Monday, June 25, 2012

You look awesome

Looking at this confident, spunky little girl, it is hard to imagine that she could possibly grow up to be a self-conscious teenager. This is the girl who checks herself in the mirror and literally says, "You look awesome" to her own reflection. In so many ways her disposition is nothing like mine was at her age. She will fearlessly jump from the highest point she can find, while I had to be bribed with saltwater taffy to roll forward over the uneven bars. She'd rather spend her days running as fast as she can, while I preferred to spend my days drawing at the coffee table. In my mind, these differences will serve her well in the future. I imagine her to be a physically and emotionally strong sixteen-year-old girl. The kind of girl who would never let a boy (or anyone else for that matter) treat her with disrespect. So, basically, the opposite of sixteen-year-old me.

I hope these traits are reflections of her true personality and not just her toddler personality that will one day disappear like her round belly and baby curls. But spending my days with high schoolers is a constant reminder of how adolescence can break down even the toughest girl, and deep down I know that she is just one mean comment away from second guessing herself, and I know that some of that is actually my fault.

I discovered my culpability firsthand today during a conversation I accidentally had with my two-year-old. It went something like this:

Me: (glancing at a woman on the cover of a magazine sitting on my kitchen table)

"Those shorts could not be any uglier."

Ella: (looking down at her shorts)

 "Couldn't be uglier?"

Me: (feeling awful)

"Oh buddy, not you. The magazine."

Now, I really don't know if she even knows what the word ugly means, but that isn't the point. What matters is that this one small moment had the potential to teach her something. It says to her that it's okay to ridicule the way people look, that in fact it is very easy to do, and that how other people view how she looks is important.

Do I think I did irreparable damage to my daughter today? No. She's still walking around right now thinking she's the greatest thing ever invented, but it reminded me that I don't have a baby anymore. I have a little girl, and it's my job to set a good example about how to talk about myself and how to talk about other people.

It reminded me that I need to watch what I say so that I can help that spitfire turn into a confident woman, and maybe in the process I can learn how to see myself that way, too. Because Ella B is right, you do look awesome, and so do I.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Relaxicab- an ode to my husband

If you know me and you know my husband, then you know how different we are. He's a math guy. I'm a word girl. He is the most innately athletic guy I know; I throw like an injured turtle. He likes to listen to music in the car. I like to talk, and play games, and plan our future, and discuss dinner for the next week.

These differences can often result in conflict (we're different about how we fight, too. He's a yeller; I'm a crier) and having different personalities and different upbringings can often make co-parenting a challenge. However, it can also help create balance and harmony, especially when you are "blessed" with a difficult baby.

Before Ella, or BE if you will, I was not nervous about having a baby. The pregnancy was planned, the preparations were in place, and I was totally ready to be a mom. I'd been babysitting since I was 12, I was a nanny all through college, and I had dealt with the whole dirty diaper-vomit-tantrum-night -time-whatever that a baby had to offer. Mike, on the other hand, had never changed a diaper and gagged when he had to empty a litter box. Out of the two of us, I was definitely more confident that I was the more adept parent and assumed I'd have to spend most of my time showing him the ropes of this whole baby thing while rolling my eyes and sighing incredulously.

And then Miss Ella B showed up, all crying and not sleeping at night, and nursing non-stop, and I quickly turned into a weepy, foggy sack of potatoes who didn't know what to do with herself or her baby. I didn't want to go out because I knew she would cry the minute we put her in the car seat. I never put her down because I couldn't stand to hear her cry. I didn't want to supplement with formula because I couldn't accept that my body wasn't making enough milk.

Enter my husband who so wonderfully and so annoyingly knows how to just R...E...L...A...X. Because, you see, the biggest difference between my husband  and me is that I worry and he doesn't. He's the kind of person who will say, "Why worry about things you can't change?" as if I've made a choice to worry, as if I get up in the morning and  think, "Hmmm, what should I do today? Relax and be content with life, or stress out? Ya know what, I think I'll freak out today and feel terrible." This drives me crazy, of course, but I have to remember that he doesn't know what it's like to be an anxious person, so I can't really blame him, and as frustrating as his disposition can be, it's the main thing that got me through those first six months of motherhood.

Because as cheesy as it sounds, he is my rock. He is that solid thing that keeps me (somewhat) sane and reminds me to "Keep Calm and Carry On." He is the one who would look at my tired face and tell me to go to sleep while he rocked Ella. He was the one who made me take her places even though I was nervous she would cry the whole time. He was the one who convinced me that supplementing with formula was not the end of the world. He's the one who made me sleep train her and do all the other hard things that I never would have done on my own.

And he's the one who watched his wife fumble through the first year of motherhood without any semblance of grace and simply said, "relax," and gave me a hug. And to my surprise, that was exactly what I needed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Llamas and Frogs

I know I've said it before, but we absolutely love Ella's daycare. Yesterday, she got to touch both a llama and a frog! The llama is actually housebroken and just walked right into the classroom. Fearless Nelly over here walked right up to him and gave him a little pet. She said his fur was soft and that he kept doing this (insert image of her head butting me). Then she got to play with the class frogs outside of their habitat. She sat on the floor with the frog in her hand and Shauna was able to snap this glee-filled picture. Just after it was taken, the frog hopped up and hit her in the mouth. Ella keeps telling me how the frog "kissed" her and was jumping "crazy everywhere." I asked her if he turned into a prince and she said, "No, he's just a frog." Better luck next time Beezer.Sounds like a pretty awesome day at school. I'm pretty jealous.

Hope your day is filled with llamas and frogs, or whatever else makes you happy!