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Dear Daughter, You are almost 2.

I want to capture this moment for myself to remember how you were when you were almost 2.

You are a spectacular creature. You are determined, strong willed, loving, generous, smart, clever and sweet.

You are determined. You are currently pushing all the boundaries you can find. This week we fought with you about whether you could sit on the seat in the canoe or if you had to sit on the floor. You can’t sit on the seat of the canoe until you are big enough to understand the movement of the canoe and that you could fall into the water if you reach too far. You fought with us about how close you can walk to the side of the road and if you could walk in the road. “No cars coming, Mommy.” I hope one day you understand that that was not the point.

You are strong willed and independent. We haven’t done up your car seat buckles in months because it’s honestly not worth the fight. I will gladly wait 10-20 minutes for you to do it yourself if I can avoid you crying all the way home. You’ve been walking up and down the stairs from the moment you realized you were physically capable. It’s been a terrifying 6 months.

You are loving and sweet. The way you hug the dog and say very sweetly “my Alice” will never get old. I will never forget the first time you ran up to me when I picked you up at daycare and yelled “my mommy is here!” I also love the way you say “Hello handsome daddy” when we pick him up from work.

You are generous and expect others to be so. We will never eat a meal where you haven’t offered your milk or food to us. I have never finished all of my meal because you ask “Mommy, may I have a bite?” and I have no will power to say no. You make sure bear has some play food for breakfast before you sit down. You offer me “mom bear” every morning when I enter your room.

You are smart and clever. You know how to unlock the front door. You have figured out games and puzzles so much faster than I could have expected. You told me last week that “Old MacDonald is my favourite song, mommy”. You can count to 10 (let’s ignore the fact that you skip 5 and 6 regularly) and have been singing your ABCs for months and recognize letters in the world. You think all Canadian flags deserve the exclamation of “Go, Canada, go!” You can put on your bath robe and tie up the strings by “self”.

I love you, my darling. I love your soft kisses, your tight hugs, your desire to be your own person, your love of others, your concern for others, your tiny little naked butt, your long toddler summer legs, your gorgeous hair with the soft curls you inherited from my dad. I love your smile, your giggle, your silliness, your Grover voice, your one-octave-too-high singing voice.

I love you. Never stop being you, my sweet nearly two year old.

 

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Stop Fucking Copying Me

If you are like me, when you sit down in your car you become a slightly different person. You follow the rules are little more carefully and get a bit upset when other people do not.

Driving a car a privilege, not a right. At least, I think so. You are operating a 4,000 lb piece of machinery that can end someone’s life if used incorrectly. I happen to operate that machine with a small child in the backseat while listening to that sweet child skip all the middle letters of her ABCs. You must operate this machine while following the rules of the road in order for all of us to drive efficiently and safely.

I could list all the ways that other driver’s bother me, but it would be simpler to just say that all other drivers bother me.

It should really come as no surprise to you that I have a teensy bit of verbal road rage. I won’t cut anyone off, or follow to closely but you better believe you are getting a tongue lashing from the personal space of my driver’s seat, regardless of whether my windows are rolled up. You may get honked at, but I tend to reserve that for people who potentially put me in danger. I’m looking at you, no-signal/no-shoulder check merger. That’s how I will let you know that you are a dummy.

I wish I could explain this to my 21 month old daughter. I wish I could tell her not to listen to me while I’m driving. The problem is that it is crazy funny to hear a sweet toddler voice say “Go, you fucking dummy!” or “Damnit” over and over again.

I will admit that I have gotten better about my language in the car but sometimes there’s just that one fucking moron who thinks he can drive like no one else is on the road. I guess I should be glad that I’m teaching my kid the importance of road rules.

Image result for toddler swearing

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My new Friends are all Parents too

How do I write about this without hurting feelings? How do I address this issue without possibly making someone feel bad? Maybe by just being honest and non judgemental?

I had a baby 16 months ago. In the last 16 months I can name less than 10 of my former friends that have expressed interest in spending time with her. I say former, because, in reality I haven’t seen most of these people in probably 20 months. Most of them have never met my kid.

Last summer I was hugely pregnant and had a baby. I couldn’t drink, couldn’t party, and, probably without surprise, most of my friends disappeared. I don’t blame them.

When I was in my early 20’s, my friends were getting married and having babies and I didn’t fit into that world. I lost contact with them because we were in totally different places. I kept up with their lives (still do) on facebook, liking their kid pictures and enjoying seeing their family’s milestones, but I didn’t reach out. I didn’t try to get to know their kids.

Now I’m the one who has the kid and I get it. We have totally different day to day lives.

I eat breakfast hoping that my daughter won’t smear her yogurt hands on my nice work pants before I get a chance to clean her up. I pack four bags every night – my purse, my lunch, her backpack, her diapers – before I go to bed. I sing the ABC’s, Ba Ba Black Sheep and Old MacDonald every single morning. My plans for the weekend include trying to find ways to tire out my kid and entertain her while also somehow finally cleaning the bathroom and doing our mountain of laundry (how do three people create so much laundry?!).

Before I had a kid I hit the snooze button more times than I’d like to admit. I ate breakfast in the car on the way to work, blaring the radio. We only had to worry about two adult lunches. My house was clean. My house was clean. My weekend plans included sleeping in, binge watching MASH on the couch after making an elaborate hangover breakfast, and figuring out what we were going to do that night.

I’d like to apologise to my early 20’s friends (I think you know who you are) and I hope you don’t hold any ill will against me. I wasn’t ready for your life steps so I stepped away. I am so sorry if that felt like betrayal. It was fear on my side, not loathing.

I’ve been feeling abandoned? disowned? self-pitying? for, well, 16 months. It’s time for me to cut that shit out. I’m a god damned adult, for fuck’s sake. And besides, my closest friends are still putting in the effort. They are skyping with my kid and sending sweet little postcards and presents and these things make me happy cry.

And what’s more? I made some new friends this year. Friends that light up when they see my kid. That reach out to see how she’s doing when she’s been sick. To see if I’ve been sleeping. How I’m doing. Am I getting enough self-care (the answer is usually ‘no’)? Am I going to come to gymnastics this Friday?

Can we set up some play dates, please? I know you guys are just as busy as I. Maybe we can tire out our kids together?

It’s time for me to stop having FOMO for my former life. I never wanted to lose any friends but I’ve had a hard time figuring out how I fit into your lives with my new funny sidekick. I’m leaving the door open for friends, old and new, to come on into our messy living room and have a drink. You are always welcome…. as long as you don’t mind my kid climbing on you and insisting you colour with us.

 

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20 Minutes in my Toddler’s Head

My imaginings of my 14 month old daughter’s thought process while at gymnastics with her dad on Sunday morning.

Ooh a ball. Ooh two balls. Who is that lady? She’s got a ball too. Ooh more balls over there. Yup. Tastes like a ball. Dad! This ball has holes in it! I’ll take this ball. Why is that boy upset? Maybe I should give his ball back. Uuuuuhm, no. I’ll keep it. What did dad say? Oh, putting them away. I’ll just throw this one in and… Oops. Dad, it went over there.

Where are we going? Oh, there’s mats stacked up over here!  I’m going to the top! Ok, one knee up. Other knee up. I made it to the top! Horray for me! Ok ok. Time to get down. Alright, turn around. One leg… Ok I can touch the mat, now the other leg. Yes! I’m down. Look, dad! A trampoline. Nevermind, I see the mats I just climbed. Gonna do those again. One leg, two legs. Ok ok. At the top. One leg down, the other leg down. Dad! A trampoline! Hahaha! Jumping! A balance beam! Dad, where are you taking me? I want the balance beam.

Who is this lady singing? Rowing boats? Ooh! More balance beams. No, not this balance beam. I’m going over to this one. No! This beam is not too tall for me. I can get my foot up heeeeeere. Up! See, dad? Ok I’m done with beams. Let’s go over here. Dad? Why are you spinning me around? Let me down, dad. What am I walking on? No, I’m done with beams. Look at the barrel that baby is drumming on. Fine, pick me up and bring me over here but I’m going back to that barrel. This beam won’t stop me! I’ll just fall into the mat with my face. That’s what faces are for. Ooh, a different beam. No, dad, I can do this one myself. Ok, I’ll let you help me. Walking up a beam, do do do do! Oh, there are kids over there…. Whoops! Why didn’t my foot land on anything? Omg, did she say choo choo? “Woo woo!” Whoops. Sorry dad, I didn’t mean to hit you in the face.

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Fuck the Working Mom Guilt

I’ve been at work for a month now. An entire month where I’m not the primary one spending time with Beans during the week. I drop her off at daycare, or Grandma comes and spends the day with her or Adam takes her for the afternoon. There are significant portions of every weekday where I’m not the one in charge of my daughter.

And holy christ, is that ever nice.

That’s bad to say, right?

But you know what’s great about it? I’m not fucking burnt out at the end of the day. I’m not babied out. When I pick her up at the end of the day I can actually sit down and enjoy playing with her because I haven’t been playing with her all day. I miss her during the day. By the time I get home from work I want to engage with her. I want to watch her and see what developments she has hit today. I am so fucking amped for when she can talk and tell me about her day.

I want my kid to know that I have a life. That not everything I do involves her. I want my daughter to see me as the responsible adult I accidentally became worked really hard to become. I want her to see that I am striving so god damn hard to make our budget work, to advance my career, to keep my body healthy, to nurture friendships.

When I was little I thought I would be a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t really know there was another choice. No one told me. I didn’t ask. I know now that I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. It’s not fun for me. Sure, it makes life easier. I can clean the house and do the groceries during the day and then Adam and I would get to relax more at night. BUT I don’t want to. I don’t want to spend my days trying to figure out how to entertain a one year old while emptying the dishwasher. I do not enjoy that. So much praise for those that do but I do not. I want to sit at my nice desk, wearing my nice clothes, my jewellery, my pretty shoes and use my brain for solving complex situations.

My kid likes daycare and Grandma days. This morning she gave me a kiss and waved me away when I dropped her off. Yesterday I got a picture of her trying to kiss the other kid at daycare. She likes it there. The fact that she likes it helps alleviate the ridiculously unfounded guilt I have about leaving her there.

I’ve always been told that I’m the best caregiver for her. That’s pretty fucking true, but you know what? I’m an even better caregiver when I take care of myself first.

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I Left Her for 3 Days

We went on vacation. Selfishly, we went on vacation by ourselves. Well, not vacation exactly. We dorked out and went to a Board Game Convention (that’s another story for another time).

We left Beans with my parents for 77 hours. Three bedtimes. Four naptimes. Endless hours of fun. Which we were not a part of. 

I have extremely mixed emotions about this. 

On one hand, I had such a fucking great time on vacation with my husband. We drank beers, we ate at restaurants without worrying about how much to tip because they’d have to clean up after our kid, we played so many games, met some really cool people and generally reconnected.

On the other hand, I didn’t get to read her bedtimes stories, sing her songs before her nap, get her milk, watch her climb stairs at the park, teach her about feeding the ducks, give her her first timbit (yes, Dad, I know what you did), make her laugh.

Is this meant to be cut and dry? I’ve always been more comfortable with cut and dry conclusions but I don’t think parenthood is going to work that way. I’m always going to want to spend all my time with Beans. She is fucking cool. But, I’m also going to want a break from parenting.

Sometimes you just want to spend a day not saying “not in your mouth”, “on your bum”, “sit down, turn around”, “the dog doesn’t like it when you rip out her fur”. 

The worst and best part was coming home. When she saw us it was like she finally realized we had been missing. My parents did such a great job of keeping her distracted that when she saw us she immediately started crying. She hugged me so hard I thought she might bruise me. She didn’t let go of me until she fell asleep that night. 

She missed me too.

And now I will never leave her again.

Just kidding. Sort of.

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Anger was a Surprise

“You are mean to that dog”, my brother said hesitantly.

And, holy shit, I’m so happy he did. Those words made me think hard about how I was acting. I was yelling at my dog. I was short with my husband. I was struggling to maintain my patience with my baby. The smallest things were making me angry. So fucking angry. Adam didn’t do all the chores even though he was at work all day. Traffic was bad so he was 10 minutes late coming home. My pizza was reheated too hot in the middle and too cold on the edges. The dog was asking for too much love. The dog was being a dog. Beans was being a baby. Beans was sleeping too long on me and I really had to pee.

I had this seething anger sitting in my belly, glowing red hot and trying to escape. It was exhausting trying to keep it down and be patient. It was heartbreaking to see myself blow up and snap when all I wanted to do was laugh and hug. I was faking my happiness and I couldn’t keep up with it.

So, I called my doctor. And I cried in her office and told her honestly how I didn’t know how to feel happy anymore. How I was angry at every one except Beans. I only had patience for Beans and that didn’t feel like me. How I missed smiling without feeling that sadness behind my eyes. How I wanted to make her laugh but didn’t have the energy because all my energy was going towards staying calm.

She listened calmly and talked openly with me about what help I might be able to find. She gave me a prescription for hormonal birth control and, best of all, she gave me a referral for a counselor and made me an appointment to come back and check in with her.

I filled that prescription. I have always struggled with a balance in my hormones which cause me to be extremely emotional so it was no surprise when after only a month I was able to laugh without feeling like it was forced. Within two months I was smiling regularly and making my baby laugh again. I was loving my dog instead of just dealing with her.

I also saw a counselor but that was a fucking bust. She was not well equipped to deal with post-partum or baby issues. She actually suggested I give my 9 month old baby a time out and punch pillows to get my anger out.

It’s been four months now and I finally feel like myself again. I re-gained my energy, lost the last 20 pounds of cake I gained while pregnant (that’s another story all together), and when I looked in the mirror I saw myself again. I saw the joy in my eyes, the love for my husband, the happiness that sits in our home, the beautiful chaos that is our life.

I was looking out for sadness, depression, exhaustion, dark days. I did not know to look for anger. I didn’t know I could even feel as angry I did. I’ve never felt that angry before. I’ve never treated my loved ones like that before. Thank god for my doctor. I’m so happy to be me again.