Tag Archives: growing up

Three Little Years

It has been a whirlwind, we moved and settled, started school and decorated a new room, planned a party and put you, our little two year old, to bed for the last time. As I spend this first night of your fourth year, blearily frosting cakes, cooking lots of other things, trying to get through the long list I have to finish before your birthday party starts, you are sound asleep (despite me dropping things) in your bed, gradually growing up. You keep doing that, a little bit every day. It’s lovely and sad and fascinating to behold.

Last year I said that I didn’t ever think you could be a “terrible two” and I’m very happy to say you weren’t. If I had to keep you as a two year old forever, I would be totally fine with that. You started out the year quite silently, picking up new words here and there, and suddenly speaking in full sentences almost out of the blue about half way through the year. You have always had a great memory, but it’s just amazing how far back you can remember and how many new things you learn so quickly. There is very little you miss! You learned counting, letter sounds, and how to make bread dough. You can hop down the stairs. It makes me nervous. Your size 6.5 shoes have been replaced by 8s, your favorite story books are all a little longer, and your face is looking more and more like a little kid’s and not a baby’s.

I know you will have an amazing time being three, especially now that you’ve just stared preschool! You are such a big kid, walking up to school in the morning with your purple folder. You have started this whole new chapter, one of independence, of having your own thing that I’m not a part of. It’s really hard for me. Even if it’s only a half day, I still miss you. I am so very curious about what you do at school. I will always be curious about everything you do.

Thank you for continually surprising me, for always proving all those people who said “just wait, it gets worse” wrong, for being kind, patient, and imaginative. I will miss your two year old face forever. I wish I could keep a copy of you at every age, but then I’d wake up one day with 18 kids and that’s just crazy. But I know that we’re going to have so much fun this year, I can’t wait to see what is coming. When you wake up, we’ll get started.

Love and nosies,

Mama

Au revoir Montreal, Part Trois: Fin

I have counted a number of cities as home, very very big ones, and pretty small ones. Every city seems to have its own year-served requirement before you feel like you “know” it. And maybe some you never really REALLY know unless you’ve been there your whole life, but generally speaking, you know what I mean by “know.” I seem to stay everywhere just under that threshold. And it’s true for here as well. I certainly have learned a lot about the place, but we’re not really close. We don’t see eye to eye on many things. I’ve been busy. Montreal has been french (cold, inscrutable?). Okay, it’s not all bad. It drives me crazy on a regular basis, but it has its charms.

I have been here long enough to know I don’t want to live here, to be fed up and frustrated often enough with all the aspects of living here that seem designed only to make people feel fed up and frustrated. A friend of mine here once noted that Montreal’s biggest problem is that it’s a city in Quebec. And I think that’s true. I don’t know where Montreal ends and Quebec begins and I don’t mean to suggest that francophone culture is the sole problem. But there is something wrong with Quebec; I’m no doctor, but they should really have it looked at because they could lose this lovely city and many of the lovely people in it, francophone and anglophone. To be the english-speaking minority here is to feel something like judgement and hostility on a regular basis. The language politics problem is probably what I feel most acutely. It’s a shame because so much of city is made interesting and unique by it’s dual-language, multi-cultural identity. It’s not up to me to decide how things will develop here, it’s not my province, but I hope this Parti Quebecois nonsense stops and reasonable minds prevail. Seriously, you won’t let me see the Anthropologie website because of Bill 101? How can you expect me to survive?

I have enjoyed many parts of my time here. I can sing the praises of the clean and efficient STM (metro) system (it’s amazing how much you can tidy up if you stop running at 1am). The sandwiches here are really delicious. Really. I don’t know what it is, but so many places here just get sandwiches right. They don’t even have the fanciest ingredients, but they are usually pressed and warmed and practically perfect. I can’t say much for the pizza, Mexican, or Japanese food here (or even Thai, but I know some will disagree with me), but I stand by the sandwiches! The Quebecois apparently have never heard of real ice-cream, so I won’t miss standing in front of the freezer cases at the store and wanting to cry. I’m sad to say goodbye to the crepes and pastries. I don’t think anyone comes to Montreal for the fine fashion shopping, but I will miss the vast underground connected mall systems in the winter when no one wants to go outside and doesn’t want to hang out in just ONE mall but would like to select from at least 6 to wander around in. The fact that you can travel around almost all of downtown through a series of tunnels, escalators, shopping centers, and food courts is incredible. And by incredible, I mean both great and slightly unbelievable. I will miss the summer festivals and events. I will miss the random young misfits hanging out in front of Tim Hortons (the gay one) and the grad-students-gone-wild children’s educational programming at McGill, the surprising finds at the bookstore’s non-books section, and the wonderful parks and playgrounds and splash pools for children. I may even miss the random crazy people who make my neighborhood so colorful. Yeah, I mean you guy-with-yellow-dog-in-a-tank-top– it’s been real.

But more specifically, my home and neighborhood for the last three years, Sainte Catherine Est, has been wonderful. My street is a living, breathing animal in the summer months. The almost 1 mile stretch to the west of us is closed for a few months to traffic, cafes and restaurants build out onto the sidewalks and streets, and everything is busy and there are constantly people out. It’s a magical thing, even more so at night. Not many places in the world is there such a street that changes so dramatically from one hour to the next, one season to the next. It’s this leisurely lunch spot during summer afternoons, flower boxes and cafe umbrellas, and when the sun goes down, it’s this raucous bar with bachelorette parties and drag queens and lovers on dates. It’s desolate in the winter, but with little hidden gems behind window panes, a wonderful drink, a perfect pastry, a strange antique cookie jar, elaborate fetish gear, surprisingly memorable paintings in a restaurant. During the holidays, it dresses up with decorations, lights and, snow, feeling quite home-y and urban at the same time. It’s a village of so many gay men who have built themselves a lively community and some rather interesting bars. It’s a conduit between my corner and all the festivals at Place des Arts, which lies just beyond where the canopy of 150,000 pink balls strung over the street ends. It’s my long doorway to a celebration of French music, Jazz, Comedy, African music, and outdoor art. There is pretty much always something happening, always a new art installation or some event you stumble upon and go “huh, I didn’t know this was happening,” or a new restaurant opening. It has been a delightful gift to live on this street, watching it change and surprise.

It’s so much nicer in the summer, of course, I would probably not feel so affectionately in February, but even then something cool might pop up. If there is one part of Montreal that I could walk through a thousand times and still see something new, this would be it. I’m glad I’ve had the chance to walk through it a thousand times. The blocks from my apartment to Berri-UQAM have been my path to errands, my walk to lunch, my evening stroll, my baby-please-nap pacing, my I-just-need-to-get-out-of-this-apartment-with-this-newborn schlep, and my trip to the library, festivals, or downtown. You can mark my daughter’s first years of life by this street. Her early outings just to get outside were to the Belgian boulangerie or Starbucks, just a few blocks away. Going to look at all the interesting lights when she was a baby, that long first winter we were here, was a lot of trips back and forth to Rue Berri. She learned to walk almost as soon as the pink balls went up that following spring and practiced many of her early steps that summer up and down the center of the Ste Catherine. When she learned to climb and eat many kinds of solid food, we’d often pick up lunch at our various nearby cafes, sushi shop, bakery, and then we’d head over to the playground. As she got more interested in the actual things down the street, we’d stop and look at the SIDA (AIDS) memorial art installation at Amherst which she loved to wander around inside it’s tall red poles and practice the names of the letters on top. Now, she likes to go to that Starbucks herself and ask for stuff, she likes to pop into the small specialty market for their bulk-section goodies, she knows to stop at the cross streets to hold my hand, she thinks the overhead pink balls are just for her because they always magically appear when she returns to town from some trip we always seem to take in May, and she remembers the exact location of the dollar store AND that they have pooh stickers and kinder eggs. We’ve come a long way in just this one mile.

My husband, daughter and I are excited to be back in the US, near family, and starting a new chapter. But we’re grateful for all the wonderful things we’ve experienced here. We have met people from all over the world and made some friends who will be the hardest goodbyes. I can’t thank my friends enough for the extraordinary kindness they’ve shown to me and my daughter. She and I both will miss them and their children so much. I hope each of you knows that I mean it when I say that you should visit me! And I hope to be back now and then to check in on you and the city.

So, the boxes are packed, the truck is loaded, and I have to get on with it. I will say “Au revoir” to you Montreal.

Or as you prefer to say it “Bon journée.”

The minor heartbreak of growing up

This morning at about 6am, my 2 year old woke up and called me. It was way too early for her to be up but she wanted “up” so I took a chance and brought her back to bed with me.

She hasn’t slept with me in the morning since early December when I stopped letting her nurse in bed with me for an hour. It was our last nursing session of the day. Since, she has been set against sleeping with me in my bed, even when I kind of wanted her to (especially when it was too cold in the apartment last week).
However, this morning she willingly came into bed with me, started pulling up my shirt…and then I think she kind of realized she couldn’t nurse. Like that part of her life was really over. She laid there and pet my boob for about 10 minutes and fell back asleep against it.

The amorphous “they” say that growing up is a long series of letting go. It’s tiny fragments of a heartbreaking odyssey.

I wanted to be done nursing for a long time, pretty much after month 8 I was ready to move on. But my daughter loved it so, LOVED it. And I had a hard time taking away the one thing that had been such a constant source of comfort from the moment she drew breath. It was nutrition, security, a sleep-inducer, a coping mechanism for sickness, and a reset button for emotional distress. It got us through take off and landing ear popping and kept her quiet during concerts. It put her to bed every single night for 2 years. I said I was going to quit after a year, but when she turned 1, there was NO way she was going to let me. I said I’d “revisit” the issue at 18 months, but even then, she still needed it at bedtime and during the night sometimes. At 2, we started trying to put her to bed without it, but she still needed it to stay asleep in the early early morning hours.

I nursed her for 27 months, 2 weeks, and a day.

It’s probably fitting that our last time was on the bed that my husband and I had in college, the one he first told me he loved me on, which is currently living in my in-laws blue guest bedroom. I didn’t know it would be our last time, but that’s probably for the best. I think I was half asleep anyway.

It’s the end of a chapter. Even if I never really enjoyed nursing as much as I thought I might, I’m so glad I did and I’m actually pretty proud of myself for making it this far.

And I’m proud of my little girl for growing up, even if it’s sad letting go.

Birthday 2.0

My Darling Two-year old,

If you were a racehorse, this would be a really big year for you. Since you are a toddler, this is supposed to be the year that parents dread: “The Terrible Twos.” Well, I might be biased, but I don’t think you could ever be terrible. Check back with me in a year and see how I feel, but I’m fairly confident on this one.

In the past year, you have improved on so many skills like running, coloring, eating, putting on shoes, and babbling. You are great at puzzles, following directions, and spotting squirrels and pigeons. You make us laugh, you make us think, you make us really confused sometimes, but you also make us happy, your dad and I. We can’t get over how charming and adorable you are, how genuinely sweet you are and how curious, silly, and beautiful too.

After your first birthday, you started becoming more and more independent, always wanting to try things yourself and playing more on your own. I would continually be surprised when you understood me and acted on my words. It happened so gradually but it seems that you understand everything now and I have no idea when that happened. I ask you to go throw something away and you do. Amazing.

You continued to be delighted by Sesame Street videos, music, dancing, and playing at the playground. You always want a new ball, to touch the balloons, other kids’ sand toys, and to feed the squirrels. Your favorite foods have consistently been fruits, but dessert-y things are taking a strong hold. You eat your broccoli and yogurt, so I’m pretty happy with that. I just wish I didn’t have to beg you for almost every bite.

There were several weeks last January-February where you started waking up every 10 minutes all night long. It was pretty awful, I’m not going to lie. I think you can go back and find the posts from that time and re-acquaint yourself with how whiney it made me. You went through a pretty nasty sleep regression in February 2011 too; what do you have against the month of February? Are you that sick of winter by then? I tried everything, I really did. Your dad finally had to step in and get you back to bed in the middle of the night and then as soon as it started, it was over. And then there was some amazing sleep for awhile there. Things sort of got back to normal, but there have been small improvements along the way. The first time I laid you down not-quite-asleep, you popped up, but then laid back down and fell asleep on your own, I thought I would dance with joy (except that I didn’t dare breathe, lest it wake you up).

And then on July 25th, your dad put you to bed without me being home. I… there just are no words.

In the next year, I hope for many more new feats of growing up. I think you know that big girls use the potty, don’t nurse anymore, and get to use Twitter. We’ve discussed what these things mean, but I’m not so sure you are on board right now with the first two. I’ve been reluctant to push you, I’d prefer if you’d see the benefit in wearing fancy underpants and just snuggling and want to take steps on your own to make those things happen. I would also like to hear some more talking. You’ve really been holding out on me with the words. It would not only be tremendously helpful to have you verbally communicative (the whining and pointing is only going so far), but I can’t wait to hear what you have to say. I bet it’s awesome. I bet it will heavily include the cat. You have come pretty far, but I know this year you are really going to blow us away.

When I try to remember you as a 13 month old, I see you as I see you now. I feel like you’ve always been this way even though I know all the new and cool things you can do. When I look at photos from when you were a newborn, I can hardly believe it was you and that it was just 2 years ago. I feel as if I’ve known you forever but simultaneously, that you have only been with me for a little while. I guess baby-time moves like that. Other parents tell me that this time flies and that all-too-soon I will be nostalgic for these days when you are still so little. I have no doubt that this is true. I am self-aware enough to know how I will miss you at this age, and I remind myself of it every time it takes me over an hour of holding you to get you to go to bed. Does it make the frustrating nights any less frustrating? Maybe not, but it makes me appreciate the value of time more. If it were my last night on earth, all I would want to do is hold you until you fell asleep. I know that.

I hope you have a wonderful second birthday, a third year of life as extraordinary as you are, and that we all come out of it unscathed.

Love, High Fives, and all the balloons ever,

Your Mom-mom-mom-mom