A Letter to My Girls 

  
Dear Darling Daughters,

Words can’t begin to express the joy that fills my heart when I watch you play.  There’s a closeness you have that I pray you will keep forever!  Once I worried about adding another baby to our family, and I find myself in that place of contentment and happiness again.  How could life ever become better, sweeter, than it is now?

This morning I snuck downstairs to start making breakfast while you snoozed happily away.  I don’t worry as much about leaving now that you have each other to keep company.  I cooked, cleaned the kitchen, mopped, and then you, my sweet big girl, appeared.  “I was sleeping,” you said, laughing, “and then Josie woke me up!”  Together we went to get our smiling happy baby ready for our day.

Tonight we sat together looking at photos as I prepared Josie’s paperwork for her American documents.  We exclaimed together over photos of our first baby learning to “read.”  We watched videos of you crawling, eating spaghetti, laughing… And, in a matter of minutes, we watched you grow all over again!  Time passed before our eyes, and while you were busy, your daddy and I talked.  We talked about life before you–how young and skinny we were. We talked about the stories behind the photos. We talked about today:  “Mama, I love you,” you said.  “I love you too, honey,” I replied.  “That’s music to my ears!” you fired back with a sweet smile.  We talked about you playing with your friends and trying out your Spanish for a while.  We talked about you being “too busy to play caballito with Josie.”  

Ahhh… My heart is so full! My cup runneth over!   

Sweet babies, I look forward to what tomorrow might bring: your sweet giggles, the cuddles and kisses, and the memories being made.  I know that tomorrow there will also be a point where my frustration will rise as my patience slowly fades.  I hope that isn’t the moment that you or I remember.  Even as I write this, I remember a moment last week. While grumpy, I managed to keep an even voice as I corrected you.  “Okay, mama,” you said, “I can do that.  Thank you for talking nice to me.” 

You, my girls, are growing before my eyes, and I want to remember every touch of your hand–holding onto mine as you nurse, grabbing my face as you kiss me goodbye…again…and again…  I want to remember the twinkle in your eye when you ask for pancakes.  I want to remember the grunt you let out as you demand attention, and the fullness of your smile when you receive it–pushing up onto your hands, ready to crawl. I want to remember the way you talk to yourself as you play.  And those moments of you together, when you ask me for the millionth time what your sister said with each coo she emits. 

You, my dear, sweet girls, are the sun in our day.  Shine on us.  Let us revolve around you a bit and collect your warmth.  You help our family grow.  You give us light and life.  Shine on, sweet girls.

Until tomorrow, sleep tight in my arms.
Love,
Mama
   

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A Letter to My Three-nager on Mother’s Day

Dear Three-Year Old,

Today is Mexican Mother’s Day.  My day.  So I’ve decided to come clean:  You aren’t always fun.

This occurred to me today as you jumped back and forth on the bed, routinely pinching my cheeks as if I were a cute little kid who caught your fancy.  When I scolded you gently for hurting me, you laughed, dancing away out of my reach.  Once you found the eyebrow brush, you were back: sweeping my hair into my eyes with that vicious little comb giggling as I fought back the urge to scream.

When did we get to this place, you little shit sugar plum?  Aren’t you supposed to wait another 10 years before you get on my nerves?

While I am at it, what is so fun about drawing on the walls??  I mean, I get you coloring books.  I get you giant white paper.  We bought you an easel.  We bought chalk and fun crayons.  So why did you sneak out of the room with the black sharpie hidden in your skirt-tails, then quickly uncap it and write on the walls before I could get to you?  What’s the deal?  (And on walls made of concrete and flat paint, no less.  There will be no magic eraser magic enough to remove your masterpiece.)

You know what else?  It’s “Mudder’s Day” today.  What I really wanted was to go to Starbucks and eat a piadini with spinach and egg whites.  Those sandwiches are what my food dreams are made of these days.  But where did we end up for “Mudder’s Day” supper?  Happy Chicken.  YOUR favorite place.  And then, you little booger, you didn’t eat three bites.  Full disclosure:  next “Mudder’s Day” you are going to eat a muffin for supper so that I can have what I want.

Little girl, you better count your lucky stars that these “no fun” moments are out-weighed by the super-fun moments.

You made us giggle behind our hands today as you scolded that poor little boy at Pollo Feliz.  “No gritas a tu papa y tu mama!” you told him, with a tone of firmness hidden in your sweetness.  Really, my love?  No yelling?  That’s the message you are going to send to another kid when our days, of late, are filled with your shrillness?  And what’s the deal with the Spanish?  Don’t you know I have been worried sick that you will be another Mexican kid who speaks no Spanish?  Now you decide it is the moment to unleash the skills of your linguistic-ness?

 It’s a good thing that “No” means the same thing in English and Spanish, because that is the most common word you are probably hearing right now.  No, you can’t take your sister down the slide.  She’s only three months.  No, you can’t put the balls from the ball pit in your mouth.  No, you have supper on the table, you can’t have ice cream instead.  No, that’s your third cup of juice, drink some water.  No, you can’t wear your tutu to meeting.  No, you can’t pour the shampoo in the bath to make bubbles for Barbie.  No, Sissy can’t be pulled on like that–she doesn’t like it.  No, you can’t stay up with Daddy, we have to sleep.

Sigh.  Mama’s tired, Ale.

We didn’t even bother to hide our amusement as you became the server at the coffee shop.  I have no idea how you dreamed up a “peanut butter surprise,” but it could be from the three times in three days I’ve caught you eating peanut butter from the jar with a spoon. You might have your Papi fooled, but I see through you, Punkin’.  Today Daddy kept saying, “Ale is really beautiful, Jania.”  Ummm hmmm…  Back and forth you marched, Sassy Britches, in and out of the room asking questions about how we wanted our peanut butter surprise.  Those eyes were twinkling with all the mischief in the world.  (BTW, watch out, World…)

 
Daddy’s right, Love, you are beautiful.  Even in those moments when I wish you would just go away and let me wipe my tush in peace.  Or take a bath without you.  Or make bread without giving you jobs to keep busy.  See, even in those moments, I want you there.  It’s like you are the best and the worst part of my days all wrapped up in a ball of constant chatter and energy.  And if you weren’t there, it wouldn’t be the same.  It wouldn’t be “Mudder’s Day.”

No, you aren’t always fun.  But, just when I think I can’t take it anymore you do something adorable.

Thanks for making my day, Dear Child.

Love,
Your “mudder”

Mommy Sandwich Every Night

  
This week my kid had her first ham sandwich.  I don’t typically buy sandwich meat from the deli counter, and if I ever do–it is turkey.  But my first day back to work called for a sandwich, and after a bite, Ale was a ham lover.  She seems to sense when a sandwich has been made, and after a bite or two, she slides over to snatch it from my hands.

Today she asked for a sandwich, and I told her we were out.  She said, with more than a little exasperation in her voice and eyes slightly buggy, “Do we have peanut butter?  Do we have jelly?  Put it together, and that’s a sandwich!

Now it is the finish of a long day, and I am lying in bed with my sweeties on both sides.  I can’t help thinking that this is the only sandwich I want: a mommy sandwich.  I can hear both of them breathing, and every once in a while, a little snore.  Ale is cuddled in her “big girl bed,” which is flush against our bed.  She has her Barbie (with wet hair after her bath) and her baby lying beside her.  (Baby had to come to bed with us tonight, because she wanted chichi.)

My chichi monster is on the other side of me.  She’s propped up on my boppy with her arms thrown up in the air.  Her binky is lodged between her ear and the pillow, where it fell when her suckling stopped.  She’s already kicked her blanket down below her feet, but soon she will be recovered to ensure her warmth in our air conditioned bedroom.  Her breathing is a bit erratic and is interrupted by little grunts.

Some people don’t like sleeping with others.  They say they sleep better alone.  Babies sleep in cribs with monitors allowing the parents mothers to listen from afar.  It is true that I will wake up half a dozen times tonight.  Josie will nurse at least twice.  But sleeping with Mama means that her stretches of sleep are around five hours.  Ale might have a nightmare; that has been happening lately.  Mami can soothe her right away with a little pat or a song.  Victor will come to bed in another hour or so, and that will wake me up too.  Someone may need a diaper change or a drink of water.  We can’t all sleep like a baby husband, so I will be awake at the slightest change in breathing.

I don’t mind.

Being the middle part of a mama sandwich is the best job around.  In fact, you might say that despite the love we have been showing sandwiches these days, a mama sandwich is still the most popular sandwich on the menu.

Three About Three

  
Three years old is either going to make me or break me.  

There are moments of sweet.  There are moments of sour.  And then there are moments of, “I’m just gonna…”

I’m just gonna:

1) Eat it–Ale eats everything, but seems to be in a lull for her normally voracious appetite.  We can’t pick up her dishes after a meal if any food is left in the dish.  By the end of the day, I wash no less than four bowls and an assortment of cups and utensils.  She won’t share her food with her Papi.  We can’t save it for later in the fridge.  I can’t even give it to neighborhood dogs, because… “I’m just gonna eat that.”

2) Play with it–toys are all over the living room.  All over it.  Play Doh toys.  Dress up magnet dolls. Baby dolls.  Little People.  Barbie dolls.  Matchbox cars.  If I ask her to pick up something and put it away, she can’t, because… “I’m just gonna play with that.”

3) Wear it–Ale is really interested in her dresses.  Her fancy dresses.  Her sun dresses.  Her tutus.  Her flouncy skirts.  She doesn’t want them buttoned, because that would make it difficult to remove them and throw them onto the floor.  We can’t pick them up and put them into her closet, because… “I’m just gonna wear that.”

A Letter to My Almost-Two-Year-Old

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Hi My Baby,

Today it hit me like a ton of bricks.  You, my sweet angel, are almost two!  How did this happen?!  How did you grow so fast?!  Where have the last two years gone?

I remember two years ago: I was awaiting your arrival with great anticipation.  I must have washed your cloth diapers a dozen times–washing, hanging them to dry, folding them…  I spent my evenings making a blanket for you, and dreaming of the day I could hold you in my arms.  I watched video after video of other births, and prepared for my own by buying everything my doctor would need.  I began to envision the painless perfect moment you would be in my arms…

Now I watch you play with your puppy, both of you a tangle of limbs and bodies.  He pesters you by nipping at your ankles and following you around.  You boss him around, telling him, “No!” when he tries to take your toys or jump on you.  He’s a good fur brother for you to practice on before your space gets invaded by a real brother.  He’s also your first thought in the morning!  You come pitter-patting into the kitchen smiling long before your daddy.  Without waiting for mama to make her coffee, you walk to the door.  “Dog?” you ask, pulling on the knob.

You are a busy little girl!  You are currently “cleaning” with a sponge, but it won’t be long before you are on to something else.  I watch you play mommy with your babies, then set them aside to build towers of blocks.  I couldn’t be more proud of you, my love!  Your twinkling eyes flash mischeviously my way, right before your tower crashes to the floor spilling legos all over.  “Uh oh!” you cry out with glee.  It isn’t long before you begin singing the clean-up song, picking your blocks up to put in your grocery cart.

I know that one day this won’t be amusing, but I am proud of you for knowing what you want…or don’t want.  Your wagging finger and firm, “No,” in response to my question regarding bedtime makes me grin inside.  “Ale,” I ask, “Do you want to put on your pajamas?”  “No!” you say.  “Do you want to go play in the water?” I try out my fun version of asking you to take a bath.  “No!” I hear again.  Most of my questions are met with no–with the exception of one or two .  “Ale, do you want a cookie?”  “Si,” you say, smiling and reaching for a Maria.

“Pup,” you say to me, reaching your arms up to be held.  I snuggle you for as long as you let me, but you have so much to do!  Wiggling down, you run to your markers to write.  A few minutes later you tell me, “Bye,” as you blow me kisses and walk away.  You, my independent little girl, are so full of life!

Little Allie, your mama and daddy dreamed about your arrival two years ago–but those dreams just keep growing and changing with you.  I hope you always take time to play and enjoy those around you.  I hope you continue to keep busy with the things that interest you.  I hope you always feel powerful enough to stand up for yourself and say, “No.”  And I hope that you re never too big to want to climb up next to me for love and snuggles.

My almost-two-year-old, you are my all.

Lots of love,
Your Mami