My mother-in-law has an almost pat response whenever I marvel at life with Fynnie, "That's why you have to have more kids, otherwise you just don't know."
She could not be more correct.
As a mother of one, I felt the weight of my lack of knowledge.
Adding Mad to the mix was ridiculously easy. Everyone should have their second kid 15 years after the first and have her be independent, a great sleeper, happy and well ahead of the curve on milestones.
But you know what a kid like Madelyn does to a mom like me? Makes me think I know more than I do. Turns me into an asshole when people ask my opinion on things like sleep training.
"Best thing we ever did. You just have to be consistent. Pick something that matches your parenting style and stick with it. We did. By choosing the Sears method over Ferber, we picked a good match for us. And us sticking with it led to Mad successfully being sleep trained before the first night was over. And her naps were instantly resolved the next day, too! Just pick the right method. Stick with it!"
Yeah. Fynnie will be three years old in one month and two days. I have been getting mostly solid nights of sleep for about a year now. When she was several months old (I have no clue exactly how old, but the first six months of her life I recall occurring mostly at night), I had to hunt down some poor woman's blog and apologize for being such an asshat when she was looking for help getting her son to sleep.
I can give you an example for almost every single major milestone that I somehow managed to take credit for when Mad hit them early.
"Probably that great, mostly organic, minimally processed diet I maintain during pregnancy. I don't make those jelly babies who are all floppy at birth."
To which Fynnie replied, "Oh, re-he-heally? Check this out: Not only am I not going to be holding my head up and trying to look around at birth, I'm going to have a hard time turning my head at all. We'll practically live at the chiropractor my first four months. And that "look, she's practicing standing!" shit you did with my sister and brother? Yeah, I'm not having that. Although I will roll over three times at just a few weeks old, do not hold your breath for it happening again for months, like half a year or more. I will be the last baby among your circle of August 2010 babies to roll all the way, scoot, crawl and walk. Here's a pin for your ego. It's starting to look infected."
Do you remember a year ago when I thought potty training was going to be so easy? And then Fynnie didn't poop willingly for months. The girl is here to teach me, I tell ya!
A couple weeks ago we were at a party at Kidspace for the girls' friends. Part of the time the girls were splashing in a little pond in swimsuits. Fynnie clearly needed to go, but was just as clearly anxious about using the "weshtwoom." Faced with the choice of a diaper (and no more water play) or a trip to the restroom, she opted for the potty. Following a monumental success, she announced, "I've got to tell Daddy I got this all under control." And that was the end of diapers during the day. The following night she gave them up at night, too.
I am secretly waiting for the urine-soaked shoe to drop.
She is becoming accustomed to me calling her such a strange little bird, although she laughs whenever she hears it.
One of the things that has always left me in awe with Madelyn is the way she knows exactly who she is, what she needs or wants and what's happening around her. Mad, at five can give you at least five options for getting to Grandma and Papa's house almost 50 miles away. Her way of knowing who she is has a familiarity to it that makes it easy for me to understand. She is not like me as a child or young adult, but make no mistake, she is like me.
Fynnie has her own sense of self. It is no less well defined. I just don't understand her like I do Mad. I adore her. I'm grateful for her. But where the hell did she come from?
I, the woman who could live in jeans and long ponytails, have a daughter who has chosen her own short hairstyles for several months now. Fynnie is currently sporting a pixie. She chose this photo of Anne Hathaway and then had to wait almost two full weeks because I got sick days before we went to get her haircut.
My friend who cuts her hair expressed reservations about such a short style and, when we arrived for the cut, offered up her own photo of a cute woman with slightly longer hair. Fynnie saw it and immediately began shaking her head and frowning.
"No. I want the picture I already choosed from your comcuter."
Nothing could make her happier than not having hair touch her face.
I am off for most of the summer. It occurred to me a few weeks before my year ended that I have spent the past two summers just trying to catch up on sleep. This year I have a calendar and have scheduled adventures out of the house for a couple days each week. Thursdays are reserved for the farmer's market and a trip to the local used book store, where the girls can pick up a book for fifty cents to a dollar.
Madelyn's selections have included a book on potty training (she is a very supportive big sister who takes her role seriously) and a Bob the Builder Christmas story.
Fynnie's first book was a teen mystery. Girlfriend isn't backing down. Here's what she chose when we went yesterday.
So here's what I think: Having one child only taught me what I didn't know. Having two made me think I knew more, when I really had no clue. Having three has brought me back round to realizing, with absolute clarity, that I do not know a damn thing. It's a land of strange, beautiful birds, but it's where I belong.