I think it’s official. Justine has well and truly crossed over the baby/toddler dividing line.

Last Saturday, we hosted friends from Columbus for the day. As the chaos of kids played in the living room, my friend watched Justine toddle around the furniture. “Does she usually walk that much?”

“Sure,” I said without thinking about it. Justine had been walking in short spurts for a while now. That day was just more of the same.

Until I watched her next attempt. It wasn’t just an attempt. It was laps! Laps and laps around the kitchen island without any stops or falls. Flash forward to today. She can walk from one end of the house to the other. She can walk and carry things. She can walk and turn around. She still falls down multiple times in a day and sometimes crawls to get places, but man, that child can WALK.

She’s also decided–as of Tuesday at about 10 am–that bottles are a thing of the past. Morning bottle? No problem. Pre-nap bottle? Not having it. One skipped bottle turned into four turned into today. We have finished our first 24 hour cycle with 0 bottles.

You’d think–I thought–I would be leaping with joy. No more mixing 32 scoops of formula with 8 cups of water every 24 hours. No more lining up eight bottles in my fridge. No more rinsing out bottle parts all in one go because I was always too pressed to wash them individually after use. Not to mention formula is very expensive!

I failed to consider how much emotional security I as the parent took in bottles, however. Don’t want to eat your dinner? Feel like spitting out all the protein foods? Played with our eggs more than we ate them? No sweat. I know you are getting this 8 ounces of highly quantifiable and measurable liquid stuffed full of nutrients capable of keeping you alive exclusively for the first year of life.

Take that away? Eehhhh….Mom feels some stress.

Our first night without a bottle had a lot of tears. Mostly mine! To compliment her sudden no-bottle decision, she also decided to violently protest bedtime in a way uncharacteristic of my koala-souled little sleeper. For 90 minutes, she rotated between lying peacefully in her bed sucking her thumb with standing at the crib bars and wailing bloody murder.

I have no problem ignoring crying when I know it is only a protest. But she’s had no bottle! For like, days! WHAT IF SHE’S HUNGRY?! Ugh, so much stress.

We held out for an hour because she slowly gained time between outbursts. Eventually we went up (naturally, Jayce woke up then too) and tried to calm everyone down. She was fine as soon as we picked her up. We don’t let them leave the room with us during consoling trips, but we do pick them up if they are agitated enough. She calmed down like someone had tripped the off switch. After some snuggles, down she went again and the crying came back.

I have to give Josiah some credit here. As a parenting duo, he represents routine, consequences, and independent learning skills. I represent compassion and remembering that the objects in question are human babies, not a computer algorithm. Lol. This does lead to some conflicting interpretations on issues!

However, he’s very good at helping check off boxes. Yes, she cried heartily when we put her back down. But she did not cry while we held her, which indicates she was probably not in serious pain nor dying of starvation. Having satisfied the compassion element by checking on them, it was much easier to return to our movie in the living room and bear through the crying. Confident (ish) that she needed nothing from us except space to figure a new stage out.

Little kids are constantly changing, but to be fair, it has been quite some time since we’ve had a major milestone change. I thought walking was a big deal, but it really has little impact in preexisting routines. Deciding at 10 am one day to alter the feeding plan that has kept you alive for 14 months does have some impact on preexisting routines. As does a change in sleep behavior.

Today–so far–has been better. I was a little nervous we had no plans for a bottle this morning, but we all carried on bravely anyway. Breakfast was a smorgishboard of fruits, veggies, cereal, and eggs. She drank milk from her sippy cup like a champ. Once again, she did not want anything to drink before nap.

I have no idea what bedtime will be like. She went to sleep for nap without an issue. We’re trying to find something to take the place of the bottle activity that can help her prepare for sleep.

Perhaps a bedtime book? I would love that. I’ve been excited to try this activity in our bedtime routine for some time. Twins present some logistical challenges that multiple children of different ages don’t–or at least present less acutely. Bedtime books have not worked in the past, but maybe this is our opportunity to try again.

I write all this not to bore with the inane details of life with young kids. I write it firstly as a reminder to myself so I can look back on this in six years when we are dealing with obedience issues and laugh at how easy we had it.

I also write it for the moms just behind me: absolutely crucial elements of everyday life–such as, oh say, bottles!–can be a thing one day at 6 pm and totally not a thing the next day at 10 am. You’ve been warned!!

And if you’re reading this and you fall into neither of those two audience groups, consider this your quick snapshot into the unpredictability of Mom Life. Maybe text a mom you know a thumbs up emoji. Or give her a high five next time you see her. (Or mail chocolate. That’s never not a good idea.) It’s an important yet challenging job. Encouragement is always meaningful.

Also, to the moms ahead of me who I frantically texted on Tuesday asking for advice….thank you.

So there you have it. Walking, done with the bottle life, protesting bedtime, and generally more opinionated about everything. I think the word for that is….toddler.

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