Little Bee did the sign for “more” at dinner last night.
She pinched her fingers, tapped them together and said, “peeeeeeeze”.
The “please” we’ve been working on for a couple of weeks now (it’s never too soon to start teaching manners). But the signing? We just haven’t been practicing it in our home… except for teaching her to rub her hands together when she’s “all finished”, only so we don’t sit at the table for ages while she writhes around in her high chair dodging the spoon and pointing at nothing and everything, not knowing if she’s hungry or full or “WHAT? TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT!”
And now, after 4 days in daycare… what? She SIGNS?! Just like that??
Before we sat down to eat (or in her case, spit everything out that was NOT Cheerios), she was toddling around the living room putting her hand to and from her mouth, which, at the time, I figured was probably some exploratory movement babies do at her age. A sensory thing. But as soon as I recognized “more”, I realized that she had probably been signing for… something! But what, I didn’t know! She was communicating with me, but I couldn’t understand – she was speaking a foreign baby-language taught to her by people who hadn’t told me they’d been doing this, and I was now completely in the dark.
I was going to have to ask. I was going to have to ask the ladies at the daycare what they have been teaching her, and if there’s a book or a site I can study so I, too, can COMMUNICATE WITH MY DAUGHTER.
And that, friends, was a VERY hard pill to swallow.
This morning, I mentioned, with my tail between my legs, what I had noticed. I was gracious and thankful, which is the God’s honest truth – since Little Bee can be a picky eater, her being able to indicate when she wants “more” rather than just throwing out a frustrated “all finished” hand-rub, is truly amazing.
But, like I said: the pill….
The ladies said cheerfully that yes, they had taught her “more”, and were very enthusiastic at how quickly she had picked it up. I again thanked them, maybe too profusely, and made a mental note to ask on a daily basis whether there were more signs for me and my husband to learn.
I knew this would happen eventually, that she would start learning and taking in things from daycare, or “school”, as we’ve been calling it. I knew it was only a matter of time… but I thought we still had months until we started noticing a change in her, especially something as significant as learning a new language! Maybe I was deluded: babies her age are like sponges, soaking up everything at a crazy-fast rate (faster than I can pick up on the fact that my own flesh-and-blood is now SIGNING. Ugh).
I thought for sure there was still a lovely, big window of time where my husband and I would be the only two people to guide her and mold her and help her become who she is meant to be. I thought that we could teach her all she needed to know… for now. While she’s still our baby.
But guys, this is Sentimental Beth, saying and feeling all that. Sentimental Beth bordering on Crazy Beth. The Beth who has been weepy and moany and humming and hawing over sappy posts for the last few weeks. The Beth who has gone from a funeral to a wedding to a funeral in the span of one month. The Beth who has been bawling herself to sleep these last few nights, muttering on and on about how much it hurts her heart to leave her baby every day, and how can it ever get easier??, and how I won’t have time to write anymore, and just a general “whatthehellamidoingbackatworkohmygod?!?!” sob fest.
My husband – my gorgeous litmus test for crazy – usually has the perfect thing to say to this Beth during these outbursts to help her CTFD. But having gone through the withdrawal of Little Bee himself, he knows how ouchy it is… so he just holds that Beth and lets her cry.
But seriously, enough is enough. The crying, the whimpering, the “nothing will ever be the same”-ing, it has to stop.
What we all need now, Little Bee, my husband and I – what we all need going forward is the I Am The Mama Beth to step UP. The Beth who will take her mantra by the reigns and bitch slap the withering self-pity out of her crumbling counterpart.
The Beth who looks at this, a 13-month old baby learning amazing new things from people other than her parents, as a gift. As a kick-ass, holy shit, “LOOK AT WHAT MY BABY GIRL CAN DO”, feat not done by any other child ever in the history of the universe (not true, but….)!
We need the Beth who swallows that stupid pill, knocks back a shot of whiskey and moves on.
Because, this is it! This is how it’s going to be from now on. This is our reality: me and my husband working full-time, and Little Bee, learning and playing and dancing and laughing, 5-days a week in daycare and 2-days a week with her goofy parents.
And the thing is, the thing that I am constantly forgetting, is that millions of other families have the exact same reality as us. Parents all over the world entrust their babies to people whose sole purpose is to help nurture and expand the growing minds of those little ones while in their care.
So, I am not alone in this: this foreign sensation of being surprised by the new things, the sudden things, the things that she does or says that we haven’t taught her, that she hasn’t taken from us.
We are not on an island, but in a valley of so many other families going through the exact. Same. Thing.
There is no need to wallow anymore. There is no need to rant and rave and cry myself to sleep every night. And sure, it’s easy to say that. It’s putting it into practice that is going to be tough.
But this is the new Beth, now. The I Am The Working Mama Beth, and she is going to move forward. She is going to join the others in the valley, and watch her daughter flourish with pride and joy and fascination.
Because, this is it.
Now, grow, baby girl. Grow. Your Mama and Daddy are watching, and so is all the world.
P.S. That sign? The hand-to-mouth one? Turns out it means “thank you”… which also means that Little Bee was bombing around the living room signing “thank you” to no one. Just, you know! Doing it! For fun. A little bit hilarious, a little bit crazy.
That’s my girl.