10.04.2013

INDEPENDENCE

When she cut her first two teeth, we decided it was time to start introducing Josephine to finger foods. And over the past several months she has become a fantastic eater. I really can't think of anything she won't eat. With this new found love for self-feeding, though, came a strong hate for being spoon fed. Last week she flat out refused. She'd purse her lips and turn her head whenever the spoon came anywhere near her. It became a frustrating battle, and one I refused to fight. So one day I decided to strip her down, hand her a spoon and a bowl of yogurt, and let her go to town. I sat back and watched as she flung yogurt everywhere. Eventually, though, that spoon made its way to her mouth. The look on her face was priceless. See, mom, I can do it myself. It was a proud mama moment, for sure. She couldn't have gotten more than a few spoonfuls, but that's not the point.

I gave her a quick bath in the kitchen sink. Something she hasn't had since her tiny, newborn days. I cleaned yogurt out of her hair, ears, eyelashes, nose. All the while thinking how big this little moment was. I think it's natural to want to push back when our little ones try to assert their opinions in such a way. Especially when it comes to feeding and safety. I tried to coax that spoon in her mouth by any means possible. In my mind, I knew what was best. I am the mama. So silly to think about now! Once I flipped my thinking, though, I saw this event for what it really was. A milestone. She is growing. She's becoming independent. She won't be spoon fed forever. She has to learn to do it on her own eventually. It has begun.

I catch flickers of this budding independence regularly now. Just the other day I left her in her room while I switched over the laundry. Usually she'd notice my absence and come crawling to find me. This time I returned to find her plopped in the middle of a pile of books she had pulled off the shelf, flipping through the pages and babbling away. She sits and plays in her teepee a couple feet away while I get some work down on the computer. I fill to the brim with pride when I see her doing something on her own. Even something so small as turning the pages of a book as I read it to her. This does mean she is getting further and further from my baby. And I often feel my emotions being pulled in such opposite directions when I think about that. I still get sad. But in a way it's like a breath of fresh air. I just think of all the new experiences this independence and autonomy will lead to.

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