In the past few weeks, it seems someone has replaced my daughter with this whole other being. I believe this ‘new Eleanor’ to be commonly known as a…toddler.
Although she isn’t ‘toddling’ about yet, in the past 2-3 weeks Eleanor has learnt to pull herself to standing – a big milestone around here as previously she just flat refused to put any weight on her feet. Like…any. Now, she stands up at the coffee table, at the couch, at her little shelf in her playroom, she’s gone from pushing her walker and pram around on her knees to walking behind them (not always, knees are still far preferable for speed!)
All this is very well, completely normal and are exciting milestones to be celebrated and congratulated on. But it’s the developmental ‘leap’ that has been our challenge. Oh the challenge…
This post caused quite the stir – I was overwhelmed by both support and backlash, the latter which I completely expected. No, I don’t find being a Mother hard. And no, this is not my back pedal, the post where I say I was wrong, I take it all back. This is the post where I counter those ‘golden days’ by the other periods – the ones that challenge me and frustrate me and wear me down. Last week was challenging, it was different and we were both a bit lost. Change is a strange beast. Eleanor’s mobility and extra enthusiasm for all the things are not what I find overly challenging, it’s what is bouncing around inside that little noggin’ of hers. You could practically see the fireworks going on in there – boom boom boom! If other parents don’t already have it, I highly recommend The Wonder Weeks app (or book, but I don’t have the book). Each developmental ‘leap’ has been spot on for Eleanor as she grows and learns, it explains almost identically her mannerisms, behaviour and sleep patterns for different stages of growth and development. It’s explained in simple detail though, when you read the information about each leap that your child may be going through I can almost guarantee you will be nodding along furiously – aha!
Last week Eleanor was frustrated, confused, cranky easily, refusing sleep, big emotions. Where was my placid Eleanor? It was so distressing, for both her and I, to see her so confused and overwhelmed. So overwhelmed. She needed reassurance. Growing at the rapid rate that our children do is a tough business. I can not emphasise enough how beneficial for both myself and Eleanor reassurance has been during these times. Go slowly, be kind, be patient. Eleanor had some big emotions, some big challenges. She wants to walk, she wants to explore, she wants lots of things. Most of all though she wanted reassurance that changes are scary, yes, but Mummy was still here to help her, to guide her, to let her fall when she needed to and to teach her that drawers do slam fingers, that ABC kids at 4pm lying on the couch with Mummy is sometimes absolutely okay instead of an afternoon sleep. In contrast, Eleanor taught Mummy that the washing can wait, my blossom is still so small and needs help. And reassurance.
Dropping to one sleep a day has also coincided with this developmental leap (as is often the case). This has been a huge hurdle for my little sleepyhead. Eleanor needs, and thrives on, lots of sleep. Always has, and probably always will. But while her new-toddler mind has been going a million miles an hour she decided that not sleeping a second time in a day was a most excellent idea. Mummy agreed…except when the first (and only) sleep of the day was only an hour long! I knew it was a matter of patience, trial and error. Some days Eleanor would happily sleep for 2-3 hours in the middle of the day – perfect! Other times she demanded sleep early in the morning, meaning she would need another sleep in the afternoon. The transition from two sleeps to one can sometimes take weeks. I tried to really listen to Eleanor’s cues, to not push her, to follow her lead. Patience. And reassurance.
Over the weekend, yesterday and today (Monday we were out all day and she had half an hour sleep all day in the car) Eleanor has slept for 3 hours in the middle of the day, after an early lunch. Progress is slow but sweet! Now that I’ve written this, she’ll probably throw a spanner in the works tomorrow. But that’s ok. It’s ok. And honestly? This week with more sleep, more mobility as she walks more behind her little pram and along her little shelf – she is so much happier within herself. She isn’t as frustrated, or confused, she’s found her feet, so to speak.
But…behind us is the baby Eleanor, well and truly. My blossom is a toddler. I would say ‘just like that’, but it hasn’t been at all. It’s a process, an important one, a change and development that can happen dramatically, seemingly overnight, if you don’t pay attention. But if you stop, be patient, offer reassurance…it’s there, it unfurls. Eleanor has blossomed in her own slow and steady way, as always. And as always I am reminded that it’s my role to balance helping and guiding and pushing and cheering her on…with stepping back, watching and silently cheering on the inside.
Keep blooming Blossom.