Three Year Olds: Causing Parents Everywhere to Swear Off Future Children

Yep.  I'm three now!

Yep. I’m three now!

Guys.

Seriously.

What is this age?

I’m starting to think that they say “Terrible Twos” to lull you into a false sense of relief.  That if you’ve made it this far it’s only downhill from here.

Wrong, friends.  I feel like I’ve been lied to, like the lying liars who repeat “You’re almost done!  Just five more minutes!”  the whole way to the summit, all 20 hours of it.

Honestly, age two wasn’t that bad.  We were armed with some pretty mad talking-her-down-from-the-ledge skills through the Harvy Karp book about toddlers (highly recommend. Although it’ll make you unappreciative of three).  What his book didn’t cover, however, was how to handle, not tantrums, but just naughty.

It’s like she’s suddenly become super aware of this deep desire to light her hair on fire just to watch it burn.  You’re going down with me suckers!

I have become that person.  You know, the one that seeks out the parents of other delinquent three year olds, digging for stories of parental frustration and toddler nastiness to ease my own burden.  Why not suffer together, I say.  And yet, for those who are blessed with angelic spawn that listen and share and don’t ever hit, the conversation becomes rather bleak, punctuated with squints, wrinkled noses, and blank stares (thoughts of “Oh my child would never do that!” written all over their face).

Which leads to more digging for veterans who can tell me:  It’s normal.  It’s a phase.  It’s ____ (fill in the blank with whatever will help you feel better).

Grandparents are generally sympathetic but find these stories a bit funnier than they should, the universal payback from all the horrors we caused in our three-year-old life.  Don’t worry Anne.  Someday you’ll have a three year old that will also terrorize you and cause you to question every bit of parenting skill you have.  And I’ll be there to laugh a little too hard and send her home when she is a butthead.

So for the millions out there suffering, I have a feel-good pick-you-upper.  The other night we were snuggling and giggling and completely out of nowhere she bonked me on my cheek.  Seriously.  WHAT JUST HAPPENED?  After losing every privilege I could come up with and sending her to bed, I was wracking my brain for the cause.  What was it I had done to cause this mental break in my child?

And I was like OH ya.  She totally got that from me.  You know, when we were just hanging out and I thought it would be funny to kick her dad in the back of the knee.  Shoot.  I should probably stop doing stuff like that in front of her and maybe she’ll stop copying me.

Anne, when you’re ready to return from your out of body experience, we’re ready for you.  And we love you.  And hopefully all this spice will translate into a rockin teenager who will be the easiest person on the planet to get along with and we will love you even when you drive your car into a ditch.  As long as the car is okay, of course.

Seriously.  I love being a Mom (said with all sincerity in the world and almost as much sarcasm).  How is it so?  I just wish I knew what the heck I was doing.  It seems like you sure do.

Sometimes Love is a Four Letter Word

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We see you.

Close friends. Family members.  Co-workers.  In the quiet (and hopefully not in the creepy illegal way).  Even from afar.

You have an audience, a voice, and a platform. We are all influencers. What do you want your message to be? What is your voice?

What do you offer the world? Do you love? Do you listen?

What does it mean to make your mark on the world?

I have had the chance to be around a group of women that spread light every single day and it is changing everything for me. They seek out the needs of others to fill them. They speak to the hearts of others and their dreams. They help people dream again! They helped me dream again. How huge is that?

I want to be the person who helps others paint their own dreams.  To be the person who welcomes hope in when someone has lost it.

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I’m still learning to get outside myself because sometimes the scariest thing is closeness. What if they don’t like me? What if I say something that hurts their feelings or I don’t know what to say at all? Or what if I get hurt? Part of me has always held back.

When we were fairly new in our church I was determined to get to know more people. I decided I was going to talk to the person sitting next to me in Sunday school. Sitting down, I flashed a quick smile at her.  “Hi” we exchanged.  Then I completely blanked, anxiety gripping me. I froze. Looking straight ahead, still determined, I scrambled for words that refused to escape my lips. Nothing.

After a few minutes I retreated to the bathroom with shaking hands and brimming tears. Why was it so hard? I sat and prayed, pleading to just to speak up. Surely God would want me to do this. Almost immediately I received the answer “Just smile. They will feel your love in your smile.” Bah! Makes me cry just thinking about it.

I felt peace and I knew it was enough at that time. That day the best I could do was make eye contact and smile. It really was. I wanted so much to be the person that could put my arm around someone else. I wanted to be the welcomer for once in my life and not on the receiving end. Mostly, I just wanted to do it the way I wanted to do it.

I smiled and loved through closed lips for a while. And in time, I was able to open them.

I still struggle. Every day is a struggle but it has gotten so much easier. I don’t want to throw up every time I pick up the phone. I may stumble on my words or blank–but it’s okay. As my friend Katy reminded me, we wont die! It’s okay to be imperfect.  I hope to be a genuine and sincere person regardless of how polished I am.

Things don’t always come right away.  Sometimes we have to want them and want them for the right reasons long enough to get them. The Lord will slowly fill in our gaps.

That was almost 6 years ago. I think I struggled without progress for a long time because I wasn’t really trying to be a better version of myself. I wanted to be someone else entirely. I was looking for a re-write and I didn’t even realize it.

Things really started to change when I realized I had something to offer in my own packaging. I’m still an introvert (uh, hello! Blogger here.) and I mull things over forever. I will be quiet for a long time and then talk your ear off for an hour once I have made my mind up about something. But I stopped feeling the need to be interesting or entertaining. I just need to be me. It turns out most people don’t even care if you are are interesting—they just want you to be interested.

I don’t even know what I am trying to say. I guess we all have a goodness and light somewhere in there with all the head trash (if you need a definition of head trash, I will gladly supply it). We may not share it the same way that the people around us do. We may not even do it the way we want to at first. It’s not only okay, it’s essential. Our uniqueness is beautiful. Our unique voice can touch a heart the way another’s cannot. Be that voice. Love others. Give. Spread light in whatever way you can. Smile.

I’m a Bad Mom. Sometimes I Like It Better When She’s Sick.

 

Yup. We're here again. Sick. Round a million since thanksgiving.

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I shouldn’t be surprised, really.  That is what kids do, right?  Get sick over and over again until they build such an amazing immune system that they graduate into adulthood.  It’s the antibodies!  They create adult humans!

A lot of Anne’s signature sass gets toned down considerably when she’s ill.  In fact, she downright polite.  Lots of pleases and thank yous, cuddling, and loves.  Tantrums are almost eliminated.  The word “No!!” doesn’t fly out of her mouth every 10 minutes.  Rather than put up a fight at bed time she thanks us.  One night I even let out a cough in the wee hours of the night and her little voice came out of the darkness.  “It’s okay Momma.”

She has since reclaimed her throne as chief chatterbox of the household.  Here are some of my favorites:

–Me: “Baby, I hope you aren’t getting pink eye.”  Anne: “I’m not a guy!!  I’m a girl!”

–Out of nowhere Anne said “Let’s go to Utah to see Ellie and Jackson.  We can go on an airplane!”

–While looking at old pictures “Hey!  It’s my friend Jenn! (Jenn is her Aunt)  Is that my Ryan? (her Daddy)”

Anne: We are going to open presents because it’s my birthday and Santa is coming!  And you can open a present!

Me:  You bought me a present?

Anne: No.

Me: Did you buy Daddy a present?

Anne: No.

Me: Did you buy Grandma or Grandpa a present?”

Anne: No.

Me:  Did you buy Max (her cousin) a present?

Anne: Yes.

Me:  So you only bought Max a present?  What did you buy him?

Anne: A boat.

Me:  Well no wonder!  You ran out of money after Max’s present!

Anne:  Yep! It’s a little boat!

A:  We don’t throw people!  M: Did you watch Frozen today?  A:  No.  M:  Is that just something good to live by?  A: Yes!

Hitting and spitting is apparently okay but throwing crosses the line!

P.S.  I am SO glad she is starting to feel better.  We quickly forget how much energy she has after living with Sweet Anne for so many days.  And how often she tries to get away with the word “No!”  The girl who dances like a dragon has returned!  Yay!  (How do dragons dance? I’m sure she’ll gladly demonstrate.)

Instructions for When I Die

We are making this official, people.

These are my final wishes.  Here’s how it’s going to go down.

1. When I die, I require that you include a cause of death in my obit.  It only makes sense.  This increases the likelihood that someone will be inspired to travel through time and prevent my death.  And if nothing else, (you know, if they fail to build a time machine) it can help others from making the same deadly mistake.

No really. I am serious about including cause of death. Even if I died in a really dumb way. Especially if I died in a dumb way!   Like from slipping on ice, an accidental overdose of tums, raking the leaves or shaving my legs.

Unless it’s super embarrassing, of course. If I get electrocuted while listening to my NSYNC Christmas CD I give you full permission to use your creative license. Just make it good.

In fact, I would like to be a part of a new urban legend!  How awesome would it be to be immortalized that way, my tale used to warn small children of the perils of….something.  Popcorn!  Ice sickles!  Public bathroom towel dispensers!  Talking on your cell phone during a full moon!  I’ll leave the details up to you.

2. At my funeral, I require all the amenities for my guests.  I want them treated like rock stars.  We’ll start with bowls of M&M’s with all the yucky colors removed.  Bottled water flown in from the alps.  A sushi and a Cold Stone artist taking personalized orders.  Fresh orchids.  Hall and Oats Private Eyes on repeat.  All the normal stuff.

3.   I expect you to give my social security number a good spin before reporting me gone.  I’ve worked long and hard for that credit score.  Someone should use it!  Buy a house or something.

4.  And, of course, when I die you are entrusted with the matter of utmost importance:  To release the blackmail documents.

In all seriousness, there has been a lot of instances in the last year that has brought my mortality and the uncertainty of life into sharp focus.

I feel so young, like my future is promised and waiting for me but youth has nothing to do with it, apparently.  I can’t keep putting off so many important things.  I don’t want to wait anymore to live my life in the biggest way possible.

In any case, I was so sad to hear of two more HS classmates gone this week and I’m sorry that I cope with it in such a strange way.  Rest well.  And much love to those that are grieving.

Full Time Dad

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My husband, Ryan, is a full time Dad.  Stay at home Dad.  Hands on Dad.  Whatever you want to call it.  Anne is his little buddy and he’s decided it’s his job to teach her how to be a good person—and tickle her ’till she pees her pants.  In that order.

When I look at those two I see their insatiable energy for fun, a kind of fun that wears me out and leaves me begging for a nap.  For them it only makes them stronger, sillier, louder.  It’s like they feed off of the energy they produce!

Their life is one I am absent for about 9 hours of the day and a life I’m not really apart of at all.   When I’m there, it’s no longer just about them.  It’s about us, our life.

I’ve often thought it would be so fun to be a fly on the wall in their day to day.  Not that I don’t catch plenty of glimpses.

Her favorite place to nap.

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So, I asked him: What is it like to be a full time Dad to an almost three year old?

He said it is like playing all day.  It’s trying to keep up with her doing laps around the house, spinning and giggling, talking non-stop, climbing on all the furniture and leaping!

It’s being the most important person in her universe, seeing the way she looks at you, clinging to you for love and comfort and company.  To be her interface with the world, to teach her and guide her like she’s the only thing that matters.  Because a lot of the time that’s exactly how you feel.

Anne and I have our own special relationship.  She is my little shadow.  When I get home she runs to greet me at the door, squeezes my knees with a big hug before I have the chance to drop my things, and asks “How’s your day Momma?  You home from work?!”

We crave being together and she wants to do everything I am doing.  To her I am the one who will sing songs, dance like a crazy woman around the house, paint nails and spend hours with paints and dolls and legos.  She is my little replica, the crazy silly 2 year old version of myself that I absolutely adore.

But who is her protector?  Who is her comforter?  Who does she want when she’s scared or hurt? That’s Daddy.

When it really comes down to it, it’s all about her Daddy.

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Details

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When life is particularly stressful or frantic, so much in my life starts to slip out of focus.  Survival mode is categorized as such—a blur.  How unfortunate.  So much can be found within small pieces in the day.  Being more mindful of the details is one of my favorite ways to refocus my efforts and gain perspective.

Contentment is:

Hugs from a friend.  Smile.  Soft fingers on soft skin.  Lines tracing a life well spent, smiles around your eyes.  The give and shuffle of rocks beneath my feet.  Snuggle.  Aroma and warmth of spring days within a season of snow.  Spring within her soles, child loving and bouncing without measure.  Breeze in my hair and cool on my neck.  Laughter in times of utter frustration.  Joy in the winding road, the unexpected, the journey.   Sparkle of sunlight in snow, peaking through pine needles, and kissing my face.

We had a lovely day hiking and playing.  Quite frankly, I’m exhausted.  The good kind of exhausted though.

Anne fell asleep during the ride home, clutching her duplo grass and a bit of her quesadilla.  She would not surrender that dang quesadilla. Every time I tried to get it from her, she assured me she was still eating it.  Even as she dozed off.

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It was a magnificent day starting with fresh air and sunshine (it was 75 in Colorado!), and ending with cheesecake, princesses, and Legos.  Just what I needed.

What helps you slow down and gain perspective when life gets hectic?

Our Reaction When The Mechams Started Vlogging

Ellie and Jared Mecham, Matt and Em Mecham

Ryan, Nathan, Melanie, Matt, Jenn, and Jared Mecham summer 2012

About two years ago Ryan’s youngest brother Jared started uploading videos to YouTube, documenting their struggle with infertility. It was so awesome for us to see, those of us praying for them and thinking of them but too far away to know what was happening on a day to day basis.

The middle brother of the family, Matt, started vlogging with his wife and two crazy boys this past fall. His wife lost her Dad to leukemia in early 2014 and the very first video they uploaded was to cheer up Grandpa Pearl in the hospital. He passed away shortly after.

People related with them and were drawn to their stories and their personalities. Jared and Ellie finally had a baby–then got pregnant again on their own! Matt and Emily, who have been blessed with two boys, had a third miscarriage. They started sharing more and more of their lives, talents, and heartaches with so much goofiness, laughter, and joy.  They eventually decided to start vlogging on a daily basis. Here’s what went through our heads:

Is it safe?
Will they have their identities stolen or have dangerous people interested in them?
Will it be too stressful to work full time AND do youtube?
Will they be secure financially?
Will they drive each other crazy?
Will they still have fun? Will they feel a lot of pressure to work all the time? Will they ever feel like they get a break?
Will it make them happy?
Will it change them from the people we adore into a more egotistical and self centered version of themselves?
Will the kids turn into egotistical versions of themselves?
When they become successful, will they forget about their roots? Will they forget about God? Will it keep them from being the people they are meant to be?

I wasn’t so much scared that they wouldn’t succeed—I was more scared that they would. The last thing you want to see is someone amazing turn into the worst version of themselves.

Now, keep in mind fear can be a healthy tool for good. It can help us take precautions (like wearing a safety belt and not posting your address on the internet) or keep us from making really bad decisions altogether (like using our retirement to play the lottery). It can also bring us to our knees.

I’m grateful for the questions that fear brings because it gives us something to think about, to plan around, to precaution against. I’m sure many of these questions went through their heads and prayers as they were contemplating what was best for their family.  The trick is to not let it freeze you in place.

What really helped us calm down was just trusting them. Both of Ryan’s brothers have always made excellent decisions with and for their families.

The Mecham Kids

Same crew circa 2006. I don’t know what is better about this photo: The fresh little faces or the curtains.

Jared was still in high school when we got married ten years ago so I feel like I have seen him change the most. I remember very specific instances where he had tons of people he respected and trusted opposing major decisions he was about to make. These were people who cared about him and just wanted the very best for him. He listened to and respected their opinions but, in the end, he listened to his heart and went for it anyway—-and totally made the right decision. What would have happened had he let fear take over? I respect him so much for the good head on his shoulders.

The whole thing has certainly not been what I expected. I feel like the success they have seen has made them different people, but in a good way. I have never seen them so humble, so grateful, empathetic and more able to see another’s perspective. They have come into contact with people from all over the world with so many different backgrounds. They are more down to earth. They seem to laugh more, to trust more, to be more positive and hopeful.

I’m not saying it’s all roses and that life is perfect because no life is perfect, but it’s such a relief to see them happy and thriving.  And to see people responding to something good!  There is so much nastiness and filth in the world.  We could all add a little more goodness to it.

So far no one has taken out any credit cards in their name or hidden in their attic. So that’s a plus.

In any case, we just wanted to say that we love them. It’s so crazy seeing what life has to offer.

UPDATE April 2017: Aaaaaand now we are vlogging too. We are fledglings and we are weirdos. We are still trying to remember what we normally do with our hands when the camera’s on. Or how to access basic co-ordination skills. Or what words are. If you’re into that kind of thing come join us. You won’t regret it. Or maybe you will. I don’t know you! (yet) But I can’t imagine it’d be in your life’s top ten regrets.

Our Channel: Click here! Or don’t. I’m not the boss of you.

Matt and Em Mecham

Matt and Emily (and Carter and Drake)

Ellie and Jared Mecham

Ellie and Jared (and Jackson and Babycakes)

 

The Non-Drinking Coffee Lover

Coffee

Growing up I was always drawn to hole-in-the-wall coffee places, ones forged by couches of fluff and throw pillows, vintage unknown board game, and a quiet cool that promoted introspection and leather bound scribbles. I would smile as the stillness washed over and through me, cupping my hot chocolate or herbal tea between both hands, sipping often and slowly,

I was not a coffee drinker so the smell seemed rather awful at first. With the invitation of a friend I would begrudgingly tag along, secretly wishing to plug my nose but not wanting to draw attention. Within a very short time, though, my sensory system was overridden and the smell somehow became pleasant and familiar. Now it brings memories of finger tips on guitar strings, the gurgling of fish tanks, loose locks woven and unwoven while lost in thought, and secreting notes away for strangers to find.

It was a time of closeness and of honesty, both with loved ones and with myself.

We laughed. We played. We held hands. In those times I started to find and plan and make myself. What I really loved was that I was myself there. Introverted, thoughtful, and quiet, there I felt unhindered and free.

These places almost always went out of business. They were too special, too safeguarded, and ultimately too quiet–the sign of a business on the brink of extinction.  That was the sad conundrum of organically cool and authentic businesses. We delighted in them, but shared them way too sparingly and only with those we deemed worthy. It’s not exactly a great referral system for a business to boom.

The places that avoided closure faced a fate almost as sad: They bustled into something unrecognizable. The air filled with new leather couches and the clicking sounds of high heels and keyboards. Walls were repainted, crazy artwork thrown out. Neutral murals and beautiful forgettable photography took over the walls and it became something else entirely. Something successful. Somewhere I never could have belonged.

I don’t know why the authentic was so often overwritten with the mainstream and most widely accepted (or rather the least dis-liked). Do we do that to survive?  Try to creative the smallest ripple possible?  Do we become vanilla to avoid closure? In some way part of growing up is finding yourself in the most unexpected of places, then moving on when the time comes.  I’d rather just do it less traumatically. Maybe I’d mix up the greenery or update the throw rugs…not change the whole stinkin’ place.

Have I changed so much?  It’s so hard to tell.

Thoughts From Anne

-A: Look at this booger!

A: (15 seconds later) I got more boogers!

-Me: I sure love you Anne
A: Oh! Thanks!

-A:You don’t have to drop me!

-A: Can I hold your eyebrows?

-A: I like your head Momma.  It’s very prett-ill-y

-A: Oh thank you Mudder. (grinning)  I called you Mudder!  (Calling me Mother is hilarious, apparently.  Every time she does she feels the need to say it more than once and then point it out.)

Right Now…

The superbowl is quietly playing from the computer, battling Little Einsteins on the big screen.  The Human Rubber Ball is making her rounds, hopping from the bed to the floor to Daddy, spinning, twirling, singing, and laughing all the way.  At least she’s not throwing stuff.  Wait.  Nevermind. That has been a theme today.  “Momma called the Doctor said.  No more monkeys jumpin on the bed!  Are you a doctor Momma?”  She fetched the Hands are Not For Hitting book.  Also a theme of the day.

I woke up feeling achy, feverish, and a little under the weather so I am laying down hoping to be able to lift my arms by morning.  Ever since Thanksgiving with 6 adults and 3 children inhabiting this house, it has been a revolving door of illness.  I have avoided almost all of it.  Maybe it’s my turn…  I sure hope not.  Maybe my immune system will just kick the intruders to the curb.

In other news, I finally got Anne lip sincing to Fall Out Boy on video!  A small portion of it is on instagram.  Her hair is a bit matted down from wearing a hat but we take what we can get!

#TBT Embracing Difficulties

There is something school taught me that is more valuable than any salary, job I enjoy, or the expertise and knowledge I carry around.  It gave me power.  I learned through that crazy hard time that in no uncertain terms:

I can do anything.

This also came with the realization that:

I can’t do everything, but I can do anything.  

I may need a lot of time, tools, friends, support, a helping hand, the guidance of an expert, or an added degree of patience.  I don’t have to do it alone, I don’t have to do it the first time (in fact, I probably wont) and I don’t have to be a “natural” at it.  I may have to approach it 6 different ways or, depending on the difficultly, I may have to sacrifice a lot of other things in my life in order to make time for the learning process.  I stopped telling myself “I’m not the artsy type” or the “smart type” or any other type I believed I wasn’t.

There is something rather empowering about this knowledge.  I take it for granted and am surprised to realize that not everyone knows this about themselves.  It really is true for everyone.

I think I mostly become discouraged when I am trying to do everything.  I start to confine myself again, and tell myself what I can or can’t do.  Or think I should be able to do it on my own.  When really, what I need to ask is:  Is it worth the sacrifice?  Is it worth all the things you’d have to give up to be good at that thing?  What are my priorities and how important is it?  Can I increase my ability a bit without needing to be an expert?  Is it something Ryan and I can work on together?

In a very weird way,  I miss hygiene school.  In those really hard times I find I was most humble, malleable, willing to learn and accept my shortcomings.  I was more kind to others because I knew I needed a lot of kindness too.  In some ways, I was broken.   I knew I couldn’t do it alone.   I would never willingly go through that again, and yet, I wouldn’t trade the way it changed my life either.

It also taught me to embrace the hard stuff.  It’s supposed to be hard and it’s okay.  It can be a good thing.  Some things aren’t worth doing unless they break you a bit and make you see the world differently.  So, for that, I am grateful for the hard times (at least when they are over).  I still don’t walk into them willingly, though.  =)