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Motherhood, Olive


Two, by

I suppose it’s time to talk about this thing that’s about to happen this weekend.

On Saturday night Olive will go to sleep, and come Sunday morning she will wake up and be two. Two full years old. On Sunday it will be two full years since we woke up and drove down to Vancouver for my c-section. We had to pull over halfway to release a dragonfly that suddenly appeared out of nowhere, beating its wings against the inside of our windshield.

It seemed, at the time, like an auspicious omen.

Two years ago I was cut in two and sewn back up into the shape of a mother. Last year the daughter that made me a mother turned one. And now I’m sitting here thinking about the past two years and how at each point, each marker along the way, I thought that was it, you know?

Lying with a newborn on my chest, I simply couldn’t imagine it getting any better. Better than actually seeing the little creature I’d been talking to for nine months? Better than holding her and giving her a name, having her dark eyes meet mine in the still of that hospital room? Impossible.

Last year too, I could not imagine anything more sublime than her little face bull-doggy with two lonely bottom teeth. Her lurching attempts at walking, her sign language, her personality – so full already.

And now? I suppose I must have a terrible imagination, or an incurable lack of foresight but seriously. Does it really get better than this tiny person who sits with me at breakfast, and tells me what she dreamt about the night before? Does it honestly get better than being able to have conversations, real conversations where she can answer me and ask me things and make little jokes with her mischief mouth twitching – ALL Adam, that expression –  waiting for me to laugh?

The other day she threw an apple at me in the grocery store in a fit of rage, and an elderly lady beside us audibly gasped. And as I picked it up off the floor, Olive let out one of her horrific screeches that she’d been doing every so often (a phase which seems to have thankfully passed – although anything I write on The Internets seems to immediately come back to bite me, – more on that later.)

So the apple was thrown, the lady gasped (“I mean really!” I imagined her saying later to her bridge friends, “She threw it! My Phillip never threw a single thing. Especially not an apple! Kids today!”) and Olive screeched – and the worst part of the screech is that it’s pretty emotionless. She just opens her mouth and this high pitched scream issues forth, seemingly without control. She doesn’t yell, or stamp her foot or emote, she just opens her mouth and there it is. She hosts the screech.

So we stood there, the screecher and I, and she was looking at me expectantly because we both knew that I would now have to do something about this. I mean you can’t just go around letting your toddler throw apples at you. Bad form.

But the way she was looking at me was funny. In that few moments of eye contact we shared, I came to understand that the whole point of this exercise was that she wanted to see what I would do. She knew what to expect, and was waiting for events to play out to see if her hypothesis was correct. It was a very calculated gaze – not in a cold psycho-killer way, but she was just very calmly… waiting.

She knew where the line was, she knew what the reaction would be. And it’s that I find fascinating. She is so hungry for knowledge about how her world works. She wants me to name things and explain them, answer questions and confirm thoughts. She acts things out and waits to see if I correct her. She throws apples and screeches, and then waits calmly for the boundaries of her world to assert themselves.

All of this, the independence and the talking, the way she seems so much like Adam in her mischief, and me in the thoughtful way she approaches life – it makes it so hard to look back to the newborn days.

I thought I loved the newborn days. I was over the moon for the newborn,and terrified of the toddler she would become. But now I look back and it seems like a shit ton of work for very little reward. You endure three months of sleepless nights and round the clock feedings and are rewarded with…a smile. Another four and they might crawl. Good lord.

Whereas yesterday Olive asked me to please turn on our bedroom light while I was getting dressed, and when I did she said ‘Oh! Thanks, Mummy! Oooh, nice hair!” (and it bears mentioning that it was not, in fact, nice hair. It was lame mom-bun hair, which made the compliment that much better.)

I mean come on. 

(Are you sick of hearing me over-think our second child yet? Maybe our second child will never materialize, it will just exist in existential form as the collected and contradictory bundle of thoughts I have about it. Fears and worries, excitement and anticipation. Easy to swaddle, I’ll name it something androgynous and trendy like Sage. River. Seneca. That’s normal, right?)

The thing is that you have to have the newborn to get the one year old, the two year old. And they were worth so much, those days. All of them. I would give anything for that smile, that first real gummy smile.

On days when I am having apples thrown at me or floors peed upon, or battles waged about matters as colossal as which way the seam on her sock is lying (THE WRONG WAY, IDIOT!) or whether or not I am allowed to drink my own tea, they all lie behind me, these collected moments. They have now added up to two full years, and I hope I am a good enough mother to have earned them.

Two, by

On Sunday we will have a party for this little person. I will make cupcakes, and serve finger foods and  we will hang the birthday banner. She has been practicing blowing out candles, making sure she knows how to do it right. She’ll be surrounded by the people who love her, just like she was two years ago.

And just like two years ago, I will look at her and know, implicitly and deep in my bones, that she is the very best thing that has ever happened to us.



Olive turned nine months old on the 5th. I’m late with her 9 month picture, because I attempted to do them on the actual day and they all sort of ended up looking like this:

Girl was not having it. Probably because we discovered a second tooth trying to bust its way into her smile a few days later. So the pictures have been delayed and I’m almost a week late but hey, they’ll get done.

In the meantime I am looking at this child of mine, this daughter of mine, and am just floored daily by what I see. I have talked about this before and therefore I have probably talked about this here before, but she surprises me. Every day.

I don’t think I realized, when I was pregnant and trying to picture who this little baby would be, that I was imagining a tiny me. Boy or girl, I was imagining me in infant form. And I know that I didn’t consciously realize this because of the surprise I feel every time Olive does something very un-me.

That’s how they measure expectation, did you know that? By surprise. When you exhibit surprise, it is because you expected one thing to happen and another did instead. Like when you expect to come home from work and change into pajamas and burrow into your couch watching trashy tv and eating chips from the bag, but when you walk in your front door exhausted-SURPRISE! Everyone you know in the world is crammed into the living room you forgot to vacuum.

(Relevant to this tangent: I turn thirty this year. 3-0. I would like a surprise party. I have never had a surprise party. I hate planning my own party, I would like a surprise party. How is it a surprise if I am expecting it? I don’t know, I mean figure it out do I have to do everything?)

Anyway, what I am trying to say with this longwinded tangent is that I wasn’t aware that I had expectations for Olive even before I knew she was Olive. I mean it’s probably the worst thing you can do as a parent, to imagine them as a little you and force them to follow in your footsteps, achieving all of the things you couldn’t or didn’t achieve. But here we are. And every single day I sit here and watch  my daughter, who is so strong and brave and trusting and motivated and fearless, and I am surprised. Because I don’t feel brave or strong or trusting or motivated, and definitely, definitely not fearless.

I am afraid of a lot. I’m afraid of failure and judgement and being alone. I fear that I am not doing well enough – and what is enough? I have no idea, the standard keeps changing, the bar keeps shifting up and up. I am afraid of overpromising and under delivering, I’m afraid of missing the mark and taking risks and being wrong. I’m especially afraid of what other people think.

But there’s Olive. Busting out teeth left right and centre. Standing up every chance she gets – even, especially after she’s just fallen and whacked her head on the hard floor . Happily lurching from coffee table to sofa, reaching out her hands and trusting that someone will catch her if, when, she falls.

I talk about it all the time, how different she is from me. It never fails to surprise me, and I kind of love it. I love how strong she is. I hope she never loses that. Some fear is good of course, fear is what keeps us from making truly stupid decisions (like bungee jumping. Or face tattoos.) but too much can paralyze you and stop the movement, the happy lurching from place to place.

So. Today I will hopefully take and post her nine months photos, this brave little daughter of mine who has now belonged to the world longer than she belonged just to me. We’ll take pictures and Adam will make faces to get her to smile and I will write in the “Milestones| section of her baby book: You are so strong. And so brave. And you have two teeth! And we love you, we love you so much that we surprise ourselves.


Her own two feet

This afternoon I sat Olive in her crib for a few moments while I went o the kitchen. I walked into the room not five minutes later, and this is what I saw.

This girl. Standing. On her own two feet. Having pulled herself up, with her own two hands.

She’s just a little bit proud. And damn, so am I. 


Yesterday Adam and I spent an embarrassing amount of time running  around to three different grocery stores to find the most perfectly ripe organic avocado that money could buy.

We were neurotic first time parents, cast as Goldilocks. The first store had avocados that were too hard. The second store didn’t have organic ones. and I mean, this was a BIG deal, conventionally grown produce would simply not do.

Finally, happily, at the third and final store, in the bin of organic avocados, there was one single solitary perfect avocado. Not too ripe, not too hard, juuuust right.

And why, you might well be asking, why the wild-goose chase for this most perfect specimen?

Ladies and gentlemen, my daughter, little Miss Olive Grace, formerly known as the Demon Baby, she of the gummy smile and mega-sleeps, my daughter ate her very first REAL food yesterday.


It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

And guys, I think she liked it.