Category Archives: Raising a Daughter

Picture Day!

Today was picture day at G’s school.
She wanted me to curl her hair. And even though I knew it would be flat before we made it to school, I got up extra early to curl her hair. Because I love her.
I wanted to cut her bangs, because they were annoying me. I didn’t want her bangs covering her beautiful eyes in her pictures. But she wants to let her bangs grow out because bangs “make her look like a little baby!”
I put the head band of her choice on her pretty little head when I was all done fixing her bangs. She looked at herself, smiled a huge smile and said “it looks beautiful, Mommy.”
I grabbed the camera and asked if I could take a few pictures outside before we left. She agreed.
I told her where to stand and she started to pose. I snapped away.
But then, I stopped. I stopped and I stared at the little beauty standing before me. Where did my baby go? Time stood still as I took her in. All traces of baby are gone. She’s a little lady now. A beautiful little lady who makes me laugh, who knows how to put an outfit together, who knows how to melt my heart. She’s everything I could have asked for in a daughter.
My baby girl, the last baby that I’ll ever have is growing and becoming her own little person, with her own wants and desires (no bangs!), hopes and dreams (she wants a pony!)
It’s both beautiful and heart wrenching to watch.

I Like To Think She Learned That From Me

My boys spend every Friday night at church hanging out with youth group. So, every Friday night it’s just me, my husband and our daughter, hanging out here at the house. Last night my husband had to go from his regular job to do a side job. I thought it was the perfect opportunity for a Girls Night Out with my daughter.
“Hey, would you like to go to dinner after we drop your brothers off at church?” I asked her, excitedly.
She responded with an enthusiastic “YES!”
Until I told her she would have to change out of her pajama’s back into the school clothes she had just taken off.
“But I want to stay in my pajamas!” She whined.
I explained to her that wearing pajamas to a restaurant was absolutely not acceptable and that if she wanted to go, she would have to change.
Long story short– she had a total meltdown that ended with her slamming her door while shouting “I THINK MY ANSWER IS NO! I DON’T WANT TO GO!”
I could feel the anger rise up within me. I wanted to fight back. To shout back at her something like “I DIDN’T REALLY WANT TO GO ANYWAY!”
I took a deep breath to compose my thoughts. I didn’t want to have another meltdown of my own.
l opened her door and found her on her bed, her arms crossed and the Meanest Mad Face I’ve ever seen.
“GO OUT, MOMMY!” She snarled.
“I just have one thing to say to you and I’ll leave.” I said, calmly. “I’ve missed you so much since you’ve started first grade and I was really looking forward to spending time with you. I’m sad that you’ve chosen to act this way instead of being excited to spend time with me. You just made my heart sad, GabbyGoo. I love you.”
I closed the door and walked out.
She didn’t say a word.
For 20 minutes there was complete silence.
I walked in her room again to check on her. She was sitting at her desk, writing.
“Mommy! Please don’t look! Close the door!”
I left her alone.
A few minutes later, she walked into my room with her head down and handed me a folded piece of paper. There was a little heart with a flower in the middle on the front. I opened it up.
The anger and disappointment that I had felt towards my daughter just seconds before instantly melted away. I pulled her close to me, hugged her tightly and kissed her over and over again on her soft little cheeks. I was so proud of that little girl in my arms.
I love you and I forgive you.” I whispered in her ear.
She smiled, walked back into her room and walked out, dressed and ready to go out to dinner with her mama.

I Think We May Need to Start a Prayer Chain Now

I was in the bedroom, getting ready to take the kids to school when she called for me.
“Mommy!” She shouted from the other room. “Can I wear this outfit when I’m a teenager?”
“Which outfit?” I shouted back as I slipped on my shoes.
“Come here! I’ll show you!” She replied.
I hurried to tie my shoe so I could see what outfit she was talking about. Based on the last few “Can I do *fill in the blank* when I’m a teenager?” conversations we’ve had, I was a liiiiiittle nervous. (Last “fill in the blank” was “work at Hooters.”)
I walked into the family room. She pointed at the television, which she had paused.
“Can I wear that when I’m a teenager?”
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I’m more scared than ever about the teenage years with my daughter, you guys.

“He thinks I’m his girlfriend, but I’m not.”

So, remember the story I told you about how Gabby got to meet Keith Urban on our flight back from Chicago? I know, you’re probably so over that story, but! Apparently, I took video of her reaction (how did I forget that I did this!? Jet lag is REAL!) and it is absolutely precious.
I wanted to post it here. Please note that I feel like the worst mother in the world that I did not assure he HE ABSOLUTELY MEANT IT and was not faking it.

My Daughter Has a Boyfriend and He’s Famous

She fell in love with his music when she was just four years old. She would listen to his CD with her dad while they drove around town running errands. They’d walk in the door from a long day and she’d be singing his songs.
Oh, how she sings his songs.

She fell in (4 year old) love with The Man the first time she saw him on TV.
“That’s Keith Urban?” She asked, with her eyes wide open.
“Yes. It is.” I responded. “Isn’t he handsome?”
She giggled. “I want to marry him!”
She would talk about him daily. She would draw pictures of him and for him. She would write letters to him.
“I want to be your girlfriend, Keith Urbin.” She’d scrawl across the blank white paper.
The day she found out he was married, she was devastated. “You’re lying!” She shouted. “He’s MY husband!”
Once she accepted this reality, she started writing letters to his wife, “Micole.” They were sweet and said things like “I like the way your husband sings.”
But she never stopped loving Micole’s husband. She never stopped singing his songs. She never stopped writing him letters and drawing him pictures.
One night while we were sitting on the sofa watching a Keith Urban special, she asked me to pause the TV. “Mom, if he has a show by our house, will you take me there to see him?”
“Of course I will, love.”
“And after the show, will you take me to meet him? I just want to meet him so bad.”

I explained that it probably wouldn’t be possible to meet him after the show, but you never know! Maybe?
“Oh, I hope I can’t meet him!” She said, with her hands folded as if she was saying a prayer.
“Babe, doesn’t that look like Keith Urban?” My husband asked as we were sitting in the airport waiting to board a flight from Chicago to LAX.
“That IS Keith Urban!” I gasped.
Gabby was sitting next to me. “Gabby! That’s Keith Urban sitting over there.” I said, as I pointed. (Pointing is rude! I know! But I had to show her!)
She wants to meet Keith Urban and there he is sitting just a few feet away from her.
I wanted to go say hello to him, to introduce my daughter– his biggest, littlest fan- to him. I wanted to watch as she met the man of her dreams right there in the airport terminal.
But he was on the phone. And I didn’t want to be rude and interrupt his phone call. So, I sat and waited for the right time.
The right time never came. An American Airlines employee came over to him and walked him over so he could board the plane first. I was bummed for my daughter and quite possibly for myself because there’s nothing more beautiful as a parent than watching your child’s dreams come true.
“Mommy, where did Keith Urban go?” Gabby asked when she noticed his seat was empty.
I explained to her that he had already boarded the plane. I told her that maybe we could say hello to him when we got on the plane, if he wasn’t busy.
“No, Mommy!” She whined. “I was just kidding about loving him! I don’t love him and I don’t want to meet him!”
“You don’t have to talk to him if you don’t want to, but I think it would be so wonderful if you said hello to him. You’ve always said you wanted to meet him.”
She got very quiet as we stood in line.
“Mommy? My heart is beating so fast. Is yours beating fast too?”
I about died right there. HER HEART WAS BEATING FAST.

Sweetie, it’s okay to be nervous and it’s okay if you don’t want to say hello. I don’t want you to be nervous.”
“I do want to say hi to him, Mommy. I’m just so nervous.”
When we stepped onto the plane, I noticed Keith was sitting in the first row. He wasn’t on the phone, so I politely made my move.
“Hello, I am sorry to bother you, but my daughter adores you and she would love to say hi to you.”
He smiled at her and said “Hi, what’s your name?”
“Gabby.” She answered.
“She just loves your music.” I said.
“Oh yeah? What’s your favorite song, Gabby?” He asked.
She was silent and I’m pretty sure it was because her little heart was pounding so hard.
“I Wanna Kiss a Girl.” I said.
“I wanna kiss a girl…” He sang.
She smiled.
I thanked him and we walked to our seats.
Shortly after takeoff, Gabby asked if she could write Keith a note. “I just want to tell him thank you for saying hi to me.” I told her she could write the note, but that I didn’t think we would be able to give it to him. However, I had a fabulous conversation with the flight attendant while waiting to use the restroom. I told her all about Gabby’s encounter with Keith and how much she loved him. I mentioned the note she wanted to write for him.
“Have her write that note and I’ll take her up front to give it to him.”
I practically ran back to my seat to give Gabby the good news.
She wrote her note (I helped make sure she spelled all of the words correctly, but they were definitely her words.)

Dear Keith Urban,
Thank you for letting me listen to your songs. I like you.

The flight attendant walked over, took Gabby by the hand and said “let’s go give that to Keith Urban!”
I sat in my seat and watched as my daughter made her way to the front of the plane. I watched as Keith leaned over and accepted the note she had written. I watched as she smiled and spoke to him. My heart felt like it was going to burst open. IT WAS THE SWEETEST MOMENT. You just have to believe me. It truly was.
When the flight attendant returned my daughter to me, I asked her to replay what had just happened. She told me what Keith had said to Gabby and what Gabby had said to Keith. The absolute funniest moment was when Keith asked her if she wanted his autograph.
“No thank you.” She answered sweetly.
We both agreed she had no idea what an “autograph” was. So, the flight attendant took the notebook to Keith so he could sign it.
This is what she brought back.
fun days 232
When we read it together, my daughter smiled. Then started to giggle. That giggle turned into laughter.
“OH MY GOSH!” She said while putting her hands over his face. “Why did he call me HIS GIRLFRIEND? He must really love me or something!”
I cried. I did. Because it was the most precious thing to witness.
She stared at that paper for the entire flight. Sometimes giggling. Sometimes asking me questions about it. Sometimes doubting that he was being sincere.
“I think he was just faking it. I don’t think he really wants me to be his girlfriend.”
My husband and I can’t stop talking about how great Keith Urban was to Gabby. It was a late night flight, he had just done a show. It would have been understandable if he didn’t want to be bothered. But he was gracious to our daughter. He was genuinely kind. A true class act, that man.
I’m buying a frame for that note tomorrow and hanging it on her wall. I never want her to forget the day Keith Urban sang to her and called her his girlfriend.
fun days 233
(Happy, but SO VERY TIRED. Traveling is hard, y’all.)

Our Secrets

“I want to tell you a secret, mommy.” She says, with the huge grin on her face.
“Tell me!” I say.
“But you have to come closer, Mommy!”
I scoot closer to her. She places one hand on my shoulder. With her other hand, she carefully pushes my hair behind my ear. Her tiny little fingers work hard to make sure each and every strand of hair is carefully tucked away just right.
“I can’t wait to hear your secret!” I say, while softly clapping my hands. “I have a feeling I’m going to LOVE it!”
She giggles. Then she presses her lips up against my ear. She begins to whisper.
“You are the best Mommy in the whole wide world and I love your beautiful face and hair and you are my best friend.”
I turn my face to look at hers. “Thank you, baby girl.”
I kiss her forehead.
“Now, mommy wants to tell you a secret!” I say.
She giggles sweetly as she sits down.
I gently sweep her dark brown hair behind her adorable little ears.
I begin to whisper.
“You are the best daughter and I love your sweet face, your laugh and the way you hug me. I love you with all of my heart, Chunky Head.”
She smiles from ear to ear, reaches up and throws her arms around my neck. She squeezes my neck tightly and I squeeze her right back. I close my eyes and take it all in.
Just another moment of many in a day of my life. But one that takes my breath away.
“Your life isn’t perfect, but it is good.” My heart whispers. “Because it is full of love. So much love.”
And I write it down, because I never want to forget.

Her First (Last?) Sleepover

I am so angry today.

Angry at myself.

Angry at another mother.

Yesterday, I got a call from a mom of one of G’s friends from kindergarten. I know this woman, we’ve had play dates together. Our girls have been friends since the first day of school. She asked if G could come over to her house after school to color eggs. After that, they’d go to the movies and to the park. I told her that I’d meet her after school. If G wanted to go, then of course she could go.

When I asked G if she wanted to go, her face lit up and she said a very high pitch “YYYYEESSS!”

I gave the mom $10 for her ticket and a snack and told her to call me when they were home so I could come get my daughter. 5pm I got a phone call.

“Can G spend the night?”

My heart sank. The only people my daughter has spent the night with are my mother and my sister.

“Does she want to?” I asked.

“Well, here, I’ll let you talk to her.”

I asked her if she wanted to. I could hear the excitement in her voice. “Yes, Mommy! Please?”

I didn’t want to say yes. “She’s only 5.” I thought to myself. “And, yes, I know the mom, but I don’t really know the mom.”

My gut was saying “No no no no.” But my daughter was saying “please please please.”

I thought back to when I was little. I was never allowed to spend the night anywhere, unless they were people from the church or my dad could “verify” that they were Christians. I thought about all of the times I was shunned the day after a sleep over. “You can’t sit with us. You weren’t allowed to come to my sleepover.” (True story) I never want my daughter to feel like an outcast the way that I did. I never want hre to miss out on fun times with her friends because of her over-protective mother.

But she’s only five.

Adding to my concern was the fact that the mom is a single mom who lives with her father. I don’t know the father. I only know what she tells me about him. And he sounds really wonderful. But I don’t know him.

All of these things went through my head. And yet, I told her yes, my daughter could spend the night. I told her I would bring her stuff right over.

My husband drove with me over to her house to take G her things.

“Are you okay with this?” I asked him.

“No. I’m not.”

“I’m not either. But she really wants to. She’s so excited and this is the first time she’s been invited to spend the night with a friend. I don’t want to ruin her fun.”

We talked about it. We decided if we continued to feel uneasy, we’d call the mom and make up a lie. I even went so far as to come up with the lie right there in the car. “Something came up. We need to leave early in the morning. We have to come get her.”

I should have just said no.

When we pulled up to the house, G and her friend came running out. They were covered in pink eye shadow, lip gloss and glitter. “Mommy! Did you bring my blankie?” She squeeled.

I pulled her to the side. “You sure you want to stay?”

“Yes!” she repeated as she jumped up and down. Her friend came up, took her by the hand and said “Let’s go finish playing house!” She said.

“Bye Mom!” G shouted as she skipped away with her overnight bag.

We told the mom she could call us AT ANY TIME if my daughter changed her mind. “You can call me at 3am. I don’t care. I’ll come get her.” I said. She assured me everything was going to be fine. I believed her.

But not really.

Me and my husband went to grab a quick dinner, then headed to Target to get some last minute Easter things. I felt a bit more at ease after I had seen how happy she was, but there was still this little ache in my heart. This little… I don’t know what, telling me that I shouldn’t have let her stay. I kept my phone with me, just in case she called. I even turned the volume all of the way up.

The phone never rang.

Around 9:30 we went to pick up the boys from church. I was happy she hadn’t called, even telling myself it was silly to get so worked up about a sleep over. Around 11pm, I checked my phone, JUST IN CASE.

There was a voice mail.

My heart sank.

Around 10:00, I had received a phone call. From The Grandpa.

“G doesn’t want to stay, I’d be happy to bring her home if you can give me your address.”

How did I miss the call? I have no idea.

I called the mom’s cell. No answer.I called the home number. No answer.

“Why the EFF did the grandpa call?” Tony said.

“That’s a good question.” I responded.

“If the mom left my daughter there with the grandpa, I’m going to be SO PISSED.” Tony said.

My heart sank. Would she have done such a thing? Would she have betrayed my trust like that? She never told me she was going to leave. She never asked me if it was okay if her dad watched my daughter.

We couldn’t get a hold of anyone by phone.

“I’m going to get my daughter.” My husband said.

He jumped in the van and headed over there. I stayed home, just in case the grandpa called back. He never called. But Tony did.

“No one is answering the door. Give me their number again.”

10 minutes later, Tony called. “I have my daughter.” He said. “I practically banged the door down, but I got her.”
I could hear her in the background. She was SOBBING.

“She won’t stop crying.” He said. “And she won’t tell me what’s wrong.”

My heart– it was pounding. I allowed my mind to go there. I hated myself in that moment. Why hadn’t I listened to my gut? Why did I give in? Why was I such a bad mother? WHY WAS THAT WOMAN SUCH A HORRIBLE PERSON TO LEAVE MY DAUGHTER LIKE THAT?

He was home within 3 minutes. My daughter was hysterical.

“Please. Take a deep breath. We need to talk.”

She couldn’t calm down. I did everything in my power to help her, but she was so upset. After about 10 minutes, I was able to get her to talk.

“What happened?” I asked. “Did something happen?”

She tried to talk through the tears.

“I was just so scared. I didn’t want to stay there with E’s grandpa. I don’t know him. I was so scared and you didn’t answer the phone and I wanted to come home and…”

She was hysterical again.

“Did he yell at you?” I asked.

“No, Mommy.”

“Did he touch you?” I asked.

“No.” she said.

“No one touched you or did anything mean to you?”

“No. Mommy. I just didn’t want to be there. I was scared when E’s mom left.”

E’s mom left.

I’m angry about that. And my husband is angry about that. We entrusted our daughter into her care, not her father’s.

I’m angry with myself too. I’m angry that my poor judgement could have resulted in disaster for my daughter. We were lucky. Nothing bad happened. I mean, it was awful that she was scared, that she didn’t feel safe, that she felt like we had abandoned her (by not answering the phone the first time they called.) But that was something we were able to talk about, something she was able to understand and to heal quickly from.

I feel so lucky.

But I also feel anger. I’m so angry with that mother. But mostly, I’m angry with myself. For not listening to my gut instinct. For saying “yes” when what I really wanted to say was “no.”

(edited to add: I wanted to make it very clear that the grandfather did nothing wrong. As Marinka pointed out, he called us when G told him she didn’t want to stay. My issue is solely with the mother, for leaving my daughter without asking if we, as her parents, were okay with that.)

Next Up: Manicures by Nail Painters

On Friday I took my daughter to have her hair cut at a Real Salon. I decided it was time to stop putting her through the torture that is Haircuts By Mommy and let a professional do it.
She was thrilled about getting her hair done in a “big girl salon for women.”
On the way to the salon she asked question after question about she should expect. “Oh, Mommy! I can’t wait to meet my hair saloner!” she said. “I hope she’s going to make me look SO BEAUTIFUL!”
Waiting for her “hair saloner.”
So! Excited!
The consultation
Her favorite part– the wash.
Admiring the finished cut
That was the best $25 I ever spent.

It is Very Tempting to Title This Post “Hugs, FTW!”

Every once in a while the sound of my husband getting ready for work early in the morning will wake our daughter up. Usually, she’ll ask him for a drink, or to quiet down and then she’ll crawl back into bed and fall back asleep.
This morning, she woke up at 4:30 am and never went back to sleep.
I knew that this meant REALLY bad news later that afternoon when she came home from school. A Tired My Daughter is a GRUMPY My Daughter.
After I finished picking up all 3 kids from 3 different schools (hate! driving! so! much!) I decided to make a quick trip to Trader Joe’s to get a few things for dinner (and also- pumpkin butter.) This wasn’t very smart parenting. I knew my daughter had been up since 4:30 in the morning. I should have went straight home and put her down for a nap. But, I also knew that if I didn’t go to buy groceries, we’d end up ordering a pizza or some other unhealthy food for dinner. So… to Trader Joe’s we went.
By the time we got home, my daughter was physically and mentally exhausted.
My husband was home from work, so I asked him to take care of her so I could get back to work.
“Please, put her down for a short nap.” I asked.
15 minutes later I hear crying from the kitchen.
“But, daddy! I want to make strawberry juice!”
“No, sweetie. You can’t smash the strawberries to make strawberry juice. Mommy bought strawberry lemonade. Why don’t you drink that?”
“BUT I WANT TO MAKE STRAWBERRY JUUUUUUUICE” she cried, as she ran down the hall towards my bedroom.
She walked up to me and started crying. “daddy won’t let me smash the strawberries to make strawberry juuuuice.”
I was annoyed.
Annoyed that my husband had not put her down for a nap. Annoyed that my daughter was whining over SMASHING STRAWBERRIES. Annoyed that no one seemed to care that I was working.
I took her by the hand (ANNOYED!) walked her over to my husband (ANNOYED!) and asked him to kindly PUT HER DOWN FOR A NAP BECAUSE SHE IS SO TIRED AND I HAVE TO WORK AND PLEASE DO IT NOW. (ANNOYED!)
Oh, The Drama!
She started crying and saying mean things like “I don’t like your face, Daddy!” Completely out of character, for her. She adores her daddy and never talks to him like that.
“You don’t talk to your father that way!” He snapped back at her.
“But I don’t like you with your glasses! They’re ugly!” She cried.
I knew that the things she was saying were completely out of line and unacceptable, he had every right to be upset.
I also knew how exhausted she was.
I got up to intervene.
I pulled my husband aside.
“Be gentle with her.” I said. “She’s very tired.”
He seemed confused. Did I not just hear the way she was talking to him? Did I not think it was inappropriate?
“I know what she was saying wasn’t okay. But I also know she woke up at 4:30 this morning and is a complete mess emotionally. She’s exhausted.”
He couldn’t wrap his mind around what I was saying. In his mind, her behavior was unacceptable and he had every right to scold her.
He picked her up, put her in her bed and walked out.
A few minutes later, I heard angrily flipping around in her bed.
I didn’t like what I heard. She WAS being bratty. What she was doing wasn’t okay. I could have been upset with her. I knew I needed to go into her room and deal with her. But I wasn’t quite sure how I would handle the situation.
I took a deep breath.
I walked into her bedroom.
I laid next to her on her bed. Instead of scolding her, I wrapped my arms tightly around her tired little body. She fought it at first. But then, she melted into my arms and broke down.
“I know, sweetie. You’re so tired. You don’t feel good. It’s okay, mama. Just close your eyes.”
She wept softly into my chest as I ran my fingers through her shiny, long hair.
Within 5 minutes, she was asleep.
I could have went into her room when I heard her flipping about angrily in her bed and shouted at her to “STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!” But I chose to go with a loving embrace instead. Because, as unhappy as I was with the way she was acting, I knew that was what she needed.
Today I learned that sometimes when our children push us away the hardest is when they need our gentle, loving arms to hold them close to us the most.