It never fails to amaze me that a mother is always able to lift the weight of her baby, no matter how heavy.
That’s something my mentor’s 90-year-old sister said to me when I met them for a visit a few months back. She had watched me gingerly lift my baby in his car seat onto the table after she struggled to lift his load from the chair. I hadn’t thought of it like that before, but the truth of this necessary, if unconscious, lesson struck me.
Time after time, I’ve watched women of all shapes and sizes hauling around children of all shapes and sizes, often in unlikely pairs. The tinier the mom, the taller and heavier the child, gaggles of arms and legs wrapped around tiny waists with a forehead only she can soothe.
As for me, I was beginning to notice my growing strength. A few weeks in, I wonder if he’s lost weight. He seems so much lighter! My doula assures me, however, it is my arms gaining muscle.
Now as he nears twenty pounds and squirming is part of his routine, usually on the stairs, balancing a bottle and sometimes a small dog, he giggles understanding innately what my right hip was made for.
He too is charting his growth, often in invisible ways. Suddenly, from under pink swollen gums and a sea of drool, two tiny white slivers stealthily appear. In days they form perfect chiclets that shine even more light into his bright brown eyes.
Pressing all of his weight into the palms of my hand and wrapping tiny fingers around the edges, he unfolds one wobbly leg and thrusts his tiny bum back for balance before planting his second foot and pulling himself up to stand, as proud and overjoyed as I am.
But the most welcome surprise of all, hearing that all of his gurgles, coos and growls were purposeful practice for his first word: mama.
For him and me both progress.
Individual, gradual and chartered in tiny moments, sometimes invisible, until all at once we arrive at the result, the milestone, the end or the beginning.
How many times do we think that nothing is happening, that we’ll never get there or that nobody sees us, when time is busy noticing?
How often do we rip the seed of an idea up out of the earth to make sure it is growing?
Progress is much more patient than that. Why not savor it?