Today, Elmo took his first few independent steps. It was a bittersweet moment for us. On one hand, we’ve been raring for him to start walking. There are moments when we catch him already able to stand on his own. These are unguarded moments, even *he* is NOT aware of. Because when he becomes conscious that he is standing on his own, he panics and frantically grabs on to something for support. 😛 (Reminds me actually of Wile E. Coyote chasing the Road Runner, and runs right off a cliff, only to fall *after* realizing that he is suspended in mid-air. )
Anyway, back to Elmo, he is still hesitant about walking alone, and would still hold on to our hands, steering us to where he wants to go. This afternoon at the airport (while waiting for our flight to board), we walked around, exploring the Departures area. Elmo had his little fingers laced around mine. When suddenly, he let go. I panicked, thinking he just accidentally loosened his grip and would slide. But to my surprise, he just continued walking… his first few steps… alone. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I can still feel how his grip slipped off my fingers, and see his little back retreating from me, as I went after him, afraid he might fall.
But he didn’t. 😉
We knew he was going to start walking soon. We always have our iPADs and smartphones with us, ready for this monumental milestone… Or so we thought we were ready. Everything happened so fast. We were so caught up in the moment, and weren’t able to capture it. I’m attempting to preserve the memory by writing about it, but even these very words seem insufficient.
Terci once told me that the purpose of parenting is to equip our children with the skills necessary for them to leave us. We see it in nature: a lion teaching its cub to hunt for food, a mother bird teaching its young to fly. And we humans are no exception. This thought brings a little ache to my heart. For as much as we anticipate and celebrate Elmo’s little victories, I know that each milestone is an assertion of his independence. Each crawl, each walk, is a step away, apart from us.
There’s this poem making the rounds of the Internet, which serves as a reminder of how fleeting and precious these moments are.
The Last Time (from http://www.bellebebes.co.uk/)
From the moment you hold your baby in your arms,
you will never be the same.
You might long for the person you were before,
When you had freedom and time,
And nothing in particular to worry about.
You will know tiredness like you never knew it before,
And days will run into days that are exactly the same,
Full of feedings and burping,
Nappy changes and crying,
Whining and fighting,
Naps or a lack of naps,
It might seem like a never-ending cycle.
But don’t forget…
There is a last time for everything.
There will come a time when you will feed your baby
for the very last time.
They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you ever hold your
One day you will carry them on your hip,
then set them down,
And never pick them up that way again
You will scrub their hair in the bath one night
And from that day on they will want to bathe alone.
They will hold your hand to cross the road,
They will never reach for it again.
They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles,
And it will be the last time you ever wake to this.
One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus”
and do all the actions,
Then never sing them that way again.
They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate,
The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone.
You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your
last dirty face.
They will one day run to you with arms raised,
for the very last time.
The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time
Until there are no more times, and even then,
it will take you a while to realise.
So while you are living in these times,
remember there are only so many of them and
when they are gone,
you will yearn for just one more day of them.
For one last time.