Thursday, July 22, 2010
Remember how, months and months ago, I wrote about mommy guilt? And then I wrote again later that I no longer struggle with it, because I just need to do the best that I can? Well, I think that mommy guilt is back and is rearing its ugly head.
Really, I blame it on myself. I share anecdotes about you then get worked up when people try to give me parenting advice. Speaking of which, there are very few things that get me more riled up than unsolicited parenting advice from smug parents. I am sure I give it without thinking, too, and for that, I APOLOGIZE TO THE WORLD.
It's been a hard month. You have lots of opinions. Even when you don't know what they are, you have them. You are stubborn. You often disobey. You whine. A LOT. Your good friend went through a lot of these things and has emerged from the other side a very pleasant little girl. I only hope that means this is just a phase.
It hit me today that I don't question my parenting when things are going fine, which is probably the majority of the time. When you are behaving and being pleasant and cute and taking you out to eat is no problem, I think I'm a pretty okay parent. When you are grabbing toys away from others, writhing away from us as we try to buckle you into your car seat, refusing to say goodbye to people, I think I must be doing something wrong.
I notice it with others, too: when a friend's child is being particular cranky, the parent exudes humility and makes comments like, "I guess you just have to do your best." When their kid is the well-behaved one, the tone switches to one of bright encouragement, "We really find that __________ helps a lot."
Am I sounding a little cranky? Sorry. When you get cranky I make you take a nap. I think I might need a nap, too.
Despite the challenges this month, we've had lots of great times. You are moving to the stage where I need to be better about writing down funny things you say. Today:
You: Now draw Mommy!
(I draw myself, trying to be as accurate as I can on the Magna Doodle by giving myself slightly slanted eyes.)
Anna: ... No, draw Mommy AWAKE!
We haven't gone to the park as much as we did before because it has been so darn hot. Instead, you go swimming either in your borrowed whale pool, at Spring Creek Park, or at Whipple Dam. We also took our first family camping trip. You are absolutely unafraid of the water. We think we need to teach you how to swim, for safety reasons and also so you can grow up to be a lot less lame than your mom, who can barely doggy paddle.
We've been going house hunting lately. It's strange to not only have to look at houses with you in mind but also consider the fact that we just MIGHT have another kid in the time that we'll be living there. I wonder what kind of big sister you'll be. Mostly you love people, but you get along with grown-ups better than other children (having a sibling will fix that, as will daycare). You are fascinated with babies but definitely like your space. You like to be the initiator of physical contact and don't like being crowded, but are much more animated when others are around. As I mentioned in last months' letter, it takes you a while to warm up to someone, but once you do, you're best friends. You've been clingier lately. "Mommy come too?" is a phrase I hear multiple times a day. For the first time, you've shown a bit of jealousy when I am holding another baby.
You're definitely learning a lot. You're still picking up more signs even though you don't use them very often. You can count higher than two (just barely): "one, two, three, EIGHT!" or "one, two, three, W!" You know some of your colours some of the time. You pick up new ideas faster than we anticipate. (Seeing a picture of both a cupcake and a regular cake, you pointed to the cupcake and said, "Happy Birthday!" You remembered that Gloria had cupcakes for her birthday.)
You're still a good eater but have gotten pickier. You like (delicious) things like garlic, olives, and fish but pick around some vegetables. Your favourite food is still dairy in any form: cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, etc.
The grossest milestone you've hit: you constantly put your hand in your diaper while napping and have woken up with poopy hands several times. Most of the time you will wake up saying, "Gross. Wash hands?" but other times it is more of a surprise. Today you woke up from your nap with a poopy diaper, which I promptly changed. It wasn't until I realized you STILL smelled that I saw smears of poop on your onesie and then on your bed... on Bun Bun... and on Bear. Thankfully no smears on the wall yet. I credit the fact that this is my 22nd month of parenting that I can say all of this without really being all that bothered. Poop everywhere? More of an inconvenience than anything else.
You're napping right now and will probably stay asleep for another half hour, so I am going to wrap this up so I can jump in the shower. Yes, it is 4:28 PM, and I am only just getting a shower. I'm including that little tidbit so years later, when you and I read these letters, we can remember how things really were. And you'll know just how much Mommy loved you and how fun/frustrating/exciting/exhausting/challenging/rewarding these first years really were.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The very first thing you did today upon waking up was cuddle up next to me and ask for a story. We read four stories back to back. In between books, you looked like you were going to burst with happiness. Instead, you just snuggled in closer and asked for a hug and a kiss. Best way to start the day, hands down.
Not half an hour later, you asked for yogurt for breakfast. I don't know what happened in the three minutes it took for me to strap you in your seat and serve you breakfast, but you lost it. You screamed and flailed and tried to push away your tray, only to pull it back towards you when I tried to help you get out of your seat. You pushed away your breakfast and just cried and cried. I sat with you while you screamed and then walked over to the bedroom for a minute to change my clothes and give us both some space.
When you finally calmed down enough to have breakfast, you ate your entire bowl of granola and then asked for seconds. Then thirds.
I told a friend the other day that part of what makes parenting such a challenge is that JUST when you think that you have your kid figured out and know exactly the right way to parent him/her, they up and CHANGE.
Change is good, though. We are definitely a family that welcomes change.
One of the biggest changes we've seen recently is your ability to reason. Yesterday, you put some of your bristle blocks (I had to look that up. I was going to call them "press-together blocks") together and, waving it in the air, ran to me yelling "AIRPLANE!" I asked you what sound an airplane makes (partly because I couldn't think of how to reproduce an airplane sound, myself). You paused for a moment, then opened your mouth wide. "AHHHHHHHHHHHH!" you yelled as you swooped the airplane around my head. Then you ran to your Daddy's study to show him, too.
Your new favourite word is "yeah!" You say "yeah" most enthusiastically when you are trying to communicate something for a while and I finally get it. "Shu shu? Shu shu please?" you'll ask. "You want lotion?" I guess. "YEAH!" You always nod your head vigorously and give me a giant smile. Your "yeah" is super cute but before that, you used to say "hi!" in a very Japanese-like way instead of "yes." "Want some lotion, Anna?" "Hi!" That was super cute, too.
We went out to eat at The Deli with Bop and Grammy for Mother's Day and midway through the meal, you started fidgeting and wiggling around in your seat. You turned to me and tried to tell me something. I didn't get it, busy as I was eating my chimichanga. Finally, exasperated, you grabbed my napkin, stood up in your high chair, and wiped the seat of your pants. "DIRTY," you spelled out. And yep, you had a poopy diaper.
Your dad and I like to talk every once in a while about what we observe in your developing personality. (It helps that I have been doing the SHAPE workshop at church and am constantly thinking in terms of DISC and Myers-Briggs.) We noted that you are brave but deliberate. You WILL go down two flights of steps IN MY SHOES (not my proudest parenting moment) but will take each step very carefully. You will go down the slide backwards, but only after getting yourself in JUST the right position. You are like this when it comes to being social, too. We will walk into a room full of strangers and you will spend the first fifteen minutes with your arms around my legs (or my neck), sizing up the situation. Then you'll spend the next two hours circulating the room, eating off everyone's plates.
You have a stubborn streak (you are a Brion, after all). When you disobey and I ask you to say "sorry," you will stare me down, expressionless. These are the moments that test my patience and also make me glad that we have taught you how to sign, since I can't force you to SAY "sorry" but I can certainly make you sign it.
We recorded you going down for a nap a couple of weeks ago and edited it so it is 10x the actual speed. The video is hilarious, because it showed that you were ALL over the place, clearly not tired, entertaining yourself with your stuffed moose and playing with your belly button. Your Lola didn't like the video, as she felt sorry for you, in your crib, by yourself for forty-five minutes, but one thing we HAVE realized about you is that, social as you are, you really need down-time once in a while. When you are being disobedient, acting up, abnormally fussy, we know that either a nap or some time by yourself in your crib really helps. Luka was that way, too. So am I. And so is your dad.
You love sensation. I brought you and Gloria outside to play with the hose and a bucket of water on one of those sticky days last month. You kept asking me to spray the water in the air so that the water would hit your face. When we run to the car in the rain, you gleefully shout, "RAIN! RAIN!" and tip your head up, all the better to get wet. You loved winter, too, and would pretend to shiver when we stepped out of the house, signing and saying "COLD!" with a giant smile on your face. You are a windows-down kind of girl.
Your friend Gloria is communicative enough to be at the point where she can seriously embarrass her parents if she wants to. You're getting there. The other day, I raised my arms to stretch and you pointed to my armpits and said, "gross!" (I did not appreciate that.) Later, when changing your poopy diaper, I asked you not to touch your bum because it was dirty. You said "Dirty? Olivia dirty!" You had heard us talking to our friend Olivia about what a clean child you are (always insisting on washing your hands, washing Sylvia, brushing your teeth), and Olivia joked, "Anna! You are so much cleaner than me! I don't even like to take baths!" and Anna decided, then and there, that Olivia is dirty. (Thankfully, Olivia is a good sport and thinks this is funny.)
Earlier this year, my friend Aimee was killed in a car accident. It hurts to type that. I think about her a lot. Every few days, the shock that she is not coming back still hits me so hard that I have to catch my breath. Your dad and I sat down the other day to talk about what to write in our wills, whom to choose as your guardians if something happened to us. That was one of the hardest decisions we've had to make. We joked about how trying to decide which friends are "good enough" to be your guardians invites us to be more critical of our friends than we've ever had to be. We decided on your Uncle Mike and Aunt Tegan, not just because we love them and think they will be wonderful parents, but because we know that they 1) value family and would raise you to know and love your relatives and 2) will love you as their own, evidenced by their desire to adopt. Most importantly, we know that they will raise you to seek God in a very real way. We hope and pray that you will never NEED guardians, that we will be around to see your children, to see you as an adult. But having to think through this decision makes me all the more aware of the importance of making each day count. Of our responsibility to raise you to live life fully. And even more so, of raising you to live with one eye on eternity. Of raising you to know that this life is not the end all, be all. Of raising you to be a woman like my dear friend Aimee, who lived life so well that her death couldn't help but bring more of an awareness of life and God and love to everyone around her.
I hope it's okay that I'm ending this month's letter on this note. You are a gift, Anna. Every day with you is a gift. Now please wake up from your nap so we can play.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Due to my negligence, we will never know what transpired between your 16th and 20th months of life.
You love, love, love being outside. Bop brought you a sandbox and a cousin gave you a slide. We now go out to the backyard at least twice a day, and to the park almost every day. Some days you are halfway to the park in the time it takes me to grab the mail from the mailbox. These are usually also the days when you climb to the top of the biiiiig slide and go down with no hesitation. The wussy three-year-olds watch you with admiration. Other days, you are all but glued to my leg and it takes a lot of coaxing to even get you to walk up the steps TO the slide.
You are learning new things at a rate that astounds us. I can identify an unfamiliar object for you and chances are, you'll remember it with just a little reinforcement. You are, however, stubbornly refusing to learn how to count. You know one number: TWO. As we're walking down the steps, I will count, "one, two, THREE!" And you will say, "two, two, TWO!" The other night, you got into something you know is off-limits and your daddy said, "ANNA! How many times has your mother told you not to touch that?" You promptly replied, "TWO!"
Let me talk about what you are like now, though.
You named your pacifier Sylvia. Several months ago, when Jim and Pam were about to have their baby, I decided that I wanted to name my future daughter Sylvia and was fervently hoping that Jim and Pam would break Michael's promise to name their kid after the grandmother. (Yes, I really am talking about people from TV.) We were asking you to say other names we considered for you and will probably consider for a future sibling, and you were failing terribly at even the easiest names (your version of Lucy? Shushu.) When I asked you to say Sylvia, however, you said, clear as a bell: "SIL-bee-ah!" You loved that name so much that you repeated it over and over for the next couple of days. Before we knew it, you had named your pacifier Sylvia, or Sibi for short. Cute. Thanks for stealing my name, though.
You still see your friend Gloria several times a week. You love Gloria and Gloria's mom. Gloria's a bit older than you and you like to copy her. Whenever Gloria is over with her green blanket, you insist that you need a "bah," too. Gloria has at least ten pounds on you. One day, you two were playing a couple of feet behind me while I was checking my e-mail. You started whimpering and then Gloria yelled, "Horsey!" I turned around to find Gloria sitting on your back. You were pinned to the ground, face smashed against the carpet. A couple of weeks later you guys played horsey again, except Gloria was the horsey. I think that worked a little bit better.
You enjoyed Easter this year. Gloria's family came up with us to Bop and Grammy's house. Grammy hid some plastic eggs with an M&M inside each one. When you and Gloria discovered the M&M's, you started frantically picking up eggs, shaking them, and throwing down the ones that didn't rattle. You two got a little carried away and ate waaay too much chocolate.
We finally got a bike seat for you. We ended up having to buy a center-mounted seat because the rack attachment on my bike is not standard. You LOVE the bike and especially love the view from the front (it sure beats the view from the bike trailer). You love nothing more than to ring the bell as we ride through the neighborhood. This town is full of hills so it is definitely good exercise for me. We've taken to riding to the edge of campus at quitting time every day to meet your daddy. You get so excited when you see him crossing the street towards us.
A couple of weeks ago, your daddy and I went away for an overnight trip to Pittsburgh. We visited the Carnegie Museum and brought back a dinosaur tattoo for you. When we first put it on your arm, you acted very frightened and didn't want to look at it. I felt so bad because those temporary tattoos stay on for several days! We put a sweater on you to cover up the tattoo. After a while, you got used to it, and then the little dinosaur became your friend. You would "pet" the dinosaur and would offer him food and water. Someday we'll get you a real pet, I promise.
You've been obsessed with shoes for months now, much to the amusement of your great-Lola (also a shoe-lover). Sometimes I am tempted to call you Imelda. Your favourite shoes are your pink polka-dotted rain boots. You will wear these rain or shine and will often disappear, only to return with them on. (More than 50% of the time, they are on the wrong feet. Go figure.)
You are still a terrific eater. When we were visiting NJ, your great aunt and uncle took us to an all-you-can-eat sushi/seafood restaurant. You ate no less than a dozen clams and countless pieces of sushi and sashimi. (Someone later told me that kids under 2 shouldn't eat shellfish. Thankfully, you were fine.) You ate so much, we felt a little bit guilty that you got to eat for free. Not four hours later, we attended a party at a Chinese restaurant. You tried something from almost all ten courses. We were getting worried because you just kept eating and eating, and sure enough, you had a stomach ache later that night.
You are still a tiny little thing, though, relative to others your age. Aside from just liking food a lot, I think you eat a lot because you are so ridiculously active. At the restaurant, you climbed up and down your high chair dozens of times in a row. You constantly run at full speed around our house. As I mentioned earlier, you love nothing more than to be outside, running, sliding, swinging.
Even though you are still at the 25th percentile for weight, you are growing well. Our friend came over to visit with her one-month-old baby and it was apparent that you are no longer a baby. You're a little girl. You woke up this morning and immediately asked for me. As you snuggled beside me in bed, your daddy sighed and said, "She's not so little anymore."
You were never the most cuddly baby, always wanting to be moving, but now that you are older, you love to cuddle with me. When we bring you into bed with us to calm you down on those occasional nights when you wake up crying, it is not enough for you to be beside me. You want to be completely on top of me. As uncomfortable as this is, there will come a day when you will not automatically run to me when you are upset. So I will soak up these moments and hold you as much as I can.
I love you, my daugher.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
I had been noticing the past couple of weeks that your bangs have gotten really long. Since you always manage to remove, in a matter of seconds, whatever barrette or hair clip we fasten to your hair, your dad and I decided that it might be time for your first haircut/trim.
We came to this conclusion while you were sitting in your booster seat, having dinner, and (so characteristically of me), I decided to seize the moment and trim your bangs right then and there. I know that you're supposed to snip vertically, cut in sections, etc. etc. but you were so squirmy that I just gathered your bangs with my fingers and snipped. Unfortunately, I snipped off about two inches more than I should have.
Oh, Anna. You looked so pathetic and ridiculous with your uneven, insanely short bangs, that I could not help but laugh. At you. For about an hour.
You are a cutie-pie, though. Besides the fact I can't cut straight, the haircut is growing on me. It matches your increasingly mischievous and cheeky personality. Plus, I'll tell you right now, bad haircuts are a fact of life but happily, hair grows back.
We had a minor household emergency this morning when one of the pipes underneath our sink burst and gallons and gallons (and gallons and gallons) of water gushed out and flooded our kitchen, the kitchen below us, and the kitchen below THAT. Besides the fact that you were confused as to why Mom and Dad were running around all crazy-like, you loved it. You came into the flooded kitchen in your footie-pajamas, knelt down, and splashed around. As I was trying to bail out the water, I caught you trying to take a drink from the floor (ugh). I mention this because the plumber is over here right now and he asked how old you are and told me that he has a 14- and 11-year old. He watched you for a while, sighed, and told me that time just races by and that you'll be big before we know it.
I think that THAT is by far the comment we hear the most. People have been pretty good about not giving us unsolicited parenting advice, but everywhere we go, people stop us and tell us to treasure these times while they're here.
Your Uncle Luke was here over Christmas. When you first saw him, you hid behind my legs for about five minutes and then you wanted to sit on his lap. Luke couldn't believe what a different kid you are from how you were last year. Last year, he said, we all made a big deal when you rolled over. This year, you're running around throwing balls and (occasionally) catching them.
Right now, as a matter of fact, you are standing on my arms (yes, you read that right) and are pushing a toy car over my head.
ALL of that to say... you're a little girl now, Anna! You are no longer a baby.
You are talking up a storm, whether it be Anna gibberish, sign language, or actual words. You can sign close to thirty words now (I think. I haven't learned some of them). The ones you sign the most are "please," "more," and "Daddy." The other day, you signed, "Daddy, please banana?" You sign "sleep, please" when you're tired, which is probably my favourite. We laugh because "please," to a baby, probably just means, "give it to me now!" You are also picking up spoken words every day. Some of your most frequently spoken words are "up," "more," "ball," "pup," "Daddy," "book."
You are also proving to be pretty stubborn! You obey, most of the time, but have started to hit when you are upset and you can throw a mean hissy-fit. It's been a challenge for me to make it clear that "no" means "no." Sometimes it is a real battle of the wills (thankfully, I am stubborn, too!). For the most part, though, you are still your daddy's child with your sweet nature and outgoing personality.
We left you with Bop and Grandma last week so your dad, Uncle Luke, and I could go skiing. You hung out with Grandma all day, playing in the snow (indoors and out), learning how to flush the toilet (uh oh), chasing the cat, and throwing ping pong balls down the stairs. You are one blessed little girl. You don't only have grandparents that love you, but you have grandparents who show you how to do cool stuff!
We're leaving you with Grandma and Bop this weekend while we go on a weekend retreat with some friends. It's the first time we're leaving you overnight. I am apprehensive, not because I think you won't be fine or that something will happen, but because I am afraid that I will be the mom who is constantly thinking about her kid. I have this idea of my head of the kind of mom I want to be, one that is supremely chill, but I'm starting to realize that perhaps these feelings are simply natural when you are a parent. Maybe being a relaxed parent doesn't mean finding it easy to leave your kid behind, but just being willing to do it once in a while, anyway.
I told Uncle Luke that the thing about being a parent is that 1) you can no longer be selfish all the time and 2) you can't turn parenting off. The latter has been especially surprising. As much as being able to sleep in, take my time browsing in the library, read a book without interruption, eat at a nice restaurant with your dad--all things that I love--sound appealing, I can never just forget about you. You are always at least on the back-burner of my mind.
I submitted my application for graduate school over Christmas break. I can't remember if I wrote about being offered the job last fall and then deciding not to take it, but regardless, making grad school an actual possibility made me realize yet again that regardless of what happens, my days at a stay/work-at-home-mom with you are numbered. Even if I don't go back to school or take a job outside the house (both of which are real possibilities), you are going to keep growing, and eventually you will be in preschool. And, as Jason the plumber reminded me, it won't be too long before you are eleven. And then fourteen. Am I sounding too sentimental here?
I'm going to stop writing so I can blow raspberries on your belly.
I love you, Anna.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I am exhausted.
We just got back from a week-long vacation to San Diego to visit relatives with Lola and Angkong. You, despite extreme sleep deprivation, had a ball. Every time I turned around, someone was feeding you ice-cream. You (and Dad, not me!) braved the FREEZING cold Pacific for a swim, spent the day at the San Diego zoo, ate lots of great food, and terrorized your parents on the plane ride back.
Your dad and I like to travel light, so we decided to leave the pack-and-play behind and just let you sleep with us for the duration of the trip. BIG MISTAKE. You refused to sleep unless we lay down with you, and when you DID sleep, you insisted on taking up as much space as a twenty-pound little body could take. We woke up early every morning after a fitful night of sleep for some sort of activity, which meant that you were averaging four hours of sleep fewer every night than you get at home. A sleep-deprived Anna is a manic, Tazmanian Devil Anna. This meant frazzled, sleep-deprived parents, too.
Yesterday, our friends M and P visited. They do not have children yet and P was asking me what it is like to have a child. I, confident despite the tell-tale bags under my eyes, told him that our lives haven't changed all THAT much. I'm still the same person; we mostly do the same things. I likened going out with you to leaving the house with a giant purse, since you used to sleep all the time. (That was true six months ago. HALF YOUR LIFE ago. Why that stuck in my mind more than the difficult last few days is a mystery.) Then we went out for dinner and you spent the entire evening throwing food, spitting out milk, and squirming out of your high chair. I restrained you with one hand while eating my burger (and my words) with the other.
You ransacked the house this morning but are now, mercifully, napping. I am taking this opportunity to write your letter (if I don't, it will never get done!) and catch up on my monstrously intimidating to-do list. I am also pondering over whether or not you are acting this way because you are still sleep-deprived and out of your routine, or if this is just your true personality coming out. You have gone from being the chill little baby who sat through countless weddings without a peep to the little punk who punches her mom in the face and throws herself to the floor when something ticks her off.
Does this sound like I'm complaining? Maybe I am, a little, but mostly I'm just processing. I always say that I'm afraid to have another child since you've been so easy and that must mean that the next child will be a terror, but maybe YOU will be our terror child! What a consolation!
Okay, I'm really joking. I love that you are so much more of a PERSON now. You have your opinions and your preferences and are more and more insistent that we try to understand what you are communicating. You have many games that you play and are proving to be a very sharp, spunky little girl, which are traits I have always admired and hoped for in my child.
You are still in love with books, whether they be your Touch-and-Feel (<--what a dumb name) ones or my novels on the bottom shelf. You mimic words, sounds, actions. You pick up "tricks" easily, much to the delight of your Lola. Your new thing? Hitting yourself on the head when we say "ouch!"
You have also found yourself a new comfort object. Unlike your friend Gloria, who drags around a blanket and a giant stuffed bunny, you have shirked all of your toys in favor of... your bellybutton! There is nothing that calms you like lifting your shirt and sticking your fingers into your bellybutton. I always wanted a slightly quirky child, as well, so... thank you, God?
Grandma came over yesterday and told me that she prays that we will be able to discern which battles are worth fighting ("This is not the mountain on which to die"). You are not allowed to hit others, but we do let you eat ice cream. (Or should I say, you are not allowed to hit others, but we do let you hit yourself when we say "ouch?") We gave in to your demands for constant distractions on the airplane for the sake of the other passengers but insist that you obey when we say "no." We let you watch Sesame Street on my iPod but don't let you watch TV (unless it is The Office, and people are over, and...). We figure most of it out as we go along and recognize that our rules are probably very different from others. Sometimes we break our own rules. Sometimes our rules are dumb. Parenting can truly be hard work and it is with a lot of humility that I admit that.
The challenge for me during the stressful moments is not to equate normal one-year-old behavior with misbehaving. As much as you were driving me crazy on the airplane, your Dad and I recognized the fact that you were acting that way because you had only gotten five hours of sleep the night before and could not get to sleep despite your exhaustion because of the many distractions on the plane. You cry and flail around when you do not get what you want because that is your way of expressing your emotions. You cling to me and refuse to go to others because you get overwhelmed by being with different sets of people all the time. That does not make you a bad kid. That just makes you a kid.
You woke up from your nap a little while ago. I changed your nappy and was about to bring you to the living room to play when the phone rang. It was someone I've been trying to contact for work and I had to take the call, so I made the split-second decision to put you back in your room, close the door, and answer the phone. I ended up having a fifteen minute long conversation with the person on the phone and through it all, I could hear you crying in the other room. After I hung up, I picked you up and you clung on for dear life. We sat on the bed and cuddled and when I smiled at you, you smiled back. When things like this happen, when we leave you in your crib to sleep even as you strain against the crib bars towards us, I always feel a little bit like you might hold a grudge. But regardless of how miserable you are, how long you've cried, we pick you up and hold you for a minute, and everything is okay again.
And no matter how many times my patience runs thin, how many times I want a break from being a mom, I feel that way, too.
Anna, I'm exhausted, but you are worth it a million times over.
You are our sweet, spunky, stubborn, whiny, hyper, playful, bright little girl and we love you.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Here's a life lesson for you: the longer put something off, the harder it will be to do.
It has been three months since I last wrote. I am so sorry. There are many reasons for the silence, but mainly it's because it is easier to write about nothing than about a great deal of somethings (like your first birthday!) and these past few months have been chock-full of noteworthy events. I’ll have to remember this in the distant future when I am bugging you to write a thank you card and you are too busy playing street hockey on your hovercraft (or whatever you kids will be doing in ten years). I’ll try to go easy on you; I’m the one who missed documenting your first birthday because I was too busy Tweeting.
Also, the longer you put something off, the more you build up expectations. Just ask your Uncle Dan H.
There's nothing like having a child to really see how quickly things can change. Last time I wrote, you were barely standing. Now you are walking (albeit like a drunken sailor). Back then, we pretended you could talk. Now, you say “tickle tickle” when you see someone’s belly (really!). Last time, you were beginning to lose your dependency on pacifiers. Now you can whip a binky into your mouth faster than I can move it out of sight (boo).
So maybe not all the changes have been progress.
Another major change? Me. I was suffering from a lot of mommy guilt when I wrote your last letter. I think a lot of factors have helped me loosen up, not the least of which is the realization that a lot of my guilt was based on my tendency to compare myself to other moms. Now I try to gauge my parenting on how well YOU’RE doing. That makes more sense, doesn’t it?
We had you dedicated at church this month. Pastor Keith, amongst other things, prayed that you will come to know the Lord at an early age. We promised to care for you, love you, and bring you up knowing God's love. It was very special to have the church community before us, promising to help raise you, too.
You are saying more words now and learning so much every day. We've tried to teach you the "How big is Anna? This big!" trick and you mostly have it down, except instead of reaching your arms out to show us how big, you either put your hands beside your head I-surrender style or pat your own head repeatedly. I guess patting your head is a very accurate answer, because you truly are THAT big.
You obviously understand a lot more now. We have to be careful not to mention "milk" until we have the bottle in hand and ready since once you hear the word, you want it NOW. When you hear us say "outside," you wave at everyone in the room and make a beeline for the door. I am yet again doing something I thought was just a cliche—spelling words so you won’t understand. M-I-L-K is easy. Not looking forward to the days we’ll have to spell longer words out loud. Or worse, sound out the words the other parent is spelling.
Your Lola and Angkong were visiting last week. You kept grabbing books and dragging them to your Lola, then pointing to the armchair by the window. It is so very nice to see you enjoying books after all the months of tossing them aside after the first page. (You had your English-major mom worried for a while.)
We were a bit apprehensive before your Lola and Ankong arrived because you've been especially clingy the past couple of weeks. At first our fears were realized: you refused to let them hold you and you cried and whined a good bit of the way home from Maryland. Once we got home, however, you relaxed. Now you happily play with Angkong and Lola and only refuse to be held by Lola when you are being especially cheeky, and even then I suspect you are teasing.
I made a joke over the weekend about how you are the "bad" kid in the church nursery now. I probably should have chosen my words more carefully. You are certainly not a "bad" kid, despite your increasing cheekiness. You just went from being the most laid-back child we know to being the kid who grabs mom's calves with a vise-like grip when mom attempts to leave the room. I suspect that you are clingy for good reasons. You are now weaned. You spend four mornings a week with someone other than Mom (church nursery on Sundays and Wednesdays, Grandpa on Mondays, Aunt N. on Thursdays). We still do a lot of traveling.
I had a real "mom" moment the other day when I backed out of attending a lecture at the law school because it would mean a night with a babysitter for an already-insecure you. Sometimes I don’t realize that something needs to change until you are all of a sudden not acting like yourself. I still have mornings when I am startled to realize that it’s been too long since I've changed or checked your diaper. I guess having to sit in your own poop for too long would make anyone cry and refuse a nap. The thing is, it's taken me a while to get the hang of this mom thing. Your dad and I joke that it’s a good thing babies don’t remember the first couple of years of life, since that gives parents a buffer period in which they can learn how to be parents. I think there’s some truth to that.
As I write this, I am sitting at Webster’s downtown. You are at your Aunt Naomi’s house playing with Gloria, as you do every Thursday morning. Part of getting the hang of motherhood meant realizing one thing—it is NICE to not be a mom for a bit. People kept telling us that we needed to protect our marriage by setting aside time for dates, but no one mentioned how important it is to have time to myself. Having a morning free to read the paper with a cup of coffee in a crowded coffee shop (so original, I know) is revitalizing for me. And it is nice to be able to run errands without having to wrestle with a car seat at every stop.
Just as wonderful is the fact that you are developing a friendship with Gloria. You break out in big smiles when you see each other. You make quite a team, too—Gloria, the strong one, arranges the furniture so you, the monkey, can climb on top of them. Aunt Naomi and I appreciate the fact that you and Gloria have the opportunity to learn how to share. The two of you fight for toys (and food) and you’ve had to experience the extreme frustration of another kid stealing your pacifier and running away faster than you can follow. You’re the only child for now, but it’s good for you to learn that you are not the center of the universe. So you’re clingy in response to not getting as much one-on-one attention, but maybe this is one lesson that’s also part of growing up. And playing with a kid who could squash you if she wanted is probably good in toughening you up.
Although you’re certainly more challenging when you are clingy, I have to admit that I am also kind of loving it—you went from being a squirmy, independent baby to being a major cuddle-bug. The first thing you do every morning when Daddy picks you up from your crib and brings you to our bed is bury our face in my neck. During the day, when I’m sitting at my desk, you periodically take a break from playing and reach your arms up towards me for a hug and cuddle. You even sit still on our laps now.
You are growing so quickly, Anna. I am afraid that I'll blink and another three months will have gone by. But I'll write again before then. Promise.
We love you,
Mom and Dad