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Parenting Perspectives: Watching child grow up the weirdest part of parenting

My little girl is all grown up. OK, not ALL grown up - she just turned 2 in July - but it's crazy to me to see the changes in her in just the short period of time she's been alive. The tiny, screaming bundle of joy I brought home from the hospita...

Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft
Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft

My little girl is all grown up.

OK, not ALL grown up - she just turned 2 in July - but it's crazy to me to see the changes in her in just the short period of time she's been alive.

The tiny, screaming bundle of joy I brought home from the hospital has become a bright, cheerful toddler who loves running and climbing, playing with action figures and watching "Ghostbusters 2."

Watching a human being develop in front of your eyes is one of the weirdest parts of parenting. Your kids start as a ball of instincts and almost before you know it, they have their own highly developed personalities, likes, dislikes, wants, opinions and peculiarities.

Some of the changes are wonderful - my daughter is incredibly independent now, a huge change from when she was a tiny baby who would produce an ear-piercing scream any time you tried to put her down. Taking care of her now is much less taxing because she prefers independent pursuits like looking through a book or talking to one of her Spider-Man toys.

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But some of the changes are bittersweet. It's lovely for her to be so independent, but a part of me misses the days when all she wanted was to curl up on the couch with me.

She's getting bigger now, and that's hard for me to handle. She was just 16 inches long when she was born and only 4 pounds. She's now doubled her height and more than five times her birth weight. She's not exactly my little girl anymore, even if she still is tiny for her age.

The change is a little hard for me to take - I cried the day I realized she had outgrown her tiny Batman costume. I know there are awesome things coming in the future, but in that moment all I could think of were the milestones that had passed and that I'd never have my baby be a baby again.

While those times were trying, they did have their perks. Besides baby snuggles and those sweet toothless smiles, it was so much easier to feed her when I only had to offer a breast or a bottle, instead of trying to decipher if she's asking for the chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs or the ones that look like Mickey Mouse. And I prefer a crawling child to a running one. At least when she was crawling, I could move faster than her.

Barely, but faster.

Now, she's become some kind of athletic champion. A few weeks ago, I took her to the park. I turned my back for a few seconds, then turned back to find her already 4 feet up the climbing wall. I wanted to see if she could do it, so I climbed up behind her, ready to grab her if she started falling, then watched in amazement as she got to the top of the 8-foot wall all by herself.

And this is only the beginning of watching - and letting - her grow up.

One day soon, I'll be sending her off to school, to her first sleepover, to her first dance, to driver's ed, to college, to work, to the world.

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And I'll let her go - when it's time. For now, though, I'll just focus on trying to get her to curl up on the couch with me, even if it's only for a few minutes at a time.

Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft is a news page designer at The Forum. She lives in Moorhead with her husband and their daughter, Calliope. She can be reached at astrnad@forumcomm.com . Her daughter can be found on Twitter @lilmisscalliope.

Related Topics: FAMILY
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