It is my first time saying goodbye. Today brought conflicting emotions to the surface like a rising tide as it inevitably crashes to shore. I felt immense joy as giddy laughter bubbled forth from the feat my child conquered today. You walked across the house on your not-so-wobbly legs, strutting around, with the confidence of the toddler you’ve become. This also brings upon a sense of fear and anxiety that is unavoidable when change occurs as rapidly as day shifts to night.
Today, I had to say goodbye to the first version of you I’ve ever known. The version that had to be carried everywhere we went. You depended upon me from the moment you popped your head up over your crib peering into the darkness and around the corner, loudly advertising with mumbles, babbles, and high-octave screeches that you were awake because the sky was awake.
You depended on me carrying you out the door, to the grocery store, to daycare, and on our daily walks to get some fresh air. You stopped when I stopped. You depended on me until the moment I set you down at night, back into the comfort of your bed.
My daughter, you decided today was the day that you no longer sat and waited impatiently with your hands wiggling high above your head for me to come pick you up, pleading with your eyes to be carried to your next destination to destroy. You didn’t need the couch or your dad and me to hover near you as you made the most precarious teetering steps, falling every other step. I watched you push yourself up and this time you didn’t fall. You didn’t waver. You didn’t raise your hands above your head and ask me to carry you to the next room.
While I clapped, cheered, and encouraged you to walk farther, it also reminded me of the old version of you. The version I will only remember when I look at the old pictures of you as a baby. A baby who needed her mom. My arms will no longer be as full as often as I have been used to this past year, but my heart continues to grow to love all these new versions of you.
Now our short-distance walks take longer than I could have ever anticipated. You walk alongside me on your own. You take more detours on our walks than I’ve ever experienced. Quick walks are no longer an option. You have the need to touch every bright, blossoming flower within your eyesight, and you realize your own two feet can carry you there.
I appreciate this version of you. It has taught me to be patient and literally smell the flowers that you shove at me when you are onto the next bush. It has allowed me to slow down and savor our time together.
I may be a little sad at the moment or have times of reminiscing about the speed at which I could accomplish things with you in my arms. I want you to know I am learning to love your success and accomplishments as an independent toddler. I love all the versions of you and will grow to love the next one too.