October 6, 2011

The Most Important Things In My Life

SI the Peeking Panda
As was bound to happen, my children turned two.

I can't really explain why, but I didn't believe it was coming.  Part of me just couldn't wrap my head around the idea that my kids are... well... kids.

I don't think of them as the tiny little babies that I was shocked to take home with me from the hospital.  Well, not most of the time.  In my head, I see them as they were about three weeks ago.

I always see them as they were about three weeks ago.  I'm always surprised by how big they are, how strong they are, how vocal they are.  How much more their personalities come through each day.

DD has finally gotten the hang of a skill I've been trying to teach her for months and months.  It's the trick of calling for me by name instead of just shouting or whining.  And in pure DD fashion, she doesn't just say, "Mommy," she makes it a melodramatic performance.  It's three notes.  First, a middle E.  Then a high E, followed by the corresponding C.


I know it sounds kind of awful, but it's adorable.  And she's started to use the same pattern for all the things she likes.  "Oh FROOOOOOG-GEEEEEE!"  "Oh DOOOOOOOL-LEEEEEE!"  "Oh DAAAAAAAAD-DEEEEEE!"

DD the Peeking Panda
Meanwhile, little MissSI has expanded her love of Disney Princesses.  Now, the Little Mermaid is a close second to Cinderella in her heart.  Never Ariel, always, "Li-ul Muhmaid."

Yes, I know they have some speech difficulties.  But it's not because of any difficulty hearing, or any disability.  It's just that they always talk to each other, reinforcing the wrong way to say things.  And even with that, they get better all the time.

They love to sing the Alphabet Song.  SI is even getting the hang of the melody, along with the words.

In short, I have children.

Children with favorite colors.
Children with favorite past times.
Children with favorite foods.

I can already see the problems that I'm facing later in my life.  I know that SI and I will butt heads a lot over things like homework and chores.  I know that DD is going to be extremely sensitive to bullying (or even perceived dislike) at school.  I worry that, like her father, she'll get hell in her early school years for being a bit of a cry baby.

DD is so focused.  And SI is so perceptive.  They're little people that make me proud every day.

SI the Happy Panda
And what's strangest to me are the things I don't miss.  I feel that my arms have no memory of holding them when they were new.  I feel like I've completely forgotten their toothless smiles.  And I want to weep for the loss not only of those babies, but of my real, true memories of them.

But I can't.  I'm simply so happy, so proud, so in love with them three weeks ago... three weeks from now...  I have no emotional energy left to mourn their babyhood.

They're learning so much, so fast.  Complete sentences (such as they are).  Outgrown clothes.  DD even criticizes my paintings.

When they woke up in the morning on their birthday, and it was their birthday... when they were really two years old...

I didn't know how to feel.  I only felt the same joy and pride I feel every morning when they awaken happy and healthy and full of infectious energy.  As I got them dressed, I looked at the clock.  Exactly two years, to the minute, since they left the warm, cozy confines of my body.  The improbableness of it.  It was too weird to be real.

Last year, I felt like their birthday was more about me than them.  It was *I* who accomplished the feat of bringing them into the world, of keeping them safe while they grew.  It was *me* who nursed them, who rocked them and sand to them.  (Well, me and M.  He was the most amazing stay at home parent that first year!)  Yes, it was all well and good for children to celebrate their birthdays, but it's really a reminder for their mother.  For their parents.  A token of success.
DD the Happy Panda

Or so I thought last year.

This year, it was about them.  It wasn't just a chance for me to beam with pride and show off how wonderful they are to all our friends.  It was an excuse to shower them with tokens of my appreciation.  To give them the happiest day I could wrangle.  Because every day they give me gifts.  With each little game, with each little present.  Each time DD insists on wearing a skirt so she can exclaim that she looks like mommy, or SI holds her frog lovey over her legs like a dress and proclaims that SHE'S mommy... each time my children show me that they're watching me, that they love me...

I want to spoil my children.  I want to give them all the gifts, all the cookies, all the shoes and hats in the world.  I want to hug them and kiss them all the time.  But spoiling a child never did them any favors.  Instead, smiling and nodding, offering words of encouragement, helping them to do things better... this is the way I'm learning to show my love.  Making them stop paying with their vegetables and actually swallow them, reminding them to say please each time they ask to put on my shoes, washing their faces when they cram their apple sauce into their eyebrows...

This is how I show them I love them now.  So yes, I went a little overboard on their birthday.  I made a cake they couldn't possibly appreciate.  I made them a kitchen they'll be playing with for most of their childhood, I filled our home with things that I knew they would love.  I managed to orchestrate a day so wonderful for them that they took two days to calm down from their birthday high.  For days, SI kept pointing on top of the toy kitchen- where their presents were- ans saying, "More birthday!"

I keep telling her she only gets one a year, but it's a lie.  My parents are coming to town next week and we'll have another smaller birthday.
SI and the last bites of birthday cake

And I remember in my own childhood, I had a few birthdays each year.  One with a party for my friends, one with my family, and sometimes one with my extended family.  It was a chance to feel like I was the most important thing in anyone's life.

And now I understand.  I want my children, at least once a year, to feel like they ARE the most important things in my life.  Because they are.  I know it's cliche, but there it is.  My husband and my children are the most important things in my life.

No matter how many times I say, "Yes, that's Cinderella's shoe!" or, "It's the dancing show!" or "Oh DEEEEEEEE-BEEEEEE!"  No matter how exhausted I am and how desperate I am to get a little work done instead of finding out that the monster at the end of the book is Grover...

I'm always melting, inside.  I always want to freeze them the way they were three weeks ago, before they were this little bit more independent, more capable, more like people...

Three weeks ago is always the best time of my life.

Next year I'm sure I'll feel differently about their birthday.

DD and the last bites of birthday cake
Just as I'm sure that someday the idea of making another dozen gift bags, of coming up with party games... I'm sure it will get to be old.

But I hope that having a chance to shower my children with love and affection, without inhibition, to pull out all the stops and let them know how desperately I love them...

I hope that never gets old.

I hope that I always have a way to show them that they're the most important things in my life.

I can't imagine a future where it's not always true.


  1. Hi! I'm a new follower! You have totally adorable girls and I dig you're writings!

  2. I love this... I feel so much the same...

  3. Two is challenging and yet the most fun. Enjoy!

  4. I like It!!Also, I thought you mom's may be interested in the newest kids craze in my town, Patch Hats! Check out a hat you have never seen before here at www.patchhats.com



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