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Bye-Bye Baby

My baby is growing up. Wow, is that hard to type! I was combing through my recent summer pictures and found one of my father running through a baby pool with my 22 month-old daughter. I showed it to my coworkers (being the proud mama that I am) and they commented on how big she’s getting. Now I realize this is a pretty typical thing to say of children, but for some reason I suddenly snapped to attention. I took the picture back and really examined it. I searched for clues of my newborn, my baby, or any “baby-ness” at all. I found none. I stared at the picture — at my girl in her bathing suit running across the pool with a big grin on her face, her long legs stretched out, and it just hit me: she’s no longer a baby. She’s a child. My baby is gone. Now that I’ve officially wrapped my head around this realization, I can see there were other signs where toddlerhood had replaced babyhood — I just didn’t pay attention. My friend and partner, Sarah, is very pregnant with her second child (a girl) and I recently lent her all of my baby clothes. As I sorted through the sizes and reminisced about the three month-old onesies and the newborn T’s, my heart had suddenly begun to ache. But then I heard a banging noise in the adjoining room where my toddler was located at the moment, and I got up to uncover the source of the ruckus. I brushed that baby ache away, and pretended I hadn’t felt it at all. But I can no longer push these feelings off or pretend, as the documented proof sits in my hand in complete photographic form. Hard core evidence. I have a child; I no longer have a baby. I can’t even say it crept up on me, or that time has gone so quickly either. I still do remember all the sleepless nights, the formula spills, smelling breast milk and mashed peas and carrots. I have certainly felt each and every day of my daughter’s life as soon as I was able to distinguish what day it was after my labor and delivery sleep-fog. Quite simply, it didn’t occur to me in the day to day passing of life.  Half the time I was just trying to get through and enjoy the day....

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Pediatric Olympics

Whoever said that the Olympics come around only every two years lied. There’s a competition of games happening everyday, on playgrounds, parks and play dates all over the world. But there are no javelins or sprints or relay races involved, instead, crawling and walking and talking have replaced them. Light the torch and welcome to Pediatric Olympics! Well, perhaps it’s a little bit more subtle than lighting a torch and walking through a public square. But make no mistake about it, the games have begun and the competition is alive and well. Marking and comparing a child’s progress may not be an official category, but it certainly is a parenthood pastime.  I myself have some experience in these matters. Case in point: our daughter is particularly tall for her age. Now being first time parents, we didn’t think about it much one way or another. Why would we really, being first time parents and all. Then one day, our doctor mentioned the following, “You know, for her age, your daughter is in the 95th percentile for height.” Well that’s good! I mean, in school that would amount to an “A” right? OK, excellent! My husband and I suddenly felt a big wave of pride and happiness, like we had accomplished something. Maybe we can handle this parenting thing all right after all, riding on the high of this wonderful piece of news!  Other people noticed too: “My goodness, how old is your daughter? She looks older; she’s tall for her age! You must be so happy.” And with that sometimes that other parent would glance at her own child with an anxious look, as if they were wondering when their child’s growth spurt would happen. Of course I never took pleasure in that type of look, but I did feel triumphant that my own daughter was growing well. I’m aware I used the word triumphant, as if I could possibly take credit for this as a parent. As if a particular choice in my parental skills actually helped this process. But I was filled with pride, just the same. Cut to our daughter’s motor skills. She started crawling at the ripe old age of ten months, and she didn’t take to it immediately. Walking followed a similar suit — she started late and seemed to take her time wobbling about unsteadily. And then after time…nothing changed. She still wobbles....

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Pure Girl

When I think of a word to describe me, I don’t know if “tomboy” does an entirely accurate job. I do like sports and am probably more about function than form. I also wear some makeup and care about how I dress (somewhat). But I’m not a fashionista; I don’t have a bag or makeup or shoe obsession. My backpack goes everywhere with me, and when I’m not in the same pair of black work shoes every day I’m in sneakers.  Black tends to go with everything, and if I try hard enough I can make sneakers go with just about everything too. My daughter is only 21-months-old, and of course she is still forming and changing everyday. One thing though is apparent already: she’s a girly girl from her head to her toes. She loves clothes and often runs her hands across my clothes in the closet shouting, “Wear Mama wear!” She really loves shoes, and anytime she gets a new pair it’s a major cause of celebration. She’s obsessed with brushing her own hair and loves to brush mine. This actually involves an entire process; I must sit a certain way and turn my head just so. Her smile then leaves her face and is replaced by a look of sheer determination as she brushes my hair very purposefully and puts every hair exactly where she thinks it should be — apparently all my hairs have a destination and it is her job to get them there.  Her favorite brush is a pink one, and she refers to it only as “pink.” I suppose there is nothing significant about that, except that I happen to hate the color pink. Nothing I own has pink in it. Not even a stripe or print. When my husband and I were painting her room we chose lavender, wanting something feminine for her but also wanting to avoid pink. And she does like her room. She likes purple too…just not as much as she likes pink. I suppose I should have seen this coming. Even as a newborn she was fascinated by watching me put on make up, always gesturing that she wanted some too. I would oblige her, pretending to put on mascara, lipstick and blush. Nothing thrilled her more. She would look up at me triumphantly, so happy when she thought she was wearing makeup too.  By discovering this trait...

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My Daughter Thinks Her Poop Doesn’t Stink

I’ve heard that there are three types of toddlers: easy, cautious and spirited. My daughter’s stage name could be Little Miss Spirited — she’s got it from the top of her head to her toenails. It pulses through her like an energy current, shooting out of her ears and spreading through any room she enters. She is loud and proud. Her confidence, enthusiasm and id run wild, and she thinks her poop doesn’t stink. In actuality, my daughter is living the moment we all dream about. Her self-esteem is at 300%. She thinks she’s the bomb (even her stink-bombs). The greatest thing to ever walk the earth. I’m thoroughly convinced she wakes up every morning in complete awe of herself. And quite frankly, why shouldn’t she? Of course, to me she’s the greatest person ever — as her mom I’m essentially hardwired to think that. But what truly fascinates me is that she only focuses on her greatness. No one has trampled on her self-esteem. My daughter doesn’t feel like she has to compensate for a darn thing. She’s not trying to prove anything to anyone. She is who she is, and it’s more than enough for her. And, she doesn’t know anything different from thinking she’s purely awesome. I don’t know about you, but I’d like some of that. How incredible is that!? It’s not that she’s got it all figured out — for her, there isn’t anything to figure out. She is uniquely perfect in herself, absolutely whole and complete. The world has not yet had a piece of her, telling her she’s not enough or that she’s too much of this or that. She’s who she is, unabashed and unafraid. And I am overjoyed for her, and a little jealous that the world has had enough of its way with me — my self-esteem has looked like Swiss cheese at certain points in my life (one of which was directly after she was born). So how do I tell my daughter to maintain this idea that she is complete, that she was born complete? How do I teach her that she is perfectly perfect already? Not to listen to others (except me!) and stay true to herself, and always pursue the path that makes her feel most like who she already is. Can I, basically damaged goods when compared to her, even impart such a lesson? Shouldn’t I...

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