Why are mommies so sure?

I spend a lot of time talking to Lila. I know that sounds silly because as her mother, that’s probably a given, but I don’t mean I spend a lot of time talking at her, or shouting orders, or disciplining, or reciting routine instructions as we hurry about our day. Of course I spend time doing those things as well, but Lila is a cool, even tempered kid, who just loves to chat. She asks me endless questions and teaches me things simultaneously. I often say that she’s smarter than me and it’s not really a joke.

As we snuggled on the couch the other night and I answered a slew of questions Lila had, she asked me this: “Why are mommies so sure?”

I laughed and tried to give a thoughtful answer, but I couldn’t find one. Before I could dwell on it any longer we were onto the next topic. Thing is, I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

Sure? Is that how it looks? Because I can speak for all the moms (and dads) when I say we are almost never sure. Before I became a parent, I was sure of everything. I was sure I would breastfeed, but bottle feed once a day, so I wouldn’t be a slave to my little girl. I was sure my child would never sleep in my bed. I was sure I would teach my daughter how to read before she started kindergarten.

In reality, Lila didn’t take a bottle until she started daycare because I had gone back to work and the choice was to finally take a bottle, or starve. Lila slept in our bed for almost a year until she got a double bed of her own. And so far, Lila recognizes the letters in her name and believes every other letter is T.

It's cool to eat Goldfish right from the bag in your bikini, right?

It’s cool to eat Goldfish right from the bag in your bikini, right?

Somehow, the actual manifestation of parenthood stripped away any sureness. From the moment I found out I was pregnant I was unsure. Even though we had been trying for three years, I felt it was too soon, too scary. I remember ticking off my 35th week of pregnancy on the calendar and thinking, “This was a mistake.” Not because I didn’t want to have a baby, but because I wasn’t sure I could hack it.

I’m still not sure I’m doing anything right, or if I’m any good at what I’m doing.

I’m not sure if cucumbers and grapes will keep Lila from getting scurvy. I’m not sure if it’s okay to lie and tell her it’s chicken when I serve her fish nuggets. I’m not sure if I should be serving fish nuggets.

Fast food breakfast for the win

Fast food breakfast for the win

I’m never sure I’m dressing Lila in the right clothes, the right shoes, or even the right underwear because for the love of all things holy that child always has a wedgie, which distresses her to no end.

I recently made a self-deprecating joke about being a bad mother when I saw a picture of Lila and her daycare friends enjoying a picnic. She was the only one not wearing a hat in the blazing sun because I didn’t even think to pack one. So I laughed it off, but am I neglectful? I’m not sure.

I know I’m not alone. In conversations with other parents, no matter if we know each other well, or are only acquaintances, I end up asking when their child stopped peeing through the night, or how much their child weighs, or where they buy clothes? The questions are reciprocated and we compare and analyze and judge profusely. “Hi, nice to see you. What did Emma have for breakfast? What time does she go to bed? Can she count to 20?”

At Easter dinner, my sister tried unsuccessfully to get my nephew to try her apple pie and lamented, “I just wish Carter would eat more desserts.” To which I replied, in annoying little sister fashion, “Said no parent ever.” The fact is, she wasn’t sure either. The kid won’t eat cake and every birthday party he ever goes to will fill her with questions like, “Is it weird if I send vanilla ice cream?” or “Will he feel left out?”

The cool thing is that no matter how silly we feel trying to act the role of confident parents, our children believe we are sure. They think we’ve got it all together and they want to know everything we know because to them we have all the answers. We know everything. At least in the early years.

Fishing in a tutu. Lila not Daddy.

Fishing in a tutu. Lila not Daddy.

The only thing I’m genuinely sure of is that Lila has been alive for 1629 days. I’m sure that all of those 1629 days are infinitely more important than the 10,000 odd days I lived before she was born. I am sure that I love her unconditionally and I’m sure I’ll continue to be unsure all of my remaining days.

So, Lila, why are mommies so sure? We aren’t. Like ever. But we have children who believe we know what we’re doing, so we try to make careful, conscious decisions as we fumble our way through life. I am so grateful you believe in me. Of that, I am sure.

Do bees talk to humans?

As a baby, Lila’s ability to babble to herself and stay amused was uncanny, adorable and welcomed. Her days were filled with an incessant string of nonsense kind of like Charlie Brown’s teacher (wah wah wah wah), but all cute and baby-like.

All dressed up to marry Daddy

Around the age of two she took strong command of her words and began to replace the indecipherable chatter with carefully selected conversation. And now that she is the ripe old age of three and a half, this former background noise is now a never-ending project. Tylor and I are Lila’s information highway and we are
well-travelled and often suffering from gridlock.

Lila: Wow! The moon is a whole circle. I didn’t know it was a circle this year. I only saw it cracked open before. Where do the cracked off pieces go?

Me: Um…well, the sun spins around, no wait…the moon is always whole and the pieces don’t actually crack off. So, there’s this thing called the solar system…. *forehead slap*

Come on! Pull it together, Mommy! Lila just stared blankly at me and waited eagerly to gather every piece of information I was about to hand off. I could have just made something up, but I owed her more than that, so we talked about orbiting and the sun and Earth and whether or not any of it sunk in, or if she was even capable of understanding, I was as thorough as I could be because she asked.

This is the same logic we’ve always applied to words. It is not a buh-buh, it’s a bottle. Don’t ta-ta, just hand it to me, please. It’s not a pee-pee, it’s a vagina (much to Tylor’s horror of course). Side note: It is a most hilarious situation when you come home from work to find your husband really in need of a hug after he had to use the
V word and the P word while explaining that Lila’s vagina would never be long…you know, like Daddy’s. I’m certain a small part of him died that day, but even still it was a valuable conversation to help Lila understand how she fits into her little world.

Our insistence on proper words comes back to haunt, naturally. Lila corrects us if we call the Jeep a car, or if we call it a sweater instead of a hoodie. And on more than one occasion she has schooled me hard for not saying please. Fair enough. Right is right.

When she uses words like permission, appropriate and correct it’s baffling and wonderful. I suppose it shouldn’t be all that surprising when she re-uses the words we give her, but we’re always amazed at her ability to apply them correctly. I’ll admit I was even a little proud of her when she correctly used an f-bomb in a sentence…I’m the worst.

Last night, while tucking Lila into bed, she started asking questions about bees after having watched Bee Movie. Super, I know a ton about bees, er…

Lila: Do bees talk to humans?

Me: No, that’s just pretend for the movie.

Lila: I know that, Mommy. But movie bees talk to humans, don’t they?

Me: Yes, I suppose they do.

Lila: They do. They talk and talk and make friends with humans and then they just act like bees.

As you can see, I learn a lot from Lila as well. Coupled with her hunger for words, is a wild and beautiful imagination. She once told me that I should have a headband in my short hair because they are baby headbands before they are ponytails.

Double Crown

I admit, coming up with an answer to “what does my blood do all day?” isn’t easy, but it forces us to question what we think we know and wonder how this world actually operates. And the challenge is not only in getting the information, but in delivering it in a way that is fairly accurate to a little girl who believes that movie bees just hang out with movie humans all day. She learns, you learn. It’s a cool side effect of parenting.

Even when you are adamant that you don’t have the time to properly answer the 572nd question your child has asked you that day, you’re going to wish you did when she says, “Aunt Gertrude? Mommy said you’re old and crazy and that’s why you have a beard like Daddy.”

There’s a First for Everything

My famous first words. I thought, as your gracious host, it would be appropriate to introduce myself and my family. I am Christie and my partners in crime are Tylor and Lila. That makes us TLC. Not planned (I promise) but it’s the way we sign our greeting cards all the same.

You and me and Lila makes three

You and me and Lila makes three

We live a pretty cool existence in our little bungalow, in a small town with our friends and family close at hand and our wee pooch Tinker by our side. As most of the readers of this page and the countless posts that follow will either fall into the family or friends category, I doubt there is much further need for introduction, however, here are a few things that dot our tiny family’s history:

  • Tylor and I met in kindergarden, became each other’s first significant other in Grade 5, separated tragically after a kiss in the playground and then reunited seven years later at a local coffee shop. That was 14 years ago and we still mostly dig each other. We got married in 2007 and welcomed Lila into our lives in 2011.
  • Lila. Where. To. Start. She is a bundle of sass and intelligent conversation. She is stunningly pretty, but equally as kind. She demands the use of manners, proper vocabulary and she thinks farts are funny (thanks, Ty). She schools me daily on the wonders of this life, she asks questions when she doesn’t understand and absorbs absolutely every detail that is handed to her. As a reader, you’ll get to know her pretty well. I sorta love talking about her.
  • As far as hobbies, Tylor is an avid gym-aholic; he lost 85 pounds in the last two years and has even accomplished getting his wife to enjoy working out…for reals. I love canning, cooking and simple crafting. Lila enjoys painting, watching movies and general toddler mayhem.

I am excited to share a little bit of our lives with the world. The greatest gift I have received from motherhood is the ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. I hope I can impart some of that onto you. It is a beautiful way to see the world.

I haven’t decided which post is coming next: my conversation with Lila about why I shouldn’t drink wine from a box, my abysmal attempts at crocheting, or why you shouldn’t cringe at the thought of eating pickled eggs.