Running On Ahead

Today was the day. That day. That first day. Today was my girl’s first day at daycare. And tomorrow will her first day of preschool. Her first day(s) in the care of someone not a parent or grandparent.

Only a week and a half ago, I accepted a very last-minute position and, in a positive gale of13872934_10153805997603133_477313044703904389_n change, have returned to teaching this year. This was not what I had planned for, not what I had settled on, and so it has been quite a tumultuous time. One of the most difficult parts for me, however, has been the realization and reality that I would not be able to be there for her first day of school. I will not be there to hold her little hand and walk her to her class. I will not be there to see her face light up with excitement or grow sober with apprehension. I will not be there to hug her close, stroke my finger down her pert little nose, tell her I love her, and remind her to have courage and be kind.

And that hurt. It hurt a lot. For an entire week, I cried every time I thought about it, every time someone mentioned it. I still get a little burn in my chest where my heart aches at the missing. I have always been with her; these are the first “firsts” that I will miss. It’s too soon. It’s happening too fast. I know that she’s excited, that she loved her first day at daycare, and had a great one according to her teachers, and that makes me happy for my girl. But, at the same time, it’s like she’s slipping away through my fingers. She’s pulling away and running ahead and I am so far from ready.

I miss our routine. I miss mornings with her cuddled in my arms in the big bed when it’s rainy and dark and we are both still sleepy. I miss walking in the sunshine with her or helping my fearless, spiky girl place her feet properly as she climbs up the playground ladders. I miss watching her jog through the mall, waving at strangers with a smile and a “Hi!” I miss our quiet times at home, her with her Kindle and me with my book or my writing.

13876688_10153805997673133_8663280121382326193_nIt’s all happening so fast. Too fast. I knew that this was coming. Eventually. But I hadn’t looked for it to be now, to be immediate. I had thought I’d be there to  help her transition to part-time preschool. Instead, I tiptoe from the house before she’s awake and won’t see her now until I pick her up at the end of the day. I can only hope and pray to be greeted by a big smile and lovingly enthusiastic “Mommy!” every evening. That’s why I am doing this. For her. For our family. Not for me. For them.

Tonight, as she splashed and played in her bath, all my heart could do was cry out, “Slow down!” And the song below came to mind, as tears likewise sprang to my eyes and trickled down my cheeks.

I want you to grow, my love. I do. Just…don’t do it too terribly quickly. Please? Don’t pull away just yet. Could you slow down, just a bit?

It Happens When You’re Not Looking

Today was an interesting one. Today, my daughter requested that we go look for a purple Sofia the First dress for her dress-up collection. I knew that I had gift cards I could spend so I said yes. This prompted several conversations and occurrences that proved to me that, yes, she is indeed growing and developing emotionally, even though I was beginning to doubt this idea.

The first conversation happened before we left the house:

B: Mommy, what are you doing here?

Me: I’m going to wash dishes. Then we can get ready and go find a purple l dress. But I have to finish my chores first, okay?

B: Okay. I be in in my bedroom. *runs off to play Super Why games on her Kindle*

That is Exhibit A. Exhibit B came about in the store. We found a lovely Sofia dress-up gown but, oh, there were shoes to go with it! My girl is a great lover of shoes, for those who don’t know, and so she insisted that she wanted both the dress and the shoes. I calmly explained to her that she had to pick one or the other because I did not have enough money on my gift card to buy both. This was, as you probably expected, heartbreaking for the little miss. She started to break down but then, just as suddenly, she said:

“I need to sit down.”

I told her that she could sit down right where she was and she took a seat on an open, low shelf. Then she started breathing deeply, in through her nose and out through her mouth. Then I realized what was happening. My three-year-old baby was calming herself down! She took at least four deep breaths, me breathing along with her for a few of them. Then, after a moment, we revisited the issue and she decided that she wanted the dress more than the shoes. She was still disappointed about the shoes, yes, but she made her choice. As we got to the checkout, she seemed to remember how upset she was about not getting the shoes. Again, she told me, “I need to sit down,” so I gave her permission to sit on another low shelf right near me and I waited until she was ready before we paid for the dress.

It happens when you aren’t looking, these moments of growth. These moments are proof that what you are doing is helping, is working, and does matter for the good for your little one(s). So, keep on doing what you are doing, mamas and dads. Keep teaching and counseling and modeling for your little ones. They are are learning, they are developing the good habits and strategies that you are endeavoring to teach them. It’s hard, I know. It’s frustrating and tiring and maddening. But it’s working. It is! It just sometimes happens when you aren’t looking.

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The First Dream Step

Today I did something rather monumental. I signed Elizabeth up for her first ballet class. It’s at the community arts center and only a half hour a week but I can feel the enormity of this in my heart and soul because this is the first step to a dream.

Elizabeth LOVES to dance! She especially loves ballet. She loves to watch the episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood where Daniel dances in The Nutcracker. She idolizes June from Little Einsteins and learned to curtsy from her. She begs for me to put her in her fairy dress, tucks her hands up behind her head and tiptoes around the room. Her pirouettes and spins are already pretty good. She loves to dance. And this will be her first dance class.

I do not know what to expect. I do not know what her teacher will expect. The class is for students aged 1-3 so I thought it appropriate for my girl who has just turned three and has never been in a class or the like before. So I’m a bit nervous, a bit excited, but above all I am expectant.

This is my little girl’s dream: to dance. Yes, she’s only three but dancing means the world to her. If to continue with this as she gets older is her dream, then I will do all I can to accommodate it and help her achieve it.

 

 

Up on her tippy toes

 

She loves to spin/pirouette.

 

Thank you! Thank you!

 

 

Birthday Thoughts

Today, my daughter turns three, I am running on 5 hours of mostly-full-though-still-broken sleep, and her gifts were JUST wrapped a few minutes ago by her Mamaw while I kept her distracted in the living room.

It’s been a nice build up to Bizzy’s birthday. This week, as we have been out and about, she has been spreading sunshine around to others: waving, smiling, saying “Hi, everyone!”, and wishing people “Merry Christmas!” It’s done my heart good as I have tried to concentrate on the moments that make this season wonderful and not let myself be trapped by the expectation, comparisons, and stuff that made me regret it all at the end of last year. Fewer presents and more meaning. Less doing and more being. Fewer obligations and more space for magical moments and divine appointments.

Today, there will be no huge birthday party, no me running around to pick up party platters, birthday cake, and decorate a party space, no leaving my mom to mind and dress and prepare Elizabeth for said party while I go hither, thither, and yon. No running around desperately trying to be a good hostess as well as an attentive Mommy. No cleaning up afterward, trying to figure out where all the leftovers and cake are going to fit in the fridge, especially with Christmas Day foodings in 6 days. Nope!

All of that that is #offthebeam this year (thank you, Jen Hatmaker). As fun as it might have been for Bizzy last year, it was so much stress for me that I was a wreck by the end of the day and I didn’t get to enjoy my daughter’s birthday really at all. This year, we are going back to basic and easy: a relaxed day (that hopefully involves a nap or two for me), a family dinner out at a Chinese buffet that she really likes, presents, and a small cupcake (with a Christmas tree in frosting) for my girl to indulge in.

My little girl is three years old. I am running on five hours’ sleep, and I am so very pleased and proud to be the mother of this wonderful, fabulous, maddening, fierce, spiky, friendly, smart, lovely little person.

Growth Check-In – 2 years

It’s been quite a long while since I did one of these.

At almost 2 years and 1 month, Elizabeth:

  • Still runs and climbs with reckless abandon. There is hardly anything she will not at least try to scale or an area that she will not try to explore (ask the folks at the credit union from yesterday, LOL).
  • Understands most of what is said to her and follows directions (eg, put the toys down so we can put your jacket on).
  • Says: mama, dada, hi, car, door, cat, Sid, cup, baby, uh oh, tickle-tickle-tickle, chin, ear, eye, hair, heart, toot-toot, boot, shoe, shirt, cray (crayon/marker)
  • She knows most of her colors and can name yellow, blue, green, red, and purple fairly consistently.
  • She knows her shapes, can match different shaped blocks to the shapes in the lid.
  • Tries out the words that she hears from you, ex. “chuga chuga choo choo”
  • LOVES coloring and drawing. We have run through three or four books of Color Wonder pages.
  • Has decided she wants to be a big girl and drink what Mommy and Daddy drink, to the tune of stealing sips of soda and coffee when we are out of the room.
  • Has decided that she likes to have her own quiet time in her rocking chair in her room by herself
  • Has her favorite books that she enjoys “reading”.
  • Loves technology – tablet, Kindle, phone, etc. – if it has a touch screen, she loves it.
  • Sings to herself, play Pat-a-Cake
  • Shows a extroverted nature that enjoys being around people
  • Has learned to pout when she doesn’t get her way, crocodile tears. Still throws angry fits when she is upset, which usually amount to her flopping herself on the floor and wailing. We are doing our best to be consistent in that her fits garner her no attention, nor does she get what she is after by throwing them.
  • Thoroughly enjoys the outdoors and hates having to come inside.
  • Loves to wash her hands and will brush her teeth on her own, loves to stand on the footstool and look in the bathroom mirror while she does it.
  • Understands and communicates beyond the few words that she can say, ie, pointing at what she wants, coming when you call her, stopping what she is doing when you say “stop” (though she doesn’t like it and will show you that she doesn’t like it), going to the gate, and then running to her room after it’s opened, when she is ready for bedtime.
  •  Has learned to go to people, grab their hand, and pull them up when she wants them to go somewhere or to get something for her.

She is doing something new every day and I am constantly amazed by my daughter. ^_^

To a Soon-Coming Birthday

This time two years and one week ago, I was in the midst of labor. I was foggy and heavy from the pitocin and magnesium, ravenous for ice chips, had lost all sense of time, and was fit only to do as I was told at the time. When they told me to prop my legs up against husband and nurse and push, I did so, for two hours. I remember that it must have been so because the nurse on shift changed right before I started pushing. I had been in labor then for probably about 24 hours by the time I started pushing (looking back now, I think that I must have been in light labor when I left the doctor’s office the afternoon before because my back hurt all afternoon, evening, and through the night). Elizabeth’s head was close, close enough for the doctor to inform me that she had a head full of dark hair, but her heart-rate was dropping as I pushed and not recovering fast enough to make my doctor comfortable. So, at nine o’clock at night, I was wheeled into the OR for an emergency c-section.

As Elizabeth’s second birthday draws near, I cannot help but think about her birth. Not only hers but my own as well. Recently at the March of Dimes Celebration of Babies, Chris Pratt spoke of his son’s premature birth and I could not help but remember my own birth story.

I have inherited my mother’s disposition to preeclampsia and so was put on bed rest three weeks before Elizabeth was born. Mom had the problem with all three of her pregnancies, I the only one of which to survive. She was admitted to the hospital and placed on full bed rest at 24 weeks. She was allowed out of bed ONLY to go to the bathroom, which was maybe six steps from her bed. Based on her medical history, they knew that my sister Jodi was born at 24 weeks and her organs were not developed/matured enough to survive so the doctor’s aim was to get her to at least 30 weeks, at which he was sure I could survive.

I was born at 30 weeks, six weeks premature, 2 lbs. 6 ounces, and 11 inches long. So little that they had no baby clothing that would fit me so I was fitted with doll clothes Thankfully, though, I had no medical problems to hinder my growth and survival. Mom says that I was alert, active, and healthy. My only issue was that I was not big enough to go home, and I didn’t know how to feed so I was fed by a tube for the first few weeks. I was in the incubator for about two weeks, with a total of six weeks in hospital. At six weeks, I weighed 4.5 lbs and was discharged. I had checkups at the hospital’s special clinics for preemies until I was four and then given a clean bill of health and development.

There are times when I sit and reflect on my life, remembering the many times I have been told this story, called “miracle baby”. I dearly wish that my mother had not had to go through the heartbreak and pain that she did, but I am glad to be here, hale and hearty and whole. When I had Elizabeth was the only time I have ever been admitted to hospital since leaving it as an infant. I was blessed with the most wonderful doctor, nurses, anesthesiologist, everyone who took such excellent care of me during my pregnancy, labor, and recovery. Our doctor is moving out-of-town soon so, yesterday, Elizabeth and I went to say goodbye to her. In many ways, I owe that woman my life for her care of me. I am beyond grateful for her care for me and for Elizabeth over the past two and a half years.

Soon, I will celebrate Elizabeth’s 2nd birthday. My baby is now a little girl, full of life and vim and vigor. Smiley and creative. Strong-willed and stubborn. She is a gift, and I cannot wait to see how she grows further.

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Some of the baby clothes my mother displayed at my shower.

 

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Some of the baby clothes my mother displayed at my shower.

 

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Some of the baby clothes my mother displayed at my shower.

 

Snowcapped Joys

Yesterday was my daughter’s first day playing in the snow. It’s her third winter, if we want to be technical but her first time playing in the snow. When she was born, her birth ushered in the heaviest snow as of yet that winter. I spent that winter mostly indoors with my new little infant. The following year, the winter was one of the coldest on record. So I kept my one-year-old inside for the most of that icy winter.

This year, winter has settled itself into our little part of the country quickly. The temperatures are already supposed to dip into the single digits within the next few days, so I decided to take advantage of what would be the warmest day this week and take my daughter out into the new-fallen snow (we got at least two inches last night). So I bundled her up in coats, boots, hat, mittens, and scarf and out we went into the snow, her first real foray into the white stuff. The sun was bright and the world was pristine and clean. Rogue zephyrs played in the air, swirling snow from trees and rooftops into dancing shapes. The cold air hit me like a sudden kiss and took my breath away. Bizzy held tentatively onto my hand as we started walking on the driveway but, by the time we got into the yard, I let her go to find her feet on her own. It was powdery and blowy and we walked through the sunshiny snow over the patio and into the back yard, feeling it crunch beneath our boots and I watched my daughter examine it with wonder. The first time she put her hands into the snow, she held them up as if holding something ethereal and divine. Her cheeks were appled and her eyes pretty little half moons from the smile hampered only by her pacifier, which she soon relinquished to me in favor of laughs and smiles as she tromped off into the snow.

First time in snow 2014