Monday, August 8, 2016

When Your Children See You Cry

Sometimes you just need a good cry. As Sadness from Inside Out says, “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.” Crying can be cleansing and it can be helpful. It can also feel downright awful, to me, if I’m doing it in front of my children.

Last month, my daughter said something to me that made me spontaneously burst into tears. And this wasn’t a super cute moment and my sadness was surrounded by the fact that she was growing up too quickly. It’s that, at age 3, she doesn’t have the best capacity for long-term memory and her memory of people she once spent a lot of time with is fading. This startling reality hit me hard and the tears started flowing. I left the room I was in with them because I’m accustomed to  trying to keep my best face forward and I didn’t want my daughters to see me cry. They didn’t get the hint and followed me into the bathroom.

“What made you cry?” they asked, not understanding that Amelia’s innocent question of “Who is that?” could cause the tears to flow.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I immediately responded, not wanting to try to explain the hurt and pain of losing people. And on top of this loss, Amelia will soon have minimal to no memory of certain people that have been special in her life.

Their faces looked on in expectation and I quickly realized that my response was not adequate. For one thing, they were very concerned as they don't see me cry often. More importantly, if I tell them I don’t want to talk about why I’m crying, how in the world will I ever convince them to tell me why they are crying. I immediately recovered and said, “I do want to talk about it, I just needed a moment.” And then I told them I felt sad that we aren’t able to see our friend and was sad that Amelia couldn’t recognize him.

I would rather my kids not see my cry. But the reality is that I do cry sometimes. I would prefer to not feel sad. But, of course, we all feel sad sometimes. And I don't want my daughters to feel as though they have to hide their emotions and pretend that they aren't sad. Most of all, I always want them to know they can talk with me about how they are feeling, no matter what. I want them to always know that I’m here to listen.

The next thing my daughters did moved me even more. I may have cried even harder. They rubbed my arm and my back. They gave me a hug. They looked in my eyes as I told them the reason I was crying. They were caring and empathetic. And this is something we hope that all children can achieve. Because if you have empathy for another, you have kindness. 
At the end of the day there are only a few things I want for my children. Like all parents, I want them to be safe and happy and I want them to have kindness for others. If we can have these things then we have had success in raising our families. That just might mean I have to let them see me cry every now and again. I'm pretty lucky if this happens though because now I know it's going to mean I get a couple extra hugs.  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Year Three: Daddy's Favorites and Bests {According to his 3 and 5 Year Old}

Daddy's Favorites and Bests {Year Three}

     According to his 3 and 5 year old

For the third year running I asked our girls a few questions to see what they believe are their dad's favorite things and some of the things he does best to celebrate Father's Day. Asking our children a few questions to learn their thoughts and opinions about their dad on these topics is a super fun for Dad on Father's Day. Well, at least I hope he thinks so! The first year we did this our oldest was 3 (youngest was too young to participate). This is what Autumn told me the first year: Daddy's Favorites and Best {according to his 3 year old}. Last year, both girls participated and this is what they said: Daddy's Favorites and Bests {According to his 2 and 4 Year Old}.

It was fun to see the differences in responses from this year to last. Our oldest  daughter {Autumn's} responses in the purplish pink color and our youngest {Amelia's} responses are in blue.

How old is Daddy? 

35 (this is, indeed, correct!)

Favorite color: 


Favorite food:

Spicy food
Pasta (I'm thinking this might just be her favorite food)

Favorite drink

Favorite song: 

Homer Simpson song
The Peanut Butter and Jelly Song

Chore he's best at:

Washing dishes
I don't know

Best thing he makes:


Peanut Butter and Jelly and "the dip" (the dip he makes for her is the mayo and sriracha dip)

Best thing he does for you:

Snuggles us 
Plays with me

His favorite thing to do:

Spending time with us
Watching baseball with me and playing baseball with me

I also want to share some of the things that I think are the best things that Daddy does with his daughters that are so very special.

Teaching them how to cook some of their favorite foods such as pancakes and ice cream and much more.

Also allows them to help with food prep by helping them practice their skills using knives by cutting strawberries and  mushrooms.

Fixes everything: from the seat on their bike, to putting their Barbie dolls heads back on or repairing the door that falls off of the fairy doll house all of the time.

Teaches them how to play baseball.

Introduces them to foods that are way outside the "kid friendly" comfort zone and expands their food taste way beyond anything we ever experienced as children. 

I know there are many more things than this. These are just a few of the things that bring a smile to my face as I write thinking how lucky my daughters are to have their Daddy. 

Happy Father's Day!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Holiday Guilt

Over Whether I'm Spending Too Much 

Another big holiday is just a few days away. If the beautiful, flowering trees and all of the Easter egg crafts that are coming home from school weren't enough to give it away, it's my kids asking, "How many more sleeps until the Easter Bunny comes?" several times a day. And for me, along with the fun and excitement that Easter and Christmas bring each year, this is also just a little bit of guilt.

This is what happens. I decide it will be a small holiday this year, selecting just a couple items. But then something happens.

A couple of years ago it was that my oldest decided that the one and only gift she truly wanted was a Barbie doll house. Now, the dream house was out of the question but maybe the (much less expensive and smaller) Barbie vacation home was an option. And, so, with mixed emotions I purchased the plastic house she so desperately desired. It's not that this was a massive splurge or outside of my budget. It's just that Christmas that year just got a little bigger than I had anticipated. 

 I just feel a little bit of guilt creeping in.
This year, my youngest had some money she wanted to spend at the toy store before the holiday. She planned to buy herself a Princess Jasmine doll. Unfortunately, the store didn't have any. She left the store perfectly content with a different Barbie doll but that didn't stop me from doing a quick Amazon check for Jasmine. I found the singing doll (her favorite) that also came with Magic Carpet, Rajah and Abu. For $13! Clearly, this was not something I could pass up. But that also means her sister needed another item to keep things even. And she had her eye on the Lego hot air balloon while we were at the toy store so that was an easy choice.

I struggle with this and feel a level of guilt because I want the holidays to be special...but for the right reasons. Not because they got the one and only gift they told Santa they wanted. I want them to understand the meaning, know that it is a celebration of Jesus. I want them to know it is a time to spend with family. Christmas is the season of giving. Easter is a time of renewal and hope. 

I truly believe that we have it both ways right now. My oldest wanted to make the Easter Bunny a card so he knows she's thinking about him when he comes by the house (and also to make sure he hides some eggs). The girls are thrilled to make their handmade gifts for family at Christmastime. And they literally jump up and down and exclaim "Thank you!" when they open up their toothbrushes from their parents on Christmas Eve (an annual family tradition). 

Still, I find the guilt creeping in this holiday.

I calculate how much I spent on each basket. Trying to decide if I should return an item. Concerned that at some point they will grow to expect certain things and maybe have a lesser appreciation for things such as toothbrushes.

I also think about their faces as they open up eggs filled with jelly beans and sweet tarts. The exclamations of joy when they see their baskets with the beloved Jasmine doll and Lego bricks. 

Christmas is a magical time and Easter is too. I may second guess myself and I might not always be able to fight the guilt. But there is something special about the holidays. I very rarely splurge so maybe the holidays give me the excuse I need to do just that. The best part, though, is that the holidays give me an opportunity to feel the very sweet moments of motherhood. And that is something I have no guilt about. 


Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Second Weaning Story (Part I)

There is an  abundance of info that can be found and that's shared regarding initiation of breastfeeding and the many problems or challenges that may occur during nursing. I am amazed on the absolute limit there is on weaning. Even though all children who begin nursing, must indeed, wean. 

I'm sharing my weaning story to help open the communication on this topic. Because it can be a challenging, confusing and uncertain time. Just as my birth stories (which you can read here and here) are very different so are my weaning stories. My first time weaning (you can read Part 1 and Part 2) happened quickly and with no issues. It really ended earlier than I had expected. This is not at all the case the second time around

Weaning always begins with the introduction of any solid or liquid that aren't mama's milk. For my second daughter this occurred about 1 week before she turned 6 months old. Like my oldest, the introduction of food didn't change the amount that my baby nursed or the amount that I was pumping. That all stayed the same one year. 

As a working mom, I lugged my pump and all the parts to work each and every day. I fretted on low supply days, cried over spilled milk and stressed over badly timed office meetings. When my baby turned one, I was ready to be done with the pump! However, my body had other plans. With my first, I was gradually getting less and less milk starting around month 10. I was able to simply quit pumping the day after my baby turned one. This was not at all the case the second time. 

There was always so much worry about not being able to maintain a milk supply while working full time and pumping while away from my baby. I never expected to have any problems with engorgement after a year. But that baby of mine loved to nurse and I couldn't quit my pump cold turkey - no matter how much I wanted to do so. I slowly weaned off the pump and finally stopped one month after my baby turned one. It was slow and gradual and didn't affect my little girl. When I was finally done with the pump I was thrilled. I love nursing but I don't love pumping - not at all! 

If it weren't for working and having to pump, I'm not sure my daughter would have changed her nursing habits at all after she turned one. When I was at home with her during the day, she continued to nurse at the times I would have pumped. My body made the adjustment to this as well. This is one of the many things I love about nursing - the woman's body to adjust and fulfill the needs of the child, as it's demanded. 

My sweet girl was a pretty poor sleeper her first year (well, she's still a pretty poor sleeper, really) and  she continued to nurse frequently throughout the night. This began to wear on me and I was getting sick frequently. I decided I needed to try to wean the night time nursing which was basically just one long latch around 3 or 4 in the morning until I woke up to get ready for work. We started this part of weaning when my daughter was about 15 months old. Instead of me going in her room and then bringing her to bed to nurse, my husband went to her and rocked her and soothed her. Sometimes this worked. Sometimes it didn't. If he couldn't soothe her then he would bring her to bed. And once she was in bed, it was really hard to convince her she didn't to nurse. 

If a night went by without nursing I would actually be able to get ready and leave for work before my daughter woke. This wasn't easy but if I woke her up, again, I wouldn't have been able to convince her that a hug and a kiss was enough. I left the house without seeing her and without seeing me she didn't miss nursing. Once we had about a week stretch of this, she was finished with her middle of the night and morning nurses. I would have preferred her to have been able to do this all by herself (without the help from me) but it was necessary for my own health. Thankfully, it was still done slowly and gently and she did really well with it. 
She was around a year and a half old at this point and I thought our nursing days were coming to a close. My oldest had already weaned by this age and I figured the youngest would have a similar pattern. 

How very wrong I was!

Be sure to check back soon to see how the rest of our weaning story went. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

When Your Child Starts Having Doubts About Santa

Christmas is such a magical time of year. It is filled with special time with family and friends, lots of fun and exciting activities. There are delicious treats, Christmas carols and lights, and of course, gifts! Our family is all about the fun and tradition and all about this being the season of giving. We select a charity and give donations, we make lots of unique hand-made crafty presents, my daughters choose gifts for one another and there are gifts under the tree from mom and dad. Our family is also a Santa Claus family and our children have been raised from their very first Christmas to believe that Santa comes on Christmas Eve and places gifts under the tree too. But, now, my oldest child is starting to have doubts about Santa.

This all started last year, in fact.  We were  at our little town's Christmas celebration. She turned to us and asked how Santa got to the celebration so quickly. For one thing, there was no sleigh or reindeer in sight and the other thing; she had seen Santa earlier in the day at a train show. Thankfully, she didn't notice that the Santas didn't look anything alike and we quickly told her that Santa travelled on his sleigh but it just wasn't nearby. She had just turned four in October so we blew it off as simple curiosity, not thinking she could possibly be truly doubting Santa at this young age. We wrapped up a wonderful Christmas in 2014 with no other questions or doubts. 

Then came December 1st, 2015  and out came our little Elf on the Shelf (his name is Roafe). Roafe made his 2015 debut by dancing with one of our wooden figurines which allowed a solid view of his back side. And his tag. His. Tag. And moments after being reconnected with her Elf, my daughter looked up at me with puzzled eyes and asked why on Earth did this live, little man have a tag. I'm a terrible liar so my response was something along the lines of 'I have no idea' and her response was, "I think he's really a toy." Well, if he is a toy how does he fly back and forth to the North Pole and tell Santa what you want? How does he move all over the house? Yeah, that response came after I had a bit more time to think. I hoped that would be the end and we could just enjoy our little Christmas beliefs about a jolly old man and flying elves.

A week later we happened to be discussing fairies. Keep in mind, my daughter's love and belief in fairies is likely stronger than Santa and the Easter Bunny combined. She used to tell us that she had fairy friends that were in her room and helped her fall asleep at night. So imagine my shock when she asked, "Are fairies real?" She actually asked the "R" question. No beating around the bush. No offer of speculation or theories. Just the question. Are they real? This time, my husband and I were both ready and responded at the same time, "The tooth fairy! Of course they're real!" She has already lost two teeth and she has two more loose right now. She looked at us and acknowledged this was clearly the truth. But, still, the next day I heard her telling her little sister that princesses aren't real. Finally, we were able to emphatically tell her that princesses are most definitely real (and could have zero guilt about the little white lies that have come with all the others).

In the end, she seems to be alternating from complete belief to uncertainty. She is asking very reasonable questions or making solid statements that counter the truth. Such as the story she told us about the elf at school. They put a special seed in the Elf's snow and the next day at school "Candy canes grew WITH a WRAPPER on them." But then there are also the times I have found her having long, detailed conversations with her elf about her Christmas wishes or even what she did at school. She isn't ready to admit a full fledged disbelief and I will hold onto that for this year and hope we may even get next year, too. For one thing, I want her to hold onto the magic of Christmas. They are only small once with all the hope, delight and magic that Christmas can bring. And Santa does help all of that. 

This is a great article: Why The Whole Family Benefits When Kids Believe in Santa

It is reassuring to know it is a gradual process and it allows for some critical thinking along with the fun. At this point, I'm not ready for her to blurt it out and spoil the fun for her three year old sister. We will definitely work on making sure she knows how special it is to keep it a secret, once she does learn. But for this year (the year when I have a three and five year old) I'm going to work hard to keep it a secret from both of them. So while we were watching Goofy and they start talking about not believing in Santa on the show, you better believe Netflix suddenly "stopped working" to the point that even Daddy couldn't fix it. If she figures it out, I want her to figure it out on her own - not because someone else (or a show or movie) made her doubt.

For now, I will hold onto the look on her face on Christmas morning. The moment when she steps out of her room, looks down the stairs, and sees that Santa came to visit. In that moment, I know any doubt she may have will disappear. At least for this year. And I'll know, once she does know the truth, Christmas will not really stop being magical. Because as Strega Nona says (from the book by Tomie DePaola) "Christmas has a magic of its own." 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Things You Never Knew You Would Say {Part 2}

Being a mom can be tough. When kids get sick it's heart wrenching. Being a mom can be frustrating. Children screaming that they don't want to brush their teeth at bedtime is just plain aggravating. Being a mother can be exhausting. The sleep deprivation is like no other. Being a mom is also amazing. The love is intense; that they have for you, and you for them. Most of us expect all of these things, at least to some degree. But what I didn't expect was the hilarity that motherhood would bring. The things kids say and the things we say to them.

So, I bring to you part two of the things I have said to my children, the things that I never thought I would say, not ever in my life. And, of course, the inspiration behind the blog name!

Stop getting distracted and put on your pants, please.

Did you just slip on broccoli?...Oh, don't eat it!

Where are your pants?!

I would prefer that you didn't drag your sister by her dress strings.

Surely you can share one carrot with your sister out of that giant pile of carrots.

There is never a need to lick your pants. 

You have jelly in your eyebrows.

 Stop throwing watermelon at your sister.

Don’t cry because your sister is throwing watermelon at you.

If you take another bite of Play-Doh, you’re going to be all done with the Play-Doh.

That’s why we don’t play with toys while we’re on the toilet.

You wouldn't get toothpaste in your eye if you didn't move your head so much. 

You cannot go to the bathroom with your fairy wings on because you will dip your wings in the toilet.

 Once you use your lollipop as a hair brush, we are all done with it.

Don't eat your lemon in the bathroom.

 Where are your pants?

What have you said as a parent that you never expected? 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Maintaining Supply While Pumping at Work {Working Moms Against Guilt}

World Breastfeeding Week is coming to a close and I'm sure by now most people have had their weekly fill of of breastfeeding stories and info on how to make nursing work. But, as a contributing writer for Working Moms Against Guilt I had to get in on all the fun and write a post on maintaining supply while pumping at work.

I was  excited to learn the focus this year was Breastfeeding and Work: Let's Make It Work. Nursing a baby can be extremely challenging. Nursing and working is doubly challenging. The focus on helping mother's continue to meet their nursing goals while maintaining their career is a special and important topic to me and that was why I was happy to write about it. 

So be sure to head on over to Working Moms Against Guilt to read my post! 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

9 Tips 9 Months

Nearly the moment you announce your pregnancy, you will begin to hear all kinds of advice from family, friends and strangers alike. I have learned that all this advice is usually well-intended and these advice-givers are often either passionate about the topic they're sharing or just excited for you. But that doesn't mean it's always pleasant to be the one receiving this unsolicited advice. Especially if it's way out of line with what you may have in mind for your own pregnancy or parenting style. 

Moms of the 21st century tend to be even less enthusiastic about advice that comes while waiting in line at the grocery store. After all, we have online articles, blog posts and tweets to turn to when we're in need of advice, right? So I was excited when I was invited to join #9tips9months with my healthy pregnancy tips from my past pregnancies. 

1. Do your research on the tests completed at prenatal visits and go to your appointments with questions about these tests. There are a lot of "routine" tests completed during pregnancies. These vary from genetic screenings to early ultrasounds and everything in between. Just because these tests are available and offered, it doesn't mean you have to have them. It doesn't even mean they're necessary. I chose to limit the number of procedures I received and only completed the ones that would result in a change of my plan of care.

2. Flossing does a mouth a lot of good; this is especially true when you're pregnant. There may be some mornings (or evenings!) that you feel so sick the best you can do is brush your teeth with plain water. Even this may gag you though. There were so many mornings that I wanted to skip brushing because it made me feel so ill. Instead of skipping it altogether though I opted to floss. In the long run, this ended up really helping my gums get stronger. During my regular dental check (a must during pregnancy) my gums didn't even bleed during my clean after all that flossing. The dental hygienist was pretty surprised since pregnancy gingivitis is so common.

3. Drink water! Every time I went into the midwife she would ask me how I was doing. I would tell her something that might be bothering me. Mild cramps, headache, swelling. Every response she had for me: Drink more water! And it really did make me feel better.

4. Go on lots of dates, read romance novels and take long bubble baths. And anything else that you find relaxing and enjoyable. Yes, you will be able to do these things after your baby is born. Your life doesn't end and you get to enjoy the pre-baby activities you previously enjoyed. But it will never again be quite the same. There may be a little tinge of guilt for going out on a date or it may take you twice as long to read a book because you're too tired or you may have the entire family watching you take a bath. So enjoy the simple things we take for granted before having children. Not because you won't get to do them again but just because it will never be exactly the same once you are a mother.

5. Be mindful of the medications you take. Some medications are absolutely necessary during pregnancy and many are very safe. But all medications have side effects and there are some that can cause harm. Be sure to talk with your healthcare providers about safety of medications as well as risks and benefits of taking and stopping medications. I chose to stop the medication I was taking before pregnancy (used for irritable bowel syndrome) and chose to have a birth free of pain medications to try to limit what my baby was given. Again, some medications are absolutely necessary so it's just important to have open communication when deciding on what is best for you.
6. Cervical checks are a choice. During the last month of pregnancy your provider will likely offer to complete a cervical exam at each visit. Just because these are usually done, this is a choice! Having a cervical exam just for routine purposes is not a necessary part of prenatal care. It has been shown that these exams offer little to no true prediction of when a baby will be born and can have a negative impact (such as increasing risk of infection or accidentally rupturing the membranes prematurely). I only had my cervix checked for dilation and effacement when I was in active labor. Again, this may not be right for you and that's okay. But don't feel like you have to have a cervical check just to "see."

7. Due dates. Due dates are a very rough estimate and can vary by weeks for each woman. If you are getting close or past your expected "due" date, try your best not to fret about it. Your baby is going to be born. It will happen. The pregnancy will come to an end. My first was born 11 days after the due date and my second was born 5 days after. I knew that it was not uncommon for babies to come after the estimated due date. I chose to tell people I was due mid-October and the end of August so they didn't have an exact number when they started asking me if I had gone into labor. And I kept reminding myself that it is very common to go a full 14 days past the day estimated. This really helped me to prepare for a pregnancy that was longer than 40 weeks and not get (quite) as anxious while I waited.

8. Belly Size. The size of your belly has nothing to do with the size of your baby. Some mamas carry big, some small. Some mamas carry high, some low. You may hear from a lot of people that your size is too big or small. Your health care provider will track your baby's growth at each visit to be sure they are growing at a typical rate. I happened to carry big. Very big. I had accepted this since I knew my babies were growing and healthy. What was very frustrating was when a man who claimed to be a father asked me if I was sure I wasn't carrying twins, even after he learned I was only a couple of days away from being 40 weeks. That's just rude. So just ignore the ignorant comments and remember your baby is growing to just the right size for you.

9. Your job is to take care of the baby, let everyone else take care of you. Some of the best advice that I ever got came from one of my midwives. She told me it was my job to take care of my baby and to let my support system take care of me. If you have a support system, let them be the ones to bring you water and meals. Let them cook and clean and do laundry. Do this for as long as it is feasible to you and your family. You only get this time once. This is an important time to bond with your baby but it is also a time that it is critical for your body to rest and heal after completing the amazing journey of pregnancy and birth.

Good luck, mama! Stay healthy and never hesitate to ask questions and advocate for yourself and your baby during this amazing time! 

What healthy pregnancy tips do you have to share? #9tips9months 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Daddy's Favorites and Bests {Year Two}

     According to his 2 and 4 year old

To celebrate Father's Day I asked our girls a few questions to see what they believe are their dad's favorite things and some of the things he does best. Asking our children a few questions to learn their thoughts and opinions about their dad on these topics is a super fun for Dad on Father's Day. Well, at least I hope he thinks so! We did this last year, too, when our daughter was then 3 and this is what she told us: Daddy's Favorites and Best {according to his 3 year old}. Our youngest wasn't able to participate last year but this year she was able to join in on the fun. Our oldest  daughter {Autumn's} responses in the purplish pink color and our youngest {Amelia's} responses are in blue.

Favorite color: 


His favorite color is actually green. What's funny about this is Autumn actually got this correct last year. 

Favorite food:


Favorite drink
Beer -"And my dad always let's us smell it." 

Favorite song: 

Ducks Like Rain
"Just the songs he sings when I'm sleeping."  Moon and Meatball

Chore he's best at:

The dishes
"Clean up the dishes."

Best thing he makes:

Macaroni and cheese and peanut butter and jelly 
Pizza and pasta

Best thing he does for you:

Plays with me 
Twirls me around, takes me to the mountains and takes me on bike rides

His favorite thing to do:

"Plays with us."
"Play with me." 

I also want to share some of the things that I think are the best things that Daddy, and only Daddy does, with his daughters that are so very special.

Gives them and encourages them to try all kinds of food with him like pickles, smoked salmon, lemon, pickled beats, Gorgonzola and sheep cheese (for Autumn)  and many, many other foods. 

Takes them for fun rides on the back of his bike.

Makes sure there's sand in the sandbox, makes sure the hose is connected to the sprinkler and makes sure the batteries are always replaced in their toys.

Fixes their car seats whenever the straps get twisted or they need to be readjusted. One of the many ways he works hard to keep the girls safe.

Eats fresh tomatoes right off the vine in the vegetable garden each summer. Autumn asked that I add that she also loves eating fresh lemon leaves and mint right out of the garden with her dad too! 

Takes them on the "daddy express" which are piggy bike rides quickly up the stairs (often times in order to prevent tantrums because it's time to go to bed). This way, we get giggles instead of a tantrum.

I know there are many more things than this. These are just a few of the things that bring a smile to my face as I write thinking how lucky my daughters are to have their Daddy. 

Happy Father's Day!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sometimes, I Forget You're Only Four

You are so big. I do mean that in a physical sense. At 45 inches and 49 pounds you're in the 98th percentile for both height and weight. But it's more than your size. I mean it in the words that you say, the connections you make and the empathy for others that you already seem to have. Sometimes, you seem so much older. Sometimes, I forget you're only four.

But when I go to to check on you in the middle of the night your sweet face shows just how young you really are. A quiet sigh escapes your small lips while you clutch your Elsa doll close to your chest. Sometimes, you seem so much older. Sometimes, I forget you're only four. In a moment like this, while I watch you sleep, that's when I remember.

Then you say something like, "The Earth is the only planet that we know has living things." And it's just hard to believe that you're not only learning more and more every day but you're remembering the things you're learning. This all seems to be happening so quickly and it makes me know you're needing me just a little less each day as you learn more and gain more independence. But then, while we're getting ready in the morning, you hug me around my neck and tell me, "I just want my mommy." Sometimes, you seem so much older. Sometimes, I forget you're only four. In a moment like this, when you tell me you need me, that's when I remember. 

Even though sometimes I do still forget. Especially when you recite a specific house rule to your cousin such as the time you told her, "You have to taste everything on your plate by having three bites of each food." You certainly know all the rules. And you are happy to share them with both your cousin and your sister. You often sound more like an adult than a four year old. But, sometimes, you forget to follow the rules and you get told no or to stop. This causes you to slam your body on the ground and kick your arms and legs and scream. I get frustrated that a child at your age still acts like this. Because, well, sometimes you seem so much older. Sometimes, I forget you're only four. In a moment like this, when you have a temper tantrum, that's when I remember.

You can become so upset and irrational in a flip of a switch during a tantrum. But in the very next moment I can hear you trying to explain death to your sister by telling her, "When you die you don't do anything. You just lay down with God." I hear you say that and it takes my breath away. Did you hear that from someone else or piece it together on your own from the bits you have learned from watching ones that you love pass away? I'm not sure. But the tender age of four seems far too young to say something like that, even if you are only reciting it from something you have heard before. Thankfully, these serious moments are few and far between. In the next minute someone could say the words "poopy butt" and you would laugh like it's the funniest and most creative joke that was ever told. Your laughter is so pure and full of youth, even if it's only over the words poopy butt. Sometimes, you seem so much older. Sometimes, I forget you're only four. In a moment like this, when you laugh hysterically over potty talk, that's when I remember. 

I often find myself wondering where the time has gone. How did I blink and you are already four-and-a half? I will watch you periodically and remember a time, not so long ago, when you were just a small baby in my arms. Or a toddler learning how to walk and talk. Now, you are tall, rarely needing to be held and you have an ever-expanding vocabulary. While you're only four, you just seem so big.Then you remind me of just how small you really are on the days you do your own hair. You add a random assortment of hair clips and head bands.

On this occasion you chose a Frozen hair clip, both a Christmas and Halloween clip, an owl and a fluffy purple clip. You look fantastic every time. What I love about it is that you absolutely love doing your own hair. It makes you feel pretty and grown-up. And it gives me a chance to remember just how little you really are. Even though you can easily recite the details from our vacation over a year ago. Or tell me the directions to someone's house. Or the time months ago that you accidentally dropped a hair clip in the toilet. Or, really, any other random detail that I'm not entirely certain I would remember if you didn't remind me. I can't help but think sometimes you seem older than four with that impeccable memory of yours. It also doesn't help that you have a little sister. Each day I see you both getting bigger. But at least I have a littler one than you. I guess you seem bigger because I look at your sister today and remember when you were just as little as she is now.  I just keep thinking that you seem to be growing up so fast.

Sometimes, you seem so much older. Sometimes, I really do forget you're only four. Just yesterday you came downstairs wearing your fairy wings. Those wings remind me: You definitely are still my little girl. I can't stop time. I can't (nor would I want to) keep you from growing taller, learning new things and saying amazing things that make my heart skip a beat. But every time you do those things you remind me that each of these moments are short. Soon you will be off to preschool and before I know it, you will then be off to college. While there certainly are tough moments of age four, there are many more wonderful moments. These are the beginning moments of learning and creativity. These are the moments of cuddling stuffed animals and needing your parents with your every being. These are the moments of not being too big for tantrums. These are the moments of wearing twenty colorful hair clips and fairy wings outside to play. These are the moments of age four. These moments won't be here forever. And I don't want to forget that, today, you're only four. 

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