Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Thank You, Third, For Helping Me Chill (Just a Little)
So this week we celebrate Chloe's first birthday, and I'm going to be utterly cliché here and just say I cannot believe that was a year. Blink. Gone.
Chloe is a true joy and a gift. We had a bit of rough going at first. There was the hip dysplasia and brace she was in for three months. The almost-helmet she had to wear for a flat head (that's rounding itself out, thankfully). Lots of newborn fussiness. Not sleeping through the night until much later than her big brother and sis. But she is a sweet, laid-back, tentative, music-loving, pasta slurping, precious little one who shrieks and grunts when she's happy and rarely cries.
I feel the teensiest bad for her sometimes. You see, she's mellowed her mamma out. Just a little. Or if you ask Dan, maybe not that much. You've got to understand -- although my house, my appearance, my car, may not be meticulous, I still tend to be a kind of anal person. Some would call me...shall we say...high strung. Always stressing about something. Getting worked up about minutiae.
But to them, I would say, I present Exhibit A., also know as Miss Chloe Grace. Let's talk about things I have allowed my third to do that I would have never envisioned with my first (or second, even). If you're in a judging mood, there's lots of material here to work with:
- If food falls on the floor, I've completely conceded that she will eat it. And never mind any of that fake, tittering, "five-second rule!" laugh stuff either, which at least makes it sound as if you are apologizing for letting your kid eat off the floor. We don't have a dog here to eat up scraps. I do sweep and vacuum and attempt to keep things somewhat sanitary. But I can only do what I can do, and honestly, I have to focus more of my energy on making sure anything she won't choke on is removed from the floor.
- I gave her ice cream when she was six months old. The huge smile that lit up her face was well worth it. Since then she's sampled cookies, French fries, and yeah, more ice cream. I draw the line at soda, and I'm not buying her McDonalds Happy Meals (yet), but yeah, she's tried a few other goodies here and there. And most of it is not organic, either. Never mind non-GMO. Here's the way I look at it: food is expensive enough. Connecticut is expensive enough. Fruits and vegetables alone are expensive enough. Every time I look at the grocery bill, I cringe. I just can't go there at this phase.
- That whole "no screens" before age 2 or whatever it is just doesn't work with three kids. If we're watching a movie on a snow day, what are we supposed to do -- ban her to her crib? So yeah, she's watched parts of movies and football games and Wii Smashbrothers battles. She seems pretty unscathed by this. I don't like the idea of running the TV all day and having that as a constant background space filler, but if it goes on and she's up, well...oh well.
- We've been blessed with a lot of clothes from people for Chloe, so she's a hand-me-down girl. Essentially, she's worn about three brand new outfits in her entire little life. When I think back to the new stuff I (and my mom!) showered Anna with at her age (the thought of buying consignment never entered my mind), I feel a teensy bit guilty. Except -- imagine that -- she's fine. She's absolutely fine, doesn't have a clue, and the stuff she's wearing is still pretty darned cute.
- Our house is not baby-proofed. At all. Well, except for one gate at the top of the stairs. Poisonous stuff is up high, but the rest of our house, it's kind of open season. So yeah, she's ripping apart kitchen cabinets and swiping DVDs and books onto the floor. My feeling is -- if it gives her a half-hour of satisfaction and me a half-hour of peace, it's worth the five minutes it takes to clean it up. I should probably get at least some outlet protectors, now that I think of it. But that just hasn't happened yet.
I think I know why firstborn children are usually the ones to grow up and become presidents and CEOs. I can understand why they are the driven over-achievers. That's what happens when your parents' intense focus and drive is placed on you alone for at least a few years. Dan and I are firstborns, and while his personality is laid back, I can tell you I definitely had the voice in my head growing up that said "You better get all A's or else!!"
But thirds, they just kind of go with the flow, by necessity. They teach us what we should have known all along -- life is too complex and too full to control. And we are too completely human to ever get it completely right.
I thank my little one for forcing me to see; forcing me to stop; inviting me to throw up my hands and laugh sometimes; and help me stop to remember that these days -- the good, the stressful, the long and drawn out -- are truly fleeting. Thank you, Chloe, for teaching me how to breathe.