How a spoon works

“But he definitely understands how a spoon works?”

Asher didn’t have his 6 month appointment until he was a few days shy of being 7 months, because that was the soonest we could get in to see the pediatrician a neighbor had glowingly recommended after Dr. Lon passed away. Now, this wasn’t a problem, but the thing about people who are that young is that a month can make a world of difference developmentally. So, while he hadn’t officially turned 7 months yet, Asher was sort of looking like a super-baby by the 6 month old standards. He had 4 teeth already, he was not only sitting up well but was actually standing on my lap while the doctor took his medical history, and as she judiciously put it, he was very aware of his surroundings–enough to cause way more drama than was actually warranted by the situation, i.e. screaming like a banshee when the stethoscope came near him.

But the thing he wasn’t advanced on was his diet, specifically how many solid foods he had eaten. By the time of the 6 month appointment I had scheduled with Dr. Lon, Asher had tried all the solid foods Dr. Lon recommended by that age–cereals and pureed fruits and vegetables. I had anticipated discussing the next dietary steps at that 6 month visit…

And then I called his office to confirm the time of Asher’s appointment the following day, and the voicemail informed me they were “closed due to the passing of Dr. Lon”. In addition to some other very serious concerns (like the fact that there was initially no covering physician for Dr. Lon’s patients, and I had no access to medical records if an emergency happened), I also had no idea what to do with Asher’s diet. Yeah, feeding a baby isn’t rocket science, but we couldn’t see the new pediatrician for 3 weeks, and I had no one to call in the mean time if he developed a rash or his breathing got weird. With no safety net, I was just too scared to give him any new foods.

Cue the 6 month appointment that happened at nearly 7 months. I could tell the pediatrician was a little surprised that Asher was only eating solid foods once a day, and only from a very small pool of options, but once I explained why I hadn’t advanced him she was totally sympathetic. She immediately gave me carte blanche to feed him anything except honey, as long as he could manage the texture and consistency. And then, she threw me the “softball” question:

“But he definitely understands how a spoon works?”

Asher Chewing On A Spoon

“Don’t worry Mama, I’ll take it from here!”

See what she did there? Obviously he understood how a spoon worked, I had just listed all the things he’d eaten off of one! She wasn’t actually asking me that question, she was affirming how far we’d come from the days when he didn’t know what a spoon was for. Rather than making me feel bad about his lack of culinary variety, she chose to focus instead on what I had already done right.

Oh, how I wish I could learn to talk to myself like that doctor talked to me! I will discount an entire day of good mothering because Asher pitched a fit in his car seat and I couldn’t calm him down while driving. I’ll beat myself up for not immediately realizing that he’s crying from hunger, not tiredness, at what would normally be naptime. I feel awful when I lift him out of his stroller and his back is sweaty, even if he’s been serene and happy the whole time he was in there. And yes, I went into that 6 month appointment embarrassed that he hadn’t tried more foods.

I am so much harder on myself than I would ever think to be on anyone else. Heck, I’m too hard on myself about being too hard on myself! There will always be things to improve on in my mothering, my marriage, my homemaking, my professional development, really any task or relationship I can think of. But if I could learn to pause for half a second and give myself credit for what I’ve already gotten right, I bet I’d be a lot happier and calmer about how far I still have to go.

So, my baby knows how a spoon works. That seems like as good a place to start as any in recognizing what’s going well, what I’m already good at. My baby knows how a spoon works, he knows he is cared for, he knows he is safe, he knows he is loved. I’m not a perfect mother, but I am a good one.

What about you? Are you too hard on yourself sometimes, like me? If so, what are you already doing right? I bet it’s a lot!

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