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I cannot believe that my baby is turning two. All those crazy cliches about time flying are entirely true, especially as a mom watching her baby transform into a toddler.
Coco has taught me a lot about life in her two short years. By simply existing, she’s transformed who I am and how I want to show up. Even if you aren’t a mother, I promise this episode will hold nuggets of wisdom for you to glean from my blond, curly haired little girl.
I just want to say that if you’re in a season of waiting, like we were prior to Coco, I am thinking of you. Our journey to parenthood wasn’t easy but it was hands down worth it. I’d do it a million times over it if meant the opportunity to get to mother my babe. Loss was our greatest teacher and that season of waiting gave us the time we needed to become the type of humans we were meant to become in order to parent our girl.
So Conley Kate, little Coco Bongo, happiest of birthdays to you. I’ll spare you the singing and instead choose to celebrate by telling you (and the rest of the world) the 10 things you’ve taught me before the age of two.
1. Wake Up Slow
Every single morning, I get to wake up my baby. Every morning, she wakes up super slowly, in fact, she gets up so slow that we have a chance to make our morning coffee for Drew and my lemon water before we even get her out of bed. I love that moment where I get to finally crack the door open as I say, “goooood morning, baby” before I see her sweet little smile.
I love that she wakes up slow, giving herself a chance to adjust before starting her day. It’s helped slow me down in the morning and stay in a bed a few minutes longer to read a book or memorize the moles on Drew’s face or snuggle Tucker who’s usually tucked between our pillows. Waking Coco up is literally one of my favorite times every day and seeing that wild bed head and her cute little sleep sack just makes me weak in the knees and encourages me to pause and slow down.
What would waking up slow look like for you? How can you set yourself up to wake up slow? Maybe try putting your journal next to your bed so the first thing you reach for in the morning isn’t your phone, but your leather-bound pages where you can capture the dreams you had or your intentions for the day.
Could you set an alarm for bedtime, not just wake-up time, so you’re giving yourself the best chance at a full, restful night of sleep and a slow intentional morning. Does it mean working with your kiddos on what it means for them to wake up slowly, so you can too? Even if you allow yourself 5 extra moments in between the sheets, claim that time for yourself each day, just like Coco.
2. Be in Awe
Watching Coco experience new things whether it’s a hike up Pincushion Mountain or a pinecone on the driveway, I love seeing her sense of wonder.
I have to laugh, too, because God definitely has a sense of humor, that girl is OBSESSED with bugs and flies and spiders. She’s had “pet flies” that she brings with her everywhere and I don’t have the heart to tell her that they are dead. The amount of bug books we own is laughable but I love how curious she is and how she’s so unafraid of other creations.
One of the hidden blessings of 2020 was that we got to spend the majority of the year up at the lake house which meant ample time outside exploring. Every day felt like an adventure when we approached the world through Coco’s eyes.
3. Don’t give up
One of the craziest things about the difference a year makes is the fact that your kid goes from a crawling, drooling cute blob, into a chatterbug toddler who understands every word you say and can run circles around you. Watching her learn things like how to walk was so inspiring to me.
Imagine if after the first few tries she just gave up and said, “I guess I’m not meant to walk on my own two feet.” Seeing the grit, determination, and the way she’d laugh when she fell down (even I was cringing) reminded me that as adults we often give up too early, we take less risks, and we sure as heck don’t smile when we fall down.
She also went straight from walking to running which reminds me of the power of momentum and confidence, once she got the hang of it, she knew she could move faster and with less bumps, I can tell ya, that’s totally how it can be with entrepreneurship!
4. Everyone needs alone time
My daughter lights up when she’s around people and it’s been so sad this year being in our bubble, tucked away in the woods from other life forms. While she definitely has an outgoing personality, the kind that has her waving to every car that passes us by on our evening walks, she also craves her alone time, whether it’s independent playing or time unwinding in her crib before bed or when she wakes up.
Some nights, we’ll be doing our bed time routine and she’ll just point to her bed, like, “Alright mom, enough stories, let me just be with myself for a bit.” I admire this about her and it’s taught me to savor and carve out space for time for myself.
This year, especially, I felt like I was either fully in entrepreneur mode or mom mode and since we’re all in the same space all the time, having alone time for me is super rare… like I honestly can’t even remember the last time I had a night to just myself — it was probably pre-pandemic. I love that Coco doesn’t mind being quiet with herself and that she recharges alone. She’s a lot like her mama in that way and it’s a reminder that I need to do that more often, too.
If you’re at home right now, and so is your family or roommate or partner, and alone time just doesn’t happen organically, you have permission to ask for it and seek it out for yourself. Whether that looks like a socially distanced walk in your neighborhood, or stepping into your bedroom and closing the door behind you for a quiet space to read on your own.
Maybe you can relate to this, but as an introvert living with and working from home with an extrovert, it’s sometimes necessary to just explain that quiet and solitude is how you recharge, and your roommate or partner or whoever it is will get the best version of you if you’re able to get that alone time to recharge. Take a page from Coco’s book and politely but clearly share when you’re needing some independent playtime.
5. Moving your body is a gift
I don’t know if you’ve witnessed the glory that IS Coco doing yoga but dang, that girl can move. She is the most flexible little creature I’ve ever met and everyday she has me moving my body in celebration, not punishment.
Some days I wish we were recording on our house cameras because the way we dance or attempt to do push ups with her on our back or our family yoga evenings leave us giggling so hard.
The craziest thing is that she really is our shadows and does what we do and so it’s made us extra aware of the way we speak about and move our bodies, knowing that she’s paying attention and soaking it all in. I love that she is too young to even think of movement as a way to change yourself and instead she just moves freely and with confidence.
6. Routine can be a beautiful thing.
Before having kids, I used to knock the parents who followed strict routines or schedules. I had convinced myself that my kid would go on MY schedule and it would be super fluid and free and while I do have to admit that Coco rolled with a lot of punches her first year of life, having a schedule has been our saving grace this year.
It makes total sense that her body is on a clock, just like ours, and our schedule gives us the ability to soak in the wake hours and to plan for the resting hours. Our little lady is definitely like her daddy in terms of loving a routine — like the way she has a “getting ready” routine in the morning with mama that includes brushing her teeth, putting on my deodorant, using a little face spray and of course puckering up those little lips for some lip gloss. She craves order and loves routine and she’s turned her mama into someone who is the same exact way!
I know from experience that finding and sticking to a routine isn’t as simple as making the choice and letting everything else fit into place. If routines are hard for you, try this — As you go through your day, make a mental note of the processes that seem frenetic and chaotic and list out options for managing that chaos.
There’s a beauty in knowing what’s coming up and when you can rest and I’ve embraced that beauty that Coco shared with me.
7. You can learn new things
Earlier this year we had started to talk about potty training Coco and timing around when that would take place. We had initially planned to have her do a few half days each week at a Montessori in town but decided to pull her out when everything was going on with COVID. When we had toured the school, they talked about how they start the “toilet learning” process as young as 18 months. It sounded crazy but they had sent us home with a book on their process and so around 18 months we started sharing more about potty training, we ordered her potty, read her books, and let her attend many field trips with us into the bathroom.
When she was around 19 months she had a little diaper rash which left her running around the house naked and thus, we dove into the world of potty training. Honestly, that experience in and of itself taught me so many lessons. Like how to celebrate the small stuff, how to not fret when you mess up, how to be patient, and definitely how much Lysol is needed in the process.
It took us about 10 days of diligence but she got it. It took more focus than most things I’ve accomplished and it brought interesting challenges (like taking her potty on the road with us and using it at a rest stop or peeing in the woods on hikes) but it was so exciting to watch her learn and celebrate and accept her new normal.
8. Stillness is a choice and an active one
Have you ever watched a kid wiggle? Like their energy is just bursting out of them and it’s uncontainable. I feel like as adults we get those bursts too but they usually show up in the form of workaholism or other things we get obsessed with like DIY projects. The truth is, Coco reminds me that while stillness can sometimes be even harder than action, it’s necessary for us to regroup, to pause, to take it all in, to recenter.
This past year held a lot of pausing, for good reason, and at first I was shocked with how uncomfortable it was for me to pump the breaks. It helps when I feel that anxiousness or I’m feeling antsy to get moving again, to remember how helpful it is for Coco when we just pause, take a few deep breaths, gather ourselves, and then get back at it, whatever it is.
Coco is the queen of deep breaths, something we do together every day and lord, most of the time when we do them, I hadn’t realized how much I needed them myself. While rest sometimes feels unnatural and pausing takes a lot of restraint, it’s important to know that stillness is, in fact, a choice, it’s not being complacent, but it’s a way to refocus and recenter.
9. We’re always growing
Getting to watch a kid grow and transform and to see the difference even a month makes in their life helps remind me that we’re still growing, even when there isn’t visible evidence.
I look at time in an entirely new way and see how we are evolving, being stretched, challenged, curious and how all of that adds up to us becoming a new version of ourselves at every stage of life.
10. Your definition of success will change
And it should. Coco undeniably changed the way I look at success and the ruler I measure my life up to. Not only did she enter it and immediately soften me, the journey to get to her taught me so many powerful lessons that still, to this day, have me savoring the fact that I get to hold her in my arms.
This year, I was reminded that success to me looks like being the kind of mom I dreamed of being in that season of waiting while doing the work I love.
While integrating work and life and motherhood isn’t easy, it’s been the most transformative experience for me. I know I am so privileged that I get to work from home and that my daughter gets to spend her days with her daddy. This year reminded us of the many ways we are blessed and living that life that was once on a vision board.
I always use this sentence that my business coach Dean taught me, “I know I’m being successful when” to check in with myself and to make sure my life that I’m living is reflecting the way I prioritize and define success and so for me it looked like…
I know I’m being successful when I get to wake up my daughter every single day and be present with her in the mornings, I know I’m being successful when I get to have a slow breakfast without distractions, I know I’m being successful when I finish my workday and have the energy to play with building blocks or read ten books or sing all the songs before dinner time. I know I’m being successful when I feel energized both as an entrepreneur and as a mother. I know I’m being successful when I prioritize my health. I know I’m being successful when I don’t miss a single chance to put my baby to bed.
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