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Mothering a toddler

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Mothering a toddler

Also letting you know there's an update on the "scientific findings" page.

Well it's official, my darling baby girl is now a whole year old. That helpless, innocent, defenseless pink blob that came from my very body and cuddled in so tight is now a strong, independent, cheeky toddler. She is still the most adorable creature I've ever seen. She still takes my breath away. She still stops time when she looks into my eyes. She still studies me like I'm an amazing toy. She still thinks I'm awesome. She still finds nourishment from my body. She still cuddles in tight. She still needs me to change her and cuddle her and love her. In many ways she needs me more now, she needs me to open the gate, open the fridge or pantry, take the plastic off/open the container and get things off high shelves. In all seriousness though, my little girl is growing up. Although sometimes it doesn't seem as obvious.

We had a party in our house for her birthday. She was overwhelmed by all the people there within 10 minutes of the first few guests arriving. She cried and cried and cried. I locked us away in her room for a nappy change and a quick cuddle and she even needed a feed to settle before going out and braving the party again. She would not get rid of the dummy either. Sometime after lunch she warmed up to everyone and was an unstoppable whirlwind. But then the whole "open my present, no open MY present" thing totally overwhelmed her again. She parties hard, but then she falls hard. She did very well though, all things considered. We dragged the poor girl to an engagement party that same night. We weren't sure how she'd handle two big parties on the same day. She handled it so well. She was social, inquisitive, cute, and even wandered off to taste examine some rocks. She was fine because the focus was not on her, although the focus of those immediately around us seemed to drift to her wherever we went. She was able to get time out though, and she was still being held by mummy, not being passed around like a hot potato. She didn't seem to mind the whole crowd singing happy birthday to her though!

We went to Dreamworld on Sunday (yeah I know we go to themeparks too often, but we went with family from NSW so it's justified :p). I took her out to play at the fun center. First she stood there in awe, just looking around. After a while she noticed the TV. Before long she was running around, climbing onto trikes, playing with toys, and mimicking the bigger kids. While there was a show on she even pushed a 2.5 year old off the chair to have it herself. I was shocked and embarrassed by her appalling behaviour but at the same time I couldn't help but be a little impressed that she was actually able to physically take a chair off a much bigger child. I still apologised profusely. Fortunately the child (and the child's mother) she picked on was a lovely girl who decided to go up the front to dance and let Alexis have the chair rather than cause a scene.

This afternoon held an other example of her growing independence. Alexis and I always check the mailbox together, it's tradition. I used to have her on my hip, then I used to let her stand but hold on to her. Recently I've been letting her play on the grass for a while. I watch her very closely in case a car comes but fortunately she has not dared go near the road yet. I know it's only a matter of time though so I don't ever get complacent. That said though, I let her have as much freedom as possible without being dangerous. This afternoon she walked rather briskly across our front yard to the neighbour's yard, towards their driveway where their pretty purple car was parked. I scooped her up. I knew trying to reason an imaginary property line with a one year old was useless, but I gave it a quick go. She wanted to look at that car though! She 'ran' from the mailbox to the car several times (with me picking her up and taking her back to the starting line each time).

She's incredibly independent when she wants to. If something shiny catches her eye, she's off. Trying to get her to lie still for a nappy change is impossible. Trying to get her to stand still for a nappy change is next to impossible too. We've resigned ourselves to changing the change table cover quite frequently, it's not really a big deal. There's still times though that she won't let me put her down without either whimpering, full-fledged screaming, or a combination of both. Then there's the days when she wants to be on the ground not in my arms but wants me in view all the time and follows me around constantly. She is seemingly unpredictable but there is a sort of pattern to it. I've come to associate her being clingy with her actually being tired but not wanting to admit it, so I usually try to be a little more patient with trying to pat her off to sleep. Sometimes though, it's the separation anxiety, which is a normal developmental phase almost all toddlers experience, and we just share a lovely day of cuddles and stories. It is nice to still feel needed. It's also equally as nice on the days where she plays well by herself and I get stuff done. It's so important to be flexible. Fortunately I don't have to work so I don't have the absolute need for a hard and fast schedule.

I used to bust my chops trying to impress Corey and "earn my right" to stay home. This was mostly internal pressure, the perfectionist in my trying to prove myself, to avoid repeats of the early days when my hubby used to come home in a foul mood suggesting I might as well get a job as I was a useless housekeeper. These days Corey understands much better that babies are sometimes temperamental, as we all are. These days he is much more understanding that some days 'nothing' gets done (my words not his). He's getting great at replying to my "argh I did nothing" with "babe you did the washing so I have something to wear tomorrow, that's heaps, thanks", or "you did the dishes that were piling up", or "thanks for still cooking dinner" (even if it's chucking pies in the oven) or "you tidied up the lounge a little bit" or something like that. It makes such a difference when he's supportive and understanding, it really does. I feel like I can just enjoy being a mum and watching my toddler grow without feeling guilty. The housework always gets done, eventually, whether its by me or Corey, but it never ends. It will always be calling out to me, but it is OK to ignore it. Alexis, on the other hand, is always changing, and she won't be young for ever. My job, my privilege, is to give her the space and the closeness that she needs when she needs it.

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