When Your Best Friend is Three

When the person you spend the most time with is three, it also tends to happen that they become your best friend.

You are with them every second of every day.

When you spend all of your time with someone you begin to notice the nuance of a sigh, the preamble to a smile, and the lingering of a disappointment.

They see you at your best, your worst, your strongest, and your most vulnerable.

And since the age of three does not come with a filter, they call you out. On everything.

When your best friend is three, they don’t hesitate to tell you that the green dress you put on makes you “look like a T-rex.” Obviously, you are not leaving the house in that condition.

When your best friend is three, they will help you limit your calorie intake by telling you that you don’t need to eat any more “so your tummy won’t get squishy.”

They can boost your ego with a “you look beautiful” and tell you like it is when you need to freshen up so you “won’t be scary” with a “maybe you need a little make up.”

When your best friend is three you find that your most animated conversations tend to involve the life cycle of bugs or the origins of poo.

They will also help you make decisions with impressive negotiating skills, like when you can’t decide if the afternoon’s activity should involve cleaning or playing. “How about this, Mommy? You can clean and I can play.” Problem solved.

When your best friend is three, you find yourself in power struggles. You want to value their opinion just as much as they want to be heard, but sometimes you still have to the be grown up.

When your best friend is three you might share your day with them even if it involved grown up things like bill paying and phone calls, because even though you don’t want to burden them with grown up stuff it’s ok to let them know it exists.

When your best friend is three you will truly be excited to hear about what the teachers said at camp today and who they played with that morning because you are just as curious about their child life as they are of your grown up one.

When your best friend is three you will sometimes not understand why they are so upset because you thought you were having a great day until the flip switched and you have no idea how to fix it.

When your best friend is three you may find yourself hovering between a desire to let go and a desire to hang on because three doesn’t last forever and fearlessness sometimes presides over logic.

When your best friend is three sometimes you just need a break because you can’t talk to them about all of the crazy that runs around in your mind all day. They are, after all, only three.

When your best friend is three you will find yourself on a roller coaster. I have spent days laughing, crying, being frustrated, being confused and being content.

When your best friend is three you will be surprised when you see bits of yourself in them. Maybe it’s looks or mannerisms or emotions but this little mini me has somehow become both your shadow and your reflection.

When your best friend is three you may find your world is small and large all at once. Because only in the confinements of a three year old world can you be completely isolated from the complexity of adult life and completely in awe of the world’s vastness in unison.

When your best friend is three you know there will be a limit to it. It’s not like when you were in school and you got those BFF bracelets with your girlfriends. (You did this, too, yes?) It’s not like your relationship with your husband that will grow and change and come together and fall apart.

It’s different.

When your best friend is three, you are completely aware that it is fleeting and that one day he may not be so interested in hanging out with you at the coffee shop or telling you all of the details about his day. Even the yucky ones.

When your best friend is three, you know that this part may end. But you hope, so very much, that the parts where he’s honest with you, and loves you, and laughs with you and shares with you will stick around.

Because you know that somehow what you are establishing with your little best friend now will be the foundation for what you will sustain with him later.

And even though you know he will not always think so, you will always think of him as the very best part of yourself.

That is what happens when your best friend is three.

My Best Friend, Age 3

Noah age 3

 

Style Evolution

I just stumbled across this blog tutorial on how to do hair and make up and my first thought was, “This girl does not have kids.” It’s an adorable blog, with a lot of great tips, and I was memorized for hours a while, but who puts this kind of effort into their looks? Oh, women who are not mommies. And who have time. And who care about their appearance. Kind of like me, when I was 18.

I wish I could blame my lack of style and hair and makeup knowledge on being a busy mom and never having enough time, but that just wouldn’t be the truth.

The truth is, I lost my style long ago.

In high school, I was stylish. I was in the popular crowd, I knew what clothes were acceptable and what weren’t, and I even prided myself on never wearing the same outfit twice. I also spent hours doing my hair and make up, which involved a long routine of shower, blowdry, flat-iron, and curl. And of course, occasionally style up in some way, but only after completing the above process. My make up routine was equally involved with foundation, concealer (for what I don’t know…my 18 year old self would be appalled at my now nearly 30 skin) powder, blush, 3 different layers of eyeshadow, two different eyeliners, mascara, lip liner, lip gloss, and shimmery highlighting powder. Whoo, just writing that made me exhausted.

When I went to college, I discovered this horrible thing called the 8 am class. That meant I had to be up and ready to go by 7:15? Usually after staying up until wee hours the night before? That hair and make up routine got dropped pretty quickly. My college uniform quickly turned into jeans, a college t-shirt, a ponytail, mascara, and chapstick. I still knew how to get pretty for evening activities, but I never made any friends in classes. I was into sleep more than impressing co-eds.

After college graduation, I took my first job as a nanny. No need to dress up for a newborn, a 3-year-old , and a 5-year-old, right?

When I got my first teaching job, it was in a pre-school/day care environment where you could not wear jeans (oh no!) but you could wear scrubs or “professional sweat suits.” I don’t know what that means either. I took it to mean gray sweatpants, t-shirts and soaking wet hair ponytails, and got away with it. I am actually still terribly embarrassed that I went to work like that.

For many reasons, that job wasn’t a good fit, and I interviewed and got hired by a “real” school, a local public elementary school. There was a professional dress code here! You had to wear stuff like khakis and real shirts! (I also had things like a salary and benefits. I was a grown up!)  But I was still teaching Kindergarten. So my wardrobe became fitted with all things Old Navy and Target. Khakis and v-neck t-shirts people. Outfits of the stars. (Seriously. I think my class was the shining stars…or something like that.) I also upped my hair and make up routine by wearing my hair in a deep part, low side bun every day and actually wearing make up! But this time, the routine consisted of Bare Minerals foundation, mineral veil, eyeliner, mascara, and lip gloss. So quick, so easy, and I looked so presentable every day! Amazing.

A year and a half  later, the stay at home mom gig started. I would go for DAYS without putting on a trace of make up. Or getting dressed. Or showering. Or touching my hair. Yes, my husband is a lucky, lucky man.  Fortunately, the baby didn’t care.

As I started to feel better and get back into the world, I realized that I honestly forgot how to do this. This body was different. This hair did not style the way it used to. This skin does not conceal! Seriously, having this baby changed EVERYTHING!

Slowly, I found my way back to the deep part low side bun ponytail. Bare Minerals saved my life. And I only had to invest a million dollars use a few resources to get back to a wardrobe I’m comfortable with. Which now involves jeans, v-neck t-shirts, and the occasional print blouse. I know, my style is so enviable.

I have also discovered that I need to keep my hair at a manageable length. Although I love my hair long and styled, long with a baby just meant daily ponytails. But too short also means daily styling, which just doesn’t work. So a medium length gives me the freedom for ponytails often, but also the capability for a down do every once in a while. I also learned to keep make up in the car. Parking lot mascara anyone? The toddler even knows to wait just a minute after we arrive at a destination so “Mommy put on make up and not look scary.” He’s a charmer.

So I am not the most put together mom, and even though the morning ritual of lets-fight-about-putting-on-socks-and-shoes definitely interferes with my make up time, having a toddler isn’t the only reason I’m not so put together. My style has just been a constant evolution. My adult life has been devoted to the caring of children; often in non-structured environments. And it’s just so hard to put forth the effort to get all done up when you just don’t have to. (And when you have little people yelling at you. Like right now. The toddler needs juice.)

I suppose it is something that will continue to evolve and change as my life does. But it kind of also looks like I just might not be as girly as I used to think I was. A style evolution and a personal revelation; who saw that coming?

So, my friends, do you have any style advice for me? As long as I can still do the pre-school drop off by sitting in my car with no bra and sweat pants, I would love to take you up on suggestions. :)

Pending

Do you ever feel like your life is pending?

Sometimes I find myself at that place. That place of wondering, of stalling, of waiting. Waiting for the unknown.

I have been at these places before. My life was pending at the end of my pregnancy, when I was just waiting for a delivery, but had no control over how it would unfold.

My life was pending during the match process for my husband’s residency, where we could have been placed anywhere in the country, and we just had to wait until Match Day and a piece of paper to find out how we would spend the next four years of our lives.

Sometimes I feel like some of my relationships are pending; not really that bad and not really that good, just pending, waiting to see what will happen in the future.

The hot topic issue of having another child is pending in our house, since the hubs and I disagree on this very sensitive subject.

Most recently, I have been handling pending insurance claims and financial bits of life, and even though that is extremely insignificant in the grand scheme of things, I find the stress of constantly dealing with it seeping into my contentedness.

Sometimes, I even apply that word to myself. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I was a nanny and a teacher and now I am a stay at home Mommy. But that too, will come to an end when he starts school in a few years, and I’m not sure what direction my life will go in then.

So I find myself here today feeling like I’m on hold, just waiting for the next thing to happen. My life is not bad, or overly exhilarating, it is just there….

Pending.

I Made All the Right Parenting Choices. So Did You.

It is easy to judge other people’s parenting. Before you become a parent, you probably have pre-conceived notions of the type of parent you will be. So when you see moms dealing with a full-out temper tantrum in the middle of a grocery store, it’s easy to think, “My child will never do that, or “I would handle that better.”

After you become a parent, it’s easy to see other parents making different choices than you are and think, “Why are they parenting that way?” or “I would never do that.”

It’s easy to feel judged as a parent. Even though you are often wrapped up in your child, you are also always aware of disapproving looks that might be thrown your way in public or even from among your own family members.

It’s easy not to feel confident in your parenting skills because you will hear different advice from different people and sometimes it’s hard to remember that ultimately your opinion about your baby is the only one that matters.

There are so many issues in parenting to get heated about. There are so many different beliefs about the “right” way to raise a baby. And it’s ok to believe in the way that you are parenting. I believe very strongly in the parenting choices I have made. I know I have made the right choices. I am passionate about my decisions, but I will try not to judge you for feeling passionate about yours.

What’s hard in parenting is to realize that just because someone isn’t doing it your way, doesn’t mean they are doing it in a bad way. We want to believe that we are doing the best for our child. So we will defend and argue and judge others if it doesn’t fit in with our ways, because no one wants to believe that they are intentionally making bad choices for their children. The debates about staying-at-home vs working and breastfeeding vs bottle-feeding are so heated because every parent feels that they have made the right decision. It’s wonderful to know that you made the right choice for your child.

But it’s not ok to judge others for making the right choices for theirs. Every parent wants the best for their child. If we could all begin to understand that behind every parenting decision is a good intention, maybe we could stop judging that mom in the grocery store with the tantrum throwing two-year old. Or stop gawking at that mom breastfeeding her baby in the restaurant. Or stop telling the woman who chose to formula feed that she’s depriving her child.

Hopefully, by the time these children grow up, they will all be smart, successful, sweet, contributing members of society. But there are a lot factors that will pave the road for that child to grow up. Fighting or judging about the baby stuff doesn’t help get them to the grown up stuff.

Make your parenting choices responsibly. BELIEVE in your parenting choices. Defend them if you have to. But then remember not to judge someone else for making different choices. Because if you have researched, thought about, and really made an honest effort to do the very best parenting you can, then you have made the right choice; whatever choice that may be.

 

*This post is a summation of my thoughts after reading these thought-provoking articles about parenting last week: Snap JudgmentsMom Judgments, and Take a Bottle. I’ll admit, I haven’t always followed my own advice, but after reading these articles and doing a lot of thinking, I came to the conclusions I wrote in this post. I hope you will, too. I would love to hear your thoughts. 

A week in the life

Normally, I try to take little man somewhere every morning for an activity, then come home for lunch, nap, outside play, house cleaning, and then bedtime routine. This week has thrown us off a bit and reminded me of the highs and lows of this stay-at-home mom gig I’ve got going.

Monday: a pretty regular day. Music class, lunch, nap, a walk outside, and then heavy cleaning for a playdate in the morning followed by our bedtime routine.

Tuesday: Playdate! My house is spotless, the sunshine is streaming in through my windows in the most beautiful way, I have home-made cupcakes ready for the children to decorate and coffee ready for my friend and I. The children play (mostly) nicely and I enjoy grownup conversation in a spotless home with homemade confections. Isn’t this the way I always dreamed being a stay-at-home mom would be? I felt like I was in a movie.

Wednesday: Sickness has attacked our house. My son and I both have runny noses and a case of the whines. We decide on a pajama and movie day and snuggle on the couch for Despicable Me and Beauty and the Beast. Then I am tired and ready for a nap, but little man has decided his sickness is over, and it would be a good idea to “make it snow” in the living room while Mommy lies on the couch feeling yucky. By the time I realize what “make it snow” means, my living room is COVERED in baby powder. I drag myself to clean up and finally coax the baby to sleep. After nap I park myself back in front of the TV and wait for the hubs to take over.

Thursday: (today) Feeling a little better, but not 100%. We spend the morning watching some Sesame Street. Then I get a creative burst and decide we should….finger paint! Shortly after my brilliant idea my kitchen in covered in various shades of blue, yellow, red, and green, and my white kitchen sink has turned into a rainbow. The phone is ringing but I don’t feel up to dealing with that, and some one is stinky. It’s either the baby, the cat litter box, or both. Probably both. The house is messy and laundry has piled up from me taking a day off yesterday. Lots to deal with this afternoon.

Friday: (tomorrow) The baby has pre-school in the morning and I should go to workout class. I might just schedule a date for myself with a cup of coffee and a good book instead. I hope to survive lunch and nap and then await the hubs arrival for the weekend and two full days of help with this baby thing.

Weekend triumphs to look forward to:

  • Getting over this cold. It is throwing me off.
  • Getting a new phone! Whoo hoo!
  • Superbowl Sunday…because I love the commercials and the excuse for junk food.

It’s the little things….