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)
Sitting here with my 8 month old boy …. while 3 year old girl is off at preschool. BAWLING MY EYES OUT. I resonate so much with your story, it’s always a pleasure when you write these personal posts.
Happy birthday, sweet girl!
My daughter just turned two yesterday and this post just gives me all the feels and tears of the joy of being a mama and the sadness that time is flying by way too fast. Love reading these words and glad to know I’m not the only mama on this planet over doing it with the I love you’s. Happy birthday to you, Elliot!
Emily, this touched my heart so much! Our boy is 2.5 and we recently found out we have our second baby on the way…I’m doing that whole “how will I ever love this other baby as much as I love my first??!” thing. This post is so beautiful and just what I needed to hear.
We have a 3 yo and a 8 mo baby, two full time working parents, and two dogs. Let’s just say, I can relate! It’s insane and wonderful every. single. day! Sometimes its nice to know you aren’t the only one living this crazy roller coaster life with little ones!
This is so beautiful! Happy birthday to your little love!
I will not let myself believe it’s been a year since you had your daughter!!! That is CRAZY. I still remember when you were pregnant. (I am NOT one for time passing.) BTW, I love that pink striped top on you!! I was wondering what it would look like after you favorited it the other day. Happy Birthday Elliot!
I feel you. I have a just-turned five-year-old and a 15-month-old. They are magic. I recognize the exhaustion and the happiness that comes with them. I’ve been very intentional this year about documenting this nutty life so I remember these crazy years. I use the Project Life app and do one layout each week. It’s nice because I can look back and see the crazy as well as the sweet. And, I’m so proud of my husband and I for navigating the crazy and still loving each other. I record funny things the older one says, milestones the younger one is hitting. I order 8×8 prints through the app and put them in a binder (available at Michael’s and the like as well as Amazon and BeckyHiggins.com). That way, I feel like these days aren’t just slipping by. And, it’s way more fun that a traditional baby album.
Such good advice. I’m looking into those things right now. xx
I don’t think you need to ever worry about saying “I love you” becoming “white noise” ! Your love is actions as well as words. Will they take it for granted? Sure. For much of their lives. Not a problem. A good problem. Someday when life is tough and you are not there they will KNOW in the deepest fiber of their beings they are loved and worthy of love and will behave accordingly. Enjoy!
Oohh love this Sarah! So so true!
well, this has me sniffling just a tiny bit! my little ophelia turned one this weekend! libra twins!
it’s insane how much you want them to grow but want them to stay little and just are so utterly obsessed with them.
happy birthday mama & elliot!
Wow! That post was amazing and so real! I really, really enjoyed reading it. You can just feel the of the love you have for those kids.
Happy Birthday to your baby girl! Everything you wrote is exactly how every parent feels. It’s amazing how much your heart grows and grows with love for each child. I had 3 boys under 4 years old and I remember thinking with pregnancy #2 and #3, how can I love this new baby as much as I love my first or my first and second…. but you do, so much. And having 3 littles I know the hectic, I’m-out-of-my-mind exhaustion BUT the crazy, how-did-I-live-without-these-perfect-little-souls love that only a mama knows. You’re doing a GREAT job, even when you don’t feel like you are. Enjoy every single moment… it does go by too fast. Cliche, but oh so true. (Mine are now 7, 6 and 3 and it’s still crazy but fun).
Congratulations on the first year! She is such a doll! The thing that continually surprises me about my own children is their difference in personality from each other and myself. I know for an absolute fact that I birthed them, but WHERE did they come from!? You might appreciate (in ALL your spare minutes) looking into Myers-Briggs personality types, MBTI, if you haven’t already. It can be very enlightening fit understanding different personality traits, especially ones that are different from your own. Cheers to another great year!
Just to add some perspective. I chose to stay home after my second was born; my husband travels a lot for his job and my finance career didn’t have a very family friendly work schedule. Fast forward: One just asked me this morning “Why DON’T you have a job, Mom?” Talk about daggers to the heart: giving up my career for the benefit of my kids and family and now having them wonder why I don’t have a job. It’s kind of making me cry just typing it. But, that’s part of being a parent; sometimes your kids make you cry!
there are few questions that can make the point come home more true. My job is being here for you- nothing is more important. not money, not a career, nothing. The truth speaks volumes! And the opportunity that your family has to make that happen is special and not afforded to everyone. Taking on an out-of-the-home career is a lesson for kids; choosing your family as your career is also a huge lesson.
I love this. So, so much. So sweet and honest and so very personal, thanks for sharing Emily. And Elliot – happy HAPPY birthday sweet girl <3
PS – I cannot get over how much they look EXACTLY like you and Brian..!!!
“I love you” never becomes ‘white noise.’ Keep it up and so glad you are inspiring other women to be real and recognize that you cannot do it all…well…and thus must choose during different stages of life. You children are blessed to have such a devoted mother!
happy birth day little one- and congrats to the whole family. A first birthday is a day to celebrate a family- you survived a year!
I’d also like to say that saying ‘not right now’ is still taking a risk, still putting yourself out there. In many ways, more so than before. ‘not right now’ is not sitting back in an easy chair, its risking a lot and gaining a lot. Good for you! ENJOY!
As a second child, this warms my heart a little extra. Bloggers have many-a-page about their first borns, but then as hell breaks loose and more babies come around, we don’t hear about 2nd and later kids as such individuals. Damn, where’d this soap box come from? Ignore more. Elliot will absolutely treasure you documenting her personality at this stage. Happy birthday, Elliot!
i personally LOVE your diary-esque posts. they are my fav <3 (though i save the shit out of all your decor/budget/house advice, trust me)
Hi Emily, lovely post but could you please amend the word ‘spastic’. Here in the UK it’s an increadably disableist term. I’m not one to normally be offended and sure that’s not your intention but thought I should point out.
I signed up to make this exact point. Thank you.
Yes, that surprised me too when I read it, but I know it must have a different meaning over the pond as Emily would not use it in this vein to describe Elliott … a derogatory term used to cause intentional offence re: physical disabilities similar to ‘retard’…
She is the perfect mini-me version of you. Love her!!! xoxo
As a first-time mom to a 9 1/2 month old girl, I loved reading this! I stay at home and I only have one child but this year has still felt crazy and exhausting (probably because she’s my first). It’s always good to hear other people talk about the insanity of the dinner/bath/bedtime hours but also the magic of it. Also good for me to read about the working-outside-the-home perspective as I toy with the idea of going back to work! My sister says when you work, you miss your kids like crazy and sometimes feel guilty, but when you stay at home sometimes you don’t end up appreciating your kids…wondering if getting back into the work game will make me appreciate what I have at home more!
Also I am one of your readers who ALWAYS reads your personal posts! 😉
Ugh. I can so so so relate to everththis post. My oldest will be 3 next week and my youngest is 8 months old. I swear the time flies faster with the second one and I just want to squeeze both of my girl so much.
Ahh, all the tears! My little girl (our first) is 11 months old and I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone. It is such a joy to watch her grow and learn new things (well, I could do without her new food-throwing skill), but simultaneously heartbreaking because she will never be this little again. I love your parenting posts so much- you put into funny, honest, wise words exactly what I’m thinking. Thank you and happy birthday to that sweet little bird!
Emily, I love this <3
I have my first baby on the way and this pregnancy is flying by, so I can only imagine how the years will speed by as well. I am one of three girls and recently heard a saying that seems to ring true for your kids, it certainly does for us (you just need to add the third) The First Child follows the rules, the second breaks all the rules and the third – there are no rules!
Happy Birthday to Elliot!
Crying! This is so sweet. You are obviously a wonderful mother. I hope to be as happy as you someday! Happy birthday Elliot!
My husband and I don’t have kids, but I still loved reading this – so please don’t worry too much about putting off those w/o babies. In light of all the vitriol online (the election, the election, the election!), it’s wonderful to read something so happy and full of love. Happy 1st birthday little Elliot!
Thanks for sharing this. I’m scared about how I’m going to be running my business once I have kids. You make it seem possible.
What a sweet, wise, and honest meditation on your family’s journey, Emily! I do not have children, but I felt like I could connect with the bursting joy you radiate as you write of your children. Thank you for this essay that brings light and love to my morning reading 🙂
Love this post, Emily! Such a great reminder that time is the most precious thing we have. Happiest of birthdays to your sweet little girl!
Gosh, tears! (at work!) 🙂
Emily, thank you. I had a frustrating time with my 2.5 year old this morning, and this was just what I needed. Sometimes I think you’re the only blogger who really and truly tells it like it is. I’m due with #2 in about a month, and I feel like time has just gone by in the blink of an eye. It’s crazy how all at the same time we want to tear our hair out over our kids and yet the love just can’t pour out fast enough either. Happy birthday to Elliot! (P.S. I saw someone below mentioned Project Life – I also use it, and it’s so much fun!)
Such a sweet post!! Thank you for sharing:)
Beautiful – my youngest is turning 1 in two weeks, and I honestly don’t know where the last year has gone. I find myself lately tuning out my kids (oldest – 8, middle – 3.5) while they’re talking to think about how beautiful they are, how sweet, how funny. With my “baby” – I just keep on hoping he’ll always give me the hugs he leans in for, and stays the apple of his brother and sister’s eyes. I can honestly say that he is just a joy and has brought so much light into our lives, just by being himself : ). Happy birthday to Elliot, and you and your husband completely deserve presents too for making it through the year : )
I lost my mom to cancer almost a year and a half ago. She wrote me a letter detailing my birth (it was quite the drama) before I moved from home in Florida to the Northwest five years ago. It is one of my most treasured possessions. The way you love and appreciate your daughter reminds me so much of her that my eyes were welled up with tears through much of this post. And I suspect you are right, she will grow up to be your best friend. And you will be hers. She will cherish these words always.
Happy birthday, Elliot!
I am a stay at home mom and in the mess that is all consuming I wished so many days away. Many of the days are hazy and unclear. I was there, but I still missed moments. We all miss moments. I can tell by your writing that you love your kids big time. And just like Elliott can sense when you are going out after bedtime, she can sense your deep love for her. I just read Present Over Perfect. It is a little Jesusy for me but the message was so clear…don’t give your best to the outside world and make the most important people in your life have to take what’s leftover. It really helped me refocus on what is important to me. HappyBirthday Elliott! You are one lucky lady!
Kuddos to you mama for making it! My mom had three children under the age of 4 (I was 4, my brother was 3, and a new baby!) and while she speaks fondly of our younger years, I’m pretty sure that she’s blocked out all the craziness 🙂 I’m not a mom yet, but my husband and I have talked a lot about how many kids, how close in age, I think your example might be an addition to my case to having kids closer in age.
Happy Birthday Elliot!
happy happy 1st birthday to elliott! this was so sweet to read, and rang very true. that first year with 2 kiddos is something else – exhausting and amazing to get to know this new little human, but so trying on just about everything. i have a 20 month old and a 4.5 year old, and they are loving on each other so hard, they’re each others’ best friend. it’s wonderful to witness. so glad you are able to prioritize your family in this season of life; i try to remind myself of this too (as i work late into most nights…still figuring it out, ha!).
you have such a way with words – i love these posts, emily!
sign language really helps keep pre verbal babies mellow. they’re really good at it and it’s said that signing helps them avoid the terrible twos.
Yes, I was going to say the same thing! Signing is MUCH easier to learn than speaking and is such a great way to get communication going. My DD learned to sign at 9mos (so cute)
I only taught my boys “more” and “all done” super easy to do and those two signs saved me from the shrieking that comes with language frustration.
Thank you for sharing personal posts! As a busy, working mom of one two-year-old, with another baby joining us in December, I always really appreciate the perspective of other busy, working moms. I was just telling my husband last night that the weekdays feel like a sprint and a marathon all at once–it’s insanity. But those evenings are just the sweetest, even if they are totally crazy. And hallelujah, amen for all the weekends and vacations that are (somewhat) more restful. Happy Birthday to your sweet girl!
As they say, the days are long; and the years are short. You are adorable; and your family is precious! You are VERY talented! Never worry—the work will always be there when you need it. Making family THE priority is a choice you will never regret? Xo, Kathy
I read it all. <3 🙂
I loved this post Emily! Thank you for including us on your personal (as well as professional) journey! And it’s refreshing to see I’m not alone OR crazy ?
(Three under four over here – magical and insane!)
PS. Happy birthday Elliot, you cutie!
Congratulations on a year of Elliot-loving! She is so lucky to be your baby, even if you do make us all cry sometimes.
I love reading these more personal post on your blog Emily. I think that is part of your essence. Keep on making this mix of interior design and personal approach we all enjoy so much.
Don’t ever apologize for writing your personal posts! I LOVE them so much and you have a gift for writing. You should share all you want! It’s your blog- do what you want! I have a 3 year old and a 6 month and this brought tears to my eyes. Waiting for that 10 month mark when they’re “siblings’! Thanks for sharing! Happy birthday, Elliot!
Not a mom, but I love these posts! Thank you for sharing!
Elliott reminds me of my 2nd child. She is the most loving but the most intense and dramatic and it started when she was pre-toddler. She is 10 now and sometimes we shake our head. She gives the most hugs says I love you the most of all 3 of our children and still is dramatic but I wouldn’t change a thing. She makes our household interesting and there is never a dull moment. I comment to my husband that she will be the one that will take care of us when we get old.
I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this post! Your babies are beautiful and I love reading about the experiences of other moms with young kids. I just really admire you taking a step back and saying no when you need to. We will NEVER get these years back with our kids and I know you will never regret putting your kids before your business. Obviously, there will be a time when things will shift and they won’t be so crazy and it will be easier to say yes to more, but I think it’s awesome that you are focusing on them now. Good work, mama!
Same. SAME! I have a 4 year old daughter and a 2.5 year old daughter and I could have written EVERY. WORD. of that. Thank you!
I also just can’t believe she is 1 years old! She is so sweet I can’t. Of course I read all of this post and I loved it. But sorry she is mini Bryan. Charlie is you. I love you all. Kisses!