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Paloma,

Today you are fifty two months old.



First, before I launch into the amazing leaps you've made this month, I would like to state for the record: You sister is the best thing that happened to you. You may not agree, but she is. She is the new Paloma-whisperer. She understands you in a way none of us can. She sees you through another child's eyes and has been a translator, in a way, of your behaviors, not unlike how I have to translate for her when you two aren't communicating very well.

You have a dog named Asha. She is part imaginary dog, part you. She comes out when you are anxious or scared. She whimpers or growls. Arden knows all about Asha. She talks about Asha. Sometimes Arden is Asha.

Your sister is watching you - never forget that. She will be your best friend in the whole wide world if you let her.



So this month. Wow. Swim lessons. Ballet class. Big things that you have hurdled right over. Yes, you've kicked me more this month and had a few screaming melt-downs, but you wore tights for 50 minutes three times this month and put your entire body under water eight days in a row. This is incredible.

I have loved watching you move into a place that causes a bit of discomfort, take it over, in your own way, and rock it like only you can do. You have your own style and method, but the job gets done. It is an honor to witness. I know I've typed those words before, and I'm sure I will again.



Happy Fifty Second Monthday.

Love,
Mama

Paloma,

Seven days ago you turned fifty one months old, but today marks five years we've been together, you and me.



Lately I have so many things to write, and then once I sit down, there's nothing. Not a word left in my head. I'm sorry for that, that these letters lately are sparse. I don't know what that means, but there it is.



Yesterday we ate dinner out and toward the end it was just you and me at the table, side by side. You snuggled up to me, so rare are the moments we get together, without your sister in between. Over the last few months I have regretted weaning you. Some days I wish I had pushed through the pain and discomfort I experienced toward the end of that relationship so that we could experience that same closeness today. But yesterday as we sat so close, I realized that our relationship has changed. It had to, and not because I weaned you. You're four years old and you don't need the mama who nursed you as an infant. You need the mama I am now, the one who parents a four year old. Maybe this is quite obvious, but it was rather profound last night.

I think it's due to my coming to terms with your sister's growth. She is also no longer an infant. Or baby, even. She needs me differently now than before, and that is hard to admit. Her babyhood went so, so fast, and I'm just not ready. And then there's you, four years old, and counting. I can't stop time.

Some days I watch the two of you, and it seems that it can never be different. It won't change. But not in that sad, depressed mother way, but in that nostalgic, freeze time sort of way. I can't imagine it any different. I suppose you could say it feels right, right now. And I'm not ready to give that up.



Happy Fifty First Monthday.

Love,
Mama

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Paloma,

Last Saturday you turned fifty months old.



As I type this, you and your sister are behind me, fighting. Again. But a few minutes ago, you were both reading quietly. And then, just now, you sprang up, and screamed, "Chase me!"

Your relationship with your sister this month has shot up like the sunflowers in our garden. You were not so sure about having a sister nor being a sister, and a big sister, at that, but this month you've taken on the role like a champ and blossomed into an amazing big sister.

Your sister adores you, and you are starting to enjoy her. It might help that she talks enough (and well enough) that you can understand and communicate with her. Or it might have just taken you eighteen months to warm up to the whole thing. Either way, it has been amazing to watch the two of you take your sisterhood and run with it.



At first I was terrified of the fighting, thinking that if you weren't getting along, I had failed at having two children, but as it turns out, fighting is normal and quite healthy. You will experience unconditional love through the relationship with your sister, and she with you. I didn't really care about having siblings until just now - now that I see how important this relationship will be - for as long as you have it.



Happy Fiftieth Monthday.

Love,
Mama





Paloma,

Many days ago you turned forty nine months old.



I didn't write right away, but I've had this letter in my head the entire time. I've written it. And rewritten it. And again. So here goes.

You are a princess! Yes. You've hit the pretty pink princess stage of life. And I think it's GREAT! I know. What? I know. It's so wrong. It's so anti-feminist.

But it's not. It's great. You're wearing dresses you wouldn't have touched with a ten foot pole. You're putting on amulets and headbands. We've got you enrolled in ballet once school stops and it's PRINCESS ballet and you'll love it and I'll love it and you'll wear tights because you have to but you will because you'll want to go to class.

I hope.

I mean, think about it. Princesses are toddlers. They are demanding, temperamental little people with big, bossy parents who rule the world. It all makes sense! Of course you go through a princess stage at this point in life. Who better to mimic? It is a phase. And it will end. And life will go on.

I just want to say, Congrats, kid. You made it to this stage and you're rocking it.



Happy Forty Ninth Monday.

Love,
Mama


Recently I got into a discussion (if you can call it that) on Instagram with a friend about diapering and I was inspired to write down my thoughts on diapering and natural infant hygiene. Be warned, as with most things in my life, I have very strong opinions on diapering, and if you think you'll be offended by my words, then by all means, you have the power to closer your browser window. You've been warned.

When we were expecting our first child and exploring the cloth diapering options (as one does as a homebirthing Crunchy in San Francisco) I was both overwhelmed by the choices and also grossed out. I couldn't believe my unborn child would be one day wearing giant, absorbent underpants and shitting in them. And then one day we would take the giant underpants off (of the now toddler) and say, "Just kidding! Use this bowl instead."

That sounded highly disrespectful in so many ways. (Both the letting them shit their pants and also changing the rules after three years of allowing them to shit their pants.)

But I honestly didn't know what other option I had, so I did the only thing I could do and just avoided the whole decision. Because she wasn't born yet, remember?

Randomly, a co-worker mentioned off-handedly that some people don't use diapers at all and have babies use the potty. She sorta, kinda said it as if it was crazy? But it stuck. And then I put two and two together. Don't like the idea of diapers + random comment = solution!

Just before Paloma was born I checked out and read Diaper Free Baby from our local library. It was the only book I read on the topic, but I bought her Kool-Aid hook, line and sinker and was on board to do EC (Elimination Communication) with the baby. I wish I'd had time and foresight to read more on the subject, but I didn't, and that's that.

I've done EC with both my children since birth, and I tell you, it's MAGIC. Neither was ever "diaper-free" - both wore (and one is still wearing!) diapers for when we "missed" a pee or poop. But the majority of their waking hours are spent diaper-free (or in undies) so that they can use the potty at will.

Paloma and I worked on EC together for a long time, but she was 100% diaper-free by 22 months of age. LESS THAN TWO YEARS.

Arden basically took over my EC efforts and won't allow me near her when she's getting near the potty, or onto the potty, or thinking about the potty, but she will book it from the other side of the house (often with a book in hand) and make it onto the potty (unassisted, mind you!) and pee or poop or both. (She does have an occasional accident.) She is currently 16 months old. LESS THAN ONE AND A HALF!



While this isn't that sort of blog (a mommy blog?), I do feel strongly about this enough to write this post and share our experience. But I really wanted to clarify what was perhaps being misunderstood on Instagram: I do EC for the Earth. I really do.

You basically have two options with diapers: cloth or disposable. Many people debate the two options thinking that cloth will save the Earth. It doesn't. All diapers are dirty. When you do the math and factor in manufacturing, water, soap, (soap into our water), energy, shipping, packaging, disintegration, etc. they all come out just as dirty as the next diaper. The truly green option is to use less diapers. Less at a time, and less over time. That's the beauty of EC. You save diapers and you get out of them quicker.

Diapers weren't even a thing until recently. Everyone did EC. In most parts of the world they still do EC. Sadly, we've lost that knowledge, although it's not more than a few generations behind us, and we're having to relearn it (not unlike breastfeeding), but it can be relearned and retaught. We can do away with diapers.

But on Instagram it was pointed out that there's a "third option" in the Bay Area: compostable. Ok, true? I consider this a disposable as well, for my argument's sake, but I see how with a bit of greenwashing it can be viewed as a third option. It's not. You still have to factor in all those factors I listed above...plus an intense amount of heat/energy to compost them safely. Yes, they're now dirt! But no, you did not just save the Earth.

I'm sorry. You didn't.

Yes, it sucks to think about all the waste your baby's waste is creating, but this is why I feel so strongly about EC. It isn't "potty training" by any means. I've heard it called "potty learning" which is more accurate.

I feel it is this:

You are creating an opportunity and knowledge about toileting that is respectful to both the parent and child and the Earth. You are not forcing or coercing or bribing with stickers (because I'd like to see a 2 week old care about getting a sticker!). You are watching your baby closely for cues. You are meeting their need to eliminate with a solution that keeps everyone clean. You end up knowing your baby better than anyone else. You can read their face, as they grow, better than anyone else. And you won't have to ever potty-train. Ever. Never. (And once they start solids? You'll be SO grateful you didn't change all those poopy diapers.)

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Paloma,

Tomorrow you are forty eight months old.



You have spent the last two nights with your grandparents at their beach house, and I was a bit sad we missed your last moments of being three. You came home late tonight, in time for a snack and bedtime, and I gave you a kiss goodnight, wishing you a happy birthday tomorrow.

I put your sister to sleep; Papa puts you to sleep. But tonight he came in and got me, saying you were over-tired and needed help falling asleep. I happily climbed into bed with you, nuzzled in close. I told you how much I missed you over the weekend. We talked about tomorrow. We decided on which cake to bake. I told you I'd be there for your birthday celebration at the end of the school day. And then with my nose pressed to your face, sweat forming where we touched (you are the hottest sleeper I've ever met), you fell asleep, breathing even, Lady in your arms, all tucked in, with the smell of your skin and sunscreen in my nose.

This is exactly how I want to remember three.



Happy Fourth Birthday.

Love,
Mama