Independent baby: How did we get here?

You need to make peace with your baby turning into their own person

In Summary

• We know the day is coming but still feel surprised when it arrives

Boy walks away from distracted mother
Boy walks away from distracted mother

Four months ago, my baby was still breastfeeding; he was acting like a toddler but he wasn't even two yet. A month ago, I had to take him to the daycare centre and spend time with him to get him used to the place. He wouldn’t let me out of his sight, he did not even bother with the other children.

This week, every time I dropped him, he would climb the stairs by himself and run straight to the caregiver. I would say bye and try to get his attention, but as soon as he hit the steps, he completely forgot about me. This is the same kid who cried every time I strayed away from his line of vision. The same kid I possibly couldn't imagine would be dropped off without shedding a single tear!

It’s been a bittersweet week. Seeing him acting like that this week has been heartbreakingly liberating. Seeing him thrive and making his own space in the world as a whole has reminded me that he is his own person, making his own way into the world. That the limited time we had in our little world with just us two is gone. He no longer sees his father and me as his whole world, he has been introduced to the world at large and is ready to start his own journey.

Ideally, we understand that babies are just little people who need us until they become independent. However, being in this position as a mother -especially a first-time mother, means that our world completely changes to revolve around our babies. We spend every waking minute just mothering and caring for our little ones until one day, it suddenly stops and you find yourself dazed in a new chapter of motherhood where your child needs you less.

People always tell you things like “it will all get better”, “it won't be like this forever...” But when you are in the thick of things, you don’t believe them because you don’t know better. I remember watching the other kids playing independently, not needing their mothers, and thinking ,“I just can’t imagine my baby in this stage.” For the life of me, I could not imagine we would get to this point because all I knew was the present that overpowered any idealistic future visions.

My child is not the most social of all children. As usual, everyone had their opinions on the matter, but the lady at the daycare was not bothered by it all. “Don’t worry, it will get better day by day,” she said encouragingly. Even though he has been going to the daycare for two months, he rarely plays with the other kids. But this week, we received a photo of him playing happily with another child.

While I am so proud of him for all he is achieving, as the parent who went through all the ups and downs of raising him to this point, my mind is still clear with the hardships of the recent past. I look at my growing child and want to scream, “Please, don't grow too fast; you are still my baby!” But my baby is gone, he has been replaced with an independent, curious, tall toddler, who is impatient to make his own mark on the world.

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