Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Baby Steps of Parenting

My littlest one, Collin, is now 14 months. I guess technically you'd call him a toddler (despite my attempts to keep him as a baby). Fourteen month olds are adorable. They have infectious smiles and giggles. They have pudgy legs and arms that make my heart melt. They can light up a room simply by waving "bye bye."

Despite their adorableness, 14 month olds are a lot of work! They're needy when you want them to be a little more independent. (Have you ever tried to chop veggies holding a 14 month old?) Then, they're independent when you want them to be a little more needy. (Try keeping a 14 months old in a shopping cart. They suddenly embrace their inner "free spirit"!)

The biggest challenge with 14 month olds is that they are unpredictable. You never know what new skill they will pick up at any moment. Within the last month Collin has learned to climb up and (somewhat) down stairs, mount the couch and open up toilet lids.

Yesterday was one of those days; Collin discovered a new skill. The kids and I were off for a Costco run. I was scurrying around the house gathering everything needed for the store. A few minutes later I discovered Collin was no longer sitting at my feet playing quietly. I frantically searched my parameters. I noticed the door to our garage was ajar. I then spotted Collin toddling around the garage. You see, Collin had learned how to open the door. My world was about to be rocked!

I'm not sure if I'm ready for Collin to open doors. That makes my job a lot harder, in more ways than one. I've got to watch what doors he opens and decide whether he can handle what lies beyond the door.

Right now the doors just lead to the garage, but who knows what other "doors" he'll attempt to open in the future. Will I be prepared for that? Will I know if Collin can handle all that resides beyond each egress he'll encounter?

Doors keep can keep things out and keep other things in, but you can't get anywhere without opening them. My job as a parent is to help him open (the right) doors and watch him get to the place he needs to be. As much as I want to keep him on my side of the door, the journey of motherhood begins by helping him make that exit. I just hope someday he'll walk back in.

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