I'll be honest. Birdy is giving me a run for my money lately.
We've entered the Phase of Discontent.
The screeching, screaming, back-arching days when nothing seems to make her happy, when she can never keep up, and when the only thing she has interest in doing are all the things she can't do. (aka she wants to do whatever her sisters are doing).
It is begining to wear a bit on my nerves. A full day of a discontented baby makes for a very long day. I try to remind myself that this is a phase, that all my children went though this. That with each of the girls there were days where I found myself standing in the doorway, tears creeping down my cheeks, waiting for my husband to arrive home from work so that I could hand over the babe and catch my breath.
Yes, that was me just a few days ago. Phew.
But one fool-proof way to keep Birdy happy is to take her outdoors. Now, outdoors at our house is not your typical green grass and swing sets. There are patches of mud, stones and ahem, chicken poop to dodge. Wood piles and stray splinters of logs. Gardening tools and sump pump hoses.
I could make myself crazy keeping her from all these things. Trying to keep her from crawling straight through the mud. From putting the sticks in her mouth and taking off across the soaking wet tall grass of the field to go after the dog. From eating stones and tree buds scattered over the driveway. From sticking her face down in a pile of dirt and tasting it.
And so, to save my sanity, I've been letting her have at it. Giving her freedom. Letting her roam and explore and taste (to a point) and touch and crawl through and over and under. Unless I'm concerned for her safety, I just let her be.
I watch her pull up clumps of green grass, eat a few strands, make a strange face and spit them out. I see her spy a scurrying barn cat out of the corner of her eye, and immediately change directions to crawl after it. From my watchful perch I can see her learning and exploring, and I imagine how that little brain is expanding with all these experiences.
What's the harm in a mouthful of soil? Or sucking on a stick? Or crawling through a mud puddle, hands and knees and toes covered in brown?
It's about letting go. And freedom. And fresh air. And learning.
For both of us.