Hannah here: On my last blog, I wrote semi regular updates about Frankie and motherhood and it is high time for another. I love recording these small thoughts and tiny moments. I already look back at past updates and gasp at the intangibility of it, full of gratitude that I recorded things like how she used to smell or the noises she made. So I keep going.
I was dreading the toddler years because pretty much ALL of the cultural and media messages I received about it told me it would be tantrum filled, fraught, unrewarding and exhausting. It is difficult sometimes (see below) but mostly its wonderful, so I want to fling that message out in to the universe too.
She is my little sidekick in all things, and likes to get properly involved. She will happily paint and stick with glue and help me make wreathes and garlands, for example. (24 months)
Frankie-Rose is obsessed with things she doesn't like or is scared of, like big lorries or horses or ‘boshing’ her head, but talks about them incessantly in a strange masochistic way.
F: “Yesterday, Frankie scared of a horse”
me: “Yes, but it was behind the fence and could’t touch you, do you remember?”
F “The horse come toward me!” (wild eyed- re-imagining it in vivid detail)
Me “ Yes it did”
F: “I was scared of the horse”
Me: “Shall we talk about something else?”
F “ No, just talk about being scared of the horses”
F: “Yesterday, Frankie scared of a horse”
Repeat x 500 (She’s learning to deal with some strong emotions like fear.)
Cutting wriggly toddler nails is a nightmare, so she is often sporting talons, which give me big gashes whilst we’re playing. To add insult to injury, the other day I cut one of her finger nails and it pinged into, and scratched, my eye ball. Gross. And sore. (24 months)
Her imagination is wild and SO MUCH FUN. We often go to space together before breakfast, or find that a frog has mysteriously jumped onto the table whilst we’re eating. Horses are always running along side the car, and she ‘spots’ her favourite people wherever we go. (25 months)
I've found mothering a toddler is much more fun that mothering a younger baby (as lovely as that time is). Repeatedly stacking blocks for a whole afternoon can be preeeeety boring, but now she's 2, we do lots of stuff we both love, eg...
It is genuinely excellent fun to dance with Frankie in the kitchen. She responds amazingly to all sorts of different music and if a song on the radio moves her whilst we’re eating dinner, she will suddenly announce “ I dance now! Mama, Dadu, do you want to dance s’well?” and we often do. (26 months)
Her dancing is amazing, consisting of all sorts of different moves. Fast dancing involves moving arms back and forth whilst doing a sort of gallop round the room with her tongue out. To slow music: very serious face as she watches her own hands as they move really slowly through the air. It's amazing. Her favourite thing in all the world is when we exactly copy her (very good) dance moves. Girl got style! (26months)
We have been teaching her about digestion, and she now knows that food “go down here (pointing to throat), go in my belly (points), then come out here poo poo!!!” (Pointing to bottom!). She will explain this to anyone in ear shot, especially when we’re eating in cafe’s or restaurants with elderly or prudish types sitting near by.
We are still besotted, and still lie in bed at night giving each other renditions of Frankie’s best moments and mispronunciations of the day.
Stella and Frankie (24 months)
S "That baby is sad" (in book)
F "Yes that baby sad. Why that baby sad?"
S " Baby want her mummy'
F: Yes. baby want her mummy'
Adorable proper conversations with her friends.
"Mama, I did a trumpalump! Hahahah!" (big laughs about trumpalumps!) (25 months)
On train, in a loud, happy, very audible voice, "mama do a BIG burp yesterday!” Thanks Franks. (26 months)
Frankie, rambling about the rain. (I couldn’t quite hear her.)
Me: “What are you saying about the rain? What happens when it rains?”
F: “The flowers grow” (I may have cried.) (27 months)
We greet each other thus:
"Hello my mummy"
"Hello my Frankie" (28 months)
She adores real babies. So gentle and loving with them, and always avidly interested. She wanted to hold baby Vita on her lap the whole time, and was gently stroking her face and touching her nose etc.
A little later, Me: “Where are you going Frankie?”
F, with basket: “Going to the shop, to buy you a baby.” (28 months)
"Mama, I luff bentures" (adventures) in the car on the way to the beach at Whitstable. (26 months)
If she sees someone she doesn’t like the look of, she says, always in a very loud vice, “What that baddy doing? (Eek)
Playing with her baby, which she is adorably gentle with: “Its aaaalright Flora, I know is difficult for you, but its aaaalright, its oooookay.” (which is what I say to her when she is sad/wild!)
Some challenging bits:
Mothering a toddler is incredible but also hard work and takes a lot more self control than I anticipated. I don’t want to rush and pull her along the street or force clothes on her body, or coerce food into her mouth. But its oddly tempting when you’re in a rush or have things you’d rather be doing. Remembering to be civil and respectful is shockingly difficult at times. (27 months.)
We are managing tantrums (so far pretty infrequent, phew) by being as calm and quiet as possible, lowering our voices, and staying with her. So far, works pretty well.
If she is occasionally violent or snatchy we say softly “I can't let you do that" with a gentle physical barrier. Then mega distraction. Been a life saver. (28 months)
She is currently saying "Oh shit, I broke it" . Oops. (My swear word of choice is f**k, so I’m blaming her aunt. Ahem. (26 months)
Sleep is thousands of times better than it was. She sleeps through till 5 about half the time, the rest of the time Dave goes in to settle her once, sometimes twice a night. More often than not he just gets in her bed. Its scary to be 2 and to wake up in the dark on your own so he doesn't mind settling her or sleeping in her bed. "Daddy stay", huge big grin, puts her hand on his chest, zonks off to sleep. (27 months)
Breastfeeding has been a critical, precious, incredible part of our relationship and we're still going twice a day. I’ve read all the stuff about full term breastfeeding and I know the benefits to her are still huge, despite cultural disapproval. I am still enthusiastic about breastfeeding to my pregnant friends.
But my experience of reading rose tinted accounts of breastfeeding whilst pregnant then finding that the reality can be quite different has taken some of the shine off for me, which is why I want to be honest. Lots of the time it is precious bonding, cuddling, quiet time. But lots of the time its a painful pain in the arse (or tits) and I tolerate it because my daughter hugely benefits. Anyway, I can feel I'm nearing the end now so we are starting to fully wean. I can’t stand having painful nipples anymore (note to anyone contemplating breastfeeding: get the latch right!) Still. two and a half years aint so shabby, and I am very glad we have done this.
Savouring her mispronunciations
I am trying to savour all of her adorable mis pronunciations. I want to remember her sweet little high pitched voice and big questioning eyes.
“What Dadu doesin?”
“Why that baby saddin?”
“I fillillished” ( I finished)
“That baby is teely tiley” (teeny tiny!)
and this corker this morning:
“ Dadu, I want achie cocks in my porridge”- Apricots. Ahem (!) (28 months)
Tips on keeping a parenthood log
I try to write both about how Frankie is changing, and how I'm feeling about things too. Reading back, I am as keen to read both.
I used to write in a journal but it was too much like hard work, and I often didn’t have it on me. Now I write updates in a diary on the notes section of my phone, emailing it to myself every now and then as back up. Not quite as romantic but a thousand times more practical and likely to last. I always have my phone on me, so its great for those “I need to write that down now or i’ll forget it” moments. Sometimes I quickly open the note, write one word down to remind me of something, then fill in the quote later on.
I often write the updates whilst I'm breastfeeding her, or whilst she's sleeping.
If you want to catch up on the whole shebang…
If you've stayed with me to the end then you deserve a chocolate digestive or a strong G+T or something because this has been a pretty epic post. But, if you'd like to read more reflections on pregnancy and early motherhood, here are some previous posts. My first trimester pregnancy post , second trimester update, third trimester update, Introducing Frankie-Rose, 6 months of Frankie-Rose, She's one, 18 months, and now 2 and a bit years.