My sweet and savvy little girl is 15 months old today. Since she was born, I’ve been upfront and candid about the struggles of motherhood and parenting and re-defining myself in this new chapter book.
Today I’m just here to say how much fun my little moo-baby is 😊
The newborn stage was not my forte & the baby stage was ok, but the early toddlerhood that we’re in right now is my favorite. M typically wakes up with a smile on her face. She lays in her crib and talks with Cal the Octopus (obviously short for Calamari). She learns something new every day. Her personality is goofy but inquisitive, bold but observant, ornery but sweet. She’s freaking exhausting, but so entertaining. I love seeing her little brain work and solve something new.
Toddlerhood is not without its terribleness, LOL. She has bad moments and grumpy days. Everything is a toy and, as such, everything is a hazard. Dog fur is soft to cuddle on, but it’s also easy to pull. Climbing, running, and exploring are not without their risks.
My mom tells me that we talk to M like an adult. We speak softly & sweetly to her, but we talk to her in full sentences. She understands basic tasks, she can retrieve a stuffy when we ask for it by name, and she can bring us the book we specifically request (of the 5 or 6 oft read board books). When I say, “Let’s have breakfast/lunch/dinner” she heads to her highchair. When I say, “Let’s let the dogs outside” she goes to the backdoor with me. She identifies family members in pictures and in person. She knows the difference between our dogs (and has a favorite, lol).
She loves to brush her teeth, she loves to “CHEERS” with her cup, and she loves Mickey Mouse. I love taking her places (on the rare occasion we get out) because she’s usually well behaved and she LOVES watching the world around her.
This is just an appreciation post to say I love this stage and Miss Moo.
I use Instagram for three things: keeping up with all of you (& my non-blog friends), inspiration for my Animal Crossing island (#nerdalert), and parenting information.
Let’s hone in on that last one.
Recently I started following some new (child) sleep experts and questioning every single thing I’ve done for M and her sleep habits. (Fear not- I question my parenting every hour of every day. All parents do…) It got me thinking… when it comes to parenting, advice and research is thrown at you from every direction.
Let’s think about a generic law. You show up to a store at 6:17pm and try the handle, only to find it locked. You notice that they closed at 6pm. What do the laws of the land dictate? You shrug your shoulders, turn around, and try another day. Breaking in would be wrong.
Ok… same situation, but apply the rules of parenting. Door is locked. Well… some experts would suggest you jiggle the handle. Try tickling or stroking the keyhole to inducing unlocking. Or you might try talking to the door about why it’s locked and whether or not it thinks that’s a good idea. If you’re more hands on, you might spank the door or shatter its glass to teach the door a lesson in defying you. Try putting the door in time out and return 2 minutes later to see if anything has changed. Maybe you don’t believe in locked doors. While locked doors might protect the herd, it’s not good for you and your family. You prefer open doors and plenty of sunshine. **And there are no true consequences for any approach you take.**
That is a silly example, but it’s how it feels to read conflicting parenting advice on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.
“You can’t co-sleep with your kid, you’ll crush them.” // “You put your child in a crib at 4 weeks?? Do you WANT them to die from SIDS?!”
“French fries will poison your toddler.” // “You know they make jar baby food, right? You don’t have to puree like a hippie.”
“Don’t give your child peanut butter(/eggs/fish/etc.) until they’re a year old.” // “Give you baby peanut butter before 6 months to reduce allergic reacts.”
“Breast is best.” // “Fed is best.” // “Goat milk is best.” // “Formula is full of sugar.”
“You must adhere to a strict and early vaccine schedule.” // “Make sure you talk to your doctor about spreading out shots and eliminating unnecessary ones.”
You get it.
It’s exhausting. (Arbitrary rules exist in more than parenthood, but this is trench I’m stationed in right now.) Like… give me a tried and true manual and I will follow the rules. Don’t give me this “Some experts say…” bullshittery.
Also… is fussing the same as crying it out? Because I would argue no but please don’t call the baby sleep police on me.
So what do you do? I don’t know. This isn’t an advice article. I’m just as clueless as the rest of ya.
A while back Kristen commented that she goes by, “Eat the fish, spit out the bones.” I can get on board with that. So here’s my not-tested, nonexpert-approved parenting advice:
Learn who your kid is. It’s tough because babies are potatoes but as they grow and their personalities emerge, change some of your routines and activities to foster their growth (and energy and sleepy cues and hunger pangs).
That’s the best I’ve got. Also- watch out for sleep regression and one-year-molars; they’re a true b*tch. I’ve heard the two-year-molars are just as gnarly. Will report back.
Stats: Chunky monk is 23 lbs. and over 31.5 in. long. Clothing-wise she’s slowed down a bit and we’re still hanging out in 18 months outfits. (Thank Jesus.) She’s above the 99th percentile in height, though. WOOF.
Likes: Her dad, her dogs, and her stuffed animals. She loves music and dancing, likes to watch the dogs run around inside and out, and loves having her toes eaten. Lol
Dislikes: Shots (duh), being wiped off after a meal, Mom leaving the room, and having dog toys taken away from her. She hates being restrained, too. She also refuses to leave socks/shoes on.
Sleeping: M has always been a great sleeper. We were struggling with bedtime AND staying down for the night for a few weeks, but she’s back to normal now. I think it was the 1 year sleep regression. UGH. We’re still doing 2 naps/day and I will hold on to them both as long as possible!
Eating: Our little poodle loves her noodles. She is a carb queen. She also loves avocados, eggs, meatballs, fish, and turkey. But pasta is the way to her heart.
Development: I don’t have time to list all the new things this girl can do. She does everything in her own time but once she’s got it, she’s got it. She stands, walks along furniture, walks with help, walks with her walker… but no independent walking yet. M is a MONKEY. She climbs on everything- stairs, couches, toys, humans, dogs… lol. She knows how to get up and how to use tools to get up, and she knows how to go down (“feet first!” we say over and over). She knows 4 or 5 body parts, yes and no, how to wave and clap and point and she tries to blow kisses, she signals “all done” when she’s finished a meal, she cuddles her stuffed animals, and she has mastered the colorful rings toy. She makes a million sounds, says mama dada and da (dog), and will repeat back sounds and syllables of words you say to her. She knows who people and animals are- and can tell our dogs apart by name.
Personality: I hate COVID. Moo is so much fun to hang out with and take places. I hate that we can’t go anywhere with her. She has a happy disposition and she’s way more clever than me. She’s starting to find certain things funny and she’s starting to find some things scary. I love that we’re seeing her imagination develop. Unless she’s super tired or in pain, she’s a happy happy girl .
Travel: Sigh. We have done some longer drives lately. We popped down to Cabela’s in Tridelphia, WV a few weeks ago and Maddie did great! We took her to the reverse Christmas parade our town had and she loved driving through the float displays, waving at everyone.
Mom’s Summary: It was weird to see my baby turn one. I remember everything about the day she entered this world- and it doesn’t seem that long ago. M brings joy to everyone she meets and that’s especially true for me. I’m so proud of all the things she’s learned this year and I LOVE that despite all the isolation, she’s a happy friendly adventurous little girl.
M is starting to get a feisty, head strong, clever personality. I’m looking forward to shaping her into a kind little kid 🖤 I struggled a lot with the helpless newborn stage. I am much much more cut out for the communicative and temperamental toddler stage. I know that’s weird to prefer (and maybe I’ll take it back), but I love her budding personality- even the more difficult side, lol.
Sweet Moo Baby… today is your last day being ZERO.
Last year I knew we’d be meeting you soon. We had a scheduled induction on December 4th at 8am… but at 2am you decided to start things yourself. Now that we know you, I completely understand. You’re a headstrong, determined, do-it-yourself little spirit. I love your spirit.
When we brought you home Bristol barked and growled at you. She wanted to play with you SO badly. Enzo was more than happy to cuddle up & nap all day- although I think he was quickly over the sleepless nights. But you figured out sleep quickly. And then you figure out eating. And crawling. And babbling. I love your smart little brain.
Watching you grow and learn and move has been the greatest joy of my life, babe. You bring out all the strong emotions in me- pride, love, fear, frustration, humor. You are such a clever, funny, goofy little girl. I love your personality.
You’re not one for cuddles yet, but you will sit on my lap for a few minutes of Blue’s Clues. You gentle pet and play with Bristol’s fur when you’re taking a bottle. You nuzzle your head into my neck when you’re having a rough night. You freely give me and your daddy and all the stuffed animals kisses. I think you’ve learned not to kiss the pups- it results in a mouthful of hair. I love your big, sweet heart.
Mommy and Daddy had a doozy of a first year. We learned a lot about being your parents. We picked our battles. We had little sleep and lots of help. We navigated a pandemic as new parents and, as a result, we got to spend lots and lots and lots of time with you. I will always be so thankful for that. Despite the world being upside down, you were hardly affected. I love your resilience. You are a brave, happy, incredible little soul.
Your daddy and I spent many years together without you- but this year with you has been one of our favorites. I’ve never seen him so in love with or proud of another human. You will forever be the apple of his eye, my love. I’m happy to share his heart with you ❤️
Happy Birthday, Moo-da-Lou. We love you forever and always.
Have you noticed there’s a sense of pressure to enjoy certain things? I’ve written about this before in regards to summer. Summer stresses me out because you’re supposed to do all the things, soak in all the sunshine, experience all the activities… No. I’m hot, it’s hot, and I’m sweating. Let me sit inside with the a/c and burn winter candles, please&thanks.
Mom Guilt aside, there’s a similar pressure in parenting to enjoy ALL the things. “Being a mom is the most amazing thing I’ll ever do.” “Dad life is the best life.” “There is nothing as rewarding as changing a poo splattered diaper and rocking a screaming kid to sleep while your coffee gets cold and your dog eats your dinner off the counter.” You get it.
The reality is many parts of parenting aren’t fun or glamorous or rewarding. But you feel like a complete tool for admitting as much since the whole world has dubbed the experience “mAgIcAl.”
We’ve been working through this in our home. I love sleep and there are occasionally nights when Moo decides she NEEDS held from 1:45am to 3:27am. I am VERY aware that it won’t be like this forever, that the extra snuggling is something I will miss, and that her need for me is natural. But I still effing hate being awake and sitting awkwardly hunched over in that damn glider. I love Moo. These moments are not magical.
I LOVE being M’s mom. I would not trade it in for anything- including my former freer life pre-kids- but I am so much more than a mom. I enjoy things OUTSIDE of being a mom. I require and demand time alone. I love my daughter so damn much. I love spending time with her, teaching her, taking care of her. But I don’t love every moment of motherhood. No one does. And so often I think there’s an unrealistic pressure that parents should.
I don’t have an ah-ha moment, but I wanted to share these thoughts because if you’re currently in the parenting trench of very tough stuff (teething, sleeplessness, infancy, day 5 of no shower), you’re not alone and you are 100% allowed to say to yourself (& other), “This sucks.” You can dislike it.
And that’s my up lifting Mom Minute for you today 😆 Sometimes it sucks and that’s normal.
Tune in next week when I talk about random exorcism-level vomiting and how to remain cool, calm, and collected when you’re covered in spoiled milk.