This past Tuesday, and by that I mean three days ago, Carolyn stood unsupported for the first time, wobbling in place for five seconds. She stood on her own a few more times Wednesday and Thursday, gaining a little more experience and confidence each time.
This morning, she started walking. They’re tentative, almost spastic steps, but she can get from one person to another without any support at all. Her facial expression as she does so is a bizarre mixture of pure concentration and pure joy–almost as if she knows this is really, really hard, and yet loves to do it so much that she can barely breathe.
Remember, this is the little girl who didn’t even start crawling until about six weeks ago. Now she’s walking, and she’s started crawling up the stairs to boot. I can hardly believe it. It’s almost like she was uninterested in mobility until she twigged onto the fact that she could actually move from place to place on her own… and once she figured that out, well, Katy bar the door.
And honestly, I’m not sure who’s more excited, her or us. Yeah, I know, she’s walking now and that means our lives will never be the same, we’ll wonder why we were ever excited about this, blah blah parental scare stories blah. You know what? I will never wonder why I was excited about this. As she’s moved through every stage, I’ve cherished and enjoyed where she was on each day, and how she’d changed from the past. Kat has as well. I think we’ll be free of the wistful regrets that so many other parents have talked about, saying things like, “Oh, I just couldn’t wait for little Joey to start talking, but now he just won’t stop with the chattering and I wonder why I ever wanted him to change!” No matter how jovial the tone or wry the expression, there always seems to be an undercurrent of seriousness, as if they really do wish that little Joey would just shut up… or, at the least, that they’d fully appreciated the pre-talking stage.
I don’t know that we’ll ever understand that view, and I can’t say that bothers me. Every time Carolyn makes a developmental advance, it’s a new and fascinating time. But more immediately, every single day is exciting and wonderful, as we watch her figure out this thing or that; just share playtime with her; or take her for a walk in the yard to touch the trees’ bark, pull up tiny handfuls of the grass, and tilt back to look at the sky with storm-gray eyes full of awe.
Now she walks. Soon, she’ll start signing to us. A few months from now, she’ll begin to really talk; she’s already starting to assemble the rudiments of language, imitating things we say as best she can. One day, she’ll go to kindergarten, and later to grade school. In the farther future, she’ll become a teenager, and then a woman. At every turning point, we’ll celebrate who she is and what she’s doing, and never regret the times that have passed into memory.
Keep walking, little one. We’re right behind you.