Getting Bigger

Until this year, my daughters have always taken a while to grow into their clothes. I mean like still wearing 24 months clothes on their 3rd birthday, kind of take a while. So imagine my surprise when at the start of this school year, TD1 was in between a 3T and 4T and now, sevenish months later, she’s outgrowing her 5T leggings. She won’t be 5 for another four months. Likewise, TD2 went from 18-24 months to straddling between a 3T and 4T. She just turned 3.

Getting-bigger

T-Daddy and I are completely unprepared for this growth spurt. TD2 is faring a little better because she gets to pull from the reserves of TD1’s old clothes, but even that is sparse. They are both in need of a full-fledged shopping spree.

If their physical growth wasn’t enough, they are both evolving into little women with their own personalities. Everyday, they say or do something that is new and amusing, and lets me know they’re a little older today than they were yesterday. We have detailed conversations about their day, wants and fears. I’m constantly being called to look as they show me the latest dance or athletic feat they mastered.

It’s enough to make your heart grow the size of five Grinch hearts. And it does. I love watching my daughters grow and get bigger. As they do, they teach me a lot about how to love and forgive unconditionally, to let my hair down and have fun. As a mom, you hear a lot about how you shouldn’t rush this time and it goes away in the blink of an eye. But, I’m looking forward to them getting bigger. Not in a “these toddler years are hell and I’m ready to be over them” kind of way. I truly cherish my late night snuggles and tickling hug fests with them. But I’m also curious to see how their individual personalities and interests will develop and change over time. With each new learned behavior or milestone they meet, I can’t help but feel a little proud.

TD1 and the Super Straight Hair

Super-straight-hairA few weeks ago, I came home and, as soon as I walked in the door, T-Daddy said, “She wants her hair like Elsa’s*. I have no idea who Elsa is or how her hair even is. I tried to talk to her, but she’s really upset.”

I looked at TD1 who was sulking against the kitchen cabinet.
Me: Hey sweetie. What’s wrong?
TD1: I want hair like Elsa.
Me: Okay, well how is Elsa’s hair?
TD1: It’s down. Not like mine.
Me: Okay, well we can take your hair down and you can wear it like that tomorrow. Would you like that?
TD1: And it’ll look just like Elsa’s?
Me: No, it won’t look just like hers.
TD1: Because her hair is longer?
Me: Yeah, her hair is longer, but it’s also a different type of hair. So it just won’t look exactly the same sweetie.
TD1: That’s okay. When I never cut my hair, it’ll get longer and longer like Rapunzel’s and then it’ll look just like Elsa’s.

I looked at T-Daddy and we both shrugged. We had won the battle….or so we thought.

The next morning I began taking her hair down as promised when I noticed it was wet.
Me: Did you get your hair wet?
TD1: Yeah, I ran water over it so it can get super straight like Elsa’s. The water helps it grow.
Me: The water does help it grow, but it doesn’t make our hair get super straight. It does the opposite. It makes it more curly. You can still wear your hair down, but it just won’t be long and straight.

Uh-oh! That was the wrong thing to say. What followed was an hour-long emotional breakdown about super straight hair. She looked absolutely adorable in her twist-out, but it didn’t matter. Her hair wasn’t super straight. I let her cry it out by herself while I retreated, defeated, to my room. I pulled out her class picture in search of this Elsa girl. Who was she? How come we’d never heard her name before? Did she say something to my child? Where was this need for super straight hair coming from? TD1 has always been infatuated with long hair à la Rapunzel and the real Elsa, but nothing about straight hair so far.

I could just hear all the backlash I was going to get when our friends and family heard about this. See, that’s what you get for putting her in school with them white folks. She needs to be around people that look like her. How is she supposed to know she’s beautiful if she’s only surrounded by images of blue eyes and blonde hair? Those kids probably over there telling them they’re ugly and making fun of them. Waahh waah waah Had I really failed my daughters already by putting them into a Greek school where they are the only black kids there? (To be fair, there are other non-Greek kids and quite a few Indian kids, but it is a predominately Greek school.) Had I allowed my desire to expose them to other cultures and different people cloud my judgement? What if Elsa did say something to TD1 to make her feel bad about her hair? I felt hopeless and like a failure.

Then reason kicked in. Is it possible that somebody said something racial/prejudice to TD1? Yeah. Is it possible that my little private detective that is hyper aware and picks up on everything has picked up on the fact that she doesn’t look like her classmates? Yup, totally. But, is it also possible that she simply wants a certain hairstyle that her friend has? That’s possible, too. I remember begging my mom for a perm when I was in grammar school. All my cousins had one. All my friends had one and I was still rocking balls and barrettes and getting up early on Easter to be burned by fire with a pressing comb. Yup, I was TD1 once – natural girl with the ponytails and braids begging my mom for super straight hair. Only difference is that the people with the super straight hair I wanted to emulate had a much darker skin than the ones she goes to school with. It’s possible that this had nothing to do with racial identity, but I was making it out to be like that in my head. Truth be told, regardless of race, we’re surrounded by women with “super straight hair.” And, I’m constantly changing styles and hair colors. It was only a matter of time before she wanted something different, too.

Regardless, I talked to her teacher to see if anything had been said in the classroom that could or should frame the way I handled the conversation with TD1. Turns out, Elsa is one of the older girls in the class and TD1 looks up to her. She takes a special interest in everything this girl does, including how she wears her hair and what activities she does during quiet time. Furthermore, the kids and the teachers all can’t get enough of the special braids (courtesy of her super awesome aunt), beads and “clips” (barrettes) TD1 rocks at school. So she gets lots of love and praise for her hair, but she was just tired of the braids and wanted to wear her hair down for a while.

Day 2 of the twist out went a LOT smoother. I don’t know if it was the compliments about her “cool hair” from the day before or if she just decided super straight wasn’t her thing, but when I offered to style her hair differently, she replied “No thanks. I like it down like this. Then Lil’ Nana will braid it again, but make sure she doesn’t hurt me this time or I’m not gonna like my braids.”

I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear about “super straight hair,” but I plan to keep reassuring her that her hair is beautiful just the way it is, while also allowing her to explore different styles (within reason). I may even let her get “super straight hair” for a special occasion, like say a 5th birthday. I’m also spending a lot of time talking to her about the versatility of her hair.

*To protect the identity of innocent five-year-olds, we’re going to call her Elsa because which 4- or 5-year-old girl doesn’t want to be like Elsa?

Why So Negative

I try to compliment T-Daddy a lot – both privately and publicly. I know that it’s a love language for both of us, and it’s so easy to nag or complain, but not always as easy to appreciate the good. And if I’m being honest, there’s a lot of good to appreciate. And most of it, I take for granted. T-Daddy does a lot of small things for me and the girls and it’s been that way since Day 1. One of my favorite memories to recall is how he single-handedly unpacked my apartment when I first moved to Decatur. We weren’t officially dating when he came to visit me. I got off work and every dish in my kitchen had been unpacked, washed and put into an appropriate cabinet. I never asked him to do that and he was so humble about it when I thanked him. That’s a quality that I want TD1 and TD2 to look for in the man they marry. And it’s usually acts like this that I don’t give him enough credit for until I’m reflecting on our relationship.

When I go to sing him praises, I feel this unnecessary need to offer a disclaimer. Something like “You do a lot of things that irk me, but…” “T-Daddy isn’t perfect, but…” “In the midst of all of the bad times and trials and tribulations…” Pretty much something that ensures that he and whoever I’m talking to (or FB) know that he’s not perfect. Somehow without this declaration of imperfection, the compliment seems less sincere or fake. Like I’m putting on airs. Pretending that our life is perfect.

so-negative-image
But, why do I feel this way? Why do I feel the need to be so negative? To qualify his compliment by calling out his flaws. I recently caught myself doing this a few days ago when I went to post about us getting baptized. I was writing my Facebook post in my head, and one version went something like, “T-Daddy and I have had a lot of issues and he does things that make me question the validity of our relationship, but it’s moments like this that make me glad he’s on my team.” That’s a true statement. But just because it’s true, does it need to be said? Couldn’t I have just posted about how happy I was that we took this step together? I think anyone that has spent any amount of time around T-Daddy and I are privy to the ways in which we work each other’s nerves. I don’t always need to bring it up. In fact, it’s not for everyone to always know or see. Furthermore, how deflating it is to get a backhanded compliment that has to point out your failures and flaws. I know for me if T-Daddy said, “Babe you look good in that dress, but you can stand to do a few sit-ups,” I’d be crushed. I wouldn’t feel as good as I would if he simply said, “Babe, that dress looks good on you.”

I want my marriage to not only last, but to be one that lifts up God, teaches my daughters how to love others, and, quite frankly, one that is just healthy and fun and enjoyable. It’ll never be these things if I’m constantly tearing my husband down, even when I’m “lifting him up.” I need to be more cognizant of my words. They, after all, have the ability to breathe life or death into a situation. And, for my marriage, I choose life.

TnT Born Again

On April 24, 2016, T-Daddy and I got baptized again. We had both been baptized as children, but this time we were taking this step, making this decision as adults committed to becoming the man and woman God wants us to be.

We hadn’t planned to get baptized. In fact, we forgot that it was Baptism Weekend. Our church is in the middle of a series on emotions called “Emojis.” The series kicked off Easter weekend and we thought this weekend would be on anxiety, so we cut our weekend in Peoria short and rushed back so I could experience the sermon live. Imagine my disappointment when we got there and the weekend bulletin listed anxiety as the sermon for the following week. I was mad. So I went back and read my notes from the sermon on disappointment, which reminded me that disappointment can either lead to depression or opportunity. It was my choice. So I asked God to change my feelings so that I wouldn’t miss the opportunity that He had for me.

Pastor talked about baptism and what it was and wasn’t. In short, it’s an expression of faith, it’s an immersion and it’s important to Jesus. Then he went into a list of frequently asked questions and expressed reasons for not getting baptized. Among those he mentioned were: waiting for family, being baptized as an infant/child and just getting your hair done. Somewhere in between his sermon and the questions/reasons, I felt a pull in my spirit to get baptized. They even made mention several times that “Some of you are thinking about it, and are still hesitant. It’s okay. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t plan for this. If God’s telling you to do this, we want you to do it. Even though the group has walked out, your time hasn’t passed. You can still come up. Anytime, even at the end.” I knew I wanted to, but I was scared. Of what, I don’t know.

I motioned to T-Daddy and told him I wanted to get baptized.

T-Daddy: You should
Me:
I’m scared.
T-Daddy:
You don’t need to be. You want me to go with you?

baptismI nodded. He took my hand and led me out the sanctuary. We met individually with counselors and then we were given a shirt and shorts to change into. Every step of the way, there was someone that we have grown to know at the church cheering us on and telling us how happy and proud they were of us.

We stood in line and talked about how this was the right thing to do. T-Daddy even revealed to me that he too was feeling the pull and I gave him the extra push…that confirmation that this is what we should do. The entire time I fought back tears. He walked onto the stage and into the baptism tub. Pastor introduced him to the congregation and then asked him some questions and baptized him. He was given a towel and exited the stage. It was my turn. Repeat. We were met outside by more people hugging us and telling us congratulations and how happy they were for us.

We went and changed. More people came up to us. One lady I exchanged contact information with months ago managed to take pictures and send them to me. It was a very emotional experience, but mostly it just felt right.

In a month, we will stand before the same congregation on the same stage to dedicate our children to God. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, but we were waiting until after we were married. It seems only fitting that we got baptized first, too.

On April 24, 2010, T-Daddy and I began what would come to be a very challenging relationship with lots of ups and downs, tribulations and blessings. It holds a special meaning for me that exactly six years later, we would choose to take another (more significant) step together. I feel like TnT was just born again. And, I can’t wait to see how God moves in our lives as we move closer to Him.

T-Talks: Tummy Hurts

Either someone told TD2 that a tummy ache was her Get Out of Jail Free card, or she took it upon herself to decide that. Either way, every conversation in our house now sounds like:

T-TalksConvo 1:
T-Mommy/T-Daddy: Eat your food.
TD2: But Mommy/Daddy, my tummy hurt.

Convo 2:
T-Mommy/T-Daddy: Go to bed.
TD2: Mommy/Daddy, my tummy hurt.

Convo 3:
T-Mommy/T-Daddy: Clean your room.
TD2: But Mommy/Daddy, my tummy hurt.

When that doesn’t work, she just runs to us, rubs our face and ever so sweetly says, “I want you!”

-_-

T-Talks: Invisible Parents

T-TalksTD1: Mom, you’re not my real mom.

Me: Who’s your real mom?

TD1: My real mom and dad are invisible. I was invisible and then I came here through an invisible mirror.

Me: Oh really? When did you come through the mirror?

TD1: When I was 5.

Me: But you’re 4 now.

TD1: Yeah, I got younger when I went through the invisible mirror and now I’m not five here but in the invisible world I’m really 5 and my real parents are invisible too. And my invisible mom is nice. She lets me eat all the candy I want and I’m happy because it doesn’t give me cavities. I never have cavities in my real life. But Mom?

Me: Yes sweetie?

TD1: My invisible dad is mean. He yells at my invisible mom and pushes her and bites her. So I put him in timeout for four minutes because he’s four and then he eats all his food and get bigger and bigger and then he forgets and yells at invisible mom again and bites her and pushes her because invisible Daddy is mean.

Me: That is mean. It’s a good thing that Daddy isn’t your invisible Daddy and he’s nice to you.

TD1: But he’s not my real daddy. My real Mommy and Daddy are invisible like me. But I came through the invisible mirror so you can see me but not them.

-_-

We Rocked the Vote

A couple years ago, T-Daddy and I made the decision to expose the TDs to the election process by allowing them to tag along the next time we voted. In my head, it would go something like this: Get the girls up and dressed, head to the polling place, vote, talk about what happened over a nice special breakfast and drop them off at school before going to work. As Election Day got closer, the plan became: watch some debates as a family, talk about why they were important, go to work/school on Election Day, pick the girls up, go vote as a family, discuss what just happened over a special dinner.
 It’s finally Election Day, so how did it actually go? Well, for starters, we didn’t watch any of the debates. T-Daddy and I were mad last minute scrambling to research the candidates. (In all fairness, that’s still more than I’ve done in previous elections, so it’s progress.) My appointment with my midwife had to be rescheduled for Tuesday night due to an emergency (after I cancelled therapy so we could have extended family time). This gave us a short window to vote and do dinner but, hey I’m the queen of cramming as much stuff in as I can, so universe bring it! I went to work; T-Daddy dropped the girls off at school. Found out he had a meeting scheduled for the time we were supposed to be voting, so T-Daddy went and voted solo. I picked the girls up and we went to the polling place. On the five-minute ride over, we talked about elections and what it means to vote. Apparently TD1’s teacher had already explained this to her. We signed in, waited about 10 minutes, then it was go time!

TD1 wanted to know who I voted for. I told her we’d talk about it when Daddy came home. Meanwhile, TD2 wanted to touch everything. I compromised and let them take turns pressing the next button. They wanted to “do it all by myself. Don’t help me.” So I didn’t. We finished voting, got our stickers and took a picture by the American flag. 

Then I decided to take them to the park. We’d just done our civic duty; why not have a little fun? T-Daddy met us up there. I went to my appointment, came home, and we ate dinner (late) as a family where TD1 asked,

Mommy, Daddy, who did you vote for?

Our Amazingly Pleasant First ER Visit

So….it finally happened. TD2 finally got an injury that couldn’t be fixed with a band-aid and hug and kiss from Mommy.

A few Saturdays ago, she was playing around…as usual. Being a daredevil…as usual. Climbing stuff…as usual. And then she fell. And hit her face on the floor, causing her bottom teeth to go into her upper lip.

OUCH!

TD2-ER-VisitThere was lots of blood and a gash, which resulted in stitches. FIVE OF THEM! We called her pediatrician’s clinic to see if they’d see us, and after a painful and crying-filled over-the-phone consultation, they directed us to take her to the ER. So off we went. We’d opted to go to the ER connected to their pediatrician’s clinic to make it easier for their doctor to access the records later. (Their doctor is the type to stop in on a sick visit once she finds out they’re being seen by someone. Also, not knowing what to expect, I wanted to be prepared in case there was a follow-up visit prescribed).

I have never had such an awesome experience at the emergency room. From check-in to check-out, it was as smooth and painless as one can expect with two kids – one of which is in incredible pain and the other who is worried about her sister and needs to make sure the doctors are going to fix her.

When we checked in, everyone had to get a wrist bracelet with TD2’s info except TD1, but not wanting to be left out, she asked where hers was. Before I could respond, the receptionist had given her one. It was a generic one, but TD1 didn’t care. She was just happy to not be left out. We were immediately taken to our room where the nurses came right in, followed by the doctor. They took a look at TD2’s mouth, decided on a course of action and then went right to making her comfy via pain meds and cartoons.

After giving the meds a chance to kick in, they came back and strapped TD2 down and started the procedure. That was the most painful part. She was strapped in a blue, child-sized straight jacket while the peidiatric tech held her head straight and the ER doctor poked through her lip with a fishing hook and fishing thread. He did two first like he had previously told us, but then decided she would actually need 1-2 more. She ended up with five.

TD2 kept cutting her eyes at me, pleading for me to pick her up and all I could offer her were ineffective “Shhhhh” and “Mommy’s right here” while rubbing her leg through openings in the straight jacket thing. About 20 minutes later, and it was all over. Once they freed her, she jumped in my arms and held on for dear life.

The nurse returned with a stuffed animal and two popsicles – one for TD2 and one for TD1. We were discharged and home we went.

The rest of the day TD2 was clingy and laid around, but the next morning she woke up with a lip five times its normal size and the energy to match. It was as if she was hell bent on getting the right side of her mouth to match the left.

Maybe that ER visit was too pleasant.

T-Talks: No!!

T-Talks
Me: Do you want to go to sleep in your room?
TD2: No.
Me: Do you want to go to sleep with Mommy?
TD2: No.
Me: Well, those are your only options: either sleep in your room or sleep with me.TD2: Ummmmm no!

Sent her to her room where she laughed and played till not T-Daddy and I took turns yelling for her to lay down. At which point, she screamed the whole time, then cried “I want su Mommy!!!” But, true to her word, she did NOT go to sleep.

I Choose T-Daddy

Today, T-Daddy and I will celebrate the one year anniversary of the day I said “Yes!”

A lot has happened in the days since he first asked (like getting married) that has made me reflect on the magnitude of that simple three-letter answer. I wasn’t just saying “Yes.” I was saying “Yes” to ALL of him – the good, bad, ugly and weird. But, hopefully I was also saying “Yes” to a lifetime of happiness with my best friend.

  

 On December 11, 2014 – less than two weeks after he asked – while late night IG scrolling, I came across a book that was all about the happiness in marriages AND it was only 99 cent. So at 1:29 a.m., I downloaded “The Happy Wives Club” on iBooks and then sent out screenshots to all of my friends that I thought might be interested. The author, Fawn, traveled the world talking to happy wives to find the secret to a happy marriage. I wanted to find out what she learned. I wanted to be a happy wife in a happy marriage. I want to be a happy wife married to a happy husband in a happy marriage.

How fitting that today is also the day I finished the book. And, what do you know? The secret to a happy marriage is choosing a happy marriage. At the end of the book, Fawn listed 12 things that each of the couples she interviewed had in common that she believes are the secrets to a happy marriage. Only they’re not really secrets. And T-Daddy and I already have a great deal of them in our relationship. The only thing left is for us to choose happiness. Everyday.

A week from tomorrow will mark the three-month anniversary of the day I said another very important three letters, “I do!”

So, today, exactly 365 days after I said “Yes” to marrying him, I’m also saying “Yes” to choosing to be happy with him till death do us part. I’m choosing T-Daddy.

Just searching for my not-so-secret treasure