It really seems like an overnight transformation. One minute you have all this stuff. Everywhere. The baby has consumed your life, your home, its decor, your personal space, your breasts, the car; everything screams baby.
Then, one day, it’s different.
I call this the baby-to-toddler liberation. Freedom. We can have nice things and a baby. We can accomplish tasks and projects outside of nap time. I can just be me, as well as her mom.
This change for me happened around 13 months. When those first steps became full-fledged walking and the dangers that came with bumping heads while crawling dissipated. My daughter had suddenly become a walking, running, independent toddler. It was a change that I didn’t expect to happen so quickly. It wasn’t one I had even pushed for, but rather one she asked for with her own actions and new-found independence.
This was also the end of breastfeeding. It was important to me to give her the full 12 months of nursing, but after that, I needed my own independence. It was important for both of us, really, and at 12 months, she would be fine to drink cow’s milk alongside the rest of the family. I wanted the weaning process to be slow and natural, so I began at 11 months and didn’t wean her off completely until 12.5. Two weeks after her first birthday, she was happily on cow’s milk 2-3 times per day, which is where she now remains.
So, the 12.5-month mark brought liberation from nursing, and the 13-month mark brought a toddling toddler. And, what were the major changes in this transition from baby to toddler?
Well, personally, I started taking better care of myself. My hormones from nursing were regulating, and I felt like I could finally control my nursing cravings and diet. I also treated myself to some chemicals! I was so chemical-free and baby-focused my entire pregnancy and while nursing, that getting a manicure and a pedicure, a facial, and a haircut, made me feel like I was a shelter dog, finding a home and going to the groomer for the first time. I got back into a more routine gym schedule, began reading new books, and started writing and blogging again. No longer nursing, I could have wine without looking at the clock. I could make a gourmet meal between her 7:00 p.m. bedtime and mine, clean the kitchen, and still get a goodnight’s sleep before our 6:45 a.m. wakeup.
A life fulfilled. Personally satisfied, and now, I look around the house in this new phase. Her toys are all confined to her room in one toy trunk and a separate play area. This is her space, where she chooses to go, alone, and sit with her imagination. She brings different toys out–usually a stuffed cat, Minnie, or some balls but they always go back to her room.
The mesh bumpers around her crib are gone. Her limbs are now large, and she understands how to get them both in and out of the slats. There are no more baby gyms, bouncers, bassinets, Boppys, burp cloths, or bathtubs laying around. The baby stuff is gone. Packed away with mountains of clothes for the next go. The weaning supplies are in the storage closet—the baby food maker, the little pots, the ice cube trays with lids—and then bottles and pump supplies are in the back of some cabinet. It’s all gone. What’s left outside of the nursery? Some bath toys, a few bottles that I’m actively trying to change to sippy cups, big girl silverware, plates and bowls, a high chair, and some child-proofing items that are not very invasive to our decor. Free at last, free at last.
I must add, this liberation is not just due to the end of nursing and the transition from baby to toddler, for me. I’ve also purged a lot of the old to move from one part of the world to another, to a city that better suits me, in the best time of the year. It’s a true rebirth. It will be interesting to see my thoughts the next time around but, for now, it all feels pretty darn good. Emerging from pregnancy, postpartum life, infancy, and babyhood, to the other side—a strong woman and now mother, with a little independent lady beside me.