A glimpse into the real around here:
Yesterday, Ellie and I had a moment when I told her “no” about something she wanted to do instead of taking a bath and getting ready for bed. And, her response was to start hitting my laptop.
I had my external hard drive attached to it (the one full of photos from the last year that I really don’t have another backup of), and she was pushing the laptop so that it almost fell. The hard drive disconnected. I raised my voice, insisting that she stop.
She yelled back, “Don’t yell at me Mama.”
I pulled a tiny bit of end-of-the-day patience from somewhere in my big toe and lowered my voice but spoke in a very firm tone asking her to please sit down in her chair, which was right behind her.
She just kept yelling, “No. I won’t!”
After a few back and forths, Jon came in and tried to get her to sit in her chair too.
“No. I WON’T”
Here’s the thing: We don’t really "make her" sit in a chair in a time out (or “time in” as I like to call them) for lots of reasons and one is because moments like this usually pass quickly. Sometimes there are a lot of them in a day, but she doesn’t usually spend a lot of time in just one of these moments. She shifts to something else, then maybe back again to being crabby, and then back to joy.
And I want her to feel her feelings - in her body, in her mind, in her heart. And notice what they feel like because being two is really about practicing in this safe place called home.
And I’ve found that it usually works to just let her yell for a minute. Then she will take a deep breath, and that will be my cue to say, “Do you need a hug?” And she will say, “Yes.” (Or more likely, “NO!...Yes, Mama, I need a hug.”)
But in this moment, I wasn’t listening to the voice inside me telling me this was the usual end of the day tired crabbies, and I wanted her to listen to me.
It was all about me. My laptop. My photos. My surprise that she was acting this way. My insistence that she sit in her chair.
I was calm about it with my voice. But my mind was all over the place, determined that she was going to sit in that chair because sometimes it feels like a tiny adorable dictator runs the show around here and what kind of parent am I becoming if I let her and what would have happened if I’d just lost what I was working on and if the pictures of her were gone and I was that person who lost the photos of her kid...
Oh the mind chatter that comes up around “What kind of parent am I????”
It had been maybe three minutes of this. Me saying, “Sit in your chair.” Her replying, “No. I WON’T!” Jon walked down the hall to start her bath, and she ran the few steps to the hallway and flailed her body onto the floor.
“I need SPACE!” she said as she put her head against the carpet in child’s pose.
Seconds later, “I NEED my taggy blanket.”
Seconds later, “I need a hug MAMA!”
This series of words pierced through my mind chatter.
I grabbed her taggy blanket, walked the few steps to where she was taking deep breaths with her head on the carpet, and as she turned to hold her arms up to me, I thought, “What kind of parent am I? The kind who is teaching her kid how to ask for what she needs. Wow.”
Most of the time I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. What works one day with Ellie, doesn’t the next. I wonder if I’m too permissive. I wonder if I sometimes take the path of least resistance and how that might be hurting her, us. I feel the guilt each day when I notice my patience slipping during those moments before bed time. I have some real pride wrapped around how patient I am with her, but when it begins to slip, I feel guilt paired with deep exhaustion.
Feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing but somehow trusting that you do, this is being a toddler mama. This is listening to your intuition. This is messing up and learning and messing up again. This is being present to all of it. This is letting your child teach you too.
Later, when Jon was reading to her and I had a moment to myself, I closed my eyes and said these words softly to myself:
Okay honey, you really are doing something good here. She asked for space. She asked for love. These are things you want and need to. These are things you’re trying to teach yourself, teach others to do. This is being a good mama. Yes. You got this.
An invitation: Even if you aren't a parent, you have moments where you feel like you don't know what you're doing. I believe that this is what being an adult feels like sometimes. We think it won't be this way, and then it is, and we wonder why. In this moment, spend a few minutes thinking about what "you've got" today. How are you surprising yourself with your grace, wisdom, and truth? How are you trusting all of it today?
Come along for a 10-day deep dive into self-care and community with other toddler mamas this June. I’ll be sharing more real stories like this one and creating a safe space where you can show up as you, share your own stories, and practice taking a few moments to remind yourself “you got this.” Yes.
If you know a toddler mama who might benefit from this experience, please pass this on to her. And remember, there is also a discount for friends taking the class together.
Today, I'm delighted to introduce a new blog feature with my friend Meg Brothers: Pinned it. Did it.
Meg and I are kind of like Pinterest penpals. We have similar taste in things (from DIY ideas to quilts we want to make to tattoos to quotes) and realized we were often repinning almost everything the other person pinned. As I continue to integrate how I use Pinterest and share more here, I asked Meg if she wanted to share a few of her Pinterest escapades with us. Lucky for us, she said yes! Every other week, she'll be posting about the ways she uses Pinterest, DIY ideas she's tackled from Pinterest, how it's changing how she cooks, and other good things.
Read on for Meg's first column.
Pinterest has been game changer for me. When I first heard about Pinterest, I decided I was not interested in joining because I felt like I spent enough time on other various forms of social media and didn’t want to get “sucked in” as some had warned against. But, curiosity got to me, and I signed up for an invitation and waited to join just to see if I’d like it. I started out slowly by pinning clothes I liked and decadent food items I dreamed of making. But as time went by, I realized that Pinterest was a platform to help organize, enhance, and improve the life I was already living. A game changer indeed.
One organizational way that I use Pinterest weekly for is meal planning. If meal planning were an Olympic sport, I think I could medal in it. I have it down to a science in my home. I grocery shop on Sunday mornings. It’s my favorite time to shop because the stores are quiet and I like to get a fridge full of food ready for the week ahead. So on Saturdays I sit down and browse my Pinterest boards for meal ideas. I have gorgeous boards organized by meals, health content, even dietary needs. And I sit down and meal plan from beautiful pictures and map out the week ahead.
When I find a meal that I want to make, I go straight to the recipe. I open an app on my phone that holds my grocery list, and I start adding ingredients that I will need for that meal to the list. I repeat the process and choose a week’s worth of meals - each time being careful to open the recipe, add the ingredients that I don’t already have on hand to the list, and create my grocery list straight from the meals I have chosen cook for the week.
This Week’s Sample Menu
Monday: Greek Chicken Hash
Tuesday: Holy Yum Chicken
Wednesday: Lettuce Wraps
Thursday: Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Friday: Cilantro Chili Chicken Skewers
Saturday: Cannellini Bean Meatballs with Tomato Sauce
Sunday: Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats
I love to try things I find on Pinterest and I like to share my experiences with other people. I created a board called “I Pinned It and Then I Did It” where I can re-pin items after I try them and can include a little information about how it went. That way in the future I can go straight to it and read my quick notes on how it turned out or how I’d change it the next time around.
This whole system allows me to stick to a tight food budget and only grocery shop once a week. I know I have all the items I need for a whole week’s worth of food and I never have to search the cupboards for something to whip up.
Meal and grocery planning is one simple way Pinterest has made my life easier. Is there a way you use Pinterest when it comes to meal planning or grocery planning? I’d love to hear about it. (Leave a comment and let us know!)
Meg Brothers is an artist, photographer, mama, and dreamer. She loves cooking, tattoos, and sporadic dance parties in the kitchen. She prefers dark chocolate, black coffee, and flip flops when weather permits. She is a lover of Pinterest and truly believes in integrating ideas and inspiration - big or small - into normal life. Meg lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, Dustin and son, Julian. Meg writes about photography, family, and creative inspiration at megbrothers.com. Find her on Pinterest here and on Twitter here.
Note from Liz: Over here in my corner, I'm trying to "use Pinterest for good." I really see it as a community of people trying to see the beauty and possibility in their lives. I'm adding a few new features here on my blog inspired by or directly about Pinterest as a way to invite others to look for this beauty within a social media community. I look forward to seeing how it all unfolds. Connect with me on Pinterest here.
There are a few stories currently on a list in my head that are insisting on becoming words on the page. When this happens, I open up my favorite green Smash journal and add them to the "stories I want to tell" list.
Adding bits and pieces to this list feels really important; otherwise, the stories seem to fly through me. From the words Ellie Jane says to the bits of memories from long ago that will arrive unannounced, I keep adding snippets of stories to the list.
Tonight, somewhere in the softness I'm trying to find these days and the quiet that arrives after she goes to bed, all I can think about is writing the story of what it really means to have someone catch you.
An invitation: If you don't already, begin to make a list of the stories waiting inside you. Stories from today, last week, and even 30 years ago. It is time...