Why parenting never gets easier – and why it’s amazing.

The countless diaper changes, sleepless nights and dirty dishes create a blur of beautiful chaos those early years of parenthood. Add in siblings close in age and you lay your head every night thankful everyone survived another day. The kids get older, you become a bit wiser until eventually one day goes by unnoticed as anything other than unremarkable. And it becomes two and soon a few weeks and then you realize that without the pomp and circumstance that celebrated your entry to parenthood, you’ve entered an entirely new phase that involves noticeably fewer tears from everyone.

I am never so naive to think that I’ve got this parenting thing down. But we seem to have travelled through the survival phase known as babydom and toddlerhood and arrived at the other side: school-aged.

And things become markedly calmer and you think, “This is easy! We could totally have six kids.”

Then you’re kid does something awesome like break her arm in such a way that it’ll require surgery, pins and a full arm cast. Because, you know, God is hilarious and has awesome ways of gently reminding me when I’ve become too big for my britches.

The kids get bigger and so do the problems. I’m not talking strictly about physical injuries. While I’m no longer concerned with the perils of potty training, I’m now facing the challenge of raising two young girls with healthy body images and leading them through the maze of mean girls and self esteem. While this chapter of parenting is typically less physically demanding – although the shuttle service between school carpool and ballet classes and traffic is exhausting – it is a race of emotional and mental endurance. I’ve shifted my energy away from the day-to-day and toward the long task of character-building and emotional development.

They ask Big Life Questions that I usually feel wholly ill-equipped to answer. You must formulate a concise, spur-of-the-moment response when your five year old explains that sometimes she feels like God isn’t close and wonders if I’m sure He really thinks she’s special enough. Or when she confides that she isn’t sure she’s pretty enough. Or if I’m sure there isn’t even one thing that would ever make me stop loving her – what if she steals a rainbow? Because to a five year old, there is nothing worse than stealing a rainbow.

I want to blame the influence of peers and society but truthfully, I’m confident most women struggle with the same questions regardless of our age, social circle or upbringing. The lessons that we instill now – or don’t – will have a lasting effect far into adulthood. Nurturing a sense of value and self-worth, cultivating grace and generosity and taming arrogance and superiority. Are we ever good enough? Interesting enough? Thin enough? Strong enough? That stuff is hard.

When Josh and I decided to have kids, it was a pretty short conversation and a sudden shift from my career-oriented life goals. And my view of parenting was very short-sited and I, embarrassingly, didn’t think what it meant to be a parent past the first year. I never entertained the idea that God may bless us with daughters instead of the enviably less dramatic male option. Instead, He gave us and one then another incredible little female human with tender hearts that need guarded and guided and given a safe place to flourish.

I want them to grow strong – physically and emotionally. I will teach them to shine brightly and boldly. I will show them that vulnerability is not weakness. I will encourage them to embrace difficulties and remain joyous through the challenges.

I miss the simpler days of parenting when snuggles and Momma milk made everything better. But how fortunate am I to be tasked as steward of such precious gifts?

Please, please don’t let me screw them up.

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Don’t look under the bed.

The girls and I were homebound this morning because after 5 and a half years and over 80,000 miles, it was due time to get some new tread on the Vdub. Although I’m a stay-at-home-mom, I’m not really a stay-at-home-mom. I kind of really hate being stuck in the house. Barring illness, we get out of the house pretty much every day for a few minutes. The girls learned this behavior from me and, in turn, wake up every morning asking where we’re going that day and who we’re going to see.

Since we had no choice but to chill at home, I decided to make the most of it and check a few of the more time consuming items off my cleaning list.

Photo Credit: MadPhotos1 via Compfight cc

Not me. But pretty close.       |       Photo Credit: MadPhotos1 via Compfight cc

There more than 200,000 things I would rather do before clean. Especially deep clean. You know, the pull-the-couch-away-from-the-wall, clean-on-top-of-the-cupboards kind of cleaning.

But there has been this slight… odor… coming from Emery’s room. I’ve mopped her floor, checked the closet, washed the windows, changed her sheets, wiped the walls, washed the bedding, checked shoes and washed the rug. And yet, this slight smell remains.

So with today’s extra “free time,” I turned on a movie and spent an hour beneath and behind her dresser and bed.

Ladies (and gentlemen, if there are any of you lurking – although I doubt it), please heed my warning:

Do not look under the bed. Do not clean under the bed. Under no circumstances. Ever.

Apparently beneath Emery’s bed is where all the spiders in our house go to die.

So many spiders. Of all sizes. Dead, thankfully.

We’ve had a few run-ins with spiders since moving to Georgia. I remember most vividly the night I woke Josh around midnight after I saw a Georgia-sized spider saunter across our living room. Yes, it was big enough to saunter – it’s a Georgia spider, after all. So, my half-sleeping husband killed the big momma spider that was – unbeknownst to us – carrying baby spiders on her back. Those baby spiders survived the squishing and spread like the tide across our living room. We slept soundly that night and dreamt of baby spiders crawling in our bed to snuggle.

Anyway.

We’ve lived in this house for over three years. In that time, I can’t say I’ve ever given Emery’s room a good, solid scrubbing. And now that I’m doing the math, I’m pretty embarrassed to say I think it’s been nearly 2 years since I peeked beneath the bed frame.

And now that I know it’s a spider graveyard, I promise it will be at least another 2 years before I do.

Because cleaning beneath beds, couches and dressers is now going on Josh’s ever-growing list of man chores.

This momma doesn’t do spiders.

And that faint smell? Still there. I think it may just be the smell of a dirt-loving, tutu-wearning, roly-poly-collecting, almost-4-year-old girl.

What household task do you pass along to your spouse? 

 

One becomes Two.

On Friday, my sweet little one year old became a spicy little two year old.

She’s still sweet with her never ending kisses and hand holding.

SONY DSCPractically overnight she developed a borderline unhealthy independent streak. In addition to the typical amount of times a 2-year-old shouts, “NO! I do it” in one day, Miss Bossy also wants to do everything her older and more capable sister can despite just not being physically able. Last week, we managed to fall not once, but twice and land squarely on our forehead. Once after going potty (my fault) and again after insisting she climb into her car seat unassisted (still my fault). Matching bruises, left and right. As if she was sprouting little bruised horns.

With some purple shading and a little road rash, we celebrated my little one turning the big dos with a party of balloons, lollipops and everything yellow. The perfect Blair approved trifecta. A party isn’t really a party without guests but, you see, sweet Blair isn’t really one for crowds. In fact, she isn’t really a fan of people with the exception of a few privileged folks. She’d rather hang out with the big girls (an entire year older) than other toddlers her size. So really, Emery enjoyed a party and shared it with two of the four toddlers who’s presence Blair will acknowledge.

SONY DSCIn all sincerity, despite all of her weird allergies, intolerances and the personality quirks, I wouldn’t change a thing about this girl. She is my sunshine. She’s my laugh. She’s the right amount of sweet and spicy.

She loves princesses and makeup. She can count to 12 and sing you a song. She’ll steal your nose and heart.

Welcome to the wild world of being 2.

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Identity.

E started preschool on Monday.

Well, technically, it’s considered a “parents’ morning out” program but in my book, being away from mommy in a school setting + a set curriculum = preschool. So, she started preschool on Monday.

Day 2. This girl has a style all of her own. She also thinks every morning has a photo shoot before school.

I had been waiting for that day for over a year. We talked about sending her to a program for 2-year-olds after B was born since life was so crazy and E wasn’t having as many playdates and playmates and needed some structure. We were this.close. to signing her up but I chickened out because in the end, she was still a baby and I wanted her home with me. And I’m glad we waited. But this year, the time felt right. She needs to learn to listen to authority and how to better handle transitioning between activities.

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