Bea has been working on rolling over for weeks now. Every day I grab her hand and help guide her onto her tummy while cheering “ROLLLLLL OVERRR BABYYYYYY” in my shrillest, most I-swore-I’d-never-talk-like-this mommy voice. She tolerates my little training sessions, but it’s obvious she prefers to squirm around on her own.
But when she’s grunting and thrashing in determined frustration, it takes everything I have to keep myself from lending a poke to help her flop over … I mean, she’s … just … so … close! I can help her! I can show her the way!
Apparently, though, she doesn’t need my help. Four times now I’ve left her on her play mat, only to turn around to see her giggling in the middle of the floor. Thus proving that she is 100 percent capable of barrel rolling across the whole darn room with nary a peep or nudge from Mom.
It’s at once shocking, thrilling and heartbreaking to know your baby can do things without you. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be a helicopter mom—I truly want Bea to be independent and decisive. But I can see how it happens. When she’s struggling, even with something as certain-to-happen as a basic motor skill milestone, it’s very easy to slip into the role of meddlesome mom. This is how it starts—an innocent game of “roll over baby,” and then, before you know it, I’m tying her shoelaces when she’s 15.
But even at 17 weeks, Bea is teaching me to give her a little breathing room. Not a lot of room, mind you—I’m still always present to coddle, cuddle and ensure safety—but there are small things. I’m trying not to be a slave to the baby monitor by avoiding running up the stairs every time she peeps, and I let her scoot (or roll!) her way to a toy she’s eying across her play mat without stepping in to grab it for her. It takes some self control, but I know I’ll appreciate it when she’s a little bigger and can, hopefully, call on her own skills and imagination for entertainment.
For now, I think it’s time to slow down with “roll over baby” since Bea has that one in the bag. And, maybe, with her penchant for sneakily mastering motor skills on her own, I should also reconsider our other games: “stand up baby,” “toes to nose,” and “patty cake.” I need a few more months of stationary snuggles (and babyproofing!) before I can handle a sassy, cake baking acrobat bopping around the house.