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I Don’t Know About Potty Training

She will probably be really mad at me for this photo when she is a teenager.

Sigh.

This is going to be one of those posts where I basically talk about all the stuff I don’t know, so if you came here expecting some wisdom and insight I apologize in advance.

But I just don’t know about potty training.

I mean, I have potty trained one child. And I worked for a while in a daycare toddler room where I helped potty train other peoples’ children.

But when it comes to kid Two, I just don’t know.

For starters, I don’t even know how I feel about it. A part of me would love to have her well on her way to being potty trained by her third birthday in just under two months. Another part of me says, what’s the rush?

There isn’t one. There’s just me feeling like I’m not doing my job as her mom every time I see other kids her age or younger that are out of diapers. But my logical brain knows better. It knows that my job is to pay attention to when SHE is ready, to help her learn in the best way possible for HER, and that means not making it about me and the obscure deadlines I set that don’t have anything to do with her.

And speaking of waiting until she is ready, I don’t know if she is ready. She shows some signs that she is and some signs that she isn’t. She’s doing a great job of sitting on the potty, but often won’t make anything come out on the potty chair. She sings the Daniel Tiger potty song and enjoys going through the steps of flushing and washing, etc. but when it comes to actual readiness to comprehend what it is she is supposed to do, I’m not sure if she totally gets it or if maybe she gets it but isn’t ready to actually do it. I just don’t know.

And I don’t know what the right thing to do is. Do we keep having her sit on the potty chair to get in the habit and hope that eventually she starts “going” on the potty? Or will having her sit on the potty without her ever actually “using” it confuse her? Do we keep talking about potty stuff and be consistent? Or do we drop the issue completely and try again in a month? When it’s time to officially “try” do we go full blown bootcamp or do we take it slow?

I have no idea.

So I throw out the question to my parenting village and see if anyone else has ideas or thoughts that feel right to me in this situation. And I order books and training underwear and potty training dolls that maybe I will use now or maybe I will use later.

And I decide what to do. Even though I don’t always know what the right thing to do is. Because, as my brilliant songwriting friend would say, if you don’t know what to do to make your dreams come true, just do what’s next.

Potty training (and parenting) can feel like a overwhelming mountain to climb, and so often I feel like I have no idea how we are going to get from the bottom to the top. But maybe I don’t always have to know. Maybe, instead of worrying about not having all the answers, I’ll just do what’s next.

 

 

Daniel Tiger and Two

Photo by Kristen Laing Photography

This is a story about kid number two. Oh, how I love this child.

We had family pictures taken recently. Two doesn’t love family picture time. She doesn’t love it when too much attention is focused on her. She doesn’t love having to do new things until she is ready.

But lately we have been doing new things. We do gymnastics and we do story time at the library and art time at the children’s museum and speech therapy. We go on vacations and ride ferry boats in our car and swim in indoor water parks and go to the zoo.

Halloween 2017

And we watch Daniel Tiger. We watch Daniel try new foods and try new things and little by little we learn that trying new things can be fun. So we talk about getting our picture taken and we practice smiling for the camera and we look at our book of past family pictures. And when the day comes we get dressed up in our fancy new dress that looks like our sister’s and we comb our hair and we do our best. And we try, just once, to have Daniel watch us get our picture taken from a few steps away, but in the end it’s better if we hold on to him.

And that’s okay. In fact, it’s perfect. I love that Daniel Tiger is now cemented in our family history via photograph. Because, right now, he is Two’s best friend. The kind of best friend that helps you grow and changes you for the better. Those kind of friends leave a mark on you. Even when you’re two. Especially when you’re Two.

So we embrace it. Daniel follows us to gymnastics and story time and the children’s museum and speech therapy. He sits beside us at dinner and sleeps beside us at bedtime. And the truth is, I love that. Sometimes we all need a friend who is there whenever we need them.

Snuggling mama

As a parent, we want our little people to have everything they need. Some kids make it easy to know what that is and other kids are a bit more complicated. Two can be a little complicated. Sometimes it’s hard to know what are the things I need to help her with and what are the things I need to accept as part of who she is. There’s no doubt she is different than her siblings in many ways. In some profound ways. She amazes me every day with the things she remembers, the things she notices. She is aware of her surroundings on a bigger level than even I am sometimes. Since she was very little, she could always recognize where we were while driving in the car. She would comment on where dada worked as we drove past or notice sister’s school. She picks out tiny details off in the distance or sounds coming from another room. She picks up on it when people are nervous or uncomfortable. She picks up on it when attention is too direct.

And then in the next moment she is just like any other toddler. She laughs and chases her sisters around the room. She asks me to tickle her. She loves brushing her teeth and reading books before bed. She loves hats and music and “dance parties” and suckers and snuggling mama and apple juice. She is stubborn and hilarious and brilliant and attentive.

And brave.

Playing

And she has the best, most contagious laugh in the whole world. She laughs from deep down in her belly. (So much so that if she laughs for too long she will barf.)

 

She is featured on my arm as a moon, clear and bright. Reflective. Powerful enough to move the oceans, but preferring to do so from a quiet, discreet distance. Perfectly situated between her star and sun sisters. And just like them, the sky wouldn’t be the same without her.

Two is incredible in ways I can’t even comprehend. And I’m not always confident in my ability to do justice to the task of being her mama. But I am in awe of her every day. And that makes me the luckiest.

Celebrating One Hurdle at a Time

That smile <3

This week, I’m celebrating my toddler.

Not long ago, she was in the thick of the “stranger danger” phase. If someone looked at her or talked to her other than her dad or me, she would hide behind her arm or burst into tears or both. Going places was challenging, particularly now with a little sister in tow, because in any situation that made her even slightly uncomfortable she would plant her feet and not move unless she was being held. At doctor’s appointments I often couldn’t even carry on a conversation with the doctor because she was crying so hard. When someone came over to visit it was almost impossible to be social because she was so upset.

This phase lasted a long time. And I was beginning to feel like it would never end and that I had surely damaged my child by sheltering her at home with me rather than shipping her off to daycare. I had no idea what to do. Frankly, I didn’t even know how to ask google what to do.

But I decided to try a few things anyway. First, she started going to a speech therapist once a week, which has been an amazing experience because she gets to go out to a new place and have positive interactions with another adult while I’m still in the room for comfort if needed. When we first went, she cowered in my lap for most of the first session. This morning, the only time she acknowledged that I was there was to ask me for help getting the lid off the toy container.

And we also signed up for the toddler art class at our local children’s museum. This has been such an amazing resource because it provides a no-pressure opportunity for her to socialize with a group of kids and adults. They sit and listen to a story, do a short activity and a quick art project and then they are done and free to go play in the museum. If she isn’t feeling it, we head back out to the museum. So far we have only been twice, but I think she will get more comfortable each time we go.

This has definitely been one of those parenting challenges where I didn’t know where to start so I just started. And now I’m glad I did, because looking back on the situation, I think having her not only branch out and have new experiences but to keep repeating those experiences weekly so that she has time to build up a comfort level has been so good for her.

Last week we attended a crowded pancake feed. She normally would have panicked in the crowd, but she did great and loved the pancakes. She came with me to her little sister’s appointment and said “hi” and “bye” to the therapist without acting shy. She walked everywhere on her own without me needing to carry her.

We’ve also been working on her following directions and her attention span, mostly because these skills are more important now that she is developing her newfound independence. Several times this week, when I asked her to pick up the toys she had been playing with, she did so without needing a lot of extra prompting.

So basically, this post is one giant bragfest about my rockstar toddler. There were several times after her little sister was born that I felt like the toddler made things more difficult than the newborn did. But this week, as I watch her grow into this new bravery and responsibility, as I see her learning and using the skills we have been working on, my heart swells with pride. I’m so excited for her to show the world what I have seen all along–a joyful, sweet, sometimes mischievous little soul with the best laugh and a heart of gold.

A few month ago I thought we might never get over this hurdle. But this week it feels like there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

And it’s so worth the wait.

Parenting a Child With a Speech Delay

My girl <3

 

My two year old has been in speech therapy for a few weeks now. I debated whether to sign her up for it or not. As a parent it’s easy to say, “Oh, she’ll be fine. She’ll talk when she’s ready. She’s not that far behind. She’s only two.” And that would have been really easy to do because she really isn’t that far behind and she probably would have been fine either way.

But sometimes a mama’s intuition kicks in and won’t let up. Something in my brain kept telling me that she might just need a little extra boost and that the sooner we can get her caught back up the better. I knew she had things she was trying to tell us and the words just weren’t putting themselves together, so it was time to see if speech therapy would help. (Plus our community has a crazy amazing free speech-therapy program called the Rite Care Clinic, so there was no reason not to check it out.)

And I’m really glad we did. Our speech therapist, Emily, is awesome. Not only is she working with my toddler on language skills, but also on social skills and things like paying attention and completing a task. Since I’m a stay at home mama, having another adult interact with her on a regular basis has been so good for her. And it’s been good for me to get some new ideas on ways to work with her at home.

Even though we are still at the beginning of this journey, there’s a lot I’m learning about what it’s like to be a parent to a kiddo that needs a little extra push in the speech department.

First, I feel powerless. A lot. So often she will look at me and say something and wait expectantly for me to respond. But I just can’t quite always piece together what it is she is telling me. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than watching your child try to connect with you and you can’t understand. So when we finally do get it right…

Every little victory is a big victory. This week, the two year old’s word for milk, “mna”, turned into “milaka”. This may not seem like anything at all, but to me, it feels huge. Not only did she add the “L” sound, but she also added the “K” sound. Now she has all the sounds for the word, she just needs a little bit longer to perfect her pronunciation. After weeks of hearing “mna” despite our best efforts to persuade more sounds, this feels like a huge win. And then I have to remind myself that…

It’s easy to underestimate her just because I can’t understand her. Often times I am blown away when I realize how much she knows and understands. She recognizes most of her letters and all of her numbers up to twelve. She has the entire Frozen soundtrack memorized, as well as most of the songs on the toddler radio Pandora station, and now she is working on memorizing the Moana soundtrack. She memorizes the books we read to her and can read them back to us. But because she can’t tell me what’s going on in her sweet brain, I often find myself underestimating what she is capable of. And what’s worse, I see other people doing it, too. So I’m doing my best to stop underestimating her, because as her mama it’s my job to believe in her. Luckily…

She is resilient.  The more she starts to pronounce words in a way we can understand them, the more we realize she hasn’t just been babbling all this time. She has been saying things, we just haven’t been understanding them. For example, for several weeks now she has been saying “teekabah”. She doesn’t say it all the time, but I’ve heard it enough to know that she is trying to say something. Last night at dinner, she offered her toy a bite of her food and said it again, but this time with just enough enunciation for me to hear it. “Take a bite!!” I yelled. “She is saying ‘Take a bite!'” My husband and I laughed. Of course she was. At dinner we are constantly reminding her to keep taking bites. Luckily, just because we didn’t get it right away, she didn’t give up.

And thank goodness, because…

It’s worth the wait. We are nowhere near the point where she is fluently speaking. Most people can’t understand half of what she is talking about yet. But every day we get closer. Every day we have little victories. She is finally starting to put two words together, like “choc milaka” for chocolate milk. She is getting clearer in what she says and we are understanding more and more. And it seems that the more we understand, the more she wants to talk.

I can’t wait for the day when I can finally understand everything she is trying to tell me, when I can get a clearer glimpse into everything that’s going on in her bright little mind. I already know it will be worth the wait.

 

 

Thank You For Making My Toddler Cry

She makes me smile every day. <3

Dear friends, family, and strangers-

If you’ve been to my house in the past several months, or if I’ve been to your house or if I’ve seen you in public, there’s a good chance you’ve also crossed paths with my toddler. If you did, I’m sure it wasn’t an experience you’ve forgotten. She is adorable and funny and bright, she laughs from deep down in her soul in a beautifully reckless way that makes you laugh with her.

HOWEVER, I’m guessing that’s not the part of meeting her that you remember.

You see, she is fully immersed in the joyful toddler stage of STRANGER DANGER. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be a stranger. She can just decide that she wasn’t ready to see you and that’s enough.

And when she decides that she isn’t feeling particularly social, which is almost anytime someone else enters our little bubble, she goes off like a siren.

I wish I were exaggerating.

She’s a wonderful kid, but “quiet” is not one of her strengths. She cries at one volume, and it just so happens to be the highest one.

So it’s very possible that you stopped over to say hi or meet the new baby or bring me coffee or bring your littles for a playdate, and were greeted with what probably felt like an air raid siren.

And though quiet is not her strength, persistence is. So despite any attempts, both yours and mine, to console the miniature screaming human, the assault probably continued for several minutes, or until I took her upstairs to regroup.

If you stuck around long enough, you probably got to see her pull herself back together and go about her business while eyeing you suspiciously from behind her toys. If you’re really lucky, she might have offered you a toy or maybe you even got to hear her laugh. It’s a rough trail to get into this one’s good graces, but it’s worth the journey to meet this little soul who amazes me every day.

Still, it isn’t easy to withstand the power of a toddler’s displeasure. So I want to thank you.

I want to thank you for teaching her that meeting new people can be scary, but also fun.

I want to thank you for teaching her that people who love you stick by you even when you’re not at your best.

I want to thank you for teaching her that when she is scared she can still be brave.

Mostly I want to thank you for showing up anyway. Because every time someone disrupts her bubble, she becomes just a little more resilient–so that pretty soon it won’t be such a big deal when someone disrupts her bubble.

It may not always feel like it, but you’re helping her grow. And in that way, you’re helping me.

So thank you for weathering this storm with us.

It means more than you know.

Meet Her Where She’s At

Even though logically I know better, I’ve been worrying about my toddler.

Her second birthday is fast approaching and she still seems wholly uninterested in the monumental task of language acquisition.

My oldest was speaking clearly in complete sentences by this point. I know every kid is different. I know first-borns often speak sooner. I know that kids develop differently. I know better than to compare two children. I know all that.

But I’m a mom and I worry.

To help ease my worry (or at least distract me from it), I did what I always do: I ordered a book. This time, it was “How Babies Talk: The Magic and Mystery of Language in the First Three Years of Life by Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek.

I picked up a few interesting “tidbits” from the book, but one in particular stuck with me. I can’t remember exactly how they worded it, but the main idea was this:

When children are learning how to talk, use the opportunities they give you to talk about what THEY are interested in.

(Translation: stop trying so hard to engage her in “educational activities” that she isn’t interested in just because you are afraid that she isn’t being “socialized” enough because she isn’t in daycare like your oldest was. Sit down on the floor with her and play princess dolls for the entire day because that’s what she loves. Don’t worry so much about trying to convince her to say the words she is “supposed” to be saying and instead be excited with her that she knows all of the princess’s names.

Talk to her about what she wants to talk about so she knows she can talk to you about what matters to her and you will listen. Listen so that she will want to talk to you.)

Insert parenting face-palm.

My child isn’t struggling with comprehension. She isn’t struggling with learning social cues. She is just going at her own pace when it comes to speaking. She is doing just fine. It is me that is impatient.

Why did I need her to talk? Is it because it had come so easy for my oldest and I didn’t want to think about it not being easy for my toddler? Maybe. As a parent it’s never easy to watch our kids struggle.

Still, I had gotten so caught up worrying about doing the “right” thing to help encourage her to talk that I missed the “duh” logic of just letting her talk.

I was busy trying to pull her over to where I thought she should be, when what I needed to do was to meet her where she was at.

So I did.

And truthfully it was probably just ironic timing. Or maybe I was just finally noticing. But after a week of repeating all the princess names (plus Olaf) and chattering about whatever she happened to be focusing on, she seems to have decided talking isn’t so bad.

Today she repeated what I said significantly more than she had before, with less prompting. Last night she announced “apple” clear as day at the dinner table (where before it was only the first syllable).

And if her sudden interest in chattering didn’t ease my worry enough, she has suddenly made it clear that she recognizes her numbers (1-10) and many of the letters and colors. While walking past the front of my car the other day, she stopped, pointed at my license plate and announced, “TWO.” Curious, I quizzed her using some blocks with numbers on them. Sure enough, she recognized the numbers. So we pulled out the new set of fridge magnets, including both letters and numbers. Now she walks past and announces the numbers and letters as she is flinging them off of the fridge. (She hasn’t shown quite as much interest in putting them back on the fridge.)

Bottom line: this girl has always marched to her own drum. She’s bright and intelligent and curious and she doesn’t do a single thing until she is good and ready. And that’s okay.

Someday when she won’t stop talking I’ll look back on this memory and laugh. For now, it was a good reminder for this mama to slow down, stop trying to pull her over to where I think she should be, and just appreciate where she is at.

The Right Way to Say No

sisters

My six year old loves helping out with her little sister. One of her favorite things to do is to try to pick her up–either to carry her or to set her up on a chair or something of the sort.

It’s no secret that I err on the side of the overprotective mother. I watch other parents while their kids carry each other around and rough house–things that kids do–and I would love to take a metaphorical chill pill when it came to my own children. But every time I see the oldest pick up the little, I only see her pulling on her arms wrong or setting her up on a chair she shouldn’t be on because she will definitely fall right off or some other form of danger.

Most of the time, my reaction is, “No. Don’t pick her up. Leave her alone.” “No, she can’t be up on that chair.” “No, you can’t pull on her like that.” No, no, no.

My husband also errs on the side of caution, and is probably more cautious than I am. Since we both have this parental trait, I try really hard to be aware of when we are being over-involved so we can work on it. One day I overheard him intervene when the oldest was “helping” with the toddler, but it was for something I probably wouldn’t have worried about. I was making a mental note to bring it up in conversation later, when the revelation hit me.

It’s so hard to see our own behavior sometimes, but it’s often easy to see it in other people. Watching him in that moment was like someone held up a mirror. Suddenly I saw my own behavior from a different perspective.

Deep down in my gut, I knew that it didn’t feel good to tell her “no” all the time when she just wanted to help. But it also didn’t feel good to ignore a situation that my gut told me was dangerous. I felt torn between stepping in and not stepping in.

As it turns out, whether or not to intervene was the wrong question. I was so busy asking myself IF I should say no, that it never occurred to me to question HOW I should say no.

What if, instead of simply telling her no, I showed her a better way?

“No, you can’t pick your sister up by pulling on her arms like that. If you’re going to pick her up, you need to put your hands here.”

“No, she can’t sit in that chair because she might fall down. She can sit in this chair instead if you want to help her over here.”

Or even better,

“She can’t sit in that chair alone. If you put her in that chair, you have to stand beside her to make sure she doesn’t fall out.”

Suddenly, “no” becomes an opportunity for her to learn something. It’s obvious she wants to help. So why wouldn’t I teach her the right way to help rather than just shoeing her away every time she tries?

After all, at some point in her life, I will want her to learn how to take care of little people. Why wouldn’t I teach her now, when she is trying to learn? Wouldn’t it be better to show her she is capable and that I believe in her ability than to make her stop trying? It seems so obvious, and yet, in the middle of the crazy days of parenting, slowing down long enough to take advantage of these moments can feel so hard.

The same lesson carries over to so many situations. This may come as a surprise, but the toddler doesn’t even need the big sister to put her at risk for injury. She is quite good at creating the opportunity for herself. Most of the time, my reaction is to pull her out of the situation immediately.

But when it comes to “risk”, not all situations are created equal. Obviously, if she is in danger of seriousFullSizeRender (5) injury, I will step in. But what if the risk is only a scraped knee or a bump?

Example: we still have her baby walker toy out in the living room corner for moments when I need to contain her for a few minutes. Recently, she has decided that her favorite thing to do is to climb up on top of it and then climb from that over the arm of the couch. It’s probably not the best habit, but what is it really hurting? She’s getting some great gross motor skill practice and all she is risking is a tumble off the couch.

So I let her climb (even though it still raises my blood pressure to watch). Because I’m letting her learn.

The truth is, there isn’t a “right” way to say no. The right thing for me as a parent was to revisit why I say no. And when. And how.

And when I did, I realized that “no” isn’t a discipline tool. It’s a learning tool. So often when kids are doing something dangerous or naughty, it’s because they are trying to learn something. And it’s probably something I want them to learn–strength, balance, compassion.

I can either use “no” to stop them from doing something or to help them to do something.

For me, it’s not a hard choice.


Also, here is an awesome article about the importance of risk in play.

 

Ah, What the Hell.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 4.48.31 PM

So here is a little sneak peak into how I parent my children through transitions: I over analyze and research some thing until I have read everything in the first three pages of the Internet on it. Then I drag my feet a little, because change is HARD, amIright?

Then one day, out of the blue, I decide “Ah, what the hell.” And we do it. Right now.

The toddler is 19 months old today. Up until yesterday, she still used a “binkie” at bedtime and naps. I kept thinking it was about time to transition out of using it. She wasn’t really all that dependent on it anyway–in the car she would fall asleep without it, and she only ever had it at the beginning of the night. The rest of the night it was buried in the corner of the crib.

So was it really that big of a deal for her to have it? Probably not. Except I worried that the longer we used it, the harder it would be to let it go when the time came. And with new baby arriving in 7 weeks, did I really want to have to keep track of who had what binkie? No.

And also there is the matter of dear, sweet, wonderful husband. Husband does not love conflict, and binkie was a peacekeeping tool for him. It had recently come to my attention that he might have been more dependent on it than she was. Despite my repeated reminders that “binkies are for bedtime only,” one keeps appearing in her mouth at odd times, like in the stroller in the middle of the day. Or on her way to brush her teeth.

So two nights ago before bed, I decided, as usual, “Ah, what the hell.” And we laid her down with no binkie.

She did lecture us from her crib for a little while. That roller coaster of toddler emotions is a hard train to ride, let me tell you. When you’re on it, you’ll do almost anything to stop the train and get off. But, in reality, it was a relatively painless ride. She never did the dreaded “sad” cry. Just her babble-version of letting us know that she was questioning our competence as parents for forgetting something so obvious.

Three times we had to go in and distract her from her harassment with some snuggles. And then she fell asleep.

The next day, she napped and went to bed with no binkie and no complaints at all.

Huh. That was easy.

Hopefully all our upcoming “ah, what the hell” moments go as smoothly as this one.

My Children Changed… And I Didn’t Notice

diving board

It has come to my attention that parenting requires staying on your toes. I don’t just mean when it comes to chasing a toddler or making sure your six year old doesn’t cover the floor with choking hazards. I mean that kids are constantly growing and changing and so you basically wake up to a different human every morning.

Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But sometimes it feels like that. There are the changes they make on their own to surprise you. Like when they magically start sleeping at night. Or when they suddenly decide to STOP sleeping at night and instead devote that time to new skills like climbing out of their crib.

And then there are the changes that you expect, like learning to crawl and learning to walk and talk. And the changes you know are coming but somehow they still sneak up on you, like using the stairs, feeding themselves, and jumping off the diving board.

Those are the ones that catch me off guard most often. Not the big milestones we work toward, but these sneaky little milestones that are so easy to take for granted.

Example: toddler eating. We taught her how to pick up food pieces, so we knew she could feed herself. But when it came to putting a meal plate in front of her it was easier to just feed her than to give her a pile and teach her not to shove it all in her mouth. One meal turned into another and it was just how we kept doing it. One day it occurred to me: she should be able to eat from her own meal plate now. So I gave her a plate. And she ate. Like it was no big deal. She was ready. She was just waiting on me.

It’s a similar challenge with the stairs. Our house is full of stairs. (Insert loud sigh.) We never had an open staircase when my oldest was young so this is a new ballgame for me. Believe it or not, it took me a while to figure out that in order for her to learn to navigate stairs, I had to LET HER DO THEM. Over and over and over again.

And she has been doing great. But I’m still terrified to let her near the top of the stairs. I think she would stop and go down them the way she has learned. But in order for me to know that for sure, I have to let her have access to them without me grabbing her. And that’s surprisingly hard to do. She’s probably ready, but I’m not sure I am.

Last week the six year old finished swimming lessons. She has made amazing progress this summer. At the beginning of the season we stayed safely in the kid pool, but by the end we were comfortably navigating the big pool. She couldn’t touch the bottom everywhere but she could hold her own with a grownup nearby.

But the deep end was still a no-go. She had been off the diving board once with a swimming teacher at the bottom to help her, and that was our only venture to that end. (Even that made me cringe a little). But at the last lesson, the whole class headed to the deep end. I held my breath and silently threatened her to “stay by the wall” from the edge. But she did great and the teachers were attentive so eventually I relaxed.

Until the last five minutes when they announced it was time for the diving boards. AND ALL THE TEACHERS GOT OUT OF THE POOL.

UHHH….WHAT IS HAPPENING??? My mom brain didn’t know whether to panic or video tape, and I was already preparing to deal with the shame of having to jump in the pool to save her while fully clothed and enormously pregnant.

But she jumped off the diving board, popped right back up, and swam to the edge like a pro.

Huh.

I literally have no idea how long it would have taken me let her do that completely on her own if it had been up to me. I wasn’t ready.

But she was.

And that appears to be the trend, doesn’t it? They are ready, but I’m not.

Perhaps it’s because I’m just not ready to let go. But I think it runs deeper than that. I think most of the time it is because I’m still seeing them the way they were rather than the way they are. I think I still see the baby who doesn’t regulate how much she puts in her mouth and isn’t coordinated enough to navigate stairs. I still see the girl who can’t swim.

But they are not those people anymore.

Staying present with who people are isn’t easy. If I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in years, we wouldn’t truly know each other anymore, regardless of how close we were in the past. That isn’t surprising. People are constantly changing.

Even though we see our children every day, we still face the same challenge of staying present with who they are. Each day they grow and change. Every experience they have impacts the humans they are becoming in tiny ways that add up over time. If I get caught up assuming that I know who my daughter is because she is my child and I see her every day, I will miss out on the chance to truly know her and appreciate each stage of her growth.

A swimming teacher who had known my child for two weeks was more aware of her capabilities than I was. They knew she was ready before I did.

Staying present as a parent may not be easy. But it’s worth it. Because, as parents, we have the privilege of having a front row seat to watch these amazing little people becoming who they are, one change at a time.