Quite literally from the moment I suspected I was pregnant, up until today, parenting my little girl, Taya, has brought me amazing joy.
She is such a delight to be with. And every single day gets better. It is very difficult to pinpoint or round down to the one greatest joy as a parent, but I think I am up to the task!
Here is some background of who she is. We did not find out whether she was a boy or a girl during pregnancy. We had a wonderful name chosen for a possible girl (Taya Rei, rhyming with Hey Ya! (as in the song by Outkast) hey. Taya Rei, He Ya! Hey! Cool?), but we could not decide on a boy name at all. When she came out, we were absolutely delighted to see that we had our little girl (which we actually both secretly wanted, but never said out loud to each other). She is 26 months old now (2 years and 2 months, for anyone who doesn't want to do the math), with light red, curly hair, and an amazing passion for life. We have been utterly blessed and given grace upon grace in her life so far. Her birth was easy, her newborn stage was a perfect dream, she is healthy like no other child I have come across, she loves intensely and is such an empathetic child who dislikes any form of catastrophe (if other children get off their little plastic scoot motorbikes and leave them knocked over, she says "Oh, no!" and proceeds to put each one upright).
We (my husband and I) are constantly journeying to find the best way to parent our daughter and raise her in such a way that she will be totally uninhibited in pursuing her dreams. We have so far decided on attachment parenting, and have been breastfeeding, baby-wearing, co-sleeping, gentle parenting and the works. It has been absolutely great.
All along the way, there is the constant self-reevaluation and and reassessment that we need to undergo to make sure that we don't get stuck in our ways. We are always growing and learning.
Now I can get to what I think is my greatest joy that has been developing recently!
One thing that I really liked about the attachment parenting style, was that the secure attachment that the child forms in the early months of life with help them to feel safe enough to explore without having mom close by all the time, and be less likely to experience separation anxiety. Well, my daughter and I are very, very rarely separated by more than 100m and for more than 15 minutes. There is definitely separation anxiety from my side, but she really prefers not to be away from me! I was thinking for a while that I maybe should have left her more with other people when she was younger, so that she can be used to not being with me constantly. Even if it's just me and her at home, she will want to be in my arms while I am busy cooking or whatever, instead of doing something by herself. I don't mind it at all; I was just wondering if I could have done something better.
But today, while I was making pizza for us and my mom (homemade sourdough crust), she spent nearly a total of three hours playing totally by herself! Climbing in and out of the fort her dad built for her, singing songs to herself, drawing on her chalkboard, getting a book off the bookshelf and sitting down to page through it. She had such a great time by herself, with me about five steps away from her. She would engage with me now and then, so that I can see the ball in the book, or that I should try to find her hiding in her fort.
Here's the pizza before it went into the oven, if anyone is interested. It was delicious!!
But it is just so wonderful to see her starting to do things on her own! This morning at church, she played with some friends while I was off praying with someone in one of the offices. She is going down slides by herself. She wants to take risks by balancing on precarious objects and pushes me , saying "Go away, Mamma. Go over theeeeeeeeeere," pointing far away with her little fingers.
It is heart-breaking and joy-inducing at the same time!! My little baby is becoming a person.
It is such a beautiful sight. To see her so confidently spin on her toes.
To have her decide that she definitely does not want to wear the outfit I chose her! And the way she can express herself with words! Now that is mind-blowing every time!
Here are some notable quotes:
"I miss the ocean."
"I remember when I was small and wonderful, I said bateetee. Now I say bellybutton."
"I am going to Cape Town. I am going to eat food and play soccer."
"I am happy. Mommy, are you happy?"
"Oooooooooh, Mommy, beautiful!!"
"I love you, Daddy. I love you, Mommy."
Waking up from a dream- "There were lots of small spiders! I was riding on them! It was fun!!"
Slightly constipated for a few days- "There is a screw in my anus."
Her first joke that she created- "I have a ponytail. I am Pony-Taya!"
I could go on and on. Seeing my baby girl growing up into this slightly independent, ridiculously clever explorer is the greatest joy I have experienced so far a parent!!