Toddlerhood. We are in it. I find it simultaneously (sometimes in the span of 5 minutes) incredible and excruciating. One minute I'm near tears, fighting back anger and my mind frustratedly racing, the next I'm melting at something so kind, so thoughtful or funny. The whole thing has me reeling. At the end of the day I'm exhausted. At the beginning of the day I'm exhausted! Some days you wake me with your arms outstretched, hair matted and wild (one big bird's nest really!) and you excitedly tell me how you dreamed of me. Other days you awake me with yelling and screaming that you want go in the living room, or you're upset about why I didn't come sooner (good morning to you too!). The tender parts outweigh the bad. Even on our toughest days when we just don't seem to be in sync (or we're so much in sync that we're driving each other crazy, know what I mean? We are so very much alike.), not more than an hour passes after you're in bed and I want to run in, hold you close, and cover your sleeping head with kisses. Kisses for days.
Spicy moments: your sarcasm. Already! I have a 15 year old here! The other day I was getting lunch on the table and you started "Mama, I want some water please. Mama. Mama! MAMA! Why aren't you getting me water? Is that water? Noooo."
Sweet moments: You are so wonderful with your sister. I am so very grateful for that, every day. Sometimes I'll be in the thick of getting dinner ready and you, so in tune to her, will without a word come into the kitchen to get her a spoon (Dani loves spoons, the colder the better), or to ask for a pacifier from the freezer on her behalf. The other day I walked in to find you gently burping her as you sat together on the floor (and darling Mila, Dani has not needed to be burped for awhile now but of course I didn't have the heart to tell you that. Burp away!). When Dani starts crying in the car, you'll immediately launch into Mockingbird or a soothing Daaaaaaaannniii, baby Daaaaannnniii, and you always rush to do that laugh. You know the one. She loves it--AHAHAHAHA with your throat and it pleases her every time. I know that you're starting to realize you two are going to be lifelong, built-in friends, and I know you're getting excited at all the future holds in store (I know I am). Room sharing. Campouts. Fort making under the table. Already it's becoming a 'thing' for you two to get in her crib together and bounce at the railing. Thank you for holding back and not all-out jumping when she's in it, like I've asked you to do.
Other things that make my heart catch in my throat: you asking for a hug every time you get angry lately. You ask almost immediately, and through tears, half-shouting it: CAN I HAVE A HUG? or CAN YOU HOLD MY HAND? and it breaks my heart, it does. And sometimes it reminds me of angry psych patients in some of the places I used to work. Who knew my OT psych background would prove to be most useful in motherhood? But I love that you're usually so quick to regain control of your emotions, I love that you usually recognize that in times of frustration it's a GENTLE touch that will calm you (rather than hitting/throwing etc.), but most of all I love how it brings ME back to the bigger picture--go easy on you. It's hard being 2 almost 3. Yes, I may be frustrated that you're doing X, but when you ask me for a hug I remember to tune into your emotions, and really, one of my big jobs as your parent is to equip you with coping skills for life. So thank YOU, Wugs.
Sweet...and spicy too. How else would I characterize you right now? I know you're nervous when your fingers or sometimes whole hand goes in your mouth, like when you're meeting new people. It's your telltale sign. If I'm being completely honest I have to say that lately I see a mirror image of myself in you. Not so much physically, although there are glimpses, but so many of your emotions, your sensitivities, your frustrations...they hit very close to home. It's daunting at times, seeing that. You have a front-row seat to my weaknesses and shortcomings. And every day is a new day to lead by example, lead as the woman I hope you'll be someday.
What captivates you? Your imagination is your favorite plaything. Honest. These are your standby imaginary friends: Dindi, Niddy, Duo, and Pineapple. Also lately it's been Dora and Boots and we all know where that comes from. We only recently found out that Dindi is 3 (although this is fluid and very subject to change as it constantly seems to be her birthday), Pineapple is her baby sister, Niddy is the mama and she stays at home and makes things for Dindi and Pineapple, and Duo is the Papa and he works as a nurse. Well. Wow. The Weibels have an alter ego at last. I'm flattered, Wugs. Since you saw the movie Annie and it's become like your favorite favorite thing, Molly and Annie (but especially Molly) also seem to go everywhere with you. (so if we're counting that's six extra people living in this apartment. Whew!) I love love LOVE the fact that you have imaginary friends, I think it speaks volumes to your creativity, your sensitivity, and your maternal instincts...but! Sometimes you use this little motley crew in the most frustrating ways. Arguing with me in the parking lot about how Niddy doesn't make Dindi hold her hand in the parking lot so why should Mila? Or Niddy lets Dindi sleep in her Mama and Papa's bed EVERY NIGHT so Mama you are horrible to not let me do the same. Basically I'm seeing my inadequacies and shortcomings here. Sometimes I'll whisper to Steve I HATE DINDI! to which he'll reply I F*@@**ing HATE DINDI TOO! And the other night at the dinner table I respectfully asked Dindi to leave since she apparently was throwing food at the table. When she wouldn't go I escorted her out the front door and in my mind I knew how ridiculous it all looked. I had to laugh. I did.
A few weeks ago on our Destin trip one of our waitresses commented that Mila seems "very okay with herself." Maybe she meant that as a dig (I like to think she only said it with kind undertones), but I took it as a HUGE compliment. I've struggled with shyness and confidence issues for a big part of my life and not that I don't think there will inevitably be those issues in the teen years...but for now it brings me great happiness to know we're instilling confidence and happiness in our daughter. No, I don't think I can tell you too many times that you're amazing or that you're my everything. I could tell you all day long and it still wouldn't be enough. Confidence is huge. It needs to go hand in hand with empathy, of course, but it's a key part of the equation in terms of navigating life.
Other favorite things. Did I mention Annie. Especially the song 'Maybe', even though you do a mean It's a Hard-Knock Life interpretation (you're also on a Little Bunny Foo Foo kick lately and ask me to sing it over and over again. Make it stop!). Let's talk about who's a girl--and then you'll rattle off the list of lady people in your life. For some reason you love doing that. Your books. There's so many. My friend Karrie pointed out that you're going to be our bookworm and inside I leaped for joy. You'll go on a rampage of wanting the same book for days and days on end (or your High Five magazine. You love that magazine!), then it will disappear and won't resurface until months later. You also love my cookbooks lately? You'll sit and pour over the recipes and plan out what we're going to make, what we need to make. You're getting a cookbook of your own for your birthday, I'm excited, it's going to be great. Aside from the seasonal books I keep all our books pretty accessible on the bookshelf, you have run of the mill of the bottom two rows. I used to try to rotate them more but out of sheer laziness haven't been great at doing that--I thought this would be a hindrance and stop you from accessing them, but no, you're doing just fine. You're not overwhelmed. You make more messes, this way, but oh well. Lately you've actually been pretty awesome about cleaning up. Minimal reminders. Did I just say that out loud...jinxed. But back to what you love. You love hearing stories "about the little girl"...I'll make up characters with crazy names and usually the heroine is a girl with some offshoot of the name Mila. Weewa. Milangawawaboo. The crazier the better. I'll tell you a story, then you'll tell me one (yours usually involve swimming), and on and on. And Papa's stories "about the little girl" are always with our names spelled backwards. Alim and her sister Inad, the mama Ainat and papa Apap. I wonder when you'll figure that out. And yes, Papa still doesn't want you knowing that his real name is Steve in a very Rumpelstiltskin move but shhhhhhh you know. Teve. Teve! Happy birthday Teve. It makes me laugh so hard.
Through swimming stickers you started liking Dora the Explorer and I try to use it to my advantage, letting you watch one of the shows while I'm trying to nurse Dani down for one of her naps. Your latest thing is to take pictures yourself using my phone. I love seeing your perspective on things. You're still not really into art or 'messy' projects. Maybe you never will be. You don't like getting your hands dirty or sticky and barely tolerate it when we're baking or cooking together (there's taste testing involved so that's why you do tolerate it). And when we go to the beach now, there's only a little bit of a struggle between your I HATE SAND ON MY FEET! self and BUT I HAVE TO GO ON THE SAND TO GET TO THE FUN WATER PART! self. We've been working on it. I remember hating the sticky sand part too. Part of me still does. If you live in Florida, though, you have to make peace with it. You know all your letters, uppercase and lowercase. Numbers are a different bag (1, 2, 3, 4, 9!) but we're working on it.
It's been a big summer for you, Wugs. You learned to swim. You learned this whole peeing and pooping thing on the potty isn't so bad--huge milestone which I NEVER thought was going to happen (cue the dramatics), but now you're in underwear all day and night. It took awhile and much more than the stinking 4 days that the internet seemed to proclaim, but once it clicked, it clicked and there was no turning back. You're a rockstar. But you know what? Part of me misses you coming to me for a diaper change. I know, isn't that crazy? But I remember the way you used to throw yourself down on the ground and then on cue just splay out your limbs. I realized a few weeks ago that I'll never see you do that again and it made me sad. More sad than I realized I would be. And this was the summer that you started going to the movies! To date you've seen The Smurfs, Annie, and Hotel Translyvania.
You still constantly surprise me, just like your father does which I guess is the mark of a fabulous relationship. When we decided to ditch the diapers at nighttime too, following your lead, I scrambled and ran to Home Goods for a simple set of white cotton sheets as a backup. I thought you would be disappointed that they weren't fun, you know, like your gold polka-dotted sheets or like the flashy stickers you're always drawn to. But you loved those plain sheets. These are just like mama's sheets! you said. Thank you for getting me sheets like yours Mama! It nearly brought me to tears.
Funny things you say. (Pinch me. I couldn't wait for you to talk and this is a big reason why.):
Soon Dani will be walking, but we'll still call her Dani!
We're not going to share a boyfriend Dani, and I don't know what that means.
Mama's always going to be my mama. Me's not gonna have any other mamas. I don't want any other mama.
I don't want the mermaid doll because then I can't change her diaper.
Baa has a penis! (his tail)
Mama you're so sweet.
Can I eat these kiwi seeds? Because they're delicious!
Papa I have to tell you something. Don't eat babies.
Steve: Mila why are you screaming?
Mila: There's something wrong with me!
When I get a little bigger, me's gonna be awesome.
Me: I like french fries a little bit. Not too much.
Mila: I like them too much.
Wakomo mama. That's what Dora says. (vamonos)
My baby daughter Dani.
You can keep rubbing my back, Mama. I think this will be one of your highs, isn't it?
Papa your beard feels like needles.
Me: You're my boo.
Mila: I is.
Me: Mila, it's impolite to pick your nose in front of people.
...so she covered her eyes with one hand and kept right on picking.
Papa you don't have hair because you're a boy.
I already have a baby in my belly. My husband is in town.
Her email address is dot com.
I pooped! It looks like a banana. A dirty banana.
The way you say didaffe (giraffe)
kank you (thank you)
Me: I don't want you to turn 3. I want you to stay little.
Mila: I need to turn 3. I have to grow up.
...Isn't she wise?
I love you, sweet Mila. I could not ask for more. Happy birthday.
p.s. I'll be sure to put more Mila pictures on this post tomorrow. Right now I've got a very awake Dani looking for her 2 am snack :)