I came home today after having been at work since the day prior. Work has been busy and I was asked to do overtime the night before. Entering the house I was greeted by your smiling brothers,while you were going back and forth between smiling and giving me the “I’m pissed off at you” look that you developed the weekend prior when I shaved my beard off. So you sat there, looking down your nose at me, brow furrowed, and sighing every few moments as if to say “I didn’t tell you that you could go to work for so long.”
You continued to give me the “look of disappointment” even after I took you in my arms and carried you around to all the places you liked. I mentioned to your mother that you felt heavier and she told me that you had gone through both a physical and a mental growth spurt. This is nothing new, as it seems that all our children break milestones whenever I work overtime. It has become somewhat of a tradition here, but I digress.
Bedtime came and, what is normally me putting the two older boys to bed while your mother nurses you to sleep, wound up with our roles reversed. Figuring that you would not go to sleep yet I held you on one arm and you started pointing at things like you normally do saying “dat” or “dis” and I would oblige by following your index finger and identifying whatever it was you were pointing at.
Then you pointed at the hallway connecting to the next room.
I said “Hall”. You pointed again in the same direction.
“It’s dark, the light is out.”
“You want to go in there?”
So I walked with you into the adjacent dark room and was rewarded with your giggly smile of being understood. I walked into the room and before I could turn on the light you pointed to the far corner of the room where an armchair was.
“You want to go there?”
So I went to the armchair and sat down with you still in one arm. You smiled once again and continued to point at some things around us. You pointed at a flower on the wallpaper, at a ball, at the light in the kitchen, at the table and then… you put your head on my shoulder.
“Dat,” you said, this time without pointing.
I let my breathing slow and relax and felt you melt into my chest. In a few short minutes you were completely asleep.
It wasn’t long ago that you wouldn’t accept anyone except your mother to put you to sleep. You had required to nurse every time you closed your eyes. The few times you tried on your own before you fussed for a few minutes and then asked for your mommy.
Today, you succeeded.
This is a small step. A small victory. But it is an important one. Today marks the first day that you were able to self soothe with someone other than your mother next to you.
Today, however, does not mark a complete change and reversal of the norm. There will be setbacks. There will be regression. You will still ask for mommy most of the time. You will still need to nurse. And it will still be quite some time until you are able to be completely self soothe without our help.
But even in the face of that, today is still a victory. There was no crying when you decided to take this step on your own. There was no pushing or cajoling on our part. There was only our, your parents, gentle reassurance that everything you are doing is normal.
I look forward to your future milestones. They will all come too quickly so I will be sure to enjoy them as much as I can in the moment.
I just hope that I get to see at least a few of them without having to work overtime first.