Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Last Weeks of Two

Last Weeks of Two

Lately whenever I come into a room where Ivy has been playing on her own for a while, I find a perfect little row of something: robot blocks arranged neatly, side-by-side, according to color. Tiny plastic pigs standing in an expectant row. A stuffed-animal kick-line.

She's in no hurry to be a "big girl" (if you use that phrase with her, you're likely to hear, "No, I'm a baby!"), and when you ask her to do something for herself, she comes back with, "Can you do it?" On the other hand, she's more than happy to help me with my work: she unloads the dishwasher, puts the soap in for the next load, and pushes the "Start" button. She can set the table, and even remembers to put the forks and napkins on the left, knifes and spoons on the right. Her idea of making the big bed is flopping down in the middle of it and rolling around while giggling. Her idea of making her brother's bed is gathering up as many of his stuffed things as she can carry and making a beeline for the living room.

Last Weeks of Two

Ivy's favorite thing in the whole wide world is mothers and babies. If there is a Big Something and a Little Something, Big is the mama and Little is the baby. And she is Mama's baby. Always.

Last Weeks of Two

She's in a Storyteller Phase. Everything she says and does, she narrates. It's a little bizarre, this tiny human walking around and talking about herself in the third person: "'Can I have some milk?' said Ivy. Ivy is askin' to nurse." (She still nurses. Frequently and fervently.) And then, lying across my lap: "Ivy is lookin' up to her mama!"

Last Weeks of Two

* * *

On Friday, she will be three. I want to say "time flies," but it hasn't. This past year has stretched out to twice its rightful length. Ivy has been two forever, you guys! I know threes are supposed to be more challenging than twos, but I'm not so sure that will be true with this girl. From the very beginning, I feel like I've known some things about her for sure, but I've been surprised (and often blindsided) by so much more. My intellect, my gut, my memory all say "three is hard." I'm holding out hope that three, with this child, will be awesome. Regardless, I know she'll surprise me. In fact, I can't shake the feeling that she has something up her sleeve.

Whatever it is, I'm ready. And I know she is, too.

Last Weeks of Two


Monday, August 10, 2015

Trimming Beans

I adore fresh green beans, but for the longest time, I rarely bought them. Because trimming green beans is one of my least favorite kitchen activities.


It's not especially difficult or messy, but no matter how few beans there are, the process seems to take hours. With each snip, snip, the pile of untrimmed beans somehow stays the same size.

Last week I decided no, I like green beans too much to consistently not them. I brought home five pounds, maybe six, and got down to the business of preparing all of them for dinner. It wasn't actually so terrible. And I still have a sizeable heap of leftover steamed green beans in the fridge. I smile a little every time I see them through their glass container, actually.

There's a tiny little self-love lesson here.

I excel at putting in work for other people's benefit. Especially around food. But rarely do I labor on my own behalf. I'll buy a special item or make a special meal just because one of my children likes it, but my liking it is never reason enough. I'm certain this translates to other, non-food areas of my life as well. How could it not?

So I'm starting small. By trimming beans.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Getting Someone (Else) Off My Chest

Toddler nursing.

It is August, 2009. I write, "I can't imagine nursing a two-year-old. I think I would go crazy." My milk-loving toddler weans two and a half months later. It's mostly his idea. Despite my feeling like I have no idea what I'm doing, it seems just right.

Fast-forward to today. My second toddler loves milk even more than her brother did, it seems. At two-and-a-half years old, Ivy is still going strong on the nursing front. She opts for breastmilk instead of breakfast most days, and has a knack for asking, "Mama, kai [can I] nurse?" when it's least convenient to do so. She nurses at least six times a day. Add any kind of stress into the mix—busy day, developmental milestone, Daylight Savings Time—and that number jumps up to eight or nine. I might be going part because I'm not going anywhere, stuck in this chair under a 31-month-old baby.

I've banned the word crazy from our family vocabulary—as in "she's crazy"—because it's a word so often used in our culture to dismiss another person's feelings (especially if that person happens to be female). But I employ "crazy" in my interior monologue on the regular. As in, I'm going/must be/definitely crazy.

The crazy as it pertains to nursing a toddler is really ambivalence. Breastfeeding has never been my favorite thing. But it's not usually my least favorite thing, either. I am split down the middle between ever-so-done with this nursing relationship and awed that I continue to be a source of comfort and nutrition for my daughter in this way. I'd like to have my "body back" (whatever that means) tomorrow, put my foot down and say, "no more nursing"—while I also have the deep sense that when Ivy is 20, I won't wish I'd weaned her sooner. I'd like her to branch out nutritionally and eat a greater variety of foods, sit down to breakfast like a "normal preschooler" (whatever that means)—while I also know that  nothing I serve her in a cup or off a plate is going to match what she can get from my specifically-calibrated-for-Ivy breastmilk. I hate being stuck in a chair at nap time, but I still feel that cuddle-hormone bliss when she drifts off to sleep in my arms.

On a bad day, nursing my toddler can be just the mood-reset button I need. On a different bad day, it's jaw-clenchingly, skin-crawlingly awful. And on a good day, it seems just right.