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Where There's A Will, There's A 14-Pound 7-Month-Old

Recently I was chatting with a childless friend, lamenting Madeleine’s speedy growth out of babyhood.  “Tell me again when her birthday is?” my friend queried.  “She’ll be seven months in two days!  Can you believe it?” I responded.  My friend burst out laughing.  “I meant, when is her year birthday!”  She laughed, claiming I knew at any given moment exactly how many days old Madeleine is.  I’m going to plead the 5th on that one.
But how can I not keep such a close watch on her growing up?  I’m all too well aware of the days slipping through my fingers as she runs from babydom to toddlerhood.  Each month is so different from the one before: learning to smile, learning to sleep through the night, recognizing different people, discovering her feet and the ability to blow raspberries are just a few of the milestones that she’s left in the dust.  When she turned 7 months recently I marveled at how different she is already from the 6-month-old she was.  For a mommy’s heart, 7 months is the start of a downhill slide towards 1 year, a far cry from the safe perch of 6 months smack in the middle of the calendar. 
And if six months was all about perpetual discovery and joy in all new things, being 7 months is all about the will.

Yes, Madeleine has discovered that she has a will of her own, and she delights in it.  Just yesterday she realized that after three weeks of loving squash, she was misinformed; her highness does not like squash.  She used to open her mouth wide to every bite of food, happily swallowing everything I gave her.  When she started being a bit tight-lipped with the squash, I began alternating it with a food she loved; one bite of squash, one of mango, back to squash, and so on.  How long did that last?  About 6 bites.  She began eyeing me warily, then had the temerity to stop trusting what I was feeding her!  Tight-lipped, she’d poke just her tongue out, tasting the spoon with the tip of it, then deciding whether or not to open up for a full bite.  Where did she learn this?  When did she decide she had opinions on things such as food preferences?
Her astonishing will is not always applied to thwart my intentions, thank heavens.  Sometimes she focuses every fiber of her baby being towards achieving a specific goal, and if you are that goal it’s absurdly flattering.  I’ll put her on her playmat while I gather her feeding bowls and bibs from the kitchen and she’ll roll onto her tummy so she can keep a better eye on me.  I’ll stand across the room and talk to her, congratulating her on finding me.  When she locks me in her sights, it’s as if I’m the only thing in the world and I can see the determination in her eyes:  I’m going to get to Mummy or die trying.  Still staring intently, her eyes never leaving mine, she begins doing anything she can think of with any part of her body that occurs to her to try to get to me.  So far the only move she’s successfully mastered is the backward scooch, but I honestly don’t think she notices; she’s at base camp and she won’t take her eyes off the top of Everest until she’s there.  Her grim determination keeps her focused for several minutes, hardly noticing she’s backed all the way off the mat.  It’s amazing how long she can go without getting frustrated, but eventually of course she does and begins to cry.
Which magically also works to bring her closer to mommy.
I adore seeing this independent personality develop: seeing this little creature with decided opinions about being up or down or playing or reading quietly or touching her or not touching her.  It’s such a magic thing to have sprung up in her.
Of course, I can foresee a time in the future when it’d be handy to have a pause button for the ole will – but one step at a time.


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