This is every day. This is special.

She crawls into my lap and I ask her if it’s time to go upstairs for a nap.

“Not yet.” She says.

She leans against me, asks to nurse and I place my arm around her and under her head. I know she’s going to fall asleep in my lap and I don’t want her to. I want to lay her in bed and lay down next to her so I can stretch out aching legs and rest sore muscles.

I look at my phone as she settles against me and into the daily routine of cuddling and dozing. I resign myself to the fact she’ll soon be sleeping and I’ll be stuck here, on the couch, sitting up and unable to stretch, afraid to interrupt her nap and face a night with a cranky toddler. I shrug and turn on the music on my phone, knowing she likes to fall asleep to music.

Your heart is a history book
With pages to fill
If you haven’t found your voice
I know you will

She twirls her fingers in my hair while I stare at my phone, scrolling pass Facebook posts, scanning but not really seeing, hearing but not really listening.

I barely notice her movements.

I don’t think much about it.

It’s normal.

It’s every day.

It’s what we do each day around the same time.

It’s nothing special.

You don’t need to let the rainclouds
Underneath your skin
Love sings louder than the darkness
Let the light shine in
I know you will

I feel her caress my hair and out of the corner of my eye I catch her watching me as she nurses.

Her eyes study and see.

I look at her and a smile tugs at the corner of her mouth as she nurses.

I log out of Facebook and the phone is placed to the side.

“I love you,” I whisper.

She smiles and lets out a quiet, tired sound mixed between a sigh and a giggle.

I want to take it in.

I want to take her in.

I want to freeze the moment and not miss it. I want to see her.

Failure is a photograph
You can put up on your wall
You don’t have to think like that
When you fall

You don’t need to let the rainclouds
Underneath your skin
Love sings louder than the darkness
Let the light shine in

 

Suddenly posts about politicians or healthcare or essential oils or what food will shorten your life if you eat it seem much less interesting.

 

I want to feel her hands in my hair, her body warm and solid in my arms, against my belly, against my chest.

Oh the places you will see
The world is full of mystery
Like a city on a hill
You’re gonna shine
I know you will

You don’t need to let the rainclouds
Underneath your skin
Love sings louder than the darkness
Let the light shine in
I know you will
I know you will
I know you will

I don’t want to forget h

ow it feels to be loved without strings.

To be loved without conditions.

To be loved without preconceptions.

To be loved simply because you are a source of comfort, peace, courage, and tenderness to the small, beautiful creature who calls you mama.

I notice her movements.

I see the small fingers.

I feel the soft touch.

I hear the slow, rhythm breathing.

This is routine.

This is every day.

This is special.

__

Lyrics by JJ Heller. Images by Lisa R. Howeler

 

The little girl who loved ants

I’m not sure how Miss G’s fascination with ants started or even when but since it’s started we have had to learn to leave enough time before we go somewhere so she can to stop and watch the ants scurry around in their little world on the sidewalk in front of the house. She also needs time to talk to them and have a little conversation.

Maybe it all started when we watched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and the kids befriended that ant while they were miniaturized. Shortly after we watched it she was on all fours on the sidewalk, talking to the tiny insects about her plans for the day and asking them how they were.

One day I dropped a piece of chicken on the ground while trying to carry the groceries in and by the time I went back out to get the rest of the groceries ants were beginning to swarm the meat, break it down and carry pieces off to their home. 

Miss G had already noticed them but I pointed out how they were moving the food and how strong they were , despite their size and she began watching and talking to them. We broke the chicken into smaller pieces and she tossed pieces down saying “here, ants… food!”, trying to take care of them, much like she does our cats and did our sweet Copper. Of course in true toddler style she sort of forced her hospitality on the animals by following them around with their food dish and demanding “eat, kitty! Eat!”

Her interest has now expanded from ants to other insects, including a caterpillar we found one day on our walk after school. It took a lot of convincing for her to finally leave the caterpillar outside. She had decided he was coming inside to be her pet. We even carried him to our front sidewalk but then I told her he needed to stay outside so he could find his family.

This story backfired on me about a week later when we went to the spare room at my parents to lay down for a nap and found a odd looking insect. Out of panic I tossed a book on top of it which prompted Miss G to say “don’t hurt him! He has to go back to his family!” 

I can just see my future – being like my dad and scooping creepy insects up with a piece of paper and a cup and putting them outside instead of squishing them under my shoe. 

So far she’s decided she doesn’t like spiders, probably because I make it clear I am not a fan of them. At least I don’t have to spare the lives of spiders I find in our house. I’ll do almost anything for this little girl but I’m not sure I can bring myself to scoop up one of those in a cup. 

Denial is the first step to not admitting we’re in the toddler years

I wasn’t ready for it, I’m not going to lie.

The attitude. The firm shakes of the head and the cry of “no!”

The folded arms. The tantrums. 

The deep scowls and body flops to the floor.

She’s not even two. 

Yet these are the reactions I have had as I stare in horror at the Terrible Twos rushing at us like an out of control train. I am being pulled into these years that some moms cutely call “ the testing years”, kicking and screaming. 

Seriously, what is with her hitting the stubborn stage before she’s even 2? All the books say two is when it all goes to hell in a hand basket. She is not two so she is not allowed to refuse to let me help her wash her hands and do it herself.

She is not allowed to try to jump into the deep end of the pool without adult supervision because she lacks fear. She is not allowed to sit in the floor and cry because mommy put on her shoes and she wanted to do it on her own.

She is not allowed to squish her face up in indignant annoyance when I try to hold a cup for her to drink from or slap my hand away in apparent insistence that she be allowed to do it ON HER OWN!

It’s not fair! 

I was supposed to have more time to prepare!

But, she’s been developmentally early in so many other areas, I should have expected this. 

I really should have been preparing for the worst. 

The worst being that my little princess really is a smaller version of me. 

Oh, Lord, give me strength, she has my independent attitude, my stubborn streak and, I can barely manage to write this, my temper. 

This is it.

This is the payback I was warned about. 

And yes, the saying is true. The saying I won’t repeat because I am a good Christian mama blogger. The saying that essentially says, “you are feeling the pain you caused so many others. Enjoy the ride, sucker.”