21 Month Motherhood Update | Strong Willed Daughter

I’ve always known I had a strong willed daughter. In all her ultrasound photos, she was captured making hand gestures towards us (a peace sign the first time… and a few months later the hang loose sign….) and she came all on her own (literally 12 hours before I was supposed to be admitted to be induced)… there was no way anyone was going to tell her when she could make her appearance in this world. That was probably my first hint that she was going to be a firecracker….

Or maybe it was when she skipped rolling over all together and moved straight to crawling… or when, at her 12 month check-up, the doctor told me she was “feisty….” Either way, I’ve known. Yet, I think it became blaringly obvious at her baptism this past weekend. There wasn’t a tantrum, just a little girl wanting to run around, not be held, and making her desires known. For all to bear witness to.

You see, what I’ve come to realize is that it’s not my job to “tame” that personality, rather to “shape” it. Shape her, and encourage her, to express herself in appropriate ways…. whatever those thoughts and feelings might be…. to encourage her to always go after what she wants. I was recently asked to participate in a campaign with Joe Fresh (a Canadian family clothing line) and to share how I stay “True To.” I expressed the following, more as a hope of what Harper will stay true to, and what I will stay true to as I raise her:

“I can only hope that little miss is always #TrueTo what makes her happy and free from comparison… whether that’s through the activities she chooses or the clothes she wears as an expression of herself (Christmas dress in July… why not….). I hope it’s always genuinely and authentically her, and that she finds confidence in the little firecracker she is!” 

This past weekend, as our little family stood in front of a congregation of about 700 (give or take), Harper determined to do it on her own terms, all that ran through my mind was “Oh my gosh. How embarrassing” (TJ mentioned that he might have been slightly sweating….). As the laughs rolled in, and the perfectly timed jokes were made by our pastor, I was reminded of what I had written about a few days prior. I realized that my embarrassment wasn’t due to Harper’s behavior (she didn’t want to be held…. I knew she wouldn’t… I predicted how it was all going to go down the week prior….), but I was caught comparing her “always on the go” personality to that of the toddler next to us, patiently waiting in her parent’s arms, and not making a peep at all. I quickly checked myself, and released. Once I did so, I was able to find humor (actually look at my sister in the congregation… who, might I add, was crying from laughing so hard…), possibly a little joy, in the situation. My daughter, knowing what she wanted, making her presence known.

After the baptism, countless people came up to us, and my parents, mentioning that it was “the best” baptism they’d seen…. the pastor (who married TJ and me) joking and subsiding any worries we had. One person stated that they’d never “laughed so hard in church….” and another encouraging us to “love on her fiercely and enjoy her because the time goes fast.” It wasn’t until we were back home, celebrating with the family, that my dad mentioned someone pulled him aside and said, “She reminds me of my little grandson. He knows what he wants and nothing is going to stop him. It’ll serve them well as they get older.”

I received countless words of encouragement, affirmations from other moms, letting me know that their child is the same. Then, for some odd reason, a quote that I’d heard a while back popped into my head…..

“Well behaved women rarely make history…..”

And while I don’t want Harper making choices that are harmful or destructive, I don’t want her to be held back by fear. I want her to have a voice, to not be afraid to say how she feels, and to not get caught up in the comparison trap (like I so easily did that morning….) and feel as if she is not enough. So while I’ve always known what my role was as her mother, maybe this past month it became a little more defined. It’s to be her safe base. To be a place where she can learn to express herself in safe ways, where she can feel validated in her thoughts and desires, and where I can provide her with the boundaries she needs to feel secure enough to be herself and push the limits a little.

So, to all you moms out there who have ever raised a strong willed child, are in the midst of raising one now, or who might think they have one on their hands…. I will cheers to you with a glass of wine… which I will happily enjoy tonight!

(My skirt, Pullover, Harper’s Dress, Harper’s Tee, Harper’s Shoes)

Sleeping: I think girlfriend’s mind is racing with all the new thoughts she has, because I don’t think we’ve had a solid sleep through the night in a couple of months (maybe a handful sprinkled in here and there). Given that she was such a good sleeper before, I’m chalking it up to a slight regression due to her little brain’s rapid development. She still takes a great afternoon nap (2.5 hours) which I consider to be my saving grace for sanity….

I also think it has to do with teething. She seems to be getting in her canines, which I think are really bothering her. We use Little Remedies, and it seems to provide her with some relief.

Eating: We’re status quo in this department. I was recently asked if Harper eats what we do, or if I make her a separate meal. The answer was that she eats about 95% of what we eat….. I don’t make her a separate meal (my pediatrician discouraged this from day one) and we all eat dinner together. She doesn’t have to eat everything I put in front of her, and she can eat more of one food than another. I also don’t make her “finish” her dinner. I would like to encourage intuitive eating early on, and trust that when she is full she will tell us (I had a conversation with the pediatrician about this when she wasn’t eating much and she mentioned that in these early years there are times when they eat more and times when they don’t need as much food.). We’re still using these utensils and have introduced this cup (yet, we’re having issues with her realizing it’s not a watering can…..).

There was also a brief period where she was refusing to sit in her high chair. Well, that’s stopped and now she only wants to sit in her high chair. Fickle.

(My sweater, my jeans, Harper’s top, Harper’s Jeggings)

Harper’s Favorite Things: She still loves anything to do with a ball (so, you can imagine her delight when we were at the pumpkin patch…. to her, they’re all just orange balls….). Her new obsession is the moon. In the morning she wakes up at shrugs her shoulders and says, “Where’s the moon?” She insists on walking Captain, our loving, and slightly skittish, labradoodle….. Sidewalk chalk is a favorite at the park, and she has a strong preference for these shoes (as in, if you try to put any others on her she will not have it…). Her favorite animals are dogs, kitties, birdies, and monkeys…. and she loves to mimic their noises (her monkey and bird noises are my personal favorites). Jumping. Anything that has to do with jumping she’s there (we went to a friend’s birthday with a bounce house and she was all over that one….). Oh, and dancing. Her moves are on point.

(Cardigan, Camisole, Harper’s romper, denim jacket)

Favorite Products: We started using this car seat last month and we love it (Harper does too… except when she refuses to get into it….then we either have a noodle or a board on our hands….). We also switched from Pampers to Huggies (I’ve tried using Honest diapers several times and they always give her horrible rashes….) and they’re great. I always loved Pampers, but when we were in Hawaii we ran out and the store only sold Huggies…. and I was sold. We haven’t purchased any new toys, as we’ve been spending a lot of time outside, and doing puzzles, reading books, dancing, and coloring…. and and shopping with her pretend shopping cart.

(Jeans, Booties, Cardigan, Harper’s Booties, Harper’s Cardigan)