Sometimes having a baby can seem like there are always new challenges. But recently I discovered a secret: each one is an unavoidable opportunity to discover your own capabilities.
My son is now crawling. We knew this day would come eventually, yet after nine long months we remained hopelessly unprepared.
Our little guy has always been an active child. That's a polite way of describing his inability to sleep more than half an hour at a time. To protect our own mental health we reframe this: he's awake because he's inquisitive, and that can only be a good thing.
So it came as no surprise when he stopped wanting to lie on his back. He discovered how to roll and found new pleasure in perpetually propping himself up on all fours. His sleeping was already so atrocious that it ultimately didn't affect how unable we were to convince him that soft music and darkness were the routine that meant bed.
Seeing a baby on all fours is cute. The look of frustrated confusion on his face as his relentless rocking failed to propel him forward was endearing. We could even have a coffee at the same time, sitting together as a family, basking in the gentle joy of our lives.
Then the penny dropped: he began to lift his arms and all hell broke loose.
The day my wife sent me a photo of his little head poking out from under the couch with a mouth full of electrical cables was a watershed moment. I knew we were in trouble.
We bought an immense amount of safety fencing. When you see the pictures of these products it all looks so easy. Just cage the little munchkin off; they will smile happily up at you while you get on with your uninterrupted routine.
But even now they remain in their boxes. We looked around our pokey, little house and discovered we would just be fencing him into a trap. We have so little space, and so many useless possessions, that cordoning off any area is an exercise in futility.
Instead, he crawls around, puts everything within reach in his mouth, and screams when he regularly face plants in the process. It is incredible what he finds on the ground, so much of which he threw there himself during particularly enthusiastic attempts at finger food.
But who knows what else there is. I found a rusty saw in a corner the other day. For the life of me I could not recall why I put something so blatantly dangerous in prime baby finding position. Yet that's the sort of fool I am, so there's probably plenty of other goodies to find still.
We are now forever on alert. The sleep-deprived, bleary eyed, overworked team of me and my wife is the last line of defense between our son and certain doom. And we thought feeding him was bad.
But in the end, that's parenting. Our son is challenging himself to go further, explore more and learn about the world. We are challenged, too.
So let him crawl his little heart out. I have no idea what's coming next, but I will always be there to watch him try. When he pushes himself, we push ourselves, and together we find our way forward in the dark.
To me, that defines parenting. The struggle, joy, relentlessness and uncertainty of it all. It is never going to be easy. But at least now we're moving forward.