One day you’ll suddenly notice something. You’ll notice how summers will be endless, full of sunscreen and family road trips, naps under the canopy of a tree, and slumber parties littered with pizza boxes. Then, years later, you’ll grow into the world of adulthood and schedules and hung-over Mondays and it will hit you: summers pass too quickly. June leapfrogs over July and then July melts into August.
This is much how parenthood functions, with time whizzing by like a buzzing bee, barely discernable against the landscape. It has been months since I gave a proper update on your expanding appetites for life. Mama has been too busy watching the work of women birthing new life into this world. Mama’s sleep is seriously lacking. Mama’s patience has been tested like a ship in choppy waters, bobbing up and down.
But oh, this blessed spring weather wraps me in her gossamer veil and hammocks my soul. I am renewed. At least momentarily. And that’s all I can ask for.
I think I’ve learned a new trick and oh how smart I feel: I’m typing this while standing up, laptop on the counter. Because it tricks you both into thinking I’m “active” and not neglecting you. I have come to discover that mamas are not allowed to sit down. Ever. Standing = quick addressing of your innumerable needs. This Tom Foolery is quite tiring but if it allows me a few paragraphs worth of writing them I’m game.
You are both starting to interact with each other which is wondrous to witness. Granted, it involves a lot of whining, crying, pushing, and un-sharing of toys. But there is giggling too. And in these interactions I catch glimpses of you as teenagers: either bowled over in embarrassed laughter at your dorky parents or swatting each other’s hands away from shoes and boyfriends.
My Indigo, with a disposition as soft as a feather, your smile grows broader each month. In fact, I do believe your smile may be partly responsible for global warming. Your daddy actually calls you a “happiness bomb”, explaining that you fill a room with explosive joy.
You are finally crawling, exploring the house and laws of gravity. You have a tooth coming in, which makes for many shortened nursing sessions. You say “Da da” and “Ba” (for bird) and can sign “All Done”, “More”, and “Bird”. You still sleep with your body curled next to mine, your tiny hands resting on my boobs. Sometimes I transfer you to your pack-n-play but you inevitably end up back in our bed. You eat solid foods, your favorites being black beans, Cheerios, and peas. Indi, the way you melt my heart like a glacier is too intense for words. You are my Princess, my little Peapod, my sweetie with a mysterious and sometimes witchy spirit. You get what you want and I’m glad to be the giver. My mellow-riffic baby, thank you for being content to ride on my hip, your fingers grasping my shirt. To know you experience all life has to offer while in the sidecar of my arms is, well, endearing. I like being part of your team. You keep me moving, you beg me to slow down. Oh, and I can’t squish your dimply bottom enough.
Ready for the list? You:
- Pee-pee in the potty a few times a day (and have pooped there too), mostly after naps
- Like the sound of my kiss in your mouth
- Click and bang toys together and love to watch them drop
- Search around in response to “Where’s your puppy/kitty/sister/daddy?”
- Splash gleefully in the tub, as well as dunk your head into the water to drink it
- Love to touch my eyelashes, pinch my nose, attempt to pierce my lip, and pull my hair as we nap together in bed
- Chew on pizza crust
- Know the “shake shake” sound of the teething tablets bottle
- Don’t like being left alone in a room
- Love to chew on wet washcloths
- Had a raging double ear infection two months ago
- Love to try and rip off my laptop keys
- Have little interest in the TV
- Lately prefer falling asleep in Daddy’s arms
- Crack up to your sister’s antics
- Survived two 24+ hour births that mama attended (i.e. hung out with daddy)
- Instantly relax with a blankie next to your face and the soft tune of the personalized lullaby Mama created
- Nap about twice a day, usually one short catnap and one longer snooze
Oh my Kaia Marin, you are non-stop action in the tawny body of a 2.9 year old. I love the social butterfly in you, how you reach out to strangers with a genuine smile and a “Hi there!” or “See ya later, buddy”. You have a mad network, my daughter. You make instant friends at the park, trailing behind them with your tangled mop of hair and dusty bare feet and sweet laughter. You have no boundaries, no inhibitions. You’ve decided that freedom is your birth right and you make it well known. These past few months, your empathetic side has burst forth as you nurture your friends with hurt bodies or spirits. It is common for you to ask “You OK, Mama?” when I cough or grunt or stub my toe. You check on people’s feelings and I think that’s very kind of you. It makes me proud; but more than that I am awed because you’ve developed most of your nurturing side on your own accord. To be a witness to the unfolding of our spirit is divine.
However, let us not forget that your feelings come first. You expect your needs and desires to be met instantaneously and have rather odd and specific requirements for many of them. But here’s the good thing: your Daddy and I learned early on that you crave ritual and routine. So if we can establish a routine for anything (eating, sleeping, dressing, etc) and stick to you, you are likely to be happy and content. But if we stray from the routine or try to half-ass it, forget it. You have no patience for that kind of behavior and out come the big guns: screaming, bawling, body-slamming to the floor, and incessant whining. And so we work to try and figure each other out; bargaining and comprising and giving in. And that really is the crux of relationships, right? I cannot put a leash on your desire for independence and expression, even though it may come at the cost of my sanity, patience, and desire to inhabit a tidy, orderly, easy life.
That said, I’ve resorted to sending you to “Quiet Time” after I’ve given you two chances to shape up frustrating behavior. Know that mama really doesn’t have many rules, my love. But hitting your family members (that includes your dog), throwing food, or lobbing toys at people is just not acceptable. And so, off to your crib you go for two minutes. Honestly, I hated the idea of doing this, or threatening with a “punishment” for behavior. I don’t like parenting with the typical “reward and punishment” theory and so I put off such a thing until recently. I needed something other than “That’s not nice, we don’t do that, please stop hitting” to derail behavior that wasn’t’ conducive to our family unit. I use it sparingly, I talk to you about why you are going there, and I always offer you chances before you go (you quite often comply when Quiet Time is threatened). Also, I know it’s cheating to put you in a crib. But because you don’t climb out yet, it’s just the easiest route for me. I’m in a shit load of trouble once you start climbing out and will have to come up with a new plan. Oh, and if it makes you feel any better, you send Mama to quiet time on occasion (“Mama, no yelling! Go to quiet time!”) That’s fair, right? We keep each other in check that way.
Some of my favorite things about you: the way you make up your own songs, the way you’ve memorized the tune of the “Pink Panther” and will sing it to us, the hilarious things you say (to Grams when she was falling asleep in our chair “Grams! Get your eyes out!” or upon seeing a picture of Mickey Mouse and Pluto you pointed to it and said “Mickey Mouse and….Mickey Dog!”), your amazing ability to mimic expressions, your steel-trap memory (only have to show you how to do something once), how you totally accept it if we give you only half a cookie or a bite of junk food, that you love taking naps, you dancing naked, your toothy smile first thing in the morning, your penchant for picking out matching outfits, your adoration for the moon, how you’ve memorized the words in books, seeing you read to Indigo or share your toys lovingly with her, hearing you say “It’s OK, Indigo Sol, we’re almost home” when Indi is cranky in the car seat, noticing how you repeat our silly nicknames for Indigo (Tiny, Wolfie, Teen Wolf, Little Nut, Weensy), how when someone asks you what your name is you reply joyfully with arms raised in the air “Kaia Marin!”.
I don’t think I ever elaborated on the fact that you’ve been sans binky since January. You did such an amazing job of trusting the process, of easily letting go, of surrendering to the moment. You remember that the “Binky Fairy” came and got your old, broken binkies and gave them to the fairy babies. I know this because as you rested on the couch one recent night, you said to me in the darkness “Mama? The binkies were broken. We put the binkies on the tree and the Fairy came and got them and gave them to the Fairy babies.” Yes”, I said as I gingerly stroked your hair from your tired eyes “Do you sometimes miss them?” “Yeah”, you breathed as you nodded your head. And that was that.
You don’t simply observe life, my oldest girl; you suck it in and breathe it out with the heat of fire. You are a guide, a teacher, a steady friend; often taking the hands of your little pals and walking beside them saying “C’mon, let’s go play. You are a good friend, a good, good friend”. And you are a good, good being, my love.
And now, your list. You:
- Often say “I do not like…”
- Have transitioned from your “big girl bed” back to your crib, mainly because Daddy and I couldn’t handle being awakened at 6:30 am by a little elfish face in front of ours. Although it is a mighty sweet face.
- Are awesome at associations and recall, as well as puzzles and anything requiring an engineering mind.
- Can count to 11
- Are obsessed with parties and all their trappings (cakes, snacks, presents) and love to sing “Happy Birthday”
- Really dig paper airplanes
- Prefer to dig in the sand at playgrounds as opposed to climbing on the jungle gym
- Have no interest in the potty but often remove your dirty diapers
- Say “Holy crap!” and “Oh my goodness!”
- Carry on pretend conversations between objects, toys, and dolls
- Got used to the recently-locked pantry door so that you can no longer string and dump food throughout the house
- Are obsessed with Cars (“Q-ween!” for Lightning Mcqueen) and Pink Panther
- Request PB&J and oatmeal every day
- Can draw pictures of people and faces
- Are starting to learn your letters and the concept of words
- Remember items I need from the grocery store.
- Like to listen to Baby Einstein CD’s and classical music in the car
My little girls, you are my buncha goodness, my sprinkling of sugar, my smattering of smiles. When you aren’t crying or screaming in unison (or in perfect alternation), I feel like I’ve got this mothering thing in the bag. I am sorry when my temper rises and my patience loosens and I have to retreat to the bedroom for a few minutes. Do you notice how I rarely stay long? You have me under your spell, with your scrunchy eyes and your sloppy kisses. And I give in.
Thank you for the gift of waking up to you each morning, of walking hand in hand with you (or bum in hand, Indi) through our days and nights. You humble me with your innocence, your guiltless living, the grandiose way you lap up life without regrets. Thank you for tempering my selfishness and reminding me that sometimes the messy life is indeed the very best life.