Yes. My two-and-a-half year old still used a pacifier. Or, as we call it, paci.
Since the tender age of 3 months or so, she has only used it to sleep. She has never crawled, toddled, or walked with it hanging from her mouth.
That fact makes me proud.
It has also made me less interested in taking it away from her.
Like diapers, the pacifier is one of those final tethers to babyhood. It symbolizes a baby in the house.
Cutting that tether symbolizes a little girl who is growing up. Who no longer depends wholly on external people (or things) for soothing but who can soothe herself. A little girl who is just that. A little girl. Not a baby anymore.
A little girl on the path to being her own person.
When I go to check on her at night, I see legs growing long and lanky, replacing tiny, baby fat covered limbs. I see arms, that were once swaddled tightly at her sides, flung above her head or tucked around a lovey. I see a face, growing less baby-like and more big kid every day.
But when I see the pacifier, I can hold onto Baby for just a bit longer.
This week, however, it was time. We suggested to her that in a few days we should give her pacis away to her best friend’s new baby sister. Unsurprisingly, she was adamantly against it. So we said we’d let her think it over and talk about it later.
It’s amazing the way a toddler mind ponders things during the moments in between. Because by yesterday she had made her decision. She announced that it was time. She insisted that we walk right down the street and give her pacis to the new baby. She happily piled all of them into a bag, ceremoniously kissed the bag goodbye, and off we went.
On the way home, she announced, with all the pride in the world, that tonight, she would sleep without her paci.
And she did just that.
My Baby is not a baby anymore. She is capable of thinking things over and coming to a conclusion. Making a decision and following through. And she is capable of sleeping without her paci.
It’s in these moments that I get glimpses into her future. She won’t jump quickly into things. She won’t be easily convinced. She’ll take things in and give herself time to think. She’ll be thoughtful about her decisions and move when she is ready.
And I’ll be the mother that encourages her to take that time. With pride in my heart and tears in my eyes.
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