dear nixon: vol. 18

my dearest ham and cheese—

Last week, you turned two-and-a-half.

In the smoky morning light of your half-birthday morning—
all of us snuggled together under the covers, your hair tousled a thousand directions from the adventures in your dreams—
I whispered,
Buddy, do you know what today is?

What IS it?” you asked.

It’s your HALF birthday! Today, you’re two-and-a-half years old.

In response, you grinned that sweet little grin, cheerily replied, “‘tanks! Can I have ‘quare crunchy cereals now?”, and then attempted to catapult yourself off the bed.

This is you at two-and-a-half:
a giant slice of “morning person,”
the very definition of “rise and shine.”

In the twilight of the day, we celebrated you with ice cream—
chocolate, at your request,
the scoop of which you ordered all by yourself, promptly knocked off the cone, then proceeded to use as paint all over the lower quadrant of your face.

This is us, two-and-a-half years into being a family:
messes and adventures,
early mornings and memories.

These days, your brain is up to the very greatest things.

  • You’ve casually renamed the “Little Blue Truck’s Springtime” to Little Blue Truck in Summer, and “Mighty, Mighty Construction Site” to Morning Struck-Shun Site, and will ask for both as such.
  • (in the bathtubNixon: “We need a brench.”
    Mama: “Can you tell me what a ‘brench’ is, buddy?”
    Nixon: “It is something you like. And something you sit on.”
  • This was your morning at toddler work the other day, because chalk is your life now:
  • Scene: Two Jehovah’s Witnesses come to the door. Clementine is losing her mind because OMG THERE ARE PEOPLE HERE MAYBE THEY’LL PET ME CAN I GO ASK THEM;
    you’re losing losing your tiny mind because the dog is; oh, and you’re also shouting, “Who ‘DOSE? Who ‘DOSE?” as loud as you can.
    … it’s at this point I open the door.
    Jehovah’s Witness, taken aback: “… is now a good time?”
    Mama: “UH NO, THANKS FOR COMING BY” (door closes)
    Nixon: “… who ‘dat?”
    Me: “They wanted to sell us Jesus.”
    Nixon: “We no have ‘dat.”
  • (on the way seasons work)
    Mama: “… then winter comes after fall!”
    Nixon: “‘dat no sound good.”
    Mama: “Why not?”
    Nixon: “I do not yike dirt.”
  • The other day, you asked to hear “the fcking song,” and I began to die a slow, quiet death, wondering WHERE THE EFF DID YOU EVEN HEAR THAT—
    only for you to follow up with, “The F
    CKING song, mama! Where is f*ckin’?” and I realized you were asking about the “Where is Thumbkin” song.
    … y’all ever want a moment of reckoning about the adjectives you use in your life, go get yourself a toddler.
  • (while getting your diaper changed and staring up at my messy bun) “Mama! Your hair looks like Trolls movie!”
  • At uncle Patrick’s graduation last weekend, we were settling into our seats at the end of a row. I leaned over and quietly told daddy, “If buddy gets bored and starts losing his mind, I’ll just take him out in the lobby to walk around.
    Like 30 seconds later, you calmly hopped off of my lap, held out your hand, and announced, “I losin’ my mind. We have to go.

It’s that perfect part of the day between 6PM and 7PM, and we’re at a BBQ with friends, soaking up those gorgeous, dusky rays of sun that feel like the very epitome of a summer night.

One of the kiddos in attendance announces, “I’m going to do somersaults!”

As she launches toward the grass, you take off toward one of the patio tables—
where you grab an object off the tabletop and triumphantly run with it toward the somersaulter.

I see her confused face as you approach, so I helpfully explain,
I think he’s bringing you… a salt shaker? Just go with it?

It’s then, in a glorious moment of realization, that your daddy grabs my arm and goes, “Babe. He heard her say she’s doing ‘somer-SALTS,’ and he went to get her some salt.

And there you are, beaming so proud because you helped your friend.

… oh, my dude.
I have never been more delighted about the inner workings of your brains.

We’ve been in our house for almost five years now—
the place where, after we’d walked through it with the then-owners for the first time, I ugly-cried in the dining room because I loved it so much.

It was like, somewhere deep in my bones, I already knew it’d be the place we’d bring you home.

I remember sitting in the backyard,
literally barefoot and pregnant,
dreaming about what it’d be like to play in our yard with you.

& now here you are,
constructing a little backyard universe made of sand and water-table splashes,
punctuated with tiny power-Jeep revs and the “plink” of a little metal watering can.

Two-and-a-half years we’ve been doing this thing, sweetness and light.

I’m going to tell you a secret:
I only kind of know what I’m doing.

But to be totally honest?
I think it’s more fun this way.

Where would the magic be if there was nothing new to figure out, right?

All things considered, we’re both still pretty new to this whole gig—
so I say, let’s just keep giving ourselves some grace, do it up big, and figure this all out as we go.

I’m in if you are, sweet boy.

mama

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dear nixon: vol. 17

my brave & brilliant little sunshine-ball:

Remember how I thought I was a wreck when I took you to baby work for the first time?

LITTLE DID I KNOW I HAD SUCH UNTAPPED POTENTIAL TO BE FAR MUCH WRECK-IER.

All the way back in January, we found out that our beloved miss Lisa (your “Yeesa”) was going to retire from doing baby work this summer.

Being that she’s the only other person outside of family that’s ever kept you for us, the idea of leaping into a world full of strangers and being like, “Hey, want to hang out with my kid for many hours during the day?” was absolutely horrifying.

Knowing full well how great I am with sudden change (read: absolutely not at all), the Universe threw me a giant, glitter-laden high five. In the space of like, four days, we went from planning to call around and put you on waiting lists, to finding you a serendipitously open spot at miss Jeri’s and setting you up for your first day there.

Switching you to a new place was basically the Second Coming of when you went to baby work for the first time.

You’re my dude, you know?
I’m in charge of making sure you’re surrounded by adventure & awesome & love & good people.

It was one thing to hand you off as a squish when I went back to work;
it’s completely another to have you be a whole little human this time, complete with little manners & a love for reading books & the ability to realize that, oh hey, mama’s dropping me off with a whole bunch of people I don’t know and I’m just supposed to be cool with it.

As an adult, I would not be cool with it.

It effs me up to think too hard about the very basic mechanics of how having other people take care of you works, to be honest.

Like, yes—
I know all the benefits of you being around other tiny humans, and we’d never leave you in the care of anyone we didn’t wholly trust, you’re surrounded by fantastic things to do, all of that.

But.
At the end of the day, the very basic fact is that, at least until you found your tiny groove amongst your tiny tribe, I was basically being like, “Hey, so, have fun with a whole bunch of new people you don’t know; I’m going to bail and be gone for a lot of hours, but it’ll be cool.”

YEAH THAT’S SUPER RAD.

As it turned out, you are resilient and brave AF.

For all my anxiety and catatonic panic, we rolled in to miss Jeri’s for your first day & you were so totally freaking chill I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Before you fully bailed on me to go cook in the play kitchen, you casually turned around & asked, “You go work, mama?

… why are you the coolest human.

Very clearly, my love, YOU weren’t the one I needed to worry about at all.

This month, in “dude, where’d did you even get that“:

  • Mama: My windshield is so dirty! How should we clean it?
    Nixon: … I KNOW SOME’FING!
    Mama: What should we do?
    Nixon: Washing ‘sheen! (washing machine)
    (a few blocks later, when we pull up to the house)
    Nixon: … wait. No washing ‘sheen. It down’tares.
    Mama: That’s a good point, buddy. What should we try instead? Maybe the car wash?
    Nixon: Car washing ‘sheen! YES. YET’S DO IT!
  • “I need crunchy cereals. They feel me better.” (your version of “make me feel better”)
  • (Dada, wearing new shoes)
    Nixon: Ooh, ‘dose nice! Where you get ‘dem? In mail? I got mine at’s grocery shopping.
  • (singing, twirling the stars above your dresser) “Twink-uh, twink-uh, ‘ittuh stahhs…. (song abruptly ends) how you? You good?”
  • (reading, upon your insistence, the “book” attached to the cord for charging your baby monitor)
    Mama: … and the baby was safe because he didn’t play with the cord! OK, buddy, your turn. What happens next?
    Nixon (after a long, thoughtful pause): Brown.
  • Nixon: Mama, would you like some waffles?
    Me: Actually, can I have… three pizzas instead?
    (gently reaching out and cradling my chin in your hand)
    Nixon: No, mama. Only waffles. Only waffles today.
  • (while opening up your Easter eggs)
    Mama: Wow, dude, the Easter bunny sure got you some good treats!
    Nixon, walking to middle of living room and yelling toward front window: THANK YOU EASTER BUNNY I HOPE YOU GET SOME MORE GOOD TREATS

You’re in this weird phase of “almost” with holidays, where mostly you get what’s happening, but not 100%.

Since we’re not religious even a little bit at all, explaining Easter was weird.

Like, seriously—
when you’re old enough to start asking how and why there’s a giant bunny and his sole purpose in life is to hide eggs full of snacks around the yard, and it’s totally okay to eat them & not weird at all… I don’t even know.

This year, though?
This year, all you needed to hear was that an “Easter tie” would be involved, and you’d get to hunt for eggs full of snacks (“Like crunchy sear-uhls?” “Yeah, love, like crunchy cereals! And chocolate, probably,” “Oh! I LIKE ‘dose!“), and you were totally set.

Also, apparently you’ve been practicing hunting for eggs in secret, because you slayed the Easter egg hunt we went to with an astounding level of focus and speed.

Your face, man:

Oh, and ALSO THIS.
JUST SO MUCH THIS:

That delicious amount of melty cheese is 100% in honor of the fact you finally got to wear the “Easter tie” you’d seen perched on one of your bookshelves for weeks, and you were so immensely proud of its existence.

When grandpa found out you were wearing one, he made a last-minute trip to the store, ON THE DAY OF EASTER, just to purchase a bowtie so you could match.

When we walked in their front door, the glee on both of your faces was palpable.

These days, I’m trying to be better about saving space for myself.

I find that space where I can—
in 25-minute, middle-of-the-day slow-rolls through Hobby Lobby;
in nights where the house is quiet and dim and slow;
in post-bedtime Target trips, where it’s barely 8 o’clock but feels like the middle of the night, and I always find myself looking around incredulously like, oh my god, we’re all out so LATE.

I’m also working to get to a place where I can wholly remember that the dishes,
the laundry that needs to go from the washer to the dryer,
the sticky dinner table,
the rice all over the floor under your chair,
all of that—
they’re all just things.

Things won’t remember if I let them sit for a bit so I can focus on something else.
You will.

Even after all this time, I still get totally psyched to come pick you up at the end of the day.

I love that moment when I open the door and you come flying across the room, eyes bright and arms wide, rushing up to announce, “MY MAMA HERE!

If I stay standing, I get leg-hug;
a sloth-style throwdown with your little arms wrapped just above my knees.

But if I bend down?

When I bend down, I get your little arms wrapped around my neck, too.

I get to feel your sweet, smushy cheekies squished up against mine,
and I get to smell your rumpled-up boy-hairs,
and I get to feel the weight of your body happy-smushing into me like I’m the greatest punctuation mark in the entire sentence of your day.

The only difference between those two outcomes is my taking the time to bend down and meet you at your level.

It is so, so much better if only I give myself the room to bend down and meet you where you are, rather than stay rigid and inflexible.

And if that’s not one of the most powerful lessons I have learned so far in this mama life, I don’t know what is.

Always here for the snugs, my love.

dear nixon: vol. 16

my tiniest homeslice —

I keep meaning to write you,
but then I fall asleep snuggling you to bed instead.

… annnd that is basically the most accurate representation of where I am in my life right now.

This month, in “where did you even get that who is in charge of you”:

Me: Okay buddy, let’s get our lives together!
Nixon: Oh, that’s very sad.

– If you inform us you are leaving, and then wave, you admonish us with a stern, “Wave BACK at me,” if ever the enthusiasm of our returned waves is not to your standards

– “I’a big boy. I no scared of mon’stuhs. Or boo-ghost-ses.”

Friend at dinner: Nixon, can I have a high five?
Nixon: No. I very busy.

– Somewhere, you’ve picked up, “No, t’anks. I just fine,” and it’s one of my favorite things in the entire world. I will legitimately ask you questions with the sole goal of getting you to reply with this statement

– “Wow! ‘dat’s magic!” (on the occasion of peaches arriving on your plate)

– You’ve decided that sometimes your name is “Esteban… mag’niff’sint,” a transformation inspired by a character in The Day the Crayons Came Home and usually accompanied by you dashing around the house at high speed. Some kids pretend to be superheroes; you pretend you’re a crayon

– Out of nowhere, you’ll recite passages you remember from Little Blue Truck and Pete the Cat and the Bad Banana. It’s especially delightful when we pass bananas at the grocery store, and you delightedly exclaim, “Mama! ‘dose nanas are NO BAD!

– … you’re really into toe lint right now? It’s a multi-step investigative process, during which time any offending lints MUST be quashed. If they follow you into the bathtub, you’re insistent that we use a tiny teacup to catch them, lest they touch you or similar

– Recent additions to the Nixon-ary:
peenie butt-uh – peanut butter
c’unchy seer-ulls – any kind of cereal
appuh-joos pie – apple juice pie (I have no idea, you just started making it in your pretend kitchen one day and I’m just going with it)
struk-shin’ site – any place in existence that has a large piece of machinery on it

At two years & a dusting’s worth of months old, you are everywhere, all the time.

Every so often, I let you take my phone’s camera along for the ride.

You love trying to position yourself just right so you can “TEEEEEEEESE!” with Clementine or the Faces next to you;
you patiently narrate the landscape of tiny cars, books, and little metal planes as you stroll on by.

You instruct, “Mama! Dada! TEESE wif’ me!

And when you come back from your ecstatic adventures, my camera roll is filled with small snaps of life at Nixon height.

I forget, sometimes, that the world is a lot shorter where you are;
that your vantage point, some three feet lower than where I see life, is filled with everyday magic I could so easily miss.

Thanks for reminding me, wise and tiny one.

When I look back on this season, I’ll remember your little weight on my lap, fresh-‘outta-the-tub warm and wrapped in a towel, listening to “t’wain song“:

I’ll remember the lavender-sweet smell of baby chest rub from the blue-and-white jar, and the warm, oddly cozy scent of Mustela shampoo.

I’ll hear your little voice calling to daddy, “You can’t get dis WUBBY!” followed by your delighted, from-the-toes-up giggles when daddy takes the bait and chases you through the house.

I’ll remember the way you ask me, “Where goin’?” when we get in the car, followed up by “Where IS it?” when I tell you.

I’ll remember scattered living-room-floor treasures, pom-pom puffies in all of your pretend cookware, and how very seriously you consider your options before choosing which books you want me to read.

I’ll remember it for banana snacks in the grocery cart, ketchup with everything, glass straws in tiny smoothies, and your joy at finding a pickle inside your burger sandwich.

I swear, with every season of you, I stop and think, “How is the next one ever going to top THIS?“—
forgetting that, without even trying, it will.

Some days, I wonder how someone so small can be so pissed off;
so kind;
so observant;
so smart.

It’s fascinating, the way you are a living, breathing example of one of the rawest stages of human development;
that so much of what you do right now is driven by the sheer, primal force of “want.”

There are days that you floor me with your compassion; an accidental kick when we’re snuggling on the couch is immediately followed by an unprompted, “I sow’ee, mama; I no mean hit you. I sow’ee.

Other times, you lose your tiny shit, and all bets are off.

Every limb on your person launches into a full-force anger flail, like your rage is attempting to do cartwheels, and your daddy and I are standing there staring at each other like, “Well this is impressive and terrible.

Sidenote? Nothing prepares you as a parent for that first Epic Melt.

To be totally real with you, I think our initial reaction was to just stand there in awe.
I actually remember a moment where we locked eyes and it was clear that neither of us had a solution, but DUDE DO YOU SEE HOW PISSED OUR CHILD IS RIGHT NOW
OMG

We reconvened later and were like, “Yeah, so we should probably figure out something… solid… we want to do next time.

Parenting 101 right there, buddy bro: Figure it out as you go.

Really though, it absolutely blows my mind that you have such strong opinions and preferences already;
that you have much opposition for applesauce, standing requests for your favorite songs on YouTube, will immediately start your half-bent-arm jam any time one of YOUR jams comes on, and will happily select from the same inner circle of favorite books, over and over.

There are a lot of rad things about getting to watch your kid grow up, but simply stepping back to marvel at you, right where you are?

That’s one of my favorites.

I’ve found an unexpected beauty in unplanned days home with you.

Sure, it’s because you’re a snot factory, or coughing your little lungs out, or hurling all over our house—
but also? It’s a little pocket of bonus time where we just get to hang, at a time we usually don’t.

There’s a quiet grace in these days;
these moments of weekday magic where we get to spend our afternoon on the couch, reading books, eating macaroni cheese, and taking it slow.

We always have our weekends, but to get nap-trapped on a random Thursday with your fevery little cheek crashed out on my chest?
Or to spend a Monday late-afternoon all blanket-burrito’ed with you on the couch?

It’s like a weird little balm to this working mama’s soul, getting to be a part of your day in the spaces I’m normally not.

There is an easy, lazy joy in the days where I get more of you.

It happened out of nowhere.

“Hey, mama? You my best f’end. We bes’ buddies. I ‘yuv so much.”

WHERE DID THAT EVEN COME FROM HOW ARE YOU FOR REAL

It was one of those glorious moments where so much good is happening, you basically can’t move a muscle except for your bottom lip to automagically pouf out & your eyes to start filling with tears.

You, having absolutely no idea the gravity of the situation, uneventfully went back to touching your dinner—
that’s a thing you do now, where instead of actually consuming food, you appear to believe you can absorb its nutrients through careful inspection and squishing—
and meanwhile, I’m sitting there making Did You Seriously Just Hear That, I Am Dead Now eyes at your daddy.

YOU ARE JUST THE GREATEST LITTLE HUMAN.

And p.s.?
I ‘yuv you so much, too.
– mama

&! dear nixon: you are 2!

happy two, my little light!

TWO, dude.
TWO.

I still remember the night we brought you home—

we walked through the front door, gently settled your car seat on the floor, and then had this moment where we looked at each other like… oh holy shit the baby is at our house.

See, when you’re New Parents at the hospital, everything that happens only feels half real.
That whole place is weird & unfamiliar, so all that takes place within that space almost feels the same; like it’s all still for real, but only just sort of.

Then you get home, and you suddenly have this brand-new human in your living room, and you’re standing there going, okay but do we have somewhere we can put the baby when we’re not holding him? because I don’t know and I really didn’t think much about that part before we left the house, and I can’t just put him in his crib because WHY IS IT SO BIG WHEN HE IS SO SMALL and it looks like a baby jail

Your first night home, you slept next to our bed in this crazy circular bassinet.

We’d had your crib set up down the hall from for months, but that distance was basically next door as far as I was concerned & ALSO HOW WOULD I KNOW IF YOU GOT COLD OR GOT BORED WITH BREATHING
ARE YOU SURE WE CAN JUST…. BE SLEEPING?
WHAT IF HE WAKES UP AND WANTS TO HANG OUT

I was a delight.

As it turned out, the sides of your bassinet were too tall for me to peer over and spy on you, so I spent most of that first night popping up like manic toast, alternating between checking to see if you were cold (HEY BABY IT’S ME AGAIN, YOU COLD BRO?) and checking to see if you were still breathing.

It all feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago—
the late-night nursing sessions where I felt like the only person awake in the quiet, dark world;
the little squeaks you’d make before passing out in a chill milk coma on my shoulder;
how I gave you Friar Tuck hair on accident like, one week in, because I read that exfoliating your scalp with coconut oil would help cure your cradle cap, and all it wound up doing was ERASING YOUR HAIRS AND I AM STILL REGRETFUL ABOUT THIS.

It’s amazing how clear some of those memories stand out still;
the raw fear, the fierce love,
the tiny triumphs, the tears.

If I could go back and talk to brand-new-mama me?
I’d tell her that all the questions you have, and all the things that intimidate you the most, and all the tiny, important pieces that don’t show up in the books or the blogs—
those are the pieces you wind up knowing by heart.

Because, somehow, all the answers are already tucked away inside of you, waiting to be unraveled and known as soon as you need them.

You spent your second birthday introducing yourself to fish at the Denver Aquarium.

During our time in the magical world of contained aquatic life, you were at first intrigued by the pettable pool of stingrays because you thought they were dolphins, then immediately wanted to bail upon learning they were not;
were absolutely terrified by the pretend “flash flood” exhibit, quietly summing up your experience with, “I scared; da-da keep me SAFE“;
and finished out the day with a nap so epic, it looked like you’d melted into your car seat.

Oh, and in a perfect summation of the kind of tiny human supernova you are right now, you happily replied, “Happy birthday to YOU!” every time anyone told you the same.

I’ve yet to stop being in awe of the fact you chose us to do life with you.

On Christmas Eve-ternoon, you went sledding for the very first time.

You spent the entire drive there making sure we were still, indeed, going (“Goin’ said-in?”) and then asking everyone in the truck, including Stines, if they were excited. (“Mama, ‘cited said-in, too? Dada, ‘cited, too? Puppy, you ‘cited?“)

Then there was a construction site across the street from the spot of said sledding, fully stocked with a herd diggers, and your day leveled up SO HARD.
(You’re still talking about that, by the way; you just randomly inform me, “Struck-shun site, mama! And said-in! Diggers by said-in!)”

My dude, you rocked the sledding hill like such a tiny champion.

The first time down, you went all by yourself, and would’ve continued to do the same on every run thereafter if it wasn’t for me & daddy insisting that we go on a few with you.

This very same bravery fuels your urges to scale the kitchen cabinets (on downward-curved pulls, no less);
to climb the metal laundry rack downstairs like it’s a ladder;
and to park your scooter next to the cat tower so you can stand on it to pet Ella & confidently inform me, “Not fall, mama!” the entire time.

It’s badass & brilliant & also incredibly cool.

… also scary.

Also that.

Right now—
while you’re still little, and while we’re all still trying to figure out this whole “life” thing—
right now is the very best time to start instilling in you what it means to be a good human, and what it looks like to be part of our family.

With that comes trying to figure out the magic & traditions that we want to incorporate into our holidays;
the things we do that make it special, the way we go about savoring it while it’s here, and how to go about keeping you focused on the good that comes from experiences and adventures, instead of focusing on how many presents are under the tree.

It’s about deciding what it looks like to celebrate birthdays,
and every single day, and each other;
how to create for you a safe place to have big Feelings;
how to do the very best job we know how to shape you into whoever you want to become.

With that comes passing on examples of how to leave the world a better place, how to be a kind human, and encouraging you to do the same;
how to prioritize the acts of being present, being positive, and being patient, and giving ourselves grace when we mess up.

It’s a process that’s going to forever evolve and grow, just like we do.

Within that, I’m excited to leave plenty of room to make messes & explore;
to try new things, get rid of heavy things, and prioritize important things.

But most of all?

I’m so, so excited that we all get to do all of this with you.

love and light and smushy stuff,
mama.

dear nixon: volume 14

my dude—

Here are my very favorite things about you, right now, at almost-two.

  • This weekend, you proudly poked your pointer finger into a raspberry, lowered your tiny voice a full octave, and bent said finger up and down while you made the raspberry say, “Hello!
  • You like to tuck yourself in to a space between the oven and the dog food, and excitedly inform us, “Hiding place.
  • Every so often, you’ll respond to something we tell you with a simple, “whaaaat.
  • When the sun is too bright/in your eyes, you’ll request, “Sun, mama. Off. Sun OFF.
  • The way you’ll quietly, sleepily shut a book we’re reading, mid-sentence or otherwise, when you’re just ready to be asleep now, kthxbai
  • How, when we ask you what the best part of your day was, the answers range anywhere from, “sun,” to “Ran-ee! truck! dada!” (being in uncle Randy’s truck with dada), to “corns
  • The way you MUST say goodbye to each of the Faces (“Bye, Ey-ya! Bye, Em-ers!”) and Clementine (“Bye, puppy!”) before we leave for baby work in the morning
  • That you can recognize all of your favorite people in pictures, including “tiny me!
  • Your little manners; like, I’ll tell you, “OK, buddy-cakes, we’re going to put on our coat and then go on an adventure,” and you’ll reply, “OK, thank you, mama,” but with this amazing little variety of inflections that is actually the greatest thing
  • The unabashed way you’ll turn anything, anywhere, any time (but usually in the grocery store, Target, and public bathrooms that echo) into a race car, which usually equates to you making exceptionally loud BRRRROOOOOOOMMM! noises & frightening unsuspecting passerby
  • When we go places and you institute yourself as the unofficial greeter, happily waving at and saying, “Hi, friend!” to anyone who comes within three feet of us
  • That you “rawr.

  • When we come home at night, and even if you’re half asleep, you’ll quietly ask, “Mama, see moon, pease,” and we’ll turn to scan the night sky until we find it together
  • That you’ve fallen in love with this song, of all songs, and will emphatically request, “Dada, WHISTLE SONG” until he pulls it up on YouTube for you
  • When you say “excuse me” and you sound like a little Italian saying, “‘Scuse-ee
  • How you call hamburgers “burger sandwich”.
  • When it’s windy/raining/snowing outside, you’ll shout, “WIN-EEE (windy)! MAMA, RUNNNNN!
  • That when there’s a helicopter or an airplane in the sky, nothing else exists; you’ll stop whatever you’re doing and turn your little face to the sky, wide-eyed and overjoyed, to watch it
  • Your joyous recommendation of, “Mama! Try it!” any time you’re having a Culinary Experience that needs to be shared (including but not limited to: water, “burger sandwich,” French fries you’ve already licked the ketchup off of, Goldfish you might’ve sneezed on, cereal)

When it was still summer out, we did a lot of barefeet.

We watched stars in the backyard;
we discovered bees & bugs & grasshoppers (the latter much to your horror, because you thought it was a leaf and then TAHDAH SURPRISE IT WAS ALIVE);
we discovered the pure, splashy joy of sand, lake water, sticks, and rocks.

You ran everywhere, all the time, unless you were sitting in your Power Wheels Jeep—
and in that case, you just ran into things.
(Also, ten thousand OMG THAT’S BRILLIANT points to your daddy, who drilled screws into the Jeep’s back tires so that they would actually have some grip against the ground. Like… genius. Absolute genius. Also, pro tip, never do this to your real car)

At night, we tucked ourselves in with messy hair and dirt between our toes;
with Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction SiteWhere Do Diggers Sleep at NightLittle Blue TruckThe Going to Bed BookLittle Owl’s Night; and Flamingoes on the Roof.

It was a busy, beautiful, brilliant summer, and I already can’t wait to see what the summer of three has in store for us.


In the realm of recent and exciting developments, you’ve learned how to say your name—
which we promptly went and effed riiiiiiight up, YAY US.

As is the case when you discover something really great, you want it to exist with you at all times. (See: pizza-flavored Goldfish, yogurt in a tube, the outdoors)

The latest addition to this list? Jelly beans.

The fated night of aforementioned effing up, our reply to your request for, “Jelly beans! Dinner!” was, brilliantly, “YOU’RE a jelly bean.

Which then progressed to this.

Which has now manifested into your insistence that your name is “Nixon Jelly Bean.

MERRY EARLY BIRTHDAY

WE’VE GIVEN YOU AN IDENTITY COMPLEX


Two years ago today, it was your baby shower.

Look at you, dude, just being a bump.

How is it that looking back two whole Octobers feels like it’s been two entire lifetimes, but looking back over the last almost-two years of your actual life doesn’t seem like it’s been that long at all?

I remember coming home afterward, a perfect mix of oh my god I’m so excited and OH MY GOD I AM SO FREAKED OUT as we unloaded all of your tiny onesies & board books & that insane snot-sucking apparatus & the packages of bitty little diapers.

That day, we also hung up your pizza pennant and star mobile, both crocheted just for you by your wondrous aunt Danie.

This morning, while we were getting ready go to baby work, you stood on your changing table and spun that same starry mobile around, joyously announcing, “Mine stars!” and calling out the colors—
blue! yeyyow! ow-ange! wed!
as they twirled by, occasionally reaching to pull random stars in for a kiss and gently inform them, “Love you!” before releasing them back into their orbit.

That’s a trip, isn’t it?

Two years in a lifetime and a blink.


Every time I carry you, it occurs to me that, someday, you’re going to be far more resistant to letting me snuggle you around and smush my face against your cheeks.

(Thanks for being cool with me doing that all the time, by the way; the cheek-smashing thing.
It’s like a habit now, picking you up & going immediately into the smush zone.
)

You see, my love, I am only too aware of the fact that small, squishy you is only going to last for so long;
that, before we know it, we’re going to be looking back on this week, this month, this year, with the same sweet nostalgia we look back on last summer, last winter, last year.

For me, one of the most magical parts of mamahood is never knowing how long I have left of the best parts of any season—
which is all the more reason to be present and to celebrate these moments, right now, while they’re all still here.

love you, love you, love you,

mama

dear nixon: volume 13

dear sweet love:

I’m writing to you fresh from the epicenter of a sleep regression, which some people will tell you is not a thing.

I AM HERE TO TELL YOU

IT IS INGODDAMNDEED A THING

I mean, to preface, this is totally not your fault.

It’s literally like there’s a tiny vocabulary party going on inside that brilliant little brain of yours, and every day, someone new shows up—
so instead of sleeping, you need to wake up and practice words so you don’t forget anyone.

How this manifests is that you pop up at middle-of-the-night o’clock, cheerily informing me, “Mama, up!” or “Mama, down!” and implying that, oh, hi, hello, you are awake and you’d like to exit the bed to go explore things.

why tho.

The other night, you apparently woke up daddy with a casual, “Hi, da-da,“, like it was totally normal that we’d all just be up and hanging out together.

Last week, you woke us both of us up around 4 a.m. because really, what better time to practice counting? The sun and the environment and maybe even those annoying-ass birds across the street weren’t even up yet, but you were, because it was of the utmost importance that you be awake & counting.

Though, tbh, there are certainly much worse things to wake up to than a tow-headed little toddler, snuggled in next to you and carefully enunciating, “One… twoooo… treee… fo’.


This summer included your very first Shark Week.

You are ABOUT Shark Week.

We discovered this one afternoon when we had the TV on in the background, and a herd of home-sharks swam their way on to the TV. You immediately, breathlessly narrated, “Shark. Shark fish.

Then, when one of said shark-fish proceeded to give birth (which, having had approximately just enough experience in this area to matter…. WHOA. BABY SHARKS COME OUT AND JUST START SHARKING IMMEDIATELY, WTF IS THAT SORCERY)–
anyway, I narrated, “Look, buddy! The shark had babies!” and you immediately replied, “Shark! Shark babies!

You then proceeded to SIT STILL, which is not a Thing, and proudly pointed out every “feesh” and “shark” and “shark baby” that made its way on to the screen thereafter.

I’m basically more excited than anything to take you to the aquarium.


We live in a cute little neighborhood comprised of 90% nosy old people—
but sweet nosy, in the way that they passively-aggressively note things like if our lawnmower maybe needs fixed because they haven’t seen it in a while.

As sweet as they are, I have no doubt that they assume we’re trying to end your life on the regular over here because, sometimes, the soundtrack to your feelings is real screamy.

Trust, buddy:We fully have your back, because learning how to human is hard.

Especially right now; you’ve got all these Nixon-sized WILLS and IDEAS, but not the full emotional, verbal, or physical capacity to complete all of them.

I can’t even imagine how frustrating that must feel, to know exactly what you want, or where you want to go, or that you have a desperate distaste for wearing pants today, but you’re missing a crucial component in being able to communicate those messages successfully.

Thus, sometimes, you decide that fully losing your tiny shit is the best way to express your feelings.

These feelings are screamy;
screamy, but valid.

Ever since you were itty-small, I’ve subscribed to the idea that you’ve got every right to feel every single one of your feels.
Sure, I need to help you learn how to direct your energy into a form that’s less kicky-screamy, but it’s not on me to sit here & get in your face about calming down if you just need a short minute to melt.

Here’s the cool thing about mamahood:

I get to learn it as I go.
I get to learn you as I go.

It’s up to you to figure out what it looks like to sort through your experiences and feelings;
it’s on me to support you, love you up, and help you become a rad, well-adjusted little human along the way.

We’ve got you, buddy.
Melt on.


Remember when you were snuggly-new?

I think back to when you were still that little-bitty, versus tall-and-sprawly, like now.

Your whole entire existence fit in the space that spanned from the snuggle-spot under my collarbone to the crook of my arm underneath.

Every so often, you’ll tuck back up in that perfect snuggle space with your knees to your chest, and it reminds me to breathe you in a little extra;
to savor this season some more before you out-tall that space entirely.


You and I were playing outside, for no real particular reason.

Just you, me, and some last-minute, late-summer twilight,
sending crispy-light leaves and pinkie-sized sticks on rides down the slide in your little red car.

Ready to move on to the next thing, you reach your hand toward mine, and you say, “Come, mama. Pease.

Melt my freaking heart, man.

Every time you extend that little hand, you invite me to be part of your adventure.

You want me to watch you go down the slide;
to sit across from you at the table so you can roll me a car;
to count “one, two, tee” along with you while we walk down the front steps.

In those moments, you reach out, and you wait for my hand to clasp yours so we can go on to the next thing—
together.

Count me forever “in” for each and all of your adventures, buddy.

I freaking love you.
mama

dear nixon: volume 12

The other day, I legitimately Googled “do I have mono or am I just really tired.”

(1) as if Google knows
(2) why am I Googling when I clearly should be asleep

There’s an obvious solution here, and it rhymes with OH MY GOD JUST BE SLEEPING.

Right, yeah.

Except then I lose those precious end-of-the-night hours to do insanely beautiful things like read books;
commune with my inner 70-year-old and water the flowers in my pajamas;
get lost with daddy in the black hole of my phone that is looking at/watching old pictures and videos of you;
valiantly attempt to finish–after like almost-two years of trying–Parenthood on Netflix, plus catch an episode of Girlboss here and there, and make a halfhearted attempt at the (reasonably sucky) new season of Orange is the New Black;
and, you know, just life.

Exhaustion, like so many parts of mamahood, is one of those things where you can totally manage it juuuust fine, everything’s cool, until one day you’re legitimately ready for bed at 3 p.m. and realize Shit Has Gotten Real.

This a confusing revelation for me, because I’m actually fully convinced that, 99.1% of the time, I GOT THIS IT’S OKAY DON’T WORRY–
the .9% is reserved strictly for times of intense peril, like if something is on fire.

It’s all trades, babycakes.

Saving the majority of my life-ing for the quiet hours after you’ve gone to bed is the trade for making the most of your awakes.

It means that I was there to watch you announce “wheeee!” as you investigated which of your toys could & could not travel successfully down the slide of your Little People airport;
that daddy & I got to enjoy plastic pots full of monster truck soup you joyously “GUCK!“-ed for us in your tiny kitchen;
that I was the lap you backed into with a book and happily snuggled down in;
that we got to “WASH! WASH!” dishes together, side by side, with you gleefully wielding the handled scrubby thing as a volatile weapon of cleanliness & me immediately regretting my choices to fill the sink so full of water.

& if it means that I’m dragging ass because, after all that, I stayed up until the ungodly hour of 11 p.m. to seize that unique glory of getting caught up in a really good book?

Fair trade.

I’m in.


You are fast.

Consequently, this means that I am fast, everywhere, all the time, because your favorite activities usually revolve around steep sets of stairs, perilous situations where you may or may not fall off a concrete stoop and impale yourself on something, a desire to be “out! OUT!” at all times, and various investigations into the current location of the street.

It’s fun and exhausting and beautiful, because for as much as people wax on about kids teaching you to slow down & notice things, you’re the exact opposite;
you are SO FREAKING EXCITED that things exist that you must see them all, right now, all at the same time.

I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE YOU GOT THAT FROM.

You actually get so worried daddy and I might miss something that, if you happen to notice us lagging behind, you’ll patiently turn back & “call” us by clicking your tongue and tapping the side of your thigh.

You know, the same way we call the dog.
It’s a thing.

It’s kind of my favorite because of how deliberate and chill you are about it;
it’s not hurried so much as it’s you being like, guys, I know you’re not as fast as me, and that’s okay, but also, you need to be here 10 seconds ago.

Other hilariously awesome things you do:

  • Have your own names for all your favorite books, including “bee-cees,” “owl,” “BUN!” “roof” and “cow” (which, randomly, is for “Where the Wild Things Are“; I guess because of the weirdo bull-looking thing?)
  • Randomly repeat phrases and words we had no idea you knew until right that second; see “cereal”, “right there,” and, the latest, announcing, “me too!” after I’d agreed with daddy using the same phrase
  • Take immense pride in picking up your pretend phone and finding out that it’s you on the other end (”Heh-yo? ME!”)
  • Insist on eating only with adult-sized silverware, an event that transpired immediately after we’d bought enough Nixon-sized cutlery to last you more than a couple of meals. You get so pissed off if we dare give you a kid-sized spoon, ever, and you’ll politely point out “‘POON!” (everything is a ‘poon, by the way, including forks) until we acquiesce and save you from having to eat with small cutlery like a savage
  • Believe that you can drink from an open cup. You’re far more interested in trying to watch the liquid come out than you are in actually consuming it, so “drinks” basically amount to you dumping something all over yourself
  • Refer to sprinklers or anything spraying water as “WASH! WASH!
  • Eat.

It’s your very first summer with skinned knees;
asphalt-kissed little roadmaps on each of your (blessedly) still-squishy legs, telling stories of the times you daredevil-drove the trike at baby work and wiped out on the concrete path, or somehow managed to run against the grain of gravity.

For the record, love, I don’t plan to worry about skinned knees, scraped elbows, or scars with good stories, and I hope you don’t, either.

It’s this weird badge of honor, sending you out into the world and having you come back dirt-covered and dinged up; it means you’re out there, exploring life, then coming home to swirl your bathwater into a watercolor of all the adventures you’ve had that day.


This right here, buddy? This sums it all up:

I’ve never been more exhausted, any happier, or having more fun than I am right now, right in the midst of this busy, brilliantly sweet season of being your mama.