Monday, May 11, 2015

{Miss Maylin} Maylin Turns Two: A Letter for the Night Before Your Birthday

Dear Maylin,

You're Two! Two little years in your wake, two little candles on your cake. You wear Two well. You wear it in all it's two-year toddler glory. You wear it with confidence, with brilliance, with laughter, with pizazz. You wear Two unlike any toddler has worn it before. You wear it with your head thrown back in wonder and joy, peals of giggles bubbling from your soul. You wear it with a tiny, darling gap between your two front teeth. You wear it with stomping feet, and high pitched "No!"s, and flailing limbs. You wear it with the tenderest pat-pats on my back, the most undeniable "hep pease mama!" and the greatest love of bananas and apple juice the world has known. 

The You you are becoming is extraordinarily unique, the juxtaposition of the best and worst parts of your parents combined with attributes all your own. You are dainty and poised and feminine, yet stubborn and tempermental and emotional. You have unending wells of passion and a deep determination to hold fast your obsessions. You don't stop. You don't let go. You are tenacious and determined. You are my firecracker, my brilliant little firecracker that lights up my life. You are my strong little warrior, filled with what it takes to win whatever battle you've decided to fight. You are friendly and outgoing and willing to wring the life out of life, yet simultaneously quiet and reserved, thoughtful and pensive.

You have the endearing habit of calling Deuce "Bouf" or "Boucey." You respond with "No, I don thin so" when a simple no would work just as well. Milk is pronounced "pickle" and you call Hartlie just plain "Ha."  
You greet everything with a cheery "Hi!": 
"Hi soos!" {shoes}
"Hi red!" {any red object}
"Hi ban!" {banana}
"Hi no why!" {Snow White}
"Hi boo!" {any blue object}
"Hi shishy!" {sissy}
"Hi ap soo!" {apple juice}
"Hi lello!" {any yellow object}
"Hi Man Beahr! {Manni Bear}
"Hi Muh mah!" {Mama- my favorite}

My wish for you, during this next year while you're Two, is that you remain: curious, expectant, wide-eyed, wild-eyed, innocent, alert, brilliant, friendly, confident.

My wish for you, while you're Two, is that you grow: in compassion, in kindness, in thoughtfulness, in meekness, in gentleness, in patience with understanding, in humility, in graciousness. 

Above all, my lovely green-eyed girl, may you remain to your core the truest version of You- my Maylin.

Happy Birthday.  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

{Motherhood} Handling It

I took my girls to the mall yesterday. Solo.

It was a rainy Friday, and I was meeting my mom later in the afternoon so she could keep the girls for the weekend. I wanted an outing for us, an excuse to get out of the house, and going to the mall where we'd be meeting my mom later just seemed like the logically convenient and fun thing to do. I could look for a new shirt, the girls could ride in the stroller, we could see other human beings. It had the possibility of being a disaster, but I was mentally and physically prepared. Confident. A bit anxious, and probably overly laden with snacks, but confident.

When we left the house I expected to have a hilariously disastrous story to tell about some sort of meltdown or public fiasco upon returning home. But I don't. The day went surpisingly well. Smoothly. You might even say effortlessly.

It was an anti-climatic outing.

There was a moment, somewhere between watching the water gurgle up from indoor fountains and making a second trip to the bathroom, when the thought entered my mind: I'm handling this. I'm a mom with a baby and a toddler by myself in a very public mall, and I'm handling this. And {shocker} this is fun!

I'm handling this.

That is a phrase that I thought would take years for me to believe. An emotion I was unsure I would ever feel as a mother. There have been days over the course of being a mom to two under two when I longed for anti-climatic days, boring trips to the store, and uneventful public outings. And yesterday, that happened. I fielded and I tossed and I encouraged and I nourished and I manipulated and I laughed and I mothered. And it was fun. So, so fun. For the first time, I allowed myself to feel and believe that I had the whole motherhood thing under some semblance of control. And it felt good.

The highlight of the day was the carousel ride. The way Maylin's face absolutely broke open with awe and delight when we entered the center of the mall made me know before I could even formulate the thought that we'd be riding that carousel. It was as sure as if we'd already done it. There was no room in my mother's heart to deny her that pleasure, even if it meant spending some of the cash I had saved for eating dinner on a mom's night out later that evening. {Which it did.} I think the small sacrifice, though, of spending money I had earmarked for my personal pleasure made the carousel ride that much more special and satisfying. And her face. Oh, her face. This memory I will tuck away.

Afterwards, I "splurged" a bit more, and bought a pretzel for the three of us to share. Maylin, Hartlie, and I sat on a bench in front of the carousel and watched it go round and round, the taste of warm cinnamon sugar on our tongues. 

Motherhood can be hard, but it is beautiful and breathtaking, empowering and humbling. My girls are the loveliest, most exquisite pieces of my life that I never expected. I am their mother. God designed me to be mother to them. On purpose. Sure, there are times when the task of raising them, of "handling" them is daunting, but I've got this. No, more than that. I excel at this.

I excel at motherhood.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

{Miss Maylin} Becoming Real

This is Manni Bear. Say hello! He has been Maylin's naptime, bedtime, nighttime, teepee time partner and overnight travel companion her entire life. 

Right now, he's sitting on the edge of the bathtub. Can you tell? That's because, during nap time, he was involved in an unfortunate incident in which Maylin accidentally soaked his darling feet in tee tee. Maylin, not prone to waking up on sopping wet sheets, was traumatized about the accident. Really, she woke up screaming. So I calmed her down and cleaned her up and striped her bed and she resumed her nap. And Manni Bear came downstairs with me.

This potty training business, y'all. I mentioned on my Instagram this was one of my great fears of mothering a toddler. I have to admit it hasn't been that bad. But it's been long. And repititious. And a commitment for both me and Maylin. And it's not over yet! {Insert large grin emoji here} Although I do think I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I think. A small, small light. 

So, anyway, it's after 8:00 PM and I'm scrubbing Manni Bear's darling feet with hot water and lots of suds and I'm thinking about how soft and clean and new his fur was up until this point. I'm wondering, as I soak and scrub and rinse and wring, if he will feel as soft or look as new as he had before. I know he won't. He will be clean again, yes. But he won't be like new again. And that thought makes me sad.

It stops me, this thought. And I just sit there, with Manni Bear driping water all down the side of the tub, and look at him, and think about all he will experience as the bedtime companion of a little girl. All the tears, the sweat, the drool, and yes, probably more tee tee. But that's part of it, isn't it? That's the cost of being the beloved stuffed friend of a child. It will just make her love him all the more for it.

I know, you see, because my own stuffed childhood bear is my most precious, irreplacable possession. When I think about saving things from house fires, he is number one. I'm in fact so terrified of losing him to a fire that I pack him in my suitcase whenever we go on overnight trips. Strange for a grown woman? Yes. I am aware of this. Also, unashamedly not sorry.

This whole experience scrubbing up Manni Bear and tossing him in the dryer on the delicate cycle so he can be loved tightly against Maylin's warm little body made me remember this passage from The Velveteen Rabbit. Remember it? Probably the most defining paragraphs ever written in regards to the identity of a child's toy.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit...
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real... It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

So yes, Manni Bear's fur will be a bit more coarse, not as lustriously shiny, and perhaps a few threads fewer, but that will only serve to define him as Maylin's favorite bear. Manni Bear, welcome to life.