A letter to my daughters, well past each of their birthdays, because I am a flawed but loving father

Filed under: Anya,Sierra,thoughts — by Lex on January 23rd, 2011 @ 5:39 pm

Girls,

My love for you is hilariously massive. I think you two are the most adorable creatures. I’m sorry for every time I’ve had to raise my voice, and I’m especially grateful for how patient, forgiving, and lovable you two are.

Anya, you are brilliant. You ask insightful questions, you reason, you think, and you discover. And my goodness, your memory is insane. You remember things that Mommy and I forget. You’re always listening. You are affectionate, funny, and immensely entertaining. You sing pop songs and kid songs with abandon. You love your sister so much. You are a joy.

You are also impressively honest. You tell us how you feel. We know that cleaning up the playroom makes you feel bored. You say sorry — and, indeed, feel sorry — when you make a mistake. You tell the truth.

Sierra, I foolishly expected that you would be just like Anya as you grew up. You too are a joy and a wonderful person, but of course one with a personality all your own. You love to laugh, you love to be silly, and you love to do whatever the heck Anya is doing.

And oh boy do you love asking questions. We’ve evolved from the never-ending “Why?” to a series of ever more detailed “Whys” instead:

“Why did you put the plate away?”
“Why are you done eating?”
“Why aren’t you hungry anymore?”
“Why did you eat enough?”
“Why are you good at satisfying your appetite?”
“Why can’t you answer that?”

Like Anya, you love music, though your tastes are often more demanding. You love your routines — videos after nap time, stories and music always in the right order — just like your sister did at your age. You love hugs and kisses, and you love showing off how cute you are. You also love trouble, little missy, and frankly it’s kind of hilarious.

Being a parent isn’t always easy. It’s easy to take a kid to the potty one time, or two times. Sierra, when you need to go five times in 30 minutes — and indeed manage to go each time — each successive trip gets a little more annoying. But here’s the thing: Each time, you tell me how you’re a “Big girl!” Or, if you’re feeling silly, “A big monkey!” or some other animal. Each time you hug me as I help you get dressed again. And each time, your perfect little smile makes those perfect little cheeks, which end up right in front of my face, which inevitably results in lots of kisses.

And oh, those cheeks. You and Anya both have inherited your mother’s perfect, kissable, lovable cheeks. I’ve kissed your cheeks so many times, and it never gets old.

You two do, though. It’s hard to look at Anya and comprehend that just two short years ago, she was Sierra’s age, or that Sierra’s just two years shy of four. The two of you are growing up too fast, and I beg you to slow down.

At the same time, I love every new age you reach. Anya, when you get upset now, I feel like I’m pretty good at calming you down, because you can reason and understand. It’s wonderful. At the same time, though, you’re four. When you get upset because Sierra won’t pretend to read you a specific page of a book, or she won’t agree to be the Mean Witch when she’d rather be the princess, it’s again something very difficult for me to process. You are in many ways an old soul, wise and mature beyond your years, and when you act like the kid you are, it forces me to remember that while you’re already four, you’re also only four.

Sierra, as I mentioned, idolizes you. Sierra, you taught yourself to climb into your booster, to climb into your big girl bed, to do so many things that Anya inspired you to do. Yet you keep falling right out your bed in the middle of the night. And I keep trudging in there to lift you — still mostly asleep, both of us — back into your bed. Little tiny you in your big massive bed is a perfect metaphor for your whole existence right now. You are so small and so big.

I love being your daddy, girls.

I’m sorry that Mommy and I got more lax on the blogging. A lot of it is wanting to simply enjoy your amazingness as it happens, and then being too tired at the end of each day to write down all the details about it. I could write volumes about you both; you are inspiring and incredible people, and I feel lucky that I get to know you, let alone live with you and receive your love.

You make my life so much better than I ever expected it could be, and for that I owe you a lifetime of thanks. You both are going to make incredible big sisters to your baby brother in just a few short weeks.

I love you both totally and completely. Thank you for being you.

All my love,
Daddy

Blogging

Filed under: thoughts — by Lauren on January 6th, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

It’s been many, many weeks since I have blogged.  The last post was written in October about Sierra’s 21 month birthday in September.  It is now January.  Sigh.  I feel some guilt about my ever-increasing slacking.  When I was pregnant with Anya, I posted practically every time she kicked, and then when she was born, every new thing she did went on the blog.  When I was pregnant with Sierra, I posted every now and then, covered most of her big milestones as an infant, but as she got older I took more of a summary approach.  Now I’ve been neglecting both girls on the blog, not to mention this pregnancy.  I have no excuse other than I have been so busy living life that I haven’t been taking the time to document it.  I want to say I’m going to do a better job in 2011, but will I?  The new year is going to bring even more excitement and busy-ness/chaos into our lives – most notably when our third child is born – and though I want to be able to have a place to come relive all of those wonderful moments, I just don’t know that I will take the time to write about them.  To my dear children who many read this blog one day and want to know where all the posts went:  Please know that it was because I picked enjoying the time with you over writing about it… and because I was TOO FREAKING TIRED at night to blog!

Trying to set a good example for my kids

Filed under: thoughts — by Lauren on August 13th, 2010 @ 3:48 pm
DISCLAIMER:  This is my blog, and therefore my place to vent/share.  To anyone reading this who knows more about what I’m talking about than described here, please understand that I’m not trying to be hurtful or upset anyone.  I just need a way to deal with my own hurt feelings, and rather than put another person in an uncomfortable situation by bringing it up, I’m doing it here, without any need for a response.  It’s cathartic to let it all out.  Don’t read on if that’s not something you can deal with.

There’s some stuff going on right now with a person I thought was a friend and several people I know are still friends –  no need to get into the details.  It has resulted in some people being left out and hurt feelings, including my own.

Opportunities have arisen for me to make comments that would be a passive-aggressive way of being petty – things that I could say offhand, that would be seemingly innocent, but that would be for the sole purpose of trying to pass some of the discomfort I feel about the situation onto someone else.  One of these opportunities came up this morning (Ahhh, Facebook), and I almost wrote something, but then I thought about it.

What was I going to get out of making such a comment?  Does making someone else uncomfortable (or hoping that they’ll pass my comment along to to the real person who has hurt me) do anything to improve the situation?  Would that momentary lapse in honest civility actually make me feel better in the long run?  No.  No, it does and would not.

Anya and Sierra have no idea that any of this is going on – why should they? – but I thought of them just the same.  I try very hard to set a good example for them.  I hope when they get to that tween age they can avoid that catty girl exclusion dynamic (you know what I mean if you’re a girl and you’ve ever attended a public middle school, ugh) with their friends.  I very much believe in the “treat others the way you want to be treated” rule.  I thought about what I would hope they would do in a similar situation, and it wouldn’t be to pass some of their hurt on, at least not that way.

So I said nothing.

Again, the girls know nothing about this and they aren’t going to learn anything from my actions this time around, but I’m the adult, and I should act like one, even when they aren’t watching.  I already did my time in middle school.  This is what growing up is.  Surprisingly, it feels GOOD to acknowledge that, and to know that I made the better choice.

Ack!  Here I am being all responsible, and, I admit it, I’m thirty years old.  I guess I really am a grown up now, no matter how much I’d like to claim eternal childhood.  :)

To Anya, on the Occasion Of Your Third Birthday

Filed under: Anya,the day-to-day stuff,thoughts — by Lex on October 21st, 2009 @ 7:09 am

My Dearest Anya,

Mommy’s post right before this one is excellent, and encompasses much of what I’m feeling now that you’re three. You’re an amazing little big girl, and the emotion that’s at the forefront of my mind as you cross this age milestone is supremely easy to summarize:

I am so very, very proud to be your dad.

The things you say, the jokes you make, the insights you have, and the questions you pose — they’re all a delight to hear, and awe-inspiring to witness.

Before you were born, I wrote you a song to try to capture what I was feeling back then. I sang it for you at your baby naming, and I’ve sung it for you many times since — often, by your request!

I don’t want to write a sappy song
That’ll make you roll your eyes

You can definitely be my mushy girl, professing your love for me (and the rest of your family), offering plentiful hugs and kisses unprompted. But there are definitely times you’re not so interested in the gooey, over-sentimental stuff. Sometimes, you just want to have fun!

I just want to write a happy tune
That we’ll both know for all our lives.

Since you’re already able to sing the entire song to me, I don’t have to worry about that last part so far.

Don’t know that I have it in me
To write the perfect song,
But if it’s about you, Anya,
Then how can I go wrong?

Man, was I prescient. The song didn’t have to be (and isn’t) perfect. You are.

‘Cause you’re my baby,
And I’m your dad
You’re the very first daughter
I have ever had
I love you so much
More than I can sing
My whole life I’ll try to thank you
For all the joy you bring

Mommy covered the main points here already. You are forever our baby, even as you become a bigger and bigger big girl. I don’t have the words to express how much I love you. And I really do constantly try to show you how grateful I am for you. Listen, you’re a three-year-old kid: There are times where you can be trying for even the most devoted and patient of daddies. But even when you’re being, shall we say, a challenge, I’m constantly reminding myself how lucky and fortunate I feel to be your dad, and how I want to value each moment with you, even when you’re on your forty-fifth minute of eating the same apple.

Anya, as I try to write something that captures even a fraction of how happy I you are my daughter, you’re sitting here eating breakfast (slowly). You’ve negotiated for a bite of an unseen granola bar, assuming you eat the rest of your breakfast first. You’ve said “Oh, thank you!” in response to my giving you your Healthy Vitamin. You’ve declared: “Daddy, I love you!” — apropos of nothing. And just now, you announced: “I painted my pumpkin in Izzy’s sukkah!” Yes, that’s true. And I love that you have a mind of your own that thinks about things, jumping from thought to thought. Too cool. And now: “Is that your granola bar? Don’t eat the last bite, because the last bite’s for me!”

You started talking so young, and the sentences you construct now are incredible. Getting to know you through your thoughts and words has been remarkable. Seeing your 3-year-old joy at spotting your stack of gifts, with your jaw truly dropping as low as it could as you stood in awe, was awesome. But hearing you squeal: “Oh, look at all the presents for me!” was even better.

You’re a very special girl, and I love you very much. Happy birthday.

Happy Blogiversary!

Filed under: thoughts — by Lauren on February 12th, 2009 @ 1:58 pm

Today is the third anniversary of our very first Baby Blog post (and the day we found out we were pregnant with Anya).  Two daughters, one new house on the other side of the country, several different jobs… Our life has changed so much since that day -  and definitely for the better!

Kisses

Filed under: thoughts — by Lauren on January 22nd, 2009 @ 8:21 pm

It’s nice to be at an age where kisses really DO make a boo boo all better.  Why do we have to lose that innocence as we grow older?

Is this blog jinxed?

Filed under: thoughts — by Lauren on December 21st, 2008 @ 11:17 pm

When Sierra was 1 week old I posted about how she only slept at night if held, and the following night she started sleeping 4 hour stretches in the Co-Sleeper. Yesterday I wrote about how she is pretty easygoing, and then she had an extremely cranky evening and a difficult night, most of which was spent in my lap. I also said I thought we’d start her in size 1 diapers when we ran out of newborns, and today Lex had to go get another package of the little ones. What gives? Is it just that the opposite of what I write has to come true? In that case, I’m not at my pre-pregnancy weight yet, gas prices are on the rise, and I don’t have ten million dollars.

Due dates and induction

Filed under: thoughts — by Lauren on November 29th, 2008 @ 9:05 pm

My due date is in one week and one day – Monday, December 8th. Anya was also due on a Monday and was born the Thursday before. Wouldn’t it be coincidental if I had the baby next Thursday? I’ve been thinking a lot about my due date as it approaches. With Anya, I was originally due on October 21st, but my doctor adjusted the due date to the 23rd based on my scan at 6 weeks. With this baby, I was originally due on December 12th, but the first trimester scans kept showing the estimated due date to be earlier and earlier. Since the scan I had at 12 weeks suggested the due date to be closer to the 5th, the doctor adjusted my due date to the 8th. I know every pregnancy is different and that due dates are estimates, but I can’t help but think that since Anya was born only two days before her original due date and that this time my due date was moved up, I’m more likely to go a little late. Bummer. I’ve been extremely uncomfortable today; I can’t imagine another half pound of baby growing in there over the next week – or more!

I’ve also been thinking about inductions. In my December 2008 online birth club, the majority of the babies are going to have scheduled births (c-sections or inductions) for a variety of reasons. In a way, I’m jealous of those moms – they know exactly when their babies are going to be born and they don’t have to cope with the anxiety of waiting. However, the second baby in our group was born (unscheduled) yesterday, and when his mom shared the birth story, I remembered how magical the moment was when my water broke with Anya and I realized she was on her way. I also know it’s probably best in my situation to let the baby decide when she should arrive. It’s hard to wait, to wake up every day and wonder if this is going to be the day, to go to sleep disappointed that it wasn’t…but I will try my best be patient. Baby Girl, I know you’ll come when you are ready, but make it soon if you can, okay?

Daughter #2

Filed under: thoughts — by Lex on November 1st, 2008 @ 12:32 pm

Dearest Daughter #2,

You haven’t been born yet of course, but you’re still a very big part of our lives. We think about you constantly — about how tired you’ll make us, about how cute you’ll be, about how intimidating it feels to have TWO kids, about how we’ll want to make you smile, about how you and Anya will interact… We’re very, very excited for you to join our family, and we can’t wait to meet you.

Today, we made a few tweaks to the blog in advance of your arrival. When we first created the Baby Blog, it was to discuss Mommy’s pregnancy with Anya. Since then, it became a chronicling of Anya’s babyhood and ascent to two-years-old. Even more recently, obviously, the blog has sported a variety of posts about YOU! We were very eager to have a second child in our family, and we are thrilled that you will soon finally be here.

Right now, you and Anya seem to be sharing this blog pretty nicely. Granted, that could be because only one of you is even remotely aware of its existence, and neither of you has any real sense of what the heck it is.

But it’s my sincere hope that this auspicious start to sharing between you two keeps up for a long, long time!

Anya redefined how much love Mommy and I thought we could feel. Adding you to our family just means that we will be adding an additional 10-ton barrel of love, and I just can’t wait.

To my daughter Anya on the occasion of her second birthday

Filed under: baby's progress,thoughts — by Lex on October 19th, 2008 @ 7:39 am

Anya,

You’re amazing. A two-word sentence like that can’t begin to convey the joy your life brings me, and neither will the several paragraphs to follow. One of the great frustrations of parenthood that no one tells you about ahead of time is the impossibility of expressing the happiness your kids provide. Words are not enough.

Happy, happy birthday! I can’t believe it’s been just a year since your last one. It seems simultaneously like it’s been much, much longer, and much much, much less. Each day with you flies by, often too fast. But you’ve grown so much as a person over the past year that it seems like a lifetime has passed since your first birthday.

Mommy and I sometimes talk about how there’s this desire to videotape every single thing you do, and photograph every moment, every outfit, and every cute face of the day. But there’s not enough time (or hard drive space) to do that, of course. And if we somehow found enough time to tape it all, there certainly wouldn’t be time enough to watch it — because to do so, we’d be missing the live show!

Another thing Mommy and I do — as recently as last night — is look at each other in amazement at your growth and progress. You’re two, and we’re stunned. How did our little baby become such a big girl? (This is a common theme.) We look at each other when you say things that we don’t know where you learned. (This morning, Mommy asked you how old you were, and you said: “Two and a half.” Who taught you “and a half”? More importantly, who taught you math? Because you are WAY OFF! ;) )

We can’t photograph every moment, and we can’t shoot endless video. Instead, we remind ourselves to watch you and appreciate every moment as it happens. Right now, virtually your entire life fits in our own memory banks, and it is honestly a very sad revelation to recognize that our brains won’t be able to do that forever. Already, Mommy and I are able to remind ourselves about moments from your life that had slipped our minds for a while. That wouldn’t be so hard to come to terms with if you weren’t so charming every minute of every day.

We truly enjoy spending time with you. Sometimes if I’ve had to work too late one day and I don’t get to spend as much time with you as I’d like before you go to sleep, I ask Mommy whether I can go wake you up so that we can play some more. (Her answer is always “yes,” if I assume responsibility for dealing with the likely-unpleasant after effects. I still haven’t done it, but only because I’m trying to be a Good Dad and let you get your sleep.)

You are two, and that is amazing. We love you, and perhaps one of the best feelings around right now is the sense that you recognize how loved you are. (Answer: Soooooooooooooooooooooo much.)

Happy birthday, sweetheart. I am so happy that you are in my life. And I can’t wait to see how wonderful you are as a big sister.

Love,
Daddy

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