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skinned knees

Motherhood, Olive

Nineteen Months

Nineteen Months, by SweetMadeleine.ca

I used to write monthly updates about Olive and I stopped after a year, I think because I wasn’t doing the monthly photos anymore so I lost that prompt. But in the last few weeks I’ve just been thinking how much I thoroughly enjoy this age, and I wanted to immortalize it forever on The Internets. BEHOLD! A nineteen-month update!

Olive’s age right now is truly one of my favourites, ever.

She is nineteen months old (which in the immensely more straightforward language of normal people translates to a year and a half) and an absolute delight to be around.

[Tangent: I know! I’m sorry! One of my favorite bloggers recently posted a comment about parents continuing to state their child’s age in months after a year, and I totally get it. BUT! There is a reason. And that reason is that there is a HUGE difference between “one-and-a-half” meaning fourteen months, and “one-and-a-half” meaning nineteen months but they both round to a year and a half old. How are you supposed to figure out whether your child is extremely gifted, or start nervously googling things at 3AM if you don’t know who on the playground to compare her to? Exactly. These inane “seventy-three month” delineations serve a purpose. For neurotic parents everywhere. Let us have it. (I’ll stop at 24 months old) (I mean two. Dammit.) END TANGENT]

The tantrums have subsided (barring the typical hungry/tired/teething/possessed-by-demon scenarios), and she is talking up a storm and even putting two and three words together to make magnificent sentences to the caliber of “‘Banana mummy, please” (which of course actually sounds like ” ‘nana ….mummy…..pease” but I will spare you the phonetic representations of her speech, for which you can thank me with large quantities of chocolate and maybe the perfect pair of ankle boots, too.)

Adam and I think she is the smartest kid ever. We discuss it often in a completely obnoxious way and I would rather someone read my google search history to a room full of stranger than eavesdrop on one of these “She’s so smart…[insert banal anecdote here]”

Okay okay I’ll share one! If you insist.

Every Sunday I go to hot yoga, because contorting myself into pretzels with sixty other people in a room so hot that my shins sweat is my idea of a good evening. I don’t recall ever specifically explaining the concept of hot yoga to her, but last week she was looking for me and Adam told her I went to yoga. THEN, this genius child of mine, who is basically Einstein in a toddler-skin suit signed, and said, “Hot”.

HOT! Genius, right?

I digress.

She is doing all of these incredible toddler things that make toddlers not only bearable but infinitely adorable. She has developed clear ideas about what she does and does not like to wear and she enjoys creating her own outfits which often feature Adam’s shoes and hats.

Nineteen months, by SweetMadeleine.ca

(Not Adam’s hat)

She feeds herself and is utterly besotted with food. This surprises me a little, because I am somewhat of a picky eater (Although I confess that I really detest that label. Isn’t a lady allowed to have many very specific likes and dislikes – most of which happen to relate food’s texture and/or origin?I have a discerning palate, so shoot me. Truthfully, I suspect I am a supertaster. Go ahead and tell me beets don’t taste like dirt, TELL ME TO MY FACE.)

Anyway, because I don’t often find myself eagerly digging into bowls of Brussels sprouts or eating whole bananas I sort of imagined Olive doing much the same. Developing likes and dislikes, you know, like a normal person.

No. She eats anything, anytime, anywhere.

She literally would not go to sleep last night because she wanted to keep eating. The way that I knew this is that she was standing bolt upright in her crib bellowing “EAT! EAT! EEEAAAATTT!” at the top of her lungs and enunciating each syllable as though the only conceivable reason why I wasn’t bringing her food was that I didn’t understand what she was asking for.

So. 9PM found her sitting beside me in bed, eating half a chicken breast and scrambled eggs leftover from breakfast. Adam walked in on this strange scene and was all “Wtf?” and I was all “Don’t disturb her or make eye contact- she’s eating!”

Then he asked, “So, is this how it’s going to be, Olive? You’re going to eat a second dinner every night before bed?” and she, my genius nineteen-and-a-half-month old daughter looked at him from her position reclined on one elbow and, in between bites of chicken, said clear as a bell: “Yup.”

Like I said, fabulous.

The nitty-gritty for the interested parents out there who want to get a head start on either anxious googling or feeling smug in comparison : Bedtimes have become sort of hit and miss since we stopped nursing to sleep. Sometimes she goes down with a few books and a snuggle, sometimes it gets drawn out longer (with the chicken, and such.) She naps for an hour a day and usually sleeps 11-12 hours a night depending on if I have to get her up in the morning or not.

She’s very much a mama’s girl these days, although it’s way better than when we first moved. Today she fell while running on the sidewalk and came away with a skinned knee and a bloody lip – which made her already plooshy lips swell to Angelina-esque proportions.

I don’t want to raise her to be afraid (something I’ve written about before here) so I am trying really hard to stop myself from shouting “Careful! Careful” when she runs now. She was up and running again ten minutes after falling, while I replayed it over and over wishing I’d been able to prevent it, with blood and tears still staining my shoulder.

It’s really hard to step back.

I believe in skinned knees, I believe in busted lips. I believe in bare feet and kids running so fast that sometimes their legs can’t keep up. They need that. I believe in all of that but when you see your girl with a lip swollen like Texas with tears in her eyes and a bloody mouth (real blood! Blood that I made!) it’s challenging to not insist that she always hold my hand. It’s tough to resist letting her run only on grass. It’s near-impossible to stop pointing out the dangers all around her, “Watch out for the curb! Look out for the rock! Slow down! Olive, slow down!” 

I am trying. I’m trying to not worry for her, so she learns to worry for herself.

So, so easier said than done.

*****

At nineteen months Olive fell asleep on my chest as I read “The Crown On Your Head”, which I now have memorized. Before I transferred her to her crib I just lay there feeling the weight of her. My daughter.

She is just so solidly there.

She used to be a theoretical, a someday. Then she was a decision made, then a line on a stick, then – incredibly-a black and white blur on a screen.

Nineteen months and eleven days ago she became a real live citizen of this world and I laid there tonight thinking how utterly strange it all is. All of that progress in all of those months.

She is there and I am here, and every day she pulls apart a little further even as she clings closer. She won’t hold my hand but can’t go to sleep without me. She runs away from me so fast that she falls, but still cries if I leave without remembering to say goodbye.

I know how it must feel to crave the closeness and the independence, too. I find myself playing this strange game of push and pull but from the other side. I want her to stay like this forever, and I want to watch her grow up. I want desperately to keep her from injuries big and small, hurts to the head and the heart, just as much as I want her to feel pain and learn from it, heal and grow through it.

I want her to become the fully developed person I have already begun to see glimpses of, but oh my god when did she get so big? When did she stop being a baby? When did she start running and having conversations and inching closer and closer to 2?

I know posts from parents often take this tone – I’ve never felt so high but also so low! I’m so exhausted but so happy! My life is mind-numbingly boring but it’s the best and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! – and although it feels cliché and I recognize it as such, to be honest, it’s really hard to avoid.

Parenthood is the most contradictory experience I have ever embarked upon. I have never felt such a broad spectrum of emotions in the span of a single day – or a single hour. Joy, boredom, envy, fascination, heartbreak, frustration, amazement, selfishness, selflessness.  I think that this as much as anything accounts for the fatigue you feel as a parent, as a mother. The simple act of bouncing around between emotional highs and lows is completely draining.

(But oh, I do I need to complete the sentence that is now a mandatory addendum to all complaining-mother sentences? Say it with me now: but it’s so worth it.)

*****

In conclusion, nineteen months is my absolute favourite – even with eye teeth coming in, and weaning halfway, and nine PM chicken battles. This girl is just simply legit.

Happy year-and-a-half-and-a-month, Olive Grace. We are so proud of you, skinned knees and all.

Nineteen months, by SweetMadeleine.ca