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    Dear Bee // 48

    04.24.2014 / FAMILY

    dear-bee

    Dear Bee,

    We’re entering the part of the log ride where the waters get kind of choppy and I can’t decide which way to lean: left or right or not at all? Should I close my eyes and hold my breath, clutching the handlebar, preparing for the descent that awaits? Or do I power through, swallow hard and raise my hands overhead to release control entirely? It’s discipline time and suddenly, I feel like we’re back in the newborn days of guess-and-check. I’ve found myself trying on different hats to find a technique that works for both of us, one after another after another, until we find one that fits for a day, but then, no, our head must have grown two sizes since then so fling goes the hat, across the room and we dig, dig, dig for a different one.

    For the record, your father has this way of making any hat fit, so this is a non-issue for him. I’d just like to point this out for posterity, and perhaps further proof that you might not be related to me after all? The relationship you two share is nothing short of picturesque – a game I would pay to see over and over and over, a team that I intend to cheer on for the rest of my life.

    But eventually, I have to get off the bench and get my hands dirty, because as much as you need your father, you need me, too. And Bee, I’ll wear as many hats as it takes to get in our groove.

    Disciplining you is so, so hard for me. I’m too gentle with my requests or too harsh with my demands and I’m worried that on some days, I’m confusing you. Consistency is key, I’m told, but there is nothing consistent about motherhood, Bee. There are days when I’m tired and you get two TV shows and a billion blackberries, and sure you can eat them on the couch, absolutely, just for today, and I’ll be here twirling your hair and we’ll count numbers on the screen together – as many as you’d like, forever and ever.

    And then there are days when I feel like rallying, and no, no TV, we’re going outside because it’s good for you and let’s bundle up and no, no blackberries right now because I don’t want to stain your coat and I know we had them yesterday but we have to wait until dinner and bath and yes, you have to take a bath tonight because we’re going outside and we’ll be getting very, very dirty.

    And then there are mornings when yes, we’re going outside again, but this time we can’t get too dirty because we’re on a tight schedule and there is no time to change your clothes and yes, I know I said we could eat blackberries anywhere except for the couch but not today because we’re headed out to breakfast and I’m out of wipes and yes, you’ll still have to take a bath later because we’re going to grandma’s house tomorrow and you won’t have one there.

    As routined as we are, Bee, there is nothing consistent about our days. They’re a combination of energy, a compromise of your wants and my thoughts and our plans, and sometimes I’m off and you’re off and that’s when the universe kind of blows up and leaves a million pieces between the couch cushions.

    There are few things worth disciplining over, in my book, and that is (a) disrespect and (b) disobedience, and perhaps (c) premature piercings, but that comes way later. But there are such fine lines with you right now, because most of the time (a) is unintentional and (b) is not, but it’s funny and I just want to laugh so I can release the tension in my shoulders, the pings that remind me that you’re not even two yet and disobedience is little more than cloaked learning.

    I want to laugh at your (a) and your (b), because it’s funny right now. It’s innocent and pure, like when you do something you know you’re not supposed to and then you slowly walk away backwards, hands overhead, staring into our souls in an “I put the gun down, officer, and I swear I’m innocent.” kind of way.

    And I want to laugh because I live in a place of extremes and if I don’t laugh, I get angry or frustrated or short-tempered, and Bee, that’s not healthy for any of us. But I worry that if I laugh now, your space for (a) and (b) will grow, because that’s what happens. We grow into what we’re offered and we spread into the space before us.

    Your dad and I used to sleep in a twin bed when we were first married. It was tiny and cozy and perfect for us, until we visited my parents and slept in a full bed. And then we visited his parents and slept in a queen bed, and Bee, we just had to have a queen bed, too. Until we tried a king and then a cal king and now we’re basically sleeping in separate time zones with miles of space between us, stretching into the space of a bed that’s larger than life itself.

    And Bee, you’re still in a crib. There will be time to try out many different beds, and a big girl bed is just around the corner I’m quite sure. But for now, I want you to trust me.

    I want you to trust why it’s important to pick up our toys and why we have to wear our boots and why we turn off the TV to say hello to our guests.

    And in turn, I promise to trust you. I trust that you’ll help me pick the right hat to wear, whether it’s the Patience one or the Put My Foot Down one or the This Isn’t A Big Deal one.

    Sometimes I’ll wear the wrong one, Bee. But I have a feeling that we’ll be playing dress-up for the rest of our lives and that, one of these days, I’ll get it right. And we’ll wear our new hats while laughing and twirling and spinning around – eyes shut, arms open, fingers stained purple with the sweetest of blackberries (just not on the couch).

    XO,
    Mama

    • Michelle

      Your words are lovely – and though a first-time commenter, I always look forward to your letters to Bee. I relate so often! My daughter, almost 2 and a half, keeps me trying on new hats each day. It’s so true, I find myself spending my much time contemplating patience or put my foot down or it’s no big deal. Like you, I hope to one day figure it out and meanwhile need to learn to trust my instincts more. I only hope that all the second guessing in my mind keeps me sharp, that I care so much I’ll get it right for her eventually.

      • Ah, I’m so glad to hear I’m not alone, Michelle! :) Keep up the good fight (or not fight, ha!). :)

    • Oh gosh this is wonderful. You have articulated something I, too, am struggling with so well. My little one is 17 months and I feel so lost sometimes; not sure when to draw the line and when to just play along. But, sometimes he actually listens when I tell him not to do something so something is working.

      I also really liked the part about cheering your husband on with Bee. My son very obviously favors my husband to the point where sometimes I feel like I am unnecessary. I know that I’m his mommy and he loves me but it is hard to remember sometimes.

      • Ah, thank you for your kind words, Tasneem – and yes! He needs his mommy now, and he definitely will when he’s older. :) And Bee has had phases with who she favors before, so I’m hoping it’ll be my turn someday soon. ;)

    • As the parent of a 16-month-old and a 16-year-old I can say with total (un) certainty that you have to change hats as they grow. Often. Things that worked with my older son are definitely out the window with my second. As my first gets older I have to learn when to loosen the grip on the reigns and let him test the trail on his own. And I suppose this is true for the littler one as well. Be firm on the big stuff. But your days sound as consistently inconsistent as my own so routine is merely an idea in my head that will never become reality. Just do the best you can and know that Bee is a smart little thing. ;) She’ll learn how to navigate the chaos just as we have. I wrote my own take on this earlier in the year if you get time to read it.

      • I’d love to read it, yes, thank you sweet Jennifer!!!

    • This is so, so relatable for me, Erin, with a 2-year-old. I’ve realized that many times, her disobedience can be tracked back to something I did or didn’t do (didn’t give her enough attention or feed her enough breakfast, hence why she is angry or feeling lonely). Some days I’m so sad at how things panned out and other days I’m on top of the world at how dreamy our day was. I’m just really glad to hear that I’m not alone. I really thought parenting would be a little more black and white, but it’s mostly gray!

    • Once again Erin you have nailed it with this commentary on life with a 2 or almost 2 year old. I couldn’t agree more. I also worry about consistency but am hoping that my lack of it will lead my daughter to be more flexible and resilient in the future. Thank you again for sharing, i always love reading a new Dear Bee letter.

    • Oh girl, we’re living the life together. My little does b) and gets scolded (no coloring on the chair! No! No more coloring right now!), then gets a big hug and a kiss and a “I know you didn’t mean it”, then he tells me the next day, while pointing at the chair “No! No no coror!” and while I’m praising him for remembering he colors on the chair again… I try to discipline the important stuff, we laugh sometimes because we can’t help it, and I trust that the rest of it will work out in the wash.

      Isn’t this the life?

    • Belvia

      Erin – You are a great mom! And you’re right, finding your groove is so important and if something doesn’t work today that doesn’t mean it won’t tomorrow. I will tell you – what I’ve found works best, especially for independent little ladies – is to explain why you are asking them to do what you want to do. They may not fully understand today, but they will eventually. That helps them understand why they can do something today that they can’t do tomorrow.

      • Oh, you are so wise, Belvia!!! My husband is FANTASTIC at this, and yes, it generally provides just enough distraction to avoid MOST tantrums. ;) Thank you for your sage advice! All my love. :)

    • Crissy

      i’ve just come across your site for the very first time and read about an hours worth of your letters to bee. perhaps (and more than likely but maybe not because i’m italian which translates to being an emotional mess in general) it’s the 5 months pregnancy hormones, but i’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions crazier than watching the notebook but in the best way just from reading them. my husband thinks i’ve officially lost it. he may be right. never stop writing these letters!

      • Oh Crissy – you’re so kind, thank you. And congrats on hitting the 5 month pregnancy mark! Sending great third trimester vibes soon enough… :)

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