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Baby Steps

"Life is a series of baby steps."- Hoda Kotb

Every morning I have the same basic ritual. With a little one, I find it helpful for my sanity to keep a sense of order to my life. Each day is different, of course, but I like to keep a loose morning, afternoon, and evening routine. When the baby first wakes up I spend some time laying in bed just talking to her and kissing her. I sing her favorite song and talk about her fingers and toes and we say hello to the dog, who is always waiting outside the bedroom door to be let in. I put her in her playpen while I use the bathroom, brush my teeth, and make my bed. I used to lay her on her stomach for some "tummy time", which she thoroughly enjoyed when all she could ever do before that was lay on her back. But now she has mastered the art of sitting up on her own and that has provided her with much more opportunity for play and movement. In fact, it's what taught her that she could crawl, when one day she let her toy get slightly out of reach and she wanted it badly enough to try to go get it. She actually had the audacity to believe she could do it even though she'd never done it before. And guess what? Now when she sees something she wants she goes right for it, crawling intentionally, with absolute focus and full confidence she will get there. And she always does. Unless I see she is headed for danger and need to reposition her for her own good. But she doesn't worry about that part. She seems to have something built in that automatically trusts she will be taken care of, directed in the way she should go.

Lately, I've noticed she's begun to set her sights a little higher. She is becoming increasingly restless with having to crawl to get around, and is spending more time in her playpen testing the boundaries of her confines than playing with her toys. She will position herself close to one side and use her hands to push against it so she can get her knees under herself, all the while keeping her eyes sharply focused on the top of the side, seeming to understand that if she could just reach high enough to grab the top with her hand, she will be able to pull herself up to a full standing position. But so far, every attempt to reach the top has fallen short. Most of the time, her strength gives out before her fingers ever come close to touching the top and she comes tumbling back down, crying and frustrated from being knocked on her butt yet again. And so it went. Day after day after day.

"The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate."- Oprah Winfrey

Two days ago, however, things took a turn. It was a normal morning. We talked. We kissed. We said hello to the dog and I put the baby in her playpen while I freshened up. I watched her attempt to reach the top of the playpen and tumble back down. But this time, something different happened before she fell. This time, for two seconds, her fingers managed to cling to the top just long enough to show her she had made progress, so that even though she fell, there was no crying or frustration. This time her eyes never left the top of that pen, and she immediately positioned herself to try again. I watched the focus in her face. I had a front row seat to the sheer determination it took for her to get what she wanted. There was no one and no thing in all of time or space in those moments except for her and the top of that play pen. And when she reached for it this time, she did so with the momentum of all the other times she had tried and failed, because those times had been her consistent practice that would fuel her current abilities to succeed, which of course she did. And the screams of celebration she let out when she was finally standing, two hands and two feet firmly planted where SHE wanted them to be, told the story of how sweet the feeling of success is, especially when the trials were many and the struggles were real and she pressed on because she thought she could so she did. We clapped and praised her for her accomplishment. She smiled and laughed at our approval. I silently prayed for her to always celebrate her little milestones as the major victories they are.

Though mornings look mostly the same, some things are different now. What was once such a challenge to the baby to pull to standing is becoming second nature. I expect that the more she gets her "feet" under her, the more she will be trying to go from standing to stepping, where new trials await. Triumphs, too. Because that's just the way it goes in life. If we want to do something new, we must accept that being successful at whatever it is will not come without commitment and challenges to overcome. This is true for improving a relationship, working your way up in your career, setting new financial goals, starting or improving your self-care practice. The takeaway here is that ANYTHING YOU WANT BAD ENOUGH YOU CAN HAVE. With a price. But the fee is not only reasonable, it's good for you. Nothing negative can come from being focused, driven, and committed to accomplishing your goals. Even when you fail. You are just one step closer and will be a little bit stronger, wiser, and more resilient when you get there. And when you get there, celebrate the win and all it took to get there. Play with your toys. Enjoy them. Then get back to discovering what you're capable of and who you were put on this Earth to be. Be like the baby.

With love and gratitude,

Kinda and Rachel

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