Her Bad Mother

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Walk This Way

And so your baby springs to his feet and - oops, wait! down? no! up! go! - toddles toward the flowers - wait! stop! flowers! ooh! - and then - hey! up! - toward you toward you toward you - come here baby! - and your heart swells as he pitches forward, all leg-torque and flushed cheeks, your big precious boy using all the power of his newfound mobility to race to you, to fling his little self...

... right past you, right past you, and then, suddenly - ooh, look, ball! - down he goes. And gets up again, and toddles away, not looking back.

And you are torn between two feelings: a fierce pride in your wee determined lad, who is growing so fast, so very fast, and who will no doubt speed - away from you, alone, strong - into a brilliant future, and, also, a terrible, guilty sadness over the fact that, yes, he is growing so fast, so very fast, and he will one day - too soon - speed away from you. And not look back.

And so you settle on a third feeling, another (is it? yes, it is) shameful feeling: a tiny bit of satisfaction that he stumbles, that he will continue to stumble, now and again, as he reaches for the flowers, the ball, the sky. That he needs you. That he will need you for a very long time.

Not forever, but long enough.

(Is it so wrong to want him to slow down? To want to not let go of his hand?)

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Blogger Jo said...

Yes! You have a walker! But oh, if it weren't for those stumbles how would we survive knowing they're our last babies?! My little one just turned two and that number hit me so hard (he's a toddler now, ouch!) that I made the older one promise me grandchildren. BTW, he's absolutely precious, he has your hair :).

12:34 AM  
Anonymous Julie @ The Mom Slant said...

I'm just thinking of the relief your arms must be feeling at not having to let him hold your fingers for balance as he bounces along. Just a few hours over the course of a weekend was enough to exhaust me; I'm betting you've got fabulous guns now from doing it far more often.

Congrats to that delicious boy of yours, and to you too, mama.

1:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to cling to my second baby for dear life. This is probably the last time I will watch a new walker, and it's going too fast.

So I would say there's nothing wrong with wanting him to slow down. I think it's perfectly natural under the circumstances.

1:36 AM  
Blogger josetteplank.com said...

You telling me? The woman who had an existential crisis in a corn field watching her child toddle away from her; the woman who has seriously begun to believe in fairies in some lame attempt to keep her kids believing?

He's gorgeous. And yes, he'll need you for quite some time. Differently at each age, but...I think that kids keep looking for ways to hold on to us, as well. They just don't want to say so out loud.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Pgoodness said...

I'm learning that that feeling, that tiny bit of satisfaction is about all we get to hold on to as they get bigger. My son finishes Kindergarten today. I feel that fierce pride and that sadness, but also, hanging on tightly to that tiny feeling that he still needs me. A little less each day, but still...

8:28 AM  
Blogger The Grown Up Teenager said...

I don't have kids yet, but speaking as someone who's in her 20s and still wants/needs her mommy from time to time...he won't walk away and forget.

He may grow up and grow into other people, and make a life of his own, but you'll always be his momma.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Maria Melee said...

I don't think I've ever seen a little boy that cute.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Stephanie Wilson she/her @babysteph said...

Just so crazy- in that dream Ivy was walking right along with him- straight TO you. I am excited for this... but don't like the running away from me part.


9:14 AM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

You've misinterpreted something. When he speeds away and doesn't look back it's because he won't need to - you'll be so deeply entrenched inside him he'll always have you.

He will *always* need you. Always. I've lost my Mother so perhaps I feel this more deeply but I know how that emptiness feels. You never stop needing your Mother. Your relationship will change, morph into something very different from what it is now, but he will always need you.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Melissa said...

You summed up how I feel each time my daughter hits a new milestone, or even in the smaller moments when she learns to say the cat's name and stops calling him "Doowa". Oh, will they need us long enough? Really, somedays I'm just not sure I'll ever really be ready to watch her go out the door calling a different place home.
On a lighter note, I guess that is why teens are so difficult. That way we are happy to see them call another place home. I remember when we all went to take my older brother, the first born, off to college. We dropped him off to go up and unlock his dorm room while we found a place to park. As we pulled away, my mom said "get him back in the car, he's not staying". My Dad said "after all the fighing you 2 did this summer, one of you is staying here, and at this point I don't care who". Ha ha. He stayed, and found his way and now has 2 kids and is my hero. My mom enjoys her empty nest and says she loves us but hopes none of us ever move back home. ha ha. I guess it is enough time after all, though as a first time mom whose baby just turned 2, I'm not 100% convinced.
At any rate, I loved today's post.
Melissa in Durham

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Redneck Mommy said...


I'm so heart sick.

I miss the J man and his bandit of a big sister something fierce.

I could watch that video over and over again.

Point that kid west and tell him to start walking. I'll be here waiting, with open arms.

10:14 AM  
Anonymous LAVANDULA said...

awww hes so adorable!...and its always a little bittersweet when they start doing things that make them independent....

10:30 AM  
Blogger chermonblie said...

**through tears**
My sweet boy will be 2 in July. TWO! It seems like just yesterday I was sleep deprived and struggling with nursing this little lump and now -although still nursing and sleep deprived- my little lump isn't so little anymore.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I still feel that way about my boy...who's 10.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Virginia said...

No, no, no. Not wrong at all...

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Kaye said...

Not wrong at all. I miss those days so much I can hardly bear to think of it. *sobs*

11:52 AM  
Blogger mare ad mare said...

Ha - looks like me on a 'good' friday night ;-)

Help him while you can and enjoy it (just don't smother him!)

12:44 PM  
Blogger Karen Bodkin said...

I miss him! He is growing way too fast...certainly you could feed him some coffee to stunt his growth?
Good job Jasper!

1:13 PM  
Blogger Maria said...

When we had our last daughter I was totally in "keep things moving" mode and I didn't celebrate her little milestones. I figured we would have another baby soon and we would do all those little things again. Turns out she'll probably be our last (I'm having an awesome case of secondary infertility) and I miss so much that I dodn't celebrate and mourn each of those little markers of the passage of time.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Not at all wrong. I am there with you watching my baby girl walking away from me too. It's harder to watch when it's your last baby I think. I don't remember being so sad when my first started walking.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Oh, I wanna give that kid a smooch. SMOOCH.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Mr Lady said...

Hold that hand as long as you can, dude.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous @sillydad said...

The absolute summary of parenthood is the pride you feel in watching your little ones learn to do things for themselves and the absolute terror of the day they no longer need you.

I have seen three take their first steps, heard three first words, sent two off on their first day of school. I am torn between pride of them, anticipation when my child free independence will be restored and panic that they'll grow up too fast and leave me before I'm ready.

Lovely post. You captured the essence of parenting.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, it isn't wrong.

I want my son to slow down because he's just getting big too fast.

I want to eat him up.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Heide said...

Little stumble-bumble muffin!!! The time goes too fast, the days go to slow... It's all just too much for our mama-hearts!

2:22 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Look at him go! Let him go! That's what we're here for, us parents. To bring them up and let them go.

3:04 PM  
Blogger GingerB said...

Hey, I just cried my way through the seasonal sorting of baby clothes. I totally want to stop time. I really did cry sorting through the preemie, newborn and 3 months size clothes. I decided to keep them until I can really dump all the six month sized items - I tell my husband it will be easier to give them all away at once, but really I don't want to let them go. I know we have to let them grow up, but we get to feel sad too.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Loukia said...

So beautiful, so very true... so sad. I'm so emotional every single day that my boys are growing up too fast, and they're only 3. 5 years old and 16 months old. I fear I will be needing some serious medication to help me cope with their wedding days!

3:22 PM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

My son...my baby (and it seems like an increasing chance he will forever be my last, which makes me want to cry)(and that's a story in and of itself)...is 7 years old. He is quick footed, glorious, entertaining, and forever trying to escape my clutches as I'm pulling him back to me for just one more kiss to tack onto the 12 I've just bribed out of him.

Anyway, every morning, we walk to the corner together so he can catch the school bus, and each morning, he waits at the door for me, and as we descend the front steps, he reaches over and takes my left hand into his right, and we walk hand-in-hand to the corner and then stay that way until the bus pulls up and he jumps on. Today is the last day of school. Today is the last day I got to hold his hand on this routine of ours I didn't realize how much I cherished. Don't think those last couple sentences were pretty damn hard to type with my eyes as glassed over with tears that I'm trying to blink back!

I'm having a really, really, really hard time with this growing up business.

I mean REALLY.

3:27 PM  
Blogger gretchen said...

No, there's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting him to slow down and not let go of your protective hand. The other night I snuck out of the bathroom while my 6 year old son, Jude, was in the bathtub (so I could work on my blog - clearly I am HIS bad mother!). A few minutes later he appeared next to my desk - jammies on, hair combed, and apparently, teeth brushed. "Mama, I squirted the stuff right on my toothbrush ALL by myself!" And I know I should have been so PROUD of him. But I was heartbroken. He had squirted the stuff all by himself. Without me. Sniff.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

Found you on my BFF "That Mommy" Lona's page. You rule I have no kids but reading this stuff makes me get it a teeny bit more. Fantastical.:)

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I think there is something very,very special between mothers and sons...grow.stop.please don't leave.
Mothers and daughters generally stay close-even after marriage.But sons tend to fall in love with some beautiful girl and then you are no longer the "woman" in their life. I screamed "but he his a one woman man, and I'M it" when my son got his first girlfriend. I didn't scream out loud, but rather into my pillow and sobbed.And felt jealous, of all things.Both boys are grown now, and they love me-totally love me and tell me so.But I still look at their mates, and under my breath say "bitch". Not because they are by any means, that's just my nature.
On the other hand, my daughter's husband is the best thing ever. I've never felt a jealous bone in
my body over him-I just feel really sorry for his mother!

5:57 PM  
Blogger Tuesday Girl said...

The fact that my last baby started walking at 10 months has made it even harder. "Can't you just keep crawling?" I wanted to ask him.
They grow so fast.

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Trillian said...

At least he isn't clambering up the bookshelves and pitching himself at the sofa....yet! ;-)

7:28 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Oh, Trillian, but he's trying.

8:42 PM  
Anonymous goldfish said...

...and so they are born: to walk away from us. It sounds so horrible. But it's so beautiful.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

We root for them, our hoped for outcomes shifting with our hearts, but we love them. Always, we love them.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

I remember having to wrench my hand out of my mother's on a regular basis because she kept holding onto it for no reason I could discern.

That was a very long time ago.


10:35 PM  
Blogger Crazed Nitwit said...

What a sweetpea! The nway he so gentle with the flowers. He's adorable. I miss this, I really do.

12:02 AM  
Blogger Al_Pal said...


12:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


They all learn to do it. Incredible really. I remember when my sister's baby was 6 months old. He had just pulled himself up onto his hands and knees and was rocking back and forth as if to start crawling. My sister encouraged him, like any good mother would. "Come on, you can do it, you can do it". Her friend, the mother of an 18 month old, watched this and exclaimed "no, no, no don't encourage him, once they can move by themself your whole life gets worse!".

This little baby is probably 18 by now, my sister's baby is a teenager. They do keep moving forward and afterall, that is what we want for them, BUT, they are a composition of their experiences. You are part of him now. He will carry you everywhere with him. And, it will bring him comfort when he needs it, joy when he needs and always support, guideance and love evidenced in his confidence and ability to connect with others. You are doing a good job. He is a lucky boy. Cute too. But lucky, oh so lucky.

1:06 AM  
Blogger The Crazy Blonde Cougar said...

I have 4 grown children. Trust me, there comes many times in there lives when they will ALWAYS need you. Fear not, dear.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Karen MEG said...

Not wrong at all, because he will be running (if he's not already).
But don't you worry, he'll always come back ...

9:54 AM  
Blogger Issa said...

It's not wrong at all. In fact, I'm sitting here crying. Mine pulled himself up to the couch the other day. Seems to go by way too fast.

12:35 PM  

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