It's been raining for days here, so tonight we took Carter to a play place at the mall. At first I was a little hesitant - he's not even walking yet and he gets so nervous when we set him in giant toy cars at toy stores. At first glance, it bothered me that the place appeared so engulfed in random kids' germs that pretty much anyone who walked out alive would probably have the flu before they got home (yes, I'm that new mom who's nervous about shopping carts and sockless feet).
And then I saw Carter's smile. Ear to ear about even the prospect that we might set him down and let him crawl. I've seen him smile and laugh off and on, but never like this. Once he hit the ground, he was giggling to himself, crawling at top speed to test out new toys and slides he'd never seen before. He'd only stop what he was doing for a second to nod and call out to random, older kids running by, as if they were old friends. He seemed so incredibly proud of himself for being able to share their fun.
If it hadn't hit me this past year, it definitely hit me tonight. I get it now. I felt the complete, overwhelming, cold side of the pillow satisfaction of seeing my baby happy. If a crummy, germy play area at the mall can do this, I'm dying to find out what Disney World feels like.