Babies aren’t robots. It seems a very obvious thing to say but it’s only really just dawning on me as Harriet’s hit eight months old that this is the reality. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing better than her little personality properly coming into its own – a giggle at something unexpected and the earnest little look on her face when she’s looking for Iggle Piggle who she’s only just thrown on the floor – but I have to admit I did take some refuge in the routine and predictability of her younger months.
I suppose I’ve been lucky so far with a baby that can (mostly!) settle herself and who wolfed her bottles at set times. Now with her advancing months, and a proper little person emerging, comes more uncertainty: ‘Today I’ve decided to drink all my milk but tomorrow you’ll be lucky to get 3oz down my neck’; ‘Today porridge is the best thing ever but tomorrow I’ll gag and turn my head away’; ‘Yes of course I’ll eat the pasta but I’ll keep you guessing on the ratio of how much will end up in my mouth versus my hair/face/on the floor.’
Yes, gone are the middle of the night feeds and the frantic feel for the rise and fall of her chest as she sleeps, but I have to admit to finding this period one of the most challenging yet. From somebody who is reassured by routine, I’m now running out of the house to get somewhere and invariably getting there by the skin of my teeth or beyond fashionably late. That nap I could time my watch by has turned into something to rival Sleeping Beauty’s or that lunch that was eaten in five minutes flat the day before now has to be carefully examined before it goes anywhere near her mouth.
Rightly or wrongly the predictability helped me feel, as an anxious new mum, that I was meeting all Harriet’s needs. As she becomes more and more of her own person I won’t always be able to cocoon her and make everything o.k. That’s why her wilfulness and personality that brings our family so much laughter and happiness also frightens me just a little…