Ups and Downs

There is a middle school across the street from us, and each day after lunch lately I’ve been taking Cee over there to explore out back among the baseball fields, pine trees, and crumbling parking lot of this likely underfunded school. The peeling paint of the building entices Wee Cee’s toddler fingers, and while I *probably* shouldn’t let her strip it off, I’m a picker myself. Birch trees have met their match in me and will likely bait my daughter too once we live in a place where they grow.

We go back there with the primary intention to climb the little sets of stairs that lead to the back entrances of the school, which is still out for the summer. Wee Cee thinks they are the absolute best things ever and would march up and down them in the blazing midday sun for hours if I weren’t a hundred times more prone to sunburn than she is. She has inherited her dad’s ability to catch a tan and browns pleasantly under ninety layers of sunscreen while I just burn and peel. The highest flights are only five steps high, so she climbs up with no problem at all and then surveys all below her. It’s coming down that gets a little scary.

Instead of using the banister to guide her down when she summits the staircase, she holds her hands out while looking at me straight in the eye so that I can help her descend. This is one of her measured gestures whose significance I would miss if I weren’t looking close enough. She is no longer a little toddler who blindly walks into hazardous situations without considering their peril. That’s who she was only a month ago, bumbling slipshod through the day and just wanting to see more more more. Now, she’s becoming a little girl who appreciates situations and weighs what’s safe, or at least what’s worth a fall.

I hold her hands and walk backwards as she comes down, trying not to trip over my own two feet and bring us both down into a skinned-knee puddle. She glances up at me several times as if to say, “Yeah, I like you. I think we’re a good pair. I trust you.” I feel needed and important, and my mind always, awkwardly, goes to those at-risk teenage girls who would go on the talk shows I watched as a bored kid. They would say that they just wanted to get pregnant so they’d have a baby who loved them. Being needed unconditionally is intoxicating, something everyone can see the virtue in.

For all the things that make being a mom to a toddler hard, that moment when Cee extends her hands to me without even thinking makes me know that they’re worth it. She knows that I love her and she trusts me. Right then, it’s just me and her and our quiet, intimate appreciation for who we are together.

ups and downs

This marks my 300th post! Hip-hip-hooray! Thanks for sticking around ;D

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53 comments

  1. Aw, so sweet! :)

  2. I hope those moments never cease. That guy I’m raising a kid with and I have always been very affectionate with our daughter; always cuddling, always kissing, always picking up and carrying, always reassuring, “You are loved, little one. You are so loved.” In turn, we have a very affectionate and very empathetic child. I never tire of her saying, in her scruffy little voice, “Mama, you’re so pretty. I love you.” Her love IS intoxicating. I hope it lasts for as long as possible.

    1. She’s right; you are beautiful. Both inside and out. You made her into a hugger just like you made me into one.

  3. Great post – thanks for sharing. My kids are now beyond the hand-holding stage and I greatly miss it.

    1. I am relishing each day – or at least trying to. It’s hard to focus on the bright spots when it’s often hard, but I think it’s important to remember that she’s at a very wonderful stage right now.

  4. Being a parent is the hardest and most rewarding job all at the same time. Treasure every moment.

    1. Thus the title of my URL ;)

  5. Ashley Austrew · · Reply

    Oof. This punched me in the gut. In a good way. Sonia does that with me every morning when we come downstairs, and you captured the emotions of it impeccably. And that picture! I adore it.

    1. Thanks! I like it too. I am going to be sad when she grows out of that little dress (AKA when she grows up).

  6. My “baby” turns seventeen next week. Thank you for reminding me of these moments. :-)

    1. My pleasure, Sheena! Happy birthday to your gal! Hope she has an awesome one ;D

      1. My gal is a guy, but it’s cool. Maybe now he’ll actually cut his hair :-D

        1. Ahhhh sorry about that! I have it in my mind that everyone has a girl like me.

  7. Awww. This is so sweet. I can’t imagine how fast the time flies.

    1. It is truly mind-boggling. Just ask your mom ;)

  8. Beautiful. There are so many wonderful moments 😊

    1. I feel like the beautiful moments are sprinkled along the way and appear right when I need them most (like on the days she decides to throw things haha)

  9. beautiful Emily….

  10. As always, luscious, Emily. You capture that amazing tie… that I miss so much.

    1. Thank you, Dawn! I am really wanting to nail these moments down. The baby I had only a year ago is gone now. They tell you it goes by fast but they don’t tell you that children bend time.

  11. Just noticed you changed your name! And what a beautiful picture and wonderful, *sniff-worthy* post.

    1. Thanks! I changed it awhile ago; I’m big time now! (Hahaha not really. Not at all.)

  12. minifemmenomad · · Reply

    I get to start this part of motherhood all over again. I am excited but very aprehensive over having a 3 year old to boot. My little man is very affectionate to his bump of a sister and I hope that doesn’t change. :) This is a beautifully written entry and woo hoo 300!

    1. Thanks and congratulations! I bet he is going to be an awesome big brother since he’s really so sweet to her ;D

  13. Those moments are precious for sure, and you’ll be surprised how they stay with you over the years. Which is good, because we need to remember them when our teens roll their eyes at us. But even teens show their ongoing need for us with an unexpected hug or a stroll out to the living room to sit with us while we read. But best not to acknowledge these rare moments with shock or gratitude. Then that teen will quickly disappear.,,

    Enjoy your moments! (Oh, and make sure that building with the peeling paint doesn’t have lead-based paint. You know I had to get that in there. It’s in my nature, after all. ;) )

    1. That is a VERY good point about the paint! I have been on a crazy BPA-free kick lately so next on my agenda is making sure there is no lead within a three-mile radius of us. Did you hear the news story about the little boy who had a whole cache of lead in his appendix? Scary. (Granted, he got it from eating wild geese that his parents hunted, but still…)

      1. No, I didn’t hear about that. How awful!

  14. Ahhh — I’ve been terrified of having my own little one for as long as I can remember. But your last little paragraph here made my cold little heart melt a bit. Maybe it isn’t so bad… ;)

    1. It is a little bit (or, truth: a lot) terrifying, but I kind of feel like everything in life that’s worth anything at all is scary and hard. It makes the high points even higher. Plus, you get to play with all your old toys again ;D

  15. I love the way you write about your girl, and how much you catch because you are looking so close.

    1. Thanks, Jen! She is really inspiring to me. She’s at a cool age.

  16. “It’s just me and her and our quiet, intimate appreciation for who we are together.”
    Perfect. Those moments are just perfect.

    1. They really are. They make the world seem so small and safe.

  17. You’re breaking my heart. Just yesterday, I was at a restaurant with my son and having a nice conversation, then instantly I was frozen out. Because I think Kurt Cobain died stupid and that’s “all you ever have to say about him, Mom.” Once, I practically wore the child. Now? Sigh.

    1. I agree with you on his death. Want me to be your kid for a minute? I know I weigh more than you but you could still try to wear me ;D xoxox

  18. Wow – congrats on 300 posts. Ah the little kid years – I love them so much!! Enjoy all the years – each one is special.

    1. We are just now starting to stick our toe in the waters of talking. It is a fun (if not exhausting) time!

      1. I love talking! And reading is my favorite ~ it’s all good.

  19. How sweet to have those moments! As someone who hasn’t had a child yet, there are so many things I fear. But every time I hear a story like this it makes me melt and it makes me oh-so-ready to have my own!
    By the way, I really like your tag line. It’s so easy to think that waiting is the hardest part. But life comes at us so quick. Waiting can give us the much needed time to reflect on what really matters…cause life gets going without waiting on us!
    Congrats on 300 posts!

    1. Oh my word, Melissa; I just want to hug you right now because you TOTALLY put into better words than I ever could the main idea behind my tagline. This blog started off centered around my pregnancy (hence, The Waiting for the baby) but then once the kid was here, we realized that there are no breaks from the challenges of parenthood and that if we just wait for things to get easier, then we will, ahem, be waiting for a very long time.

      The thing is, no one is ever really ready. You just have to be thrown in. The baby brings you up as much as you bring it up. ;D Thank you for commenting!

  20. Wow. So beautiful. I love what an introspective momma you are, and how unabashedly in love you are with your daughter. One day you’ll be watching her walk up the steps to the school bus like I did four days ago…and if it goes the same way as it did for me, you’ll be watching her immediately walk back down them…because she will still feel like she needs you there. It’s a wonderful and horrible feeling all at once.

    1. Wonderful and horrible is a good way to put it. Sometimes I don’t think my innards are strong enough for the emotional roller coaster that is guiding my own flesh and blood through life.

      1. Ugh, I know. My innards feel pretty mushy most of the time.

  21. Congratulations on your 300 posts! YAY!

    You totally made me weepy at lunch today. I love this. I love this so much. There’s going to be a time when my nephew’s much too old to unconsciously reach for my hand when we’re walking (or, a few weeks ago, when we were watching a movie, just because, and my whole heart squeezed up) and I want to remember those moments as long as I live. They’re so important. That kind of trust they have in us…it’s really everything, isn’t it?

    1. That trust is completely precious and priceless. It’s probably the most valuable thing I have ever been entrusted with, which is glorious and frightening all at once.

  22. As special as these moments are for a mother they are also such for a father. Or should I say more so for a grandfather. I feel I’m so much closer to my grandkids that I ever was to my kids and I’m not really sure why. There’s just something about being a grand parent that has, not more, but different meaning than a parent. Since our grand kids spend most of their days with us, while parents work, we are probably closer than most. I wouldn’t change these days for anything.

  23. Lovely post, Emily. I’m glad that you’re a mom (and B’s the dad). The way you’re raising Cee gives me hope for the human race.

  24. I love this post Emily. Makes me ache a little to go back in time just for one tiny moment of little hands reaching out for me.
    But then I received a little text at 6am from college girl who left two days ago– and there, I found my tiny hands again.

  25. I love her little dress and her little bum sticking out. It’s so un-self conscious :-)

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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