The greatest thing about being totally hands-on with your baby--no yaya or nanny--is that you get to see all the milestones yourself. Even the yardstones (not quite a milestone, but still something to be proud of). Or milepebbles, if you prefer.
I know, for example, exactly how Raine discovered her feet. She was sitting (technically she was on her butt and I was holding her up) on the footstool in front of the mirror, one of her favorite activities in her younger days, and she happened to look down at her wiggling toes. In the mirror, I could see her expression of fascination and wonder, as in, "What are these things down here?" And I've seen every little bit of progress till she finally got her foot in her mouth. That's one of the ultimate baby goals, apparently. A yardstone in itself, but not one they put in baby books.
It's also great knowing that one of Raine's favorite songs is Stand By Me, not Boom-Tarat-Tarat or Ocho-ocho. And if I do give in to the temptations of TV, I know she isn't soaking in the local (or local-dubbed Asian) soaps. Not that I'm above watching such--I confess to knowing who Carlos Miguel and Rosario, Rosemarie and that third triplet that Claudine Baretto played are. But it isn't mindless viewing all day. I'm thankful we didn't get cable, and that even our local channel reception sucks--it makes The Hubby and I keep the boob tube turned off more often (which is a big deal for The Hubby; he even used to sleep with the TV on). But I digress.
I know what Raine's crying about, though sometimes I'm just too impatient to really listen to and decode what she's trying to tell me. I was around the first time she did that trembling-lower-lip face when I said "no" to her. I know why she suddenly took to feeding from the bottle after the great battles (she saw me pumping milk into the bottle, and she touched the bottle, looked at me--and we never had much of a problem after that). I've seen her progress from rolling one way only to rolling all over, from scooting to commando crawling, from looking like a rickety table on her hands and knees to cruising. The first time she sat up, the first time she reached out, the first time she learned to spit--I was there.
When other SAHMs told me about the joy you get from staying home with the baby and witnessing these yardstones, I was skeptical. How can you be in a state of thrill all the time? But while I haven't reached that mommy nirvana yet, I can wax poetic about things like Raine's poop.
Of course, there are times when I feel overwhelmed by our uber joint-at-the-hip-ness, (sometimes literally). I don't think it's healthy to be with the baby 24/7. For me at least. So I'm glad I get to go out once in a while. Last Monday, I went for a mini pamper session at Rustan's with my cousin Randee, and left Raine and The Hubby alone the entire afternoon for some Daddy time. Both survived the experience.
If Raine were keeping track of her own parents' progress, I suppose she'd celebrate the yardstones too. "OK, can figure out I've been stewing in my nappy in less then 20 minutes--50% improvement since last time!" Or "Hmm, finally learned that the view from the floor is great and is now rolling around with me." Or "Breastmilk is still best for babies! No yucky solid stuff!" But that last one--our battle at solids feeding, when she refuses to open her mouth and expertly spits out anything I manage to spoon in--is a tactical retreat on my part. We'll try solids again next week. Maybe I should change the spoon...
I suppose I should join Raine too, celebrating my yardstones. Motherhood, like anything else, isn't done overnight. It happens little by little. I am slowly letting go of my expectations of myself--that absurd picture in my head of the perfect mom that I have to be. I thank God that babies, Rainey in particular, are a resilient lot. They can take the little blunderings of their fumbling parents. And as Raine learns to deal with our world, I learn to deal with hers. One yardstone at a time.