Happy First Birthday, Elliot
There is no way that my little birdie is a year old today. There is no way she is walking. I just had her a few weeks ago. It absolutely terrifies me how fast life is going right now. I’ve blogged about this past year a few times, giving you updates on the whole ‘2 under 2 thing‘, then the slightly less intense but still insane ‘2 under 3 thing‘, but now that I’ve had a year of perspective, a year of loving this baby, I’ve pulled together some thoughts (if you aren’t into mom-talk which includes the usual ‘it’s insane’ followed by a lot of bragging about kids and even more sentimental sap, then click away and come back tomorrow:).
Each of our kids, individually, is technically on the mellower side – as told to me by many friends/parents, etc. They were just born this way (although birdie is showing some serious ‘personality’ lately in the form of vocal patterns and pitches that leave us shocked). But collectively, two kids and two businesses has made this year more challenging that I could have ever dreamt – which I haven’t remained silent about. Our level of exhaustion was only exceeded by our love for them – which is a boat load. A cruise ship, really . . . FOR REALLY REALLY BIG GIANTS.
I love when people with no kids, or only 1 kid come over for dinner and witness the 5-8pm hours. They say, ‘I can not believe you do this every night!’ and we’d laugh maniacally and reply in unison, ‘I know! I know! It’s absolutely insane EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT!’ We’ve got our systems, our routines and thank god Brian and I parent as such a team. But it doesn’t matter how easy they are – cooking, feeding, cleaning, playing, bathing, wrestling, reading to, and putting down a baby and a toddler is a big, lovely, arduous 3 hour endeavor.
And YET, I look forward to those hours all day, every day. Never do I not want to come home to do that work. Walking through the door, hearing her squeals and his frantic ‘mama mama mama’ blankets all my stress and exhaustion in total happiness. The kind of happiness that overwhelms you so immediately and makes you actually think that you have the best life in the whole world for that second. And maybe you do.
Well, I have good news, folks. We realize NOW that no, it wasn’t too soon to have another baby, that they aren’t too close in age for us to handle (ish), and that being this close is pretty amazing for them (and will be for us). You were all right. Around 10 months they started really, really loving each other as siblings. She has always been obsessed with him, but now it’s being reciprocated. In the morning when we hear him yell for mama and dada I’ll ask her if she wants to come get her brother up and she squeals and giggles and pumps her arms and legs ferociously. If she isn’t up or if she is already napping Charlie will be disappointed and ask “Mama, where’s my sister?” The other night we bathed and put her down earlier than him and he was so bummed in the bath saying “but I want to play with Elliot in the bath.” Brian and I just looked at each other and we didn’t have to speak but we both thought the same thing: It’s happening … what every parent of two kids has always told us would happen, is happening. They are starting to be real siblings, not just a baby and a toddler anymore. And that, friends, is tearfully, heart-stoppingly amazing.
Speaking of tears . . . one of the hardest moments of the last year was when I took 3 back to back trips to New York. I did my best to make them so fast and actually came home for 24 hours in between two trips (which is certifiably crazy) but I knew that I wasn’t ready to do 5 days away if I didn’t have to (it was 2 different jobs, so I wasn’t paying for flights). When I got home I thought it would be fun to surprise the kids at a new indoor playground that they just started going to. I walked in so excited and Charlie squealed and ran to hug me. Elliot was with Sylvia (our nanny) and she reached out to me but then immediately reached back towards Sylvia and hesitated coming back to me.
It was an instant life shift. It felt like 972 tiny knives were quietly attacking my extra vulnerable open heart. Tears immediately filled so quickly, in a way that I didn’t know was possible, but I pretended to sneeze because I wanted to be positive/happy for both kids. But that night and every night after for a while, my eyes would fill, like they are right now, thinking about that second. To be fair I think it was also just out of context being at a new indoor place. I don’t normally pop into the middle of their day when they are out so she really was surprised . . . but still. I made a very easy/fast decision that second that I would travel less, work less, and make sure that those kids get more quality time with me. I’m happy to say that it has absolutely worked. We’ve been on two family vacations since then – just us, cuddling, tickling, playing and loving for days (with grandparents that give us a break), and it’s been a huge noticeable difference. I’m back to being her number 1.
Don’t get me wrong, I need and want nothing more than Sylvia, Elliot, and Charlie to have a relationship full of love. Sylvia is such an important part of our family. But I’ll be damned if my absence due to work makes my baby reach away from me and towards someone else ever again.
So, because of that I’ve become a ‘not right now’ person.
Trying to balance work and two small kids is an absolute fools errand. It’s not a balance, or a juggle, it’s a snow storm, an ANTARCTIC BLIZZARD of love, responsibility, fun, and anxiety without an umbrella. To combat this I’ve taken a lovely policy of saying ‘ask me next year!’ or ‘not right now’ or ‘wish I could’ to anything that doesn’t benefit me and my family this year. I know that I’ve always said ‘take risks, ’ ‘put yourself out there, ’ ‘say “yes” because you never know where it will lead!’, etc. And that’s all true when you are starting out and building a business.
But when you have two small kids that need their mama to be as present as possible, saying ‘not right now‘ to things that are optional is a smart business AND LIFE move. I know I’m missing ‘opportunities, ‘ but the opportunity to spend time with my family on a Wednesday night far outweighs the the opportunity to attend a launch of a product line or a store opening (right now). I’m not saying no to good business, and I am still hustling for my clients, but I’m placing value on every second of my time as TIME is the only thing in life you can’t get back.
You know what else I value so much right now? My team of amazing people – Brady, Ginny, Sara, Mel, Ariel, Paul, Eric and Emily . . . I’m talking to you. Over the years I’ve come to realize how important it is to surround yourself with people you can rely on, who really know how to be supportive in every way. I have those people and I am so lucky. THANK YOU.
Back to Elliot. I read recently that children’s personalities are formed by the age of 4 – that who they really are is set. You can mold them before that, but after that? Well, they are who they are (or so all these child brain experts say). So if I had to predict who this little lady is going to be I’d say the following (be prepared for bragging as that’s what moms really do best – this is all stuff I want to remember about her at this age so I’m writing it here, but it might be extremely boring to y’all). Ahem.
Elliot is so loving. She crawls towards me and lays her head on my chest, hugs me, and looks me in the eyes so intensely and lovingly it’s startling. Brian and I have always said that when you are with Elliot you feel really, really loved. She is also very determined, assertive and frankly, VERY demanding – she does not like to take ‘no’ for an answer. She is so intuitive and knows that we are going to go out after we put her down even before the sitter arrives just by our energy, and those are the nights that she refuses to fall asleep. Yes. She can be a punk. But she is hilarious, high energy, spastic, and laughs so easily. She laughs at her brother all day, she laughs maniacally the second she gets anything that she wants, she laughs whenever she sees me or Brian. She is overflowing with positive energy . . . well, or impatient frustration. She also screeches a lot. Ear-piercing, really. She’s dying to talk so she can really tell us what she wants, but right now when she wants something Brian and I just frantically try to figure out what it is so we can end that that sound as quickly as possible. If you are wondering if that is fun in public . . . it’s not 🙂 I swear she was a mellow baby, but the pre-toddler Elliot is proving to be quite the personality.
She is also so mischievous – way more than Charlie ever was. Charlie has always hated getting in trouble and is sincerely bummed out when we are unhappy with him. Elliot doesn’t seem to care. She stands up in her high chair, pulls my hair and laughs, and throws her salmon all over the dining room with such joy. I know we aren’t suppose to compare kids and certainly not on a public forum that they can read (I’ll probably edit this out as soon as they can read), but it’s so hard to not compare. He was Mr. Amicable. She is Miss. Unpredictable.
She is such a little person full of unpredictable hilarity, and it’s made every second I’m home so much more fun than it was 6 months ago. As I write this I keep hearing her stir on the monitor and as much as I want my alone time, I’m secretly so excited to see that baby when she wakes up. I know it’s going to continue to be exhausting over the next few years (we’ll have two toddlers soon . . . DEAR GOD) but it’s become so entertaining also.
Well, folks, we made it through this year. I literally had to stop to sob into my hands after I wrote that. I can’t believe she’s one year old. I can’t believe that life is propelling faster than I can process it, and I fear/know that I’m missing too much of it. I’m so happy and kinda devastated at the same time. I know this is the best time of my life, truly, and I know that I’m so lucky to be able to manage my own schedule and spend time with them when I feel we are in a deficit. But I’m still missing moments. So many moments.
It’s late. I’m two glasses of wine in. I love my babies, like all of you do, so much that I want to hot glue-gun my lips to their cheeks so I can just be kissing them all day, every day. I’m that mom that says ‘I love you’ too much. Charlie will ask politely for the ketchup and I reply, ‘sure . . . also I love you so, SO SO SO SO much.’ I’m desperate to have my insanity reciprocated and he does say it, but in a toddler ‘I love you, too, mama’ way that could never match my own. It’s impulsive, and weird, and absolutely unstoppable. I am my mother. I am unable to not tell them all day, every day that I love them, and yet I now that it’s starting to become white noise . . . I’ve got to be careful.
Elliot, some day you will read this and you should know this very important thing: your mama and daddy love you more than is physically possible. You bring such lightness, happiness, and laughter into our lives every day. Your dad is SMITTEN with you and I kinda think you might be my future best friend. You are unpredictable in your actions and voice, but so consistent in your love. I hope those psychologists are right – that you are the same person forever that you are today because you, my one year old baby, are pretty darn amazing.
Happy birthday, my little bird.
P.S. I don’t expect all of you to read this thoroughly – the last draft was twice as long if you can believe that! But thanks for letting me use this blog as a personal journal at times. I would never have the time to write down my thoughts/feelings if I couldn’t do it here, so thanks for following along (or not if you just want to come back tomorrow). xx
(Elliot’s shirt is from Margherita Kids, pants from Target and that adorable leather chair is from The Citizenry – it’s new so I didn’t find it on their site. Also please note that she is trying to hold a 5lb brass #1 paper weight which she failed at but wouldn’t let me take from her)