Category Archives: Addison

Dear Addison: Three Years + Three Months

Dear Addison,
We ran to the Halloween store to pick up a lace fan you needed for a Spirit Week outfit last week. The fan has since been ever-so-delicately Scotch-taped together because I made the mistake of giving it you in the car, but I digress. It was approaching lunch time, so we went to Chick-fil-A for their nuggets and air conditioned play area.

After polishing off your meal, you skipped off to play while I stayed at our table with Asher, watching you through the glass wall. You scaled the apparatus quickly, waving to me from the very top, a proud smile beaming on your face.

After a few minutes I went into the play area for the last leg of play time. I didn’t spot you for a bit, and then one of the other kids said, “She’s crying.” And after some probing (5-year-olds aren’t the most expansive conversationalists), I realized he was talking about you, “the girl in the green shirt.” And then I heard you crying at the top of the jungle gym.

I tried to speak to you, but all the voices in the tiny space bounced off of all the surfaces, jumbled together, making it nearly impossible to hear you. But I knew the cry. You were scared. You wanted me to appear at your side, let you curl onto my body and scramble safely back down together.

For lots of reasons—the narrow opening between the platform steps, Asher being left alone, my inflexibility and poor lung capacity—I wasn’t prepared to climb up to you.

Another mom sweetly tried to coax her older son to help you down, but in the middle of that debate, someone said, “She’s coming down. That girl is helping her.” Sure enough, I caught a flash of your green shirt, and then your tummy as Caroline, your new friend and my new hero, tugged on your top to keep you moving ahead. You were doing it. Caroline was making sure.

After much effort, there you were at the last descent, only dangling legs and two sets of dirty little girl feet with chipping toenail polish. You didn’t want to drop that last inch. You couldn’t see the step, and you couldn’t feel it, no matter how hard you stretched your tiny toes toward the floor. I told you it was RIGHT THERE. I promise, if you let go, you’ll land on your feet. And you did it. You squirmed, millimeter by millimeter, until those soles touched the ground.

Of course, as I stood fighting back tears at my embarrassment of not being your rescuer, of all the things I was certain everyone must think about me, of what you must think about me, you didn’t waste a second worrying. You were off, tagging along right behind Caroline, on to the next adventure.

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So that’s what a lot of the past year has been like for us. To me, it has felt like either I was fighting my own battles and mentally distracted, or I was pregnant and physically exhausted and disconnected from you. I have felt both drawn to you as your rapid changes and maturing reminds me what a blip we have together, and also stuck in my own head, unable to fully match your unquenchable energy.

But oh, what heroes we have in our corner. Our village has been friends who have raised kind, thoughtful little boys who are some of your most favorite people; grandparents who will move heaven, earth, schedules and overflowing chocolate milk to spend time with you; an uncle who adores you and a daddy who embodies selfless, unconditional love.

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It’s been a roller coaster. Not necessarily a fun one, or a thrilling adventure. Just plain scary and overwhelming and unstable. A big part of me looks back at the past year and worries about the time I wasted, wondering if you will remember that person, that version of me. I hope that you don’t. All of my effort and energy spent getting back to a healthier, more whole me is motivated by being a mom and a woman that you can be proud of, a person that you’d want to emulate, a presence that you’ll always want in your life.

Reflecting back now, I realize how much change was thrown at you in such a short period of time. Pre-school, potty training, a sibling. We all certainly know I haven’t managed my chaos with any semblance of sanity, so your quirks must be expected.

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But you were a pretty interesting version of you for the past 18 months, too. Probably not one that we’d ever choose, if able. You hit toddlerhood hard around 20 months and never looked back. I kept waiting for the taper, and it never came. Tantrums—intense, lengthy and frequent—colored our days, every day for awhile. I believe we’re out of those woods. For the most part, since Asher arrived, you haven’t maintained that level of impossibility. There are certain moments, and certain days, but the pervasive displeasure has waned, thank God.

Sure, there were lots of things your Daddy and I could have done better or differently to ease some of the issues, but I really think that your third year was the perfect storm of personality, developmental changes, growing independence and frustration with my decreased participation when I was pregnant. And you know what? We still made it. A bit worse for wear, but here we are. Still moving, still laughing, still snuggling.

IMG_7683Your tastes change with the days, so it’s nearly impossible to name a favorite food outside of cake, the only food group with any staying power. I’m always worried you’re not drinking enough water.

We thought we nailed the potty training in a few weeks’ time. We were wrong. Like all the other developments in your life, you called the shots and regressed for a few months before deciding that you were good and ready to commit to a life without pull-ups. And once that’s what you wanted, it was smooth sailing, to the point where you now try to lock me out of the stall in public bathrooms because, back off mom, I can handle this.

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The term threenager exists for good reason. You are three going on 23. You’ll pick up on sarcastic phrases and voice inflection and use them right back at us in the appropriate context. Some examples: “Have you lost your mind?”
“I didn’t see that coming.”

It’s a little tricky to discipline you for adopting our way of speaking, but don’t worry—we still do. I am a little glad that you get it, though. We are going to banter like it’s our job when you are a real teenager.

I am at a complete loss as to how to manage your unruly hair. Your Daddy and I can’t bear to cut off the curls, so we let it fly and tangle and frizz for now. You’re quite opposed to any styling or combing, so usually it’s a hair clip or a loose ponytail and you’re off. You don’t want anything that may make you “like a boy.”

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You love princesses, pink and parties; your BeeMa, PawPaw and Kunkle; girls’ night with a movie and popcorn; any night with a move and popcorn, actually; running, roaring (at friends and strangers) and racing your Daddy; Max and Everett to the moon.

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When you wake up in the morning, you put on an entire outfit, complete with shoes, before coming out of your room. It’s always a dress, and always the most sparkly shoes. So now I lay out your clothes the night before, and by the time I’m awake, you’re already dressed for the day. That’s one small way I’m learning to work with your personality rather than fighting it. Because let’s be real: you’re already so much stronger and braver than I am, Addison Brooke.

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When I worry about my failings, the full depth and magnitude of all the “what if I’d done this” labyrinth, your very presence assures me that I have not failed in the ways that matter. I have not given up. I have not given in. I have not un-loved you for one second. My heels are dug deep in the soil of this season, holding steadfast to the most basic, most calming truth that we are in this together, in this forever.

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Like most things right now, I wish I had more time. Time to keep telling you how spectacular I think you are. A beautiful, infuriating, hazel-eyed whirlwind of raspy giggles, sweaty curls and bruised knees. Running around the playground in shoes that are supposed to be for church. Walking into the mall with a “Sophia the First” purse on your shoulder. Furrowing your eyebrows at me from the the back seat. Wanting everyone at the park to play with you and not understanding when they won’t chase you. Calling me a princess when I put on a dress. Holding your palms up to mine to examine all the ways our outlines are so similar and how much space you have left to grow into this world of womanhood.

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You are fire and strength and power. You are sensitive and silly. You are strong-willed and independent, girly and mischievous. You are a little girl that I am so extremely proud of. You make our lives louder and crazier. You make our family bonded in the battles of raising a tiny dictator. You make our minds alive with thoughts of the greatness you will achieve when you harness all that brilliance. You make our love well-worn and sturdier. And you make my heart so very full.

From My Whole Heart,
Mama

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Five for Friday

In honor of Addison’s birthday week, here is a special birthday edition of the weekly round-up! I hope all of her birthdays are filled with so many of her favorite things.

1. A birthday birdhouse. We took Addison to Home Depot and let her pick out the colors. Surprisingly, the mess wasn’t the Lilly-Pulitzer-meets-Texas-Chainsaw-Massacre disaster I was anticipating. We still have to buy bird food and put it out in the yard, but I think those birds are really going to enjoy feasting in such a bright, whimsical abode.

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2. Sliding and bouncing with friends on birthday morning.

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3. A very serious tattoo application. Clouded by the excitement of a free birthday tattoo, she pointed to the first one she saw: a skull and crossbones with spikes coming out of its head. Thankfully Addison allowed me to steer her away from her initial choice and she landed on a slightly less horrific bear with hearts.

addie tattoo4. Followed by tailgating with massive cupcakes and frosting for days.

addie frosting5. The birthday girl was able to choose between dinner at home (I even offered pancakes!) or going to “the restaurant.”

addie walrusWe ended the night with “Shrek” and a very flexible bedtime. This fantastic week is going to be capped off with a party this weekend. Birthdays are the best, especially when I get all the celebratin’ with none of the aging. Have some cake for Addison!

Dear Addison: Before You’re a Big Sister

Dear Addison,

Before anything else, I should mention how much I love you. Not like I love ice cream or doughnuts right now or even coffee. I’m talking about that Mama’s love that aches in its insistence, blinds in its radiance, distracts in its omnipresence and overwhelms in its depth. How much my heart tugs in my chest when you let out a deep, raspy giggle, how a small but constant weight lifts off my shoulders when I see you after being away for any amount of time, how my hopes and dreams for myself and for you are so intertwined that I often can’t tell them apart.

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It has been a rough season for you and me, little girl. At times, I question whether I was the best choice to be your Mama. Maybe I’m not wise enough for your independence. Maybe I’m not patient enough to reach you in your strong willed stances. Maybe I’m not nurturing enough to comfort you when you feel hurt or confused or misunderstood. Maybe it shouldn’t have been me.

It positively doesn’t matter, though, because I would not choose to be anyone else’s Mama. Not on the very best days,
when we laugh about beating up monsters and let the breeze whip our hair around swinging peacefully at the park,
or on the very worst days, when tears and tempers flow freely from both sides of this union.

You are mine, and I am yours. For the yesterdays full of chubby cheeks and napping on my shoulder, for the todays mixed of delight and destruction, and for all the tomorrows that may be ahead. I knew from the very first millisecond of your life that I was inextricably bound to you, that this new person had in every way rewired my soul to its own.

So before life changes in a monumental and irreversible way, I wanted to let you know that even though some things will never be the same—
how much sleep Mama gets, how many clean clothes you have at one time, the number of days we get to spend just the two of us–
the way I feel about you is not one of those things. That is constant. That is eternal.

Some of my favorite moments with you are the quietest, so rare in this endless marathon of energy and noise that is toddlerhood. I love doing puzzles with you. It’s one of the few activities you will concentrate on for a half hour, determined to finish the whole thing at one time and so proud when you tap that last piece into place. When I give you a piece, you study it, try it one way, furrow your eyebrows, turn it around, and try it again until it fits. I was so surprised to learn that you actually do have that kind of patience and persistence. It’s mesmerizing.

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I hear “I can do it myselp” or “all by myselp” 219 times a day. You can go right ahead and thank your “me can do it” daddy for that little trait.

You love to have braids in your ever lightening curly hair, either one Elsa braid or two Anna braids. You are specific, and it’s unacceptable to give you a ponytail when you want braids or leave your hair in one braid when you want two. I’ve learned to take my marching orders seriously.

We still have Flapjack Fridays. You’ve started asking to help, so now you carry your stool into the kitchen and will help pour the pancake mix, milk and blueberries in the bowl. I once let you crack the egg. Yeah, just once for that. You’ll mix it a little and then scoot away to wait for them to cook. Though you’re extremely strong willed, you are very task-oriented and like completing a job you’ve been given.

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You are so social, goodness gracious. If there are any other kids at the park, you can’t get to them fast enough. You’d be up for anything if I told you your friends would be there. You also like to call the shots with all those friends and have recently been referring to people, even little kids you met five minutes prior, as “baby.” Not like a little newborn baby but in a saucy, probably offensive way.

“Come on, baby!”
”Let’s go, baby!”

This is usually my cue to take a very important call on the other side of the playground.

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You like dancing, singing, jumping, sprinting and twirling, all prefaced with an unending loop of “Watch this. Watch this. Watch this. Watch this.” I promise we are watching. Sometimes.

At this particular moment, your favorite movie is “The Little Rascals.” You have a massive crush on Darla and don’t like “Panky.”

You’d live in a tutu and heels if allowed. Trying to put jeans on you is declaring all out war.

I paint your toenails and have, more than once, contemplated bringing you with me to get a pedicure. Maybe when you’re three, professional salon treatments will feel more appropriate.

You’re a lot pickier than you used to be when it comes to food, but luckily there are still a handful of healthy eats you like: fish, peas sometimes, avocado, chicken usually, bananas, eggs, peanut butter, blueberries like a fiend. And because you’re two and I guess signed some sort of contract, you must have regular servings of mac ‘n cheese and Cheerios.

I think you’re going to make an excellent big sister. While at the park with BeeMa the other day, she was telling someone you were about to have a baby brother. You mistakenly thought another little girl was talking about your brother when she said, “It’s icky.” She was referring to the slide, but you were not having any of that and told her, “My brother is NOT icky.” For all the worrying I do about how this transition will affect you, that story is singed onto my mind so that I remember not to shortchange my fiery, passionate girl. You are capable of nurturing, of defending, of bonding with this baby more than I could probably imagine.

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Your brother and I will have a new, special relationship, of course, but I am so intrigued at the thought of your relationship with him. To see it spark, to see it grow and evolve, and to see it become one of the most meaningful parts of your life and your identity. I am a completely different person than I might have been because I am a sister, and I believe the same will be true for you, in the very best, beautiful way.

I know I always place the blame on you, but thank you for loving me despite my impatience, my tantrums, my mood swings and my refusal to share dessert with you. I am here for you after the toughest days, but you also come back to me for bedtime stories, for pretend “hot coppee” from your kitchen in the mornings and for kisses and hugs on knees and elbows and foreheads.

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I’ll always be yours, Addison Brooke. When you’re a “terrible two,” when you’re a terrible first time driver, when you date a terrible boy that I despise, when that terrible boy breaks your heart and I break his terrible face, when you choose a terrible major or choose to become a terrible University of Florida Gator, when your own toddler is being downright terrible,

and when you suddenly have a terrible little baby taking up space in your house, your car, your schedule and your Mama’s arms,

remember that I am still yours. And you are mine.

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Mama

Aaaaah freak out

Like I mentioned, Clayton was out of town last week, so I tried to spice up our regular routine.

Tuesday I picked up Addison from pre-school early to catch my brother’s baseball game. He coaches a high school team, and the game was relatively close. My parents came with me, so during the game I had plenty of recruits to help locate, corral and entertain Addison.

IMG_7722The weather was great, the kiddo was behaving and our team was winning.

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Then we tried to leave. Addison bolted in the opposite direction. I wasn’t concerned at all because I assumed she’d come back, plus I thought the back fences of the baseball fields blocked the park from the main road leading into it. I even told my mom not to worry. Look at me being so chill and relaxed, totally owning this parenting thing right now. But Addison didn’t stop. My mom and I stiffened a bit and started moving toward Addison’s direction. She was pretty far away by this point. The closer we got to the back fences, the wider the gap appeared between the baseball fences and the fence to the park. This meant she absolutely had access to the gates, which opened to the road. At rush hour. With cars going 50 mph.

Once I fully realized she could literally be on the street within a minute or two, and there was nothing I could do to stop her – I was way too far away, even if I ran, which I can’t in my current spherical shape – I freaked. We were yelling her name, and she started to slow down as she reached the fences but still didn’t stop. I was jogging at this point and in addition to desperately wanting to get to Addison, I was worrying about hurting the baby, too.

It was one of the scariest motherhood moments I’ve experienced.

She eventually did stop behind a transformer by the fence. Thank God that was there and she felt like she could hide behind it because she was probably so afraid of being in trouble she would have kept right on going. My mom reached her first, but I was just a few steps behind and my terror/rage combo shoved her right out of the way so I could deal with the runaway. It wasn’t pretty. We were in public, so there was a limit to the mad rush of emotion I could display. Probably a good thing.

I must have nailed the discipline and stern so-help-me-God tone because Addison was upset for about six seconds. Then we walked past the playground and she begged to go play. Not feeling particularly playground-y, I muttered some sort of response, potentially laden with expletives, and that’s when she lost it. By “it,” I mean motor control of her lower extremities, as toddlers are wont to do in public, forcing me to basically drag her the quarter mile back to the car on the concrete. Felt like skipping through a meadow holding a feather.

My dad drove home, even though we were in my car, so that I could cool off. I was actually sore the next day from all that activity, either because that scene was so intense or because I haven’t worked out in seven months.

Let’s see, that was Tuesday, so Addison should be free to get out of time out in about four and a half more years.

Potty Party

Even though I wanted Addison potty trained months and months ago, she wasn’t cooperative with our early efforts. Knowing her personality, determinedly independent plus strong-willed, I decided to wait until she seemed ready and not stress about it. And then I got pregnant. The window of riding it out became smaller: I firmly did not want two kids in diapers.

We planned a “naked weekend,” which sounds highly more scandalous than it is. I didn’t do a ton of research, so my plan was simply to keep her out of a diaper for three days. She didn’t necessarily have to be totally pantsless, but if she was wearing clothes at the house, she only had underwear underneath.

Great plan in theory. In reality, we were all fantastically stir crazy by Saturday afternoon. And the little stinker waited until the two times we left the house to go in a pull-up. (As committed as we were, cleaning up an accident in the car was not even considered, I don’t care how far back those pull-ups set us.) She seriously waited for hours and then went within minutes of having the pull-up on. Strong-willed, much?

She ended up having two accidents in the house and one at the park – we had to get out! – that weekend. She hated it. After those, it was game on for her. It took about two weeks for her to be nearly perfect peeing on the potty. Soon after she got the hang of using the toddler potty, she wanted to use the “big potty,” so I bought her a princess seat for the top of the regular toilet. Because princesses make everything better. Can I tell you the quote on the potty seat? “Glamour begins with confidence.” I am so close to taking a Sharpie to that thing and changing it to “Book smarts are the ultimate goal.” or “You can’t wash your hands or read too much.” This princess culture is too much for me sometimes.

The “system” we’re using somehow morphed into a complicated algorithm of rules and rewards. I printed charts and hung them outside the bathroom with a sticker book.

potty chart stickers

At the beginning, Addison would get to put a sticker on the chart and get a treat every time she used the potty. Because I was desperate to have this milestone behind us, I also offered a small prize when she finished a row and a great big awesome prize when she finished a whole sheet. It was way too much, and of course she remembered everything I’d promised and made us hoist her up for a sticker and drug us to the treat jar after every pit stop.

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Also ridiculous were the treats. We had tons of leftover candy from Christmas stockings, so instead of one M&M or one jellybean, homegirl got a full size York Peppermint Patty or a fun size candy bar. There was no messing around. And she learned so quickly that she was having five of those things before lunch.

The small prizes mostly came from the Dollar Store or repurposed Christmas presents from other people. Lots of stickers, some little books, temporary tattoos, that sort of thing. The favorites have been a set of “Frozen” rings and “Frozen” headbands.

IMG_7438Once she finished the first chart, Clayton and I took her to Target and offered her three different presents to choose from. We came home with…surprise, surprise:

elsa doll

Since then, the rules have changed a few times and she’s been surprisingly flexible about it. First, I casually stopped giving her the small prizes. Then, if she didn’t mention it, I bypassed the stickers because it became such a chore to lift her up that much. Now, the stickers and treats are reserved for non-pee scenarios only. This helps buy us a lot of time in between full charts. Otherwise we’d have gone through about four sheets already.

In a month or so, she is about 95% potty trained. She still wears pull-ups, but I think we’ll get rid of those during the day soon. I have been quite impressed with how well and, I don’t even want to say, easy the whole process has been. I mean, there have certainly been messes that I’d like to block from memory and potty training out in public is a whole other nightmare, but overall it seems like we waited until Addison was good and ready. And if she’s like her mama, she’d do just about anything for a constant stream of chocolate throughout the day.

Finally, there’s one item on our Before Baby checklist that’s actually complete!

Signs You Are in the Possession of a Toddler

You step on no less than four raisins walking to the couch. You do not stop to pick them up.

Cheerios. Purse. Car floor. Bath tub. Under couch cushions. Cheerios.

You’ve mastered the deepest, surliest but quietest ”Stop. Throwing. That. Cup.” under your breath so that no one but your child can hear you striking the fear of God in them in the restaurant.

You know not to take it personally when they throw the cup anyway.

You only bother with the cute bathing suits if you’re Instagramming.

Evening out those tan lines.

Evening out those tan lines.

The standard for surfaces clean enough to eat off of has plummeted significantly.

The standard for non-food items safe enough to ingest has plummeted significantly.

There is a chip in the back windshield from that time (times?) you hurled the pacifier into the back seat in a rage after swearing this was going to be the car ride you didn’t cave in. At least you made it to the end of the driveway. You apologized later. With Cheerios.

You stroll through the mall humming “Do you want to build a snowman?” Alone.

The walls, floor, towel, sink and bather all exit bath time wetter than the bathee.

When you see duck on the menu during date night, an involuntary “Quack! Quack!” escapes your lips.

At the playground, you find no reason to intercede when your child is forcefully hugging a stranger’s child, spread eagle in the sand throwing fistfuls of dirt in the air, or screaming incoherent but most likely baby profanities at the squirrels . No feces? No problem.
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You only have one child but no one else can fit in your SUV due to the growing  number of shoes, stuffed monkeys, dolls and extra clothes accumulating in the back seat.

You either leave the house with three strollers in the back of the car to go to the grocery store, where you don’t need a stroller, or you leave for a week vacation with no strollers in the car.

Your dog roams the house in a perpetual state of fear and avoidance.

Your day doesn’t actually begin until 8:30 p.m. Any plans for productivity, adult conversation or finishing a full meal before that time are laughable.

Related: Your body has learned to function for 7 hours on three cups of coffee, bread crusts and a dozen rejected grape halves.

Do not keep blaming me for your low blood sugar.

Do not keep blaming me for your low blood sugar.

It takes you two hours to pack for the beach.

You spend, at most, 90 minutes at the beach.

This happens once every never at this point, so you savor it for as long as you can.
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Dear Addison: 22 Months

Dear Addison,
When you are pregnant, the most common sentiment that you hear from other mothers is that “it goes so fast.” Since you hear this constantly and have no frame of reference, you nod knowingly in appeasement and sort of shrug. I mean, time goes fast. We all get that, parents or not.

But girlfriend. Let me tell you. Once you have sat in the front row and witnessed the grand spectacle of a newborn growing and changing into an infant into a celebrated 1 year-old into an unmistakable toddler, cooing to smiling to laughing to speaking words, lying immobile to faceplanting at the playground,

that is when your eyes water and your heart aches when you look at the clock, when you feel the weight of its motion, never ceasing, never slowing. It goes too fast. We move too fast. That baby left us too fast.

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And in that same breath, we exhale with the immeasurable joy of your person, the uncontainable explosion of your personality that delights and surprises and horrifies us every day. We are so grateful to know this you, a little girl with preferences and peculiarities that are all your own.

Toddlerhood is a trip, baby little girl. Taking care of a baby is exhausting in the most basic lack of sleep, you can have the baby back if I can take a nap sort of way. Parenting a toddler is exhausting in the THIS TANTRUM WILL NEVER END, YOU CAN HAVE THE BABY BACK FREE OF CHARGE PLEASE SOMEONE TAKE THIS STRANGER OUT OF MY HOME sort of way.

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You are a force, a tiny cyclone of electricity that is this way and that way, getting into this drawer, taking that off the counter, putting on those shoes, stepping on that tail, never, ever ending. (Until “Frozen” is on.) It’s physically tiring to chase after you, but it’s even more mentally draining to be responsible for this little human who seems hell-bent on discovering the most dangerous scenarios possible in a relatively safe environment and just going to town. Yes, climb on top of that unsteady ottoman. Yes, jump like you’re on a trampoline a quarter inch from the edge of the bed. Sure, why choose to walk around in Mama’s ballet flats when there are 4 inch stilettos for the taking.

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I always judged women who admitted to losing their temper with their kids. I mean, they’re just kids, poor tiny innocent doe eyed kids. Ease up, woman! And then, I actually had one of those doe eyed innocents. And here I am some days, the spitting image of all the impatient, voice-raising, “If I have to tell you one more time,” shrill, no fun mothers that I was certain I would not be. I don’t want to apologize for those days, Addison. They are all part of this impossible-to-do-right chaos of mothering, and you can ride that singular fraying nerve like a longboard.

But I do want to tell you that that I try so very hard to remember the other days of this often challenging season. The days when you let me pick  you up to peek at the blueberry pancakes on the griddle and you giggle with anticipation. The days that you mimic the “beep, beep, beep” of the microwave from your crib as I heat your milk. The mornings when drinking your bottle at the other end of the couch is traded in for squeezing right up next to me. When instead of jerking your hand away at the park, you hold it up high, inviting me to join on this particular adventure. The one single day when you could not kiss my face enough, reaching up and taking my chin with a delicate grip and scrunching your face into a kiss right on my lips. Yes, that day is staying right here with me for awhile.

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You color our world, Addison Brooke. You love performing for an audience, waving to strangers and shouting a brusque ”hey” if you don’t receive the appropriate response. You are obsessed with shoes–anyone’s–and shutting doors. You don’t mind getting dirty or going to bed when you’re tired. It seems that you learn new words every day, and remember things we’ve said or shown you only one time. You share with other kids (just not with me or your father) and will watch “Curious George” for a week straight. You’ve grown tall and lost most of your infant chub, which breaks my heart a little, especially the absence of those baby thighs that deserved individual names (Anderson and Cooper if we’re getting specific).

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Maya is your best friend, and her wagging tail, wet kisses and back rolling tickle you to pieces. She tolerates you.

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One of your favorite games is to “hide” when Daddy gets home. You will run to your room or behind my legs saying, “Shh! Shh!” You talk a big game, but when it comes to actually surprising anyone, you simply don’t have the patience to sit and wait for them. You are jumping out screaming, “Boo!” before he even gets in the house.IMG_1897

Some days, I am pacing the floor until your bedtime because raising you is not always an easy undertaking. But even on those days, when your Daddy or I pick you up and head towards your room, the idea of being away from you tugs at my heart. Whatever tantrums the day held, sleepy Addison is sweet and affectionate. You wave good night over our shoulder in a small, slow motion. You point to your cheek for a kiss. And then another. And then another. All the way into your crib, you ask for one more kiss. Some nights I have to walk away while you’re still pointing at your cheek or I’m sure I’d be there at sunrise, leaning down into your bed, my hair tickling your nose, pecking at your little face.

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I am so glad that I’m the one who gets to hold your hand on the way to the car, who hears the full out laugh elicited by bath time splashing, the one who is asked for one more kiss.

I am so glad to be your Mama, Addison Brooke.

IMG_1641From My Whole Heart,
Mama

 

Catching Up on Catching Up

[Post started last Tuesday...]
What day is it again? With having an Addiesitter on Monday (an extra day this week thanks to lots of workin’) and the Dolphins playing Monday instead of Sunday, my internal calendar is all kinds of topsy turvy.

Also, that’s the last I’ll mention of the Monday Night Football situation. It’s a somber mood in our household today.

In a mini rant mode, can I just mention that Starbucks has not been work-friendly at all lately? The last three times I’ve loaded up my tote and abandoned my screaming kid, there haven’t been any free seats. It’s like 1 p.m. Who are these yahoos without office jobs? (I know, I know. Guilty.) And why can’t the 70 billionty dollar S’bux corporation build larger stores? There are approximately five and a half chairs in every location. The illusion to make it seem open to loitering and conversing is crap.

So today I took my tote and my $3 elsewhere. And I had the whole store and all the outlets to myself. Could’ve charged 10 laptops if I wanted to! Oh, the power! If you don’t check yourself, Starbucks, I may just drop down to 4 visits a week. We clear?

[Picked up again today...]
There is currently a conference call taking place that I have become beyond unnecessary to be a part of.  So I get to talk to you fine folks about all the vitally important bullet points of my life, like diaper rashes and toys getting lodged in the pool filter. Both true stories from this week.

You called my bluff, S’buxie. Here’s all my money. I’m sorry. I love you.

Since I began this post, there has been another loss on the Fins record books. Sundays are getting dicey, guys. Except for moments like this.

C A fins couch Another W for the Noles (a shut-out slaughtering, might I add). And the Rays won a dramatic game 3 in the ALDS to force a too-late-starting game 4 that kicked their underperforming butts right out of the postseason. We even had our good luck charm ready.

My postseason superstition is to not wear makeup or fix my hair.

My postseason superstition is to not wear makeup or fix my hair.

And that about sums up what we do during all the hours we’re not working or shoving food into our daughter’s face.

That, and running. Glorious, therapeutic running. I did my long run last Saturday morning at a park that’s been on my to-run list for years. It was just about the closest thing to fall weather we’ll have right now, there were enough solo stretches to get some hard core soul-refilling time, and plenty of fellow crazies to make me feel less like I need to be committed for getting antsy and excited about running nine miles.

Slower traffic stay to the right.

Slower traffic stay to the right.

Here’s hoping the motivation train keeps rolling right on through November because this is official:

half registration

Besides the running and sports fanatic-ing, there is a lot of chasing around this 82nd percentile body:

A hyde park gate

And very little laundry folding or floor sweeping.

What have you been doing (or not doing) this fall?

Dear Addison: Twelve Months

My sweet Addison,
Happy, happy first birthday to YOU!

To have spent this year with you, baby girl, has rewritten my life. All the things that
shone or sparkled or
hinted of excitement
paled on that dreamy day I met you twelve long
and too, too short months ago.

In all the ways I wrestled with questions of inadequacy–
“What have I done that matters?”
What will I create of remembrance?”
You are the resounding answer that, if all I’ve given to this world rests in your ten fingers,

it is quite enough.

The world shines a little bit brighter beneath that gap-toothed grin, the people who catch that crinkle-nose smile breathe easy, even if just for a moment.

You are walking with greater and greater ease, spanning whole rooms and navigating obstacles like the dog bed with less effort. Picking up treasures along your journeys sometimes throws you off balance: a shoe, a sock, a bone. Always invaluable items worthy of a tumble.

Endlessly, tirelessly, you plop, reposition, stand and take off. Again and again and again. No one can believe how well you are moving for just one year old.

Tenacious and determined, these traits have woven their way into your will after only 365 days. Smiley with strangers. Stubborn. Seeker of attention.

What a dizzying medley of personality you have become—a sprinkle of me, a dash of your Daddy—but a clever, compact, perfectly swirled unique you. The original Addison Brooke.

Hair with whispers of red, maintaining its wave as it grows by the day. Eight front teeth, four stacked on four, with a glorious gap in between. An appetite for table food that appeared overnight, scarfing chicken and fish, sweet potatoes and squash, plantains, kiwi, strawberries and, in a lapse in Mama’s judgment, banana pudding.

Refusing to keep even one of your 39 bows on your head.

Lover of dogs, which is most definitely in your genes. You play fetch with Maya, but she’s confused by your 3-inch throws.

Music grabs your attention and inspires the world’s cutest clapping. I’ll entertain you in the car with my best alphabet song to see that full-face grin that appears around “D.”

You are confident and brave in new situations, not clinging but eager to explore. The emptiness in my ever-ready embrace stings every time you squirm away. I imagine your first day of school, a flash of curls darting into the future before I can steal a forehead kiss. (Please don’t do that unless you want to have the hysterical mother sobbing outside the playground.)

I try to dream of what this puzzle will become, but it doesn’t feel right creating my own shape.
A doctor,
a dancer,
a teacher,
a poet.
Your dream is my dream.
My wish is that you become
you.

With ears that keep an elfish point, eyes that keep their twilight gray, hands that find their rhythm, and feet that make their own way.

I pray for your heart to be filled,
poured into in gushes, 
spilling over and out, 
in the way that you have overwhelmed the boundaries of my heart’s beat.

A Mama’s job is so complex, beautiful girl. To endure the aches of growing and letting go while resonating with pride and awe at the person I once knew only as flutters behind a belly.

I have, more than I ever would have anticipated, relished this year with you. My constant companion, my audience, my entertainment, my reminder of what matters the very most. In 365 days, there were two that I didn’t see you. Only two mornings I didn’t greet your puffy eyes, scoop you in my arms and carry you through our day.

How silly to say that you have been my best friend, but I certainly can’t imagine spending that many hours with anyone else and somehow waking up missing them.

I tell you of this year, and how inseparable we are, because one day—God help us—you will turn 15 years old. And I know from experience that I will be the very last person you’d choose to take on a road trip, to look for a new pair of jeans, or to the Starbucks where “he” works. You will look at me with unsolicited resentment, and my words will evaporate into the air before ever hitting your ears. I cringe remembering that very perfect picture of unfounded teenage angst I was.

But I just wanted you to know that we had this year, you, your Daddy and I. When your sparkling eyes hung on every move I made. When sitting on the floor giggling over a green ring was the best 15 minutes of our day. When you told me every little thing that crossed your mind, even if I couldn’t understand any of it. When you studied my words and sounds as if they were magic.

Not a year that will stick in your memory, but
the very best year of my life.

I said it when you turned one month old, and even though I don’t know how, I still promise:

it will only get better from here.

From My Whole Heart,
Mama

a bday

Dear Addison: 11 Months

Dear Addison,
You are 11 months old! What a great job at growing you’re doing, little lady!

A cart leg

This month you’ve conquered some unbelievable feats. Walking, for starters! You’re still wobbly and prefer the stability of something to hold onto, but when you set your sights, you can take some serious bowlegged steps. Our highest step count is nine so far.

A shoes

You also graduated from your swim class, and I could not be more proud of you. I was worried before these lessons started that I’d be traumatizing you (and me) for life. But by the final week, you didn’t even whimper while you were in the water. You knew what to do and did it, happily splashing and waving at your fan club when you came back up. I love that you constantly exceed my expectations. What a great reminder that you are you, and what you will so often need from me is to simply understand and trust in your independence and individuality. It’s hard, baby girl, since every cell in my body reacts to protect you, but I will try to keep myself on the pool’s edge when that’s what you need.

swim

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Eating is still an adventure. I refuse to give you pieces of table food larger than a grain of salt, so meals can take some time. You’ve tried a bunch of new foods and like most things. Your absolute favorite way to eat is to pick the food up yourself and attempt to locate your mouth. Sometimes you actually do. It’s quite clear eating the food is secondary to the fact that you’re doing it yourself. If only your paranoid Mama would chill out and give you the whole dang banana already.

A eggs

You’ve made it through two Rays games at the Trop, which is almost unbelievable to me. I know grown men who can barely do that (looking at your dad).

noas rays fieldThis month, like all the others, seemed to trickle too easily out of my grasp. You are losing some of your baby chub and growing longer. I love that you are strong and healthy and thriving, but I hate that you are bigger by the day.

A car seat

A dog bed

Still, there are times when you are all baby. 

At 3:00 on an anonymous Tuesday afternoon, we sat swaying back and forth in daylight dimmed by happy curtains, as your exhausted hand draped carelessly across me, tiny fingertips tiptoeing along my arm. I sat still, every few seconds nuzzling my cheek into your baby soft hair, watching your tired eyes and mind melt from a daze, to a droop, to asleep. The world waited—as I always claim it cannot–because it must, because in that moment

you needed me.

And there was nothing else.

In that moment, awash in the purest glory, breathtaking stillness and sheer soul-gutting abandon, I was Motherhood. In its quietness. In its barefootedness. In its Tuesday afternoonness. In its old t-shirtness. In its snot wipingness. In its

hopeless devotion
heart wrecking love affair
how-is-this-possibly-possible

ness.

You and me, we were Motherhood, there in a cushy brown chair. On a Tuesday afternoon.

And no matter how slim your thighs become, or how well you begin to swim, or how quickly those shaky steps turn into strides, the second you say the word, I will dive into the deep end and pull you to our Tuesday afternoon.

From My Whole Heart,
Mama

A window 2

A back seat

A N pool

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