Experiencing the Middle

Tomorrow Daphne starts school. This is significant and I have many emotions, but at the same time it feels so different than when we started school with George.

George was our first. We didn’t know what to expect with him. I was overcome with fear and anxiety on how the experience would be for him.

With Daph, we are more familiar with the process, and she will even have the same teacher that George did in preschool. We know that she is in the best hands to bring her into the school atmosphere. She will be just down the hall from George, and there is comfort knowing they will be so close together. He has already said he will watch for her at recess.

But there are still emotions being here in the middle with her.

I don’t have the fear of the unknown like the first time around, but I also know she isn’t my last. I feel excited for her. We all seem more ready for the experience. I don’t feel the hesitation that I did with George, nor the bittersweet that I know will come with Wally being our last.

Do I worry about how the experience will go for her? I mean come on, have you met me? I am always riddled with anxiety, however, I am finding myself at peace much quicker with her. I am so excited to see her go off to school.

She has never been out of our house for any type of school, and one hour of gymnastics once a week for the last year is most social interaction she has gotten outside of our family. So in a sense there is still a lot of unknown of how she will engage with her peers. But I know as soon as she warms up, she is going to make some great connections.

I really feel like she is going to soar. The brain on this child is limitless, and I know we have only tapped into a small portion of her capabilities here at home. She has a heart of gold, and the kindness that she has for others will take her far. She is the type of child who will flourish in a school atmosphere, and I can’t wait to hear all about her experience. This time around all I can think of is all the great things she will have access to and how much she will enjoy things. I am not worried about letting go with her at all.

Which is somewhat weird because I am sad thinking of some day this little girl won’t sneak into my bed and her sweet little voice will be a distant memory. Also you would think being a female, I would be worried about all the social pieces that come down the road with her and school. But I am not worried at all. I am ready to see how she embraces the challenge and confronts the pressure head on. She is so strong-willed and tough as nails. I don’t know what it is about this transition that seems just so natural and normal for her, and again there is so much peace with her going. She is far more a stronger person than I ever was, and she is so smart and capable.

Maybe there is just so much going on around in our lives that I just don’t have time to really wallow in how she is growing as I did with George. Who knows?! But I will take not having a breakdown in front of her teacher because I am so caught up in the ‘what if’ emotions.

She has been living in George’s shadow for most of her life, and now Wally takes up some of the attention that was aimed at her. Again, she is our middle. So I am thankful to see her go off into school where she can start making her own path independent of her brothers.

With George I think we were all scared when this day came because it was all new to us. When it comes to Wally’s time, I know I will be the most emotional parent there because it will be a sign of all the littleness leaving our house. So for now, with Daph, we are able to really sink into this time and enjoy it. It is nice to experience it like this for our middle child.

Here’s to you Daph and all the things you will learn this year, and the person you are becoming.

Daphne Turns FOUR

I always dreamed of being a mom, but I especially dreamed of having a daughter. Well, she is the challenge I never knew that I needed.

Looking back at my post from her last birthday, it is hard to believe how much she has grown in the last year. She is still as fierce and independent as she was a year ago, but she is a different child at the same time.

She is like a mirror to all of my insecurities and flaws. I see pieces of me in her, and I am determined to do right by her because of my own past. She is humbling to me in every way. I love my boys, but there is something about this little girl that makes me different.

She is already stronger than I ever was, and I hope that we never squash that fiery spirit. She always is very adamant about her feelings and feels them to their fullest. She is opinionated and strong-willed. I know that we are fostering someone who is not going to back down from making her voice heard. She is brave and fearless now, and I hope that we can continue to nurture that for years to come.

I mean, someone who can pull off wearing jammies days on end has earned some respect.

She is my sour patch kid though. She knows what she wants, and she will put her foot down and try to wear you down. This does come with its challenges, but I have to applaud her level of commitment.

I do believe that some type of entertainment is in her future. She loves to sing, dance, tell stories, and put on comedy routines for anyone who will pay attention. She lives to make other people smile by her performances. I want to just bottle her singing up forever.

And, while she is independent, she is still our little girl. She is an expert in procrastinating bedtime and finds any and all excuses to come talk with Tom and I after lights are off. Then in the middle of the night, she crawls into our bed so she doesn’t have to sleep alone-most of the time I don’t even realize she is there until I wake up in the morning to see that she sneaked in. She has a neighborhood of stuffies that keep her company at all times. She has a descriptive name for all her bunnies: green bunny, scraggly bunny, clean bunny, mommy bunny, baby bunny, snuggly bunny, swaddle bunny…So many bunny stuffies.

She loves all things princess, purple and pink, dinosaurs, and unicorns. She loves to create with tiny things like miniature tea sets for Calico Critters, Legos, and her fairy garden. She hates to be wet but will spend hours at a water table and playing in our mud creek. She has been planning a “flower festival” for the better part of a year with the planning committee ever changing directions. She loves to be outside, but she hates when I make the family go to the trail. She loves to bake, but only chooses to eat butter bread, fish sticks, and fruit. She fights me going to gymnastics, but she has the biggest smile while doing beam and loves to show off her bear crawl.

The brain on this child is also astounding. She is insanely smart, and I am constantly amazed at her vocabulary. It is astonishing that we had her assessed for a verbal delay 2 years ago. I cannot wait to see what she does at school next year. She loves to read and learn, and she will spend hours with art and craft projects. She will sit still just meticulously drawing “maps” of our house and city. It makes me wonder if she will be a city planner or architect some day.

My favorite thing to have come out of this last year is watching her become a big sister. She is by far the best sister one could ever ask for. She is always helpful and caring with all things Wally. I am loving watching her mature through their relationship. She takes care of him and spends a good deal of her day making sure he knows how much he is loved. To say she is obsessed with her new best friend would be an understatement. My heart swells just watching them interact and play together.

This girl is going to turn this world upside down some day. She sure changed mine the day that she was born. It was love at first sight. I am glad to have a front row seat to see all that she can do and see who she becomes. Forever her cheerleader I will be. I am overwhelmed when I look at her and see all the possibilities for her and the world around her. I adore her with all that I am. A smile is imprinted on my heart because of our Daphie Girl.

Daphne Turns Three!

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Today my baby girl is three. It’s hard to believe that this sweet girl is now such a big girl. She is less and less like a toddler every day. To honor her today, I wanted to share three words that I feel perfectly describes this gal.

Independent

She has always done things in her own time frame including her own birth. She came out early and hasn’t stopped doing things at her own pace since. She is constantly telling us that she can do things on her own. She rarely asks for help, and she is the most determined person I know. She is constantly learning and pushing herself to be a big girl. I think the perfect example is watching this girl push herself on the tree swing. She is most content when she does things for herself. She is ambitious and curious, and I love seeing her come into her own power. But again, she will let you know when she is ready. And I love her confidence about that, and I pray that she always feels free and knows her worth.

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Headstrong

Along with her independence, this girl’s will is nothing to mess with. She is as stubborn as a mule. This comes with positives because of that determination but can be also extremely frustrating when she tries to out wait you on something. Her tantrums can last for hours, but that stamina also plays really well for her when she is learning something new. When she puts her mind to something she will find a way to do it. She is uncompromising when it comes to what she wants. She also knows how to fight for what she wants. This girl can hold her own with George and often leaves him in her dust. Daph is not going to buy into something that she doesn’t find meaning in, and she stands by her opinions. She has such conviction when she decides to do something or stand for something, and this makes me excited to see how she is going to change the world.

Purposeful

These words all seem to over lap, but I feel that with her feelings she is very intentional with what she shares. She can be guarded and shy, but when she lets you into her inner circle she is never letting you go. She loves big, and to feel her love is nothing short of amazing. There is no one she loves more than her stuffies. She has names for them all, and often does roll call to make sure she knows where they all are. She is always mothering them and carrying at least one stuffie around at all times. She rarely cuddles with anyone, but lately she has been sneaking in our bed in the middle of the night to be close to her mommy and daddy. She says the sweetest things and has the most perfect timing and delivery. She has purpose with everything she does, and you can see those wheels turning as she is processing things around her. It is amazing to see how smart and careful she is with her feelings.

Daphie Girl, you inspire me every day. I am honored to be your mommy, and you are always amazing me with who you are becoming. You are going to do incredible things my dearest.

I asked George what he loved about his sister, and he said that she eats a lot and is funny.

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Beginnings and Endings

I have found that with parenting, once a new phase begins you are not only dealing with the excitement of the new phase but also the feelings of leaving another phase behind. The art of watching your kids growing up is bittersweet.

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This last week I have been pondering on this thought quite a bit as both of my kids are going through pivotal moments. We registered George for kindergarten, and Daphne is now potty trained and moved out of a crib.

I am not ok.

The stark difference of what these things mean has left me in a weird place.

THEY LOOK SO GROWN.

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I am so excited to see George start big-all-day-kid school. I love learning, and school was a magical place for me growing up. I see that curiosity in George, and I know he will love it. But there is also this sadness that there will be so much of his world that I no longer know. I wrote about the emotions of sending him off to preschool this fall, but something about kindergarten is even more momentous.

And with Daph, potty training is such a big step in toddlerhood. For the most part, I am so ecstatic to no longer have diapers in my house. I feel a sense of freedom for us all with letting her learn more about her body and taking control of herself. She also moved out of the crib like it was no big deal, however my insides were breaking since that bed had been a crib for both my babies over the last 6 years. And while I am so proud of her walking into this next phase with so much confidence, part of me knows that the diapers and crib were the last of the babyhood stage.

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The thing about independence is that I believe it is the thing we all hope that our kids have when they get older, but man is it hard to see it slip away.

It’s funny that there are many stages that we see coming, like registering for Kindergarten. I have seen this coming since he was born. Yet it is still hard to know I am watching a season of our lives end this year. I wonder all the time if we are doing this phase justice and doing all the we can to make it positively memorable and impactful.

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Then there are other stages that you don’t even realize are gone until you are well into the next one.

There was a day with both kids that it was the last time I rocked them to sleep, but I don’t recall thinking let’s change up the routine. I couldn’t even tell you when that stopped for both. In my head, I am distraught because how could I forget that!

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I am not sure which is harder on the emotions: the ones you see coming and plan for or the ones that change with more subtlety. Either way when the worry of one phase ends the worry of the new phase comes flooding in to take it’s predecessor’s place.

As we are entering full force into the big kid years, I am trying to remain present. As I watched Daphne this weekend, I was reminded that it is all fleeting. I wonder all the time if the snuggles George asks for will be the last ones or when Daphne decides she doesn’t want to make me a bedtime snack of plastic food before I tuck her in. My heart just breaks thinking I might miss the significance of the last ask. So let’s read an extra book or build one more Lego structure.

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It is like there is a little mourning that happens with things of each phase. There are days that I really miss the sweet newborn stages, but then I see moments like tonight where George came in to comfort his sister when she was hurt. If he stayed a newborn, I would never get to experience watching their relationship evolve.

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But that is the push and pull of parenthood I guess. There are often times we are looking for a phase to end and rushing into the next one (hello George at 4…). Then other moments I never want to leave the sweet innocence, or I look back and weep that they have grown so much in a blink of an eye.

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I am not sure I am really saying anything profound. Parenting is this weird mix of polarizing feelings. I am sad my babies are growing into big kids, but I am happy seeing how fun the big kid stage can be. I am sad that it seems that they need me less, but I am happy that they are figuring out their own way. I am sad that there are things about their lives that we will never experience again, but I am happy to welcome all the new experiences we will have together.

With the beginning of each new season, brings an end to another. There is some poetry in that I suppose. I could see that if we stayed in a season for too long, you would lose sight of it’s beauty. It does give us something to hope for with the change, and something to look fondly back on when we have forgotten the mess of it all. I guess we are in each season as long as we need to be, and we can thank God for that.

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These kids I tell ya. The things they do to my heart!

To My 2.5 Year Old

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Daphie,

Today you are half way to three. You have grown so much in the last six months.

First of all your vocabulary has exploded. You used to say bangkock for blanket and potholes for Paw Patrol. While there are still times, I am not sure what you are saying, you get clearer by the minute. Your sentence structure amazes me most days.

You are in love with every stuffed animal that crosses your bath. You have a zoo in your crib, and you make me tuck everyone in before kissing you goodnight. And then every morning, you pick out a bow for yourself and your bunny friends. This makes me think that you will have your own rescue shelter in your adult life. Rarely are you without a stuffie to love and hold.

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You are a complete puzzle master. You are able to keep up with your brother on finding the next piece. You love putting the pictures together, and you rarely need guidance anymore.

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You love to create art. Painting is your favorite, but you love working with play-do and crayons. Every night you direct us to look at the wall of art that you have created with so much pride. You could sit at the kitchen table for hours with your art.

Much to our dismay, you have become a picky eater. You hardly eat meat, but love carbs and fruit. But you also know how to bribe your daddy to give you treats in secret by taking him to the pantry and saying “shhhh.”

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While you don’t stray far from your people, you can tell you will be fierce and are not afraid to try new things. You love to test your physical limits to keep up with the big kids. I know when you commit to something, you are all in.

You know exactly what you want out of your day, and I feel that you will always live every moment to the fullest. You don’t let much get in your way. And I love and admire that about you.

You refuse to go to the church nursery, and you love to try to add a little color to the hymnals and talk to the pastor all through the sermon.

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You also love your brother fiercely. I think you push yourself to reach his level, which has been amazing to see you try to catch up to someone who is three years older.

At the same time, you are a force with him. While most of the time you are George’s shadow, you put him in his place when he is being ridiculous. For being half his size, you hold your own against that big brother of yours. I pray every day that your relationship makes you stronger and give you the skills to command any room that you are in.

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Your laugh and smile light up the room, but you definitely make people work for them. You don’t give up your love for free (unless it is for a stuffie) which is something I hope that you continue to expect when you get older.

I knew having a girl would make me grow, but I never knew how much it would change me. Being around you Daphne is a constant reminder of how I hope to be as a woman and as a mother. It has helped me with my own self talk, because I never want you to hear the things I used to say to myself.

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I love our daily mantras:

  • You are brave.
  • You are smart.
  • You are strong.
  • You are kind.
  • You are funny.
  • You are capable.
  • You are Daphie.

You are my perfect little girl, and I love every bit or your toddler self.

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