Parenting an almost two and a half year old is sometimes like living in a perpetual hurricane. There's always the calm that comes along with the eye of the storm, but it's an uneasy feeling...like things are going TOO well and that in just a few short moments, the roof is about to be blown off your house and the entire Pacific Ocean will come crashing through the windows.
Craig and I have weathered the toddler storm fairly well so far, but with Natalie quickly gaining vocabulary and A MIND OF HER OWN (how dare she!), the storms we are experiencing have recently taken on a bit more...hilarity.
The other day I was craving not a glass of wine or a cold beer, but a cocktail. Vodka and Sprite to be exact. I also had to run to the grocery store and Natalie was tagging along so at the ripe old age of two and a half...she made her first trip to the liquor store. Upon entering the store she saw all the rows of wine bottles and exclaimed, "Momma buy wine?" Sheesh.
But the hilarity doesn't end there. Oh no. This was a VERY entertaining trip to the liquor store.
While I was perusing the vodka bottles she began to touch some of the merchandise and I admonished her, "no touching - we don't touch!" She complied but shortly thereafter I picked up a bottle from the shelf and she was quick to remind me, "no touching Momma!" Of course this was said with a hand on her hip and in her perfect Momma/teacher voice. I looked at her skeptically, one eye raised and let her know that "I'm an adult so I can touch whatever I want." Obviously unimpressed, she hiked up her skirt to show off her delicate Ariel panties and declared, "I an 'dult. I a big girl!"
Bedtime with Natalie is probably my LEAST favorite part of the day. She fights the good fight almost every single night and although I easily resist her pleas of "Momma lay down?" Craig is a big old softie and can't help but snuggle and cuddle and rock and pat Natalie whenever she wants and for however long it takes to get her to sleep.
But that's another topic of discussion entirely.
Tonight was no different with her wails of "no night-night" beginning as soon as Craig placed her into bed at 8:30 after having rocked and read two books. Eventually the cries quieted down and we figured she had finally drifted off to sleep and we were free to pursue our late night adventures in reality television and selling baseball cards online.
At 9:30 we hear a little voice piping up from the room at the end of the hall. "Daddy? DADDY?!"
Sweet mother of pearl. You have GOT to be kidding me. What is she doing awake!?
Come to find out...she has been sitting in her rocking chair, reading books to herself by the light of her nightlight on her alarm clock. For an hour.
So I coach Craig on what television's Super Nanny taught me to do. Go into her room, leave the lights out and don't say a word while putting her gently back into bed with a loving pat. Exit quickly and repeat if necessary.
Obviously she gets up and cracks open the door to her bedroom enough for her beady little eyes to see what's going on down the hall. I turn the corner to face her door while simultaneously putting on my "Momma's not happy face." She slams the door shut and all I hear are the rapid pattering of feet racing back to bed followed by the twang of the mattress coils as she leaps under the covers.
This happens twice.
Sneaky is not a word I would use to describe my two-year-old.
Dinner has lately become a case of Whack-a-Mole where Craig and I spend a large amount of time convincing Natalie to stay in her seat and eat her meal. Perhaps it's a case of extraneous energy but she wants to be dancing, rolling and hopping while ingesting her carrots, strawberries and green beans.
Tonight was no different and after her second escape from and reluctant return to the table, I looked her in the eyes and told her that if she got up ONE. MORE. TIME. that she would be done eating for the night. Sure enough within minutes she was off and cavorting around the house so I pushed her plate to the sink as a sign that she was D-O-N-E with dinner and that Momma meant business.
As I was cleaning up the dishes I heard her patter of feet behind me and when I glanced back, a peculiar sight caught my eye. Natalie standing in the corner of the dining room with her head down and her hands up under her chin.
Suspicious behavior, to say the least.
I went over and checked on her but even though her answers were mumbled...they were dripping with guilt and remorse. But more importantly than that, she smelled delicious. Far better than ANY two-year-old should smell at the end of a hot summer day. And familiar. Her scent triggered a memory so I searched the floors, looking for a strewn bottle of my lotion that she might have snatched from my purse.
Nothing was amiss so I returned to the culprit for a deeper interrogation. It didn't take much prodding until the truth escaped her lips, "soap - bathroom - sorry Momma."
A-ha. Sure enough, her hands were coated in whatever flavor of Bath and Body Works soap I have sitting on the counter in the downstairs 1/2 bath. Since she had already punished herself by shoving her face into the corner, I just said, "whenever you think you're done with time-out, you may come and talk to me about this."
Bless her sweet heart.
But for all of her hijinks, her tantrums and her stubbornness...I adore her. Every single inch of her - from the top of her curly, summer sun highlighted hair down past her belly which is a delightful mixture of lean, little girl and round little baby, through her brown and perpetually bruised legs and all the way to her little toddler toes.
I just love her. Everything that she is and even the things that she is not.
Watching Kate and William display their precious bundle of joy to the world today stirred up fond and emotional memories in me. Sure, it was only a few years ago, but I know the mixture of emotions that goes along with holding the most innocent of gifts in your arms, terrified of screwing it all up but simultaneously excited for the journey you are about to take.
This season that we are in right now...this is the season I imagined when I was pregnant. The times when Craig and I would be able to giggle and glance at each other with that look that only two people can share about their child. No one can love her like we do. No one will know her like we do.
When we look at this little girl we see ourselves, the generations that came before and the future stretched out in front of us.
I see my grandmother's gray-blue eyes paired with my wide, genuine grin.
From her head sprout Craig's curly blond locks that hang over her olive brown skin that's so obviously inherited from the Italian side of my family.
There's her long and lean body and I am no longer ashamed of being tall and athletic - I am proud. I created her. I created the body with which she runs, jumps, gallops and rolls.
And then there are the pieces of her that are unique and devoid of any family relation. The moments that are purely NATALIE...those are the ones that I delight in the most because it allows me to see the independent individual Craig and I created.