Roo as an 11-month-old is maddening, to put it mildly. She’s intensely frustrated at her inability to communicate. She wants to play everything her big sister plays, and she wants to be in my arms any time I stand up.
I’m not shy about the fact that I don’t do well in the Baby Stage. I excel with toddlers, I think, and pre-schoolers — but babies frustrate me. You never know what’s wrong, what they need, what to do beyond holding and shushing and covering them with kisses. (Believe me, I know there will come a day when I long for the days that those techniques were enough to nurse any wound, before the sting of bullies and broken hearts and other things I can’t even hope to calm.)
I have been telling myself, since those early weeks, 10 months — 10 months is when it gets good. So I was patient, not wishing away the baby before me, but still longing for the pre-toddler I remembered from before.
Ten months came and went, and now we’re at 11. Still frustrating. Still very much a baby.
I decided I was remembering it wrong. Surely I was thinking of 12 or 13 or 14 months.
This morning, Vio asked to watch videos of herself at Roo’s age. Curious himself, Matt queued some up on his computer. We all sat in AWE of what played out on the screen.
A precocious pre-toddler, ambling around the room, proclaiming “DUCKY!” and “PUPPY!” at her favorite toys. Pointing to her feet when prompted. Receptive to nearly every word out of our mouths.
IMAGINE THAT. My children are completely different. Huh.
Vio could speak 20 words by the time she was 12 months old. I didn’t realize that was anything exceptional when we mentioned it offhand at her 12 month well check. Her pediatrician made sure to explain to us, even at that EARLY stage — “If you have more children … do not be surprised when they don’t do this.”
Of course! I thought. That’s obvious … I’m never going to measure one child by the accomplishments of the other.
Is … is that what I’m doing here? Is that what I’ve been doing, in waiting for 10 months, 11 months … have I been waiting for Vio to show up?
When I step back from this, I know I’m overreacting. Beating myself up and bathing myself in the MAMA GUILT. Roo can say “book”. She walks and nearly runs. She tries to brush her hair with a brush and holds the phone to her ear to “talk”. If I ask her where her ball is, she can go find it.
Developmentally — I honestly don’t think she’s that different from her big sister. She’s just achieving different things earlier. (And I feel I should emphasize, I don’t think either set of accomplishments is MORE impressive — or that they are IMPRESSIVE at all.) What it boils down to is my insistence at comparing apples to oranges.
I think I feel like Roo is being short-changed. That she doesn’t have the benefit of my undivided attention all day long. I used to read Vio books for hours some days, just to pass the time. I can’t tell you the last time I was able to read Roo a story without interruption.
This is all making me take a hard look at myself, my parenting, and — more than anything — my attitude. I’ve always said I would let them be themselves. I just never knew sitting back and letting that happen would be so hard.