Friday, October 07, 2005

Watching Baby Grow

No matter how old your little one is, you're probably spending loads of time just watching. Babies grow and change at a remarkable pace. From the time you brought your little boy or girl home from the hospital until far, far into the future when you are launching your little one into college or his or her own life, you will be watching. The changes happen almost before you know it, so you have to be watchful or you will miss those wonderful firsts and precious moments.

Your baby was experiencing firsts even back in the hospital. The first time he looked at you, the first time she snuggled against her daddy, and the first time she turned her eyes to look at something are all special and important moments. Once you go home together, baby had his or her first glimpse of home, of the nursery, of siblings and pets.

After those first few weeks, baby begins to reach out to interact with the environment. There was the first time the baby reached for something, the first time baby called for you on purpose, and the first time baby caused something to happen. The firsts continue with firsts like swing rides, special toys, and first gurgles, coos and smiles. Baby will rapidly gain important milestones, like first time holding a bottle, first time using a rattle, and first scoots. These are followed rapidly by first words, first jokes, first steps and first scribbles. Your baby is growing into a toddler, and the firsts don't stop there. There will be firsts with other children soon, like first birthday parties, first play dates, and first friends. Before you know it, there will be first days of school and first school pictures. You'll watch your precious child through first soccer games, first baseball teams, and first musical instruments. The first day of preschool will give way to the first day of high school and the first trip off to college before you know it. You'll turn around one day, and find that your little teeny baby is a grown man or woman and out on his or her own. And you will be amazed and wonder where in the world all of those years disappeared to.

Take the time right now to savor your baby's wonderful abilities and learning. Don't be in a hurry to have him or her grow up to independence. It comes all too soon, even when you are trying to enjoy each moment. We need to honor and respect our children's accomplishments, even as we need to find ways to enjoy the moments of their lives without trying to hurry them.

So take your pictures. Keep your journals. Write letters to the person that your child will one day grow into. And make sure that you enjoy each and every moment as it comes along. Those special firsts will happen only once in your child's life. Don't be too busy to notice them. It's all too easy to get caught up in the day to day rush of our lives and our work, and easy to put baby-watching on the back burner. Don't be the parent who regrets missing the first word or the first step, or even one of the smaller and less exciting milestones, like the first pretend game or the first taste of mashed peas. Later, when all is said and done, you will be very glad that you took the time to make memories and to be alert when those special moments were happening.

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