Today is Charlie’s half-birthday! Will we always celebrate his half-birthday? I highly doubt it. Is it fun to celebrate now while he’s little and it still feels like a big milestone? You bet :) In honor of this day, a few thoughts on motherhood a year and a half into this sweet adventure…
Charlie is officially a toddler in every way. My heart jumps a little when I hear babies gurgle and coo, and I get teary when I watch videos from when Charlie was tiny, but gosh, I LOVE seeing him run, walk, hide, laugh, dance, and play. I have a sneaking suspicion that having a little kid will be my parenting sweet spot. I can hardly wait till I can spend the whole day in conversation with my precious boy…and parents of older kids, please don’t bother telling me that I’ll regret saying “I can’t wait for him to talk” because I completely and intentionally refuse to believe you :) He is so smart and perceptive already and I’m giddy with excitement to learn what’s going on in his little mind as he takes in the world.
One of our toughest parenting challenges has been navigating allergies. I think I’ve mentioned this briefly before, but Charlie is allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts, and almonds. I struggle with a tendency to be incredibly overprotective, and this, unfortunately, has been a huge contributor to that. Every time I list his allergies to a waitress or have to turn down a kind offer of Goldfish crackers for him from a friend or I have to take up limited Trader Joe’s aisle space to study a label, I swallow my pride again and again. I’ve always hated the feeling of inconveniencing someone or being “difficult,” but in this case, I simply don’t have a choice–I have to be inconvenient and difficult. For him. It has become just one more way motherhood is helping me become the person God is calling me to be…in this case, a more humble one :)
I breathed a sigh of relief one day when my friend (a rockstar mama of three boys) told me she sometimes got bored while at home with her baby. Let’s call it what it is: going from a busy full-time job that kept my mind running and working hard from 9-5 every day to sitting on the floor with a little one stacking blocks for the hundredth time that day is a bit of a culture shock. Life at home is certainly growing more interesting the older Charlie is getting, but I have also embraced the fact that for my own benefit, we need to get out of the house often. Scheduling an outing, if not two, per day in our weekly routine has been huge for me. Many are errands, but I am also excited to include more activities that are special to Charlie as he continues to grow. I’ve been following our “rule of life” for almost two months now and it has brought such a sweet rhythm to our days together. This essay by Ashlee Gadd was also a much-needed reminder to me a few months ago that this slow season is one to be cherished.
A few of the cutest things Charlie does these days: dances our choreographed routine to “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. Points out and announces the letters he knows (almost all of them!) whenever he sees them. Yells “next!” to Alexa. Says “yeah!” after high fives. Asks for “teddies” (Teddy Grahams). Waves goodbye to his toys every night before bed. Points to crosses and says “Jesus!” Blows kisses. Says “wuv wuv” for “love you.” Climbs right up onto our laps with books in hand.
I’ve read that it’s common for toddlers to have some separation anxiety around this age, and Charlie does, but to be honest, I might have it too. Nothing in my world feels more consequential than being a mom. I’ve been asked a few times how I balance motherhood with other things in my life, and honestly, that “balance” is not remotely even. I work on my business, blog, and Beautycounter for three hours per week, plus nap times (1-1.5 hours per day). And right now, in this season, I can’t wrap my mind around working more–I simply don’t want to. I feel grateful every single day that I get to be a stay-at-home mom and still cultivate my creative gifts in small, but meaningful, ways.
The more Charlie understands, the more important creating a strong family culture has become to Dave and me. This is the heart of our goal of living liturgically, my rule of life (I may need to do a whole post on this soon!), and the way we make our parenting decisions. We want Charlie to grow up confident in who he is, his unique role in our family and in the world, and the fact that Kirks do things in certain ways that we believe honors God and one another. Whether that is something as simple as eating waffles on March 25 or as big as going to Mass on Sunday no matter what, we are convinced that the habits and culture of our family will play the biggest role in forming him into the man he is called to be. What a daunting task…but oh, what a treasured privilege!
Happy half-birthday, sweet Charlie! I love being your mama more than I ever imagined I could.