I am officially Mum to a two year old.
Wow! I can’t actually believe that statement is true.
Two years of loving our beautiful, funny and feisty little girl with the HUGE personality. Two years of navigating the turbulent waters of parenting. Two years of tears, tantrums and emotional out pours (and that’s us not Evie). Two years of watching our tiny new born bundle grow into a little PERSON who walks and talks and laughs and bosses us around. It’s been a joy!
In many ways this second year has been a lot more manageable than the first, and perhaps if I was forced to choose, more enjoyable over all. There were of course many many wonderful times during our first year of parenthood, more memorable moments than I can count and so many ‘firsts’ that made my heart melt. But for the most part, it was also a bit of a whirlwind. A foggy whirlwind where often I felt hopeless with worry, constantly questioning whether I was doing the right thing and finding it difficult to see past a bad day/week/phase. I think the first year of parenting also comes with a lot of pressure, and a lot of that year I spent doubting myself and my abilities, wondering whether I was living up to the version of Mum I felt I was supposed to be.
I think probably the pressure is still there, and no doubt always will be, but I guess what’s changed in this last year is my confidence. My ability to trust my instincts and accept that I know what’s best for my own child. In this second year of parenting (and certainly in the last six months), I’ve felt more assured of our decisions regarding Evie, I’ve stopped feeling the need to apologise or justify what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. And I feel like we’ve taken ownership over our parenting style more, safe in the knowledge that we’re doing what works for Evie and for us as a family, regardless of whether it’s ‘the norm’ – if there is such a thing. I think perhaps there’s a seperate blog post in that, the differences between year 1 and year 2 of parenting?
Anyway we’re now in year three, which is a slightly daunting prospect. For now I’m just going to enjoy this current period of toddlerhood as honestly, Evie is at a wonderful stage and parenting her, while not without it’s challenges, is a whole lot of fun.
We’ve spent the last week in the throws of birthday celebrations and Evie has loved every second. It’s been making my heart burst with love and pride seeing her enjoying all of the excitement directed her way and understanding the concept of her birthday and what it means. In a similar vein to the above paragraph, everything about this birthday was a stark contrast to last year. Not just the weather – which last year saw us knee deep in snow while this year was spent basking in 18C heat – but Evie’s temperament, my emotional state and the general outcome of our plans. If you missed it first time around, I wrote all about Evie’s first birthday and all the emotions that came with it, but to fill you in; we got snowed in with the Beast from the East, her planned party had to be cancelled, we had no post for a week, Evie was cutting her first teeth and I got far too emotionally invested in the importance of a cake topper.
For this birthday we decided to keep things low key – partly having learned from last year’s experience, partly because actually we just wanted to enjoy the celebration ourselves and allow Evie the chance to soak it all in without feeling overwhelmed. This worked really well and we all had the best time and made some lovely memories. That statement right there probably sums up exactly the differences between our first and second year of parenting (or perhaps just how I’ve grown as a person ;-)). 1st birthday = trying to make everything perfect and feeling wronged when your baby doesn’t play ball or appreciate all of your hard work. 2nd birthday = forgetting perfect and just doing the things you know they’ll love, even if that means spending three days making Peppa Pig biscuits for them because you know it’ll bring a smile to their face.
The night before her big day, Evie excitedly climbed into bed telling us it was ‘1 more sleep’ until her birthday (after reading the Daddy Grizzle Book ‘How many sleeps until my birthday’ about three times over), and once asleep we spent our evening wrapping up her presents, blowing up balloons and adding the finishing touches to those Peppa Pig cookies.
The next morning she bundled into our bed for a cuddle and while she excitedly chatted away to me, Husband quickly transported all her presents to her room and attached her 2 balloon to her bed. When I asked her if she knew what day it was today, she started giggling and with a huge grin on her face, shyly turned to me and said ‘Evie’s birrday??’ and honestly I think I was just as excited as she was at that point.
We told her there might be some birthday surprises in her bedroom, and she jumped out of our bed, and ran through squealing! The first thing to catch her eye was definitely the balloons, the 2 balloon was oohed and aahed at and there was plenty of wow’s, but those confetti balloons brought so much joy. She threw them around the room squealing and giggling and loved it when we threw them up over her head.
Evie’s definitely not a rip them all open immediately kind of girl when it comes to presents, it took us about two weeks to get through all of her Christmas presents in the end. She gets super excited to open one and then that’s her done, more interested in concentrating on playing with/putting on whatever she has just opened and giving it her full attention. It was the same with cards. She opened her first card – one with Peppa Pig on -and then wanted to just sit on the bean bag reading it for a good ten minutes while laughing away to herself. Every time we asked if she wanted to open another one, she said ‘No, just read Peppa book’ – what a funny little thing she is.
With her birthday being pretty close to Christmas and her having been thoroughly spoilt by family then, we actually asked the grandparents to avoid more toys in favour of practical gifts to give us a little help stocking up on all of the things she needed. At the start of the year we started switching her room up to make it more grown up and took the sides off of her cot, so my parents got her a bookshelf for her room so we could make a little reading corner, and Stu’s Mum got her her duvet and pillow set with the Gro to bed zip in cover (seperate post coming on how we switched her over to a bed but this duvet cover is really good!). Stu’s Dad got her a new raincoat and I asked friends for pyjamas and clothes in bigger sizes as she seems to be growing out of everything so fast lately. All practical gifts and mostly already purchased and put up in her room before her birthday but all things we really needed and were very grateful for.
So in terms of presents to open on the day, we just got her a few smaller things rather than anything big. We bought her some new art supplies (colouring pencils, paints, brushes, a stamp set and a giant sketchpad), and put them all in the most adorable little fox design caddy from Great Little Trading Company, as she absolutely loves drawing and painting and is definitely a crafty kid. We bought her a Duplo set (as she loves playing with this at playgroup), some Play-Doh (as rolling and cutting shapes out is always her favourite thing when we bake together), some new books, a Thomas the Tank engine jigsaw (she is the QUEEN of jigsaws – seriously it’s actually quite scary how good she is at them) and finally a new pair of glittery light up Peppa Pig wellies which I just could’t resist when I saw them (I promise it wasn’t a Peppa themed birthday, I guess everyone just knows what she loves!).
She still got spoilt in the end as more presents arrived from her Uncles and extended family and friends later in the day but for the morning this was more than enough (in fact I think she only managed to open about two presents that morning!). She opened the Peppa wellies first and was pleased as punch with them (which was a relief as I was worried they might get shunned for not being blue – her favourite colour), so much so that they went straight on and didn’t come off her feet the entire morning.
After all of the excitement of the presents and balloons, it was downstairs for a birthday breakfast. She refused any of her normal everyday breakfast choices (I guess rice crispies and toast aren’t exciting enough for a birthday) but was more than happy to indulge in a few Peppa and George biscuits which went down a storm. Suitably filled with sugar, we all got dressed and ready to head out for a birthday adventure. But not before some more enjoyment of that giant balloon!
We had decided to take Evie to Eureka!, the children’s museum in Halifax, for the day and despite me being a little apprehensive that she might be too young to fully enjoy it, it was brilliant and she had a blast. Between the play garage with cars of every colour to sit in, and the play house complete with washing machine and a kitchen full of goodies for budding chefs, she was in her element. We ate lunch on a train carriage, went shopping in a play M&S (after taking money out at the play bank) and played dentist with a giant set of teeth. It was great (for us big kids too!) and Evie really seemed to take a lot of it in and learn lots. It was such a beautiful day and we played outside in the gardens, as well as visiting the Piece Hall for a run around (while Daddy took the car to a garage to have the tyres replaced – the only small hiccup of the day) until it was time to go home.
We got back in time to do a little Happy birthday blowing out of candles on a cupcake (her proper cake was being saved for the weekend) and open a few more presents before a very exhausted two year old collapsed in bed, telling us what a lovely day she’d had.
It was just the perfect little family day – Evie had so much fun, was giddy with excitement throughout and we made it to bedtime without a single tantrum (a win at this age surely?).
At the weekend we had a little mini pizza party (her favourite food) where we rolled out dough and made our own pizzas together, and I made a chocolate birthday cake at her request. Evie is a rather strange kid in that she doesn’t like cake (or at least she refuses to try cake) but chocolate buttons are definitely a favourite so I made a 3 tier chocolate sponge covered in chocolate icing (for everyone else), decorated with animals on the top and chocolate buttons around the side (for Evie). First thing in the morning before she’d even had breakfast, she came running through to the kitchen just as I was taking it out of the fridge and exclaimed ‘Oh! Mummy it’s my birrday cake! A choc-ee-aye one!’ befor running back through to the living room shouting ‘Daddy, Daddy, Mummy made me a birrday cake, come ha a look!’ which just melted my heart. She insisted on blowing out her candles right that second and then of course proceeded to remove and eat all the buttons from the side, before declaring that the animals needed to come off and have their feet washed so she could play with them. So by that afternoon when we did finally light the sparkler candle and sing happy birthday (again) the cake was a little worse for wear, but hey that’s what it’s all about right?
We finished the weekend off with a visit to a farm and a ride in a little land train and that was pretty much life made for our two year old.
The balloons are still going strong and most mornings we have a mad ten minutes or so where Evie runs around screaming with delight while clutching a balloon and bouncing it around, and she’s enjoying playing with all of her new things, reading her new books and wearing her new wellies to jump in muddy puddles.
All in all it was a lovely birthday week with lots of memories made. I’m still trying to get my head around the fact we’re parents to a two year old but here’s to year three, and everything it’s set to bring!
Happy birthday to our best girl! To us, you are just perfect and we are so so enjoying every second of watching you grow up and become such a little character. You are so funny, and clever and cheeky and kind, and we feel privileged to be your parents! We love you so much Evie!