Chip off the Ol’ Block

It’s when you see yourself in your children that you really start to worry for their future.

I’m officially worried.

My four year old is exactly like me; she’s a sensitive spitfire full of piss and vinegar who takes things too personally, wears her heart on her sleeve, and does everything possible just to get a reaction. Karma is in full force, people. Now I know exactly where that expression, “chip off the old block” comes from!

People say that it’s great to have a strong-willed child because she’ll stick up for herself and be driven later on in life, but that does nothing to help me put up with her ridiculous attitude until we get to that point (if we even make it to that point). And how do I know if she’s strong-willed and not just an A-hole? Or is that one and the same?

One of the best things about having kids is seeing pieces of yourself in them, but it’s also the worst. In one moment it’s endearing how much my daughter sounds and looks just like me. The way she says, “Seriously!” after dropping something on the floor, to how she responds, “What a bummer!” finding out McDonald’s ice cream maker isn’t working. I especially see myself when she throws her head back and laughs, eyes twinkling with silliness. She’s like a cuter, smarter, funnier caricature of me. These are the moments when it all makes sense.

But then there are the other moments, like when she throws a fit because not everything goes her way, which is my signature move. Or when she scrunches up her face in a terrifying scowl, crossing her arms in disgust before stomping off because it’s not her turn to choose a movie. Or when she bursts into tears because that little line on her sock isn’t lined up just so. These are the moments when I’m confronted with my own terrible behavior.

It scares us to see our children act like us because we want them to be so much better than us, to be everything we’re not, to not make our mistakes, and to know a happiness we’ve never known. And then despite all our exhaustive efforts, they end up exactly like us anyway.

My daughter and I are going to clash our whole lives because we’re too much alike. One day I hope we’ll sit and laugh about how she was as stubborn and feisty as her mama, and it’ll make me proud instead of crazy. But until then, as soon as her father gets home, she’s his problem. Come to think of it, that was exactly what my mom did with me, and once again it hits me that I’m more like her than I’ll ever know or admit.

Night & Day

I loved being the baby of the family and the only girl. It meant I could get away with murder while my brothers took the fall. Muahahaha!

There wasn’t anything wrong with being the third and final kid except when it came to baby pictures. There are three total.

I always thought I wanted a little sister, but now I’m glad I never got one. I can’t imagine how she would’ve stole my spotlight! Sharing is still not my strong suit.

Birth order is fascinating now that I’m a mom with two girls. It’s always interesting to hear how it affects children and what characteristics are true. Lately I’ve been struggling with some mom guilt over not being able to give my second baby what I gave my first i.e. my undivided attention and patience. I don’t possess either of those things anymore.Probably never did!

This baby is lucky to get a bottle of milk thrown at her in between running laps around the front yard or a clean diaper before playing horsies or spinning. Forget story time or any kind of one-on-one time. This kid won’t even know what a book is. She probably won’t be able to read until she’s twenty at the rate I’m going. It breaks my heart because I was reading to my first born in utero and all the second born heard were reruns of Sesame Street, the never-ending whine of her older sister, and me shushing the whining. Granted, that’s all she still hears.

Everything is so different than before. There’s just no time. No time to sit still and read. No time to sit. No time to still. Definitely no time to read.

My guilt goes beyond reading though. The first one got professional photos done, four different sessions at 3.6.9. and 12 months. We have enough to wallpaper the house.

Professional shoot

Professional shoot

The second one got pictures at JC Penny…once.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

While they’re still as cute, there’s just no comparison. The first one got all brand-spanking new clothes while the second one gets all her hand-me-downs, stains and all. The first one’s baby book is nearly done while the second one’s is completely blank. She’s 8 months, people. Eight months!

The first one will get to do everything before the second, while she watches from the sidelines. All the second one gets is shushed during nap time because she’ll wake up her sister with her squeals and then everyone pays the price. I never thought I could get frustrated with a baby–surely I’m a monster. Of course I love her with all my heart, but like I said, it’s different this time.

It’s too bad we can’t all be first borns or better yet, only children. I understand a little of why my own mummy will defend her first born tooth and nail They’re the cherished ones, the ones that got the best of us, or maybe the worst of us because we had no clue what we were doing and we have to defend them if anything but to save ourselves. Now I’ve just gone cross-eyed.

My only hope is that they’ll be BFFs, balancing each other out and when it comes time to split up my jewelry collection they won’t kill each other.

Silencing the Lambs

One of those muzzles that Hannibal wears would do me a lot of good right about now. Maybe it would calm my toddler as she’s thrashing around during one of her many temper tantrums. Thank god she’s not a biter (yet) or I might really need one of those masks. I joke that I’m going to invent a line of children’s straightjackets (all in adorable and kid-friendly prints) and use my daughter as the poster child. But somehow I don’t think it’ll go over too well. I can just hear all the critics already–abuse this and unfit parent that. Blah blah blah.

I’m not a first-time mom anymore. I have 2 kids under my belt, so I’m a seasoned pro…hah. But I feel like a first-time mom again because I’ve entered the toddler phase. This is one phase I would like to skip entirely and maybe the next sixteen years for that matter. I find myself wondering if there is an age limit on those safe haven places. Would I be taken to jail if I abandoned my toddler there? Would jail be a nice retreat…think of all the reading and writing I could get done.

I wish that babies could stay babies forever. I love the sweet smells, the happy coos, the wide innocent eyes. I’m not ready to deal with the defiance my toddler is already exhibiting. She’s not even two yet–two more months to go–and we’re already deep into The Terribleness. I have to tell myself that she’s so advanced and that’s why we’re here ahead of schedule.

Yet, I fear I won’t make it out alive. My hubby fears for that too. Before he went back to work after Baby #2, he voiced his concern that I wouldn’t be okay with two screaming kids — lucky for me only one of them is a screamer. I told him we’d be fine and we are for the most part. We have a routine and do best when we stick to it. But when we veer off track, it’s ugly and I have to figure out a way to silence the lambs that doesn’t actually include any type of slaughtering. I guess that’s where my old friend wine comes in.

Hello, old friend.

Babymoonin’

Six weeks ago today I gave birth to another beautiful baby girl. It was an amazingly quick Hypno water birth (how granola of me, huh?) It was exactly the smooth and easy birth I wanted and we were back home within a couple hours. Let’s all say it together, child-bearing hips. I’m just glad they were useful for something.

Not to toot my own horn or anything but I’m pretty awesome at popping out babies. The hubby doesn’t know how lucky he is. There was no screaming profanities at him while I squeezed the crap out of his hand with each contraction and no mention that “he was the one who did this to me” through gritted teeth and crazy eyes. It was quiet and peaceful but most importantly, quick.

He does know how lucky he is though, he was bragging to complete strangers at his job (thanks hon) about our easy birth. I say “our”, but we all know I mean MY easy birth. Of course he had it easy too…he didn’t have to massage my shoulders or feed me ice chips–it was over before we knew it! He barely had time to pick up Rashard Mendenhall for our Fantasy Football team–I kid you not!

It’s a shame that this will be my last unless we have any mistakes surprises in the future. I will miss being pregnant. But on another note, I’m glad to be able to sleep on my back again, to not have intense burning heartburn every night, and to pee an appropriate number of times in a 24 hour period.

This go round has been super easy from the start. Unlike our first daughter, we can set this one down and she won’t instantly cry. She lets me get enough sleep to form a complete sentence and she’s a champion eater (already up 3 pounds!) It’s like I hit the baby jackpot!

So I’ve been enjoying this babymoon, trying to savor each moment because it is so fleeting. Six weeks have already gone by. And as crazy as it sounds, I’d go back to the night I had her and do it all over again just to relive that moment when she entered the world and joined our family. It was pure bliss.

Look Away!

The newest game with our daughter is we lift her shirt, press her belly button, and say “Boop!” Of course she thinks it’s hilarious and loves to return the favor lifting up Mama or Daddy’s shirt and jabbing our navels with her tiny little finger. I’m awaiting the day when we’re out in public and she raises my shirt to expose my less-than-flattering midsection to the world. I know it’s coming.

Even when we’re in the comfort of our own home, with no prying eyes I still have the same reaction to this intrusion of privacy. It’s not really an intrusion though. She’s my flesh and blood. She can punch me in the crotch, grab my boob, and put her head on my bum and I wouldn’t flinch. Well maybe I’d flinch, but it wouldn’t be weird. Just like it’s not weird that I have to slather her bum with paste five times a day and clean poo from her crotch biscuits.

I can’t help my reaction though. When she lifts up my shirt, I squeal and try to stop her. Mostly it’s because her hands are cold on my stomach, but the real reason is because I’ve never been good at exposing myself — unlike her father who proudly shows off any chance he gets (just like a man).

I’ve never taken to nudity. If given the chance I’d move to Alaska just so I could be bundled up year round. But I don’t want this for my daughter. I want her to be comfortable in her skin, at every age. I’ve told myself that I need to get over this hang-up so she doesn’t end up with it as well. But it’s not like I can turn back the prudish hands of time…especially when this body has been ravaged by pregnancy, too many slices of pizza, and not enough gym-time.

Being able to get dressed in front of my daughter should be no big deal. I shouldn’t hide my body from her. She should know that this is what a real woman looks like, and that those scrawny broads in magazines are 100% airbrushed. I hope I can do this for her later on. Right now it’s not that big of a deal because she’s not yet aware. But down the road when she’s capable of asking questions I hope I don’t hide in the bathroom or turn away from her. I will gladly share her pale, saggy, stubbly future with her.

Poor poor child.

It Runs In Your Genes

“Diarrhea is hereditary. It runs in your jeans.”

And if this is the kind of joke I think is funny, my daughter is sure to loathe turning into me.

Becoming your mother is every daughter’s worst nightmare. But why is that? Why do we shudder when we use a mom-ism? Why do their nervous tics become ours? Is it because they’re always right (well maybe not always, but most of the time).

I love my mom very much and am proud to be like her in some ways, but am completely horrified to be like her in others. I know my daughter will grow up to feel the same way, which is a little hard to swallow, but completley normal. Just like it’s normal to deny that your parents ever had sex despite your very own existence. It’s just not something you want to acknowledge, ever.

I shouldn’t take it personally when she doesn’t want to be my little clone. That’s not what I want for her anyway. Yes, I would be over the moon if she has a passion for reading, loves animals, and plays sports. But she might not like any of those things, which is fine (she said through gritted teeth).

There will come a day when she says something that will freeze her in her tracks because she hears my voice coming out of her mouth. I want her to know it’s normal because it’s in her genes, and there’s nothing she can do about it! It happens to the best of us.

Right now she thinks I’m pretty great. She laughs and giggles at most everything I do. How I wish it would stay this way forever. But it’s just a matter of time before she wishes her mother wasn’t such an embarrassing dork, a dork who she will never be like.

I hate to break it to her. She will be her mother’s daughter…no matter what (she said triumphantly).

1 Thing I Would Go Back and Tell my 13-Year-Old Self

Don’t hate your body! Easier said than done! I recently came across a photo album from when I was so young I couldn’t even order a drink in a bar, or cast my first ballot…we’re talking young. Looking at the photos with my 30-year-old eyes, I saw myself much differently than how I saw myself then. I was so skinny, and cute, and…insecure. As a teenager, I didn’t despise what my Mama gave me, but if a genie came along and granted me 3 wishes, one of them probably would’ve been to look like Niki Taylor. Shallow, I know.

I’d say I had the “normal” amount of body image issues growing up– no eating disorders, but I wasn’t completely comfortable in my own skin either. But who is at that age? Not many teens, especially girls. Which brings me to my next question. How am I going to make sure my daughter doesn’t end up with a warped body image? Take all the mirrors out of the house? Disconnect our cable & internet and never buy a fashion magazine again? That’s a start.

I know I have to put more emphasis on intelligence and what’s on the inside…yada yada yada, but I wish there was some magic button I could press that would relieve her of ever having to worry about her weight or what size she is. It’s really appalling how early all of this madness starts these days. Maybe I’ll teach her what a wise woman once told me a long time ago (not really, it was yesterday). She said, “Love the jeans you’re in now,” meaning be proud of what you’ve got no matter what size you are, because you might look back and realize you were hot stuff when you thought you were a schlub. She went on to say that it never really goes away either…fan-frickin-tastic! Although I’m not in the jeans I want to be in post-baby, I need to embrace them because in ten years I might look back and say, “Mummy wasn’t so bad after all!”