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Monday, April 24, 2006

Fwee, the number after two

"I love you better." you say to me as I tuck you into bed. As I walk out of the room I turn to look at you in your bed. A big girl bed. You look so small lying there among the huge duvet and huge throw pillows, and suddenly the tiny purple crib blanket hardly seems adequate, though you wouldn't dream of going to bed without it. The satin has ripped away from the blanket in several places and the soft knitted weave is beginning to unravel and fray, but still you love it.

Every night at bedtime you ask me if I can turn on the tv and "hold you". You will drink a bottle of soymilk ("Big girls DO TOO drink bottles") and snuggle up. Your little brother will climb all over us, sometimes trying to steal your bottle from you. But usually a couple of good whacks with the bottle from you, makes him reconsider. Then you hold onto the the blanket's "tail" and suck on your two middle fingers.


I have never won anything in my life. I have never won a contest, or some cash from one of those scratch off lottery card things, or even a free cup of coffee from McDonald's. I never win at anything. But somehow I won the kid lottery. And I just don't mean by the sheer volume of kids I have somehow ended up with. But rather the fact that I have ended up with kids who are far cooler, smarter, and cuter than I could possibly deserve. Really, how did I get this lucky?

I want to dunk you in my coffee, like a chocolate covered biscotti and eat you up.

I have sat down and tried to write this post about you turning three years old several times over the last few days, and each time I do I find that I end up writing more about me than I do about you. I suppose that is how it is with mothers and daughters, as we weave our entangled web of expectations, hopes, fears, and disappointments. I can't help but look at you and think of all the ways I hope you turn out different than I did. How I hope you are happy and fulfilled in ways that I can not even begin to fathom.

Three years ago you were born and I became a mother to a daughter. I had all but given up hope of ever having one and in fact had accepted my role as the mother of sons. In fact we didn't even bother with the pretense of picking out a girl name. I'll admit that after you emerged from my body in a traumatic and exhausting labor, part of which involved the doctor sticking his arm up inside me like I was his hand puppet. I had a moment of disappointment. I could never be adequate. I remember sitting in my hospital room, looking at you, and thinking, "Holy shit. Now what?"

Getting A Ride in IKEA

I was the mother of sons. I knew how to do that. I was good at that. Now suddenly I looked at you in my arms and felt sad. Sad at the baggage I would inevitably pass down to you. Lord knows I have so much of it that it requires me to pull a cart behind me to carry it all. No matter how hard I try I am sure that I will pass down some of it, though I promise you I will try my hardest to keep it all to myself.

This year has been a big one. You have learned to use the potty, ride a tricycle, appreciate a good joke, and perfected your temper tantrum and crossed arm pout. You have learned to wrap your father and brothers around your finger, okay and me too. You announce to anyone who cares to listen that you do not have penis, you have a big butt and a little butt, called a china. You think armpit farts and hearty belches are the height of sophisticated humor.

You are surrounded by boys who love you. Boys who will grow up to be men who love you. And I can't help but think how lucky you are to have that.

Dancing With a Big Brother

Annoying Rage inducing Aggravating Well meaning assholes strangers often come up to me in the store and tell me how sorry they feel for you, to be surrounded by all those boys. And how you will never have a date. They say it like that would be a bad thing. I want to tell them that no, you will never settle for a boyfriend who is abusive, or one who belittles you, or one who makes you feel diminished. You won't because you will have the knowledge that men are not all like that. You will have six examples, six brothers, setting high the bar of expectations. And that is a good thing. Any boy who wouldn't want to date you because they are afraid of your brothers is not someone worthy of dating.

Also, your brothers have been instructed to beat the crap out of any boy who dares to treat you badly. Don't let the suits and the clean cut appearance fool anyone.

The Boys

And so when strangers approach me and say those things, I just laugh. Sometimes I'll say that there have been a few dates in my life that I wish I didn't go on and turn back to my groceries, or diapers, or mega pack of toilet paper.

Sometimes you seem to embody all the stereotypes of being a girl. You love clothes. Your brothers all view clothing as a necessary evil. Something to be put on and left on as long as possible until a) I make them take it off and put on fresh clothing under threats, or b) the clothing, having achieved a life of it's own, walks off of their bodies. You, on the other hand, love clothes. You change your outfit several times a day as well as accessorize. No outfit is complete without "pretties" for your hair, jewelry, and a twirly skirt.

Baseball PLaying Princess

You love to shop. And often will cry when we are driving home after a day of shopping, begging me to go to "just one more store, mommy." It beings tears to my eyes, because after having endured shopping with five sons who cry and carry on like they are being stabbed with hot pokers at the very mention of shopping, it is refreshing to have a kindred spirit who understands the joy of finding the perfect shirt, pocketbook, shoes, or all three.

This frightens your father, who keeps asking you things like, "Wouldn't you rather go fishing?" or "how about a hike?" or "Don't you have enough shoes?" And you just laugh and wiggle your little finger around in the air, causing him to melt and throw money your way.

You love you brothers, "your boys" you call them. And they love you.

What made your birthday video so funny to us is that usually you love being the center of attention. You love to sing. And you love to make us all laugh.

This video is one I took of you right before we lit the candles on the cake. And is way more indicative of your personality. I love how you are looking around at all of "your boys" while you are singing.

And finally, I will end this with a joke from you, one that didn't involve the words poop, potty, or other nonsense words.

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"


"Because HE WANTED TO!"

It must be a three year old chicken.


Blogger txmommy said...

She's beautiful! Thanks for sharing about your family in blogland. I lurk often and even though we are opposites in many ways: you are thin, live in an old house in a cold climate, write well and have lots of boys; I am chubby, live in a new house in a hot climate, have lots of girls and sometimes manage to think in complete sentences but never write, I love to visit and laugh and be touched. So thanks!

4:20 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I, too, a mad lurker, love coming to your site. My daughter, sandwiched between two boys, is to turn 3 in June. She too has potty trained, learnt to ride a bike, perfected temper tantrums etc. And she has the exact same pink fairy skirt - although hers is a tad ratty from wearing it 24/7 and it being second hand from her older cousins. You have a beautiful family and a beautiful way of telling your story. Thanks. And Happy Birthday sweet girl!

4:30 PM  
Blogger Michael, Shelby & Charlotte said...

You write so wonderfully I enjoy lurking on your blog as well. But most of all this entry touched me as I have all those fears about what I will instill in my daughter...I pray she gets the best of me and that I can instill self esteem and self respect. Thank you for your entry..I am glad to know I'm not the only one feeling this way.

4:43 PM  
Blogger MamaGeph said...

What a wonderful post! She is a lovely creature - I especially like the pink ensemble with the fishing boots and baseball glove. Classic.

The Bear turns three this Sunday, and we do the big kid bed for third birthdays, too. Not sure I'm ready to see his little self in that big ol' bed. Or to assemble the thing out of one small IKEA box.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

What a precious little jelly bean she is....yes, you are a lucky mommy, Chris! I am an only daughter with five younger brothers - I loved them as kids and even more now that we're all adults. I still call them "the boys."

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Denise said...

She is excellent. You are all very lucky to have each other. Happy Birthday to your whole family!

5:08 PM  
Anonymous onetallmomma said...

A bit teary-eyed here. I am the mother of 3 girls and 1 boy. Being the oldest of 5 girls I just assumed that I was destined to be the mother of daughters. When #3 was born I asked the midwife "What the hell is that thing between her legs!" Isabell was quickly changed to Joshua and he has proceeded to teach me over the past 8 years that I KNOW NOTHING about being a mother. But he has brought such joy and laughter to this house. And yes, I do now know that boys really do turn carrots into guns at a very young age. And will he ever get his aim right when he pees? Oh, and my 4 year olds blanket is refered to as "skanky blanky"!

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Beautiful. Speechless. I am also blessed with a girl and I am so happy you got atleast one for your own. This has to be the very best age where everything they do breaks our hearts and then heals it right back in seconds.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Libragirl said...

She is beautiful. And lucky to have a mom and dad who adore her. She might not appreciate the brothers scaring her dates away at first, but when she is older and realizes that she wants to meet a boy like her daddy and her brothers, she will

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is such a touching post. She's gorgeous, Chris. Happy Birthday Lil' BYH!!!

7:28 PM  
Anonymous jurgen nation said...

That was me, oops. The page was taking too long to load.

7:29 PM  
Blogger owlhaven said...

She and my 3 yr old would have a great time playing dressup together!

Mary, mom to many

7:29 PM  
Blogger B.E.C.K. said...

What a little blessing, and how lucky she is to have the family she does. Just lovely...

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mad me cry this time. I wish that I was her. I'm jealous now and the two brothers I have is not enough. Thanks for making me proud of having soo many men in my life. And also very glad to have the two sweet daughters that I am blessed with. They scared me too at first. I knew nothing of girls or sisters or any of that stuff. They teach me a lot everyday! I am also now proud of womanhood because of them. Their teens are creeping up quick and I like it. Most of the time....:)

8:36 PM  
Blogger Jody said...

Oh, perfect, perfect , perfect!! What a beautiful letter to your daughter!

She is a living doll!! I love hearing her little voice. Mia calls her brothers "the boys" too. We have lucky little girls!!

8:52 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

I'm glad I read this post before watching your previous one with the "Happy Birthday" singing and cake. Nothing like laughing through the tears. She's such a doll and I'm sure she makes her mommy very very proud.

9:07 PM  
Blogger judi said...

a lovely post! the mother-daughter bond is so unique- sometimes easy, sometimes difficult, but always an unspoken understanding. well, maybe not with your mom (or mine, for that matter) but i think that only serves to strengthen the bonds with our daughters. my two daughters are 18 and 15 and, although a challenge as all strong girls are (would we want them any other way?), pull at my heartstrings in a way i don't think my 3 sons ever will. the mysteries of that mother-daughter relatonship.

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just a lurker without a blog (considering one!) otherwise I'd not be anonymous. Very nice post. I enjoy your blog. I would love to see you write about how you homeschool your children - when you have time! Thanks for always brightening my day!

9:26 PM  
Anonymous elismsue said...

You have spoken for every mother of every daughter. Thank you for stating it so honestly, heartfully and eloquently.


10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So incredibly sweet. She truly is one of the luckiest little girls in the world, as you are one of the luckiest women in the world to be her mother. You captured the moment perfectly. Thank you for sharing it with us.

11:04 PM  
Blogger TBG said...

She is beautiful and their is nothing better than having all those brothers! I love it myself!

11:17 PM  
Blogger MMC said...

Beautiful! And I love the ballerina princess with the baseball & glove. Adorable.

11:24 PM  
Anonymous tammie said...

She is just adorable!!! They are all so lucky to have a mom (and dad) like you!! As for dating when she's older, damn right that her brothers are going to show her how a lady should be treated. It just makes me sick when women "settle" for men who abuse them and treat them poorly. Happy B-day to the princess!!!

12:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how she looks so thoughtful in all the pictures.

12:53 AM  
Blogger The Daring One said...

Oh, the cuteness, the unbearable cuteness. My eyes! Ack, my eyes! What a great tribute. I love the tenderness you show for your kids when you write like this. Baggage or no, you are a great mama. (or at least you play one on the internet fairly convincingly)

2:21 AM  
Blogger Taffi said...

Awww! She's so beautiful and you capture the mom-of-a-girl fears perfectly. You are blessed, as is she. I love the baseball-fairy outfit... I can see my sweet girl wearing that sometime.

Taffi, mom to 3 boys and a girl

4:02 AM  
Anonymous Emily McKhann said...

Your post brought back so many happy memories. I grew up with four brothers as the only girl, and often heard the comments said to my mom or even directly to me, that I'd never get a date. And just as you said, I got plenty and I expected them all to treat me as well as my brothers did (aside from the constant wrestling). I was never a princess and had to fend for myself in the mayhem, but it was incredibly fun. To this day, there are few people I'd rather hang out with. Happy birthday to your little girl.

7:05 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

ARGH! Stop making me cry first thing in the morning, Chris!!!

Seriously, she's so great. You're doing a bang-up job...:)

8:01 AM  
Blogger Eli's Mom said...

Very well-written 'tribute' to your daughter..she will love reading this when she's older!

8:11 AM  
Anonymous mummyv said...

this was a beautiful post. i love reading about your family, and in particular, your daughter - it's true, the implications and pressures of raising a girl seem almost insurmountable at times, but the gifts of having another feminine presence must be so nuturing for you also. part of what makes your blog so great is that it gives a window into a family life many of us never had. sure, it's a little nuts, but it's full of love and full of kids. keep up the good writing.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Jordana said...

As much as I hoped to some day have a daughter, and have wound up with two so far, a girl is more intimidating in some ways. Sometimes I think I understand my daughters better than my son, and yet those very similarities between us drive me the most crazy and scare me the most.

You have a beautiful little girl there though and you are certainly worthy to be her mom.

9:47 AM  
Blogger speckledpup said...

sweet post momma.

I too, have one girl amidst a plethura of boys. She is definitely my best friend, my buddy, my kindred spirit. She's better than me, smarter and will learn from my mistakes. I'm so happy that we went ahead and tried for the happy.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Darren said...

People serioulsy say they feel sorry for her?! Wow, I've always seen her as incredibly lucky. She pretty much has six men who will look out for her for the rest of her life.

And, wow, Chris. I could never imagine my mother ever writing or even thinking these kinds of things about me. You really are a great mom.

10:47 AM  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

She is lucky beyond words. For her wonderful brothers and her amazing parents.

Beautiful girl, and beautiful post!

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Jamie said...

I absolutely love that last picture of is priceless. She is precious and your writing is wonderful. This is the second time you've made me cry this month.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

loved this post. my favorite picture was the pink outfit with the boots and baseball glove. classic.

i laughed out loud when i read about the kid lottery. :)

1:01 PM  
Blogger Silly Old Bear said...

Beautiful, all the way around. She and you both...

1:12 PM  
Blogger Kelli in the Mirror said...

That was so wonderful to read. My little girl will be three soon and you captured so many of the things I think but can't seem to say.
Except I need to work on getting her some brothers. :)

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I am soo small in this sea of comments you always get! But I will try...I have a big family contest on my blog you might like! Check it, man!

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Leslie said...

I love your blog. I thought I would come out of lurkdom to say how amazing that post was. Five weeks ago, I just had my first daughter after four boys. I can't wait to experience all that you have. Well, maybe not all. :)

5:49 PM  
Anonymous wendy said...

Beautiful words for a beautiful little three year old!

6:11 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Oh my, what a cutie. Thanks for posting that.

I have a SIL who grew up as the only girl among 6 boys and she was flooded with love, protection and lots of teasing.

She is a beautiful, tough and graceful woman. I definitely don't think it's a disadvantage to be surrounded by good boys and men.

6:17 PM  
Blogger EvaRob said...

I love this post. Thanks!

10:59 PM  
Blogger deputyswife said...

Beautiful post!

When, and I hope it is soon, you write a book about motherhood, I will be the first in line to buy it!!! You are such a great writer!!!

11:20 PM  
Blogger InterstellarLass said...

Your girl sounds a bit like my girl. Except without the twirly skirt. I can't get her to wear a skirt to save my life. There was the drop-down temper tantrum in the middle of Penny's when trying to buy a dress for the wedding...

Happy birthday to her!

11:29 AM  
Blogger jackabug said...

That picture of her standing on the table is priceless!

7:43 PM  
Blogger Gwen said...

I love visiting your blog because I am the only girl out of 7 children, with only one younger brother. I love the baseball princess outfit. I remember playing trucks with a doll tucked under my arm. Thanks for expressing things that my mother might have felt about me as I grew surrounded by all the men I'd ever really need...almost...

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Judy Aron said...

This post really touched me.. my daughter is now 14 and I remember every one of those feelings you expressed.. hold fast to these times because they evaporate into the air before you realize it.

I have two older boys.. but my daughter is the icing on the cake .. I love her no better, but I love her in ways that cannot be with sons. She has become a good friend to me; yes a kindred soul, and she has taught me so much along the way.

You have great joy to see the baby turn into the little girl that is on your post - but just wait to the day that she morphs into the beautiful woman that will turn to you and ask advice about what heels to wear with her fancy evening dress, or how to deal with the problems of young womanhood.

A daughter is truly something special and I wish you all a happy, long and healthy life together, sharing all of the joys and sorrows that life hands us.

May the Creator bless your dear family now and always.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Journey Mama said...

I love the photo of her in the princess/fairy dress. My daughter sucks her two middle fingers too... so very sweet. Congratulations on reaching three with this beautiful girl.

2:14 AM  
Blogger MaryO said...

I just love your blog! You've inspired me to start my own, even though I know I won't like writing in it half as much as I like reading yours. Your kids are adorable and so lucky to have you as a mom!

3:10 PM  
Blogger liz said...

Dying from the cuteness.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

My daughter just turned three on April 8, you articulated all my feelings too. I really wish she had a whack of older brothers for her to grow up with.

2:14 PM  
Blogger nextcommercial said...

O.K, that was adorable.

8:47 PM  
Anonymous ViewFromEarth said...

Wow. That totally, completely, and utterly touched me. What a beautiful tribute to your daughter. Your love, hopes, fears, and dreams really shined through, as did her personality.

My youngest just turned four and your post makes me realize that I need to take a moment to reflect on that, to understand my own bittersweet feelings. Thanks for sharing!

3:52 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

What a beautiful tribute to your daughter!
She's gorgeous too BTW!
As a new mom to my first daughter, I was very touched by your story of her!!

11:10 AM  

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