February 19, 2014
Iris is 8.5 months old, which is really the age at which one turns into a human. She moves, she sits, she eats our french fries when we go out for lunch. Finally, it feels like we’re discovering who she is, and it’s no less miraculous to see it unfold having seen it all before. In fact, it is more miraculous than it was the first time around.
Partly, this is because we were so focussed and anxious the first time around, not having a great deal of faith in a baby’s ability to bloom into a human all by her very self. We were anticipating all the milestones, checking them off like these were our accomplishments, not really understanding how long the story of parenthood would turn out to be (and how we are actually incidental to so much of it). We were also always watching for these milestones to happen, which meant that very often nothing happened, and that was a little boring. And when they did happen, the milestones felt so singular, monumental. Our baby learned to roll over, and it was the most extraordinary thing in the world.
This time, the milestones have caught us off-guard. Our focus is so broad that we forget about Iris a lot of the time, and then suddenly, there she is pulling herself up to standing. On Sunday morning I lost her altogether, totally confused by how she’d completely disappeared, until I realized that she’d crawled under her crib and was playing there. She slithers around on the floor like a snake, and gets to wherever she wants to go (which is usually in the direction of paper she can eat. Somebody needs to invent edible paper for babies. They would make a fortune).
What makes Iris’s milestones most miraculous this time is that I have the scope to see them as part of a continuum. First, of Iris herself growing into her own body and mind, but also that every single human being has to undertake this journey in his own way. These incredible discoveries–of how our bodies work, that we can stand and walk, how strong we are, how fast we go–must be made over and over again. And each discovery doesn’t mean, as they did the first time, “Now we’re getting somewhere,” with the prospect of some kind of arrival, but instead the journey itself being the entire point.