Saturday, August 2, 2008

Growing Up

It's hard to believe that at this time next year, my little Teenybop will be going into Kindergarten. While I'm proud of myself for not having dropped her as an infant, or somehow ruined her completely in the time between then and now, I just never saw myself here ... mother of an almost 5 year old.

Kindergarten ... I mean, it's really not actually on the doorstep yet ... we've got another year of head start (hopefully), and then Kindergarten ... but still. School?

I remember when she was so tiny ... the first newborn I'd ever seen and only 8 pounds, 20 inches. I've been told that that's a good size for a baby, but to me, she looked so small, almost fragile. Then before I knew it, she was smiling, laughing that guttural deep laugh of an amused baby with no other cares. Rolling ... but only one way. Left to right, over and over like a spool in a strong wind. But she never rolled the other way for months. My favorite game to play with her at that age was to lay her on my bed and let her roll while I ran around to the other side of the bed. Without danger that she would surprise me and roll off, I'd get to the other side, catch her when she got there, and turn her around to go back the way she'd come. It would wear her out so she'd sleep and I could shower ... or nap. And she thought it was hilarious to race me to the other side of the bed, watching me run around in circles like that.

Once she was rolling both ways, it wasn't long before she was able to sit up on her own, then stand, and after that she was cruising along the furniture. My first hug was a slap in the face though. She crawled over and pulled herself up on my chair, and I reached to lift her into my lap. Then she put her skinny little toddler arms around my neck ... It was the best moment of motherhood up until that point. Then she hugged the arm of the couch, too.

I used to watch "Passions" while I was pregnant, and the first time she danced was when the opening song was playing on tv. She smiled, crawled over to the entertainment center, then pulled herself up in front of the tv and bopped her diapered butt along to the music. I'll never forget the face she made while she danced. The joy of a child is so pure and complete, and she laughed and laughed along with me while she performed.

It wasn't long after that before she was walking, really walking on her own. I'd tell you about my beautiful memories of her first steps, but I didn't see them. It was her first birthday party, and I had just left the room to get chips opened, and start pouring sodas. Then she walked from my cousin to my sister-in-law. And after they told me about it, she didn't walk on her own again for weeks.

Then she was talking, and I loved the way she would completely shred certain words, and while it was terrible speech, it was cute to me, and now that she is speaking clearly and in full HOURS at a time, I've come to miss little things like:

  • "at-she" that turned into actually
  • "mac-ioni and trees" that eventually gave way to macaroni and cheese
  • "cur" into "grrr" and finally into girl
  • "tow" into snow
  • "tank" into snake
  • "pine-ul" into "pile" into smile
  • "puc" into cup
  • "deuce" into juice
  • and "noonle" has finally become noodle

She's got her own personality, her own little quirks and idiosyncrasies. She has her own things that she likes and dislikes, her own little sayings and preferences. I never could have imagined what a joy it would be to be a mother, most of the time.

I mean, hey, don't get me wrong. It's not all roses, being a mommy. What I wasn't thinking of when remembering Teenybop as an infant is that part of her personality is that she's a little bit of a smart-alek. She likes to annoy people just to see what will happen. She dislikes being unable to annoy someone, and is persistent enough to keep trying until she gets the job done. Then again, persistence isn't all bad.

But in spite of all that, she's still her mommy's princess. She likes all things pink, is afraid of anything that can even remotely be described as a bug, and is all about some dress-up. She's the girly-est of girls, and a major social butterfly. She's already a stunningly beautiful little girl, and more than a little boycrazy. More empathetic than even me, with the biggest heart of anyone I've ever known. She's everyone's cheerleader, and the first one to kiss any boo-boo's.

She reminds me often of my own flaws because there is so much of me in her personality. But then she's her own person too, and I believe that my flaws, while irritating in a child, will make her that much stronger as an adult.

Let's face it. A kid that speaks her mind and talks back is a bit much to take sometimes. But a woman who stands up for herself and doesn't lay down to be anyone's doormat is a woman that can stand proud of her own strength.

And I'm not the best mom in the world ... I don't even come close. But I'm proud of my daughter, and proud of myself for raising her as I have.