Just now, you’re sitting on the toilet, and your adoring little sister is in there, keeping you company. I quickly opened the computer so I could record your conversation (monologue):
“Did you know there’s a potty up in the attic? You’re going to use it someday. It used to be mine, but you can have it. Did you know that I was in mommy’s tummy too? I was the first baby, because usually people have first babies. When I was born, lots of people came to see me, like David… I was in mommy’s tummy and daddy came to help. Were you in mommy’s tummy too? You’re a toddler because you walk. Yeah that’s a flower. You can’t take it off though, because it’s too special. Do you want it? You can’t have it though. It’s so pretty. Is that your eye? Eye?! Mommy! She said eye. Is that your nose?! Nose?! Mommy! She said nose. You’re not potty trained yet. Mommy! Is I’m potty trained? Do you know what penguins say? Owls say who who.”
You are stunning. As I contemplate what to write, I’m overwhelmed with feelings of love, awe, pride, and that unique mommy blend of something that almost feels like pain but might be most accurately described as growth. Because one thing that is becoming clear is this: either I grow with you, or we break. Sometimes, I break, just a little bit. Let me be clear: you are not pain. You are lovely and sensitive and a wallflower and an explosion of emotion, all at the same time. You’re everything an almost four year old little girl should be. My experience of you at this age is wonderful and also hard. The tantrums rock me, and though I have a goal, a vision of not reacting and rather being a steady, calm force in your life, right now I’m struggling to find the patience and the self-compassion. It’s so clear to me that the reason I react to your tantrums is because I feel like I’m not measuring up, that what I have to offer isn’t enough. I also understand that that feeling is part of a pattern. How I’ve felt as a friend and a teacher, and now as a mom. You’re holding up this mirror, and every so often I rise to my best self. I set my personal baggage aside, and I sit with you, calm and sure. I want to do this all the time. I’m working on it 🙂
So you see? I jump right in. Into the sticky middle of it. It sounds corny, but I really see you as my spirit guide. Poor you! What a responsibility to be the first born! To teach me how to be a parent. I’m so grateful to you though, and I hope I’m a good student. I hope I keep on growing with you and rise to my best self.
But! Enough of me. Let’s talk about you!
You insist that you do NOT want to go to school. You want to stay home and hang out with me and Lu, you say. But then I drop you off, and you’re happy as a clam, already engaged in an activity with your friends, and when I pick you up, you’re happy to see me, but you’re also beaming and brimming with creativity.
Another thing that we’re learning about you is that you’re very, very sensitive. I don’t know how this didn’t stick out to us before, but now that we’ve articulated this characteristic, we can think of so many ways that you’ve shown us your sensitivity. Noises like the firetrucks that blare daily down our street, the sound of the drill or daddy’s power tools, the vacuum, the fire alarm (which I seem to set off EVERY time I make pancakes), and even the tea kettle whistling can just as easily bring you to tears. When we rearrange the furniture in a room, you are distraught. Slight changes in temperature or weather bring about extreme discomfort, and you are VERY particular about wearing clothes that don’t bunch, bind, or itch. Like any other child, you’re particular about food, but more than anything, you’re sensitive to hunger (and what I’m beginning to think is a dip in blood sugar). Hunger is a sure-fire recipe for a total meltdown. As is tiredness. I think you may also have food sensitivities. Your tummy often hurts, and we though we suspect gluten, it’s not every time. Probiotics seem to help. Stress does not. You panic when we’re running late (this is another area where you are my spirit guide, because frankly, I’m always running late).
So, again, as with each season where the tantrums get worse and I go through each stage I grief, I’m coming again to things that I can do to soothe your sensitive nerves. Massages, soft music. Cuddles. A quick snack. Going outside. Leaving early. One funny anecdote I have about this is that I was reading an instagram post where the author was talking about listening to Tibetan prayer bowls all day long because they calm her hyper beagles. I though, huh, and gave it try on my nearly four year old. She immediately grabbed the phone from me, held it to her heart, and said, “what is this? It’s so peaceful.” And carried it with her for an hour.
Lily loves reading books, playing in the garden, going to the play ground, play dates, cooking classes at the Children’s Museum, and the Art Museum. She also adores pizza night and ‘company.’ She’s a family girl and looks forward to visits to grandparents and other family members. She carries around a special lovie every day, but the lovie changes about every two days. In the mornings, she carefully selects creative outfits (I only get a say in temperature appropriate vetoes) and requests elaborate hair-dos, including fishtail braids, double dutch braids, crown braids, piggies, ponies, top knots, etc.
Dear Lily, you are a special, special girl, and I am so lucky to be your mommy. I am so thankful for all that you have taught me, and I’m so thankful for the inspiration to rise to my best self. And then there’s you. Just you. You are so wonderful and easy to love. Thank you for you.