I remember reading a great quote many years ago that said you shouldn’t do anything for your children that they were capable of doing for themselves. I loved it, and kept it in mind for when I had my own kids. I’d be the mom whose kids were doing their laundry by age five! Fantastic.
But of course, as is always the case, people without kids make the best parents. When I actually had my own child, things suddenly looked a whole lot different. I found myself dealing with an actual human being, with her own desires and opinions, not the pleasantly compliant child of my imaginings.
I still believe in the message of that quote wholeheartedly (despite the sometimes-problematic nature of parenting “should’s ) but godDAMN is it easier said than done. Beyond lots (and lots) of reminders, there have been a few things I’ve found really help Olive become independent and self-reliant, and a lot of it has to do with how our home is set up.
My marriage split open on November 20, 2014, and I made the decision to end it on December 15, 2014.
I don’t think there’s ever really a good time for this sort of thing to happen, but doing it immediately before such a staggering season of events – Christmas, then my 31st birthday, then New Year’s and then Valentine’s Day – felt like a barrage of punches to the face in quick succession. Bam bam bam bam bam.
That first Christmas, I invited Olive’s dad to spend Christmas day with us. I was in shock and I didn’t know quite what else to do. I was still trying to pretend things were normal, desperate for Olive to hold onto the sense that things were fine, even though I knew they would soon be very, very different.
Every year for Christmas I buy Olive a book. Not just any book, though, a special one.
Usually, the requirement is that it has to make me well up with tears when I read it and encompass something of the phase or stage of life she’s in. I don’t think I’ve ever shared these books with you, so I’m going to do that now, along with the book I’ve picked for this year and why it strikes a special chord with me.
Five years ago, I began to grow.
I spent nine of the happiest months of my life growing bigger and bigger, my heart swelling along with my belly until one sunny October day I drove down to Vancouver and that belly, now comically large, was cut in two.
They pulled out a tiny, squalling, dark-haired little girl with big plushy lips, and I named her Olive.
We are dog-sitting an incredible little guy called Murphy for a few days. He’s such a sweetheart and Olive has been in absolute heaven (Squash Baby? Fishy Black? These are pets of the past. They’re dead to her now) and I’ve been loving it too. It’s been really nice to have a dog around again, aaaand I will admit that having a fluffy little guy who’s maybe twenty pounds with zero drool or shedding is a far different experience than I had with big Gus (bless his giant heart).
So far we’ve been taking full advantage of our temporary dog ownership status – yesterday we took Murphy on a walk to the coffee shop in the morning and a big romp around the dog park in the afternoon. Today I needed a few things from the grocery store so we decided to walk there and bring him along, too.
This is the story how a 15-minute round trip shopping expedition turned into utter shambles. (tl;dr I tried walking to the grocery store with a three-year-old).