Friday, March 14, 2014

Blanche Olive at Two and a Half

Blanche will be two and half years old next month. Sometimes I think about how people always talk about children growing so fast, and I look at Blanche and wonder how she is so big. I wonder how she turned into a little girl all of the sudden. But then again, life before Blanche seems so long ago. She couldn't still be a baby anyways, could she? Blanche can be so smart. Her memory seems remarkable for her age sometimes. She has understanding about a lot of things. But then, I will look at her in the midst of older children playing at the park and see that she is still so little. I think to myself, "She is really my oldest?" Then I understand why sometimes I feel so tired and stressed out. I really do have two little babies some days.

I wonder if our children choose us. I have heard some people put it that way. The ironic part is that the parents are the ones creating the life, deciding to have a baby... but then you have no real control over what child is given to you. I know Blanche was my first because she changed how I would mother all the rest of my children. When I had Blanche I had very little parenting knowledge and obviously no experience. All I really knew was that I wanted to breastfeed my babies. I had wanted a home birth as well, but that didn't happen. The next several months after Blanche was born my view on babies and parenting changed. I don't spend much time on my blog talking about the details of my parenting decisions. I think in today's world there are so many mothers arguing against one another, and it has never been my goal or intention to start up arguments or heated debates on what is the best way. Now especially after having my second, I know that the main key to motherhood is doing what works. Andrew and I have always tried to do the most loving option that we know of for whatever problem may arise. It is not easy. For example I never thought I would ever "co-sleep" or "tandem nurse." In my mind, it honestly sounded like things lazy parents would do. Or hippy weird parents. Or parents that were nothing like me. And then I became a parent. A very tired parent. All of the sudden when it came to Blanche sleeping and all of us getting rest, I started looking at my options. I found for us personally, giving up my stereotypes and trying new things might be the best thing for our family.

Andrew has always been a nonconformist of sorts. He is the type of person who wonders who invented the crib and why people use bed frames. If so much of the world does not have these things, why is it critical to our lives that we have them? He made it easy to try new things and explore parenting styles.

After a few months of Blanche's life we really developed a rhythm. I almost always knew what she needed, which for Blanche, was laying down to nurse about 85% of the time. I had made things easy really. She would nurse to sleep for naps in our bed that was on the floor, and I would get up and do my own thing. Nights were similar and sometimes a little rough, but Blanche slept so much better close to us.

When I became pregnant again, our routine changed a little, but we kept things very similar to the way they had always been. Blanche has always been sensitive and emotional. I knew that weaning at a little over a year for her would be too soon, so I continued through pregnancy. I had the support of Andrew and my family. My aunts always joked with me that they nursed during pregnancies and even later than many around them. They just kept it to themselves. Hearing these things empowered me to keep going. To try and make things as smooth and easy of a transition as possible.

I guess the reason I write all this is because since Rosemary has been born I sometimes second guess myself. I wonder if I should have just weaned Blanche. I wonder if there were things I could have done better with Blanche. This transition from one to two has not been as smooth as I had hoped.

But when I see how small Blanche really is, and that two and half is her total time on earth... I start to give myself more slack. I know two is a time of a child finding his or her own independence and voice. Going from an only child to no longer is also a hard thing.

With Blanche there are so many emotions between her and myself. It is such an interesting relationship that I have never experienced, one between mother and daughter. There are times when she drives me absolutely nuts. Last night I had Rosemary in the carrier and I was trying to make dinner. Blanche was walking around dumping out laundry baskets and my purse. She just kept making a mess. It felt like she knew she was not suppose to do those things, and that those were the exact things that would push my buttons. And then she would do them.

Then there are other times, like when she makes "banana swirl" and tells Uncle Austin that it is "bbbrr cold." She is so proud to create whether it is something made in the kitchen or painting in the bathtub. She uses her imagination all through the day, closing her eyes and marching around the house, pretending to be an elephant. She is the type of girl that I have to promise to paint her nails pink just so she will let me clip them, but then can't wait long enough for them to dry before playing in the dirt. Blanche loves her sister with such intensity. There are mixtures of envy for my lap, jealousy for Rosemary to stand up and walk over and play, a desire to just be close to her sister... giving her kisses and hugs in a smothering fashion.

As time continues I know the reasons I have loved Blanche with intensity. I can relate to her so well. She is so much like me. That is also why some days I also have such a great desire to get away from her.

As I have been writing this Blanche has been awake the whole time. I literally wrote the title to this post, and Blanche woke up from her maybe twenty five minute nap. Like most days when she wakes up early and I am desperate to write, I gave her a sucker. I guess I like to encourage short naps. I guess she does crash harder at night that way. I guess we are in the "weaning from naps" stage. Blanche has went from happy to sad to happy today. Like most toddlers. Andrew has also told her he is going to take her on a walk around the pond. She has packed a little box of random objects to take to the pond and she is "ready to go." When I look at her and see her little mind moving, packing a fake lemon and wooden stacking rings into an empty box, carrying her sock monkey around, it melts me a little. Seeing her find the things around the house that are important for her to bring.

Motherhood is messy and full of emotions. Rosemary will have to be a little bit different from Blanche and me. There isn't enough room for that much intensity.

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