My little mirror.

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I keep waiting for her to be quiet and not need me, long enough to write about how incredible she is. Long enough to put down into words how amazing it is to see the cogs turn, the words come, the abilities pour out, and her growing go faster-faster-faster till it’s spinning so fast we both fall down. But that moment isn’t coming, and we have both just fallen down, hard.

I remember  Nolie crying for no reason that I could discern, yelling loudly and sadly in words I couldn’t understand, but I was there. I could get down on her level, talk to he and give her huge feelings words, I could hold her all day long, and nurse her for hours. When she was having a day that developmentally spun too fast we would slow the world in the rocking chair and nurse all day while I watched old movies and cried about how hard it was.

But Ever is a new breed. She wants to nurse, but can’t stop watching Nolie-playing-running-working to do it. So instead she latches on and cuddles in and then scratches and kicks and kneads my boobs while simultainiously trying to stand and run and nurse… “gymnursics” would be the understatement of the century. It feels like we are off; two cogs on, what is supposed to be, one wheel, that just keep grinding and sparking.

I am lucky in my disposition that none of this makes me mad at her. But mad at myself. Frustrated at my inability to take a deep breath and just.keep.loving.  I have read enough, experienced enough, and researched thoroughly enough to know deeply that none of this is her manipulating-doing “bad things”- or being “naughty” all of this is …. normal. All of this is developmentally dead on, learning her world, her boundaries, what works and what doesn’t, what cause and effect is, what happens when things fall down, what happens when you throw, what happens to others when you ________ . I know. Empathy is starting here. And it needs to start here with me, not with the 1.5 year old.

But it’s so hard. So, so, so damn hard. I want to cry and yell and just say “GIVE ME A FREAKING BREAK, LIFE!” Today I cried to Charlie… “I just want to drive to a job, leave the girls with someone I trust as much as you trust me, and just do some busy work. Wear dress pants. Eat the the snacks left by whoever was an over zealous baker the night before. And drink some frilly latte with my comrades while we gossip about the annoying memos.” {And, for the record, this was weird and I *never* want that.} These days feel so long, till there over.

I am on a hair trigger fueled by little sleep, little space to myself, stress over things that are small, (Birthday parties, business information, mama drama, vacation planning, the daily things that aren’t bad at all. The things I know I would ache to ‘deal with’ if anything ever really went wrong.) and the weight of two… the weight of two little girls, the weight of four ears that hear it all and cry when I say “no” to harshly (because it’s scary! and I am so much bigger than them!), and forgive me so so easily it breaks my heart for my mean’ness even more.

And maybe that’s the crux. When I am laying in bed with Ever, attempting to nurse her down for nap for the third time, and she is clawing at me and leaving deep marks, and I am laying her down again-again-again and she is crying so hard she chokes and I am at the end of it and I then she pinches me hard (in frustration and lack of words) and then I say, again, “I can just hold you.” and she sobs her sadness, finally, into my arms and her eyes close with hard and tight as she finally latches on and falls asleep, and I can remember that this was not that bad. And I can leave the room and have to face the apologies of all the hours before this; “I am so sorry I said a mean word (Stupid), I am so sorry I spoke too harshly at the park when it was time to leave. I was feeling frustrated and upset.” and instead of being met with my feelings, at the same confessions that come from a sweet and small 3 year old voice, I am met with “it’s okay Mama. It’s hard being a baby. It’s hard being a Mama. Lets cuddle up.” and I can feel it. That despite my lame and anger, my huge-huge-huge disproportionate feelings when they are being two of the punkiest punks I have ever seen… what they soak up is the forgiveness, what Nolie is learning and growing (and AMAZING AT) is the empathy. She is quick to forgive, and a portion of that is because she has the most open heart I’ve ever seen, but a portion of that is modeling… is what she’s seen. Is a quickly erased slate.

We will weather this stage. And the hard failures I have, the endless apologies on my lips, the sleepiness and lack of words, the anger and frustration, the nap battling, and so much ‘mama mama neeeed’ing will come to an end. And at the end of that phase is this new one, one I am blessed to be standing in with my older girl, the one where empathy isn’t just a glint in their eye as they share a loved toy with a crying friend, but empathy is words upon words of balm to a soul of any age.

I’ll admit that 18mo is not my favorite. But it is a harshly accurate mirror. And here I stand, often wordless at my girl and in need of extra love despite not knowing how to ask for it. But I can see what stands on the other side, and I am not quite wishing this away, but am endlessly excited to see what fruit grows out of Ever and I during this spark and fire filled time.

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