Lila at 28 months

I think the most fascinating part of this stage of parenting is that it’s no longer a one-way street. Instead of a baby who depends on you for food, mobility and imaginative dictation, there’s a two-year-old who feeds herself, runs and trikes all over the place and talks and sings every moment she is awake. Gone are the days of wondering what she’s thinking – today we know, we always know – and it’s an absolute trip to hear the things that come out of your mouth on a daily basis.

We do our best to ask open-ended questions, not only to encourage lengthier conversations, but also for the sheer entertainment value. We’ve entered the stage of WHY, and I’ll be damned if I’m not completely stumped at the end of each round of questioning. I don’t know why some cars have different sounding horns or it was sunnier today than yesterday, or why my soup was spicy, but I love your endless curiosity.

You are genuinely always chipper unless you’re sick or exhausted. You are animated and imaginative, and don’t stop talking from the moment you wake up until you go to bed. You love to be silly and make us laugh, and are a careful observer in new situations. You love the simplicity of playing, and often jump into games with kids at your school without a moment’s hesitation, even when you don’t know them. You are a good listener and rule follower, scolding anyone who walks in the street instead of the sidewalk, and refusing to take food we offer you if “still chewing momma.”

Your Favorite Things: Stickers, your tricycle, talking about animals, inflatable holiday decorations, books, climbing on Daddy, watching children’s songs on Youtube and art projects. You’re fascinated by dinosaurs and pushing buttons on different things, and love FaceTime.

Lately you’re insisting that you read your books out loud to us, instead of the other way around. You bring us both pillows (stuffed animals) and won’t begin until we’re laying on our backs watching you. “I read dis book now Mommy?” You’ve memorized an impressive amount of children’s books, and when you forget the words, you make up scenarios based on illustrations. 

Tucking in all your animals at bedtime is a formal routine, as is sharing breakfast with them when you wake up. 

You enjoy monitoring all the neighborhood holiday decorations – when inflatables are on you shriek, “toys awake!” and when they’re deflated, “toys fall over.” 

You’re constantly explaining all your actions, “I take my sweater off, Mommy, my sweater toooo hot.”

You like picking out your own clothes, weather-permitting, and laying on your back so we can trace you with chalk. 

Lately you’re asking to sit at the big table to eat with Mommy and Daddy, or assign us seats at your tiny table for meals. You continue to love all food and drinks, except bell peppers and Perrier (I do not blame you).

Sometimes you’re naughty. You will color all over your face and hands with markers, or make a big mess of something and run away refusing to pick it up. Your tantrums are generally short-lived and easily diverted, but can be ferocious at times.

You sing ALL the time and it is amazing. You know the words to 20+ songs and insist on singing alone (meaning you shout at anyone who tries to join in). 

As for me, I love being your mom.

I don’t care that you turned two, I still won’t flip your carseat around to face the front. I’ve spoken to specialists and done the research, and even if you have to bend your legs and my own seat is at an awkward angle, you’re so much safer this way. 

I don’t encourage you to give people hugs or kisses if you’re resisiting it, even relatives. I want you to feel in control of your body and never that you have to comply with physical expectations that make you uncomfortable. 

And I still check on you while you’re sleeping, every single night. (After you’ve stopped singing to yourself.)

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Take your daughter to work (a conversation)

Most weekday mornings, Jim leaves for work before Lila and I wake up. Lately, she’s gotten more curious about his exact whereabouts (and, you know, everything else in life…) so we’ve had more conversations about Daddy being at work, how he got there, what he’s doing, etc. And I didn’t think anything of this until a different conversation earlier this week.

L: Where Daddy go?

Me: He’s at work today. 

L: Ohhh. Only daddies go to work? 

Me: No, Mommy goes to work everyday, too.

L: No! Only Daddy go to work.

And so on and so on as I debated the merits of working with a two year old.

And my dismayed working-momma heart felt like saying, “My biggest goal as a parent has been to avoid putting you into a box based on your gender or any other characteristic. I’ve only wanted to make sure you know that you can pursue anything you want to in life. Right now that means going down the big slide by yourself or brushing your own teeth, but down the road it means you will chart your own course. That’s why both your parents cook and clean and change diapers and go to work. And if one of us decided not to work outside the home, that would be ok too.” 

In the process of trying to maneuver her surroundings into this perfectly balanced utopia of gender-neutral toys and clothes, I neglected to explain these most fundamental ideas to my daughter. 

This doesn’t feel like being a feminist to me, it just feels practical. 

It’s not to say I’d be happier if Lila chooses to spend her life painting or engineering or nursing or doing anything else – I just want her to have the confidence and intent to choose what suits her. 

And I realized this week that if I don’t pause to tell her what I do all day, I’m not modeling this well at all. 

now I’m just tired.

We came out of the shadows slowly on Wednesday morning, exhausted and afraid. Timidly dipping our toes into this new reality, then jerking back out when we realized how cold it was.

Much like the feeling following the loss of a loved one, there was intense shock that people — some people — seemed to just go on about their business, seemingly unfazed by something that forever changed your world.

And then the stages of grief began cycling, again and again. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and the one we’re all waiting for: acceptance.

I’ve spent a lot of time in anger, but now I’m just tired. My soul and my bones are tired.

I am thankful my daughter isn’t yet old enough to know that this week, people all around her voted for a person who will shape her world in scary ways. Someone who denies climate change. Brags about sexual assault. Incites racial discrimination. Mocks people with disabilities. Disrespects women. Was endorsed by the KKK but not one news outlet. I want those people to look my sweet baby in the eyes with full sincerity, and tell her what you did. Because I can’t.

Would it have been different for you if I was the one who he bragged about assaulting? Or if I was a Muslim – now fearful of having to register my religion? What if I was gay and the integrity of my marriage was now at stake? Would that humanize it enough to make a difference? Because it’s easy to ignore when it isn’t in your own little bubble. But what if it was me?

You can say there are bigger issues. That there was no choice. That it was the lesser of two evils. But my heart does not believe you.

I am sad. That so many people I know are now in fear. Of backwards progress in every civil liberty. Of being harassed and monitored because of their religious beliefs. Of nuclear war, increased domestic threats and the rise of hate groups.

I am disheartened that it seems people can’t seem to agree on right and wrong. And are getting their news from Saturday Night Live and swirling rumors, and not educating themselves about what really matters. We’ve lived charmed lives as Americans, haven’t we?

And I am angry. At people who don’t vote. Or who say it’s what we need to change things…to just accept things and go out and be a good person – because while that matters, it doesn’t feel like enough.

I’m not naive to the fact that this is how a democracy works. That there aren’t outcomes that please everyone. And that some people I am close to voted for the very things that keep me up at night. Normally I appreciate opposing views and discourse, but not today.

Today I’m still just tired.

10 seemingly normal situations that give me intense social anxiety

I made this list on a Post-it a few months ago and recently rediscovered it in my purse.

I started it on a day where I’d nearly hyperventilated when I couldn’t find my work badge in my car as I pulled up to the parking garage. It only took me about seven seconds to locate it, but it might as well have been an eternity. The very idea of cars piling up behind me – or even worse, honking at me – was enough to send me into a sweaty, heart-racing tailspin.

Because of a badge. And seven seconds. Don’t sweat the small stuff is a lovely saying that bears no relevance to my life.

I love quotes about not worrying, I gravitate toward people who are naturally carefree and I’m fully aware that anxiety is pointless. But this is just how I’m wired. Who cares if the glass is half full or half empty, it’s probably too close to the edge of the table and there might be a bug in it and is the lemon wedge contaminated?

Here’s a list of not-so-unusual situations that might just send me onto the floor of my closet. Blame it on being an introvert or just a special breed of weird, these are things that make my physically uncomfortable:

  1. Having people sing Happy Birthday to me. Or, singing Happy Birthday to anyone else because I can’t stop thinking about how awkward I would feel if it was me.
  2. Making eye contact with someone while still a good distance apart, like in a long hallway. And then not knowing if I wave, or make continued eye contact, or divert my gaze. This is particularly treacherous at work and airports.
  3. Opening a gift in front of the person who gave it to me. Doesn’t matter if it’s my best friend or my husband, still terrifying.
  4. Walking into a location like a restaurant to meet someone, when I don’t know exactly where she’s sitting. Literally paralyzing. If you’re ever meeting me somewhere, you’ll get a very specific set of directions.
  5. Leaving a theater mid-movie to use the restroom. Having to relocate my seat is the tricky part here. Chances are I’ll just hold it instead of running the risk.
  6. Customer service situations where I think I don’t have all the right paperwork or could get reprimanded, like when I go to emissions testing or through airport security.
  7. Unanticipated affection. When a hug is unexpected I do this awkward shrug and brace move where I look like I’m in a straightjacket.
  8. Going to an event where I don’t know anyone. So often forced into this professionally, so often thankful when there are cocktails.
  9. Watching someone else get embarrassed. When people drop plates in restaurants and everyone cheers, I cry inside.
  10. Restaurants where it’s not clearly marked where I stand to order verses pay verses wait for my food. Signage goes a long way, people.

Not proud of these, but fully aware of how ridiculous they all are, and hopefully this makes you else feel better about your own idiosyncrasies.

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From House to Home

We’re moving this weekend. We seem to do this somewhat habitually, just ask the friends who get suckered into helping each time. 

The first place Jim and I lived in together was a rented condo in Tempe. There was pink 80s carpet and our two big dogs and no yard. I don’t think we ever hung a single thing on the walls or met our neighbors, but it was a first home for us to live in together (yes, in sin!).

Next, we bought our first house in North Central Phoenix. The “cool” neighborhood where we could walk and bike to dozens of awesome restaurants and bars. It was a restored 1950s home that was perfect in a lot of ways, but then there were the roof rats. And the tree roots in our pipes. And when we wanted to have a family, we trekked north to the suburbs near Kierland. 

We redid almost all of our second house, from floor to ceiling – literally – and bathrooms and kitchen to boot. Then there was the storm of all storms that knocked over trees and destroyed the yard. We rebuilt, and have loved it here, but it’s never felt like a place to stay for too long. 

This next move though, is just a mile away. I don’t glamorize it by calling it our forever home – because goodness knows we have a nomadic track record – but it’s a home I’m excited to raise a family in. It’s perfectly imperfect and just right for us. It has everything we want and just enough quirkiness (hello, stained glass kachina doll window). It’s less cookie cutter and more tucked away.

I’m an introvert. I love being at home and I crave peaceful, cozy spaces. A friend once gave me a sign that reads, “Home is my Favorite,” and it was the most fitting gift for me. And as much as I love stability and structure, moving is exciting to me. I guess I never outgrew my love of playing ‘House.’

Here’s to the next chapter and a lot of cardboard boxes.