because I couldn’t bare to see her laying there all alone. What if she was cold? Lonely? Scared? So I’d snatch her up, tuck her in next to me, and savor the warmth of her little body next to mine.
Several times since that day that she made me cry, the same scenario has occurred. I would rock her, and then she would get tired enough that she wanted to be laid down by herself. It makes me realize that there are moments with Heidi that are already gone. And she’s only four months old. There are things I used to do with her that I no longer need to do, such as cuddle for hours, sleep together on the couch, swaddle her so she feels safe, or rock her in her room while singing to her. Getting her to sleep is easier (most days) than it used to be. Several people told me I was spoiling her. Let her cry a little, they said. Let her learn to get to sleep on her own, they said. Don’t let her get used to cuddling, they said. (Not everyone but several people). But now that some of it is already past us, I’m so thankful I am spending time with my little girl as close to me as possible. Because the way she is starting to push me away (as much as a four month old can) is more heartbreaking than I thought it would be.
It makes me rethink my relationship with my mom. Yesterday, I was running errands with Heidi, and it was snowing out. My mom called me and peppered me with questions about the road, how long I planned to be gone, and if maybe I should head home early. I told her we were fine, and got a little frustrated with her for not trusting me to make these decisions on my own. But when I turn it around, and think of my own precious daughter out on the snowy roads running errands that could definitely wait, then I understand. (I’m sorry I got an attitude with you yesterday, Mom. LOVE YOU!).
I never thought I’d be one of those moms. You know, the ones that cry at everything. First tooth, first time crawling, first steps, first day in school. In fact, I always thought the first day of school would be cause for celebration because momma finally gets a break! But no. It IS a sad and proud moment every time your kid has another victory.
When I get sad about that, I cheer myself up by thinking of all the victories ahead. There is so much to look forward to! She’ll talk, walk, go to school, learn to read, make friends, try sports, go out to lunch with me, talk to me about school and her friends the boy she thinks is cute, drive for the first time, try to convince daddy to let her date even though he’ll say no….I mean, the memories will be endless. Plus, she is so much fun right now, it’d ridiculous.
I will do my best to soak up this time. I’ll get on the floor and play with her (which we’ve already done ALL morning today); I’ll laugh at the cereal she gets all over her face, up her nose, and on the floor; I’ll even try and laugh at her little screaming fits because sometimes they are just plain unreasonable.
I’ll let her be little. Because it doesn’t last very long.