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It’s official, friends: I have a threenager.
Selah was a tough baby, an even tougher one-year-old, and then two was . . . surprisingly easy. (Although let’s be real, I use the word easy very, very loosely. There’s nothing easy about parenting toddlers.) I think a big part of this is because she finally started talking after a bit of a delay, and it made us both feel less frustrated and more empowered in our communication and relationship.
I actually didn’t realize just how golden age two was for her until last week. I left the house in tears last Thursday morning: from the moment she woke up to the moment I left, Selah was hitting me (and then snuggling me), yelling at me (“I want Daddy!”), and just generally refusing to get ready for school (“I don’t want to go to to school! I stay home and wear my princess dress!”)
Now, one bad morning is not a big deal. I can brush that off. But this has happened almost every morning for the past several weeks, except for a few gleaming, wonderful days. Spending 30 minutes each morning being yelled at and trying to convince a protester to do what you want . . . it’s enough to break even the most skilled and patient negotiator. (Which I am not, by the way.)
I started to write a post about this in the Sorta Awesome Hangout (basically where I go whenever I need to crowdsource tips, tricks, and emotional support), and it dawned on me: Selah is three. Maybe this is what people meant when they talked about their threenagers.
I got some good advice and some new tricks to try, but I’m also reminding myself that this too shall pass. It always does. So I will keep reaching into the reserves of my patience, trying to have empathy for my likely-introverted daughter (I hate leaving the house too, kid, even if it’s going to be fun), and using my Janet-Lansbury-inspired language and self-talk. And if/when all that fails, I’ll stop for a Starbucks Flat White on my way to the office, shut my door, have a good cry, and then get to work—reveling in the feeling of being (mostly) in control and competent at something.
Here’s more about what I learned, loved, and read in January.
What I Learned
- I can produce more than I thought I could. This month I joined Jeff Goins’s challenge to write 500 words a day for 31 days. I’m not being 100% disciplined about it because I want this habit to last longer then 31 days, so I’ve taken 1-2 days off each week. Still, at the end of January when I totaled everything up, I realized I had written more than 12,000 words. Generally I got up early to write and needed a good 20-30 minutes to get my words in. I always thought I needed long stretches of time to write anything of substance, but I actually used these small windows to write the rough drafts for 5 different essays, 500 words at a time. I love how writing in small increments more often kept my writing top of mind, so even when my fingers weren’t on the keys, I was thinking about my works in progress, brainstorming where to go next, and trying to come up with solutions for tricky spots. I’m planning to continue this habit on through February!
- I love Instagram and also wish it wasn’t a thing. I took a social media break for the first two weeks of January, and it was so good for my ability to be present and work deeply. I also found it sadly shocking how quickly I slipped back into old habits when the break was over. Maybe I need to learn to be okay with that, knowing that my rhythm is on and off rather than as evenly paced as I want it to be.
What I Loved
- Believed. It feels weird to say that I loved this, because it’s a podcast about sexual abuse. Remember the Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nasser, who abused hundreds of little girls during his career? This is the well-researched and well-told story of how he got away with it for so long. It’s a must-listen (albeit a difficult one) for parents.
- Resetting my goals, habits, and routines. I hate January weather (see: polar vortex), but I love the energy that comes with the turn of a new year. Other habits I developed in January that I’m planning to carry into February: the one-touch rule, focusing on connected caregiving rather than large blocks of playtime with Selah (at least on my in-office workdays), and getting up earlier than I need to (even if I’m not planning to write).
- The Balanced Life on YouTube. Because of weather, time constraints, and my rapidly decreasing energy levels, I haven’t been getting to the gym as often as I’d like. For the days I want to move a little bit or need to move gently, I jump on YouTube and do one or two of Robin’s videos.
- St. Ives Rise & Energize Coconut & Coffee Scrub. I’m usually drawn to fruitier scents in my bath and face products, but I am loving this scrub for winter. It’s a little more intense on the exfoliation than other scrubs I’ve tried, so if you have sensitive skin, maybe only use it once a week. I’ve been using it 3 times a week, and I definitely notice a difference in the texture of my skin.
What I Read
- Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam: This is the first book I’ve read by Laura Vanderkam, but I love her podcast, The Best of Both Worlds and now I’m excited to read the rest of her books. In Off the Clock, she takes a qualitative look at time: What makes us feel like we have more of it? What are the habits and mindsets of people who agree with the statement “I have enough time in my life to do the things I want to do”? She distills her findings down to seven actions you could put into practice tomorrow. I really enjoyed this book, and it was a perfect back-to-back read with Deep Work (which I reviewed last month). 4 stars.
- The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton: I finished this book a few days ago, and I still don’t know exactly what I think of it. But it’s still on my mind, so I suppose that’s a good thing! The very basic premise is that Evelyn Hardcastle is going to be murdered at a ball at 11:00 p.m. Our main character, Aiden Bishop, wakes up in the body of a different guest, reliving this day over and over until he solves the mystery of who murders her. This book was challenging and confusing by nature of how complex the story is; the author did a masterful job weaving together an incredibly layered story (without any inconsistencies that I could find). I thought this would be a simple whodunit, but this book gets into ethical issues around life and death, why we make the choices we do, and whether we can ever really be redeemed and changed. 4 stars.
- China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan: The second installment of the Crazy Rich Asians series, this book was super fun and just as funny as book one. China Rich Girlfriend went a little overboard with all the shopping and brand references, and I found many of the characters less likable than in the first book (though we come to find out that’s for a reason). Still, I was entertained and charmed, and I’m eagerly waiting for the third book to come in at the library. 3 stars.
- The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: On paper, I should have loved this book. A story written in the Gothic tradition, about books and writers, set in England? It checks all my boxes. But there are some disturbing threads that run through the whole book re: self-harm, child abuse, and mental illness, and while they were integral parts of the story, I didn’t think any of those threads made the story more interesting. I disliked pretty much every character in this book and only finished it because so many people I know have raved about it and said the twist was worth it. (It wasn’t, IMO.) 2 stars.
What I Clicked
- “She’s seeing that I am more than one thing, which means that she can be more than one thing. She’s seeing possibility. And possibility is pretty empowering.” —I Can Be More than One Thing by Anna Jordan
- I’m going there, and I’m not sorry. This is a sobering and, yes, unthinkable list when you see it all cobbled together: Unthinkable: 50 Moments That Define an Improbable Presidency by Jeffrey Goldberg
What I Wrote
- 10 Personal Policies that Make My Life Simpler
- Freedom from my Own Expectations // published on Kindred Mom
- Armchair Chats // Wrapping Up 2018
I’d love to hear from you! What have you been learning, loving, or reading lately?