Friday, June 30, 2017

2 Years of Avalon


Avalon,

I'm scheduling your two year checkup now, a tad later than I normally would because this is where my mind is now: on you and your new swim class and approaching school year, on our family and all the moving parts, on my lower back and how to kind of still sleep on my stomach. It's all a juggling act. It's all a cliche, to a degree.

I remember your very first appointment with your pediatrician. Our very first appointment as real parents living outside of the hospital with a real baby living outside of me. We made sure we wiped your booty shiny-clean and fed you immediately before. As two first borns raised in a society focused on milestones and test scores, a "Well Baby Appointment" for our four-day-old felt like something we could only pass or fail. Our first outing, as big and small as you were. 

Heading in before us was a mother of four, all kids in tow. I remember looking at her, a child in the stroller, two riding on a step behind it and one in her arms, in envious-awe. What we had done seemed like bird-sitting in comparison. There was a calm confidence to her that felt out of reach to me. The beauty of experience shone in her face, a wisdom that only comes from learning how to push through hard things without becoming bitter. 

Now here I am almost two years later at the same doctor's office waiting to take a one hour glucose test I don't know I'm about to fail, giving off the vibe of do not sit next to me. Mine is not quite the confidence that woman had that day, but there is something in my eyes and posture now that wasn't there before. My first child is home with a sitter eating lunch in her underwear. I have downed the sugar drink and am reading a book. I know the library Story Hour schedule. I know where to park at the aquarium. I know how to make dinner with a toddler pulling down my shorts and dumping out all the mixing bowls. I am better at asking for help when I need it. I know how to take care of you and myself.

You gave that confidence to me little bug. My girl born amidst summer thunderstorms. You're always making us better. You're always making this world seem bigger.

Happy birthday wild one.

Love,
Mama and Daddy 

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Girl and the Loft (Shared Infant and Toddler Room Makeover)


A few weeks ago we stayed at my parents' house. They weren't home so we took full advantage, sleeping in their bed, borrowing the cars and swimming in the pool. Usually towards the end of a trip away from home I start looking forward to going back, but after this visit, I couldn't help thinking that my parents' house was a real house for real adults with coffee makers and entryways and ours was more like one of those matchboxes rodents inhabit in old cartoons. When we arrived home, there was a semi-truck nearly blocking our driveway. Seeing it there in all of its inconveniencing glory, I couldn't help but think that there was probably more space for us inside of that truck than in our house tucked behind it.

But enough about that. We all have things we'd change about our lives or our homes and at the end of the day, isn't that kind of the point? To keep searching and working for more? I am thankful we have a roof over our heads and despite the things I'd change about our house if I had a blank check, I feel really excited about this latest project. You didn't think I could have another kid without doing some home remodeling did you? That's what I said to Scott when I suggested that we add a loft above the closet in the girls' room. I am on to the fact that his general response to my desperate requests for canvas storage containers and more training underwear for a certain toddler is usually "Whatever you need". Bless him. He is definitely getting into heaven before I am.

A twin bed for Avalon was our original plan, but we couldn't ignore all that usable space above the closet. Kids and beds and ladders seem to have been a happy combination for centuries, so we called the carpenter, vacated the space and hoped for something that looked like my Pinterest fantasies. This is the end result. We're really happy with it and best of all, so is Avalon! She asked to take her nap up in her loft today. We went through her usual routine (stories, kisses, "muggas", hugs and "tuck in" for Mermaid and Baby and her) and then she read a little and went to sleep. This is only day one, but I feel like the transition to this new "big girl bed" will be much easier for all involved (including my fragile mamma heart) if she initiates it herself. Of course, the big test will really be to see how she sleeps when there is a crying, grunting infant learning how to sleep in there too.

+Please bring on any stories or experiences of children sharing a room. I am all ears.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Swimming Sprout


p.s. yesterday you got almost you-were-going-to-cry-mad because I cleaned the lint trap without you. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Two Feelings at the Same Time


The other day I caught myself thinking that it would be very convenient if I had a grandchild-less mother or a responsible six to eighteen year old next-door who loved curious babies. This is not the case, though, and I take these fantasies as a sign that maybe I am actually ready for Avalon to go to school a few hours a week even though every day my anxiety grows over it. 

We had a pest control guy come out yesterday. I went around watching him scoop up potential animal feces with a tool that looked like the letter opener my grandmother used to have. He used a flashlight to examine his findings about two inches from his face. I thought: this is the worst job. Then again, I had to scrape poop out of five inch underwear with my bare hands and luke warm water only hours earlier. 

During nap time, I impulsively called an inn on the central coast and booked it for two nights in July, then texted my mother-in-law to see if she and my father-in-law could watch Avalon. I almost cried when I hung up with the innkeeper. I have been away from Avalon a total of four nights and just like my friend Stephanie warned me, it never really gets easier. That wasn't why I was almost crying though, I was almost crying because making the reservation felt so right. 

The other night I was thinking about how you can feel like you are totally killing it one minute: You've already shopped for the next birthday or holiday, your email inbox isn't at capacity, you have healthy meals planned for the week, your toddler appears to like animals and broccoli and the ocean, there is a dentist appointment on the books. And yet, somehow, you are crying over the asparagus and homemade dip like-your-mom-used-to-make when you are eating it alone one night. 

There's a Daniel Tiger episode where he talks about how you can feel two things at the same time. I love and hate that little punk. 

I tell Avalon, as I'm signing her our lullaby (she only wants it sporadically now) while crying one night that I am both happy and sad at the same time, but that it's ok. 

I kiss her, hug her, give her "Ugga Muggas", tuck her in with her "Bebe" and "Mer Mer", then wonder how many times my own mother cried that I don't remember.

Sometimes I think all the details matter. I had a hard week because Scott had to work late and something with bigger poop than a mouse or a rat moved in under the house and I'm not sleeping as well because there is a turnip sized person working to become her own inside of me. But everyone has these details and while most people's might be much less "white girl problems" than mine, we are all still human in the end; we are all still resilient and fragile, shatterproof and innately broken. Every pair of shoes you could wear in this life would leave you tired at the end of a day. And we all wear them out in the end. 

Is this essay becoming uplifting yet? 

I know what I'm trying to say and then I don't because I feel like somehow I will annoyingly only really know what I meant the whole time at the very end, when Avalon is changing my underwear.

Dammit Daniel Tiger, life is so much about feeling two things at the same time. I can't wait to hold this new baby; I can't hold tightly enough to the small moments happening over these last few months when our family is comprised of three people and Avalon is still wearing clothes measured in months. I will love the hours I have to myself or with the squealing turnip I deliver while Avalon is at school. I will sickly miss her when I'm not scraping avocado out of the wicker chair after lunch twice a week.

We are so full of feelings. We are soft hearts inside strong bodies. 
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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Dear Sprout,


Dear Avalon,

Daddy has an ear infection from the cold ocean again. You've watched me put the ear drops in while he lays on the couch. Last night, when he came in to kiss you goodnight, you asked "Kiss booboo ear?" with your eyes wide and earnest and your head cocked to the side. Then you pulled him close so you could kiss his ear.

Most days, I'm barely patient enough to watch the sunset, and yet, my biggest complaint of life will probably always be that it goes too quickly.

We love you and not just because we made you, but because you're really neat and nice and you do this thing to me like the ocean does when I first get in where it feels like my breath draws in slower and all the best emotions, that feel almost otherworldly, flood me like the water and time inhales slowly too.

Love,
Mama