Remember that time I had the brilliant idea to have Babykins make Easter cards? It didn’t work. But now that Babykins is almost 2 years older, I thought now she would be able to make some little crafts to send to grandparents and her sponsors. So I did what every savvy mother seems to do: I headed to Pinterest.
I found a simple Christmas tree craft that I modified. Babykins would cut out 3 triangles (look, we would learn about shapes!) and then glue them together to make a tree. After that, I would have her use a Q-tip and dab paint on the trees to make ornaments (hey, we would learn about colors!). I made an example for Babykins to see:
I then drew some triangles and had Babykins start cutting them out. It took some convincing to get Babykins to cut out all the triangles but she eventually had 6 shapes that somewhat looked like they had 3 sides. I gave her a glue stick and helped her glue on her first triangle. I then left the vicinity of the dining room table to grab something. By the time I came back, Babykins had managed to paste all the triangles onto her two papers. They were all over the page and looked nothing like a tree. Sighing, I told myself that it this way it looked like Babykins did her own work.
Next I set her up with some paint. I showed her how to use the Q-tip and watched as she dabbed on a few “ornaments”. Then Sweet Pea woke up from her nap and I made a rookie parent mistake–I left my 3 year old unattended with paint while I went to take care of the baby. I returned to find Babykins painting her hand and this on her papers:
Honestly, it could have been worse, but it certainly wasn’t what I had envisioned for a gift. I gave up. Rather than trying to get her to make a proper tree, I just gave her some paper and told her she could paint it however she wanted.
The moral of the story? Pinterest is filled with caregiver crafts, not preschooler crafts. That, or I’m very lazy about making my preschooler follow directions during art time. Either way, it usually leads to a mess.
Dear Sweet Pea,
You are 11 months old–almost not a baby anymore. Please get your act together and start sleeping longer than 2-hour stretches at night. Seriously, I’m tired. But I do love how happy you are to see me in the morning, despite the fact I was with you only 2 hours earlier–it does give my ego a boost.
I know you’ve been a little deprived of attention lately thanks to your sister’s clingy behavior, but you have got to stop standing right under my feet in the kitchen. Also, please stop yelling during quiet time because it wears on my nerves. Mommy needs quiet during quiet time. However, I do love how you’ve been walking around saying, “I love my mommy so, so much.” It’s adorable and please never stop doing it.
Please bring home chocolate.
Love, Your Wife
You are no longer “Creature #1” in the house. Please act accordingly. Isn’t enough that you won the battle to come into our bedroom? I suppose you make up for it by being cutely fuzzy.
Babykins loves her dolly that we bought her for her first birthday. Dolly is a simple 12-inch baby doll whose blue eyes close when you lay her down. Babykins plays “Mommy and Baby” with Dolly regularly. Yesterday, Babykins was cradling Dolly on the couch next to me. “What are you doing with Dolly?” I asked.
“Me rock her,” Babykins replied. Then she shifted Dolly upright so her head was resting on Babykins’s shoulder. Babykins continued her story, “Dolly is up now so she watch you. She always up so can watch you aaaaaalllll the time.”
Because that isn’t creepy at all.
At our city’s park, there is a slide.
Part of me is pleased that such a slide still exists in a country obsessed with keeping children in a safety bubble. But part of me wonders how long I can keep the girls off of this death-trap of a slide.
In my more thankless moments, I long for a bigger house. Our family currently fits comfortably in our parsonage. Technically there are enough rooms for both girls to have their own bedroom, but I would rather keep the third bedroom as a guestroom (Sweet Pea’s impressive nighttime wailing may thwart this plan). We have a sizable kitchen and a spacious living room. Our basement is the same size as the upper floor and provides ample storage space as long as I am careful to pack against dampness.
Still, envy is a strong beast and I sometimes find myself thinking of the “if onlys”: If only we had another bedroom, if only we had an extra living space, if only the basement was drier and finished, etc.
I know contentment is found in what we have, not in getting what we want. Likewise, we have a more spacious house than many people would have had just 75 years ago (and Ma Ingalls would say, “Really, you’re complaining about your house? I lived in a cabin with a dirt floor for many years.”).
However, what actually drives my discontentment away is our reality: No matter how big our house is, we would all still wind up in one small area anyway. We could live in a freakin’ mansion and we would still be crowding each other in the kitchen or bumping into each other in one bathroom. More space would just mean there would be more options for where we could all get in each other’s way.
I’ve never considered myself a naturally patient person. However, I did fancy that I was decent at forcing myself to be patient once I started working with children. On particularly hard days as a daycare worker or nanny, I could always tell myself on difficult days that I only had to stay patient for x number of hours before going home. There was a finish line for patience at the end of the day.
Even when I just had Babykins, I still could dig deep to find patience when I was starting to loose it. Love is a powerful motivator and I could often look at the situation and tell myself that she was just a baby–she needed me to be patient.
All this isn’t to say that I didn’t lose my patience as an employee or a mother of 1. There were times that I was impatient or things were going so horribly that even the most composed person would have lost their cool. But my patience reservoir seemed much deeper then.
But being a mother of 2 young children. . . oh, man. Patience is in short supply these days. It’s no longer enough to fake patience anymore because Babykins and Sweet Pea still need most of my attention during their waking hours and it seems like someone is always awake. There is no “end time”. Additionally, Babykins is in a “I do it!” phase, so everything takes 5 time longer than if I was doing it myself (and yes, I know it’s good for toddlers to learn to do things and have a sense of independence. It’s hard to wait when the baby is crying and dinner is burning and for the love of all that is good and holy can we get this show on the road?!).
So in these long days, the three of us are all having a lesson in patience. Babykins is learning that she doesn’t always get what she wants, Sweet Pea is learning that her whims aren’t always immediately answered, and I’m learning to take deep breaths before speaking.
18-20 years from now, I might actually have the patience of a saint. Until then, “Lord, help me,” is a constant prayer in my life.
I was warned that life would seemingly go faster with two children. It’s true. Sweet Pea turned 6 months old at the end of May. How did half a year already pass?!
Babykins is turning 3 in a few months. She sleeps in a toddler bed and is quickly becoming potty trained. Sometimes I look at her and wonder when did she start becoming a little girl.
Sweet Pea is different than her sister. She is quick to laugh and quick to wail (I think she’s going to have what we might call a “strong personality”), and has a strong desire to not sleep in her bed at night. All babies grow quickly, but it’s still shocking to think that the chubby baby that is learning to sit and roll over had very little controlled movements 6 months ago.
It’s so hard to write about these days–the mundane triumphs, the trivial woes, and the never ending sleep deprivation. My daily grind can seem repetitious and dull to an outside observer (and sometimes it is to me!). However, I find more and more that there are moments in my days that amaze me.
There is breathtaking beauty in seeing my girls grow. I cannot orchestrate these times that dazzle, so it is a privilege to observe them. For example, I get to hear Sweet Pea’s delighted giggles as she watches her sister frolic around her, I can watch as Babykins unabashedly runs about in a rainstorm. I am the audience for Babykins’s yells of, “Momma! Watch me, Momma!” and the receiver of Sweet Pea’s nuzzles. Like I said, so many little moments of immense joy.
This isn’t the life I wished for growing up, but I suppose this just shows that it can be wonderful that our wishes don’t always come true.
On Tuesday, the girls and I made our weekly trek to the library’s storytime. The craft for that day supposed to be a card for the children’s mothers. I’m not sure why the craft was making a Mother’s Day card since it’s generally mothers who attend storytime, but what do I know? I strapped Sweet Pea into the baby carrier and started to help Babykins make my card.
Admittedly, the card idea was cute. The children were supposed to fold a paper in half, trace their hand so the thumb and pointer finger rested on the fold, and cut the traced hand out. Then they would have a card in the shape of their hand.
Once the hand card was cut out, then the children’t were supposed to decorate it with crayons and stickers.
However, the card idea didn’t transition well into reality. First, Babykins is tiny. Her hand card was about 3 inches at its widest part. Secondly, Babykins’s favorite part about making storytime crafts is destroying them. She immediately tore her hand card in half. She then proceeded to make a scribble and stick a sticker on it before cheerfully announcing, “All done!”
I could really feel the love she put into my card. 😉
Yesterday I took both girls to a midday service for Good Friday at another church in our circuit. Generally I try not to get too worked up about circus act that comes with bringing two little children to church. However, Good Friday services are so somber and quiet that the girls’ inevitable antics seem especially jarring even in the most child-friendly churches. Why? Because while people are reflecting on Jesus’ suffering and death, things like this are going down in our pew:
- 4 month old Sweet Pea grinning like a fool in the silent sanctuary.
- 2.5 year old Babykins slamming her water bottle against the pew.
- Sweet Pea needing to eat during the sermon.
- Me realizing that Babykins is pooping right before communion (I left her in the pew to finish her business while I went up).
- Babykins loudly annoucing, “All done pooping!” as the rest of the congregation silently leave the sanctuary.
Needless to say, the feeling of piety was pretty low after that. At least the children keep me humble.
A lot of dealing with parenthood–at least with parenting babies and toddlers–is gallows humor. The daily work of raising these little people is hard and there are no guaranteed breaks. So when parents face a crappy day (figuratively or literally), they seemingly have 2 choices: Cry in a corner or laugh about it. Consequently, there are lots of jokes about things like chronic sleep deprivation and toddler tantrums.
I have nothing against this humor. A fair share of my content here is laughing about the absurdity of motherhood. Frankly, humor is a good way to stave off despair and it would be difficult to learn how to give up my selfish desires without a chuckle here and there.
However, I’ve recently discovered a new joy in motherhood: Watching my toddler play. I’m not talking about stacking blocks or throwing balls. While it is fun to see those types of skills develop, it’s not going to hold my attention for long. But Babykins has recently begun imaginative play and creates her own worlds with Legos, dolls, or whatever else strikes her fancy. It’s enthralling to watch her little stories play out, oblivious to the reality around her.
For example, the other day we were eating sliced peppers with our lunch. After she had devoured a couple of slices, Babykins picked one up. Her pepper then walked across her placemat and hopped back across. Next, the pepper leaped off the side of the table but was able to fly back to the plate. It then walked across the placemat again, only to have its legs bitten of by Babykins. She then apologized to the pepper and gave it a hug.
This little play had nothing to do with me. I certainly didn’t suggest that she anthropomorphize the pepper slice; she’s learning to use her imagination without specific direction. I was amazed at the hilarity and sweetness (and slight creepiness due to the violent “leg” amputation) of the pepper’s story. What a joy it was to see Babykins play like this.
While there is still plenty of gallows humor in my daily life (after all, we haven’t even started potty training yet), I’m beginning to find more and more enjoyment in simply seeing my sweet Babykins grow. Every person has a childhood, but it’s a parents’ privilege to be able to witness their children’s childhood as well.