Every milestone associated with raising a kid comes with a slew of mixed emotions. When your kid starts crawling, you're so excited but you also realize it's time to start baby-proofing, and that's a pain. When your kid starts walking, you're filled with pride but you realize their chances of getting hurt have doubled, and panic sets in. All of these milestones mean your kid is gaining more independence, and while (for some) that can be a sad development, there are multiple reasons why your kid becoming more independent is the best.
I, personally, feel like I'm lacking some kind of mothering-gene that keeps me from being absolutely and unapologetically excited when my kid learns how to do something new, by himself. I've never once thought, "I miss my son being a newborn," or "Please, kid, stop growing up so fast," and, at times, my inability to feign even a little bit of sadness when my son gains more and more independence makes me feel, well, guilty. I guess I'm just excited about the prospect of him becoming a complete person; of learning more about himself and the world around him; of him actually growing up, because so many children don't get that opportunity. Having lost a baby 19 weeks into my pregnancy, I think it's difficult for me to wish that my son would slow down, because the alternative is him never experiencing actual life; and there's nothing worse than that, I think.
So, maybe you're like me and the idea that your kid is getting more and more independent is nothing short of exciting. Or maybe you are filled with sadness when you realize your kid is relying on you less and less, every day, and need a reminder that it's not all bad. Either way, here are 10 reasons why your kid becoming more independent is the absolute best.
I'm not saying that newborn snuggles aren't the thing of dreams, but being able to actually do things with your kid is, you know, pretty awesome too. I, for one, love being able to take my kid places and watch him run around and figure things out and play with other kids, sans mom right by his side. I like that, when we do play together, it's more interactive and interesting and informative. Newborns, while adorable and snuggly, are just little bumps on a log. Sometimes, that's awesome. Other times it's a little, um, dare I say, boring?
When my son was a newborn, I was afraid to do anything even remotely far away from him. I wanted to be near him in case he started crying or spitting up or rolling over or doing anything at all. Now, I have no problem leaving a room to let my son play by himself while I tend to myself or finish a task or make an important phone call or answer a lingering email. I get to feel more like an independent person, too, and less like my existence hinges on the actions of another human being.
Arguably one of the best parts of your kid becoming more independent, is the personality they'll inevitably develop. The only way for any human to really figure themselves, is if they're given the space and time and ability to do so. The more space and distance my son has from me and my partner, the higher the chance that he'll figure out who he really, and truly, is. Even now, at almost-two-years-old, my kid is figuring out who he is and forming this adorable (albeit defiant) personality that I am absolutely infatuated with.
Of course there are memories to be made when your kid is a newborn and completely dependent on you. However, there really are only so many things you can do with a newborn. The more independence your kid gains, the more you can do together; things that they will actually remember and think fondly on; things that they get to experience independently and with you, simultaneously. It's kind of the best.
Arguably the only thing better than experiencing something for yourself, is watching your kid experiencing it for the first time, too. I can't tell you how unreal it felt to watch my kid walk for the first time; talk for the first time; know what the color "blue" is or what the letter "M" was; how to give hugs and kisses. Obviously these aren't big things when it comes to becoming an actual, functional adult, but to watch my kid get excited when he did something, by himself, for the first time? Yeah, that's everything. I can only imagine how I'll feel when he sees landmarks for the first time or falls in love for the first time. I mean, how can you not be excited for that?!
This is just important. I mean, that's all there is to it.
And, obviously, along with learning about responsibility and everything that it entails, comes managing it. Responsibility doesn't end. Instead, it seems to multiple and manifest itself in multiple areas of your life, the older you become. More independence (arguably) means more responsibility, so it's important to me, and many other parents, that our kids learn how to manage responsibility in a healthy way so that they don't become overwhelmed by it.
This is probably why I feel absolutely comfortable with my kid gaining more and more independence; because I'm still here, when and if he needs me. He can go out and venture on his own (whether it's at a playground or, eventually, school) and I am still just a few steps or a phone call away. I would much rather my kid gain independence when I'm in close proximity in case anything goes wrong, than when I'm hundreds of miles away and unable to assist immediately.
The more independence your kid gets, the more people he or she will meet. The more people your kid meets, the more people you will, eventually, meet too. It's kind of awesome to be introduced to new kids and their parents; school teachers and counselors; teammates and coaches; you name it, honestly. The larger your kid's social circle becomes, the larger yours will, too (for better or worse).
This is a big one, you guys. I love my kid, don't get me wrong, but I also love my partner. Like, a lot. When our son was a newborn, it felt like we barely had time for one another, unless by, "time," you mean, "laying next to one another, unconscious, for two hour stretches." Now that my son is learning how to do more things by himself, my partner and I get to spend more time together. Now that I am not needed as frequently, I don't feel guilty about taking a night to go out with friends. It's wonderful to get more of my pre-baby connections back, to be honest. In the end, when my kid leaves the house and ventures off into the world as a young adult, my partner and friends and family members will still be there, so it's important to me that I continue to make time to cultivate and tend to those relationships, too.