stella at 2.5 years

Portrait of a toddler plotting her next rebellion.

Oh, Stella... watching you grow up is both exhilarating and heartbreaking. On one hand I want to see where the trajectory of your life will take you, and on the other I want to pause time forever and just hold you here in this moment. Being a parent is so very bittersweet.

So much has happened since my last Stella update when you turned 2.

I weaned you completely the night after writing this post, because I wanted your memory of breastfeeding to be forever "perfect." Your attachment to my "boobies" is still a constant between us. You want to touch them when you're waking up in the morning, at the breakfast table just because, and your hand finds a way to wiggle into my shirt whenever I hold you. I don't mind, because touching me and being close makes you feel safe and happy. Weaning you was easier than I imagined, though we both cried a few tears those first couple of days. While you still ask to nurse occasionally, you are asking less and less. I can only imagine that the arrival of our new girl and watching me breastfeed the baby might be hard for you. Just telling you about this inevitability has sent you into contemplative silence thus far.

After getting a shot at the doctor's office (a traumatic experience as you now recognize the building where shots happen and the tears started flowing as soon as we parked the car) a few months ago you became obsessed with illness and hospitals, ambulances and ouchies. No day is complete in our house without some talk of sickness, and the special tidbit you brought back from our kite-flying adventure in the city awhile back was that an ambulance drove by the field, siren blaring. In one of your current favorite books the main character, Madeline, goes to the hospital for an appendicitis. Most of the illnesses you talk about have to do with "appendix," though you still don't quite understand the logistics of it all. You often say things like "I have to go to the hospital, I have appendix." And "I'm the Mommy and you're the doctor and Tiger needs a band-aid because he has appendix." You also get a kick out of showing people every scrape and imaginary scar. The last scrape you got on your hand was a talking point for 2 weeks. You told everyone you saw, often the same people over and over, about how you fell and hurt your hand, sometimes this included re-enactments of the fall itself. You also love to apply band-aids at random, give fake shots (sometimes for "appendix"), and have your Dad wrap your "broken arm/leg/foot."

I am often astonished by your memory. Today in the car you said, out of the blue: "Did Daddy jump?" It took me a few seconds to realize you were referring to a story Jordan told you MONTHS ago as he was putting you to sleep about this time he went train hopping and jumped off at some remote location and was picked up by a truck driver. "Yes," I said (while questioning if I should be condoning jumping off any moving thing with a 2-year-old), "Daddy jumped off the train..." "And did someone pick him up?" you asked. "Yep," I said. "A man in a truck?" you asked. "Yesss..." I replied while thinking to myself that I really must ask Jordan if this is the best bedtime story to be telling you lest you think it's a great idea to train hop and get into a random truck with a random guy.

Oh my god, do you ask questions...

You: "Did Pappap hurt his knee?" 
Me: "Yes, a few weeks ago."
You: "And did he have a scab?" 
Me: "Uh huh."
You: "Did Grammy have a band-aid on her finger?"
Me: "Yes, she did... A few months ago."

"Do people live in houses?"
"Do Daddy's boobies feed boy babies?"
"Is that ambulance going to the hospital with a person who has appendix?"
"Do Tigers talk?"
"Do bunnies have noses?"
"Do we stand on the couch like this?!" (said perched on the edge of the couch with one foot high in the air)

As I write this, there is much crying and protestation happening upstairs around getting ready for bed. You are currently in the throes of the "terrible twos" (which I've heard from a few sources lasts into the threes and fours...save us!) I won't dwell here on how you gleefully run in the opposite direction of wherever we need to go, or how when asked to say goodbye to someone you say "no, I can't," or how you melt down when given something that you've just asked for, or how you like to test the same boundaries everyday (yes, we're still saying "no" to feet being on the dinner table). I will conclude with the hope that these terrible, frustrating twos peaked on Sunday night when, after a weekend (mostly) alone with you, you ran upstairs sans diaper and peed on our bed. With the fan whirring in the bedroom to air out the mattress, I nearly cried myself to sleep, but at eight months pregnant I was just too exhausted even for that.

In truth, I know we're nowhere near the end of this crazy toddler mayhem, because childhood and parenthood just doesn't work that way. It's endless, never ending. But I have to tell you, even on our difficult days, even when I'm tired and still getting peppered with questions at 9 o'clock and I just want you to go to sleep, even when you cry hysterically because I've unzipped your sleep sack when you asked me to but you decided you really wanted to do it yourself... I love the shit out of you, in this enormous, there-are-no-words-to-describe-it, exhilarating and heartbreaking all at once, endless and never ending kind of way. It is, all of it, so bittersweet.


Suellen Cox said...

This is wonderful Hannah.....

lifeintheabbey said...

Beautiful writing. They do love their ouchies don't they? When he was this age, I once (accidentally) stepped on Arch's hand while I was wearing my Frye boots. That story got trotted out over and over and over.

I saw a 10 year old boy the other day -- he was thick like 10 year old boys are. And then I looked at Arch who is starting to get the slightest bit of thickness and I cried a bit. Oh they're so sweet.

Ana de Kreutz said...

Bittersweet. It is. Indeed.

A3 said...

Love this. Exactly.

Hannah said...

Thanks! Love to you all. xoxo

liv said...

oh my god, this had me laughing out loud. you write beautifully hannah. and someday, stella is going to be so touched when she reads it all. i'm looking forward to helping take the load off you in the next and final month BD (before djuna) by hanging out with stella.

Mary said...

I have now read this 3 or 4 times...it makes me smile every time. I just love Stella so much and I agree with Aunt Liv, all of these updates are going to be amazing for her late...you write with so much love! -m-

Aralena said...

I loved reading this. So much true love.