Laila turned 3!
A recent Laila quote: “When I say ‘Yes’, that’s really just the beginning of ‘No’.”
A recent Laila invention: The Lailabuster. When her sibling wants to say something, the Lailabuster prevents this annoyance by creating sentences that run on and on and on and on…and on. It’s quite effective.
A recent Sufyan quote: “I am trying to imagine my life without Laila. (silence) That would be sad. I really love her.”
Us, too, Sufyan. And to think how I agonized about taking the status of only child away from you. Now none of us can imagine life without her.
I love you so much, Laila.
You do everything with such fierce determination, it doesn’t surprise me that you have tackled the job of growing and being a little person with such gusto. You walked at 9 months. You were using full sentences by a year. You rode your first balance bike at around 15 months. Potty trained yourself at 18 months. Hanging upside down on the monkey bars by 2.5 years. Now at 3 you are a fast little Razor Scooter rider, a fantastic story teller and a singer of impromptu songs. The list goes on (and on and on) and I’m amazed by you!
At times over these 3 years I had to work hard to connect with you. You didn’t like to be hugged or snuggled, or to sit in my lap. Kisses were as annoying to you as mosquitoes. You had no time for books. If an activity wasn’t full speed ahead you weren’t interested. You often seemed to want to escape your body, as if it was holding you back from all the awesome things you could be doing if only you weren’t so damn little. You had no use for lullabies and would often demand that I stop singing by putting a hand over my mouth.
All the things I thought I knew about being a mom were out the window. I worried that your first year of GERD and it’s unhappy treatment (a good example of the cure being worse than the illness) had interfered with our “falling in love” months permanently. I worried that we had missed out.
But I shouldn’t have worried. Here you are at 3, happy in your able little body. Happy to be snuggled and hugged and carried on my hip, and more happy to be set free (particularly of clothing…you are such a
nudist free spirit) to return to my arms over and over like a little boomerang. You are one of the happiest people I have ever met. It is a pure joy to be your mom.
I am full of love for you and our connection is deep. You are my heart. I’m the luckiest mama in the world.
Here are some pics from Laila’s 3rd birthday:
We 3: mom and 2 little ones, slightly wild haired, chatty, active and a little messy. One child hanging on the front of the shopping cart, one hanging on the side and debating me about “safety”. Bags on my shoulder, purse across my body, 3 winter coats loaded high in front of us, my hand searching for the grocery list in my purse while I try to push our cart in the direction of the door. It steers like a tugboat in the sand. We are already getting huffs from other shoppers who rush past us.
Any mom can tell you that getting 2 little kids through the grocery store is about as easy as getting a live octopus into a plastic bag.
So, I am grateful to the man at the grocery store who saw us and smiled, and gestured for us to go on in ahead of him. Then he just waited for us without huffing, sighing or seeming impatient.
His kindness and the look on his face reminded me that other parents have lived through this and might even miss it just a little. I relaxed and smiled at my kids, loving their exuberance more than usual as we pinballed through the store, trying not to drop bottles of honey on the floor while simultaneously answering 30 questions a minute, reading a shopping list, and trying to avoid the toy aisle that is situated so that it can be seen from the end of any other aisle. (GAH! Those store layout masterminds know exactly how hard it is to get 2 kids through a store.)
When we finally checked out we had had fun and I felt pretty frustration-free. I do think it was in part due to that kind smile which reminded me it’s all ok. It really is.
So, Thank You to that man who smiled. Your kindness made a difference to my entire day and my kids’ day.
Parenting Thought for Today: Benign Neglect (term invented by my friend JW).
I thought I would buy only wooden toys. I thought I would ban plastic cups and plates. I thought they would eat all organic foods and love veggies. I really thought they would never watch videos. And then if they did watch a video, never more than 1 video a week.
I thought I would make every meal from scratch. I really thought our home and thus their world could remain gender neutral forever or at least the first 7 years. I thought that our books would exclude princesses and characters based on toys entirely (I’ve nearly accomplished this, actually). I didn’t think I would ever tire of hearing my children’s voices and need a little silence. I didn’t think I would ever EVER want a break from breast feeding. I thought I would never slip up and yell.
But it turns out that 1) reality laughs at my silly plans 2) my kids make their own plans and 3) if I try to parent perfectly I will make myself crazy. And tired.
Crazy Tired Me agonizes over Annie’s organic vs Annie’s regular mac and cheese (seriously? they are both boxes of dried noodles and powder equally devoid of nutrition and completely delicious). Crazy Tired Me feels guilty when my kids watch a video, even if they are watching it because I’m sick or they’re sick or it’s he only way on god’s green earth for me to accomplish a smidgen of self care.
I worry that I’m not a good mom if my kids don’t get 110% of my attention all the time, or that I am ignoring them if I don’t insert myself into their every game.
Relax. Not every moment has to be brimming with natural goodness and organic learning. Believe it or not they actually need to figure things out without my input sometimes. I have a friend who calls this “benign neglect”. Her kids are older and I have only recently began to appreciate the genius of that technique. The magic is that when I let them do their thing I see that they are learning so much from each other, from playing without me guiding their play, from working out how to take turns without me always telling them what’s fair, etc.
Bonus, when I take time for myself I have more love and patience to give them. And sometimes they just want a video because it’s fun and it won’t kill them (they love Kipper the Dog. Super sweet).
The bottom line is that a certain amount of choosing the “low road” is good for my soul and their self sufficiency. They have so much of their own to contribute. Over-scripting, over-helping, over-enriching every experience leaches the authenticity from their own experience of life.
Keep choosing love and they will know love. That doesn’t need a script.
Yoga Thought for Today: lightness for pretend.
I’ve tried a billion ways of keeping my practice going while being full time home with my kids. Like all things with raising kids, there are phases that start and end. Things work and then they stop working.
The only thing that never works is feeling so bad about falling off the wagon that I don’t get back up and try again. When I try again lately, I have been imagining that my body (which feels like lead pipes filled with cold clay–not pliable and stretchy at all) is made of air and light. I try to conjure up the feeling of feathers as my legs and shadow as my arms. I try to smile. I try to invoke lightness.
It really helps me to overcome the inertia and stiffness of limbs that comes with falling off the wagon yet again.