One year seems to have crept up on me in a big way. Not in the sense that the year went quickly. I mean, it did and it didn't all at the same time. More so, the shifting of the tides has totally caught me off guard. Veda isn't a baby-baby anymore. She's a toddler. She pinches me when she gets frustrated. She toddles over to the outlets which she knows are "dangerous" and off-limits, stands next to them and smiles at me awaiting a reaction, a limit, but ultimately an oppurtunity to assert her free will. At one year she still isn't eating much solid food which is okay with me. I know she will take more interest eventually, and i have my hands full with the day-to-day so having my body prepare a nutrient dense meal for her is much easier than anything else. But at one year i do feel like its time to shift the flow. I'm not concerned about her eating solids nor i am trying to wean her. She will continue to nurse on demand for as long as she likes. It's about daily rhythm. It's time to help her understand the rhythms of daily living. Nursing of course is much too nourishing, vital and complex to compartmentalize as a time of "eating", so nursing remains on tap and steadily flowing wherever and whenever. However, that there is a time for eating, a time for sleeping, a time for working and a time for playing each and every day and being part of that flow is something that i think is greatly beneficial to our bodies and minds. Much of this has developed naturally through the chaotic-lyrical dance of the first year, but with a busy toddler on my hands i realize it's now time to direct the flow a bit more. Up until now i have totally and completely been going with the flow, but now it feels like its time to direct it a bit. Veda may not yet be super excited about sitting in a high chair and eating solid foods, but i think its time to insert those periods into our day. She doesn't have to eat a full meals worth if she doesn't want to just yet. In fact, i think at this point in her development, she will resist if the structure is too solid, too absolute, or too much my own agenda. I'm slightly caught off guard by the fact that my determined and spirited little baby is now a determined and spirited little toddler. We knew it was coming. She walked at 8 months because she couldn't stand feeling stuck and after about 2 months of furious kicking and exercising, she just stood up and walked like it was no big deal. We saw this one pointed force to be reckoned with from a mile away. Though she hasn't learned the word "no" yet, likely because we don't often use it in that exact form with her, "no" seems to be a new sentiment that she enjoys taking her liberties with. I went from the monsoon of birth into the tidal pool and Bermuda triangle of the first year, and now i'm on the tight rope walk of the second year. It's amazing how just by sheer nature, Vedas whole energy has changed within weeks of her 1st birthday. I mean, she is still the delightful, sweet, sweet honey to our hearts, but she's exhibiting some new traits now too. Our days are now a mix of fun, love and play, but also her clinging to me and resisting me all at once. She's realizing ownership over her own self and doesn't always take to being changed, diapered, or anything else that includes her physical body without her utmost consent. And such consent is more rare these days as she is very busy exploring the world and doesn't have time for the mundane, like clean clothes and eating - unless its from my "boobie", then she's all in. And now that she can walk, almost run, she has a great power! The power to run away, to direct her own course. I can see that this is both very exciting and very overwhelming for her. Her busiest days of exploration are usually followed by a lot of nursing or snuggling. It must be scary to have so much freedom while still being so small and dependent. It must also be confusing to feel overcome with the desire to assert your freedom and will, to splash your feet in the shallow waters of autonomy, only to be internally yanked back by the need for safety, comfort and connection which is found in vast eternal abundance within your mama and papa. There are times when she is on the cusp of a little tantrum that i will kneel to her level with compassion and tenderness and look in her eyes, and it's almost like in her i can see the internal struggle that seems to be happening within her, a natural part of this time in her development. I have to say it helps to see it this way when you've been resisted a lot that day, pinched and pushed around a bit much for someone who doesn't get a whole lot of sleep. I find that a little connection, sweetness and humor goes a long way for keeping her out of that struggle energy and keeps things smoother then otherwise. Also, not engaging a power struggle. If she doesn't want a diaper on and we aren't in a rush to leave the house, then i will wait and let her resistance quell a moment and try again 5 minutes later. A moment of frustration or resistance, pinching or pushing me away with her hands, will also end quickly and harmoniously if i don't react. This does not mean ignore, it means not having a negative or authoritative reaction. The power she is discovering to say no or to have things her way is very new to her and she doesn't understand any of it. As she gets a little older i will be able to validate her feelings (which i do now anyways) and tell her that its okay to feel angry or frustrated, and i will be able to offer her healthy options for releasing that energy, i.e. not hitting, pinching or the like. This morning she was annoyed that i wouldn't let her play with the stereo wires and as she began to throw her little arms down in agitation that i was moving her away from them, i imitated her exactly and hit a nearby pillow. I told her, "You look mad. Let's be mad together and hit this pillow." She started laughing as she saw me play-acting mad. I gave her a kiss, put a toy in her hands and it was over. At the moment she is still on the cusp of baby and toddler and most concepts are too big for her. So for now we just distract and move on with love and understanding.
I'm only at the beginning of toddlerhood, but from other mamas i know and respect, non-reactivity seems to be the golden ticket. I am trying to practice this now. I also am finding that taking the time to observe and contemplate with curiosity the energy or behavior that is popping up- rather than immediately viewing our children as disrespectful, defiant or naughty- can help to hold a higher space for everyone and discover new ways of approaching the hard stuff of mamahood. I can already feel the drop off point of many future failures to come from here on out as i walk the tight rope and traverse the circus of toddlerhood, but i'm excited by the challenge of sharpening my nonviolent communication skills and becoming a less reactive and more spacious/compassionate person overall. Any opportunity for expansion is more than welcome by me. Veda is a fire, a force, just like me! And if there is anyone who can raise her with kindness and deep understanding, to help her handle her ginormous emotions, tender sensitivity, and strong sense of self, it's me (and her papa, of course). I accept the challenge with humility and gratitude.
Happy almost birthday to my baby girl. You will always be my baby!