Over the weekend, Aaron and I took some much needed time to weed through Nora’s clothes. Since she potty trained early, and she’s kind of on the lean side, she fits into 24 month/2 T tops and 18 month (or sometimes 12 month) bottoms. All of her 18 month tops are now like belly shirts, so it was time to organize. We also took the opportunity to clean out her closet, which was crammed with old toys and clothes, to make room to actually hang up (for the first time) her sweaters, coats, and dresses.
Because we know (as much as we can know) that we’re only having one child, there’s something that feels a little wasteful about the accumulation of stuff during the path from infant to toddler. In our basement, we have piles and stacks of clothes that Nora has outgrown, from size 3 month to 18 month. We have toys that she doesn’t use anymore or that we don’t like. We have baby carriers and strollers we no longer need. And it’s just sitting there, waiting to be passed along to someone else or to be sold.
In the same way, we’ve had to set aside some of the skills that we’ve learned, to make room for the skills needed to raise a toddler. I no longer need to worry about how to best tie a Moby, because my wiggly toddler would never sit still for getting in the wrap. (I know its safe for up to 35-pounds, but Nora started to reject babywearing about 6 to 8 months ago.) I no longer need to worry about how to soothe a child out of a non-verbal tantrum, because now we are starting to talk about our feelings. I no longer need to do everything one-handed, because Nora can climb up into her Learning Tower and work right next to me.
I don’t really know if I’ve emotionally or mentally caught up with all of her changes. I feel like I’m constantly one developmental leap behind, honing my skills to cope with one phase just as she is coming out of it. I admire those other parents, who somehow manage to adapt their methods while the child changes, providing developmentally appropriate discipline and love in equal measure. These past two years, I’ve struggled with balancing between treating her like a baby/toddler/child and recognizing that she’s smarter than I can really know.
I never really thought about the speed of change that a family goes through, from snuggling a 6-1/2-pound newborn to chasing a 24-pound bundle of energy, until I actually went through it myself. I also never thought about how difficult it must be for the child, since its her body and mind changing every day. It’s hard to hold on to this though, when you’re in the middle of it, until you have the opportunity to see how far you’ve come.
When cleaning out her toys from the closet, Nora rediscovered her tummy time mat/baby gymnasium from when she was an infant. We probably haven’t used it since she was six months old, because she was the type of baby who didn’t want to be set down often. Despite our best efforts to keep it in the basement, Nora wants to play with it again. She calls it the baby mat. Sometimes, she sets one of her baby dolls underneath it, helping the baby nap by covering it with a blanket (cloth napkin). Other times, she tries to crawl underneath it and play with the hanging toys, even though she barely has to lift her arm to bat at them.
It’s a little funny to see her in there, head and toes stretching beyond the borders of the mat, so clearly beyond this once necessary tool. I can almost see her infant body, superimposed over her lanky toddler body, rolling around on the yellow and red polyester. It’s a hazy memory, from some other distant life.
It makes me wonder what we’ll grow out of next.