The Day the Butterflies Went Away

There are certain expected milestones in your child’s life that make you happy, sad, and sometimes a little bit of both. First steps, first words, first days of schools…they’re all pretty much lumped together and spark a flutter of emotions.

But, it’s the unique milestones that really hit you right in the mommy gut. They’re often ones you thought would have no significance at all.

For me, it’s the day the butterflies went away.

When my youngest daughter was born we decorated her nursery in a butterfly theme.  There were butterflies all around her room; purple and pink, everything matched, from the crib sheet to the curtains. The butterflies never seemed to bother her…not like she had a say in the matter anyway.

As my daughter started growing and developing her own little personality, I could immediately tell she wasn’t the purple and pink butterfly kind of girl. She was the one to chase them away, not to admire their beauty.  Nevertheless, the butterflies stayed where they were. It was their home after all. Even as she moved from the crib to a “big girl bed”, the butterflies hung on.

When she turned four and was waist-deep into “My Little Pony”, we changed her bedspread and curtains to match her current obsession.

But, the butterflies remained on the wall. She didn’t seem to care as long as her ponies were around.

From the ponies we added “Shopkins” decals on the walls…next to the butterflies. The “Shopkins”, ponies, and butterflies all seemed to live in perfect harmony, although they had nothing in common except for the fact they shared a room.

Then a couple of months ago, my then 5-year-old daughter said, “Mommy, I want to take the butterflies off. They’re babyish. I’m a big girl.”

What? No more butterflies? What did they ever do to you?

As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I knew she had a point. She was growing up whether I wanted to face it or not. When my older daughter changed her room décor, it didn’t bother me in the least. In fact, I welcomed it. But, when it’s your youngest, it’s just different…at least for me.

Since the butterflies were going bye-bye, I figured we might as well get rid of the ponies too. So I suggested buying new bedding for her sixth birthday. She immediately jumped aboard that train adding, “something for big girls”. I agreed to that. It would be nice to choose a bedding theme that could last the test of time…or at least through her little phases and fads.

She chose a zebra rainbow pattern. I have to admit, it is very nice and is “something for big girls”. While we’re still making the transition and adding decorations here and there, the butterflies are gone.

They have a new home, in her closet, along with toys that aren’t exactly for “big girls” anymore.

While I can’t hold on to the butterflies, I’ll still grab onto those mommy hugs and snuggles whenever I can get them before they fly away.

Can We Make Girls’ Bathing Suits Less Sexy Please?

Last week I took my girls bathing suit shopping because they had an indoor pool party coming up.

Perfect! They’ll be plenty of bathing suits to choose from because it’s so early in the season. We shouldn’t have a problem.

Boy was I wrong. Who knew shopping for a bathing suit for a seven-year-old girl (not so much my 5-year-old) could be so tedious and disturbing at the same time?

As we looked through the racks, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of one-piece bathing suits available for my daughters.

Hmmm. Okay, perhaps a tankini? I’m a fan of those myself.

Hmmm.  A few of those out there.

As I continued to survey our options, one disturbing animal print bikini after another, my daughter chimed in that she found one.

Great! I thought. Boy was I wrong.

She proceeded to show me a teeny weeny bikini, made just for her size. When I immediately said no and was questioned why I wouldn’t be buying that so-called bathing suit. I told my daughter, “There’s no reason for a 7-year-old girl to wear something like that.”

Meanwhile, my 5-year-old went straight for the Shopkins one-piece bathing suit and said she wanted that one.

Sold! That one was easy.

Back to the 7-year-old who has now picked up a crocheted number, bikini-style of course. I just looked at her and shook my head. This cycle went on for a few more suits through some ruffles and leopard prints until we found and agreed on an appropriate tankini set that even came with a matching skirt. It covered everything and was cute at the same time.

Sold!

By this time I was mentally exhausted. I thought the days of difficult bathing suit shopping were still at least another six years ahead of us. Boy was I wrong.

Here’s the thing I have an issue with…when it comes to bathing suits for little girls, why are manufacturers producing such sexy numbers? Is there anyone on the decision-making team who has children and who may think that it’s inappropriate? Or is it a case of “anything goes” much like a lot of things these days?

When little girls see these bathing suits out there made in their size, of course they’re going to want them. Of course they’re going to think it’s okay to wear them. Call me a prude, but I have a problem with that. I think we’re just feeding into a culture that is making it too easy for our kids to grow up too fast. All the innocence that existed when I was a kid is long gone. As a parent that’s downright scary.

Some may say to lighten up, it’s just a bathing suit. But, it’s really not. It’s troublesome that these teeny bikinis are more the norm rather than the exception. If you thought they didn’t exist for my five-year-old too, think again. There were plenty of bikinis for her, but she was blinded by Shopkins as usual. If parents weren’t buying those suits, clothing makers wouldn’t still be putting them out there. That tells me that many parents don’t find issue with this.

As a mother, it’s not easy to explain to your daughter why she can’t wear something that everyone else seems to be wearing. I constantly tell her I don’t care what others kids do and to be her own person when it comes to bathing suits and everything else in life. That’s the best I can do as a parent…that and write blogs like this to express my frustration!

Would it be so bad to provide clothes and bathing suits that show less of our young daughters’ skin? You don’t need a bikini to swim or make sand castles at age seven or any other age for that matter. Clothing makers, can you hear me? Can you help a momma out?

 

 

 

Why do Kids Hate to Wipe Their Own Butts?

Why do kids hate to wipe their own butts? As a mom, I know cleaning butts comes with the territory. I’ve handled many diaper changes and blow outs as I’m sure you all have too. But, at what age do you have to pass the toilet paper torch down to your child? There comes a point when they have to start taking responsibility for their own butts, both figuratively and literally. Right?

I honestly thought that would happen in my house when my kids started going to full-time Kindergarten. Teachers certainly aren’t going to do it. That’s not part of the curriculum. So, kids have to take matters into their own hands, so to speak.  But, my kids have not.

I should have known that the whole “wipe your butt at school” thing wasn’t going to work when my now 7-year-old daughter was horrified at the idea of pooping at school. When I told her that those school tacos may have her running for the border she vowed never to poop in school. Two years later, she’s kept her word. Needless to say, she still isn’t volunteering for the clean-up committee. At home, I get the dreaded, “I’m done” call which means come and clean my butt.  Before I say a big hello to King Charmin, I do tell her to do it herself. The look of disgust I get is incredible. I can see in her eyes what she’s thinking.

You want me to clean my own butt? You must have had too much wine mommy. That will never happen silly lady. Now clean my butt!

To avoid a major craptastrophe, I oblige for the one-hundredth time in my mommy career.

Her little sister isn’t much better. But, I can cut her a little more slack since she just turned five. We also had the “you’re going to have to clean your butt at school talk” too this past summer. She wasn’t buying it either. She also took a solemn pledge to the poopy gods to never go number two at school. Just like her sister, she’s kept her word. Sigh.

But, I may get a bit of a reprieve with number 2…child number 2 that is. Although I still get the dreaded “I’m done” calls, she has actually taken the plunge a few times and cleaned her own butt at home. Was she mortified? Absolutely. Did she do it? Yes! Does she do it regularly? Nope. Sigh.

What baffles my mind about it all of this is that kids will play in mounds of dirt and grime for hours. They will spill all kinds of things over their clothes and fight you not to change them. They’ll sit in wet sand at the beach all day totally unbothered by chunks of sand getting in places they should never be. But, ask them to clean their own butts, even with a mummified hand of toilet paper, and you are asking way too much!

The only solace I find in this whole ordeal is that I know I’m not alone. I’ve talked to plenty of other moms who are battling the same problem. I know there are those of you out there who swear your kids have been wiping their own butts since they were potty trained. Talk all you want. I know you’re lying. There’s no shame in it. Hop on the wiping wagon and just admit you still have to do it like the rest of us.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll have to fight the good wipe. Hopefully my tour of duty will be over soon. For now I’ll just take it one toilet paper roll at a time.

What I Would Tell My 18-Year-Old Self

Sometimes you don’t know how good you had it until you move forward and look back. You see, I went to my 20-year high school reunion recently. First of all, I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since I graduated. It may sound cliché, but I can honestly tell you I don’t know where all the time has gone. I also can’t believe how many things, both good and bad, have happened. If you ever told me some parts of my story over the past 20 years, I would have told you, you were nuts.

As I walked through the newly painted and renovated hallways of my high school, I could see visions of my teenage self at various stages of my high school years. I even turned to my friend and commented about how I could close my eyes and immediately be transported back 20 years.

If I could go back 20 years, there are so many things I would tell my 18-year-old self.

Have More Fun. As much as getting good grades is important, I would tell myself to have more fun. This really is the most carefree time of your life! At what other point do you not have to worry about paying a mortgage? When else can you go out Friday and Saturday night and not have to worry about a babysitter or getting up the next morning to kids who think it’s cool to get up at 6:30 on a Sunday morning? There will be no other time like this in your lifetime. Live it up.

It’s Quality Not Quantity with Friends. It truly doesn’t matter how many friends you have. Although it may seem like the end of the world that you only eat lunch with two other people instead of ten, it really isn’t. There are far worse things. If you have to put an exhausting amount of effort into a friendship it really isn’t worth it. It took me a long, and I mean long time to realize that. But, once I did (well into my adult life) I was a much happier person. A true friend is one you can talk to after a year of being off the grid and feel as though you were just with them yesterday.

Not Being Cool is Cool Enough. I was not “cool” in high school. Totally not cool. I knew it and so did all the “cool” kids. Enjoy the real friendships you do have. In the end, you’ll be better for it.

Your Life Plan Will Change. I’m fully aware of your life plan. But, guess what? It’s going to change and that’s okay. Not every prophesy you declare when you’re 18 will come true. You will grow. You will change. Things will happen and it’s all okay. If you ever told me I was going to quit a job I loved to become a stay-at-home mom in my thirties, I would have laughed in your face. I would have laughed even harder if you told me I wasn’t going to be a television reporter. That was the big dream. But, over time my big vision shifted…more than once. I decided being on-air wasn’t for me. I liked the behind the scenes television life instead. Then after a long time, I decided that career wasn’t cutting it either. I decided to follow my passions, even if it meant being viewed as unsuccessful in the minds of some. In the end, you have to do what makes you happy and what’s right for you, not anyone else.

Time Flies When You’re An Adult. As kids we want time to fast forward itself so we can become fancy adults. When we become adults we want to pause time so we have more of it to enjoy our lives. As we all know that’s not possible. There comes a point when you really don’t know where the time went. When you finally become that adult you dreamed about all those years you quickly realize it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. In fact, life is full of rainy days and bulls. Don’t rush to become an adult.

Don’t Take People or Things for Granted. People are not immortal. Things don’t stick around forever. Enjoy them. Appreciate them. Don’t be self-absorbed. There is much more to the universe than yourself. Open your eyes and appreciate the things and people around you. Guess what? They’re not going to be around forever. People get sick unexpectedly and there isn’t always a happy ending. You really need to stop and enjoy everything and everyone around before it is too late.

The saying, “I wish I knew then what I know now” holds a lot of merit. If I knew some of the things I knew now when I was 18, perhaps things would be different. For better? For worse? Who knows? Perhaps my 30-something self can learn from what my 18-year-old self didn’t know.

Stepping Out of Her Sister’s Shadow

It’s interesting to watch your kids grow up. Having two girls, the younger one has constantly mimicked her older sister. It’s monkey see, monkey do and “I can do it better than you” 24/7. The younger sibling constantly looks up to the older one.

Little sis has always wanted to play with the “big girls”. So, big sister’s friends became little sister’s friends “just because”.

But, then something started to happen.

Before you can say “share with your little sister”, little sister isn’t so little anymore. She starts becoming her own person. It’s both beautiful and sad in the same glance.

As my baby girl gets ready for Kindergarten in the fall, she’s beginning to spread her little wings. Gone are the days of having a death-grip on mommy’s leg because she doesn’t want to talk to the other kids. She’s starting to fly away without looking back. That’s a good thing, I know.

She’s also starting to make her own little friends and get invited to do things with her friends…without her sister. Everyday I can see her step out of her sister’s shadow a little bit more. While I couldn’t be happier that she’s becoming her own little person, part of me wants her to still play the role of co-pilot. As a mother, there’s something comforting in knowing that she’s always with her big sister, as much as big sister may not enjoy it.

While my younger daughter has always had a mind of her own, she also constantly wanted her sister’s approval. That’s also starting to disappear. Just this morning, my older daughter said she wanted pasta for dinner. In the “old” days, little sis would chime in with a “me too”. Instead, she told us she didn’t want pasta and that she was going to make herself a sandwich instead. After I finished laughing, I thought to myself, wow, you really are becoming your own little person.

Sigh.

Trust me, I know, this is just the beginning. Growing up seems to be so much easier for the kids to do. I wonder what their secret is! It’s a lot harder for us parents to watch!

 

 

I Love You All the Time

It’s kinda funny when you see things come full circle with your kids.

When my older daughter was a baby there was one book I would read to her all the time.

It’s called “I Love You All the Time”. Are you familiar with it?

It’s a cute board book that describes all these different scenarios, but in the end, the “busy” adult always love the child. It’s a sweet book to remind kids they are always loved no matter what’s going on around them. I used to love reading it to her. It was the one book that she would always smile and giggle at. I would do funny voices and act it out a bit too. But, as she got older, it kinda got tossed aside. It got “traded up” for more “deeper” books, like “The Cat in the Hat” if you will.

Honestly, I also forgot about it. I knew it was still on the book shelf. But, it seemed to have gotten lost. So, you have to imagine my surprise when my older daughter found it on the shelf and decided she wanted to read it to me. It has to be a good couple of years since I read that book. My younger daughter never took to it the way her sister did.

So, after she asked to read it, I asked her if she remembered that I used to read it to her all the time. When she said she did, my mommy heart melted. We sat on the couch and she started reading. For a few minutes I was brought back to a time when I would hold her tight and read to her. I could breathe that sweet baby smell forever. I wish I could bottle those snuggles and bring them out now.

I was brought back to reality as she read me the story. She did a really nice job. It must have been all the times she heard me read it to her. I have to say a part of me liked it even more when she read it. Although I hate the fact that she is growing up, it showed me that she is learning and getting smarter by the day. Isn’t that what we all want?

While the entire book is great, the last line is the best.

“Even when you can’t see me, I love you all the time.”

I hope that rings true for her just as much as it does for me.

 

 

 

One Day There Won’t be Any Crayons to Pick Up

As I almost tripped over the rainbow of crayons all over my living room rug this morning, I wanted to yell, but I bit my tongue.

When my daughter went to sharpen her pencil this morning and then emptied the little thing that catches the shavings all over my kitchen floor, I wanted to yell, but I bit my tongue.

When my youngest daughter squeezed her juice box and it trickled all over my hardwood floor, I really wanted to yell, but I bit my tongue.

When I looked around my house this morning and saw the mounds of Halloween candy and other goodies all over my counter, I could feel myself getting frustrated, but I took a deep breath.

As I took in the sights of my house and the tornado that it’s become lately, I could feel myself getting annoyed, but again I took a deep breath.

When I thought about all the cleaning that didn’t get done this weekend because we were too busy having fun, I could feel myself starting to twitch, but I took an ever deeper breath.

I guess you could say I had an epiphany of sorts.

I began to think that one day there won’t be any crayons to pick up. There won’t be any messes to clean. My house may actually look more like a sunny day than a hurricane. There won’t be any mounds of candy because the girls will be too old for trick-or-treating. Instead, they’ll be off to parties wearing costumes that need ten times more fabric and doing things that teenagers do (sigh). I’ll have new headaches and wish for the days when my biggest problem was too much candy in the house.

Instead of picking up pencil shavings, I’ll be picking up the pieces of broken hearts caught in the crossfire of teenage drama. Instead of drippy juice boxes, I’ll be worrying about all the other drinks out there that my girls need to stay away from (sigh).

If you’re like me and you tend to sweat the stuff and stress and that comes along with having little ones in the house…don’t. Enjoy it and embrace it. It’s not to say that you should let your house get to “Hoarders” status, but you don’t have to freak out about every little mess. Take it from a former pre-children “neat freak”.

I’m beginning to really think that these are the “fun” days that everyone tells you will go by too fast. One day you’ll be sitting home handing out Halloween candy just wishing you were still out there trick-or-treating.

So, the next time there are crumbs sprinkled all over your rug or scribbles all over your wall, remember that one day there won’t be any crayons to pick up.

 

Mommy, How Do Babies Get in the Belly?

“Mommy, where do babies come from?”

It’s the question many parents dread no matter what age their child may be. No matter how you answer, nothing good is going to come from it.

a) Depending on your answer, your child may not believe you.

b) Depending on your answer your child will have more questions. Or…

c) Depending on your answer your child may not believe you and will have more questions.

My guess is that the answer is C.

Ugh.

Well, a variation of that question keeps popping up in my house more frequently than a darn whac-a-mole.

“Mommy, how do babies get in the belly?” asks my almost four-year-old.

Ugh.

Think fast. Think fast!

Answer: “Well, if a mommy really wants a baby, she makes a wish and prays that the baby will come in her belly. If she’s lucky, she will have a baby in her belly.”

I know, not the best explanation. But, I don’t think we need to start drawing diagrams and have the birds and bees conversation at this age no matter how educated we want our kids to be. Personally, I think it’s a little TMI for a three-year-old to handle. So, I go with my answer. In response, I get:

“What about boys? Can boys ask for babies?”

Answer: “No.” I decided to go with a cut and dry answer this time around. But, now my six-year-old decides to listen in and give her two cents. Good grief, I’m being tag-teamed.

Question: “Well, why?”

Answer: “It’s just the way it is.”

Silence.

They seem to have bought what I just sold.

Sigh. I can breathe a little easier. That is, until that question rears its ugly head again in a couple of days.

I know many people out there may think I’m doing my kids a disservice by not being honest with them about how babies really get in the belly. What’s wrong with protecting their innocence a little longer, especially at ages 3 and 6 (especially age 3)? I know they need to know. I know I run the risk of someone else bursting my bubble. But, I guess that’s the chance I take.

I know there will come a day (sooner than I would like) that I will have to honestly explain how all the parts fit together and how things really work. But, just not at age 3. I know there will be even more questions that I will have to answer. I will answer them all…honestly.

So, have you had “the talk” with your kids? How do you answer “the question”?

 

 

 

A Letter to My Daughter on the Last Day of Kindergarten

Dear Mariella,

Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday that I wrote a letter like this to you as you were starting Kindergarten. I was so excited for you as you started “big kid” school. I couldn’t wait for you to begin your little journey.

Now, here we are at the end of the school year. I am amazed at how much you have learned and how much you’ve grown. You can now write your name so much neater. It doesn’t look like a rainbow of letters searching for a home. You’ve mastered those pesky 2’s and 5’s. I can’t even remember what your old numbers used to look like. You can count to 100 without skipping a number. You were so proud this year once you made it to the “100” club. You made me proud too.

The reading. Oh, the reading. It has been wonderful to watch you discover words and sound them out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been frustrating too. Sometimes Mommy forgets just how hard it is to learn to read. I’ve been doing it for so long I don’t remember what it’s like not to know words. I know it gets you mad when a “y” sounds like an “e” at the end. You can’t stand the fact that it’s just the way it is. Nevertheless, you read the words. I absolutely love when you read to me and your sister. It makes my mommy heart do cartwheels.

You’ve also came out of your little shell during this Kindergarten year. Gone is the little girl who used to hug my leg like a stage-four clinger. Gone is the little girl I would have to force to go play with the other kids before the school bell rang. Now, you just run off, never looking back. You’ve become quite the social butterfly, spreading your beautiful wings. Although it makes me a little sad inside, I know this is the way it’s supposed to be.

You’ve learned what it is to win and what is to lose. You’ve learned that just because you don’t get an award doesn’t mean you haven’t done well or accomplished your goals. Sometimes, things just don’t go your way. Sometimes other people win. That’s a part of life. Be happy for them and be proud of yourself at the same time.

On a lighter note, you’ve learned that it’s okay to use the school bathroom. It’s nearly impossible not to during a six hour day. I hope you are washing your hands like you claim. But, if you’ve noticed, when you get home I make you scrub like a doctor preparing for surgery…just in case.

I’m excited to hang out and do things with you over the summer before first grade starts.  I hope you are too. Please stop growing up so fast, my mommy heart just can’t take it.

Love,

Mommy

 

 

 

It’s All About the Showers, the Showers, No Bubble

Giving my kids a bath is one of the things I really loved as a Mom. The toys, the playing, the splashing…so much fun.

Noticed I said loved…past tense.

Yep, that’s right, my girls have moved on.

Both my 5 and 3 year-old daughters are now all about the showers, the showers, no bubble.

Let me rewind a couple of months ago when I introduced my 5-year-old to the shower. I told her this may be a better option on the nights when we wash and condition hair. Since her hair is getting longer it became a real pain in the bubble to get all the soap out.

We did it. My 3-year-old took one too.

They liked it the first time. After that they missed playing in the bath. So we went back to the bath. I went back to hunching over the tub to make sure every nook and cranny was clean and every bubble of shampoo was rinsed.

Of course I complained about it. But, deep down I loved it. It was our little quiet time to talk without interruption. At times I would learn an aspect of their day they didn’t bother to tell me earlier although I was around for hours. That time was sacred. Not anymore.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when my 5 year-old requested a shower totally out of the blue. Her sister followed. I wasn’t going to say no, but I saw the look on rubber ducky’s face. He didn’t like it. Neither did I. My girls didn’t give a quack.

Ever since then, each girl has taken her turn stepping into the shower. They pull the curtain closed and tell me they’re going to get washed all by themselves…even my three-year-old.

Sigh.

So, I stand on the outside, shut out of our otherwise special time.

Did you wash your face? Did you wash your ears? Did you wash your butt?

Yes. Yes. Yes. That’s all they tell me. I do sneak the curtain back to make sure they are scrub a dubbing all the essential parts and everything else in between. Believe it or not, they do a really good job.

Sigh. Sigh.

You would think I would be happy because it’s one thing to cross off my “To Do List”. But, I’m not. Truth be told, I’m sad. It’s just more proof they are getting older. You would think my 3-year-old would indulge me and let me at least give her a bath. Nope. Instead she reminds me she’s getting bigger every day. Geez, can you throw momma a bubble? Afterall,  I did lug you around in my uterus for nine months. Isn’t that the least you could do? Guess not.

It seems as though there’s no turning back now. It looks like rubber ducky and I are on our own.

That’s right little yellow guy, it’s not about us anymore. It’s all about the showers, the showers, no bubble….or ducky for that matter.