Wednesday, February 5, 2014

No You Can Not Climb Into the Fireplace

Today was a hard day.

Ellie woke up in a bad mood, and she stayed that way for quite some time. She's throwing tantrums (she's 18 months old - so it's par for the course) and she can be demanding, uncooperative, difficult, and moody. She changes her mind from minute to minute, and she has no patience whatsoever. She wants to do things that are physically unsafe and when I tell her she can not due to the fact that she will bust her head open, she throws herself on the floor and screams and tells me no. There was a moment today that I did the obvious cry for help of a Facebook status: "I have a very passionate toddler. And she is winning."

Cause let's face it, sometimes I act tough and say "I AM THE BOSS" and then she kinda gives me that face. That face that says "uh huh, yeah... you keep telling yourself that, crazy red-headed lady."

However... even after all of that, even after the tantrums and the bad morning and the chaos, I can say that while today was a hard day, I can still say that it was a good day.

Tonight, Grant and I sat at the dinner table after Ellie went to bed and talked. (I told you in my last blog that we would be doing this more often, and we are!) We were talking about the fact that her 18 month appointment is tomorrow. They will measure her size and her physical development. The doctor will ask me some basic questions to make sure she is on target with all her milestones. Grant and I were discussing how smart she is, how funny she is.... and I shared with him that on a day like today, this child can make me so unbelievably infuriated but somehow, someway, within 8 seconds melt me into a puddle of sappy, sentimental goo.

I know it's cliche to say, but it's the truth. I get so impatient, and then she snaps me right back into the reality that she is wonderful. She's a toddler. She is trying to communicate and she doesn't understand the basic rules of life. She doesn't understand gravity and head injuries. She doesn't understand that ovens are hot and large bodies of water are dangerous. She doesn't know that parking lots are full of hazards and that when she wants to play with me at 7:05am I have not yet gone to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, or had coffee. She doesn't know that when it is 40 degrees outside we must put on socks, shoes, and a jacket before we go outside. She doesn't know. And she is trying to tell me something and I don't always comprehend what she's trying to say. She uses words like "no" "please" "more" and "down" but there are no subjects. Just verbs.

But when I think back on today, I think about her being on my hip and saying "One...." with that sly little grin, waiting for me to say "Two, THREE!" and jump. I think about her looking at me and saying "Mommy, Luh-loo!" (love you!) I think about her waking up from her nap (an hour early, mind you) and laying her head on my shoulder and patting my arm. I think about all the things she repeated, the way she furrows her eyebrows when she's really concentrating on her fine motor skills.... I think about the way she finds a leaf by the front door and brings it to me with a big smile like she's bringing me a precious gift. I remember the way she took all the animals out of Noah's ark and laid them down, covered them with a blanket and told them "night night babies". I think about the way she belly flops on the couch, then sits up and says "Ta Da!!!"

I think about the way she eats yogurt with a spoon and gets about 15% of it in her mouth. I think about the way she holds up the farmer puzzle piece from her farm puzzle and yells at the top of her lungs, "E-I-E-I-O!!!" I think about the way she stands at the door and says "door? outside? peez?" and does a little dance with her feet. And then I tell her we have to put on a jacket, so she throws herself on the floor, sobbing. Bless her heart, she doesn't understand why I make her life so difficult.

What I'm getting at in all of this, what I'm trying to say is that even our worst days... even the days that I'm telling her to "knock it off" and "I HEAR YOU" and "Mommy will help you in 30 seconds, but I NEED TO PEE"... even those days... the days of impatience from both mommy and child... those days are still filled with SUCH. JOY.

Motherhood is refining and redefining. It's taught me so much about selfishness and selflessness, peace and chaos. It's taught me about discipline and letting go. It's the hardest job I've ever had. (And I only have one kid. Holy moly.) It's also the most fun I've ever had.

Cause, I mean really... who else is going to listen to me sing show tunes all day and enthusiastically clap when I finish each song?


  1. A love letter to Ellie. She'll treasure it when she's all grown up and tantrum-free. :) Very sweet.

  2. You have a beautiful little daughter. Beyond that you just look at her smile and her eyes, and you see a happy little girl. Good mothering, Jen.

  3. Oh my goodness. I identify with every word of this. I love reading about life with your Ellie girl. :-)

  4. This is such truth! Truth about what life with a toddler is really like, and truth about what's good and what's not so fun. And I will tell you something: I have seen moms who let the hard stuff grow their character (patience, anyone?) and moms who don't, and it mostly comes down to whether they choose to see the good or not. And I think it's clear that you are choosing to see the good, and both you and your child will be the happier for it. :) (Hope this comes off encouraging and not condescending!)