You know, I actually had to count on my fingers to figure out Ellie's age this time. It probably has more to do with how stinking fast she's growing than it does the amount of time I've been out of any kind of schooling.
Enough of that. If you're a mom, you totally understand the bittersweetness of it all.
But missing Elliott's babyhood is only half of the equation.
You see, here at 17 months post-partum I'm left with a walking, talking, real-life little kid with her own personality and ideas and thoughts! And let me tell you, if Elliott has an opinion....you'll hear about it, that's for certain!
I've had many discussions with my parents about how I think Ellie is a "strong-willed child". We often talk about the importance of shaping and molding her strong spirit, rather than breaking it. If it weren't for her indepence and strong desires, she just wouldn't be the fun little go-getter that she is! It's important for me to remind myself of these things when she's in the midst of a red-faced-blood-curdling-scream-legs-kicking-arms-flailing tantrum in the middle of a nice quiet restaurant where my boss just happens to be dining at the table across the aisle from us (true story) (and, my boss is uhhh-mazing!). This toddler business is serious, and I'm treating it with care. No, I'm not perfect. And yes, sometimes those tantrums embarass me or make me flustered. But, overall I think we're getting through it. I want to remember that I'm setting an example for my daughter to live by....she is watching what I do and how I react in every.single.situation. I must be on my a-game at all times. But if I mess up from time to time, I'm sure she'll understand. We're only human.
Back to my 17 month old monster.......things aren't always about tantrums and testing limits around here. We have a lot of fun, too. Especially now that Ellie copies everything we say. Seriously, some of the things we can get her to say just crack us up! And, Elliott now often initiates play and/or conversations. It's pretty darn cute when she comes running from across the room, grabs my hand, leads me down the hall to where a stray balloon has floated to the ceiling, and simultaneously signs "please" and says "more" (with the cutest Jersey accent I've ever heard.....I have no idea where that came from). I giggle a little, tell her what a good girl she is for asking nicely, and I gladly rescue her balloon.
And the balloon wasn't just an obscure example....balloons are a big deal. We can't pass a balloon in a store without having a meltdown, and we almost always find a reason to bring one home with us. I think we've had an inflated balloon floating around these walls at all times for the last month or so. Silly girl. She can't get enough!
Ellie continues to be the light of my life. Even in her full-blown toddler stage, I love her more than I ever could have imagined. Going to work still feels foreign to me, because I'm leaving a part of me with someone else for the day. I need to be close to her, just as much as she needs to be close to me!