On Monday, Tiny turned 6 months old. For half a year now, I’ve been a parent. It still feels pretty weird to call myself that, though. Parent is a word that conjures up a mental image of someone strong, nurturing, patient, and above all who knows all the answers. In many ways, I feel more like I’m discovering life alongside my daughter than guiding her along the path.
Being out-and-about with a baby is a whole different experience. Strangers will strike up a conversation – and, more amazingly still, I don’t usually mind. Tiny is such a blessing that I can’t begrudge others a few minutes of cooing. The biggest difference isn’t other people, though. When I’m walking with Tiny (which I try and do every day), I’m constantly looking around for things I can show her. So far she’s not really that interested in butterflies and such, although she loves plants, but I’m discovering new things all the time. On Monday we had a long walk in the “wild” section of a local park. I saw ladybirds, interesting beetles and a dragonfly. Tiny found some interesting brambles to stare at.
Despite the fact that I went into this thinking I had no pre-conceptions, and believing myself to be prepared for anything, I keep finding myself surprised. The expectations that I didn’t realise I had keep turning out to be hopelessly wide of the mark.
For one thing, I think because I was an independent-minded sprog I’d been subconsciously assuming she would be the same. I’ve been really wrong-footed by a recent batch of clinginess (probably the result of teething coupled with her third cold so far – bad for her mood, but bringing me a slight cheery feeling as it allows me to use her baby-with-a-cold nickname of Snufflepig). I’ve met other babies that won’t allow anyone but their mother to hold them, or never smile for anyone but their parents, so she’s not as needy as she might be, but it still surprised me when she started only wanting to sleep on people, not in her cot.
I hadn’t realised, either, that the traditional milestones of child development wouldn’t be a big deal to her. It’s become increasingly clear that my priorities are not the same as hers. I was very excited when she rolled over for the first time, and when she learnt to use a sippy cup. So far she’s been most excited about managing to get her own feet in her mouth, and chewing on the edge of the lid of said sippy cup.
Even though she’s only half a year old, it turns out that she too can have expectations about life that may not match up to reality. She’s been interested in food for some time now, watching me balefully when I’m eating and doing her best to get her cute little fingers into any unattended plate within her reach. So we were all pretty excited about this last weekend, when she was finally scheduled to get her pudgy mitts on some real-person food. I guess with anything you’ve been building up in your mind for several months there’s a risk that it won’t measure up…