Thursday, February 27, 2014

Serendipity: My blog has a new look!

After nearly 20 years in Illinois, I think I’m due for a change. Hence, the decision to move to Texas. After all, change is good. Even for this blog. After almost three years with the same look, I decided to give this blog a facelift to better reflect my current style and aesthetic preferences.

I’m into the clean, minimal look lately, which perhaps coincides with my need to simplify living as well. I read in many places that Austin has a more relaxed pace, and it is with that in mind that we decided to uproot from our frenetic pace here in Chicago and see what a clean slate in Austin may do for us.

It is another odd coincidence that I’d commissioned a redesign before we knew we had to leave, but the plan was already in place to remove the picture of me with my girls against the distant Chicago skyline. When the designer contacted me this week, saying my design was ready, I had completely forgotten that this would be taking place.


CitySkylineOldLook

Out with the old…


And what timing.

There is now what seems like a blank slate on my blog, with birds that are ready to take flight, mid-flight and perched, ready and waiting, which I suppose describes us all at some point in our lives. Right now, however, I feel we are all three at once, waiting to start a new life, our heart trying to catch up to our head, which is already in Austin.

This decision to leave, as well as one that led us to seek a warmer climate, has a lot to do with the winter we’re experiencing. The bitter, unending cold has done a number on us, and I think we’re due for a break from this chill that had reached my bones and never left, not since December. I am tired of fighting, a winter warrior no more.

My Guy also has a big project deadline in the middle of March that ties him to a client here in the Chicagoland area, but once that’s done, he’s able to be a little more mobile. He could be anywhere. So why not warm, relaxed, liberal Austin?

They say that timing is everything. New look, new city, new life. Clean slate. It’s all coming together.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My big girl, my saving grace

I’m learning that it’s one thing to decide on where to plant our roots next, but it’s quite another to actually do the work to get there. Until I had the unknowns somewhat known, like the cost of the move, when to move, what to move, and even how to move (furnished apartment or unfurnished apartment while house-hunting? Where will our stuff go then?) I couldn’t rest.

And that’s how I spent all of last week with my nose buried in my computer. Because of our unfamiliarity with Austin, my research about the area had to start from scratch. From the moment the alarm sounded at 5AM, I planted myself at my desk, absorbed in some kind of information about our future life. When the girls rose from bed, I got them ready for school, and after they left with their dad, I would make a bee line back to the computer.

I didn’t put away the dishes from breakfast, I didn’t make the bed, I didn’t put away the laundry that was folded, one, then two, then three, then four nights ago. More like I couldn’t. I was obsessed with shaping the details of our move so I could at least envision how it would all play out, because otherwise, I felt we were in limbo, neither here nor there.

Naturally, I was also exhausted and out of sorts last week. And perhaps that’s what inspired Little Miss to surprise me with this:

After we arrived home from school pickup in the evening, the phone rang. Another mover, another price quote, another half an hour of Q&A on the phone. Pickle busied herself around me, but she didn’t leave my side, occasionally calling out, “Mommy, mommy,” when irked that I was still talking to someone who wasn’t her. All this time, I was at my desk, in my bedroom, and Little Miss was nowhere in my sight.

I was finally off the phone when she came in with a secretive smile: “Come here, mommy, I have something to show you.”

She led me into the living room, and announced, “Ta da!” I stared at my house, agape. It was pretty near spotless. The toys that were strewn about – that I was too distracted to pick up in the last couple of days – were gone from sight, stacked neatly back in their respective spots. The dining table was cleared from our breakfast that morning, and the coats in the dining room were put away. She led me downstairs to her bedroom and the family room (also their play area), and again, I was stunned. The place was immaculate.

She trembled with excitement and said, “I even made the bed!”

I couldn’t believe it. I was so moved by her gesture, I just held her close and thanked her, over and over again with tears rolling down my cheeks. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this girl, who has saved me, yet again.

Since our world was suddenly turned upside down when our landlady called and said we had to leave our beloved apartment, Little Miss had surprised me twice with her five-year-old wisdom to say or do exactly that which lifted me out of a very dark place.

First, she had been the one to remind me that it was okay to make this change because it meant we could finally take this opportunity to make our dreams come true, and we are, by moving to an entirely new region of the country to explore—something My Guy and I have always wanted to do since we met—and by buying our first home together.

And now, by tidying our place, she had removed the clutter that also contributed to the frenzy inside my head. So much to do, so much to think about, and I felt completely encumbered by the clutter that leached energy from me, making it that much harder for me to accomplish anything. Maybe she knew how mess affected me, maybe she just wanted to help, seeing how frazzled I was, and did so in the only way she knew how. But her uncanny ability to hone in on exactly the thing that comforted me told me we were going to be okay. 

It also reminded me that there are many up sides to children getting older. I had always lamented the fact that soon, my girls will no longer be babies, that they were leaving their infancy, and soon, toddlerhood behind, and I would miss the chubby thighs, funny pronunciations, and caricatures of themselves when they’re at the early stages of forming who they would someday become. 

When I hold Pickle these days, who’s also rapidly moving away from the toddler stage, I also want to preserve her in this way inside my arms forever, each time wishing desperately that time would slow because I just wasn’t ready to let go of my baby.

 

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But by leaving her tumultuous three and fearsome four behind, Little Miss is slowly proving to me that there is so much more to look forward to as my girls age. I relish the afternoons when I get to read with Little Miss while Pickle naps. I would climb into bed next to my big girl, and though absorbed in her book, she would look up to exchange a smile before going back to her adventure. We would be wordless and content, each in our own world, but blissfully together, at the same time.

These are the moments that will save me in these few weeks when I am most in need of some grounding. As exciting as our future seems, I admit that it’s unnerving to feel uprooted from a city I’ve called my home for the last 16 years, but my five-year-old is unfazed. I understand that she may not have the ability to fully grasp the consequence of moving, of leaving all that she’s ever known behind, but each time she’s asked how she feels about leaving Chicago for Austin, she would answer, “I can’t wait to experience my new life.”

There is much I can learn from her.

I can also learn to not be scared and saddened by my children getting older because that means not having to wipe another butt again, not having to supervise play dates every moment the kids are together, and not having to structure every hour of their time with me at home because they’d be fully capable of entertaining themselves. Many times, I’ve caught Little Miss in some corner of our house, poring through books on her own, perfectly happy to just be still by herself, and I would stare in wonder.

So this is what it feels like…

readinginbed


I also love being able to have real conversations with her, where we share unsugarcoated feelings and talk about the things that scare and excite us. It is our pillow talk, both our heads facing each other on one pillow right before bedtime, when her beautiful face is illuminated by the bedside lamp and sometimes by her fervor for an untold future. Even with over thirty years between us, I feel she sometimes understands me more than I realize. It’s moments like these that tell me it’s okay that my girls are leaving their babyhood behind.

Because, already, at five, Little Miss is showing me that what we have ahead of us can be so much more. 

 

eatingsnow
justine

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

We’re moving! And we’re leaving Chicago behind…

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The girls and I were getting ready to leave the restaurant, our bellies stuffed with sushi at Little Miss’ request after our jaunt to the library, when the phone call came. It was our landlady. She never calls, so I knew it was important. She didn’t have good news; she wanted to move back into the apartment. Our apartment. The place we’ve called home for the last three years.

I was devastated but with two restless girls running amok at a restaurant like newly escaped chimpanzees from the zoo, I also didn’t have time to react. It was only when we got in the car, when I relayed the news to them, that the force of that news hit me. I apologized to them in between tears, “I’m sorry you have to see this, but you know how much mommy loves our home, so this just makes me so sad that we have to leave.”

And that’s when Little Miss said the most amazing thing in a way that only a five-year-old could: “It’s okay mommy; I know you’re sad to leave our home, but that means you can also make your dreams come true…”

That made me laugh. So innocent. So sweet. And then it hit me. She was right. She was absolutely right. Except I was in crisis mode and couldn’t see clearly. When they were both down for their naps and after I had looked online for the other possibilities. Making our dreams come true…what would that entail? What should we do?

I shopped for a home to buy in the city – we hadn’t entertained the idea before because we knew it would be harder to leave. We had always wanted to experience a new place, which was why we tried to keep it simple by renting, but now Chicago felt so much like home and I just couldn’t imagine not being here. 

But, in my search, there were so many things stacked against us. Which neighborhood? Little Miss would be in kindergarten and we were still waiting to hear back from the Chicago Public Schools. We’d applied for the lottery to the city’s various gifted and magnet schools, and they’re all over the place. What if we found a place that would make the commute to school worse? What if she didn’t get into any of them, and we needed her to attend a decent neighborhood school? Where should we go then? We are really tired of living in close quarters and would like to spread out in a house with a yard, but how could we ever afford it here in the city? What about the suburbs with the fantastic schools? But the Chicago burbs didn’t feel right either.

After an afternoon on the Internet, searching for possibilities in our area and coming up short because nothing felt right, My Guy, who was in meetings all day, came home, and I relayed what Little Miss had said about making our dreams come true. Then it was his turn to blow me away: “Why do we have to search in Chicago? We’ve always talked about leaving the Midwest to try something new. We can do that now. The only thing that’s stopping us is our comfort. That’s it.”

And he was right. It was always in our plan to leave, and if not now, when we’re being dislodged from our very comfortable spot, then when? Suddenly, a crisis turned into an opportunity. Yes! Little Miss was right. My Guy was right.

It’s now or never.

We did a search online for the places that made most sense to us, using The Best Of…lists as a starting point. Because My Guy is an entrepreneur and loves the high tech field, we decided to let that guide our search. It was weird. At that point, the world was literally our oyster. We could go anywhere.

In almost every list we saw relevant to My Guy’s career, two cities frequently appeared at the top: Austin, Texas, and Raleigh, North Carolina. My Guy leaned Austin, and I was more for Raleigh, and we each did our research to support our city of choice. Raleigh had great access. Ocean, mountains, other interesting cities – all within a couple of hours away. Austin had year-round heat. After the winter we’ve been having, where even the winter warrior in me is exhausted from the fight, intense heat feels like a good change. Yes, enough of this Polar Vortex crap. And between the two, Austin seemed more promising for My Guy’s future. Plus, Austin is just cool.

After various pros and cons lists and debates, and long, long hours on the internet about possible places we could transplant ourselves, it became more apparent to me where we belonged. And what pushed me over the edge was what My Guy said: “For me, Raleigh feels like it’s a milder version of Chicago. Yes, it’s beautiful there and it has many things we like, but Austin feels so different – the heat, the environment, the region. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life, and that makes me want to try it even more. Wouldn’t you want to try something radically different?”

”Yes,” I said without hesitation. My own answer didn’t surprise me, because he was right, of course. Now that we have the opportunity for a brand new adventure, new opportunities, new everything in our lives, why choose the safe route? It’s safety that’s often holding us back. It’s safety that prevents us from achieving what we truly want sometimes.

It’s absolutely amazing that we have the ability to turn a crisis into an opportunity, so why blow this chance to challenge ourselves? If we’re going to make an adventure out of this, let’s really make it an adventure.

Sure, we could be completely wrong about this. Austin may never agree with us – it’s Texas after all, and we’re very blue people in a very red state so even liberal Austin may not be enough to keep us away from crazy conservatives. And, honestly, I hate the heat.

So why the hell am I going to a place known for its scorching temperatures in the summer? Well, here’s the thing. Being raised in Malaysia, I had only experienced snow for the first time in my life at age 19, and now I love winters. Who’s to say that I can’t do the same for the other temperature extreme?

The pros and cons list is equally long on both sides; I am not going to pretend to be absolutely certain about our decision. But it’s a risk we’re willing to take, and because we’re all in this together, it’s a prospect that seems so delicious and so exciting at the same time. Scary, yes, but the unknown is always that way; it doesn’t mean it can’t be incredible though. 

In fact, the bigger the risk, the greater the reward right? We’re fully counting on that when we embark on our next big adventure with this little family of ours. This may not turn out to be the right decision in the future, but it is the best decision for us right now.

And there you have it.

In less than six weeks (gasp!), we will be leaving our beloved city and heading to Austin with our two girls and two cats. I haven’t been there since 1996, and My Guy has never been there. We are essentially moving there sight unseen. And we can’t wait.

On April 1, 2014, a brand new chapter will begin.




photo 2 (33)

Goodbye Chiberia…


justine

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The woes of a firstborn

Little Miss said something one day last Fall that broke my heart. Not for me, but for her. She had admitted to me that she’s tired of being a “big girl”, that she’d rather be a baby, and when asked why, she said, “Because then I will get the attention like Pickle does. I feel like you guys pay more attention to her than to me.”

Ouch.

I feebly countered with, “But that’s because she’s so little and needs our help with so many things still, unlike you, who can manage and understand so much on your own. When you were little, we did the same for you.”

But I’m not sure I convinced her. I’m not even sure I convinced myself. The thing is, I couldn’t quite confront the truth either. Was she right? Have we been neglectful with her? It does feel a little lopsided at times.

It didn’t help that Little Miss’ Terrible Three stage started around the time Pickle’s Adorable One began, which means while we’re tearing our hair out with one, we were smitten by the other. But Pickle isn’t an angel either, as her Terrible Two-ness emerged far sooner than her sister’s ever did, but when it comes to mischief, Pickle does get away with more.

We feel that, at two, she doesn’t quite understand the consequences of her actions yet so we use those as teaching moments, choosing to be gentler in our approach, more calmly explaining to her and holding her instead of resorting immediately to discipline. With Little Miss, while we understand that she often acts out to call our attention to her, we also feel she should know better at five, which is why we’re stricter and more no-nonsense with her. And because her Terrible Three morphed into Frightening Four, the negative attention seemed to overshadow the positive.

I do feel the imbalance, and I am often wracked by guilt because of it. As an only child, I grew up watching and hearing stories of friends and their siblings being treated differently, even unfairly, and I felt an injustice for them. How could a parent do that? And, of course, I vowed I would never be that parent.

I would always be fair. I would never favor any one child. I would always make all my children feel equally important, equally loved. But funny how we usually seem to know exactly how to parent before we actually start parenting isn’t it? As it turns out, it’s much easier to spout our ideals than to actually live by them.

Days after Little Miss’ crying helplessly into my arms (and me in My Guy’s after the incident), I shared my pain with one of my dear friends at dinner one evening, and she simply shrugged and said, “Well, that’s just the way it is.”

First of four herself, she explained that sometimes birth order does dictate certain expectations and affect equal treatment, regardless of a parent’s best intentions. My own mom was first of seven, and her life was radically different from her youngest siblings.

She had to be the responsible one who took care of all her siblings and the house while her parents worked. However, her youngest sister, the sixth in line, went to expensive dance classes and didn’t have to lift a finger around the house. But that was also because, six children and many years later, my grandparents were also better off financially. What they couldn’t afford with the first few, they easily managed with the last. As a parent, why wouldn’t we want to give the best to our children with what we have, and if we had more, it does seem natural to want to do more, give more. But as a firstborn who missed out on the dance classes? I can see how that can be frustrating.

On the flip side, Pickle is stuck with hand-me-downs and if-I-have-time parenting. If I have time, I will help her count to 20 (whereas Little Miss mastered it before she even turned two); if I have time, I will handwrite her a letter just for her as a keepsake, something I did for Little Miss at each birthday; if I have time, I will schedule a class just for her, unlike Little Miss, who had her first group class when she was just weeks old, when she accompanied me to Mommy and Baby yoga. At eight months, she had her first swim class while  Pickle finally started her first music and movement class (Wiggleworms) last year, at 2.5 years.

Pickle doesn’t have her own My First Year pictures proudly framed and displayed. She doesn’t have a memory box in her name. Heck, the one toy that is programmed to say the child’s name still says Little Miss’ name even though it is Pickle who is now playing with it. We are not proud of our slack, but I can certainly, emphatically say that it is in no way a reflection on our affections for her.

My friend’s honest perspective helped me step back and see that the disparities are not just stacked against my firstborn. The imbalance is not happening because we love one child more than the other, as I had secretly feared myself. Our affections are not based on how cute they are or how well they behave. 


readingIt’s always a treat to see Big Sister reading to Little Sister



My girls, no matter how close in age, are still going through radically different phases in their lives that invite different reactions from us. From their point of view, there’s perhaps some inequality, but a two-year-old who speaks loudly in movie theaters because she can’t regulate her volume and a five-year-old who does it despite knowing it’s rude and chooses to ignore the social norms are not the same thing. So we respond accordingly.

While rationalizing thus has eased my guilt somewhat, I continue to scrutinize (second guess?) myself everyday. Was that the right response? Did I make her feel less than her sister? Was that an appropriate reaction to Pickle’s outburst? Did we do the same thing with Little Miss when she was two?

And as I go about my every day trying to do right by them, trying to make up for the guilt that I feel for Little Miss, thinking that perhaps we have overburdened her with her firstborn status, the balance is beginning to shift a little. Turning five has changed Little Miss. While still challenging, it is a little less confounding. She is taking less and giving more so we’re less likely to feel completely depleted before the end of the day. She is also growing into her big sister role nicely, which is amazing to behold, and she is less prone to tantrums (hallelujah!). Being with her during her individual time with me – and we’re firm believers of having one-on-one time with each child – is truly a pleasure.

Now that Little Miss is becoming easier, Pickle, on the other hand, is sliding into her Terrible Two (and quite possibly Three) phase with gusto. The tides are beginning to change, and I have a feeling Pickle will be the one with the complaints about how we treat her compared to her sister, a few months down the road.

I will perhaps be consumed by guilt all over again, but I am at least accepting of the fact that such is life. No matter how hard we try and how well we think we’re doing, it will always seem like it’s not going to be enough for someone. Things will not always be perfectly aligned, and the symmetry and balance we seek may be more myth than reality. Yet, we keep trying.

As with most people,  I have my good and bad days. When I’m especially hard on myself for failing to stick to my ideals, I remind myself that there is always the next day, so I wake up every morning, fresh with hope, that today will be better. That I can do better.

And sometimes, I do.


brushing


justine

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Enough already

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Dear Winter,

Remember this surprising love letter I wrote you last year? Well…I feel the same this year, except, ENOUGH ALREADY. The Polar Vortices and homebound snow days with restless children and dangerous travel conditions and cancelled social plans and what seems like forever just to bundle up to get outside on days that we are left with no choice but to leave our house. Enough.

And running? It’s become something of a chore. I’ve started to dread it because no matter how hard I feel I’m running, with my feet fighting for balance in treacherous snow, even in Yak Trax, I often feel like I’m standing still. The cold seeps past the two, three layers, and by the time I’m home, my body is frozen – and not in a sweet, Disney sing-along way. The miles feel arduous, and my lungs cry out to me. Enough. 


Yaks

Then there’s that day when My Guy’s car spun out of control because of black ice. He was, thankfully, unhurt, but his car? Not so much. And when I tried to get Pickle and me out of the house the other day, our other car, the bigger SUV, wouldn’t even budge out of its spot. With the shovel already broken from a previous attempt to get us unburied from the snow, I couldn’t dig ourselves out.


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To compensate, we took a walk around the block instead, at Pickle’s insistence. 7-degree weather didn’t seem to faze her as she kept suggesting we walk further and further, and we did, just to appease her. But my toes, prepared only for a drive to our destination but not a walk around the neighborhood, felt like they were about ready to fall off my feet. Actually, strike that. By the time we got back, I couldn’t even feel anything so even if they did, I wouldn’t have noticed. 

So, yes, enough already.

Having had many years of mild winters, I had forgotten how formidable you can be. I remember now, the ice in my nostrils during my work commute, the layers that never seemed enough, and the gloomy, winter-feels-eternal days that had us in a vice grip for months. How soon we forget those things after a few romantic winters. Chicago is one of the coldest major cities in America, and I’d forgotten that.

These days, when My Guy cusses at the first sight of snow, I have to try to retrieve the memories of winter I love to battle the ones we’re experiencing. It’s hard work, trying to love this season, because sometimes, all I want to do is retreat into myself. I want to hibernate until the first signs of spring emerge from the sodden ground.  But I also have two girls who are still enamored with the seasonyay, it’s snowing! – and for their sake, I dig deep. 


SnowTot

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And here is what I find: That you, my dear winter, are still beautiful. That I still love the serenity of a pristine white city after a fresh snowfall. That there are few comforts more gratifying than snuggling under the blanket with My Guy with tea in hand. That I am still thrilled by the feeling of fresh snow under my boots as well as what Maria from “The Sound of Music” sings,  “snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes”.

Yesterday, I even opted out of cleaning my disaster zone of a kitchen from prepping comfort foods like pulled pork and roasted carrots and parsnips to nestle comfortably into my reading nook with a book in hand, in the middle of the day while Pickle napped. Mid-day reading with the snow silently falling beside me, just outside my window. How delicious. How indulgent. I was reveling in the beauty and serenity, until concern for My Guy’s safety nudged its way into my thoughts, I hope he gets home safely.

I am digging deep these days, because, with inches and inches of snow surrounding us, I have to. I am tunneling through my discomfort to find that joy that so easily found me in the seasons before. I continue to run, dreading the 15-degree days but riding on the high of accomplishment when I return home and savoring every moment of a hot, hot shower.

I am also learning to be more gentle with myself. When I had stuck to my running schedule religiously last winter, it felt great, even triumphant. I hadn’t allowed the weather to stop me and that made me feel unstoppable. But then again, other than a handful of snowstorms and a day of hail, it was one of the mildest winters I’ve experienced, so running the three days a week didn’t feel so impossible.

As it does now. I’m not strong enough? crazy enough? to go outside when the temperatures dip below 10 degrees or when it’s impossible to walk in snow-covered sidewalks, let alone run, and there had been many of those days. This year, it feels especially difficult to convince myself to go outside to run, and so I have to dig deep again, which entails finding a running partner on Sundays for my longer runs and getting on the elliptical machine at home instead of going outside when the conditions are unfriendly.

This also means I have to learn to be gentler with myself. If I can’t make it outside, I won’t berate myself. If I am slow and sluggish on my run because of unshoveled paths, I try to appreciate the fact that I was even out there at all. When it comes to running, I don’t feel at all victorious this winter, but at least I don’t feel like I’m defeated either. Because I am still out there.

Running slowly. Digging deep. All in search of a silver lining.

And I’m realizing that, even in the cold, grey darkness of winter, there is always one.

Love,
Justine, also known as, Cannot Wait for Spring.



winteronthelake


The silver lining you see here is the vapor that rose from Lake Michigan on a rare and breathtaking –10-degree (Fahrenheit) day.


justine

Monday, February 3, 2014

A conversation between sisters, in the wee hours of the night

As I walked in from my movie date in the neighborhood with a friend (“12 Years a Slave” - wow!), I heard Pickle fussing on the monitor and found her sitting up, facing her pillow and crying. When asked what the matter was, she waved her hand at me, saying, “I don’t like this! I don’t like this!”

Upon closer inspection in the shadow of the night light, I saw the problem: there was a transparent rubber band wound really tight around her pinky, cutting off the circulation to her finger and making it swell twice its size. Oh no!

After much agitation, she let me free her pinky from the rubber band, and when My Guy joined us, she asked us both to stay, apparently shaken by the ordeal, and we did, flanking her sides in bed. I couldn’t believe she had been asleep with a painful, swollen finger! My Guy, perhaps in his way to calm her nerves, explained blood circulation and what happens when it’s constricted.

Our grey cat, Macavity, ever the curious one, came to inspect the commotion, walking towards her on her chest, sniffing at her tear-streaked face. “Look, Mac is concerned too, Pickle. He’s here to see how you’re doing,” I said and she explained to him, her voice a little shaky: “Mackie, sometimes I get hurt, and I get weally sad, so I cwy (cry)…”

The poor girl. After a few more minutes - “five minutes?” at her request - she dismissed us from the room, “okay, I need to sleep now.”

And that she did, until a little later that night, when another sound from the monitor woke me abruptly from my sleep. This time, I heard someone say, “go potty” but in my fogginess, couldn’t make out the rest. I eventually realized Pickle had needed to use the bathroom and asked for her sister’s help.

I heard the toilet flush, and soon, the sounds came back to the monitor as they climbed back in their respective beds and when they started to speak in a surprisingly wakeful voice, I looked at the clock. 2AM. Are you kidding me?

2yo: “Missy, I hurt my pinky finger today…I got a rubber band around my finger and there was no blood and my finger was swollen.”

5yo, Little Miss, in her sweetest, gentlest big-sister voice: Aww...we can use the stickers we got today and pretend it’s band aid and put it on your finger?

2yo: The stickers that Nina brought? [referring to Janina, our old Polish cleaning lady who adores them and brings a surprise for them almost every time she comes to our house.]

5yo: No, the ones we got after the movie [We saw “Frozen Sing Along” in the theater with friends that day - what a great time!]

2yo: Oh, the monkey ones. Okay…Look! I have three blankies on me to keep me warm.
5yo: I do, too! But this isn’t a blankie, Pickle, this is a sheet.
2yo: Oh, a sheet. But it keeps me warm...Nina put it on here.
5yo: Yeah, it’s nice. I like it too.
[Pause]
2yo: Good night, Missy.
5yo: Good night, Pickle.

Then silence.

I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I turned away from the monitor. During the day, they fight, they argue, they tattle, they scream—they behave just like sisters.

But, in the wee hours of the night, it’s comforting to know that they can be kind to each other even when they didn’t think anyone’s listening, with Little Miss helping Pickle with the potty, entertaining her bright-eyed questions, and making her feel better in a quiet, reassuring voice while the little one settled back in, nestled in safety and warmth.

Just like sisters.

I will gladly put up with all the fighting they do if it means that when it really matters, they will choose to be there for each other, with each other. Then I fell into sweet and restful slumber for the rest of the night. I mean, how could I not?

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