Stressing Out, Lightening Up

I’ve been feeling brittle, emotionally. Nothing particularly bad has happened, just all the little things adding up and putting their own tiny weight on my anxiety, so that I don’t realize it’s ready to break until it’s near happening.

Just like the little things stress me out, the little things lighten the load.

I got my library copy of I Hate Fairyland vol. 4 by Skottie Young. Nothing like candy-colored massacre to cheer anyone up.

Cheryl Strayed’s soothing voice giving advice on Dear Sugars. She and Steve Almond released their last episode, but I think I’ll go back and listen to some of the ones I missed.

My baby toddler dancing to the concert scene in Sing. It is a sight.

This closeup picture I accidentally took of the wood on our deck. It was a pleasure to find on my phone when I was flipping through videos of my dog and kid.

And writing. Anything I can get it, getting out a chapter while she naps, scribbling a few sentences in my car before walking into work, madly typing up a blog post after she’s gone down for the night and I’ve finally finished those chores.

My Daughter: A Collector, Like Her Mother Before Her

I am overly fond of collecting things.

There were My Little Ponies. Garfield comics. Beanie Babies, of course. Once I had one of the things, I needed all of them to go with it.

My mother tried to focus me sometimes. For a little while I tried collecting little ceramic animals. At the store, I picked up a whale, an otter, a racoon…

“Why don’t you try collecting certain ones?” my mother asked me. “Just collect the ocean animals.”

I paused, my stomach twisting. I did what she said, because it was logical, because she was right. But it wasn’t what I wanted to do.

I wanted them all.

I’m an adult, now, and I still feel it. My sister-in-law bought me a Disney Starbucks “I Am Here Mug” for my birthday once, the EPCOT one. I love it, just like she knew I would. But there’s a little twinge in my heart when I look at it. Because I don’t have the rest of them.

And I need them.

My daughter is barely 1 and 1/2. She doesn’t understand that certain things go together. But she’s beginning to gather. This past week she picked up every little acorn she found on her grandparents’ porch, and toted them around the house in greedy little fists. She fished through a clear vase full of sea glass, picking out only the deep dark blues. She is beginning to collect, and even though I fear for the space in our already overly-cluttered little house, but I’m also excited by this new part of her personality she’s showing, this little girl who is so amazing and special and yet sometimes just like me.

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Old Familiar Brown Bear

Each time I go to the library with my daughter, I show her books. “This one’s got dogs!” “Look, a duck!” But she sits in the rocker, or chews on a train, or presses her snotting nose against the glass of a papier mache Charlotte’s Web display.

Then we’re in the picture books. She sees one, and she points, excited. Finally, I think, a book she wants. And I go to grab it…

…and it’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

“What? We own this book.”

“Ehn!”

“It’s sitting on our bookshelf.”

“Ehn!”

“I read it four times yesterday!”

She looks at me as if to say, What part of “Ehn!” don’t you understand?

“Fine.”

I plop her on the carpet. I place the book between us, and open the first page. And for the first time since I brought her inside, she sits still.

“Brown Bear, Brown bear, what do you see…”

Movies My Daughter Has Watched: Quick Review

Here are some movies my daughter has been obsessed with.

Secret Life of Pets. Cute jokes about pets, but by the 500th viewing you start to realize that the plot makes little sense and you can’t understand how the characters move around. What is the rabbit’s actual goal? How did that guinea pig stuck in the vents make it into a different building? Why didn’t Katie properly introduce two strange dogs before leaving them alone together for what has to be the longest workday I’ve ever seen? According to my toddler, though, this movie has everything: it has dogs, it’s got, well…more dogs. She is in. To. It.

Trolls. I’m going to admit — I enjoyed this. I liked the songs, I liked that everything looks like it’s made out of felt, I even liked the crazy story. It was just fun. There’s been no big demand from miss baby, though, so we haven’t rewatched yet.

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Mary and the Witch’s Flower. Baby’s first anime! I wanted to watch it, and I put it on thinking she’d ignore it. Instead she pointed excitedly at the screen whenever a cat or some other animal showed up, and in between seemed like she was actually watching the movie. Mama’s little girl is an anime fan; guess the apple really doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

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Moana. Songs: check. Beautiful water: check. Adorable pig: double check. My daughter claps when the end title slams on the screen, as if in appreciation, and she’s made a enough lilting sounds during the musical numbers to convince me she’s trying to sing.

Most of the Way to Sleep

I finish nursing her for the night. Sleepily she reaches for her pacifier. I help her plug it in her mouth, and she settles in my arm as I open Llama Llama Red Pajama for the hundredth, three-hundredth time.

I read, but I’ve memorized the book, so I also watch her. She tugs gently, purposefully at her curls. Her eyes close, but she isn’t quite asleep. She shifts a little at each page turn, and when I finish and bring her to my shoulder, she lifts her head and looks at me. I finish a song, kiss her face, and place her in her bed as she reaches for it, milk and words already lulling her most of the way to sleep.

Babies have preferences — who knew?

Before my daughter was even born, I wondered: what kind of things would she like? What would be her favorite shows, the books she read again and again? I figured I had a while before these preferences set in.

Related imageThen around 10 months, I read Llama Llama Red Pajama, repeating the story every time she flailed her arms and grunted, “Unh!” (It was many times, over many nights.) One afternoon she hit the PBS Kids app on my phone and accidentally started an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, thus beginning an ongoing love of imaginary tigers singing infuriatingly catchy songs. And she has not yet had her fill of this bunny video…

Her personality set in so much faster than I realized it would. Every day she becomes more distinct, more herself, and watching this happen is so exciting.