Put Isla down for a nap and forgot I’d left some toilet rolls on the bed. Heard a rustling on the baby monitor and figured Isla had woken from her nap – went in to get her and found she’d helped herself to a little snack lol! Couldn’t stop laughing! (And don’t worry, I didn’t let her swallow any – she was just having such fun I had to get a couple of pictures!)
This is a little ode to Scarlett – a compilation of photos from the first year of her life that I have been working on. I’ve watched it about a million times and it makes me teary every time!
This has been such a rollercoaster year. It hasn’t always been easy. I didn’t take to motherhood as instantly as I had always thought I would. There have been hard times and dark days. But she has always been amazing. She is such a good, happy, funny little girl. She has such a nutty personality and watching it unfold and grow is just amazing.
I would say that things have gotten steadily more enjoyable for me as a mum since about 7 months old, when she started being able to move around on her own. Since then, I have found myself enjoying her more and more. I genuinely love hanging out with her, she makes me laugh constantly, even when I’m grumpy. I love the way she chats and babbles and giggles and dances and squeals. I love that big cheeky grin.
Becoming a mum has been a challenge and a struggle and a massive learning curve for me. But it has also opened me up to a level of love that I never knew was possible. My heart bursts at the seams with how much I adore her. Even when I’m struggling, I know that it’s me that’s the problem, me that has a lesson to learn – she is always perfect. She is my teacher, not the other way around.
She has changed so much in just one year – I can’t imagine what life will be like in another year’s time, who she will become. But I’m just so goddamn blessed that I get to go along for the ride 😀
In the past couple of months, I feel bubba’s main development has been in her language. She’s more confident in pulling herself to standing and scooting along the edge of the couch, and then crouching back down to the ground again. But her strongest steps forward have been in her talking.
Not that she’s “talking” in the sense of using words with meaning yet. A silly little pet peeve of mine is when people claim their child’s “first word” when actually they are still babbling. Sounds like “dadadad” and “mummmmm” are just babies playing with their mouths and voices for a long time. I personally consider a “first word” to be the first word a child uses with intent – consciously knowing that making this mixture of sounds is semantically linked with a specific object, person or meaning.
So I guess, in a way, Scarlett has kind of said her first word – “ta” (for readers in the northern hemisphere, we use “ta” to mean thank you, or in the sense of “ta to Dad”, meaning “give it to Dad please”). She now says “ta” whenever she wants something, and that something is usually food! Whenever she sees the punnet of strawberries (or as I like to call them, Scarlett-crack), she cracks a huge smile and starts expectantly chanting “ta! ta! ta! ta!” The other day I was cooking her some fritters and I gave her a bit to taste. As soon as she finished it, she looked up at me and started going “ta! ta!” So while “ta” may not be a complicated word, and she may not be strictly using it in the sense of “thank you”, she has still figured out that a certain combination of sounds has a meaning that can be used to communicate her desires… so I guess her first word is “ta!”
She also likes to babble away in her own Scarlett language. I love to hear her chatting! She makes sounds I’ve never heard a baby make before – she really likes to explore all the noises her mouth can make. One of her favourites is “gud” (which sounds disconcertingly like “good”). “Gud gud gud gud gud” never fails to make me laugh.
I like it when she sits with her books, telling her own little stories. She is growing to really love her books. I am a bookworm to the core and I have always derived a great deal of enjoyment from books, so I would love to be able to share that with her. Her favourite book so far is Hairy Maclairy, a children’s book by a New Zealand author that reminds me of my own childhood. I love it how she sits there listening, turning the pages and pointing to the pictures.
She has her moments, but she really is, for the most part, a happy chatty little girl. I am incredibly blessed that most nights (touch wood!) she sleeps straight from about 8 pm to 7 am (sometime with the odd grizzle for the dummy back in, but resettling only takes a few minutes these days). She loves daycare – hanging out with the other kiddies, getting dirty in the sandpit and eating lots of yum food. She’s learning to give dad kisses on the cheek – well, they’re more like open mouthed slobbers, but still!
In two weeks it will be her birthday and I can’t believe it! Life has changed so much and yet in some ways the time has flown. I am so blessed to be mum to such a beautiful little girl.
As a first time mum, I try as much as possible to avoid falling into what I call The Milestone Trap.
At times it can seem like all around me there are babies who are rolling, crawling, walking, joining mensa… you know, reaching all those big milestones, while my own baby is nowhere near it. As a first timer, it can make you start to question… “Is something wrong with my baby?” “Why isn’t my bubba doing that yet?”
When I find myself falling into that trap of comparison, I have to remind myself that there is a huge range of “normal” when it comes to children, especially babies. Even physiotherapists have been known to say that “there is no abnormal under 1”. I’ve heard of babies walking at 7 months, and I’ve heard of babies that didn’t crawl until they were 11 months and then were off and walking two weeks later.
The most important point to remember is that neither way is better. Doing it earlier doesn’t mean the baby is cleverer or that the parent is somehow doing a better job. Doing it later doesn’t mean the baby is slow or dumb or that it’s due to slack parenting. All babies develop on their own schedule when it is right for them.
Some parents find themselves wanting to rush their baby along – to “teach” it how to crawl, to stand, to walk. I think, if you do this, you run two great risks. Firstly you risk pushing the baby out of alignment with its own natural line of development and pushing it into skills its not ready for. And secondly, by always looking ahead and wanting your baby to be doing the next thing, the next thing, the next thing… you risk not being able to stop and appreciate your baby just exactly as they are right now.
So your baby doesn’t crawl yet? Unless they’re over one or show other signs of developmental delay… who cares? There are lots of advantages to having a baby that can’t get into the kitchen drawers! Just enjoy it. Enjoy who your baby is. Enjoy watching your baby develop on its own timeframe. Don’t be in a hurry. Because the time will come when you look back on this age with a kind of aching nostalgia and wish you could go back and hold that sweet still infant on your lap again and smell their head… without being punched in the face.
This is a video I absolute love, of a baby called Liv as she develops the skills of rolling over and crawling in the first year of life. What I absolutely love about this video is how it shows all the tiny little steps that lead up to the bigger milestone – placing her feet together, kicking the floor… little things that may go unnoticed but are actually crucial stepping stones in the learning process that eventually end up in the big action you’ve been waiting for.
Another thing I love about it is the look of absolute pride on her face when she learns to roll over. Another risk of trying to teach a baby something it’s not ready for is that you deprive it of that proud feeling of acheivement babies get when they figure something out all by themselves.
At the moment, Scarlett has just learned to pull herself up to standing while holding onto the couch. Every time she does it, she gets the biggest grin and laughs. It’s the cutest thing ever! She’s so proud of herself and so amazed at what she just made her body do.
And so I try not to get caught up in the big milestones. They aren’t the only milestones anyway. I remember the day she smiled for the first time, without it being followed by a burp or a poo…
|Bubba’s first smile at 10 days old 🙂|
I remember the day she lay and examined each individual finger one by one, as if just discovering that they were separate from each other…
|Hrmmm, I found these little sausages on my hands…|
I remember the first time she laughed at something because she found it funny, not because I was trying to make her laugh (I sat her up in the bath for the first time instead of lying her down – she slapped the water and thought it was the most hilarious thing ever!)…
|Baths are fun!|
I remember so many little funny gorgeous things… things that aren’t in most baby books or developmental emails, things only a mumma would notice. And somehow that makes them all the more special to me, those little milestones, those tiny moments frozen in time. And they’re all part of the process, all part of her learning about herself and her world, just as much as the big, well known milestones like crawling and walking.
Whenever I catch myself comparing her to other babies, I just use it as a trigger thought to remind me to appreciate her for exactly who she is, as she is. She is my Scarlett, she is doing things her way (as is every baby), and why would I wish her any different? She is perfect just as she is.
When my bubba was very small, my mum sent me this poem she had heard years ago. It brings tears to my eyes everytime I read it. Screw the washing and the cleaning – my small excuse, you’re growing too fast.
Oh Child Asleep Upon My Knee
Oh child asleep upon my knee
what will your memories be of me?
When you are grown and think of now,
will you stop and remember how
the floors were dusty as you played
and dishes seldom put away,
I rarely got to make those beds…
or all those books we read and read?
Will you remember on the chair
the pile of wrinkled nappies there
that seemed to stay forever, or,
the other things I had time for?
You might recall my face was plain,
hair unkempt and apron stained,
or how from school back home you’d tear
safe knowing I was always there.
Oh child asleep upon my knee
you’ve made my life such luxury.
If not for you I’d have to do
the cleaning and the ironing too,
I couldn’t move at my own pace,
I’d have to join in the rat race.
From nine to five in stiffened clothes
with clipped-up hair and powdered nose.
You fill my life with many reasons
for being lazy through the seasons.
But with each autumn as you grow
I think it’s such a shame to know
my small excuse, you’re growing fast
this peaceful life, it will not last.
But perhaps when I am old and grey
my grandchildren will come to stay,
and with housework neglected then
my house I know will shine again.
Well, we are almost at the end of another month and bubba is becoming such a little person. I feel like she has gotten so much bigger recently… not necessarily physically, just less… baby-like. My little baby has gone! In her place is this little girl who gets cleverer and more independent by the day.
Early in the month she figured out clapping all by herself – and decided to express her love for food by applauding every mouthful.
The daycare lady had been trying to elicit a wave from bubba for ages and drawing only blank “what the hell are you doing” stares. But once she had discovered clapping, she soon decided waving was good fun too. Although she doesn’t quite grasp the “coming and going” sense of it, more just that it’s a fun way to flail your arms around and get people to exclaim happily in high pitched voices.
And then a few days ago, we discovered that she could stand against the couch all by herself! She has always loved to be held into a standing position – but one day I let go and she just kept standing there! Holding onto the couch mind you, but still… she was pretty darn proud of herself and I couldn’t believe what a grown up little girl she looked.
The next day she even pulled herself into a standing position. It’s only happened the once so far, but I was pretty surprised! Clever monkey!
A funny thing happened the other night. I’ve never really played peekaboo with her cos she never really seemed to “get” it – she would just look at me like “seriously?” But then the other night, she was down the end of the couch and she started peeking over the top, cracking up laughing and dropping down again. She did it over and over, it was so cute!
I feel like she has changed so much over the past few weeks and I feel like I’m settling more and more into motherhood. As she grows and becomes more interactive and more like a little person, I find myself enjoying it more and more. Yes, I still get frustrated. But I’m learning that the trick is to alter my expectations. If I don’t expect to spend an hour reading my book, if I don’t expect to sleep through the night without interruption, then I don’t have to get frustrated when those expectations/desires aren’t met. And when I do happen to get a moment with my book or a good night’s sleep, then I can just enjoy them as happy little bonuses. All in all, I’m starting to see what this motherhood thing is all about.
The older she gets, the more rewarding it gets. I would say I’ve definitely enjoyed this age the most so far. The only thing I’m not quite sure of is whether that’s actually because of her age or because of my own personal growth.