I have been all over the board these past couple weeks. My work schedule was off for a week and then I actually got to be off for a whole week, and home with Ellie. We had so much fun together on some mini-adventures. We went exotic places like the downtown library for toddler time (stories AND a craft), the fabric store and even a "new" park yesterday (pictures to come). Almost every day she's been home with me Ellie has said at some point, "Mommy, I don't have to go to school today," phrased partly as a question and a demand. That had me wondering how she feels about the place we've been sending here almost every week for the past 29 months... but my mommy guilt was also put aside somewhat when I would see her get bored with me during the days and start to try to engage her dolls or the dogs into whatever make-believe scenario she was currently engaged in. I think the interaction with other kids has been great for her at daycare, especially as she's gotten older... But there are so many gems of her personality that Brian and I miss by not being around her all the time. I guess that's just one of the balancing acts of parenthood.
I've been trying to figure out how to write about my amazement with Ellie these days, but I'm having a hard time with it. Our toddler is growing into a precocious, creative, sensitive, hilarious and (at times) demanding little girl.
This past week I've caught her consoling one of her toys, a block with a duck inside it, by saying: "Oh, the duck is sad. He misses his momma and daddy. It's OK, little duck. We'll find them soon." Heart strings, right?! I know part of this is from a "Dora" storyline, but the voice and attitude she has while playing these games totally amazes me and melts my heart.
Of course, there are also dozens of times during the day when she totally frustrates me. She definitely knows most of the time what she is or isn't allowed to do... but that doesn't stop her from heading in the wrong direction frequently. And I'll catch her giving me looks to see if I'm noticing her bad behavior, and then wait until the last possible second (usually after I've finished my warning count of 1-2-3) to abandon whatever she's doing wrong. I'm sure my mom will smile reading this and thinking about the times I presented exactly the same "challenges" growing up.
But even when I have to scold Ellie or implement a dreaded "time out," all I usually want to do is scoop her up and gives hugs and kisses. I'm still in awe of the love I have for this child and the fact that it seems to get bigger every day of her life. I didn't know I was capable of such total devotion until she entered our world. Now I find myself sometimes overwhelmed with the idea of either splitting that love between two children or shortchanging one. Don't get me wrong, I've always wanted Ellie to have a sibling... but now that the hour is upon us I can't help feeling a little guilty and sad about the changes coming. She won't be our only one anymore, and I know this transition will be hard on her in some ways. Of course, having grown up with plenty of siblings (and plenty of love from my mom and dad), I know that the dynamic will ultimately balance out and she'll have more than enough attention over the years from her parents, brother and all of the extended family. But I still feel bad about how this will all seem to Ellie at the beginning when suddenly mom can't always free up two hands for her... and this baby brother goes from a theoretical lump in mom's belly to a real, screaming baby around "her" house 24/7.
I don't doubt, however, that Ellie is doing great so far thanks to -- or in spite of? ;) -- the hard work Brian and I put in as parents. That much is clear. And it gives me a whole lot of confidence (despite what this rambling post my otherwise indicate) as we head into babyhood all over again.