Sunday, September 26, 2010

Newspaper column

When my brother and I were little, we would get a kick out of checking out old photos of ourselves as babies. Every once in awhile, we'd grab all of the massive albums off the bookshelves, lay them on the carpet and sprawl out beside them, flipping through each page one by one.

As we got older, it became obviously apparent that there were far more photos dedicated to my infancy than my brother's. In fact, my albums outrank his four to one.

This is a fact that my little brother likes to bring up frequently even now in adulthood when there's any inkling of favortism or scales tipping in my favor.

"It's okay," he'll say. "I'm used to it. I know you love Kelly more ... as evidenced by the baby books."

It's typically followed by a roomful of groaning and eye rolling, but my mother knows it's something she'll never hear the end of.

And it's something I'll never forget either.

My husband and I are now expecting our second child, and as much as we're both thrilled about our newest addition, the pace of life with a toddler doesn't leave room for as much planning and doting as there was the first time around.

With my daughter's pregnancy, I documented every weird craving, the first kick and even took weekly profile pictures of my growing belly. As I'm nearing the halfway mark of this pregnancy, I can honestly say I'm just glad we have another 20 weeks to get everything together. We haven't had time to do much more than discuss potential name combinations -- and we're nowhere near a consensus on that decision either.

Being someone who loves to write, in addition to taking on the role of paparazzi to my daughter's development, I also spent hours and hours every month compiling letters to her about her milestones. I detailed the stories of her first words, her first steps and my pride in watching her grow and flourish.

I kept it up for two years. And although I'm disapointed that my ever-busy schedule has prevented me from continuing, I'm no longer worried about the dropped project. Now I'm concerned my youngest will think I love him or her less if I'm somehow unable to find the time to do the same -- which, frankly, seems inevitable when I think about trying to balance life with two little ones.

But I know the guilt of parenthood can rack up quickly. As much as I'll try to protect them from every bump and bruise and avoid any potential fodder that would reqire a psychologist's office visit when they're older, I know I'll make mistakes. I know I'm not perfect.

So even though I can quickly become consumed with remorse for not wrapping myself in this pregnancy like I did with my first, I don't allow myself to wallow in the fear of not having enough love to go around for long.

Because I know your heart can expand instantly. I felt it the second they placed my daughter in my arms for the first time. And I know it will happen again. Parents have an amazing ability to love beyond reason.

Even now, when I'm in the middle of my busiest moment -- my daughter is clammoring for help in the bathroom, the dog needs to go out, the phone is ringing and dinner is threatening to boil over -- I'll feel a tiny little kick and instantly smile.

It's not the photo albums and letters that count. It's the kisses and hugs.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Trying to figure out where the time went

Today was Allison's first day of preschool. We debated long and hard about the decision, but ultimately we thought she would benefit from a place she could call her own without family around.

Plus, interacting with other kids, having to listen to and respect adults other than her parents, and learning to cooperate are all skills we know she'll learn there that she can't learn at home.

At times, it's a little difficult having a child who is so verbally advanced. Conversationally, she prefers the company of 4- and 5-year-olds because they can communicate back. So when she naturally gravitated toward the older classroom this morning and I had to pull her away and lead her into a room of 2-year-olds who mostly can't speak in complete sentences, it was a little tough.

I mean the girl used the word serindipity the other day. Correctly. Upon discovering marshmallows in the kitchen cabinet among the spices. Insane.

Being an only child who is always at home with at least one of your parents can be wonderful in a lot of aspects -- certainly in the personal attention category -- but Jer and I know it has its limitations. So we're hoping a little time in a classroom will help provide her with a few new skills.

She was so excited to go. When I explained to her how I would come in with her and then say goodbye, she said, "DROP ME OFF NOWWW, MOMMMM!"

I'd say she was ready.

Although she said she wanted me to stay with her as we talked about what her teachers would expect of her on the drive over, I got a quick kiss and she turned and that was it. She was a blur of pink as she ran around the room checking everything out as I left. And, frankly, that's wonderful.

As much as I want her to be my little girl forever, I know I have to let her grow. So I showed her the same respect by not making a big fuss either.

Even though I desperately wanted to.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Someone took a photo of ME for a change!

Crazy, right?! We celebrated Jerry's birthday today with family, football, my homemade sausage chili, an ice cream cake and (at Alli's insistence) party hats.

Jerry's just lucky I talked her out of the pink Hello Kitty ones.