Little Boo turned two just over a week ago and when I took her in for her two year checkup, I started to come to a startling realization: my baby is not actually a baby anymore. Gasp!!! I’m not sure what gave it away, but it might have had something to do with the smoldering look of disapproval that I got or imagined that I got from her doctor when she asked me if she was still drinking out of a bottle. She actually didn’t ask, it was more of a statement: “So, she’s drinking out of a cup now, right?” I struggled with how I should answer this one because technically we were standing in the doctor’s office and she wasn’t drinking out of anything. “Ummm, well yes. Except for when she drinks her milk which is out of a bottle. Or when she is nursing. Other than that, it’s always a cup!” Nailed it! Not so much: “So why is she still using a bottle?” My hopes that we would gloss over this subject and move on were officially dashed. I explained that she is stubborn, she likes the bottle, for crying out loud I had to extend my maternity leave by an additional two weeks because she had previously refused to take a bottle at all. Can you even imagine what that was like?? We went through weeks of frustration and misery together just to get her to take the darn bottle so that I could feel ok about leaving her to return to work and now I need to go through that all again to get her to switch to a sippy cup for her milk? I searched her eyes for a glimmer of understanding and got nothing. “Now let’s talk about how she sleeps.” The walls started closing in on me. Thankfully she started off easy, asking what time she goes to bed and what time she wakes up. But then: “And she sleeps through the night?” What is this, an interrogation? “She does not sleep through the night. She wakes up every night, usually once, but sometimes two or three times.” At this point I think I was looking at the doctor through one squinted eye. “And what happens when she wakes up?” she asked me. My one squinted eye squeezed all the way shut as I answered, “She cries for me and I bring her to my bed and nurse her back to sleep.” The doctor seemed to think that it was time for her to get serious. She had previously been typing my responses into her computer and now she turned away from the screen to look at me so that she could break the news: “She is two years old now. She’s old enough to self-soothe when she wakes up at night. She is developmentally ready to be drinking everything out of a cup. And you might even consider that the binky is something that she only uses at home and doesn’t leave the house with.” I felt the sweat start to bead up on my forehead as all of the air rushed out of my lungs. After I recovered from taking the bullet, I told her that I did have plans to work on these things over my Christmas vacation from work. Except for the binky (I thought to myself), we’ll leave that one alone for now. How much trauma can Little Boo and I go through in one week?
So I’ve had some time to process the situation and I’ve come up with a very logical explanation for all of this. My girls are seventeen months apart. When Little Boo was born, Princess Rapunzel automatically became a big girl by default. She no longer seemed like a baby compared to the newborn that we brought home from the hospital. I had her off of the bottle by about eighteen months old. I stopped nursing her on her first birthday. But LB is the littlest one around. There is no smaller baby to lead me to believe that this baby is not actually a baby anymore. It all makes sense, but I do accept the fact that it is time for me to embrace her big-girlness. We are working on these things. We’ve had some sleepless nights this week, but we’ll get it eventually. Being a mom is an ever-evolving challenge that we take on every day. And I don’t have to let go of my baby, I just need to learn to hold her hand instead of cradling her so close.