Did you catch my A Chorus Line reference? It’s okay if you didn’t, but also, this is who I am and I won’t apologize for it. I’m channeling Remi more and more in my adult life because you know what, toddlers do not give one fuck and yet are also completely in tune with their emotions. They will say exactly what they want and express how they feel in-the-moment and that includes crying because they fiercely want and or don’t want to eat a french fry. They’d be horrible bosses; they’re great motivational speakers.
Remi motivates me all the time, both to slow down and appreciate life and to not wait for a second longer to grow and invest in myself. Children change so fast. Remi’s growing opinions of the world, general attitude shifts, her movement toward independence, it feels like it’s happening so quickly. Just a few months ago I was lamenting about the seemingly impossible task of potty training. Now, we’re in cloth undies all day without accidents. How did that happen in a matter of months?
She went from speaking single words to four-word sentences seemingly overnight. Quite literally, she just started pulling out sentences one day. A few months later and now she talks in sentences all the time and we actually understand 90% of it. How was it just this past January that she couldn’t string words together coherently?
Waffle and I have been together in some iteration for over 14 years, married legally for seven years, and living in our current home for six years. We’ve changed so much. We’re always changing. But those changes are almost imperceptible month-to-month or even year-to-year. How often do we say, “Remember when we did THAT? Can you believe it was over a decade ago?” “Remember when THIS happened to us? Was that… really five years ago?” “OMG this song! How is it 20 years old?!”
Children speed up the pace of life. Three years would just sort of float by before Remi. Now, when we look at pics of her just a year ago, it feels like a lifetime ago. Waffle and I are the same. We’re wearing the same clothes, have the same hairstyles, have the same hobbies and interests, but Remi is quite literally a whole different version of herself physically, mentally, spiritually.
Simultaneously, children slow down the pace of life. On days when Remi, in her almost-three way, is annoying the heck out of me and Waffle is at work and I’m working and also mommying, it feels like bedtime will never come. On days when we’re having a wonderful time, I have to slow down to make space for Remi to explore her world at her pace. She’s not quiet, gentle, or slow, but she wants to take every experience in full 4D immersion, in all dimensions. So there’s no rushing past that flower outside the mall entrance, okay? That flower needs to be smelled, appreciated, aggressive—full-face smelling. And then we need to debrief it. “What did it smell like?” “What color is the flower?” “Do you think it’s pretty?” Okay, now we have to smell these other flowers and then maybe we can go in the mall to get that one thing you’re looking for and you kind of hate the mall and would really like to go finish this errand but we’re smelling all these flowers right now, so it will wait.
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Last Saturday we hit up the mall to get some new summer clothes for Remi’s big trip this week. She loved the flowers outside, the sky windows in the mall, and the waiting areas throughout with couches and tables. We played some games and colored on her new Kindle (also obtained for the long plane ride) while mommy did some shopping and she was very helpful carrying my bag! #babytrex #daddydino #toddlersofinstagram #eastviewmall #shopping
When we were in the middle of potty training, it felt like an endless struggle, even though it was just a few months. About a month ago, we had a strong hunch that our super-smart kid had figured out that she could use her pull-ups like diapers if she just didn’t feel like going to the potty. We were lamenting that we might still be in pull-ups in months, maybe even years. It didn’t feel like she wasn’t ready to use the potty, though. She went easily when she did remember to use the potty and she had figured out how to do pee and poop in the potty by the first week. We were just in this pull-up limbo where she’d go in the potty if she wasn’t wearing anything on her bottom and would sometimes hold it for hours randomly, but then other times would definitely go in her pull-up and it seemed like she knew she was doing it.
People kept reminding us that kids do it when they’re ready and there’s no use rushing her, but I swear to you she was showing all signs of readiness before we started and continued to in the first couple days of training. It didn’t feel like we were too early or rushing her beyond her abilities. It felt like we were falling into unproductive bad patterns.
After one particularly harrowing day, we threatened to put her back in diapers, which I realize is not the parenting-of-the-year recommendation on potty training, but it’s what happened. Parenting is hard. Anyway, we threatened to put her in diapers if she was going to treat her pull-ups like diapers and then we put her in an actual diaper and she thought that was hilarious. “I’m baby! Wah! I need bottle!” Ugh. Total backfire.
So I pivoted and went in the complete other direction and that night, we went permanently into cloth undies. I told her I believed she was a big girl and she was ready to use the potty every time and I knew she could do it because she’s smart and good at going potty. We said, literally, “Bye-bye, pull-ups!” and moved them out of the bathroom and we were off. She had two, maybe three accidents over the next 24 hours. Flash forward three weeks later and she’s typically gone the whole day without accidents. This past weekend, we went to the zoo, the beach, ran errands, and ate out for brunch and she kept her undies dry all day. Now I’m looking forward to the day she can wipe her own bottom. Which will probably be within the next year but also feels like an eternity away.
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Part one of our family fun Saturday! @kaelynrich took her Waffles to @rocwafflefactory for breakfast. It was amazing and Remi got the triple berry waffle of course. We then went to the park next door to run amuck for a few minutes before running some errands. Then I suggested we hit up @senecaparkzoo for some animals. Remi replies, “Great idea.” We saw all the favorites, lions, giraffes, elephants, sea otters, sea lions, and most importantly, zebras. #babytrex #daddydino #toddlersofinstagram #waffles #breakfast #senecaparkzoo #elephants #lions #familyfun #youarewhatyoueat
Three is just on the horizon. Remi’s birthday is September 1st. Three feels like a big milestone for her and for us. Can you believe I’ve been writing this column in some iteration for over three years already, starting when I was preggo with Remi? Now that little fetus is wearing big kid undies and speaking in whole sentences and building with Legos. What have you done with your life in the last three years? Because Remi’s learned to sit, stand, crawl, walk, run, hop, and skip. She’s just about 15% away from successfully completing an unassisted somersault.
I said to Waffle, when we started down this path two years before I actually got pregnant, that having a kid would be the most interesting project I’ve ever worked on. It has been. Remi is endlessly fascinating and growing right in front of me so quickly I have mommy whiplash. I don’t want her to slow down. I love the freedom that comes for both her and me as we pass every stage. I do want to enjoy every moment of it, as I have a feeling I’m going to blink and she’ll be a teenager.
5 Queer Parenting things I’m Currently Overprocessing
1. Attempting Classic Family Fun
We took Remi to the local vintage drive-in movie theatre because it seemed like a toddler-friendly place. It was. But I forgot about how when you arrive late on the opening weekend of Toy Story 4, you’re def not going to get a good parking spot. I could see about half the screen and, also, because Remi also couldn’t see super well and is two and was more interested in singing songs and looking at the stars and jumping around barefoot on the sharp gravel rocks, I saw about 25% of the movie.
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Tonight, @kaelynrich took us to the @vintagedrivein to see Toy Story 4. Remi had a blast even if she only watched parts of the movie. She enjoyed laying in the gravel, snacking endlessly, and looking up at the stars. She did check in on Forky’s adventure and said, “Look Mommy…I’m flying!” when I put her on my shoulders. We left before the 2nd movie (Aladdin) because it was getting late and by the time we got home, she was asleep on her horse. #babytrex #daddydino #toddlersofinstagram #driveinmovie #familyfun #toystory4 #vintagedrivein
Oh, we also got our wheels stuck in mud and a ton of people who were already parked just stared at us struggling until finally some person helped Waffle push us out. Anyway, I think we’re going to go again later in the summer and maybe try to get a spot closer to the front? It made for some cute pics and memories. I do love that I live in a place where I can drive just 25 minutes away to see a real drive-in movie, however logistically challenging.
2. Billy the Betta Fish
It happened. We got Remi her first official pet that is hers. We have a rabbit and a cat and she likes them, but I don’t think she feels like they’re just for her the way Billy is. It was a very impromptu decision, which is on-brand for us and also a stupid way to bring a new pet into your life.
Long story short, I’m obsessed with Billy, so named for Billy Porter, and his moss ball buddies MJ, Indya, and Angelica! I’ve already upgraded his tank to a bigger one, bought a fancy test kit for his water, special almond leaves to improve his health and water quality, various treats, and I may be a tad bit obsessively Googling betta health and wellness articles. Full disclosure, I literally just bought him more things this evening because I’m worried about him having a heater and the ideal ph in his tank.
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Well, I’m a fish person now. Who knew? Don’t ask me how much I’ve spent on this fish so far. This is just who I am as a person. Meet Remi’s first pet and my deskmate, Billy the Betta. As I said to Waffle as I unloaded a larger tank and three potential fish houses from my third betta shopping trip, “You know who you married.” (More betta things coming tomorrow. I’m obsessed with him.)
Remi loves, “My fish!” and loves feeding him. He lives on my downstairs desk (my dining room set-up for when I can’t use my office) and we’re best friends. That’s all. This is also just how I am as a person.
3. Things I’ve Definitely Said Aloud This Month:
- You have to wear pants to go outside.
- I don’t want your fingers in my nose.
- You can do it right now or I’m going to do it for you (repeat x100).
- Get your foot out of my shirt right now.
- Stop yelling. You’re scaring the bunny.
4. Jeter Watch 2019
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A snapshot of our morning. Jeter was feeling extra brave this morning with his dose of Cativan and spent several hours downstairs with the family. He even came up to Remi a few times when she had his laser pointer. We are getting there. #babytrex #daddydino #toddlersofinstagram #catsofinstagram #greycat #norweiganforestcat #maybefriends #playtime #progress
5. Photography by Baby T: A Stream-of-Consciousness Burst Interrogation
Remi’s new fav thing is to ask to take pictures of things she’s interested in on our phones. It’s hilarious and also she takes these incredible photo bursts that are mostly blurry nothingness, but we can often pull a couple shots from the bursts that are actually really cool toddler art.
It always takes me by surprise how much I enjoy reading your column, having little interest in parenting otherwise, and I look forward to reading it every time. Your love for Remi and watching her grow up is wonderful and a real joy to read. Thank you for allowing us to follow your journey for the last three years.
Same. I don’t have kids, don’t want them. I enjoy educating and exposing children to animals and nature but in small bursts. But I find these columns fascinating.
Thank you for reading along! I get it. I still don’t have much interest in other people’s kids or parenting things outside of my own life. Ha! It just never feels like it’s for me or for us other than gleaning the specific info I’m googling for re: health and development. I love hearing about other queer families, too.
I love the “Things I’ve Definitely Said Aloud This Month” section. 😂 My mom always says that her favorite “never thought I’d have to say that!” parenting moment was when she said to my younger sister: “Kirsten! Don’t lick the chicken!”
Me too! Also these sound a lot like my mom and she is an incredible mom and I think I turned out pretty great so . . . . rock on!
I 100% relate to your mom. I need to start writing down the weird things we say. Toddlers are ridiculous and will definitely try to lick a chicken, given the opportunity.
Oh man there are so many things I say to my kiddos that I’m like “Wow, can’t believe I’m in a situation to say this.” this week’s big one was “Ms Caitlin only has two hands and right now they’re covered in glitter, so you have to put your own shoe on”
Also I’m a big proponent of “I’ll count to three, then I’ll help you” because there’s nothing a two year old hates more than being helped by a grown up
My big one is counting down from five ( or 10 or 3 depending on the urgency). It gives the kids time to transition. Most of the time by the time I get to one, they’ve gotten with the program.
Yes on the being helped thing. This is my life. It’s 10 on a Sunday and I think I’ve used this 3 times already.
It’s so true! I give her two options and one of them is me doing it for her and then if she doesn’t make a choice by the third time I’ve offered the choice, I tell her I’m going to do it for her and she usually pulls it together. LOL. We’ve started using the counting, too. Counting backwards is a little advanced for a two year old, but she gets the idea.
Thankfully it’s been a few years since I had to say “you have to wear pants to go outside” but I’ve definitely said it more than once. Ditto with “I don’t want your fingers in my nose (mouth, ears, eyes…”
“Toothbrushes NEVER go in the toilet” was also in my top five “can’t believe I actually had to say that to a human”.
As a non-parent who works with other people’s three- and four-year-olds, this column is a guiding (laser) light. Thank you for sharing your adventures with Remi and Waffle with us!
i definitely sang the title
My heart. <3
“Toddlers do not give one fuck and yet are also completely in tune with their emotions. They will say exactly what they want and express how they feel in-the-moment and that includes crying because they fiercely want and or don’t want to eat a french fry.” YES. EXACTLY THIS. It’s one of my favorite things about them!
Kinda off topic, but those shark shirts are excellent.
Waffle pretty much has sole responsibility for wardrobe curation, so I’ll pass the compliment on to him and to Remi who picks her shirt most days.
I love your column – I am always equally entertained, in awe and scared shitless!
Maybe you remember that way back in March, I commented on your very first post about being pregnant with Remi. It was super nice of you to actually take the time and reply and we wrote a bit about conception and taking clomid and it actually made me feel way more hopeful than I was at the time. So I just wanted to come back and say thanks and GUESS WHO’S KNOCKED UP and finally somewhat comfortably pregnant at 17 weeks, 4 days.
Being queer parents is already super fun and super annoying. Like, people can’t even get to “congratulations” before asking “But HOW did you do it??!!” (“With sperm” is not an acceptable answer?)
But I’m happy and thrilled and just wanted to share that with you.
PS. Didn’t even take Clomid.
People are very rude. This will continue but you’ll just work out your own standard lines to put a halt to the conversation.
Yes, I remember! And congratulations! I’m so happy for you!
Don’t worry. There is absolutely nothing you can do to prepare. LOL. So I say go in scared shitless and just know that you already have the skills to figure it out and the internet is only a minute away if you get stuck.
CONGRATULATIONS again! Yay!
Yeah, I kind of decided to take this whole parenting thing one task at the time and not stress about potty training before the little one is even born. ;)
I love this column! And that last picture- it is everything! Thanks again for sharing this aspect of your life; it’s so special.
That last Remi pic should be printed and framed and set on the end table or mantel or what have you.
“You have to wear pants to go outside.”
At 37 years old, I still resent wearing pants.
I mean, to be honest, me, too. Waffle still regularly tells me I have to wear clothes/underwear/pants to walk around the house.
6pm: I open a few Autostraddle articles I want to read in tabs
8pm: “Why am I singing A Chorus Line??”
I love Remi’s photography!
Yes, at least two people got the reference! (You and Al) I feel seen. HAHA.
As someone with a 20 mo and a 4 mo, that thing about time is so real. How is it that these people didn’t even partially exist a couple years ago and now they are such intense human beings with their own (very strong) opinions.
I refuse to believe this column is 3 years old. I REFUSE. What even is time? Help.
Thanks again for sharing so much of your experience with us. It warms my heart and teaches me something every time.
But also, every time I’m like… maybe I *do* want kids but I’ve never really seen other queer parents enough to internalize the possibility and decide? SO THANKS FOR THAT LIFE COMPLICATION. (jk with the sarcasm, totally serious about the thanks)
I was babysitting a 6yo once who tried to convince me that he didn’t know how to wipe his own butt and I was just like, “Well, little friend, that’s just not going to be my problem today. Do your best!” I’ve wondered ever since at what age kids do actually learn that.
I’m so happy that Remi has her first pet of her own and that the beta is going to be so well taken care of.