So, this has been on my mind lately. Not that Eric’s walking yet, or even crawling, but that everything worth doing requires small steps to get there.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to skip right over the small stuff… I’m often too focused on whether or not my kid is going to bolt down the beach or if the little guy is just a tad too close to the edge of the bed (since double-rolling is now on the table).
So, yeah. I’m not always aware of the small steps, but then at the same time, all I can see is the small.
Eric’s ability to lift both hips and legs up to his ears.
That slight turn on his side, but not quite all the way to his tummy…
I saw all those little steps knowing that they’d eventually lead to a roll (it also helps that this isn’t my first foray in the baby-rolling department). It took him, bit by bit, to get to the roll… and then practice to consistently make it happen.
Little by little, his efforts led to something bigger.
Sort of like this blog post.
It started as a title. Two hours later, that’s all I’d managed. Then – oh boy! – I got the first sentence done.
Now, I’m on Day 2 of trying to write this… one kid is taking off my socks to put them on her feet, the other is trying very hard to sit upright and still play with toys that seem to defy his wishes of going into his mouth….
Right now, all I’ve got are these itsy bitsy steps.
That realization hit home for me when I met a few friends at the beach with their kids. One mom asked if I’d gotten in my 30 minutes of writing. I told her, sadly, no.
This week I’d been mentally swamped with being a parent and also getting ready for an upcoming month-long trip. But her question got me thinking… actually, it encouraged me to take a good, hard look at my next morning.
Could I write?
Sure, I had to be ready for our housekeeper and Kate’s therapist (and by ‘ready’ I mean myself and two kids clothed, teeth cleaned, hair tangles beat down with a heavy-duty brush), but… could I get in my writing time?
And you know something?
I totally did it.
It helped that Eric got me up extra early. Also, I didn’t have the time to get in a full 30 minutes, so instead of just giving up and saying, “I’ll try again tomorrow,” I did what I could.
I wrote for 15 minutes.
It wasn’t a lot. Heck, I didn’t even do that many new words. But, I got myself back into the story. My creative voice popped out for a bit, cleared past the mommy-clutter and endless to-do list, and gave me a small glimmer of direction. And then I stopped when the doorbell rang and switched from writer-mode to parent-mode.
Itsy. Bitsy. Steps.
Just like Eric as he’s slowly moved from sitting upright with his weight perfectly balanced forward, to being able to play with some manner of toy (or a not toy but some pretty darn-cool thing, like Daddy’s keys), without toppling over.
Just like Kate’s comfort with her therapist. How, after a quick hug from Daddy, she ran right over to the blanket and was ready to play. It was a small but subtle shift from the first session, and one I’m absolutely celebrating.
And, just as I did with the baby-rolling process the first time around, and just as I’ve learned over the years with writing, everything worth doing takes steps.
Not to mention the path to language isn’t just a simple snap of the fingers.
(Kind of like writing.)
Talking isn’t as simple as the question I’m often asked, “So, is she talking yet?”
(Just like the question, “Have you finished your story yet?”)
In order to get to language, there must be a thousand small steps in place. To imitate language and words, a child must first imitate sounds. To imitate sounds, she must first imitate play. To imitate play, she must first care about what you think – and what I mean here, is the child needs to look to parents and grandparents and siblings with an attitude of, “Hey! Look what I’ve done!”
Okay. That’s an incredibly simplified process, and I’m missing about six dozen steps in there, but if there’s a hiccup in any of those areas, then you can’t answer that simple (and sometimes judgmental question), “Is she talking yet?”
The answer would be, “No.”
She’s making eye contact.
She’s imitating play.
Heck, she’s even imitating the voice’s inflections for a word she might hear.
In many ways, I’m actually blessed because I Get To See these tiny, tiny steps in action. I have a greater understanding and appreciation for those steps. I’m celebrating and encouraging each of those steps.
And you know what?
It is encouraging.
For me, too.
As a writer, sometimes people ask me, “So are you finished with your story yet?”
First off, I want to know which story you’re talking about. In my more prolific days (you know, before I had two babies) I’d finish one project and move to the next. But as of my life right now, the answer to the question would be, “No. I haven’t finished the story yet.”
I’m working on it.
I got in 15 minutes one day, then another 30 the next.
The word count is adding up. Bit by bit. Sure it depends on my life and role as a parent (and how crazy I’m feeling that day or if my brain is going to explode), but it is adding up.
If anything, being part of this journey with Kate is an inspiration.
She’s an inspiration, and she hasn’t a clue. She’s just doing her thing, playing and learning, and doing what comes natural. But I see those steps now. I’m learning right along with her and each of those steps is an inspiration.
I have no doubt that she will talk. I have no doubt that I will hear the word, “Mommy.”
Just like I have no doubt I’ll finish this story. And the next after that.
Bit by tiny bit.
Step by tiny step.
I’ll get there, and so will Kate.
I just wanted to say thank you for all the support and encouragement I’ve received, especially in regards to Kate’s speech delay. It was unexpected, but very, very welcome. We are moving forward as a family, and me also as a writer.
I even got the warm joy in my chest from getting in those rushed 15 minutes of fiction writing and then immediately watched Kate engage and play with Miss A. It’s a feeling that tells me, without a doubt, we’re on the right path.
So, thank you, also, for those warm feelings and all your encouragement.
It feels great to not be alone.