how to handle the drips

My little girl.

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She’s usually a super happy kid, easy-going, so freaking funny…

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…and she wants to learn how to do absolutely everything she can on her own like open the fridge and grab a piece of cheese when she wants a snack, or turn on the dvd player and start her own movie. Though lately her usual happy mood has been full of ups and downs and the downs are exhausting and hard for both of us.

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Now, I normally don’t turn to Dr. Google for parenting advice, but this morning I was at my wit’s end when I googled “3 year old daughter crying all the time”. The advice ranged from ignore it and walk away, time out, and punish, to sometimes they’re just craving more one-on-one time and they’ll choose bad attention over good or no attention so give them a big hug. Interesting. My first thought was that I don’t want to reward bad behavior with a hug because it’ll only reinforce it. But then I thought, is crying really bad behavior or have I just been letting it get to me more and more where I started looking at it as bad? And 20 minutes later, she answered my question.

We were sitting on the dining room floor face to face just chatting away when it kinda crept up on me. This weekend is her daddy’s weekend with her and after daycare drop-off this morning, I wasn’t going to get to see her until I pick her up Monday night. Normally I’m a rock, but this rock had just turned into a puddle of wet sand.

“Mommy, what is that drip on your face?” she asked.

“It’s a tear, sweet pea.”

“Why a tear?”

“Because mommy is sad that I won’t get to see you for a few days. It’s ok to feel sad sometimes and right now I’m just a little sad.”

And in response to my “drips”, she wrapped her skinny little arms so tightly around my neck and gave me the best hug. She always gives the best hugs. She gave me a hug because I was crying and it made me feel better and we had some good one-on-one time right there on the dining room floor.

Message received, my lovey.

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Looks like someone on Google is in cahoots with my 3-year-old.

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my mini golfer

Impromptu mini golf stop on the way home yesterday – apparently for little ones it’s free…she ended up playing the course 5 times and by the 5th had given up on the club and was literally throwing the ball into the hole. Who knew mini golf could be so exciting :)

mini golf

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2 or 3?

“What age do you think is harder, 2 or 3?”

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I recently had this conversation with someone and my answer was that while 2 had its moments of meltdowns, 2 was by far, hands-down easier. Sure, at 2 I had the joyous experiences of my first taste of toddler meltdowns complete with a little person throwing her whole body down on the floor at my feet sometimes even purposely hitting her head on the carpet for dramatics, but 3….

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3 is 2 covered in manipulation and strong will with a little bit of the devil reincarnate mixed in. It’s not just a matter of whining because she can’t put into words what she wants (age 2), it whining because she knows it drives me crazy (age 3). It’s tantruming as hard as she can to see if momma will give in. It’s sticking out the sad lip and curling up into a ball doing her fake cry to get me to feel bad for her. But when it’s all happening because she can’t have M&Ms for breakfast or go barefoot in the store or wear both pairs of her pink shorts at the same time, well…let’s just say it quickly becomes a battle of wills.

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Don’t get me wrong, 3 is amazing. She sits and sings at the top of her lungs for 10 minutes straight while making scoops of ice cream out of play doh. She “reads” Goodnight Moon to me from memory complete with the quiet old lady who was whispering hushhhhhhhh. She gives me a kiss and tells me she’s going to work and she’ll miss me very much, then she stands by the closet and moves her hands around pretending to “work”. She freezes every tree she passes by, a la Queen Elsa. Her imagination is an amazing little gift and it’s so fun to watch her mimic life in action as she picks little moments in time to reenact from her perspective.

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And at 3 years old, the whining is expected. When I feel her crawling into my bed at 2am once in a while to sleep sideways and kick me in the back of the head snuggle…expected. When she cries because I can no longer hold up my enormous Popeye forearms that have developed over the last 2 hours from pushing her on the swing at the park and we have to go home for fear of me keeling over and dying in the woodchips…

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…expected. She has options and choices in some situations (which shirt she wants to wear today), but in other situations she has an opinion but doesn’t get a say (cheap sprain your ankle type plastic dress up shoes for daycare? No, ma’am). That has to be tough, having someone determine what you can and can’t have a say in. I get it. But that’s childhood. Actually, sometimes that’s adult life, too. And right now it’s all about teaching her that some people, even momma, will say no to you at times. And then when you stick out your pouty lip, get an evil look in your eye and throw a monkey blanket at someone when they say no, you’re pretty much sealing your own fate and making ‘no’ a guarantee.

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Her will is strong and her independent spirit is growing. My will is stronger but not demanding or demeaning, patience is key, and I have one rule my dad taught me which I stick to every single day – don’t yell at your kids. My mantra. My unbreakable rule.

When I waved hi to my newest neighbor this morning after shuffling a very slow-moving, ridiculously-procrastinating, yet fully-dressed, teeth-brushed, cheerios-fed, lunch-packed, piggy tails-combed Summer out the door to Nanna’s house only 10 minutes behind schedule, my neighbor said to me, “You know, you’re always smiling. It’s a wonderful thing.” Made me glad to know that my happiness shows.

And the twitch in my left eye doesn’t.

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Yes, 3 is harder than 2.

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story time

Every year around this time I get a little weepy. Summer’s birthday is in 2 short days and the last 2 birthdays brought on ugly momma cries and nostalgia for the little peanut she once was. This year I’m happy to say that I don’t have fat ploppy tears dripping off my chin and shorting out the keys one by one on my keyboard as I type.

It’s a start.

Maybe it’s because of the fact that everything about my lovey amazes me everyday. I especially love the little talks we can have now where it’s not just me talking to her, it’s her talking back, actual conversation with someone who looks to me for guidance and approval and support and a hand to hold.

So the paci fairy came to Summer and Daddy’s house last Friday and took all her pacifiers away to give to all the little babies in the world who need them. It was time. And the other night was my first night with her sans pacifier. At bedtime we laid down in my bed and she snuggled in with her other bedtime staples she’s had since birth – her pink and brown blankie and her monkey – and it was clear she was physically uncomfortable as she tossed and turned a little and kept asking me for “something”. But when I asked her what, she didn’t know what to say since she understood that all of her pacifiers had been turned over to the paci fairy. So to try to ease her mental angst of being without her comforting paci that she has fallen asleep with every night since she was born, we had a talk.

“Summer, can I tell you a story?”

“Yeah.”

“When I was a little girl like you are now, I had a pink blankie,” I said.

“Like my pink blankie? Did it have a pink side and a brown side like mine does?” she asked.

“Nope, pink blankie was all pink but it was fuzzy and warm just like yours. And I loved that blankie more than anything in this whole big world, pink blankie and I were inseparable. I brought it with me everywhere. And every time Nanna and Dabadoo wanted to wash it because it was getting stinky like feet, I would cry and cry because to me it smelled like pure love. So anyway, one day Nanna decided that I was too old for pink blankie and I had to give it away. I think she wanted to give it to a little baby who needed it more than me, just like you and your pacis. And it was hard. It was really really hard. And I thought about pink blankie every night when I’d go to sleep because I missed it so so much. But you know what? Eventually as the nights came and went, I thought about pink blankie less and less until one night I didn’t even think about pink blankie, not even once, before I fell asleep. It got easier and easier until it didn’t bother me anymore, and the same will happen to you. I promise.”

Bam. Nailed it. Totally related to her pain. I so got this.

“Momma?” she asked quietly as she stared deep into my eyes.

“Yes, love?”

“ARE YOU GONNA TAKE AWAY MY BLANKIE TOO?????????? YOU JUST SAID THE SAME THING WILL HAPPEN TO ME, DON’T TAKE AWAY MY BLANKIE, I JUST GAVE AWAY ALL MY PAAAAAACIS!”

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“Oh sweets, we’re not taking away your blankie.”

“Momma?”

“Yes, lovey?”

“Is your story over?” she asked.

“Yes, sweets.”

“Momma?” she asked.

“Yes, my lovey?”

“Can I please have my paci now?”

Fuck.

Me.

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this month in photos

The babies are growing quick!

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Afternoon ice cream dates with my girl

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Loving our neighbors upstairs, I did a double take with this pic because I thought she was me for a second :)

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This popped up in an Etsy email one day, at least I know I’m not alone in my neurosis. I have literally turned my car around and gone home to double check that I turned off my flat iron….

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She did this for an hour straight – pour water into leaf…

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pour leaf into spoon…

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spoon water into mouth….

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and spit!…

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Scarily true, made me giggle….

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Found a peaceful new spot near my apartment, also picked up a few ticks on the doggies here that made me do the ugly-jump-up-and-down-flail-my-hands-around dance…

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Pretty Easter girl in her pretty Easter dress…

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They say putting ice in your wine ruins the wine, they didn’t mention that it can ruin your wine glasses….

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Kids and Kites Fest 2014 with Auntie Chelle and Uncle Ry Ry…

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Mother’s Day brunch at her amazing new daycare (so happy with the new place)…

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Neighbor buddies…

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Now it’s your turn, go make some memories…

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my sister, Michelle

This is my sister, Michelle. She’s a fabulous little thing, no?

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She and I were the typical middle children growing up…

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you know, tried to push each other down the stairs and poke the other’s stink eye out with pointy objects…

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and now we love each other like the mother effing best of the besties this world has ever seen.

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Michelle loves dogs…

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and beer…

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and this little sweet patoot…

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and this weird looking dirty guy….

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and all of her sisters, even though one of us really needs a tan….

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One day, Michelle met a studly Army guy…

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this Army guy…

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and he impressed her with his dance moves…

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took her out even when he was really really sleepy…

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shared his ravioli with her…

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terrorized the town with her…

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didn’t take off running after meeting our family…

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and made a good stand-in Becky when desperate times called for an army strong sister….er brother…

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Pretty soon, they were inseparable.

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So they planned a wedding as Julie and I got fatter….

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and shortly after these munchkins were born,

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Michelle sniffed his nose during their first dance,…

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while I breastfed Julie’s baby through my bridesmaid dress…

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It was happily ever after for these colorful crazies…

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It wasn’t long before they decided that they wanted babies. Michelle tried to steal ours but it was a no-go…

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So they tried on their own for a very long time. And they tried and they tried and they tried. They tried everything they could think of…

They tried bubbles…

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baby dust…

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centripetal baby force…

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baby hypnosis…

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and practicing with zombies….

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and wouldn’t ya know it, one day after trying everything they could, poof!

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Baby.

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Baby.

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Wait, did I say just say baby twice?

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Hellz yeah I did :)

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One for her, one for me. Such a nice sister I have.

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the B variable

It’s the moments of quiet when my thoughts speak loudest – lying in bed next to Summer as she falls asleep for her nap – and the nights at home when she is with her daddy – and that first morning moment when I become aware that I am awake, eyes still closed with 10 minutes left before the alarm will start singing to me. Some days I find myself having a hard time remembering the bad stuff over the last 4 years. Other days the saddest times echo through my brain reminding me why I’m here.

When I’m alone in the quiet times, it’s good, it’s fuel, it’s not loneliness, it’s aloneness. And aloneness is healing time for me. Being here with my thoughts, working through everything, taking the time to be happy and the time to cry, to live, to do the things I enjoy, to be still with myself, it’s necessary. And it’s hard. But it’s good.

I think in the quiet. I analyze. I want to fix things. And because I think mathematically, to me there is one answer for everything. There is one solution to every math problem. I once had a 2 hour argument with someone over the fact that if A=B and B=C, then A must equal C. He tried and tried to disprove it. He came up with the most ridiculous “equations” pertaining to everyday life situations, and no matter what, A always equaled C. Plain and simple if a square is a rectangle, and a rectangle is a shape, then a square is a shape. If my car is in Chicago, and Chicago is a city, then my car is in a city. If black is white, and white is blue, then black is blue…in the logical sense as opposed to the description of what we were taught, if black TRULY equaled white, and white TRULY equaled blue, then yes, black would TRULY equal blue. It makes total sense to me.

And this is why situations like falling in love, getting married and making a promise of ’till death do us part, yet finding myself 4 years later living 8 miles away from my husband in an apartment down the street from the house we bought together, is hard to logically comprehend. I can’t fix this. I can’t explain this. There is no rational reason my brain can come up with as to why I was so 100% sure that when I said I do, I meant it forever, yet forever in reality only lasted 4 years.

I do= forever

forever=till the end of time

I do≠4 years

It’s like a crooked frame on a wall to a person with Organizational OCD. It’s not logical. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t get it. I don’t get the why or the how of that equation. If A=B, and B=C, then A=C. That. That I get. There is no why, and the how is a basic law of nature. There is no doubt, no uncertainty, no open-for-interpretation. It is what it says it is because it is. But when that logic fails you, when your marriage, your spouse, your happily ever after is no longer what you knew it to be with 100% conviction just 4 short years ago, it’s unnerving. It makes you distrustful of what you know to be true.

My dad is a wonderful man. He is a great father to me and my sisters and a good husband to my mom. This I know as fact. This is what I grew up knowing a man in a relationship to be. And this is what I have always applied to the men in my life because this was my math equation that was taught to me regarding men in relationships. What they present is what they are. And when that changes, when things show up that were not presented as part of the original equation, when an X, Y or Z is thrown in to the once perfect logical equation, I end up once again like the person with the crooked frame. I want to ignore the X, Y and Z with the little red nub of my pencil eraser. I want to fix it. I have to fix it. But when I can’t, I don’t know what to do.

So I find myself sitting and thinking a lot in the silence…trying to take all of the extra variables that were scribbled all messy on the board right in the middle of my logical little equation, others that were there all along that I didn’t see at first, and plug them into my equation to figure out how the answer ended up being L instead of C when I was so freaking sure it was C.

I’ll get it eventually. I will realize why this equation all makes sense once I can look back and see that this moment in my life (A) led me to wherever I end up (C). That without all this, I wouldn’t be where I am in 5 years. That in the ABC equation always, always A=C, the key is figuring out what B is.

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