Monday May 20 was the first time I experienced it. It started over a bag of crackers that I said you could hold only if you sat still – i didn’t want you running all over the playground with a full bag of crackers, mainly because i didn’t like the idea of them spilling out and then us having to buy more crackers.
this didn’t make you happy because of course you wanted to run around the playground with your crackers, so it started as usual: scrunchy sad face, a wailing sound and some foot stomping. Nothing i hadn’t seen before. But the difference was that this time i couldn’t bring you out of it. no amount of ‘look over there!’ or attempts at warm cuddles or silly sounding voices could snap you out.
Picture this: a playground full of children and helicopter parents. a tiny toddler (you) lying amongst the woodchips running circles on your side like some crazy breakdancer except you have tears streaming down your face, snot bubbles pouring out your nose, woodchips clinging to your hair and a very helpless mother sitting on the sidelines.
A kid who must have been about 4 or 5, walked over to you and watched you intensly for about 30 seconds. Then he looked up and yelled to a lady standing on the otherside of the park:
‘MOM!!!! There’s a crying baby here!!!’
‘Leave her alone Brady!! Give her space!!’
It made me laugh.
I need to be honest with you. I hate reading accounts of other mothers who talk about their toddler’s meltdowns. I hate them because a part of me has always thought ‘hmmf, MY toddler doesn’t have meltdowns like that. MY toddler is consolable. MY toddler can tell me when she is upset and we can use productive methods to help her feel better. Obviously these other mothers are lying or they have very sad children.’
I watched my sad child (you) lying face down, face up, face sideways in the middle of the playground. I walked over to you calmly and bent down to give you a hug. I was met by kicking feet, louder screams and a wailing ‘noooooooooooo!!!!!’ and so i slinked back to my spot on the sideline.
I got all the looks. the ‘you poor thing’ look, the ‘i know how you feel’ look, the ‘can’t you shut her up’ look. and i just smiled at all of them because WHAT ELSE COULD I DO?
somehow we eventually moved to the beach (it was in close proximity) and the tantrum was still in full force and you had sand on your face and you would reach to me for a hug and then change your mind and arch your back and kick yourself out of my arms and i lay down next to you on the warm sand and closed my eyes.
i was pretty tired. i had gone for a run that morning after only 6 hours of sleep which is enough sleep for some people but NOT enough sleep for me and so in hindsight i really shouldn’t have closed my eyes. but i did. and with the warmth of the sand on my back and the warmth of the sun on my face and the soothing sounds of the oceans and the consistent sound of your screams all mixed in with my overwhelming desire to vanish into thin air, i somehow fell asleep. and i woke up and it was quiet.
i jolted to a seat and scanned the beach and you were nowhere.
‘she’s over there’ came a man’s voice.
i turned around and there was a heavily tattooed stocky man with a flat peak cap eating fast-food and he smiled and pointed behind him.
and there you were, sitting against a brick wall calmly sticking your hand into the bag of crackers and then into your mouth. your face was red from crying and you had snot everywhere but you were calm and quiet and i ran over to you and you handed me the bag of crackers and said ‘i wanna play!’ in the happiest and sweetest little voice and i squeezed you and thanked the universe that you were alive and beautiful (and not crying) and we spent the next 2 hours playing happily on the playground and in the sand.
so this is what it’s like. it’s not a lie and those children aren’t particularly sad. it’s called being a toddler and i GET that but please can we keep these to a minimum? i’ll do my best to understand your point of view, that adorable and innocent EVERYTHING IS SO NEW AND EXCITING point of view and i will try to keep the boundaries firm but fair and i will try to say yes as often as i can. and for my own sake i will try to see the bigger picture. i will imagine that beautiful smiling little face and that sweet gorgeous voice and i will not let my heart race faster or my fists clench.
but just FYI, i have to fly on an airplane with you (alone) THREE TIMES in the next two months for more than TWELVE HOURS each time. please be kind.
i slept in til 8 and then ivan came in to whisper ‘we’re going to the market’ and i decided i didn’t want to sleep in on mother’s day.
i ate some steel cut oats with cinnamon and berries and we walked/bussed into ballard. we walked through the market, we bought fresh veggies, we drank coffee and shared some treats, i practiced yoga, ivan cleaned our yard, we played and chased and read books.
ivan took some pictures and i cringe when i see myself in them because of my tired eyes and my crazy hair, but i wanna post them anyway because when i look back in years to come, i’m sure those things won’t matter to me at all. this is my second official year of being a mama and this is how i look right now.
mother’s day is awesome, mainly because i really don’t have to change a single diaper, but also because it makes me think about how much i love being a mum. i love thinking about how much my mum must love me – something i always knew (obviously), but after having mika i realised it in an entirely new way. i feel so entirely grateful in such an indescribable way, for what i must have put my mother through as a crying baby, a fussy toddler and (what i’ll be somewhat soon able to fully appreciate) as an awful awful teenager.
i feel like i couldn’t be the mama i am if it wasn’t for the support of some amazing people: my parents and my best friends, but mainly of course because of ivan, who makes it possible for me to continue to run and practice yoga and cook meals and have time for myself. ivan who, when both of us are beyond exhausted, will be the one to get up to see mika at 3 in the morning. ivan, who will rush home after work exhausted, and play chase with mika for an hour then bath her and put her to bed and then stay up til after midnight finishing his work. ivan, who cleans the bathroom, takes the rubbish out, makes our bed and cooks us oats every morning. ivan, who cooks me an extremely healthy and delicious vegan brunch on mother’s day because he knows exactly what i like to eat and how i like to eat it. i know i’m only the mother i am, because he is the partner he is.
and depsite everything, you know, everything. like all those things that make being a mama so hard, i still feel like the luckiest human alive to be the mama to this girl.
happy mother’s day to my mama, and to all the beautiful mama’s out there and to all the amazing people who help mamas be the best mamas they can be.
today we spent the afternoon playing at the beach. i don’t know if i could ever live very happily long term if i wasn’t by the ocean.
it takes us a while to get to the beach. we walk to the bus stop and get on a bus, then we have to get on another bus and then we have to walk down the biggest hill imaginable. to get home we have to walk UP the biggest hill imaginable and try to catch two busses at the perfect time so we aren’t stuck waiting around the streets in the dark.
(it makes it much easier to climb to stairs back up the hill when the little monkey on my back is saying ‘bravo mama!’)
when we time it perfectly with the busses and bring a picnic for dinner (like we did today) it is the most magical way to spend the afternoon/evening. we made it home just in time to rinse off in the tub before reading books and going to bed.
on friday we went to bainbridge island with friends and on the weekend we drove to vancouver to stay with some friends and so the last three days have consisted of hot hot sun, late nights and very early mornings, boats trips and road trips, lots of playgrounds, lots of sand, busy markets, cheap sushi, seawall runs, big brunches at little nest, meeting new babies and not-so-new babies, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones, eating too many blueberries and strawberries and watching our white winter skin turn brown.
lots of photos:
One day you might ask me what you were like as a two year old and im sure my memory will not serve as well as i’d like. so this is why i am writing this. for you to hear about and for me to remember.
when you wake up in the mornings or from naps, you say ‘no poopoo mama’ just so i don’t have to check your diaper and you ask me for ‘milk’ and you ask ‘papa at work?’ and i say yes and you say ‘elaine at work?’ and i say yes (elaine is your nanny) and then you are happy that you know where everyone is and we get up and read books.
you still love to read books. over and over. by mama in english and by papa in spanish and to yourself in your own little language. you can finish the sentences of most of your favourite books, which include (but are by no means limited to) ‘harry’, ‘the lion in the meadow’, ‘the little house in the big woods’, ‘the worst princess’ and ‘a summery saturday morning’.
you say ‘oh well’ and shrug your little shoulder and it is the sweetest and funniest thing.
you have a thing for toes. you treat them like people and you like to say hello to them, kiss them and wave goodbye to them.
like most 2 year olds, you love bubbles, you love chalk and you love sandboxes. you also love to run and you can almost run fast enough that it’s an effort to catch you. the happiest place we can be together is exploring and digging at the beach or lying on the couch reading books.
you can eat a whole punnet of blueberries. you love tofu. you love miso soup. you love hummus. i can’t think of anything that you hate specifically, but you tend to give most things a try.
today when you got up from nap we were cuddling and you were drinking your milk and you stroked my face gently then sat up and gave me a kiss on the mouth. sometimes we just stare into each others eyes and both start laughing and it melts my heart like nothing i’ve ever experienced.
i love the way you call me and copy me and cuddle me and kiss me. i love that your face is always grubby and your feet are always bare. i love that your hair is messy and your spirit is wild. i love that i get to be your mama now and forever.