Questions from a 3yr old

7am Sunday morning.

Coffee not yet in my cup.

Standing at the kitchen island, getting my bearings.

Viv: “Mama, why does everyone die?”

To be honest, I cannot remember exactly what I said. I’m pretty sure it didn’t make coherent sense. Something about making the life we do have more precious. I know I assured her that people usually don’t die for a long long time. 

The thoughts going through her little head are maturing, growing more complex, growing more thoughtful. I wrote my college application essay on how I love spending time around children because they challenge you. They force you to question and re-examine your most basic beliefs. It is refreshing and interesting – she has definitely started to challenge me.

So what is the appropriate reaction? 

There are two tactics I have used so far, when Viv asks me serious questions.

1. Ask questions back.

 “What do you think ___ means?”

“What made you think of ___ ?” 

“Who was talking about ___ ?”

“How does ___ make you feel?”

2. Try not to use slang words – and be as honest as you think is appropriate for the age of your child. For instance, the NIH suggests that you shouldn’t relate death to sleep. Avoid saying something like “Grandma has gone to sleep for a long long time”.  You risk creating a misplaced fear about sleeping.

I am learning as I go. What do you think? How do you speak to your kids about serious topics?

Mom, Dad, what did parents do before Google!?

On having a moment

I had a moment last week. In a good way.

Nothing special really, just me and Celia, sitting in one of the white Adirondack chairs in our back yard. It was 6:45pm, she wore nothing but her diaper, I still had my work clothes on.

I can’t remember exactly what I was doing, but it was something that made her laugh hysterically. Belly laughs. Each of which ended in a quick cuddle on my chest. 

Half way through I remember thinking THIS is life. These are the moments that make life special. These are the moments that this blog is dedicated to. Plain, mundane, yet extraordinary.

Even a week later, I can still feel that moment, with everything in perfect clarity and perspective. For a moment, all was right in the world.

I love the emphasis this Vox article puts on celebrating moments like these.

This article begs us to remember that childhood is life, not preparation for life. As someone who tends to worry about the future, and dwell on the past, this was a welcome reminder to live in the moment.

 “Life is just a series of moments, and it’s amazing how many of them we miss, rush past, or disrupt because our minds are elsewhere, anticipating the future or dwelling on the past. But a moment of joy or connection is its own justification, not a means to an end. Play can just be fun. Fart jokes can just be funny. Daydreaming and wasted time don’t have to be framed as developmental tools; they’re just nice.”

Isn’t that just perfect? 

(PS, one of my favorite “moments” of the summer pictured above. Exploring the shallow waters in the inner harbor of Nantucket). 

A (colorful) room to grow

There is something so special about planning a room for a little baby. 

Daydreaming about who they will grow up to be, picking fun toys, and cute clothes, and having the freedom to use color in a way that you might not dare in a more adult-centric space.

Color is a key focus for my cousin as she puts together her new daughter’s room. Johannah lives with her family in Mt Desert Island, ME, in a house they built together over the past 6 years.

Besides being a new mom to baby Gwinna, Johannah is passionate about climate change – she is the project coordinator for A Climate to Thrive, an organization that seeks to achieve energy independence for MDI by 2030. On her blog, Earth to Plate, Johannah writes about how she fell in love with nature growing up in the woods of New Hampshire. Her love of nature shines through clearly in Gwinna’s room where she created a whimsical mural of a tree on the wall, complete with robin eggs. 

While the rest of their house is more mellow, she wants a really colorful room for her growing girl. The groundwork has been done: pale yellow walls, cherry wood floor, a pale blue bookshelf.

The crib and bureau have clean lines and a dark wood stain. There are pops of green, the leaves on the tree, a pillow and muslin swaddle draped over the crib rail.

Johannah wanted the room the feel magical. She has certainly succeeded. 

The challenge now is how to tie it all together with a rug. And perhaps some artwork and a cozy chair for nighttime feeding. I put together a few mood boards to help brainstorm, and here are my favorite options. 

Shop these rooms:

1.Caitlin Mcgauley Prints/ 2.Mirror/ 3.Bureau/ 4.Glider/ 5.Crib/ 6. Pillows: Embroidered/Pompom/Rainbow/Polka dot/7.Bookshelf/8.Planter

Rugs in order: Tangerine Dream/Kaledo Primary/Aster gold /Josie

3 tips for avoiding sibling rivalry

Before we had our second daughter I braced for the worst. Jealousy, battles over toys, constant competition for our time.

As an only child, I had no first hand experience with sibling dynamics, and felt a bit like I was about to set sail into uncharted waters. I craved some guidance.

Poring over articles, books, and blog posts, I looked for suggestions on how to help two little beings coexist. 

While I read, Viv practiced.

What I did not expect, was the pure unconditional love. From the moment she was born. 

Her gaze – you cannot fake that adoration. 

There are three pieces of advice that I found the most useful and truly impactful right from the start:

1. Don’t hold the new baby when your older child first arrives to meet them in the hospital. 

You want to be able to greet your older child with open (and empty) arms.  This is likely the first time they have seen you in a day or two as well, so they will crave your undivided attention and affection. It is a small detail, but one that I found logical.

2. Have a little gift wrapped and waiting that is “from” the new baby. Good old fashioned bribery!

We got this doctors kit and it was a huge hit – it was interactive and provided a way for the two of them to “play” from the start. A swaddled sleeping baby is the most patient of patients! 

3. In the beginning, when both kids are crying, tend to the older sibling FIRST. 

This may seem counterintuitive when you are faced with a screaming, completely helpless newborn. But your newborn won’t remember that you comforted the other first. Your older child will, and will grow resentful.

As Celia has gotten older and more vocal, there are more conflicts. But wow do these girls love eachother. 

So what do you think? Do you have any favorite tips for helping ease sibling jealousy? I am especially curious to hear suggestions for helping siblings deal with conflict as they get older, more vocal and mobile.