We've been a family of four for just over a year. HT celebrated her first birthday by walking. It was as if she woke up that day, and thought "Forget crawling! I'm walking!" And since then, her steps are more solid every day. She's fond of walking with an item in each hand and a third, possibly dangerous stick-like item or choking hazard in her mouth while she Frankenstein stomps around the house. I'm constantly taking stuff out of her mouth which leads to her lying on her belly face down crying in hysterics...which seems like a giant red flag for what her twos will be like. Each time this happens, I see a surgeon general bubble appear over her head saying: WARNING! WARNING! THIS CHILD WILL TANTRUM TOO! The good news is she cheers up pretty quickly. Usually I just scoop her up in my arms and cuddle her and I replace the potentially hazardous item she had in her mouth with something less likely to cause a trip to the emergency room and she rebounds happily.
We are a family of four. I'm reminded of this every time I get a table in a restaurant or when I begin the laborious process of getting both kids in and out of the car, or who am I kidding, even getting out of the house some days is challenging. Kids shoes and socks are the worst! They are so small and if you forget a sock or a shoe or your child pulled off the shoe to use it as a chew toy, I can guarantee that some old biddy will always make a comment to you about the potential dangers of pneumonia and kids without socks. Find me a medical journal with that direct correlation and I will do your laundry for a year.
I can say with absolute certainty that my house is messier. In spite of my best efforts, toys are everywhere. I blame my kids. Really. I do. It's their fault, not mine. For whatever reason, HT's sense of balance is directly linked to the miscellaneous items she carries delicately in each hand while she stumbles around the house. If she only has something in one hand, she falls down on her bottom with a thud. However, if her hands are full, she can cover greater distances before the eventual fall. What amazes me, is how with each thump, she resolutely gets up and gets going all over again. It's inspiring. If I fell over that many times per day, I would just give up and sit in the corner and wait for people to bring me food and toilet paper, but HT is determined.
I'm reminded every day of how different my kids are. Don't get me wrong, I didn't anticipate a carbon copy of Bean when we had HT, but the differences between them are astounding. Where Bean is dark-haired and fair-skinned, HT is blond and her skin has a golden hue to it. Bean was a cuddler and HT is not. I get cuddles from her in three situations: when she's sick, in a new place, or nursing. Bean will still crawl into my lap for a cuddle, and HT will just climb out of it. HT is incredibly physical and so strong. She's also fearless. She watches Bean, and just follows her by climbing steps, slides, chairs and all kinds of trouble. HT played with the water in the toilet and since that first glorious dip, she cannot wait to get back in there. Bean never did that. Bean briefly played with the toilet paper at 2. HT unwraps it whenever given the chance. The biggest difference between the two is that HT will not sit still. She's an explorer. She's all over the place, dumping out toy bins and then moving stuff around. She's happiest clapping two toys together while stumbling from room to room like a drunken sailor. And Bean happily trails after her providing a running dialogue of whatever misdeeds HT is committing.
It's been a tremendous year, and now my baby is less a baby and more a toddler. I'm sad as she outgrows each little onesie. Sometimes I'll cram her little pudgy body into one that clearly doesn't fit her because I don't want this messy babyhood stage to be over. I'm greedy. I want it all. I want it all over again. I want the soft tuft of baby hair and the little arm fat rolls and the quiet, calm nursing sessions. I want those little quick smiles when a baby is just figuring out who you are and that perfectly rounded belly swollen with milk that hangs over the diaper. I want all those baby firsts, but then I see my lopsided walker grinning ear to ear as she runs into my arms. I hear her glorious giggles as she lays on her back and I tickle her thighs. I hear her shout "Mama" and mean it. It's not a jumble of sounds spilling from her mouth anymore. I get her open mouthed crazy kisses on my face and then I think, this stage is pretty awesome too!