Michelle Stephens | Juicebox Confession: Tree kicking and duck flipping

It is 2018. Can you believe it? I can't. Where did the time go?!

Five years ago I sent in my very first column. It didn't have a title, I wrote it about 15.7 billion times, and I am pretty sure I made my husband hit the send button on the email. So much has changed and it is super fun to think back over the last five years of life. My oldest was only 2 years old, there was no second or third baby, I didn't think there ever would be.

Now, here we are, three daughters later. In honor of the fifth anniversary of that first column, I thought I would share a few of my favorite snippets of life `round here. Thank you all for reading every month, your emails and hugs and encouragement mean the world to me. Without you, there would be no column.

So, without further mushiness, here is a tiny walk down memory lane.

Any parent knows how things change when you have your first baby. They change even more when that baby becomes a toddler. You then have a walking, talking, little person shadowing your every move. We tried to get two steps ahead of our oldest by attempting to instill a sense of personal space and privacy early on. (Cue hysterical laughter.) It seemed to be sort of working. One day, while I was using the bathroom, our then 2 year old sauntered in.

"Sweet pea, mommy needs privacy," I said to her as she sat on the stool in front of me.

"Oh!" She jumped up and headed for the door. I felt so proud that she was really getting this, I was going to be able to pee alone!

Then, she toddled over to the door, gently shut it, walked back to her stool and said, "Mommy! Now we have privacy!"

So close.

Then there was the time when our oldest was four and she was all tucked in and peacefully drifting off to sleep, or so I thought. I walked by her bedroom door and heard her arguing and thrashing about. I decided to peek in and check on her.

"Everything ok?" I asked peering through the darkness.

"I ... grrrrr ... ugggghhhh ... rrrrrrrr ..."

"Uh, do you need help, Peanut?" I offered.

"Yes! I am trying to sleep but my blankets just wanna fight with me!"

That was the day that I added blanket negotiations and peace keeping to my resume.

After the arrival of our second daughter it was clear that our oldest was paying attention to everything we did. I was studying to become a lactation peer counselor and would frequently have conversations with my husband about different things breastfeeding related. I knew Elsa, our oldest, could hear me, but didn't figure she was really listening. One day, while at a support meeting, she tagged along and jumped at the chance to introduce herself and her baby(doll).

"Hi, I am Elsa and I am four-and-a-half years old. This is my sister Aria, she is zero years old. This is my baby, Mittens. She is breastfed but is just learning how to latch. I was pumping for her and feeding her with a bottle because she had a tongue tie. But, we fixed it so now she is learning."

As Elsa and Aria grow it has been so fun to see them interact. I remember one time, as we drove by a mill with a billowing smoke stack, Elsa exclaimed, "Look! Ari, look! That is where clouds come from! It is a cloud factory!"

When I became pregnant with our youngest daughter our oldest daughters turned into tiny midwives. They would rub my belly and ask to listen to the baby's heartbeat multiple times a day. When it was time for baby Luna to arrive we decided that they should be there. It was an amazing experience having them see her being born.

Transitioning to a family of five has had its highs and lows. Once, while getting dressed I was called into the living room to help one of the girls. Hours later I walked past a mirror and realized that I had never finished dressing and was wearing floral leggings (that I had slept in) with a very much clashing floral print top that I had intended to wear with jeans. Luckily my young daughters have a very similar fashion esthetic.

Thanks for joining me on this stroll down memory lane. I can't wait to see what today, and the future brings for us all. As Elsa said on her first day back to school, "I am so excited I could flip a duck and kick a tree!!"

Happy 2018, everyone.

Michelle is a writer, wife and mother of three small girls. She has a penchant for coffee and rarely turns down cookies. She is the authority on nothing and may just be the most outgoing shy person you will ever meet. Her family is convinced she is a super hero but most days she feels more like the bumbling sidekick. Her writing can be seen online at www.JuicboxConfession.com, parenting blogs throughout the internet, The Brattleboro Reformer, Mothering Through The Darkness- a HerStories anthology, and in crayon on construction paper in her home. All love letters can be sent to JuiceboxConfession@gmail.com


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