This afternoon I boogied around our home picking up piles of animal hair-crusted socks, forks, crayons and cookie cutters. Despite my efforts to include Margot in my scene she sat, like a yogi, naked and wrapped in a purple quilt.

"Mama, what are you doing?"

"Cleaning up," as I breathlessly scraped dried peanut butter and alphabet stickers off the floor. She watched me labor and didn't move or speak.

I added cheerily, "It really takes no time at all to make our space clean! Especially when everyone chips in and helps!"

She flattened her brow and put her hands on her hips and plainly stated, "Mommy. Sometimes it's really hard for little kids to chip."


And we both folded our hands at our hearts, bowed our heads and said namaste in unison.

Really, I stared at her as she nodded in agreement with her own assertion and then she laughed and asked for half apple juice, half water in the silver bear cup and the pink twirly straw.

Since she was a babe I have used the word fiery to describe Margot. I looked into other words and they work but none as completely as fiery. Burns strong and bright; a full or exuding emotion or spirit.

We've entered chapter 714 of Parenthood around here where Margot's will is wonderful and exhausting. I wrote a bit about it in mama digs: two humans trying to figure out life.


:: :: ::

all photos taken with a Canon Digital SLR from Vanns.com


Terri Bratton Holt said...

via mamalode.com:

Oh honey, I know you know this, you are sharing the words of so many mothers before you and after you. The difference is you are sharing….which will make a difference.

I remember when you or Trav would misbehave…I too was more hurt than mad. As you know I never spanked, but tears flowed and those tears were true punishment to you both.

Parenting is hard work, but so worth the reward, look what have….


Beth Brennan said...

via mamalode.com:

When I first saw the title of today’s post, I assumed the two humans were Margot and Ruby! How easy it can be to forget that being mom is just the other side of the equation — the equation that invites us to love deeply, listen carefully, and always show up, every day, no matter what happened yesterday.

Thanks for your lovely thoughts on this rainy Monday morning.


dig this chick said...

via mamalode.com:

…always show up, every day, no matter what happened yesterday. It’s remarkable isn’t it?

Grace said...

via mamalode.com:

Funny– when I read the title I assumed it was you and Andy!!
Humans, everyone in the family…living together, trying to figure out life.

Katie said...

via mamalode.com:

Goodness, Margot and Theo sound so similar.
Theo, during all of age three, has aged me significantly. A perfect combination of awe, perfectly worn-in love, and ruffled feathers. He will turn four this week, and I can only pray that during his third year he figured out that we accept independence around here so we can tuck that battle in and bid it a goodnight. And that since he’s now fully aware of what’s right and wrong, he’ll make good choices more on his own with less prompting from us. {yes, I’m laughing a little at myself…who knows what I’ll be saying on the cusp of age five?!}
I think the end result will be something like ~ parenting is tough love…no matter the age.
Happy Monday, friend. Beautiful writing today. xo

An Authentic Life said...

via mamalode.com:

Brilliantly written!
Oh, the joys of parenting! Does it help if I tell you my 16 yr old son and I are still discovering each other a little more each day?
The lessons keep a comin’!!

dig this chick said...

via mamalode.com:

It does help! I love the constant discovery of parenthood. I also sometimes wish for some boredom. Seems everything I get my groove on, our planet is shook like a magic 8 ball and our next fortune is revealed. I write that and realize that unpredictability and learning is one of my favorite parts of being a mama…maybe I don’t wish for the boredom.

Maggie said...

via mamalode.com:

It is beautiful the way you interact with your children…you are patient, kind but first and foremost LOVE. Even though I don’t know you personally, I draw great strength from your blog, your stories, your pictures and your beautiful girls. I am at the beginning of this adventure with my little girl, she is 8 months old tomorrow and we will be crossing these waters together someday I know. And while I know there will be struggles its all part of the beauty and our story together. Thank you for all you share!

Amanda said...

via mamalode.com:

I loved this article. Margot reminds me of a much more milder version of my son. I’ve read many parenting books trying to learn new ways to deal with him. Along the way the books have always referred to these children in a negative way “difficult, challenging, impossible..” etc. My absolute favorite book uses the term “strong-willed.” I think this term describes it best. He also refers to the very strong-willed children as “aggressive researchers.” I love hearing about your approach with Margot. Gives me ideas on new ways of helping my own.

Melina said...

I really feel like you have a lot to look forward to, I mean that's obvious, but I'm writing in particular about Margot's unfathomably sharp understanding of the world and her place in it. I am a nanny of a three year old, and he really does not seem to have the same paradigm. I hope you are still blogging (writing, novel-ing, memoir-ing) when Margot is a teenager and older, I know she will have some serious wit and wisdom to offer.

I am loving your comments on my blog. Thank you.


Melina said...

and as a post-script....I'm 26 and I still think juice out of a silver bear cup with a pink twirly straw sounds dandy. When I'm nannying I drink out of all the kid's fun straws, and I think I may delight in it too much...

rebecca said...


"She flattened her brow and put her hands on her hips"

Lisa S said...

"Mommy. Sometimes it's really hard for little kids to chip."

LOVE it. She is firey and wise.

Kelle said...

I agree with Melina in that what is frustrating now about Margot will work to her advanatage later...and it will in turn benefit the world, my friend. She sounds a lot like someone else I know. Fiery. And passionate. And loving. She is wild and precious...just like you. Beautiful essay.

Daniele said...

Nici, wow, I've said it before but your commentary on parenting is so often right on par with what we're experiencing in our house. My 3 yr old daughter has been in a particularly fiery phase for about six months now. Last week my husband and I spent the evening having an in-depth conversation about it all...questioning, pondering. Then the next morning he wrote me an email that reminds me of what you wrote about here. And his little note, like your piece, made me feel good. I'll share what he wrote:

I enjoyed talking / venting with you last night. deep thinkers like us can be our own worst enemies because we may over-analyze, which leads to emotional strain and self-imposed guilt.
it helps to talk about it. we are doing a good job. Lily is just a bundle of synapse explosions taking each new day to experiment & figure out what it means to be human. at our rawest levels, we are animals, we can be selfish creatures, and we inherently unconsciously test boundaries. she is smart and loving and in a unique phase…we will keep on providing loving guidance.
we will keep being the broken record preaching love, fairness, sharing, happiness, and respect…she hears us. She is figuring it all out.

Zoe said...

Our three year old daughter has really been testing our patience lately too. She is such a sweet, funny, articulate girl who just loves life but she has become a handful. We thought that maybe it was a delayed reaction to her baby sister's arrival, but now reading your mama digs column, I think it might be because she's well, three. Come to think of it, her big brother was an angel until he turned three, but we put his misdemeanors down to moving/starting preschool/mama going back to work/becoming a big brother. We made it through to the other side with him, and will do so again. But oh lordy, we're going to have to go through this again with the baby. At least I have over 2 years to get ready for it. Thanks for sharing and showing us that we're not alone.

TRB Holt said...

I think if you look up "fiery" in the dictionary it would read something like this:
fier·y [fahyuh r-ee, fahy-uh-ree]
1. Consisting of fire or burning strongly and brightly
2. Having the bright color of fire
3. (of a person) Having a passionate, quick-tempered nature
4. See Margot Bea Cline
5. Passionately angry and deeply felt
Don't change a thing Bug!
xoxo ~ Gram

Amie said...

Margot KILLS me every time! I SO love the things that come out of her! Hope you had a great Easter with your babes!

Holly Taylor said...

You are an amazing mother and this was a beautiful glance into your relationship with your daughter. All of my girls went through a challenging stage when their younger sibling started walking. At first it was fun and new, then it seemed that they realized it altered their world in a way they didn't quite know how to adjust to. Just a thought! Keep up the good work mama!

kyndale_pease said...

Sometimes I wonder if the kids like that keep their self confidence throughout life. Or...is it just a kid thing? I have a fiery little boy that's 5. He cracks me up most days. Although my sweet and quiet 12 year old girl has loads of fire inside her too.

Erin O. said...

"Fiery" Yep. I've got one of those too. That's why I read and re-read your posts, because sometimes I don't know what the hell I'm doing and I get an unbelievable amount of comfort and guidance from your words. Seriously.

Ellie said...

Hey, I have one of those, too! Three is absolutely challenging; it all seems to intensify; the frustration, the laughter, those moments when it all clicks and you have this parenting thing figured out!...at least for a moment :) There is nothing so knock-your-socks-off-wonderful or maddening as parenting. Hope you enjoyed your weekend in my part of the state - we'll have to meet up next time. As always, thank you for sharing :)

Caden & Violet's World said...

She is a firecracker! I have a 3yr old and 10mth old. I think for our older kids, they have adjusted well to becoming older siblings to their baby sisters but all of a sudden that baby is growing up and the 3 year old has to do what they can to remain 'alpha'! Like cutting hair and washing in yoghurt and refusing to clean up! Its a control thing! I am finding it a hard balance too because on one hand, its your first born, you want to do everything to make sure they are not feeling left out in any way. I am finding that while I am cooing over Violet being able to stand, Caden is tipping toy bins out by the second, and it makes me feel sad that sometimes he feels vunerable but at the same time I know I can't allow him to act out. But I am finding I often do... I guess what I am trying to say is, we are all in this together!

kis4s said...

Ha! You were in Butte! ;o) My oldest (now 14) has always (I mean since birth, I swear!) been highly social, highly verbal. I have never understood exhaustion until parenting her. But a good exhaustion, like I just ran a race and got my personal best (sometimes its a daily race, but it does level out to a relaxing workout most days ;o).

So much faith goes into parenting our little individuals. Everytime I tried another parent's "style" it backfired. The way my daughter and I communicate is our way, and it works for us. Thanks for affirming that!

Oh, and did you have pizza at Trimbo's? They have a pizza with white sauce & jalepenos (and other stuff) that is freakin' awesome!


dig this chick said...

Awe, Daniele! I love that email. Thanks for sharing.

6512 and growing said...

via mamalode.com:

It’s all so hard and normal and tremendous and ever-changing, this parenting.
This was beautifully written, Nici.
I think you’re doing a wonderful job.

Joan Cline said...

via mamalode.com:

Oh Lord. From the sounds of it she needed some one on one time with you. I think she will love pre-school too. She may be on to something with that yogurt wash. Ruby’s complextion looks fabulous. Was it plain? I’m trying it at lunchtime. Being a parent is never smooth no matter how many books one reads. Each day brings something new that doesn’t always come with an answer from some book. You know your kid better than any book. Just keep doing what feels right in the moment. xoxo

Jennifer said...

via mamalode.com:

This was an amazing article, Nici. We go through these moments as moms……fresh and new each time our children hit another “stage”. It is rebirth again and again, and me….trying to figure out how it all works in tandem with my children…again and again.

Thank you for sharing such important thoughts and your heart with us all. What Terri said was right on….the difference is you are sharing….which WILL make a difference, and make all the mamas out there realize they aren’t alone.

Jo @ Jo In the Kitchen said...

via mamalode.com:

Thank you so much for articulating what I’ve been feeling!
My son is five, has an amazing vocabulary, and seems so wise for his years. And then, sometimes not two minutes after I marvel at how mature, how reasonable he is, I find him coloring on walls or tearing apart his art projects. I just have to keep reminding myself that he has his own personality, needs and wants, and they won’t always mesh with mine. And I keep reminding him that I love him unconditionally and will always be there for him.

Zoe said...

via mamalode.com:

Definitely beautifully written. Brings back memories of my very headstrong and forcefully independent daughter. Still that way at age 21. Her son? Yeah. Her, only more so!

He will be 5 on the 14th. We are in the midst of the moving and the packing and the sorting, and we have no friends who are willing to help out with the boy. Arrrggghhhh!!!

Saturday sounded something like this…

“Connor, today is a day that Papa and Gramma are moving heavy things. You need to play in the house, or in the backyard. You can watch a video in Gramma and Papa’s room, or you can take art supplies upstairs, or puzzles. But we need to know where you are, and we don’t want you to get hurt. We can’t see you when we’re moving furniture, so the biggest help you can be for today is playing in the backyard. If you want to be inside, I need you to be upstairs.”
“Nah. Don’t feel like it. I’m going out front.”
“Connor, I’m feeling sad that you’re not listening to my words. We really need your help today! Can you help in the ways I’ve asked? Just for a while today, and later, when we’re done, we’ll go to the park.”
“Nope. Told you. I don’t feel like it. I feel like being in the front yard today.”

-insert picking up child, placing child in house-

Jim hollering… “Get back here!!!” as we see Connor, who has gotten the leash on the dog, gone out the back door and out the side gate, RUNNING balls out (literally. He was also naked) all. the way. down. the street. Absolutely NO response to either one of us calling and chasing after him. He made it almost 2 blocks. With the dog.

-insert yelling while placing child in house-

Me hollering… “Holy crap! There he goes again!!!” More chasing, more yelling, things dropped on feet… boy says again, in a much more – ahem – forceful way, “I TOLD YOU I didn’t want to be in the BACK yard!!! Jeez, guys!!!”

Oh dear god. How long until bedtime? Ugh….

It is indeed some hard work, and oh so challenging! And oh! so many days I have said, “A limb… I’d just about give a limb for a dull moment.” But damn! Love the freakin’ mongrels! But, pretty stoked my girl is taking her boy for a few weeks, gotta be honest…
Just keepin’ on keepin’ on…

And I too thought, at the title, it was you and Andy. LOL

Dakota said...

via mamalode.com:

Oh goodness, this made me laugh so hard… I sympathize completely.

Zoe said...

via mamalode.com:

Oh good! It is already funny to me too. Saturday, um, not so much!

We must have looked hilarious.

Lisa Belt said...

via mamalode.com:

I love your posts and reading your blog. But I have to say, it’s your Mom’s comments that usually make my eyes well up. I have the same kind of mother and you and I are lucky gals indeed.

Christa said...

via mamalode.com:

My fourth kid is three right now and although each has dramatically different personalities, with every one I’ve found three to be one of the toughest ages (for me and them). I think it’s some combination of kids being big enough to test things, experiment, and explore in a bigger way and me not quite ready for them to be able to do and want that. Or maybe not, I still haven’t figured it out. Surprisingly, three is also one of my favorite ages–probably for all those same reasons.

But, that doesn’t make some days any easier. When my daughter was three I went to wake up her & her cousin in the morning and my daughter’s waist length hair had been fashioned into a mullet. My niece was bald except for a tuff or two. (Not exaggerating–her dad “fixed” the hair with a buzz cut.) All the dolls were bald. The next day she smuggled 4 or 5 pint bottles of glitter into her room and dumped them everywhere so when she jumped on her bed it flew up & it was like she was in a snow globe. She was so proud. It seemed it was something like this nearly every day for awhile. I feel your pain.

dig this chick said...

via mamalode.com:

Zoe and Christa! Thank you for sharing your stories. It really is funny stuff…running balls out, snow globe bedrooms, voodoo doll practice…

Sarah said...

via mamalode.com:

Someone once told me that the 1/2 ages (18 mos, 2.5, 3.5, 4.5 etc.) are challenging because it is a point of big developmental growth in which they are pushing new boundaries and their brains are growing in leaps and bounds. I’ve found a lot of truth to this with both of my girls. Or at least it sounds good right? Hang in there mama!!

dig this chick said...

via mamalode.com:

Sarah, I have mentioned this half-age theory to many friends and we have decided there is something to it….or, right, at least it sounds good!

Betsy @ Zen Mama said...

via mamalode.com:

That’s just beautiful! My boys are 20, 18 and 14 and we’ve been through a lot. In the end love and communication are what matters.
I love how you wrote about her personality helped inform you what kind of parent to be. I so believe in that. Glad to have found you through Jen Slayden!

Zoe said...

via mamalode.com:

Oh my god! The snow globe! Love. It.
Yah know, they say glitter is the herpes of craft supplies. Once you get it, it never leaves…
My youngest (19 today!!) once made the most awesome costume of the Alice in Wonderland caterpillar by using spray adhesive and green glitter on an ankle-length coat. He was about 14. There is still glitter on the sidewalk in front of that house. Thank god he did the glittering OUTSIDE! LOL

Sarah said...

via mamalode.com:

“glitter is the herpes of craft supplies”…that is priceless!

rebecca said...

via mamalode.com:

,,,i know you don’t want to read that i laughed while reading about margot’s “fiery” self,,,i’ll take her off your hands for a few days to give you a rest if you wish,,,i just had a haircut last week though david is in need of one,,,(smile),,,hang in there diggy!,,,

Abby said...

via mamalode.com:

Wow, is there an Echo in here….(: Nici this is exactly what I have faced with my girls. I have 3 of them, age 6, 4 and 1. As of yet the age of the 3 was the hardest year with both of my older girls. You are right, when they act out they are in need of something, or someone…you. Hang in there mama! The age of 4 is right around the corner….and for some reason the age of four has been my favorite. (:

Karen said...

via mamalode.com:

My youngest is now 17 and he’s still challenging me. I am so grateful to him for being my best possible parenting teacher. He has pushed me at every single stage and my husband and I have risen to his challenge every single time (although not without some tears, tantrums and bewilderment at times). I would never have been the parent I became and my kids wouldn’t be the amazing people they’ve become without that challenge. Most of his life, I was like “bring it on” but now admittedly, I’m in a bewilderment phase. I haven’t quite cracked what will work with him with what he’s currently throwing at me; however, he is now a very active participant in his parenting, so it’s kind of like there are three of us trying to find what will work. We’ll get there and yes, it involves “meetings” and trial and error, and then he’ll throw something new at us! It really never ends… but we keep going…

Joan said...

via mamalode.com:

Sarah, you’re right — it IS the half-ages that are hardest.

Meredith just turned eight, and while (I hope) we’re past the hair-cutting, yogurt-smearing, pin-sticking stage, I know there will be “older issues” that will challenge me as a mother just as much. What will help me – and her – get through those times? Ha! We’ve all figured it out — as evidenced by reading and posting here. We aren’t alone.

Also, I tell myself that my child will need therapy for SOMETHING … I’m just trying to make sure that it’s something GOOD. LOL.

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

via mamalode.com:

It’s been one of those days ’round here. Thank you for this, N.

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