Happy Second Birthday Caro

It's been a year.

.. we quit nursing, met some beanies and their babies, survived two bouts of parental & one baby flu, traveled to Mexico, held our breath during first steps, suffered many an ear infection, welcomed Julia, TJ, Zachary, Ryan, Nicholas, Amelie & Daniel into the world (Samantha and Ethan too, but we didn't really know them then), saw the worst diaper rash ever in the spring and again in the winter, cheered Auntie k on as she completed her marathon, experienced a home renovation, turned 30, celebrated Auntie C and Hokie's engagement, met some other bloggers (Aimee, Emily, Amanda), witnessed the tentative beginnings of a relationship of any kind between Reese and Caroline, watched a lot of Disney movies, experienced a first and far from relaxing train ride to Boston, watched the amazement of that first ever taste of lobster, heard real words, documented proof that our daughter is indeed a hot bod like her daddy, went to the beach… a lot, introduced her to the "helpah cha," sat in time out, learned about the frenum, embraced the "for me" movement, saw Billy Joel's Last Play at Shea along with many other amazing voices including Sir Paul (I still can't believe it!), made friends with the tiny dictator who apparently now lives in our house, took shelter in our basement during the unconfirmed tornado, caught fireflies, nearly won the peppercini contest during Falmout/MV, saw how easy it really is to lock a baby in the car, attended all but one BC Football game, somehow skirted out of jury duty, accepted forms of protein into the toddler diet, spent a solo night in NYC (yummy Bar Americain, YUMMY), the sucktaculars still sucked, I paid it forward despite some delays, got Caroline dressed up for Halloween and enjoyed her first school parade, watched Caroline walk like a penguin, heard the rumblings of a vicious neighborhood war, successfully completed post a day month, welcomed a Sah-ta obsession, Dulcolax, the sheer joy of a childhood Christmas, our first holiday meal at home, went to Nashville (not the bowl game that Steve is trying to pretend never happened), finally got ourselves to Children's for tubes, set up an under the sea Ariel birthday party, heard spontaneous song from the backseat, met a little dancing fool…

and those are just the highlights. It was a busy, amazing, wonderful year with Caroline.

This year also brought more moments when I was able to just stop and appreciate the moment. The frenetic paced parenting we had become accustomed faded away. I found whole minutes of quiet and enjoyed them over play doh, coloring, giggling, or just snuggling. I got to know Caroline this year. As her personality continues to develop and shine I am often startled with the little lady she is becoming.

My daughter says please and thank you. She knows to hold my hand in parking lots, even if she sometimes pulls away and runs at a full sprint instead. She throws her head back and laughs the most beautiful carefree laugh I have ever heard. She sits quietly and asks me for a blanket so we can snuggle together. She prefers that I "hold you" in the grocery store unless we can find a cart shaped like a truck. She also communicates in multi word phrases now like, "Ice, Slippery, No walk" and can name all her favorite movies; Seepin Booty, Mouse Movie, Ariel, Nemo, Belle, and Penguin. She kisses my forehead when she pretends to put me to sleep. For all the times I watch her scold her dolls, or echo my "yeah. Ok" and groan that I taught her these things, this simple loving gesture reminds me that I am actually providing some positive modeling along this very crooked parenting path.

I sit and gaze at my breathtaking daughter, who is amazing in every way she possibly can be, and I feel so lucky. In a time when it often feels like the world is falling apart, that things can't get much worse for so many, I feel fortunate to have those special escapist moments. Reading "Going on a Bear Hunt" for the 1578th time (complete with can't go over it and can't go under it hand motions she knows by heart) seems to place us into our own little snow globe protected by glass from the perils outside. She is blissfully naïve to the strains on our economy. I can shield her from the atrocities happening everyday around the globe. Naïve as she is, I cannot yet share with her my tearful hope for her future with all the recent happy changes down in the Capital. Life is like that. Can't share the things you want and stow away the things worth hiding. It's all or nothing. So for now I take nothing and enjoy these peaceful moments of her all too quick moving childhood. There are plenty of days ahead for discussing politics, how she feels about social issues, and other adult business that I myself pretend to understand half the time.

My daughter knows nothing of the world beyond the glass shield we have built for her, and yet we allow so many to shake our little world and peer in to watch the snow; the smiles, the joys, and yes, even the tears. This level of sharing is not for the weak, but I find so much enjoyment in this place. I just can’t seem to connect to the “Mommy set” in this town. I struggle with it – like a middle schooler – where do I fit in? I don’t stay at home, I don’t work full-time. I am blessed to have found a good rhythm for our family, but is it just me or are we always walking on egg shells around other Moms? I feel like I am forever trying to connect, to share this amazing and exhausting phase of life that we only get once. I am grateful for this space, to be able to share with anyone who cares to check-in what we have been doing, what we have been worried about, the latest silly thing Caroline said, the massive throwing self on the floor temper tantrum at the library, or just that we’re here – making it work somehow. What I need to remember – is that I don’t need the blog to help me recall the really good stuff.

As I type this we are watching the Super Bowl and like a vortex I can see with absolute clarity that night two years ago when my daughter was just five hours old, laying on Steve as he attempted to watch the game, me videoing from the hospital bed. I wondered aloud then and tonight if this was really, REALLY, real? Daddy's little girl still loves watching football with Steve, only now she adds in "Go" and looks at us asking "No flag?" My husband is doing an amazing job raising a tomboy or at the very least, a dream girl. As amazing I thought it was then, I had no idea how much better it would get as she grows up.

Our daughter is two years old today. She is the light of our family's life, our own little solar system's point of gravity, and as much as we delight sharing her with the world, we'll be celebrating at home tonight just us three. Being a parent isn't everything I thought it would be – it is infinitely more than I ever could have imagined.


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