All Too Fast

Well, I didn’t blink and it’s already Sunday night.  Where did the time go?  I have no time to write a proper blog but thinking about how fast this weekend went also makes me think about how fast this childhood thing is going too.  LMJ’s baby year is almost behind us and this Valentine’s Day LM will be turning 4!  She’s been alive for as long as I was in college which, at this point, was a very long time ago.

I enjoy watching my girls grow up and become their own people while at the same time try to cling to moments as they fly by.

No matter how hard the day is, or how monotonous the minute to minute can seem, I will try to remember that not only does this time not last forever – it goes by all too quickly.

Until next week…

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Big decisions up in here

There is a pretty big decision I need to make in the coming weeks. It will be one that we, as a family, will live with for at least a few hours one evening…but the photos taken will extend that experience well into the future and well beyond our neighborhood. The super-big-critical decision of course is what little Miss Rose will be for her very first Halloween. Big, right?

I am torn between a few adorable costumes we’ve gotten as hand-me-downs including a ladybug and an elephant. Both turn her into a stuffed animal which is pretty much the most adorable and scrumptious thing in the world. But, there is an internal debate I’m having that I’ll give you all a sneak peek into. The inner crafter in me (the one with no time or skill constraints) thinks I should make her a costume. I really want Rose to be the kid with the home-made costumes instead of store bought. That teaches resourcefulness, creativity, and how to be embarrassed around your friends…all important life lessons!

These catalogs are showing up at our house with $60 costumes for babies that are beautiful and everything but COME ON. Where is the fun in that? Where is the imagination? I could see buying a few props but kids should assemble it themselves with maybe mom or dad helping, right? This idealist side of me wants me to find a few hours to spend experimenting with some felt on the sewing machine to see what I can come up with. She will only have one first Halloween so there is a lot riding on this. The pressure to start the traditions from the get-go is growing! I mean…how can I convince her when she is 10 that she has to wear her mom’s black dress to be a witch instead of buying one from the costume store without sharing a tale about the work I put into her first cape in the wee hours of the night? Wait, that sounds like a guilt trip which isn’t the intent but I think you see where I’m going.

I really hope I can do it. I think a home-made little Red Riding Hood might be a great first costume (picture her dad as the wolf). Actually, Rose’s grandma is visiting in October so maybe I can put her to work on this… who is more appropriate to help Red Riding Hood than her Grandma?

If all else fails, maybe the ladybug can save Little Red Riding Hood.

MumsySus

Mommy, will you play with me?

I don’t like playing with my daughter.  There I said it.  It’s terrible.  It’s awful.  But it’s true.

When I hear those 6 little words, “Mommy, will you play with me?” come out of my sweet little girl’s mouth, I cringe.

I will do puzzles with my daughter all day long.  I will play round after round of Memory and Cootie.  I will read her stories til my throat goes dry.  I will draw, color, paint, and stamp to her heart’s desire.  I will spend hours running around outside with her.  But when she asks me to “play” she’s asking me to pretend play.  Ugh, pretend play.

I LOVE listening to her pretend play on her own or with her friends. It always makes me smile to hear the dialogue that she scripts off the cuff for her toys.  But to participate is said improv is painful.

You wouldn’t think it would be so bad to just playfully voice a fairy or an Octonaut while they are off on an adventure in your living room.  But it is.  Something about it is just painful.

I try to get out of doing pretend play.  I don’t respond when she asks me to play, trying to buy myself a few more minutes.  I tell her that she has to wait until I finish the dishes, hoping that she’ll get wrapped up in her own imagination and forget about me.  But she doesn’t.  My daughter is relentless.

I always eventually give in because the guilt gets to me.  My sweet little girl just wants to interact with me.  She wants someone to join her in her little imaginary world.  SIgh.  So I become the voice of Tinkerbell.

Often I think, I should really put some effort into this pretend play.  This is part of the reason I stay home with her – so I can be the one to be there for her to play with.  I’ll give it my all!  Besides, if I really go for it for twenty minutes or so maybe she’ll cut me a break after that.

But that never works.  When I give her my best pretend material, it just makes her want more.  Drats.

This is what I go through all day every day.  She asks me to play.  I try to get out of it.  She asks me again.  I try to get out of it.  She asks me again.  I give in and play.  This is also part of the reason why I’m so excited when relatives come to visit.  “Of course we’d love for you to visit, Nana!” I say.  I can totally deflect the requests for a play partner on to Nana!  Muwhahaha!  

Parenting comes with a lot of responsibilities that aren’t always fun.  I guess this is just one of those things.  It’s like changing a baby’s dirty diaper.  No one likes to do it, but it has to be done.  No grown adult likes to be the voice of Minnie Mouse for 45 minutes.  But it has to be done.

Did I just compare playing with my daughter to changing a poopy diaper?  Ugh.  There’s that guilt again.  I should probably go play with her now.

Self-Care

My sister visited from China and stayed with us for ten days. It was lovely to have her here and the children adored her. She left yesterday. I always wish we lived closer but life has brought us down different paths. She believes much in self-care and feels that I should be doing more self-care. This could be anything from a ten minute meditation before bed or anything I feel I need to relieve stress or take a break. Baby Banana usually goes to a nanny share one morning a week and besides errands, I try to do something just for myself whether it is gym or sitting at a coffee shop with a book for twenty minutes. What do you do for self-care?

An Open Letter to My Daughter

In a few short weeks Little Miss Junior will turn one year old.  It seems hard to believe that we’ve come so far in so short a time.  It has been a difficult year, but LMJ has taught me so many things.  She’s taught me about strength.  She’s taught me about people, good and bad, and she’s taught me that great blessings may come from hardship.

First off I’d like to note that LMJ has been doing great.  She has been off her Neupogen injections going on two months now.  Towards the end of the summer, one of her blood tests came back with a huge spike in her ANC count.  That was a good thing.  The decision was made to take her off the hard core meds we were injecting 3 times a week and see how her body responded.  This was both a wonderful and scary turn of events… wonderful because perhaps we were seeing her grow out of this crazy blood disorder that landed her in a hospital bed.  Scary because we were being told to stop the medication that seemingly kept her immune system safe for the last 6 months.

Spin forward to now and LMJ is chugging along on her own power, with no meds.  We’ve had one blood test and the results were positive… low counts, but not Neutropenic… meaning her body was building its own defenses.  If there’s a light at the end of this tunnel, perhaps we’re starting to see it.  Her next blood draw comes when she turns one in October, Happy Birthday!  I will hold my breath and await those numbers with a mixture of hope and fear.

As I think back over the past 12 months, I marvel at just how much this little person has managed to teach me in so short a time.  LMJ is strong.  Inner strong that cannot be taught.  She gets this from her mother.  In those early days, when her blood counts were alarmingly low… when an infection was literally eating her skin and the doctors were launching waves of antibiotics through her system, as she lay in a hospital bed only a few months old, LMJ was strong.  The medical staff marveled at how she lay there and smiled, outwardly so normal, when there was so much wrong on the inside. Week after week, with her littler arms all bruised from blood draws, LMJ endured needles, and poking, and prodding… eventually she’d suffer her daily injections with barely a whimper, the process sometimes more difficult for me than her. LMJ is strong, and through this all, she has thrived, and grown, and provided an amazing sense of stability despite our roller coaster ride that often felt anything but stable.  I thank her for that.

LMJ has taught me about the grace of people.  In our darkest hours when we still didn’t understand what was happening, and were suddenly living this nightmare centered around our newborn, people stood by us and gave freely of themselves.  The community support from our friends at Bigelow was nothing short of amazing.  Our familial support, from the parents who moved into our house and hospital room, to the messages of love and notes of well wishing helped guide us through those hours. To the friends who gave their time, effort, and prayers both near and far… I thank you all.

LMJ has taught me about myself… and what is most important in life.  She has taught me about the joy of family, and she is constantly teaching me about temperance, patience, and perhaps even forgiveness. Some lessons are harder to learn than others, but I’m trying.  As she grows I can’t wait to find out what more she has to teach.  It’s been such an amazing year already.  So in a few short weeks we will celebrate her first year with us.  We will light candles and sing, and her big sister will be excited for cake. I’m excited that we have come so far in so short a time, and for all that she’s already given me, I thank her.

Sleeeeeeeeeeeeep

I mentioned last week that our younger daughter has been having some sleep “issues.”  Because she’s our second child, we’re aware that the sleep patterns of children under the age of five are going to change.  Period.  There will be good times and there will be very, very bad times.

We moved recently and took a very long vacation and so her sleep got “messed up.” Last week was so, so bad.  One night she was up at 1:38am and never really went back to sleep.  Needless to say, at 1pm the following day, while she was napping, I “made” my older daughter play on the ipad for 2 hours so I could get some shut eye.  I had operated a vehicle that morning and I felt like I was driving under the influence because I was THAT tired.  That was the worst night, but the other nights weren’t much better.

Of course, things seem to be on the up swing with her (I am literally knocking on wood right now) and so of course we’re headed to the Oregon coast for two nights this weekend!  I’m sure next week will be fun again!

So, in the middle of all of her sleep shenanigans last week, one night I went to bed at 8:30pm to try to get some hours in before her middle of the night scream fest.  As I walked by the door of my older daughter, she saw me because she was still awake and she followed me into my bedroom.  I chatted with her while I brushed my teeth and did my night-time routine and then I was going to tuck her back in.  I was so very tired and I just wanted her to go to bed.  But, she was desperately and repeatedly asking me if she could sleep with me (my husband was still up and in the other room and had no idea any of this was going on).  I finally relented and put her in bed with me.

She has, of course, slept with us many times before in the last (nearly) four years of her life.  And I’m not one to care if my kid sleeps with me…IF they sleep and I can sleep.  This is not the case with her.  She doesn’t sleep and you don’t sleep either.  We’ve tried it a bunch of times and always get the same result.  She lightly touches you, she strokes your hair, she changes positions 18 million times, she wants the covers on, she wants the covers off, and on and on.  So, we were in bed for about 10 minutes and no one was sleeping.  I always try to tell her that she needs to “lay still” and “close her eyes,” but that night I thought I’d try a different tactic.

I said, “Honey, why do you want to sleep with mommy tonight?  Are you scared of your room?  Do you feel a little icky?  Is something wrong you want to talk to me about?”  Silence.  “Sweetheart, maybe if you tell mommy what’s going on with you then we can fix it and you can go back into your bed so mommy can go to sleep.  Are you okay?  Do you need a stuffed animal in there with you?  Is your nightlight too bright?”  Silence.  “Baby, you need to tell mommy what’s going on and why you want to sleep in here because mommy is so super tired and we both need to get to bed…why do you want to sleep with mommy tonight?”

Then she says….and I quote…”Mommy, I just want to sleep with you because I love you so much.”

And so, of course, she got her way.

Pink Sparkly Shoes

The gender messages we communicate to LM and LMJ have been on my mind lately.  Whether it is talking our daughters into or out of certain toy, clothing and book choices or choosing appropriate television programming it always factors into my decision making process.  I was raised in a home with a fiercely independent working mother and a “no-Barbie” clause.  I take a certain pride in my athleticism, independence and aptitude for math and science.

While I strongly want my daughters to consider all their choices when it comes to roles, aptitudes and careers I am starting to notice the lopsidedness of gender exploration.  Let me explain.  When little boys show up to preschool in blue sneakers and a superhero t-shirt no one judges his parents for locking him into a gender role.  When I walk in with LMJ dressed head to toe in pink I feel shame as her teacher proclaims, “pink pants and a pink shirt; I guess it’s a pink day”.  I want to say, “I don’t own anything pink.  I didn’t pinkify her room.  In fact, I didn’t even find out if she was a boy or girl in utero because I didn’t want to relate to her as a certain gender.”  However, I support her exploration of everything pink and everything princess because that is what she loves.  She also loves mud, space, and dinosaurs.  By steering our daughters away from stereotypical gender objects are we denying them the access and permission to explore those things?  What if they have to live that expectation to the fullest before they reject it?  What if LM really is a “girly girl” (*gasp*)?  Does that mean that we have failed her as parents by communicating that she should be “sugar, spice, and everything nice”? Or, maybe, being sweet really is one of her strongest core qualities and that’s a very good thing?

To highlight this process let me explain our recent trip to the shoe store. Our goal was to buy some dress shoes because we bought new sneakers last week.   LM talked about sparkly shoes the whole way there and made a bee-line for the pink sequin shoes with a pink flower at the front as soon as we entered said shoe store.  My inner monologue was going nuts with how this would be perceived and what messages I’m sending.  I found myself talking her into the silver or the black – both still very sparkly and flowery but sans the extra flare of hot pink to complement her pink pants and her shirt with the pink cat on it.   Being as sweet as my daughter is she said to me, “Mom, if you want me to wear the silver ones, I will.  That’s OK with me.”  I looked at her earnest and trusting face and asked her, “But, honey, do you love the silver ones or do you love the pink ones?”  And she replied, “I really love the pink ones, Mom, I really really love them.”

So, gender messages aside, this is my message to both my daughters: “Be who you are.  I will support that and I love you.”