Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Have I lost myself already?

Sometimes I sit around thinking about my girls when they're teens. (And when I say "thinking", I really mean "worrying" like a neurotic person).

I wonder about millions of things. I wonder if they'll like me. I wonder if they'll think I hugged and kissed them enough as kids. I wonder if they'll have body issues because I said I didn't like my thighs one too many times. I'm always wondering if I'll be... good enough.

Perhaps it's because of the information out there. I can't open up my Facebook page, take a look at Twitter or glance at the newspaper without finding multitudes of articles on how to be a good parent.

Sleep with your babies so they'll feel secure. But let them experience frustration and failure from time to time or they won't develop important life skills. Make sure they get 3 hours of exercise a day. But introduce them to technology - it's the way of the future. Don't give them time outs because studies now show they're humiliating. But you must discipline your kids.

The latest that's twisting and turning in the back of my mind? Don't lose yourself in parenting. If you no longer have a sense of self, you won't model independence for your children. And you want your kids to grow up strong and independent.

That's an interesting one. So... be a good parent, but don't be *too* into it, because then you won't be yourself anymore?


What am I doing right now? All I do are Mom things. I get up, get the kids up, change them, dress them, feed them breakfast. We go and play for the morning. We come home and have lunch and a nap. Then I change them, give them a snack, find some other activity to do until dinner, followed by bath and bed time. Then I do it all over again the next day.

I don't write anywhere near as much as I used to. I don't have a job all ready to go back to in a set amount of time. Sure, I run a few times a week and go out with friends every now and again. But while I'm out with friends, all we do is talk about our kids.

Is that a bad thing? Am I losing my pre-kid self? Should I give something up (like my coveted down time on the couch in front of the TV at night) so I can do things that make me more me?

The thing is, I'm not one of those people who can look at the piles of laundry or the long list of things that need to get done and just say "Forget you, stuff!" I have yet to get Anna's one-year photo shoot pictures printed and into an album... so it's not like I'm a supermom over here by any stretch. Some things just have to get done at some point. Which means even less time for me to do my "me" things.

So this is the newest worry.

As I sit here and watch Anna colouring and Lauren alternating between staring at me and the toys on her play mat, I wonder who they see.

Who will they see when they're grown up?

Will they see a person who loved being their Mom with every ounce of her being? Or will they see a woman who lost her sense of self?

Will they see a strong woman who chose to stay at home and devote her life to them because she wanted to? Or will they see a woman who only had menial tasks to fill her day?

Will they see a happy woman who loved to play and laugh with them? Or a tired one, drowning in laundry and dishes?

This is one of those things that I have no answer for. I don't know if I'm doing the right thing. I don't know if I'm leading by example for my daughters.

So I guess all I can do is close my eyes and take a giant leap of faith with my girls.

A giant leap. Into a big ol' ball pit where we'll roll around and giggle and be silly.

Because that's what I want to do and who I want to be right now.

Monday, March 12, 2012

For Anna

Dear Anna,

When you turned a year old, I wrote you a letter. It was a few days late, but I still managed to tell you how I felt, how you had changed my world and how amazing you are.

You're 2 now. Your birthday was about a month and a half ago... (I'm more than just a little late! This seems to happen all the time now.) But I figured it was better late than never.

So, my little Buttertart, how do I sum up another year of having you in my life? Another year of amazing highs, some tough lows, big milestones and simple moments that I'll remember forever?

I don't think I could do it all in one letter. How on earth could I put you - your personality, your quirks, your sense of humour - in a few words? You're so full of life, it's almost impossible to just simply write it down.

You're a spitfire, Anna. You're full of life. You love to run and play and jump and hang on monkey bars (already!) You yell happily and laugh and run around the house in circles when people come over to visit you.

You feel things intensely. When you're sick or in pain or frustrated - you really feel it. There's almost no consoling you at times. But when you're happy, you are so happy, you make everyone around you feel the same.

Sometimes I have to convince you to give me kisses - you're too busy for snuggling and kissing. You're busy reading books, or colouring, or playing with your play-doh. You're busy kicking a ball, pushing your little stroller around, playing with your cars or yelling out all the animal sounds you know.

And that's okay. Because every morning (or when you don't feel well), you like sitting in my lap and wrapping your little arms around me. You put your head on my chest, or nuzzle into my neck. And we hug.

(In fact, right now you're feeling tired and a bit out of sorts, so you're sitting right up against me on the couch, resting your little hand on my leg as you watch The Cat in the Hat).

You love being outside, picking up sticks, playing in sand, splashing in puddles, swinging in the swings and sliding down the slides at the park. We go outside all year round. In snowstorms and on the hottest days of the year, you still want to be outside.

You learned to talk this past year. You started with "Mommy" and "Daddy". Then you learned more and more every day. Now you talk in short sentences... and you're becoming a great little conversationalist.

You did a lot of teething between your first and second birthday. It was really hard on you. But when the pain went away, you were back to your usual self. Fun. Happy. Raring to go.

You started part time daycare when you were about 20 months old. You learned some rules and played with other kids. And you adapted so well. Mommy and Daddy were so proud of you.

And then Lauren came into your life. And again, you adapted so well. You've always been extremely gentle with your sister. You like to cover her in blankets and give her her soother when she needs it. You pat her head and wave hello to her in the mornings and before bed. You're concerned when she cries.

You've had a lot happen in your little world, Anna. And you've done so well. You've had some tough times when you're sick or in pain, but you're mostly happy and fun and silly. You know what you like and what you don't like. And you make it very clear.

And I love all of this about you, Anna. The world needs girls like you. I need a girl like you in my life. Because you keep me on my toes. You fill my life with more happiness and laughter and love than I ever thought possible.

I am so, so, so lucky to have you. Whether we're snuggling in your bed or chasing each other down the street on the way to the park, I love every, single second that I get to have with you.

My life is so much more than I ever wished for. And I feel like all I can do is say thank you and hope that my love is enough for you.

Thank you, Anna. For being your perfect little self.


Your adoring Mommy

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Buttertart and the Happy One

This is the third time I've attempted to sit down and write. And I'm only doing it right now because I was shamed by my toddler's Leapfrog laptop. That damn excited dog instructed Anna to "write a new blog entry!!!" which reminded me that I haven't written one in a dog's age.

(Did you see what I just did there? Dog's age? Leapfrog dog... Oh, I'm good.)

(Also? I'm delirious from lack of sleep.)

So anyway. I've long referred to Anna - my first little bundle of pride and joy - as the Buttertart. Andrew and I were discussing what our second born's cute little nickname should be.

"What about muffin?" Meh.
"Pancake?" Mmm... pancakes.
"How about Buttertart #2?" Hello, second child syndrome.

Then it came to me. The nickname has to be very different because my girls are extremely different. So we came up with Happy Baby.

(Yes, it's very original and well thought out and clever and all that. I know. Again - I'm going on little sleep lately. I'm not exactly creative right now.)

However, it is *very* fitting. This child smiles at everyone and everything. I used to feel all special when she would smile at me as I went into her room to get her up for the day. Then I saw her smiling at the owl painted on her wall. And the ceiling fan. And a lamp.

We're lucky. Happy Baby is very relaxed and laid back. She doesn't at all protest when we leave her in the bouncy chair of neglect to focus on her more demanding sister.

She doesn't mind having her diaper changed - or hanging out in her crib now and again while we wrestle her sister to the ground to change her diaper.

And Happy Baby will actually drift off to sleep from wide awake if we put her in her crib with the Ocean Wonders Aquarium on at bed time. No rocking... no shushing... no sitting in the dark on a hard chair in her bedroom while we listen to her play with her soothers and wait for her go to sleep. She'll lay there and do it herself.

So I've got a Buttertart and a Happy Baby. Very different from each other right now.

But both very cute, more fun than I ever could have imagined, and both incredibly, intensely adored.

And more importantly, both pretty squishy and kissable too.