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mothering. toddlers

My 4 year old daughter has wanted to be a “movie star” since she saw Eloise goes to Hollywood. Not that I think she really knows what that means or what it entails but I have convinced myself that I will never be the shatterer of hopes and dreams when it comes to my girls. If they want to do it or be it, I’m going to support it because we all need a cheerleader.To help her achieve this lofty, if not almost impossible goal, I submitted her photos to a prestigious modeling agency, they called us in, and then they agreed to represent my 4 year old.She is pretty cute, if I do say so myself:), and I figured what a better place to start than some print work. Of course,fast forward a couple months later, she books her first job. Its a commercial. Amazing right? No, well, it was to us. She was excited, our friends were excited, our family was excited, myself, I was too exhausted from organizing an unexpected relocation to really comprehend how exciting it was. It was to be a commercial for a local car dealership. We were in set the mandatory 15 minutes early, of course we had been sitting outside in the car for a 1/2 hour before that but we couldn’t come in, per instructions from our agency. Apparently, its unprofessional.We walk in the door with our 4 outfits they asked me to bring, of course they left her in the faded jeans, ugg boots, and long sleeve t-shirt and navy polo she walked in with. Oh, that is with the exception of removing the polo (which was the only cute part of the entire outfit because it was the riding to the shoot outfit..not the actual outfit for the shoot:) I was all very surreal, hair and make up on my 4 year old.She sat straight in the chair , jibber jabbing the make up artists head off. We exchanged niceties and she told me how bright and beautiful my daughter was, something a mother can never hear too much of. Then we began the actual shoot, or what I’d like to refer to as “the train wreck of 2010”. My daughter was “the daughter”, to the family in the commercial. There were like 10 adult actors and my 1 child, did I mention she had never even done a print booking. Talk about putting all of your eggs in one basket. Jeez. It starts out the pretend Dad has to lift my little girl into the back of a pickup.Oh my, poor guy. My daughter is very tall for her age, she is like 45 inches tall and around 53 lbs. She is rock solid. This guy was about 5’10” and having trouble lifting my child. She was more than half his length and its awkward to lift a kid that tall, I should know. I looked on with pity and horror as this man struggled.My daughter just sat there, like a deer in headlights, except for the occasional cheese she tossed in the general direction of myself or the camera ( which she was not suppose to be looking at because she was supposed to be looking at her damned fake parents!)But I stood there, silent watching it all happen because Mom’s (like children) are on set to be seen and not heard. I was there strictly for moral support and legal reasons.They eventually finish the 15 or so takes, my daughter is totally confused by the people moving their mouth feigning conversation with no actual sound coming out.It was all very overwhelming for her. The bright lights,the strange man lifting her up..which by the way, every time he lifted her up, her shirt lifted up on her belly.She’s 4, so she paid no attention, but the adults (not even the fake Mommy…oh, you so know she doesn’t really have children)not one of them thought to pull her shirt down or tell her to do it. It was very frustrating.This could go on for days and it felt like it did. Let’s just sum it up by saying she is 4! She was tired , she was hungry, and she was overwhelmed but she didn’t have a meltdown, and she didn’t cry, and she didn’t act like a brat.She did everything they told her to do, to the best of her 4 year old ability. That was a long day and there is so much more that I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you:) She did ,however, at the end of the day, as we were leaving the shoot look me in the eyes and say, “Awww, dang it Mommy.It was my first commercial and all I got was this sparkly new hairpin!” I chuckled to myself, I guess that paycheck and all that excitement didn’t count for much..because , in her mind, all she got out of the day was “that sparkly new hairpin”. I asked her if she wanted to still be a “Movie Star”. She said ,”Sure Momma. I bet when I’m on Disney channel, they’ll give me all kinds of sparkly(SPark-A-LEE) new hairpins!”LOL. Keep on dreamin big, baby!
Disclaimer: This is in no way, shape, or form a dig at the process or my agency, this was about the train wreck that I had to watch my kid be part of because of her inexperience. It was like helplessly watching a car slide off into the ditch.Or watching your baby fall when learning to walk for the first time.It was inevitable, and you couldn’t stop it, it was just the circumstances and our naivete. We are looking forward to the next time, we’re going to fishtail…on purpose!

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Have you heard that new saying that 40’s the new 20? Well, I don’t know who’s believing that load of crap but I’m pretty sure its not the 20 year olds and I’m fast approaching the 40 year end of the spectrum and I’m not believing it for a second. So, Oprah..please stop perpetuating this myth. First, there was the Million little Pieces guy and now this. Come on Oprah, just because you are spoon feeding it to us…some things I just refuse to believe. So, to be straight 40 is not the new 20, no matter how bad we want to believe it and 50’s not the new 30 either Oprah:)However, I am beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, 4 is the new 16. The other day, my 4 year old, who very frequently throws around “fact of the matters” and “Actually Mom…” spat out a “FYI..Grandma…” and then soon thereafter, floored me. We were on a road trip, we stopped at a rest area to avoid some bad weather, during a brief round of chit chat, I , funny Mommy that I am, cracked a very tiny joke at my 4 year olds expense. Now mind you, I thought this joke was about 100 miles above her head. No way she knew what I was talking about or even remotely that I was speaking about her. As far as I was concerned, all she knew was I was speaking to her in what I assumed sounded like Chinese (because it was so far out of her grasp of understanding) and I amused myself. It was late, I was slap happy, I giggled. To which my dear sweet 4 year old, with all the attitude of a 16 year old about to flee the premises with her newly issued drivers license ( or what I remember me being like at 16) looks at me, with her hand on her hip, her hip popped out, and her eyes rolling back in her head.These are the words that came flowing out of her mouth so seamlessly that I had to check myself for my own hearing, ” LoL Mom, LOL!!” Complete and utter silence, followed by the eerie sound of crickets. WTH??? Are you kidding me? I was so baffled that I was speechless. She used it in complete context. I don’t know where she learned to speak in IM language or if she really understood what she said but I do know that I don’t want to know the truth and I want my 4 year old to be 4. In a world where heels are made for newborns, low rise jeans are made for toddlers, and make up is almost a pre requisite for preschool….I choose to believe that this was a complete coincidence.as a sidebar, I have also decided I am going to make a concerted effort to not use the term “LOL”… ever again.

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Yesterday, I was shocked by the news of the day. I spent the next 24 hours “feeling” my feelings. I’d be calm, then cry, then sad, then shocked some more, then irate.As I was packing the girls room up, while Bella was at preschool (so she wouldn’t notice that it was being packed up), I packed while she was at school so she would have no idea things were going into boxes rather than into drawers and closets. While I was rushing to do this before she got home, I couldn’t place why I kept getting angry and falling to pieces. Surely, cleaning their room wasn’t anything to cry about.I just couldn’t place what was making this time, the third time in 17 months that my husband had gotten the news of a lay off, so much worse.Then ,I figured it out. This time was different because this time one of the people that I love more than anything else in life, my 4 year old, Bella was old enough for this to actually affect her. I have been reassured that children are resilient .In my mind, I know this. I know that when she is a teenager, she will have no recollection of this entire situation. She won’t be scarred for life, need therapy, or even care but that doesn’t help me ..now.See, this has happened before.The first time, she was pretty unaffected. She was 3, she was oblivious. But the second time, I was so distraught myself that I forgot to filter my actions and words and she knew exactly what was going on. Bad, bad Mommy. I felt horrible about the whole thing.No 4 year old should be aware of finances and the family economic situation, let alone be afraid of going without..anything. When we had to relocate, she was sad and full of trepidation at the thought of leaving “her” best friends, “her” ballet class, “her” swing set, “her” bedroom, “her” toys,”her ” house etc. etc. It was all very overwhelming to her and it was all my fault. If I would have kept “MY” mouth shut, she would have been unphased. It’s kinda like when your kid falls, if you don’t gasp and run to their rescue..its as if they never even fell. They usually don’t even cry. They are tough, they are resilient. We, however, are not apparently. So, last time we had to uproot, I kicked and screamed all the way ( metaphorically, of course) and she did it literally. Good example Mommy. Worse, above all else, was the fact that she was so afraid of the whole experience. I did that. This time, I promised myself that I would hold my tongue and she would not see me cry. She would be blissfully unaware. Her and her sister will not know that Daddy got laid off and we are scared to death in this economy. No, this time I will smile and just tell her that we are going home to be closer to our old friends and family. This time, I will be an adult and spare my child the fear and uncertainty that she does not need to experience at the ripe old age of 4. This time I will be the adult and protect her from this awful thing called life. She has the rest of her life to find out that life is not perfect and we don’t always get what we want and sometimes we have to struggle. But today, she is four and today, there is Santa, the Tooth fairy, and the Easter Bunny. Daddy is the strongest man in the world and Mommy is the most beautiful woman and we both are perfect..in her eyes.Life is perfect.Today, I will guard her innocence with my life. She is my baby and she has the rest of her life to be disappointed, but for today I refuse to let her be anything but happy. Today, I will be your Mommy and your umbrella from all of life’s rain. I love you Bella and Gabs! You are my sunshine!!

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