10 times I won at life and/or parenting

Ever scroll through your iPhone camera roll and pause to scrutinize an image, to try to figure out what the heck it is, and why you took a picture of it?

It seems I have a lot of those images.

I never realized how often I did it, but apparently I’ve been compiling a whole collection of photos of awkward moments in my life. I’m not a hoarder, but I think I’m an over-documenter.

I hope this array of photos and (memorable?) moments makes you laugh, because each one of them may have made me cry at the point it was taken, but now, in retrospect, is kind of hysterical.

At the very least, I hope this gives you a “me too” sigh of relief and some extra reassurance that no one’s life is as peaceful or organized as their instagram feed may portray.

  1. That time I backed out of the garage before the door was fully up. Because it’s tricky, you know, to wait the full 10 seconds it takes for it to open. This may shed light on how smoothly getting out of the house with two kids goes for us on weekdays.
    garage
  2. When you wake up and realize there is no toilet paper. Like, none. So you say a prayer of thanks for Amazon Prime Now.
    tp
  3. Ever put up a Happy Birthday banner in August, and get around to taking it down in December? Truth be told, the pink butterflies grew on us.
    banner
  4. The day I actually got Maya to daycare ON TIME and she threw up all over me in the parking lot.
    puke
  5. Last month we went on a family picnic (my idea) and right after this picture was taken it started pouring and everything got soaked.
    picnic
  6. When your toddler drops a hair tie in the toilet (before flushing) and you have to fish it out so it doesn’t “go into the ocean like Nemo.”
    hair tie
  7. Why is there a Maglite in my bathroom, you may ask. Well, sometimes when a toddler chews a piece of her Lion King book into a spit wad, and shoves it up her nose at 10 p.m. and tells us – through hysterical sobs – that “SIMBA IS IN MY NOSE,” a Maglite, tweezers and strategic nose blowing come in handy. Note: it was successfully dislodged, and she no longer sleeps with books in bed.
    maglight
  8. The same toddler who dropped the hair tie in the potty and and put the King of Beasts up her nose also managed to lean forward into the menorah on the first night of Hanukkah this year, and singed a few hairs off the top of her head.
    menorah
  9. We’ve had the winter crud in our house for three weeks. This is a snapshot into what it’s been like to keep two sick kiddos entertained while they feel awful.
    floor
  10. And here’s our latest family photo, which I adore. But this image came after Lila got dog poop on her pants (outside bottom of her right leg – squint and you’ll see it), and had to be bribed with a lollipop to cooperate. Maya wasn’t feeling well, so the world’s happiest baby refused to crack a smile for a single photo. Jim and I had slept a combined six hours the night prior, and everyone was in a fabulous mood.
    pro photo

I like real life. I like oversharing. I love when things get messy and gnarly and hilarious. Each of these moments was HARD at the time, but I love looking back at how they weave together to tell our story in this season.

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Lila at 15 months 

Dear Lila,

You are 15 months old and an energetic bundle of joy. You run – everywhere – and are constantly on the move. Busy as can be and interested in everything.

You are starting to use words: dah (dog), mama, dada, woo (woof), uh oh and whoa, and we are amazed at how much you understand and how well you follow directions. You can point to your eyes, nose, ears, head, tummy and feet, and will clap or blow kisses if we ask. Waving is still touch and go based on mood, but high fives all around.


You are very strong with impressive balance and physical coordination. You will climb up steps and hills without pause and go down over curbs with ease. You have enjoyed visiting parks and the children’s museum and went to your first pumpkin patch/petting zoo last month.


You love to bring us books and turn the pages for us, and sit yourself down in our laps for stories before bed. Often while we read one book to you, you insist on holding another on your own, and flipping the pages independently. You still enjoy stroller walks and shopping cart rides.

You just cut your first molar which was your 9th tooth, and are about to outgrow size 3 shoes.

You love running to your classroom at school and greet me with an enormous smile and shrieks of joy each day which is the best feeling in the world.

You are quiet and observant of strangers but warm up to them quickly. You adore our dogs and the act of climbing onto anything from the couch to the fireplace. You love food and still have yet to refuse anything we offer you.

There are so many feelings associated with parenthood, some that I anticipated and others that were more surprising. But what awes me the most is the love and pride I feel as your mom. There is no way to describe it other than my heart might burst at any moment. 

You are a joyful, giggly baby who amazes us in so many ways. I love how perfectly you complete our family and embody the best parts of your dad and me. You are the most wonderful thing in this life.

Lest You Think I Have My Sh*t Together

I feel like the theme of last week was the emotional version of what it feels like to walk on ice. You start out gingerly, slowly gaining a bit of speed…then BAM! Feet fly out from under you and you’re flat on your tush. Every time. Disoriented, you get up and start moving again – with a little more knowledge of the process – but still sore from the learning.

Last week wasn’t a bad week but it was a hard one. Lila switched daycare rooms, and while day one went off without a hitch (yes, she slept on the magical baby cots), days two through five were less good. Each day started with her losing her mind screaming as I tried to leave. The kind of screams where I furtively duck out of her room because the entire building can hear “that baby.” It’s a natural phase and it won’t last forever, but it kind of makes me feel like garbage to walk away from my screaming child. I choose to work, and I like to work. Some days I feel like Super Mom; others I want to cry under my desk and eat Rolos because it all feels terrible.

It was just a week of small struggles. Getting to daycare and realizing Lila has one shoe on. Getting to work and realizing my lunch is on the kichen counter and there’s somehow black grease all over my skirt. Driving across town for meetings before learning they were cancelled. Leaving extra early to get the baby’s medicine, only to realize your local Walgreen’s doesn’t open until 8, because of course. Small stuff, just stuff.

shoe

Sometimes I think about the different views people get into my life, based on the snippets that are visible to them. Not in the sense that I’m censoring things, but purely as a matter of timing. In the midst of last week I got a few messages from friends with unexpected compliments or kind words. And I kind of felt like a fraud accepting them. And wanted to respond, “Heyyyy if you saw what was actually happening in my life at this very moment, you’d eat those words.” Says the mom who just watched her child fingerpaint the kitchen floor with vomit.

I almost felt defensive about not wanting people to think I had my act together, or that it ever feels easy for me. Not in a self-deprecating way – I just don’t think it’s fair to let anyone else think that my life is easier or better. We all struggle with our own stuff everyday. No one’s doing it better than anyone else.

I was exchanging messages with a friend about some of this and the other things we struggle with as women. Little things and big things. Body image, messy houses, time management (there really aren’t enough hours in the day, we know this). Nothing extraordinary, but things I think a lot of us worry we’re battling alone. And it’s not that misery loves company, but there’s something amazing in knowing that whatever you’re struggling with has happened to others. It makes you realize that: a) you’re not alone, or unusual for what you’re experiencing, and b) it gets better.

I was wowed again at how often the most reassuring words in the world are some variation of “me too.”

My friend explained her son went through the exact same stage with daycare, and that he’s fine now. And that I’m doing ok. She also reminded me that behind every challenge we pass, there’s usually another waiting in the wings, but just knowing others are making it is so powerful.

If you’ve ever run a race and wanted to quit toward the end, but then saw the folks who finished before you on the sidelines cheering you on – it’s that kind of goosebump feeling. We’re all in this together.

The things I didn’t expect.

Being totally ok with having smeared hand and mouth prints all over our french doors. How the dogs sit patiently under the high chair during meals. The sheer volume of your cries when you aren’t pleased with a situation. What it feels like in my heart when I go into your room each morning and you rub your eyes and smile at me, scrunching up your entire face. The amount of bottles I wash. The time I spend cutting fruit into tiny pieces. The way I scrutinize everything I buy you. The feeling that washes over me when I hear you cooing and babbling to yourself while you play. The guilt. Oh, the guilt. And the worries. The way I slowly sway any time I am standing, an unbreakable instinct even when I’m not holding you. How sharp your nails are. Your fascination with necklaces and glasses. The feeling when you fall asleep in my arms, and how it’s the only time in my life I’ve ever known I’m exactly where I should be. All the ways you have changed me to be a better version of myself. The moments when it’s just us and we communicate in our own completely special way.   

 

 

When things switch from black and white to color.

At a friend’s barbeque this weekend, a woman I didn’t know approached me as I played with Lila in the pool. There were the oohs and ahhs customary to seeing a chunky infant splashing around in a swimsuit, and simple small talk. She did something my innocent pre-baby self used to do, comparing child-rearing to having a dog (man, I was a tool), but then asked a wildly unexpected question.

Instead of the typical, “What do you miss about life before kids?” She more thoughtfully asked, “What would you miss the most if you returned to life without kids?”

What the.

This woman, who had shared her own desire to remain childless, threw me for a loop with this one. She asked it earnestly, but I struggled to answer appropriately without sounding like a total whack job.

I kind of wanted to scream, “LOOK AT HER, DUH, SHE IS THE PERFECT HUMAN SPECIMEN.”

But, since I’m a lover of words–the right words–for every situation, I opted against shouting baby-loving obscenities and paused to consider my answer.

I just didn’t know what to say. It felt suffocating to try to explain the love for your child on the spot. Nothing I said would be good enough, and everything I considered felt like a canned beauty-pageant contestant response.

It’s like explaining why you need air and the sun; you sound like an idiot when you try to break it down. You just do. They are essential to life. And you don’t know or care if life could exist without them.

Until you experience it, you can’t really understand what it feels like to nurture a human life, day in and day out. To have created an utterly unique soul who is equal parts you and your spouse. You will be fearfully awed and humbled.

It’s like the moment in The Wizard of Oz when things switch from black and white to color. The world may still appear the same, but somehow everything you see is different, and brighter. And there’s no going back. 

wizard

 

Eight months, with love.

You are eight months old, sweet girl, and you are our greatest joy. 

You love sitting, rolling and screeching, and have started declaring, “Dadadadada” every so often, along with “guhguh” and lots of gargling and shrieks. You would really like it if your legs cooperated in crawling, but for now, you tend to just scoot yourself backwards, culminating in a frustrated logroll.

You are a huge fan of your outdoor swing and the activity jumper you inherited from Vanessa. You enjoy time in your high chair and always are cooperative on car trips.

You laugh with such awkward joy when daddy plays silly games with you, sometimes as surprised as we are by the sound of your giggles, and you are curious about everything like a tiny exploring scientist.

You’re an astute observer, incredibly intrigued by your surroundings and whatever you can touch and put in your mouth. You love being outdoors and touching different textures like grass or wooden posts. 

You love all food. All of it. You haven’t turned your nose up at anything, although your favorites seem to be pears and avocado. You are starting to try to feed yourself which is messy and adorable. You suck down those pouches like nobody’s business. 

The dogs are quite fond of licking your face aggressively, to which you close your eyes and look utterly bewildered, like you were randomly and inexplicably thrown in a dunk tank. You’ve edged closer to tail pulling which we fear will be a tricky rite of paw-sage.

You are sleeping about 11 hours a night in your crib. We never thought you’d warm up to it,  but as soon as you figured out how to get on your side or your belly, you were content. Your pacis are required for sleep most of the time.

You still fall asleep in my arms and I am so thankful for that. You’re extra snuggly when you don’t feel well which has a distinct bittersweetness.

Not a day goes by where I don’t feel a profound and magical difference in the world and in myself, because of your existence. 

We’re trying to do it all right, Lila Bear, and probably succeeding about half the time, but making up the difference with love. 

  

A matter of months 

When you’re pregnant or have an infant, everyone you encounter will undoubtably ask you some version of the same two questions:

“How far along are you?”

Or,

“How old is she now?”

These are great questions; ones that any mom or mom-to-be is thrilled to answer. They bring to light a funny question though: when do our weeks and months become less significant? 

Most of us over the age of three track our age in years, and as we grow older, there are fewer occasions to measure time any other way. 

When pregnant, it’s hard not to obsess over weekly changes (“What fruit is it now??”), and with a baby, a week often reveals new skills or a jump in physical growth. While obviously this pace of development slows with age, why does the value of our time seemingly decrease as well?

My dad turned 68 years young today, and to celebrate, he shared a photo with the family that perfectly depicts his youthful zeal. He posed in the same position I put my daughter in each month, sitting on the floor, wearing a sign that shows his age in months (816, to be exact). This was, quite simply, hilarious. And a perfect reminder that while age may be just a number, it’s an important one to celebrate at any juncture. 

Today I’m blessed to be 382 months old, and thankful for every milestone, large or small.

Happy birthday, Dad. I love all 816 months of you. Thanks for never failing to embrace an opportunity to teach us not to take ourselves too seriously.