Toddler Life Lessons

Toddler Life Lessons

Although my daughter has only been around (on the outside) for a year, she already has so much wisdom to offer. Here’s what she’s shown me: 1. Be proud of your accomplishments. Clap after each bite of food you take. Make other people clap too. You’re awesome at eating! 2. Wave at a stranger. No, wave at every stranger. Wave at your reflection in the mirror. Wave at the Brawny Man on that package of paper towels. Wave at that painting of a flower. Really make everyone feel welcome. 3. Look at your fingers. I mean, seriously look at them. They’re amazing! Wait—oh, my gosh—toes. Look at your toes! Offer a nibble of them to the person sitting nearest you. Trust me. 4. Kiss with your mouth open. The more slobber, the better. 5. Whenever you hear music, dance. No matter where you are. Heck, even if you don’t hear music, feel free to dance it up. They say “dance like no one’s watching,” but it’s better to dance until everyone is watching. 6. Get excited when you see a dog! Point and laugh! Dogs are so funny! Have you seen one lately?! 7. Smile big! Even if you have food in your mouth. Even if you only have seven teeth. 8. If you like a book, read it again! And again. And again. And again…until you have it memorized. And then, after you know every word by heart, keep reading it. It’s a really good book. 9. Don’t like the taste of a certain food? Spit it out. Life is too short to be eating yucky things. 10....
Wishing I Hadn’t Wished Away The Baby Time

Wishing I Hadn’t Wished Away The Baby Time

Sometime in the six weeks between when my son was born and when I resurfaced from the foggy depths of handling a newborn, my 2 ½-year-old daughter went from being a baby to a young child. There were plenty of opportunities for me to mourn the loss of her as a baby: when she turned 1 year old and technically became a toddler, when I weaned her a few days after that, when we moved her from a crib to a mattress on the floor, when we put the mattress on the bed frame, or when she started speaking in sentences with pronouns and adjectives instead of strings of nouns and verbs. None of these impacted me like I thought they would have. In fact, with each transition, I rejoiced the little bit of freedom and independence given back to me. I praised her for her growth and development, all the while encouraging her in becoming a “big girl.” But lately, I’ve been noticing things that have placed a pit in my stomach: how the palms of her hands have lost that baby softness and have grown ever so rough from scrambling up playground equipment and catching herself when she falls, how the smoothness of her legs has been replaced by the sprouting of fine, blonde hair, how the sweet curves of her face are beginning to melt away as the baby fat is burned off by the constant running and the constant talking, and how she tells me she’s going to do something all by herself and doesn’t want my help. The final straw was when we began to potty...
Mom Thoughts Before Falling Asleep

Mom Thoughts Before Falling Asleep

I am a thinker and a planner. I really am. So it goes against my very nature when I feel zero enthusiasm toward evening prep work to make the following morning and days ahead easier. At the end of a long day, I often just need to go on autopilot, sit and relax to give my brain a rest and keep it from exploding. I enjoy my downtime, but more often than not, I am hit with all of the following mom thoughts as I lie down in bed and try to fall sleep: Okay, what do we have going on tomorrow? What time should I set the alarm for so I can hit snooze six times? I forgot to have him do that last worksheet in the homework packet. Maybe he can do it before the bus gets here (chuckle at the thought of getting homework done in the morning). Will we need to return library books tomorrow? Are any repairs needed? What do I have to pack for their lunches in the morning? It’s spirit color day at school tomorrow. I think his school shirt is wadded up in the basket of clean clothes by the dryer. I’ll nuke it in the permanent press cycle when I get up. We have that thing happening two nights from now. I don’t have anyone to watch the kids yet. On a scale of 1 to 10, how mandatory is it? I need to bring a covered dish to the thing this weekend. Do I have enough stuff in the fridge to cover it, or do I need to make a trip...
9 Things That Make Moms Unreasonably Happy

9 Things That Make Moms Unreasonably Happy

We all know the big things that make us happy as moms: healthy kids, enough to feed them, a roof over our heads. But there are some lesser, “unsung” pleasures in the world of motherhood, too, the small joys that bubble up unexpectedly. And they’re often joys that have nothing at all to do with your kids. Below, nine things that make moms unreasonably happy. 1. Matching all the Tupperware to the lids and discarding the mismatched crap. When I open the cabinet over the sink, old yogurt containers, jelly jar lids, and rogue Tupperware rain down upon my head. Discarding the crap, neatly stacking the good containers with their lids, and just generally straightening that cabinet is hugely satisfying. 2. A blowout. I used to have great hair that I took care of. Now it’s usually scraped back into a sweaty ponytail, and the highest grooming bar I can regularly clear is “she doesn’t smell bad.” But every once in a while, I’ll get a blowout, and it’s as good as a facelift for how much better I feel about myself. I stand up straighter and put on a nice outfit. If I had someone to do my hair every day, I think I’d feel confident enough to run for president. 3. New underwear. Is there anything more satisfying that chucking ratty old skivvies and replacing them with pretty new undies? The only thing that runs a close second is tossing all the single, hole-y socks and buying a few new pairs of really high-quality, soft wool socks. 4. “Going through that.” My friend’s husband, a neatnik, will...
How Having a Child Is Teaching Me To Love Myself

How Having a Child Is Teaching Me To Love Myself

People are always telling new parents that they will never experience a love as deep and as powerful as the love they have for their child. Anyone with children knows this to be true, of course. The love we feel for our children is simple and perfect. I’ve never loved anything in life as much as I love my daughter. My heart already aches thinking about letting her go into a world that will sometimes be scary and unkind. When our children hurt, we hurt. As parents, we want nothing more than to wrap our kids up and protect them. To save them from making bad decisions and from being hurt, but we know the ups and downs are all part of life. We accept that we cannot protect our children forever. Our job is to always be there to offer guidance, but the most important thing we can do is raise them to be healthy, strong individuals who have the tools to navigate their way through the most challenging days life has to offer. To do that, we arm them with confidence, and we teach them to love and respect themselves. But how can we teach our children these skills if, somewhere along the way, we gave up on these things for ourselves? How can I raise a daughter who loves herself if, in reality, I’m not loving myself? When I know I’m settling for less than good enough in my own life? What if I loved myself as much as I love my daughter? What if I could follow the advice I would give to her? How...