I have discovered the pot of gold, and let me tell you baby, it isn't what you are expecting but it is every bit as precious!
My toddler is potty trained! And I am more than a little embarrassed at how ABSOLUTELY THRILLED I am about this. My little girl is no longer in diapers!
Every time her little butt perches on that toilet seat and leaves behind a little golden puddle of miracle, I breathe a giant sigh of relief. One less butt to diaper, and that is an amazing, amazing thing in my world.
Rumpelstiltskin may have turned hay into gold, but I could hardly be happier than with my little pot of gold from Sterling. Yep, I know exactly how cheesy that was, and I am going with it! I am literally THAT giddy with a potty trained girl :-)
OK, enough gushing about my child's bathroom habits.
I realize this post officially makes me the most stereotypical SAHM possible, and if the pre-baby me met the current me and read this post, she would roll her eyes and then skewer me afterwards to her super posh, super awesome friends over a pitcher of sangria. God, I miss the old me...
But anyway, here's the thing.
About 6 months ago, I read all the books and articles about how as an American mom, it was my duty to "mom up" and wade into the battleground of potty training armed with no less than 3 different types of potty chairs, every type of candy Sterling's little heart could desire, stickers, fancy big girl panties, and even a special "wetting doll" to show her the ropes.
The first few days were great, she peed in the potty, we rejoiced, birds sang, everyone danced with ribbons in their hair.
But when it was time to stop running around naked and put underwear on, she decided she was done with potty training, and wanted her diapers back.
I'm pretty damn hard headed... but evidently so is she. After several days of tantrums and pee battles, I realized this wasn't what potty training should be about, and so we quit cold turkey.
I'm sure there's lots of potty training pros out there with lots of expert opinions on how we should have toughed it out. But they can shove those opinions.
Because after all, that's all they are. Opinions. And honestly, this is my kid to screw up as I see fit.
But 6 months later, after I had decided that there was no way in hell I was ever going down the "potty training path of doom" again, Sterling decided out of the blue that she was ready to use the potty again. She gave me some simple signs. I gave it a try, and it all fell into place.
It was incredibly easy, super quick, and MUCH more fun. And honestly, I think I will take this approach with Ben as well.
And if giving her a little control over such a momentous decision helped smooth the transition, so be it. If you think about it, taking away a kid's diaper is a fairly large transition. One that for some kids is a pretty big emotional shift.
I realize now that for Sterling, changing from diapers to underwear was the emotional change from "baby" to "big girl", and with the introduction of a second new "baby" into the house, it was a role that she wasn't entirely ready to be pushed out of yet.
And as my lovely friend Theresa wisely said, "they won't go to college wearing a diaper, so what's a few more months".
So to those militant potty trainers, more power to you. No judgement, everyone has their own style that works best for them.
But for me? I'm gonna kick back with some sangria and enjoy the company of my babies, rather than looking for anything *else* to fight with them over.
Besides, the teenage years are right around the corner and I'm sure we will have PLENTY of things to fight over...
I had one of those incredibly special moments in parenthood this morning.
We are all bundled up against Hurricane Sandy. The pantry is full, the heat is cranking, and we are snuggled up in cozy clothes while the hurricane rages and pounds away outside.
Sterling and I were sitting on the sofa, trading kisses.
She was straddling my lap, facing me, and holding my face in her two little hands. The game was to ask for a kiss and offer your lips, then quickly turn your face and give your cheek right before the other person kissed you.
We were both laughing like crazy, enjoying the silliness of the moment and suddenly it hit me.
One of my absolute best friends in the world is 2 1/2.
Not only is she my kid and I love her like crazy, but she is also one of my best friends.
Now I know, I have an ENTIRE blog dedicated to the mayhem of our lives, and a large amount of that mayhem is a direct result of miss Sterling's influence, but somehow weathering that nuttiness together has cemented our friendship.
Every insane little antic that she tries, every absurd thing she climbs, every poop laden object I scrub somehow just solidifies our friendship further.
I'm guessing its like the first time you hold you hold your college roommate's hair while she worships at the porcelain goddess. It's a rite of passage. A friendship cover charge. A price of admission that builds the relationship.
Either that, or my toddler has given me Stockholm Syndrome...
I have to admit, I kinda love the way kids' imaginations work.
Like when I put S down for nap and I hear her up there narrating all kinds of crazy stories to her toys.
So today, when I saw her deep in conversation with "Dolly" (yep, we roll original on the names), I took a few photos to send to daddy and wasn't really paying much attention until I heard her mutter "I wuv you, why you so naughty? You bonk his head, wanna Time Out?"
Trying not to laugh, I asked what her baby had been up to that was ornery.
She looked at me, rubbed her forehead in exasperation and said "Dolly push Ben Ben, I need cawfee".
Well, at least not everything I teach her is going in one ear and out the other...
Some days in parenting are a perfect things of beauty, full of poignant moments and effervescent gossamers of joy.
And then days are loathsome turds that you just barely survive, the kind that leave you battered and exhausted and desperate for wine.
Today we had one of the latter...
Which is why, at 5:30, both of my little angels went down for the night.
See, I am still struggling with a fair amount of pain from being hit by a car two months ago. Every time I push it and do something active, such as take a walk with my kids, I feel it for days after.
Kind of sucks.
Because today would have been a perfect day to take them for a walk.
And forget them somewhere. Hold on now, hear me out!
There are lots of nice neighbors around, I'm sure one of them would have happily taken them in... for an hour or two.
The root of most of my torment is that today they both got extremely short naps.
And whereas Bennett can sometimes weather a short nap day, Sterling cannot, which meant that my little angel proceeded to melt as the afternoon progressed.
By late afternoon, both kids were a little fractious. If you count gnawing on the furniture, screaming and whacking one another with toys as a little. Otherwise, my kids turned into rabid little monsters hell bent on destroying me and everything around them.
After spending some quality time in the Naughty Pen for kicking me, hitting Bennett, spitting in Bennett's face REPEATEDLY and throwing a book that hit me in the head, she proceeded to tantrum the rest of the afternoon.
The culmination of which was taking a heavy plastic play laptop, swinging that puppy over hear head like an Olympian and then throwing it straight at my face. Luckily I have the reflexes of a cat. Maybe an older, highly domestic, slightly senile cat, but still... it meant that my left wrist bore the brunt of the blow rather than my face.
Know what it's like to be trapped inside with a tantruming toddler and a crying baby? If not, let me give you a sense.
Imagine a bull horn, held about 10 inches from your face, spewing a constant stream of shrill shrieks frequenting the word "NOOOOOOOOO" in escalating octaves. Add flailing limbs, flying toys, and tears, lots and lots of tears. Yep, that gives you a slight sense of what I was working with, and the mindset I am currently in.
Desperation, pure and simple. Like "where is an ice pick so I can poke out my ear drums and put an end to this misery" kind of desperation.
There is a part of me that strongly believes that a tantrum loses some of its impact of you can't hear it. And if it isn't true, at least I have a good excuse to go on a parenting hiatus for a while.
Yeah right. If getting hit by a car didn't get me a parenting hiatus, bleeding ears certainly won't either.
Oh yeah, and that photo below? Taken by my lovely daughter after she went AWOL with my cell phone and I finally chased her down. I think the expression on my face says it all...
And I say that remembering full well the birthday I came down, found the GORGEOUS, huge, royal blue satin bag with a lustrous gold ribbon around my new... industrial gelato machine (otherwise known as the birthday the earth stood still).
Yeah, it didn't go over so well.
But this puppy is cool enough that I am willing to give a full pass based purely on its fan-fricking-amazing-tastic-ness.
I could spend HOURS of fun just putting stuff in and taking it out again. Hours. It might just be enough to make me actually enjoy cooking. Or at least getting stuff out to cook.
And yes, I know this is still a concept fridge. Poor J finally gets a green light to give a kitchen appliance as a gift, and the stinkin' thing isn't even available.
But if it ever becomes available, I'm going to be one of the first ones lined up to get one :-)
The other day I was out shopping with Bennett while Sterling was at Preschool. I'm still a pretty slow mover after being hit by a car, and it gives strangers lots of opportunities to stop us and love on Ben.
On this particular day, an elegant older lady stopped us several times, and each time she talked to Ben, her face glowed.
After her 5th or 6th stop, she confided that she had raised 5 boys of her own.
I laughed in amazement and asked her how she survived. She looked at me incredulously.
"Parenting is the great joy of life. We loved those boys as hard as we could and cherished it."
As she went on to share the successes of each one and how grateful she was to have a new generation to love, I was repeatedly struck at how frequently she used one critical word: joy.
And I realized two things from this exchange.
First, clearly home girl was more than just a recreational drug user.
But secondly, that parenting is an attitude. When I asked how she had survived, she easily could have rolled her eyes and lamented on the challenges and struggles. With 5 boys, I'm sure she had them.
And I don't doubt that part of her ecstasy over parenting was due to the fact that her kids were grown and she was romanticizing the past.
But I also think that she made an incredibly important point, that it's important to take moments to cherish the small stuff.
If you have kids, to slow down and admire their perfect little fingers and dimples and curlicues. That warm, delicious way the crease of their neck smells, their wonderfully sweet baby breath, their accomplishments, their scratches and bumps and scars.
To cherish and take joy in each of those little, tiny details that make your babies who they are. And to do it often.
And if you don't have kids, to turn that adoring eye onto appreciating the nuances of your life. Your heart that beats, your skin that protects, your freckles and bumps and callouses. Your dreams and successes and failures.
Our conversation has come back to me repeatedly since we talked, and each time, I have stopped what I was doing and taken the time to celebrate the joy in that moment.
It may just have been my shift in perspective, but this week seems like it has been especially good.
Because joy and perfection are in the eye of the beholder. And if you don't behold yourself and your children as perfection, you are missing out on the joy of life.
Know whats super sweet and totally romantic? Your husband surprising you by coming home from his trip this week a day early.
Know what's not so cool? Him showing up at 10:40, when the house is dark, the doors are locked, and everyone is settled in... then clunking around, cursing in the dark for 15 minutes before coming upstairs.
I knew I had a 50/50 chance of it either being him, or a sex starved, drug crazed lunatic on a rampage.
Wait, remove that "or".
I was thrilled to see him, but I get enough excitement in my daily adventures. I certainly don't need any more.
He is just lucky that I recognized his particular brand of clunking and cursing.
Otherwise, I would have met him at the top of the stairs swinging one of those industrial-strength, heavy duty metal Mag lites. Straight for his balls. Or liver. Or head. Whatever was easiest to reach.
I may be small, but like the ferocious chihuahua, I am mighty...
I have learned an important lesson in the last 24 hours.
When your toddler is repeating the name of a favorite toy and the word "potty" over and over? She isn't saying that the toy needs to use the potty, as you incorrectly assume.
What she is saying is that the toy is IN the potty. And has been flushed.
Which isn't discovered until a particularly nasty flush backs up. Like overachiever, Trainspotting, cesspool of doom level of nastiness.
And then suddenly her incessant ramblings make more sense, and when asked "Sterling, did you flush a toy down the toilet", she indignantly responds "Toodles potty. I TOLD you." with that endearing glare that fully implies my stupidity.
Uh huh, so you did.
Oh yeah, and while Mr. Super-awesome-super-expensive Plummer Man was out evaluating the toilet in question? Yeah, Sterling happened to have 3 unsupervised seconds alone with a different bathroom.
Want to guess what she did?
Yep. She redecorated.
That photo at the bottom? It used to be a faux drawer front and a sink knob.
Now, those are modern art.
And that happens to be in addition to the toilet that we now have to have replaced.
2 out of 5 bathrooms down in a single day. That's impressive, I have to admit.
This poor house, I wonder how long it will survive my Hellion Twosome...
It's just the game face we wear in our house when we are making peanut butter our bitch.
Yeah, we find that the more fear we instill in peanut butter's creamy little heart, the sweeter peanut butter tastes as we shove it into every orifice we can find (and some that prove a little bit elusive, but you can use your imagination).
Yep, it's a new but treasured tradition in Casa De Hickman.
As soon as the peanut butter comes out, so does the Grinch face and accompanying snorts of terror.
It's pretty awesome.
So if you are peanut butter, or know someone who is, run.
Because we will find you, we will make Grinch faces at you, and we will shove you into our open maw as we snort in derision.
That, my friend, is a promise. And we will look damn cute as we do it.