A lot of my friends gave birth to their little ones right around the time that I had Jay, so I’ve been following all of the Instagrams, Facebook posts and Tweets of said friends as they document their toddlers’ development. One post made me want to Facebook hug someone a couple of weeks ago, just because I saw her photo, read her caption, and understood. And I wanted so badly to say, “it’ll be okay” without adding in the unnecessary crap about what pediatricians say and what webmd baby says, and what someone’s grandma said (because everyone else who left a comment managed to cover those bases.) Really, I thought to myself, it’ll be okay. Your baby boy will be okay. You’ll be okay.
Jay was what I used to refer to as a “late bloomer” when it came to walking – but, now that he’s full-fledged running, spinning, and jumping, I don’t refer to his development as “late” at all (in fact, can we backtrack? He’s making my 2015 goal to be more active much easier to stick to.) I was deeply insecure about the walking thing, and couldn’t understand why, at nearly 15 months, Jay showed absolutely no interest in trotting off on his own two feet. I avoided researching it and talking about it, and basically scowled when someone who was aware of my insecurity offered their own two cents. Really, though, just shut up as I sit here, worrying about my kid, okay?
Jay just wouldn’t freaking walk. He just wouldn’t. He didn’t like being guided, his hands or arms held, anything. He did not want any part in walking, was not interested in anything more than a foot above him, and was perfectly content chasing his toy cars around the house on all fours. I hurt inside. Mid-november, 15 months after his birth, and I felt like he was behind. He was ready for this, I thought, ready to walk, dammit. He’s beautiful, and getting smarter, and eating good food, and saying a few words, and playing great with other kids, and healthy… why isn’t he walking? He danced to music… on his knees.
Typically very open, I kept this one thing hidden. I knew that a whole world was waiting for this little guy of mine to explore, and that once he walked, he would have so much more fun. I tried to bury my worry and play with him as he crawled. I encouraged him to stand, to which he had little to no interest. Together, my husband and I – and the babysitter, when she was caring for Jay – would lure him around the coffee table by lining it with Kix, Cheerios, Gerber puffs (he would stumble around the table for those, thank goodness.)
One day, out of absolutely nowhere, he stood and randomly took 3-4 steps, falling right into my arms. That really is how it happens, folks. And from that point forward, there’s been a lot of moving forward – fast. Really, really fast.
And so, when my friend shared that her son showed no interest in walking, I knew what she was feeling. I knew this bothered her much more than it bothered her son, that he was content and would walk on his own time. I completely understood her and could see right through that semi-joking, lighthearted but packed with worry post. And today, he’s making laps around his house.
When I hear footsteps, I think a) I’m about to be ambushed in the bathroom, b) the “kee kee” is about to be found, and his tail is about to be pulled, or c) I wish I wouldn’t have wasted so much time worrying about Jay taking those first steps. Parents worry, and there’s little to nothing that can be said to help calm our worries completely, but I can’t count the number of times I wish someone would’ve simply said, “it’ll be okay,” to me – rather than the loads and loads of tricks to “teach” a baby to walk.
To all the worrisome mamas out there praying and hoping for those first steps – calm down and get comfy on the floor as your mini-me crawls around. You’ll miss these days, I promise!