It Happens Overnight

Our Quinn’s never been much of a mover. She took forever to roll over, and I think she only did it twice, as if to say, “See? I can do it! Now stop worrying and leave me alone, why dontcha?” She didn’t move from lying down to sitting up at all, and if placed on her stomach, she’d wail out in despair with a facial expression that made it seem like we’d just told her she’ll be paying for college herself. Only recently did she master this sort of half-body scoot-crawl, which basically consisted of dragging herself around by her arms while her legs sort of stayed bent in place (this girl’s got the best biceps of anybody on the playground). Her pediatrician had mentioned that since Quinn is a bigger baby (twenty-four and a half pounds of puuuure adorableness, people!), she was more likely to take her time meeting her physical milestones. This was okay with me. If she were our first baby, I’d have been freaking out, convinced that she’d be in a crib till she was 13, or I’d have to push her in a stroller to elementary school. But I’ve been secretly overjoyed that she wasn’t moving around. I like not having to hop over baby gates when running up and down the stairs of our split-level. And I was very cognizant of the simply joy of being able to cook a meal while Quinn sat contently in one place, drumming away on a cookie tin. I admit it: I was quite comfortable with the ease of her inaction.

Until now. Holy moley, the child’s gone into turbo speed. I should’ve known: the signs have been popping up the last couple days. First, it was Quinn pulling herself up just a little to peer into a basket in the coffee table where we keep some baby books. Hmmm, I thought. This could be the start. Then, last night, Daughter the Elder was playing with the Younger in the kitchen while I put together some food (always, always. Because staying at home isn’t parenting. It’s either preparing, eating or cleaning up a meal. Constantly. All day). The next thing I know, Saoirse’s saying, “Look, Mommy! Quinn’s playing in the dog food!” and I’m pulling one of Quinn’s hands out of the water bowl and fishing cat food out of her mouth with the other. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise, right?

But it was. Alas, this morning, Dave was finishing up breakfast with the girls before he left for work so that I could sneak downstairs to fit in a little exercise. I was in the family room, doing some half-arsed Pilates (it’s a little difficult to do at home when you’re on the tall side and constantly thwacking an ottoman or rocking horse, or as was the case this morning, when you have both a three-year-old and an attention-starved cat climbing over your legs when you’re just trying to finish your hundreds). Next thing I know, Dave’s calling down to tell me that our mighty Quinn was crawling–real crawling, on both actual knees!–for just a split second, and I missed it because I was too busy zipping my abs and concentrating on my stinkin’ powerhouse. Sigh.

And so it began. Within the space of hours, Quinn was zooming across the hardwood floors upstairs (I’m seriously contemplating tying a mop to her belly, because she even manages to move along the baseboards. Would that be wrong?). If she feel backward, she’d move up to sitting in about half a second flat. She was pulling herself up at tables, trying to get into cabinets and baskets. I found her peering behind furniture and tasting the chalk dust in Saoirse’s art easel (not cool, that last part. Poor kiddo had no idea what she was getting herself into). She even managed to work out her first three teeth, for Pete’s sake. That very morning, I put her down for her morning nap, and she was doing her usual “dada-baga-PHHHBBBH!” that usually precedes her sleep. But when she took an unusually long time to nod off (I got two loads of laundry folded, one washed and had time to check email and watch Clifford with Saoirse, so, well, that long), I went to check on her. I about fell over when I saw her sitting up in her crib, grinning at me. She’d been playing with some stuffed animals, jamming out to her crib aquarium, which apparently, she’d figured out how to turn on. She was so excited to see me she pulled herself up by the rails and tried to climb out.

Oh, my.

So. We’re two weeks shy of Quinlan’s first birthday. I’m two weeks away from weaning her off of the boob juice. She’s finally moving around, and resembles a race car driver who’s been competing for years, but is still thrilled to be at the wheel. She’s wearing clothes made for a two-year-old. And she’s flashing smiles at us that now glint with the pearly white of new teeth. At the beginning of this post, I was wondering what this overdue movement meant for our day-to-day life: we hadn’t had to baby-proof anything with Saoirse, but I have a feeling we’re going to put every single door under lock and key, because this kid is curious. But now, I’m thinking of how big Quinn looked sitting there in that crib. I’m reminded of how self-conscious I feel to still be breastfeeding her–even though she’s still under that year mark, and doesn’t take a bottle–when she’s so big it doesn’t seem like she should need it. We don’t know if more children will come our way (and by “come our way” I mean ripped out of my belly. Because that’s just how it is when you’re stuck with c-sections), so this may be the last I see of the babyhood of one of my own children. I don’t know.

All I do know is that Quinn’s zero-to-60 pace just reaffirms how quickly it all changes. The sappy mother/writer in me looks at her motoring across the floor and realizes how very soon she’ll be moving out the door. Our job as parents is to raise our child so that they leave us, I know that. I just like it better when they take their time to do so.

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