Perfect


Dear Caroline,


Sometimes being a mom is hard. OK, maybe I should say, a lot of times being a mom is hard. We all know being a parent is hard. I say mom here because this is about you and (mostly) me. Not about generalities. I’m not talking about the mountains of laundry or the piles of dishes. Nor am I talking about being up all night with a sick kid or juggling work and pediatrican visits. I’m talking about my oddities and insecurites, and your quirks and challenges. There are days when I struggle and days when I feel guilty because you deserve a much better role model. Today might be one of those days.


I had a little chat with your preschool teacher this morning when I dropped you off today. (Let’s not talk about the fact that you were 35 minutes late because our personalities clashed and you moved at a snails pace, OK?) She shared with me that she was feeling frustrated with certain dynamics in the class, and the pressure to “prepare you all for kindergarten” was weighing on her. She also mentioned that she was devistated from learning yesterday that one of her daughter’s friends from high school had taken her own life over the weekend. As we stood in the hallway talking in hushed tons, you caught my eye from your seat at the snack table and blew me a kiss.


How can I raise you to be confident when I lack confidence in myself? How can I instill in you a belief that you are good enough, smart enough, and perfect JUST THE WAY YOU ARE when I question myself at each turn? How can I show you that all you have to be is YOU when I sometimes feel like I don’t even know myself?


You don’t have to BE perfect. You ARE perfect. At the end of the day, you just have to try. You just have to keep moving. For a perfectionist, the hardest thing to do is try. Trust me. I don’t want to try if it’s not going to end up right and correct and perfect. I’m afraid to say, I think you have this too. You crumple up your papers when it doesn’t turn out JUST how you wanted. You refuse to write your name because you aren’t 100% sure that you’ll do it right. Just try sweetie girl. Just try.


I suppose at the end of the day, that all I can do too. Just try. Maybe we can learn this together.


I love you always my sweet Caroline.



Fairy Tales


Dear Caroline,


Last week Daddy and Thomas went off on an adventure (road trip to Legoland and San Diego!!) leaving us girls behind. We had five days of uninterrupted one-on-one time and aside from the 10 hours when I was violently ill with a stomach bug, it was PERFECT. We slept in and lounged around. We went out and spent time with relatives. We snuggled and made each other laugh. We went to the mall and painted pottery. We had sleepovers in the big bed every night. We went for bike rides and colored a giant cardboard rocket ship. We just flat out had fun. You told me multiple times each day, “Mommy, I’m having SUCH a beautiful day today.”


I just want you to know how much I loved it…. How sweet you were…. How it never even crossed your mind that you might have gotten the bum end of the deal being left behind. We made our own fun and certainly made the most of the time. And I have to say, I think it was a most delicious way to bring the year to a close. 2011 was a good year. You grew up so very much Bug. Your opinions and ideas and imagination have become captivating and it was a lovely gift to spend the final days of 2011 completely focused on you.


I am forever grateful that I get to be your momma. And ever so in love with you.



Vision


Dear Thomas and Caroline,


I’ve been thinking about this space lately, and my (lack of) use of it. And considering… Why I (should) write. What I (want to) say. Here’s what I think. I have HORRIBLE memory. Really, really bad. I’m the first to admit this. And I think at the end of the day, my desire is to capture moments with the two of you that will no doubt slip into the swiss cheese holes of my brain over time. This is not my space–it belongs to you. I will no doubt, from time to time take it over with thoughts that have little to do with you directly. But, at the end of the day, I am your mother so I guess that’s my prerogative. Right? (No need to answer.)


I want to remember how you are at 4 and nearly 7. I want to remember the things you say, your favorite activities, your oddities, frustrations, and triumphs. I want to relish the joy of parenting you. I want a record of these days that flash by in the blink of an eye. I want you to know how proud I am of you both. And most of all, I want you know just how much you fill my heart with love.



My Son, Robby


The other day when dropping Caroline off at preschool in the morning, her teacher approached me with a question.


“You have a third child, right? Another boy named Robby?”, she asked.


“Um…? No. Nope, just the two–Thomas and Caroline.”


“Huh. I thought for sure she must have another brother! She keeps talking about Robby… And I always ask if she means her brother Thomas because, I know Thomas, and then she’ll shake her head and say, ‘Yeah, Robby’ and continue on with her story.”


I couldn’t help it. I burst into laughter. Wubby. Not Robby… Wubby. Thomas is Wubby to Caroline. We aren’t really sure where it came from… Maybe a mutation of ‘brother’ when she was first starting to speak. But it is now decidedly Wubby. The funny thing is that he is very particular about his name. He doesn’t answer to ‘Tommy’ or ‘Tom’. He is very clear that his name is Thomas. If I call him anything other than Thomas, he corrects me. Pointedly. I called him Wubby once, and was corrected swiftly. (As an aside, he sweetly allows the Henry side of the family to call him Tommy. But no one else.) Despite this strong feeling about his name, he freely and happily answers to Wubby when Caroline calls. He even goes so far as to refer to himself as Wubby when talking to Caroline.


The sweetness of the two of them together is enough to make my teeth hurt.



Three-two-one… Jump


Last night at bath time, Thomas demanded a tub to himself. He opted for the ‘Extra Room Bath’, leaving Caroline alone to blissfully soak and splash and play by herself in the large tub in the master bath. I find humor in the fact that this arrangement meant that there was NOBODY in the kid’s bathroom. It’s an appropriate illustration of how the kiddos run the show, right? They have taken over our lives!! And Ben’s large tub…


Anyway, Caroline decided to go all out with the toys last night. Perhaps it was because she had extra room without Thomas demanding space? Bath time is one of my favorite times of the day. Caroline is as happy as a clam in the tub, and I can take advantage of the ‘free’ time a bit by folding laundry on our bed while I listen to her chatter away at the toys. Last night she was exceptionally adorable, and completely surrounded with rubber duckies and an assortment of other water toys. She kept repeating, “Three-two-one… Jump!” and I discovered that she had lined up all the ducks along the edge of the tub and was having them jump into the water one by one. Ok, maybe it was cuter than it sounds. What pushed me over the edge was her sweet words of encouragement and congratulations to the ducks…


“You can do it! I know you can!”
“Ooooh! Good jump!”
“Come on little guy, jump!”
“Biiiiiig jumps!”
“Wow! What a good big jumper!”
“Great job guys!”
“You did good big jumps like Mommy!”
“What good jumpers you are!”


She makes me ridiculously happy. Like heart swelling, tears welling up, want to squeeze her sooooooo tight, happy.



Binky Battle


When Caroline was born, she came out and they placed her on my chest to clean her up. She was tiny and amazing. And I was completely in love. Once she was properly wiped down, diapered and swaddled, she breastfed for the first time. FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF. No, I’m not exaggerating. I WISH I was exaggerating. I remember one of the nurses commenting, “Wow, that girl is going to need a bink.” And she wasn’t kidding… Breastfeeding Caroline was a challenge. A painful challenge. But that’s not what this post is about.


Caroline likes to have something in her mouth. She found binkies early. And was smitten. Thomas hardly used them. He would take one if you gave it to him, but didn’t really care much one way or the other. Caroline LOVED them. She would seek them out, crave them, hunt them down. Eventually she was sleeping with at least 4 in her crib every night. She even named her favorite. Spot. “Mommy? Where go Spot??”, she would ask. Even when Spot had a hole bitten through it, she still wanted to sleep clutching it tightly in her hand. She’s a feisty girl, and we quickly learned nothing would calm her quite like a bink in her mouth.


Our pediatrician suggests that kids are weaned from bottles and pacifiers by 15 months old.


Um. Yeah. Not so much.


I have been DREADING the ditching of the binks for well over a year. Dreading, and putting it off. We did our best to limit her bink use to just naps and bedtime. I didn’t like the idea of her running around the house with them… But, we had so many that she was pretty good at finding them and popping one in. And I’m more than willing to admit that I used them freely when we were out of the house and needed to keep her (relatively) quiet. They make a pretty good bribe.


However, with her third birthday rapidly approaching, and the fact that she had ear infections NON-STOP for the first 3 months of this year, it just seemed like the time was upon us. Spot and the gang had to go. One Thursday night, I clenched my teeth and decided that D-day was upon us. I did what any sensible mother would do. I hid the binks, including Spot. And then played dumb. We went upstairs to get ready for bed and as she usually did, she went racing into her room to grab a bink out of her crib. (Yes, she’s still in a crib. Not a toddler bed. What’s it to you?) “Oh no Mommy! Where’s Spot?!?” She looked under the bed, had me pull it away from the wall, checked all the frequent hiding places… I played dumb and sympathetic. “Gee, I don’t know… Are they missing? I wonder where they are…?” We continued with our bedtime routine, jammies, book, snuggles. And then? It was time to get in bed. I put her in and she dug around (under the 6 blankets and 12 animals she requires) and still came up empty handed. I sympathetically said, “I’m sorry sweetie, it’s time for sleep. And I don’t know where the binkies are. We’ll have to look for them tomorrow.” Hug, kiss, arrange the blankets, lights out.


I tried to strengthen myself for the fit that was sure to come. As I walked away, I told myself that no matter what, we couldn’t be pushover parents and give her the bink. No matter how loudly she cried.


It was silent. I figured she must be pulling herself together for the fit to end all fits.


It never came.


Really.


NEVER.**


Over the next few days, she would ask about her binks a few times… Less and less each day. Before a week was up, she stopped asking. Instead she would just say wistfully, “Binkies all gone…”


Sometimes I think that I don’t know her at all. Despite that, I am soooooooo thankful to be her mommy!


Caroline_with_bink


**Well, okay. The fit never came at home. I never saw it. Yep. The only fit she ever threw over the binks was a 15 minute cry during naptime at daycare.



Little Sister


Thomas: Caroline, can I tell you something?


Caroline: Yesh Wubby. What?


Thomas: I really like dinosaurs.


Caroline: Mooooommy!! Wubby luffs dinosaurs!! (In her best sing song tattle tale voice.)



Wordless Wednesday





Photos taken last summer by my beautiful and talented sister.



Failing Fall


This is officially the Fall of Ear Infections. And I? Officially would like it to be over. OFFICIALLY. Either the ear infections or the fall. I don’t really care which. When we were little, my sister was infamous for constant ear infections. When Thomas got his first at 6 months I braced for the onslaught that I was sure would follow. But it didn’t. And then Caroline was born. And I was mildly surprised when she had one fairly early. And less surprised when she had another. And another. And another. And now? When she sneezes I’ve learned to expect an ear infection in a week to 10 days. And I’m not even kidding. What surprises me now is when I take her in and she DOESN’T have one. Although now that I think about it I don’t think I’ve ever taken her in for a suspected ear infection and had her ears be clear. Ever. Finally at last, Sarah’s ears have shown their face in the next generation. <sarcasm>Oh yay.</sarcasm> By now, we know the staff at our pediatrician’s office rather well. And if they weren’t so nice I might be a little more upset about it.


Anyway, where was I? Oh right. This September I think I was at the doctor’s office once a week. Issa and I conferred, and then declared that October would be the month of health. Soooo close. But… We made it to the third week and then Thomas’ ear (the left to be exact) let me down. Sigh. Ok. Maybe November?


The first of November, Caroline took a 4 hour nap. And just like that the little mom hairs on the back of my neck were up. 4 days later she had a fever and said, “Ouchie, Mama. Ear.” A quick trip to our friendly pediatrics office left me waiting in line at CVS for a prescription, yet again. Three days later, (on a Saturday evening as per normal operation procedures), Thomas informed us that his ear hurt. He was nearly in tears. He doesn’t cry for pain, so I knew it couldn’t be good. Sigh. Monday morning brought an appointment for him. He had been fine all day Sunday, but had his heart set on going to the doctor. When Ben called to inform me of the exam results (Yes, that’s right, my husband took him to the doctor. What? He’s a parent too. And yes I know I’m lucky.), I was prepared for a clean bill of health. Ben said, “Thomas was wrong. He doesn’t have one ear infection… He has… TWO.”


Gah. Sigh… November is NOT the month of health. We shall refrain from talking about December out of fear.