Another Milestone

Walking was amazing, but as a milestone that leaves a pit in my stomach, it wasn’t one of them. Crawling, too. Big, but relief more than anything.

Laughter was big, mostly because for the first few months of her life Abigail was a frowny, frowny baby. I mean, seriously:

So these were big deals, but I’d been preparing for them. In little increments, we could see it happening. Light peeking through the cracks of an already well-lit room.

I am amazed at the things I am clueless about. Well, “amazed” in that it’s incredible that I miss certain elements to parenting and my child remains thriving, let alone breathing. I can never shake the feeling that other moms are way more engaged than I am. It didn’t even occur to me until a neighbor/friend mentioned it to me that spring and summer are coming along, and it’s time to get Miss Abigail used to wearing shoes and walking. She hates shoes. Hates them. Tears them off. All kids do. But, you know, she’s a toddler now and walking is now her primary means of getting from point A to point B and dear God she needs to learn to walk in shoes and I need to get on that.

This had not even dawned on me. And it’s not the end of the world – we’d figure it out – but there are so many things for them to learn and some of them so subtle that it truly makes me wonder what the hell else I’m missing.

I felt this way about solid food. Now? Now the girl eats just about everything and anything. Although not pasta, but I haven’t given up hope. Anyway, I was struck dumb by how not engaged and concerned I was about the whole exposure to different textures and sorts of food, for so long, especially after I learned that other kids become exposed to this stuff way earlier than we did AG.

These revelations didn’t make me more engaged, of course, because I am who I am and I refuse to all of a sudden get particularly persnickety about, well, anything, as I think AG would see right through me and smell blood, whether she’s cognizant of that or not. The shoes. The food. Oh the things I am probably doing wrong.

And so it came to pass about bottle-weaning. Look, I don’t hate bottles. I hated that I didn’t produce any milk so that I could breastfeed AG, so I suppose that’s why I was grateful for formula and bottles and the accoutrements that comes with them.  I didn’t get to bond with my kid through breastfeeding, and so it was that we had to use bottles.

The only times when AG was truly chill, and would succumb to some snuggling, was after a bottle. What’s not to like?

Three weeks ago – four? – I was out at the movies with some of my girlfriends, all of whom are these very Buddha Mamas to me. They are each very kind, very practical and therefore very wise about All-Things-Baby. I mentioned the whole bottle thing to them, and unanimously they all replied that you just pull the plug. “They get a cup, they figure it out,” my friend, Katie, told me. Sara and Jamie concurred. By their kids’ first birthdays, the bottles were put away.

I’d been working with sippy cups with AG, but she didn’t take to them very well, and I refused to buy eight different varieties. This, I think, is the long-standing residue of Life With A Colicky Baby. Those three months of screaming, and the subsequent HUNDREDS of dollars of I was suckered into spending on contraptions that all promised to get us some sleep, have meant I don’t easily give in to buying things in the name of Abigail’s ease. Mostly I’ve learned that she’ll get to things in her good time, she’s going to have to adjust and that means sucking it up on everything from not getting more puffs to sippy cups.


The kid needed to drink. And if I was going to unceremoniously pull the plug on bottles, I had to get her used to drinking out of a cup. Every morning I make a green monster, and lately Abigail had expressed an interest in them. I’d let her suck from my straw and have some. She took to the straw pretty easily, which meant a light bulb turned on in the cavernous, dark expanse that is my brain. Within a week, Abigail was toddling around the house with her Ni Hao, Kai Lan sippy cups – which, by the way, I had no idea what the hell show “Ni Hao, Kai Lan” was until the nanny told me. I just thought it was a cute cup and more awesome than Disney Princesses.

The weird thing is we never really made a decision about when AG’s last bottle would be. It was never really like that. I didn’t have any moment with her where I cherished our last bottle snuggle. A day after her first birthday, AG’s nanny casually mentioned she was going to test out her nap time to see if AG would do OK without a bottle beforehand. Here we are, a week later, and AG hasn’t had a bottle since.

Oh, we’ve had some cranky moments. She’s her father’s daughter – mornings are a bit ugly around here until some people get their fixes. During the weekend before naps and bedtime, she screamed at a decibel none of us have heard since The Colic Days. I mean, that was one pissed off, no-bottle-getting baby. But within minutes – literally – she was asleep as usual and had no change to her sleeping patterns. It hadn’t even dawned on me that that would be a possibility, which I suppose was for the best or I would have kept her on the bottle for good.

In short, we lucked out. Like so many things when it comes to parenting, we’re all so tempted to pat ourselves on the back when generally it’s about setting our kids up for the opportunity to show what they’re made of and seeing what happens next.

But, you know, by Sunday the bottles still hadn’t been put away. The formula was still sitting out. The warmer still plugged in in the bathroom upstairs. When Abigail was two weeks old, and we had to usher these things into our lives, I was slightly (read: “super”) peeved that yet more unintended pieces of my personal real estate – no matter how small – in the house was being absconded by a person whose neck muscles were as of yet undeveloped.

(Oh, postpartum depression. You were such a charmer. In the years to come, AG will start off every session she has with a new therapist with, “Well, it started when my mom was diagnosed with postpartum depression…”)

Now here we are. A large swatch of our kitchen counter has returned. My bathroom no longer sports that thin coat of grainy, sticky formula detritus over it. Even the top rack of our dishwasher has a little give, a little breathing room. Scott is not bottling up the “Just-In-Case-She-Wakes-Up” bottle of water and bringing it with him upstairs when we head off to bed.

As I packed up everything and sent it off to join all of the other pieces leftover from Abigail’s first year, I felt a little of the life get sucked out of me, too. I was a little dizzy – caught between that space where you know this is not a huge fucking deal so get over yourself and the other part where you want to let that maudlin sentimentality just soak right in to every one of your pores because no one’s watching you being this much of a sap about the fact that your child no longer uses a damn bottle.

I steadied myself before I fell over the parental precipice, though I allowed myself a little gluttonous roll in the twinge my stomach gave once I set down the bag of Dr. Brown’s next to her cradle swing.

I have said before that I was not built for parenting a baby. But I don’t know now that it’s so much that as it is that I had a colicky baby and postpartum depression and so it was a hard road to travel, as it is for so many whose experience mirrors our own. I am happier, though, parenting a toddler.

Even one who now greets me each night when I get home by marching into the middle of the dining room to stand and gleefully screech at eardrum-busting levels with all of her might.

Just the same, all of that extra space seems so empty now. We’ll fill it with sippy cups and puffs crumbs, I know. But I miss my baby already.