I knew this would happen.
This spring, Daniel was thrilled to discover “outdoors” with all its tiny treasures, dirty ditches, and watery wonders. I knew that once I let him out, there would be no turning back — there would be no containing him anymore in this box of a house that satisfied his baby needs for shelter and adventure all winter long. And I was right. Now, every waking moment, the boy needs to be outside. Digging, splashing, running, throwing, falling, finding, tasting, touching, breathing, and being. Outside.
In the morning, barely awake yet, I dress him and then put him on the floor. Where he used to play. But now the floor is a just something to race over on your way to the door. Where you hang on the doorknob and cry while your groggy mother tries to tell you it will warm up later and please come have some breakfast for now.
In the evening, at the end of an outdoor day, I can sometimes trick him into coming inside for a beloved bath. After 20 minutes or so splashing in the tub, though, he demands an exit. I wrap him in a towel and rub him dry. This used to be a peaceful time — smiling and singing as we dry the sweet-smelling baby and put on his warm, soft PJs for bed. But now it’s a fighting time as he struggles to free his naked body and bolt toward the door. Bathtime is over. It’s nearly dark outside. Let’s hurry up and play.
I thought that the spring fever might wear off after a while and we could enjoy some balance and more peaceful routines once again.
These days, there’s not just a mother-baby struggle indoors as he tries to get out, there’s a mother-baby struggle outdoors too, as he tries to go too far. The boy doesn’t just want out. He wants way out. He wants to toddle down the long driveway. He wants to wander deep into the woods. He wants to march boldly across the puddled field. Any attempt to turn him back, distract him, or otherwise interfere is met with shrieks and tantrums.
Part of me is tempted to let him go and follow quietly behind to see just how far he will go. Just how long will this baby go solo before he turns around? Before he cries? Before he remembers home? Before he needs me?
But another part of me — the mother heart in me — doesn’t want that much information. Not today. Not now.