When a Peanut turns into a person

This is my adorable child.

This is posed, but still cute, right?

She knows she’s adorable.  She’s well aware that she is hilarious most of the time.  She knows exactly what I mean when I start counting, but she still ignores me about half the time.  She is so much a tiny adult.  She holds regular sized pencils correctly, picks up cheerios one at a time, sits with her right leg crossed over the left at the ankle.  She is not a baby, anymore.

And I know all the precious moments we spend together really do make a difference.  The language that I use  and the way I speak to her affect her at a very basic level.  So, I know a stern soft voice is better than a loud voice, and the way I pat her gently to get her going in the right direction is better than shoving.  I see the way she gets our cat to move exactly the same way – a few soft pats and “Go, go, Roxy.”  She likes to line things up single file – including but not limited to her many different kinds of blocks and every shampoo and soap bottle in our bathroom.  She’s starting to dress herself, and actually gets her shoes on the right feet slightly more than 50% of the time. She reaches for things on higher shelves and she climbs on things to reach even higher shelves.  She likes to open and close drawers and cabinets.  She already loves the feeling of accomplishing even the smallest tasks on her own, and she would rather not have any help from me, thank you very much.

I seem to remember this time when she wanted my help, when she snuggled for more than 30 seconds, when she wasn’t a perpetual motion device for an hour before bed.  I do love this stage she’s in, all her energy and curiosity, and every new skill.  But I live for Peanut’s bedtime in a way I never could have imagined.   I also never could have imagined that nearly two years after her birth, I still live for every smile and giggle, I still want to cry when she cries (though I am much better at pretending to be tough), and I am still beyond stumped as to why my heart doesn’t literally explode in my chest with all the love I feel.

Missing the point…

I will not be asking or even encouraging Peanut to memorize Bible verses. I think it’s like finding the funniest part of Sartre’s No Exit and calling it a comedy. It misses the point. The Bible is a BODY of LITERATURE, written by many different people, or if we’re honest, men, over thousands of years. Much of it was oral tradition for several generations before being written down. Much of it would be science fiction and fantasy at best if we didn’t call it “Holy.” It is our canon, our Christian Story, our Jewish heritage, and it IS special, but we don’t have to worship it as an idol.

The current Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church is fond of saying that science and religion are two different ways of knowing that can and do coexist rather nicely for her.  She was first an oceanographer – a scientist – before her time as a priest and then bishop.  She says science gives up the nuts and bolts of life and religion and faith give us the WHY.  You can hear two minutes of Katherine talking about science and religion HERE.  She also says that you can answer questions with one or the other, but using both gives you greater depth.

As I’m researching options for educating Peanut, I’m running into “young earth” “science,”  which is just theology wrapped in a pretty, science-y cover. I don’t understand the need for God to have made each living thing separately.  If I’m a Christian, and I am, I think a God who put a nifty mechanism in place to make that happen is a lot more creative and worthy of worship.

I don’t want a God who runs my life – who I turn to for finding my car keys, avoiding traffic, or punishing people who aren’t like me.  I want a God who treats me more like a college student – I can call home once a week or twice a month and bring my dirty laundry home when it overflows.  To depend on God as if God did not give me my own two legs, two arms, and a (sometimes really clever) brain is not an option to me.

I often think about what I should tell Peanut about things – spiritual things like sin, and everyday things like why chocolate is not a food group in our house (though we don’t judge folks for whom it is!). I like to think that what she thinks will matter more than my current opinion on the subject and that I will ask her what she thinks about sin and what she thinks of our life, and whatever she tells me, I hope I remind her that at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean we’re right or better, and her job as a Christian is to care about people and love them more than she thinks they deserve.  A long time ago, I asked a pastor-friend about how she knows what she’s doing is right, and she said her measurement was the ever widening circle of God’s love – from Jesus to his family and the disciples, to other Jews and then Gentiles and eventually to us.  That is a benchmark – THAT is the point, the one I hope we never miss.

Mom gets sick occasionally…

On Friday, Peanut had a snotty nose.  It doesn’t happen often, but it happened last year about this time, so, allergies.  Fine, I’ll wipe a snot nose and give her Claritin, and life will go on, right?  Wrong.  Peanut got a snotty nose, but I ended up with a head cold that made me feel like I’d been hit by a mack truck – runny nose, sinus headache, sneezing, the works. By Sunday I was laid out on the couch with my kleenex, gladly fulfilling my sweet toddler’s request for “Potter,”  making endless cups of hot tea, and guzzling Emergen-C.  We even missed church, which is not something that we do, basically, ever.  And I stooped to feeding her goldfish crackers and apples for most of the day.  (We did have chicken and broccoli for dinner, though.)

I guess I should have learned some kind of life lesson about how sometimes you can’t be a perfect mom, how sometimes vast amounts of screen time and goldfish crackers are how to keep your sanity, how getting sick is God’s way of telling me to slow down and enjoy my kid.

Mostly, I’m just thankful that I’m the one who got sick, because Peanut’s snot nose alone is so incredibly heartbreaking.  Her nose gets red and her eyes water, so she looks pitiful, even though she’s still bouncing off the walls.  Maybe I’m most thankful that on this day, it took too much energy to be even a little cross, being even a tiny bit unkind was impossible, and even when I was at my worst, maybe I was a better mom than usual.  Also, those goldfish crackers never tasted better!

Why not Green Eggs and Ham?

I do not like you, Sam I Am

One of the things I DREADED about becoming a mother was this book.  Some people in my family think this is the best book for kids, EVER.  My beef with this book is not the end – it’s a great lesson for kids with enough attention span to get there.  But in the years before then, they get pages and pages of a whiny guy who WON’T EAT SOMETHING.  Before then, they sure do hear “I do not like them,” and “I will not eat them,” enough times to make those words stick in a kid’s brain. Peanut, by the way, eats almost anything I put in front of her, and I plan on keeping it that way!

Our kids hear everything that we say, they do take it in, they absorb it all, and they will regurgitate it at the most inopportune moments, in this case, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  So, Sam-I-Am, take it somewhere else.  Your friend who will not eat Green Eggs and Ham until page 40 is NOT welcome at our house.

What I love about Easter Season

These might be the universally “best” weeks in the Church calendar.  Easter season designates the weeks from Easter through Pentacost when we get to be totally grateful, these are the weeks when our hearts burst with Alleluias.  We’re not waiting for something “better,” like Christmas or Easter, and it’s not Lent, which, much to my chagrin, is not well-loved by “churchy people.”  These are the weeks of the brightly dressed church ladies, the return of altar flowers, dresses and sandals for little girls (and their moms on a good Sunday).  These are the days that have me figuratively being dragged kicking and screaming into summer come May.  These are post-Resurrection days, easy days, thankful days, when the Church takes a deep breath and, having been filled with grace, we can let it out and bless the world.

I gave up my to-do list??

It was just one day…today, actually.  But it was glorious!  That doesn’t mean I got nothing done.  I did manage to feed my child, finish (most of) the laundry, take a walk with Peanut and give her a bath.  I got stuff done.  I also read.

Long, long ago, before I was pregnant, I inhaled books and I ran a lot, and I worked and spent time with Peanut’s dad, and that was my whole life.  I did laundry once a week or less, used very few dishes and washed them when I finished.  I NEVER had a sink FULL of dirty dishes.  That concept didn’t even exist in my pre-mom world.  And then I had a baby.  And suddenly, I had massive amounts of clothes and dishes to wash almost every single day and a kid to wash on a regular basis and Bumpos and high chairs and toys to keep clean.  Babies are gross!  So, in the midst of all this yuck and my scouring of the internet and parenting books to feed my need to be the world’s best mother, I stopped reading the stuff I really loved.   I still do read occasionally.  I did finish The Hunger Games (first book only).  And then yesterday, I picked up a book by Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong at the church where I work, and I was enthralled, I was engrossed, and most of all, I fell in love with Jesus, again, which is not something I take lightly.

I’m not terribly religious, in the sense that while going to church and raising Peanut in the church and being Episcopalian are all important to me, having all the answers doesn’t really appeal to me – I like the questions better.  I have some opinions about the Bible that I don’t really share, but I find the practice and community of liturgy centers me, so I stand and kneel and I repeat the creeds and make space for the Holy to find me. Usually, when I encounter the Holy these days, I hear it in my sweet daughter’s laughter or the way she touches my cheek when I hold her, or her adorable “Ah-men” when we pray.  She makes ordinary days completely extraordinary.

So, reading Spong for two days was not on my to-do list, and often, making space for Holy isn’t either, but sometimes, when it finds you, you can just save the ordinary for another day.  So, grocery list-making, vacuuming, Goodwill run, picture hanging, and random things to fix, I will see you tomorrow, instead.

Peanut is 18 months old!

Sometimes, my awesome kid grows so fast, does so many cute and amazing things, and loves me so much that I am completely blown away.  Today she is 18 months old, and much like everyday, all I want to do is keep her small and safe. Like every three months, we have a doctor’s appointment – this time with a new doctor.  I know Peanut will be 20-something pounds and 20-something inches tall, that she’ll be slightly on the chunky side, because she always has a little belly when she’s about to hit a growth spurt, that the doctor will ask me all about her teeth and words and things she does, which is apparently NOT an invitation for me to brag.  (Why did it take me this long to realize that??)  She will get at least 3 shots and hate me for five whole minutes, and during that time, I will agonize that she will hate me forever. 

And then we will go to the bookstore nearby pick out a book (one for each of us!) and then split a small milkshake.  It really is the small rituals that I hope she loves so much, because I think making them up is one of the best things about being her mom.

This is Peanut at the doctor’s office – 21 lbs, 28 3/4″ tall