Vada turned 15 months old on the 12th of February. Remember when she was just one? Ahhhh! Her brain is in super power mode right now. She is busy busy busy, chatting, singing, dancing, playing, exploring, eating, and soooo much sleep. Today Mr. Gaunt said to me “It’s so sad that she is going to grow up and be her own person and move away from us.” and it is sad. Every single day I think how freaking true that saying about motherhood is:
“THE DAYS ARE LONG, BUT THE YEARS ARE SHORT”
Every day that statement echos in my head. Those long whiney days where it’s a struggle to keep her entertained, to plan all the meals, to wash MORE dishes, to change a million diapers, fight naps, make messes, change clothes….” and then you blink and they are suddenly responding to the words you say “should we brush teeth?” and she runs to the bathroom and says “ahhhh” pointing to her mouth. Where she picks up a hairbrush and runs it through her hair. Where she pulls your high heels out of the closet, dusty, and slips her tiny feet into them “shew shew, bye, mama, mama, shew” and you can see her mind expanding as she grows and grows and grows. Like lighting. I was thinking today about how important it is to me to keep an updated log of her growth and changes, which is what this blog is for me, a glorified baby book. So here is what’s going on in our world.
I had to work a lot more in December and January than normal. We had some employee turnover, and some maternity leave, and vacations I had to cover. Vada went to a new nanny for a couple of months that worked out really well. Childcare is a HUGE pain in the ass. It’s so expensive, especially if you need part-time childcare. It’s basically a wash, what I pay out and what I bring in. It’s also hard to find people who you trust and are available for my somewhat unpredictable schedule. I could probably qualify for some state assisted childcare, but I do not have any desire to put Vada in childcare full-time. I want to stay home with her 80% of the time. I love to get away sometimes and I often need alone time to get things done for work or around the house, but when it comes to the day-to-day stuff, I want to be the one to teach her things. We have been really lucky to have had such great childcare. In both our nanny experiences I chose to have Vada go to someone else’s home, who also had children. This way it felt small and safe, but they were already equipped for babies, and there were lots of toys and other children to play with. I’m a HUGE advocate for exposing children to lots of people! Build trust away from mom, learn to share, to explore, to communicate with other people. I want Vada to feel safe without me, and to trust and respect other adults and children. Exposing her to lots of people has been one of the BEST decisions I have made with her. Anyway we are now taking some time to decide what kind of childcare I want, how often, and where she will go. I don’t have to have it right now, so I’m in no rush. I’ve also tried to be better with setting boundaries for myself, not take on too much and be really clear about how much I want to work. It’s really nice though feeling like I can take Vada nearly anywhere to be babysit and she will adjust fine. I know lots of moms struggle with STRANGER DANGER or their children simply being uncomfortable without them, this is not our case. Unless she’s crazy awful baby and her babysitters just aren’t telling us, I think she’s a pretty good kid and easy baby to watch.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my purpose in life, and my career. I’ve definitely decided that RIGHT NOW I’m a mom first, and everything else is coming 2nd. This is what I want, and what I believe is best for our family. I know that I am smart and that there are lots of work and creative opportunities out there for me, but right now my role is mama/wife. Let me be clear that’s not in some yucky 1950’s sort of way, its in a strong independent, I DO WHAT I WANT sorta way. (; I know there will be a time when all my babies will be grown and I will have time and energy and spark to do some great things in my professional life, but I’m not going to beat myself up that I want to take a step back from that right now. I’m not dead, I’m just being a mom for a bit. This has also relieved some of my anxiety about having a second baby. A second baby will be much less frustrating if I have fully embarrassed the mom roll instead of fighting it all the time. Let’s just get all these nursing/diapering/playdate days out-of-the-way in one decade. (:
Talkin’ the talk:
Vada’s vocabulary is bursting at the seams. Besides her near constant baby talk rambling, she can say so many real words. As of 15 months Vada can say:
Plus she does signs for “more” and “all done”
She can also repeat things if we ask her, they just don’t always stick. And she can understand so much. The other day I asked Vada “Where’s your hair?” and she ran her fingers through her hair. If I ask her to sing, she will sing one of two songs “Hello To The Grandmas” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, if I ask her to dance, she will dance. If I ask for a hug or love, she will hug me and rest her head on my shoulder and give me a pat and say “awwww”. She follows direction pretty well, and understands “no”, and “follow me” “lets get jammies on” “do you want to eat”…the list goes on forever. I can’t wait until all her gibberish become real words. We try to talk to Vada all the time, repeat words a lot, not use baby talk. When her and I are running errands I narrate where we are going and what we are seeing or doing. I show her things and call them by name over and over. We try not to do too many flash-card style exercises, and are just letting words come naturally to her. She doesn’t know what a cow says because we flat out don’t talk about cows much in this house. She does however know how to get a paper cup and fill it with ice at the restaurant…priorities people. It’s really a fun thing to watch someone learn to talk. Every single week she is saying more and more things and showing that she understands so much. I know everyone thinks their kid is really smart, but seriously folks…
Bed Time, and All the Lies
I can’t believe how many people warned me about sleep, or lack there of. Even when Vada had proven she was a good sleeper, people would still say “it will probably change, be prepared, teething…blah blah blah” Its been 10 month since Vada moved into her crib, and 8 solid months of sleeping through the night. Since Vada hit about 11 months old she upped her sleeping to nearly 14 hours a night, and it’s stayed there. The girl LOVES her shuteye. She goes to bed at 7:30 every night, I rock her with a 6oz bottle, when she is done with her bottle I put her in her crib, awake, turn on her white noise machine and put a blanket on her and she goes to bed. Every single night. Am I lucky? Yes I suppose, but I also think that we made some choices for her sleeping, we didn’t coddle her too much (we didn’t cry it out either) and we really just trusted her to be ok in her room all night long. And she is, she’s the best damn sleeper of any baby I know. Shes also gotten really good at nap time. We can generally lay her down at 2 every day and she will sleep until 4 (MOMMY HAPPY HOURS!). She’s also proven that she can go to bed at other people’s houses just fine. In fact twice now I’ve put her down at other people’s homes and then woken her up around 1am, drove her home and laid her back in her crib and she goes right back to sleep, no tears. I think all this sleep keeps her happy and healthy and her mind open to growth. Sleep deprivation is so bad for you, sleep is your bodies time to rejuvenate! We recently went on vacation and I was so worried about the hotel room, where she would need to sleep while we were still awake in the same room watching TV. Vada did excellent, with the exception of night two she woke up at 5am and was up for two hours (we wandered the hotel) but then went back to bed for 2 more hours, so not too shabby. I guess my point is that don’t believe what everyone says. Kids CAN be good sleepers, just like they can be good eaters, and good socializers. Have faith!
Don’t Feel Sorry For My Big Girl
Vada is big. She’s super tall, and sturdy. She’s 98th in height and weight. The doctors have no concern because her growth has been even and is proportionate. They say it will slow down, but at 14 months she was 30 lbs, and I’ve started buying 3T clothing. I know we live in a society where people don’t appreciate a big girl. They for whatever god forsaken reason think petite wisp girls are cuter, and sweeter, better? It’s sad, but it’s true, and its a stereotype that THIS FAMILY will not tolerate. We promote strong healthy smart nice girls, that’s what we care about. I will do everything I can to tell Vada every single day to be proud of her body, her strength, her stature. She is such a perfect powerful human being, and she will conquer the world in that big body. We are doing our best to show body pride, and to teach Vada how to eat well, and play hard. We will encourage her to play sports, to be creative, to dance, to perform, to express herself. We will teach her to respect her body and to respect other people’s bodies. We will lead with example, show her how wonderful a life, and how happy and loved and successful you can be in any body. So I hope other people will teach their own children that different is perfect too. I hope she towers over everyone, with height and personality.
Now that I’ve bragged about her sleeping and talking, lets talk about her attitude. One is a challenge. She has so many opinions, but she can’t communicate and she can’t understand me. It’s a constant battle of the “no’s” and the “please sit down” and the “no you can’t eat that” all day long. Vada has good weeks and bad weeks. Sometimes she’s mostly chill and we can go to the store and she will eat a little snack in the cart while I shop. Other times she will arch her back and twist around and scream and throw a fit until I let her out of the cart, only to throw herself onto the ground when I make her hold my hand. She wants to walk everywhere! But she still just rips stuff off of shelves, and goes up to strangers and asks “up” and eats shit she finds on the floor. She would throw herself into traffic if I let her. She also has days where its whining allll day long. Where her and I just battle each other on everything, and by the time Mr. Gaunt gets home from work I nearly sprint out the door to get away. It’s super hard sometimes. When she was 7/8 months old we could go to a restaurants and she would sit in a high chair and eat and be happy. Now she wants to get down and yell and grab things and drink our water and make a huge mess. We are definitely limiting the places we go now. She wont sit on my lap anymore, we get about 30 minutes of good behavior before she melts down and we both leave feeling exhausted and sad. The last month was SUPER tough, but then about a week ago she settled back into her mostly sweet self and things have been better. That’s how babies are, they go through these crazy phases and then one day they are back to normal, just in time for you to cancel those adoption papers.
So what is one suppose to do? I’ve read a bit about child discipline, and I have a pretty good understanding of what I want my kids behavior to look like. Yes Vada is a baby and babies do not understand or care about societies rules. She is here to learn and explore and no one is going to convince her that she shouldn’t. And that’s a good thing, I want her to be smart and curious and fearless, that being said, I don’t want her to be an asshole. We respect people and their things. We respect other patrons, wait staff, and property. We pick up our messes, we wipe down our high chairs, we leave if we can’t stop yelling. Vada needs to hear NO and to listen. We try to get down on her level when she is frustrated and explain to her why we need her to stop doing something. We talk about how we are sorry she feels sad or mad or upset, but that sometimes we can’t act the way we want. And when all else fails we let her lay on the grown and have all her feelings out until she stands back up and is better. Sigh. Mr. Gaunt and I want to discipline her with education. We want to show her how to be a respectful member of society by making her understand the way things work. Is she too young to get it? Maybe, but if we start now, eventually it will make sense to her. As for us, we have to keep our cool, which is so so so hard, especially for me. I’m someone who doesn’t like to disappoint or upset strangers. I’m the mother picking up all the food she drops under her high chair at a restaurant. I’m the mother that will up and leave a store if my kid is crying. I’m the mother that apologizes and cancels play-dates if my kid is in a bad mood. So its hard for me to be patient and sensitive to Vada’s needs and struggles. I work really hard to keep a loving calm voice when she’s being crazy. Mr. Gaunt and I consistently talk about being on the same page with her behavior. We both agree that loving her and educating her will be our best bet when teaching expectations. We are not push over parents, but we are not jerks either.
So here we are, in the thick of parenthood, and not feeling too bad about it. Vada is funnier than ever, and a total smarty pants (at least we think so). I’m looking forward to summer when we can get OUT of the house more without getting soggy soggy. We have HUGE backyard plans, and so many adventures (and alcoholic drinks) planned too! I hope nice whether will let her explore the world a little more, and make me feel less cooped up, less like a maid cleaning up after a tornado. Im excited for her to continue to learn new things, to impress me and make me smile. Happy 15 months crazy.