I Love Your Heart.

I was told that the “Terrible Twos” were actually the “Treacherous Threes.” I was told that by four, all of that toddler angst would smooth out into calm seas..into..what? Preteen or teenage-hood? Sounds fishy to me. Three didn’t end very easily.

And four didn’t begin very easily.

We have a lot of arguments. We’ve been somewhat grumpy together, as summer has winded down. And then on Sunday night, the eve of her first day back at school, she took my face in her hands and said simply, “I love you. I love your heart.”

It was like a record screeching to a halt. I instantly regretted every time I have ignored her or talked to her through gritted teeth. There has been a summer full of those moments. There has also been a summer full of parties and road trips, tiaras and surprises. We grow apart for weeks at time, and then come back together stronger than ever. Repeat. Over and over again.

I’ve been downplaying the potential for emotions for this year’s back-to-school.

For one, it hasn’t seemed as momentous as last year’s first day of the first year of school. And it hasn’t seemed as momentous as next year’s kindergarten will be, which I honestly just don’t think about often. I know kindergarten isn’t college. I know my grandmother has a 65-year-old kid. Yeah, yeah. Either way, it’s momentous to me. I’m realizing that every year is and will be.

Scarlet is starting her second year of preschool. Des still has two years until his first year of preschool. It’s a bit of a comfortable place. Same situation as last year at the same time. A lot of the same people and some of the same teachers. Similar routines and schedules. And yet, it’s not the same. I figured that out last week at the preschool back-to-school potluck. There are new faces and some of the old ones have gone on to other schools. Mainly, Scarlet is different. She is not the same girl she was last year at the same time. I am not the same mom I was last year at this same time. We have grown more than we have changed.

I dig that.

So I present to you, Scarlet on the first day of school – being photobombed by her brother. Let me just tell you – I did not make a big production out of morning photos. I used up most of my energy making a heart-shaped cheese and hummus sandwich for her lunch. I used up the remaning energy not feeling very well, and having to wrestle Des into clothes and then the car as well.

So I took just one photo.

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And it made me laugh. On the way to school, I grilled her with a few questions the way I see people do all the time with back-to-school interviews. My questions are in bold. Her answers follow.

1. What was your favorite thing about school last year?
The playground.

2. What are you looking forward to the most this school year?
Snack. And lunch. And art.

3. What do you want to be when you grow up?
A Mama.

4. Nicely done, there! What’s your favorite TV show?
No, it isn’t! It’s Sofia the First!
Well you asked ME, didn’t you? It’s both.
You haven’t seen Caillou in over a year!
I still love it. Maybe you should download it for me. How about that?

5. Moving on…what is your favorite song?
Twinkle, twinkle.
No, I mean – what is your favorite song to song with in the car?
Jerry (Garcia).
No, I mean. YOUR favorite song is “Pumped Up Kicks, ok?”
Itsy Bitsy Spider.

6. What would you tell Des if he was starting school today and he was nervous? How would you comfort him?
I would say, “Des, it’s ok. It’s school. It’s fun.”

And so, she began school and I began my first day with just Des.

I don’t know if I’m ready to say goodbye, but there she is, and here I am. We said, “See you later.” I have Des to hug (for as long as he’ll let me anyway), and I have Scarlet to pick up in only four hours, and I have the wonderful knowledge that she loves me.

And she loves my heart.

Scarlet, September 2009:

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September 2010:

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September 2011:

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September 2012:

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I love her heart too.

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  1. Oh, this got me. She and Gia are a lot alike and Gia has the power to bring me to my knees in tears both in frustration for not being able to get anything done because she demands so much attention from me and with gratitude mixed with a little guilt when I realize how much she loves me and how I sometimes put her off with the "in a minutes". Scarlet is absolutely beautiful. Those eyes of hers would melt my heart and anything she wanted would be hers. 🙂

    1. I think the same of Gia! She can have anything she asks me for!

      It is funny. Sometimes I think of our conversations as the conversations of old, married couples. Same old, same old bickering and snipping.

      It's different, though.

  2. Oh how I loved the line about growing apart for weeks, coming back together and repeating. How true is that for relationships. The photo bombed by Des is priceless! I hope she enjoyed food and art and had a great 1st day!

    1. Thank you, Joi! Your comments always make my morning. (You’re a night owl – I love it!) I often comment at late hours of the night and I don’t have the job you have that makes for it. I guess I never expected that relationship thing with my own kids, but of course, it happens with everyone!

  3. Awwwww. Do you need to make me cry first thing in the morning? My boys are the same age as Scarlet and I definitely underestimated my emotions for this second year of pre-school. The worst part (well, sometimes the best) is that they're both gone. I have no baby at home. To comfort myself I think that they're together and have each other… and they always will.

    This is a beautiful post about a mother and daughter. Beautiful.

    1. Sorry I made you cry! I am so glad you relate with this second year of preschool thing. I guess every change and every year is BIG, even if it’s not first year preschool or kindergarten. I’m sorry (sorta) that there’s no baby at home, but you know what you do have? Us!! The friends who live in your computer!
      (I don’t know what I’d do these days without my blogger friends and my in-person friends)

  4. I love this post. The first day of school is momentous for everyone, even when we don't make a big deal of it. I love that she speaks her mind and won't agree with your suggestions. I know it can be frustrating – I have similar moments with my own daughter – but it is love and trust that you love her just as she is, even when she's pushing you away. I would never say it gets easier, it just changes, and it's all ultimately good (even if it's hard in the moment!)

  5. Was so crying reading this and it is totally going to be one of those days. My girls start pre-school today for the first day. It is Emma's second year (like Scarlett) and Lily's first. And you are so right I see a huge growth and difference in Emma just from last year. Yesterday when we went to Meet the Teacher, she had to use the bathroom and she did it all by herself from start to finish of washing hands and drying them. A Year ago she needed my help with all of this. So, my girl is definitely growing up. And now add Lily to that. I just can't believe I have no more babies really in the house. And they totally have my heart, too!! 🙂 xoxo!!

    1. Same! Scarlet couldn't wait to tell me about showing her teacher how differently she pees this year. It's kinda hilarious.

      Hope you're having a good day! Letting go is hard. And beautiful. I'm glad we all have each other.

  6. Oh my gosh, so sweet. And my daughter always, at night, "Mommy, please Twinkle". Love that picture of her on the porch and Des at the door…so precious. And all of those sweet pics of her growing up. Such an awesome post! Love it.

    1. Thank you! I felt it was a momentous occasion that I had to blog about. I didn’t realize what I’d want to say on the subject until I wrote it, though! It’s nice to see it being well received. She is my heart, after all.

  7. why don't you download it for me –how about THAT?! LOL! I love it. And that last picture is my favorite. I think my favorite thing to do in the world is have conversations with my 4 year old. He teaches me so much!

    1. haha, Nellie! Are you sure you want Caillou? I can see you running out of the house screaming. Have you ever seen the Christmas movie ten times in a row?
      Four-year-olds are great teachers, aren’t they?

  8. Oh, I love her heart too. And your heart. Because a child with such a beautiful heart gets it from somewhere. I laughed at how you described yourself saying things through "gritted teeth." I can't tell you the number of times I have kissed a sleeping child, (of course after they have gone to sleep saying the most adorable thing to me), and regretted the "gritted teeth" talk, or frustration or lack of attention I had given that very same day. Children have a way of bringing you to your knees. She's precious. Hope she had a great first day!

    1. And when they’re sleeping, they look extra adorable don’t they? You can still see the “baby” in people when they’re sleeping. Sometimes even my husband.
      They do bring us to our knees!

  9. Oh this is just so precious Tamara… I hope you can save all of these beautiful words and pictures in something to give her later when she is grown. I remember the days where you are now… you brought me back to them with a mama's heart.

    That adorable girl- oh how sweet she is. I love how you described your relationship and the ebb and flow of mothering with her. Just so true.

    1. I might, Seana! I have to tell you that your blog post came up in conversation this afternoon when I was talking with someone about how I hope with certain stresses.

      You rock!

  10. This post is wonderful in so many ways: writing, emotions, photos, flow, contrasts, humor, reflections, heart. Here you are, Tamara!

    1. Thank you! So nice to see a comment from you! That’s usually how I know my post didn’t suck. Although you’re probably not reading this. You’re at the farm with Scarlet while I get work done!

  11. I am not a cryer. I do not weep while reading posts. Tenderness has been pummelled out of me by life. But today, I'm remembering when mine were 4. My favorite age. Her unexpected answers are voicing an independence that will always keep Mom on her toes. So beautiful, so spirited. Thats age 4. Tears were shed here this morning.

    1. Ack, you are making ME cry. What a beautiful comment. I'm not a cryer either – but sometimes something will hit me a certain way. Thank you, thank you.

  12. That Scarlet, she is a hoot! I hope Des was agreeable and snuggly and nothing at all like a boy learning to walk and demanding every ounce of independence from all things mommy.

    1. Well Des is certainly independent, but he still likes his hugs. He’s a nice mixture right now! He spends most of his days upright, but each time he stands up, he needs applause from me. I hope that lasts until he’s 18. (kidding!)

    1. Yes, it is amazing! I was unprepared too. This summer, she was taller and braver about going on spinny rides. That was actually my first clue about her changes, strange as it sounds.

  13. Oh my goodness, your kids are just precious! I love Scarlet and her, “I love your heart” and I love Des and his photobomb. They are just too adorable for words. I hope Scarlet has an amazing school year!

  14. Like mother, like daughter – your girl has quite a way with words! How quickly time passes – I have 15 September pictures of my daughter. That makes me a little sad, but mostly happy that I have been blessed to love her heart for that long. Hope Scarlet had a great first day!

  15. Aw! That is so sweet! I get in those cycle with my girls, too, when it feels like all we do is go through the motions and argue and pout – all of us. Inevitably, one of them does something that brings back the joy and makes me feel guilty.

    BTW – those pictures are AMAZING!!

    1. Thank you!!

      I can imagine with three girls it would get nutty. I grew up with two sisters and two brothers. We all found our way back to each other, luckily, for the most part.

  16. My youngest starts preschool next week. I am excited for him and yet feeling that milestone in my momma heart already. So glad that Scarlet enjoyed her first day back – and her words are just so precious. 🙂

  17. Love Des photobombing the pic! Priceless! Because my girls are in daycare/preschool year-round, I haven't experienced the back-to-school emotions yet. But I'm right with you on the rocky transitions from 2 to 3 to 4 with daughters! Bean is turning 4 this weekend, and she can go from being the sweetest darling to a raving lunatic in the blink of an eye!

    1. That is a great way to word it – sweetest darling to raving lunatic in the blink of an eye! I think it's just the ratios. Lately we have more sweetest darling than raving lunatic. It can tip back over, though!

  18. You almost made me cry with this post. I can just imagine Madison in 2 years starting pre-k as well. I don't know if I'll be able to do it. 🙁 Loving that first photo, I love them all but that one has my little boy Des in it looking out the window. I lol at your interview. How can you ask questions and then answer them? Sounds so much like me, but I loved her answers. "Well you asked ME didn't you?" Hope you're having a more much fun day with Des and Scarlet. I love your heart too.

    1. Your comment is making me cry here! I love your heart too. And Madison's, especially after she marries my son.

      I love that she called me out on answering for her. I swear she didn't know what she was talking about, though! Caillou?! Bah!

  19. I love your heart. And your photos. So much. Isn't it amazing how different the second year of preschool is than the first? It's like all of a sudden they become kids rather than toddlers. I'm not ready for kindergarden next year. Glad you're not obsessing about it like I am. And Scarlet's back to school photo is PERFECT as were her answers to your questions (except Caillou because I hate him).

    1. I love YOUR heart. And Tucker's. They change a lot between that first and second year of preschool. So do the parents. The first years were so bewildered at the parent's meeting compared to the veterans.

      Caillou is an abomination of mankind. Or something.

  20. Oh my melting stars, this is so precious. For the record, I love your heart too. & having kids nearly the exact same age I feel as though I see myself reflected. Well done mama. (Ps- I am always reminding Curtis what his favorite things are since he nearly always forgets upon interrogation.)

    1. "Oh my melting stars" may be the best expression I've heard in ages. I love YOUR heart! I love reading about Curtis. The hide and seeking!? So Scarlet.

  21. I think I prefer "see you later" over "goodbye." And I love that Scarlet tells you she loves your heart. My Scarlett and I look at each other and put our hands over our hearts. I guess we are sort of saying that but in our own secret sign language.

    1. I love "see you later." You and Scarlett? That is just too much. When Scarlet was about Des' age, I would "sign" I love you to her by making an invisible heart with my two pointer fingers. She'd try to do it back and it wouldn't be perfect, but I'd know what she was doing. That was the best. I'd leave for my crappy job in the morning and she'd be standing at the window and doing it. I tried it with Des today and wouldn't you know he did it pretty perfectly? The fine motor skills on that boy! I think he'll be a great pianist.

  22. How did you not burst into tears when Scarlet said – "I love you. I love your heart."? I love that and totally want to steal it!!!

    The interview was so fun to read – especially the song and TV show!!!

    I hope that you are enjoying your time with Des while Scarlet is at school!!

    1. I did want to cry. Mainly, I wanted her to do it again and I was afraid if I reacted too little, she'd be upset. But if I reacted too much, she might use it when I'm upset with her or when she wants something. I think I'm too neurotic for my own good!

  23. It's so fun to see how much they change at that age. I can't believe my oldest granddaughter is going to be five at the end of October. And Jessi who's right behind her is going to be four. And you haven't seen treacherous threes until you've seen Jessi. I don't want to know what goes with four.

    I love Scarlet's answers. And guess who's watching Caillou this weekend? (hint: It's not me. Okay, maybe it will be me but it will be you too!).

  24. Oh I get all of this. The school year being the same but not really and it's not as big as last year was or next year will be. And the drifting apart and coming back together. Such a time of life we're in!

  25. She is just beautiful! Isn't it crazy what comes from out of their mouths. I think that is the cutest, sweetest thing I have ever heard. "I love your heart" I would just melt if my daughter ever said that to me. I know everyone always says that time goes so fast when they are growing up and I finally understand what that means now.

  26. Oh the twos and threes were so rough for us…and four so far has been a mixed bag. It’s far too early for a clear verdict on those age comparisons. That interview is adorable, too. I love all the back and forth between you two!

    1. ha! That made me laugh! We don't have the Caillou on Demand like we did on our last cable line-up. Whew. Of course I could download it, but I mostly tell her I don't know how.

  27. Oh! I remember last year! You have definitely grown since then! I am so proud of you!

    Scarlet is so awesome! Her answers are hilarious! I love her strength and individuality! You have a very cool gal on your hands (the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree!)

  28. Okay, here come those darn tears again. Preschool, Kindergarten, jr. high, high school, college, pharmacy school, first apartment – I've done them all, and I can tell you – it never gets any easier. The "butting of heads" continues. Sorry about that. 🙂 But the bond grows stronger, and so does the love.

  29. Awww…that is so cute! She is adorable. Its a fun age…when they’re getting to be a little independent. My daughter told me the first day when I dropped her off, “you can go now.” 🙁 Love the photobomb too! How does it feel to have Des all to yourself?

    1. It feels like old times because of last year, but also different because he was just a newbie last year! So swaddled up and sleepy. Now it's anything but relaxing. I tried to work today but he's learned to climb the stairs, with a toy in his mouth no less! Like a dog!

  30. Oooookaaaay, this was one of your posts that I had a hard time reading (literally) because my eyesight was blurry from the tears welling up in my eyes. And now I have a runny nose too 🙂

    Wow, motherhood is so emotional, so many ups and downs. I love your honesty, I can connect with you so much. And learn so much because Scarlet is 2 years older than Piggie.

  31. My heart absolutely melts for these moments. Rey and I just had it out with each other not ten minutes ago because she is refusing to nap. So I went upstairs and yelled at her and took her babies away and she fell right asleep. But not before she said "I love you mommy, so much." Swift kick to the face right there.

    It's so amazing what our kids do to let us know that we really are amazing parents even if we don't think it half the time. What a sweet little girl Scarlet is. I know she and Reagan are so alike it's RIDICULOUS!

    Their mannerisms are the same. They love and they battle the same. Our amazing girls.



    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo


  32. Oh I remember those times. We love our kids so much and want them to adjust. Yet the kids do not seem to worry as much as we do. I love that your daughter shared such a sweet and comforting comment! She is a doll!

    1. They are so amazing at changes. I never remember feeling that way, ever. So I'm amazed at her kid-ness, and amazed at the ways she's nothing like I am or I was.

  33. She is so smart, strong, opinionated, but sensitive. What a special girl you have. I really loved seeing the progression of "Septembers." I think your kids have been influenced by your musical tastes (I love that!) Is Des wearing a Grateful Dead shirt?

  34. I just can’t get over how adorable she is! I love her answers, and that sweet sweet comment that she loves your heart! My heart melted. Thank you for sharing your children with us. They are beautiful in every way.
    As for that bickering, it’s bound to happen. Even more so when she’s a hormonal teenager. You will bounce back from it as if it never happened. Lexi and I have our disagreements, but at the end of the day she knows I love her, I would do anything for her, and I know she loves me.

    1. Aw, yeah! You and Lexi are the best. You look so much alike. I know we're in for years of bickering, but it's that the logic (that only comes with time) is creeping in. Of course, that can make for even more explosive arguments!

  35. Tamara, I LOVE this post. Children respond with the funniest answers. The funny part is that they actually give thought to what they’re saying. Hilarious and just too cute. SN: Love this hot pink glitter shoes. My daughter also has a pair! ~Andrea

  36. Boy they grow so fast! This is such a beautiful post. Children have an uncanny way of making their mama’s cry. They are so innocent and sweet. I loved your interview and her answers. My 3yo is into Caillou and I can’t stand Rosie’s voice. (it’s too obvious that it’s a grown up.lol). I hope Scarlet had an amazing first day.

    1. You made me laugh out loud about the Rosie thing! She just doesn’t seem very bright. Is that wrong of me to say? I know many two-year-olds who speak more than her, and even less, and you can tell their elevators reach the top. Rosie just seems like she gets into unnecessary trouble. She is cuter than her brother, though.

  37. Awe, what a great post! My daughter turned 17 yesterday, and she is in her senior year of high school. I find myself going back to the years when she was 2 and 3….playing cook in the kitchen and making me pretend coffee. Time zooms by. We are very close, but we have had our trials. She is very strong willed…always has been. I am so not ready to let her go off on her own.

    1. Yes, I can't imagine being ready. Even though I left home for college at 18, I was still very much a child who needed her mother. I think I even knew it then – no rebellion for me!

  38. I can so relate to this post! My 6-year-old daughter is my mini-me, which means sometimes we seem so in sync and sometimes it feels like all we do is butt heads. But we do love each others hearts, and someday I hope that when she grows up and settles down a bit, we might be the best of friends. That is my hope, anyway…

  39. What a beautiful post! Lucas started Y2 (which I am thinking is probably second grade in US terms) this year and I actually found myself missing him. (I spent the last week of the holidays praying for the start of term.)

    He’s opted to take the sewing class that I teach at school because “he misses me when he’s at school.” My heart melted a little.

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