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Max Diaries: Free Fall! Lessons from a Toddler

Christina Cox

by Christina Cox, new mom blogger

Max, my 22 month old, and I have a routine every night before bed. The routine starts at about 5:30pm. I make him dinner and he puts his wiggly little body in his big boy chair at the table and I try to make him sit down and focus on his meal. Then I bring him upstairs and while he plays, I gather together his pajamas, his diaper, his towel and bath goodies for his evening bath.
I take off his clothes and every night he runs around naked until I reel him and get him on the potty for his night-time pee. Then I get him into the tub with all his toys and bubbles and he splashes and plays and screams when I wash his face. Then, I wrap him in a towel, and say with as much vigor as I can muster, “Max is a TACO! I plop him on the bed, clean and naked, and that’s where the mayhem starts.
He burrows into the pillows moving all around and laughing. Then, he sits with his back against the headboard and screams “Fort!” So, I build a fort of pillows around him and I infiltrate his little sanctuary, when I reach in without looking and tickle his belly, his feet or side. He then breaks it all down and climbs on the headboard and announces his next activity, “FREE FALL!” Immediately, I get all the pillows together while he stands on the headboard (which is wide and up against the window) and contemplates his fall with the widest grin and a sideways glance at me. There he stands naked. And with all the abandonment of an innocent little toddler, he falls face forward, hands up in the air and does a belly-flop on the pillows. And, he laughs hysterically. And, I have to say, I laugh too.
Most of the time during this bedtime routine, I’m calculating how long it will take to get him to the next part of the routine. After free fall, I need to get him in his diaper and pajamas, get his milk, read a story and put him to bed by his bedtime at 7:30pm. Life is such a daily routine. And, I worked hard to get him on a schedule when he was a baby, so that there would be structure to his life and he knows what to expect. Schedules are good, right?
But every time I hear Max scream “Free Fall” and see him fall into a sea of pillows without a care in the world, I am reminded to slow down and enjoy all the little moments, where he does exactly what he wants. The happy squeals, the laughter, the nakedness, his little phrases, are the part of being a mom that is truly joyful. So, why am I always stressing out to get him to march in line to the routine? I forget to just let things go once in a while. I realize I’m missing so much of the good stuff when I stress so hard to adhere to the schedule. It’s ok to let him go with how he feels and let the joyful mayhem be and just enjoy.
What’s the worst that could happen if I let him run around naked 15 minutes longer? What if I let him wear his soccer jersey to bed instead of his regular pajamas? What if I went on a walk with him and let him lead the way? So maybe we wouldn’t get far, but maybe Mom would learn a bit more how to let go and be free.

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