As I mentioned last week, this week is the start of a new phase of life for both Nugget and myself. Leaving behind the concept of a regular paycheck to spend more time with my daughter as she grows up was a terrifying prospect, but also something that I know I won’t regret doing. After all, how many parents are lucky enough to be able to make a similar plunge? It’s going to be incredibly rewarding, and Nugget and I will get to know each other pretty darned well (and yet, I’m sure I’ll still be amazed and confused by things that she does).
Over the past couple of days, as I’ve been transitioning into this new role, I’ve noticed a little something. It’s almost like everything that Nugget’s doing, I’m seeing it for the first time. And, in some ways, I kind of am. Not to say that I was detached or overly distracted before (although I probably was), but somehow, leaving the workforce behind to be a parent has just cast everything in a new light. When she removes her socks, is it a sign that she’s warm? Bored? Just wanting to prove a point? I’ll admit, before this transition, the removal of the socks was often met with a sort of resigned “You need to keep these on your feet so you don’t get cold” mentality. Now, while the socks will still go back onto her feet (it is still winter, after all), it’s also a chance to communicate a little back and forth, and try to see WHY she yanked the socks off. The end result isn’t different, but the path to get there is.
And I think, ultimately, that’s the biggest thing that’s already changed. Instead of coming into a situation with Nugget and just making the somewhat knee-jerk reaction to set things back to rights, I now have the ability to see the situation developing over time. The path is being laid out, and it’s often a long, meandering one. Nugget is experiencing so much for the very first time (and plenty else that she’s just trying to get to become habitual, rote memory) that the path is incredibly important, and I think, as adults, we often forget how much we relied on that when we were younger. Now that I have the benefit of spending more time with Nugget, I’m getting to watch as she establishes her own mental pathways towards a certain goal, and I’m getting to be absolutely amazed at the things she’s already picked up.
Take, for example, holding a bottle or a sippy cup. Where she once would just thrust her jaw forward when presented with a drinking vessel, now, as long as she isn’t too tired, she’ll actually grab the bottle or cup herself. In fact, she doesn’t really want any help (nevermind that she is less focused on aiming the beverage into her mouth, and more focused on just seeing if she can eat the whole thing), because she can and will take care of it herself. Heck, she’s even tried to make it clear that she’d be more than happy to feed herself her solid food, too (drumming on the high chair is totally feeding herself, right?). And where there was once simple amazement at all of the things that she’s been able to figure out how to do, now it’s both an amazement, and an observation, seeing how previous pieces of the whole life puzzle could have added up to this one activity.
This is only going to get more pronounced after this week. Nugget is fully in the second half of her first year, and, once this week is past, she won’t be in daycare any longer. It’ll just be the two of us, exploring through this crazy place together. Yes, we’ll go and have adventures, see friends, and make sure that she isn’t just a bump in front of a television set. And there will be times where we don’t do much of anything other than sit on the floor and play with her toys.
But it really isn’t WHAT we do that’ll matter. It’s how we do it, and the path we take to get there.