Today is my Ellie’s fifth birthday.
I talk about my children here and there on this blog but I don’t dwell on them because of two reasons: 1- I started this blog as a release from my stay at home mom life.
Well, I have done that for my oldest, each year since I started the blog.
But I realized the other day that I have never done this for my youngest, Ella or Ellie as we call her around here.
And I had a moment of mom guilt but I think I know why I probably never wrote a post about her.
Because for most of her life, Ella has been really difficult and really hard to like on some days.
Now, if you are infuriated or insulted by these words, you might want to skip out now.
Because you obviously have never had a difficult child or known someone who has.
My Ellie has been a huge source of love, laughter and smiles for me over the past five years.
But she has also been a huge source of stress, heartache, tears, and frustration as well.
I don’t remember when exactly it started but I think its fair to say around her 18-month mark she started being difficult.
Think terrible two’s only it started at 18 months and it is slowly going away at age 4 1/2.
I won’t go into details but it has put me over the edge as a mother and definitely made me feel like a failure for a long time.
What did I do wrong?
Why is she like this?
Why can’t I have a “normal” child?
Then I would feel extra guilty because there are parents out there with bigger struggles or couples who can’t get pregnant and here I am crying at night, praying to God to help me get through one.more.day with this child.
We discovered therapy for her in the spring of 2012 and after years of torment, we saw a light.
In our lives.
I felt free for the first time in four years.
Last summer, we were all over the place and a cousin mentioned on Facebook how we were doing so much.
But what she didn’t realize was that we had felt “trapped” by our child for all of those years.
We rarely ventured out farther than my parents home in central Illinois and Chicago.
When we needed to go out-of-state for my nephew’s birth/birthday parties, we maneuvered it like a military drill.
My husband would stay at home with her one day (because of his awful work schedule), a dear friend would sit another day and our faithful high school sitter the day after that.
While my oldest and I handled the trip alone.
I was just too embarrassed to take her anywhere.
Until last summer when the dam broke and she became the person I knew she could be.
The person I prayed she would be.
Not easy and happy all the time.
But a person who could love life.
And be happy.
And show it.
So instead of going on and on about the bad times, here are some amazing things I want you to know about our daughter who we love so very much.
She’s named after my dear sweet grandma
I loved my grandma so much growing up, maybe more than what’s considered normal.
When I was first pregnant with her, my grandmother was 102 years old but she was slowly slipping away.
I know, we shouldn’t have been shocked to see her slipping at age 102 but she was so full of life all of her life that when she wasn’t anymore, it was, well, shocking.
So when I was early in pregnancy, Gramma Ella or “Great” as Annie called her, got sick started going downhill.
The last time I saw her alive, she touched my belly and said: “I think it’s a girl”.
She also knew that if it were a girl, she was to be named after her.
She passed away two months before I found out that she was indeed a girl.
Ever since my grandma passed, I feel like a piece of her soul is inside my daughter.
Now, I know it might seem like an insult to my grandma because Ellie has been such a hard child but she has so much energy and so much spunk.
And I know with all of my heart and soul that she got that from my gramma.
She has the best sense of humor
At age 5.
She is a comedian and has been since she was a toddler.
She loves to make everyone laugh in our house.
I have no idea where she got that from.
She wants a pet in the worst way and loves animals of all kinds
She has a pretend dog and cat and even gives them water and food.
I will constantly come into the kitchen and there will be two bowls on the floor.
One with water and one with cheese nips because cheese nips are “what doggies like best”.
Lord help the pet we someday get.
She does amazing in school
Before she started school, I was a little concerned because of her past behavior.
But she is thriving and she loves school so much.
The teachers love her and she cracks jokes to them all the time.
She should be hitting the Vegas circuit any day now.
She is one tough cookie
Yet very sensitive if that makes any sense.
She fell hard off her bike this summer and didn’t even shed a tiny tear.
But if you don’t include her?
She will walk away and cry alone.
She is my little homebody
Ella would literally stay in the house forever if she had her way.
I have to bribe her, BRIBE HER, to go to the store or the mall.
She is one Hoarders episode away from worrying me.
But she loves to snuggle on the couch, play intently with her toys and color and read.
And she isn’t just like this in the cold months.
Pool, park, home.
Those are the only places she would love to be.
So I guess the positive spin is that I am making it a place she loves to be?
I will go with that.
Family is so important to her
She loves her grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncle so much and talks about them non-stop.
When am I gonna see mamie and papa? When do we go visit them? Can I talk to Mamie on the phone?
Which makes me so happy because our blood family lives so far away.
Yet she has this strong connection with all of them as well as our Illinois/extended family.
Her sister is her world
They fight, they hit each other, they yell at each other but the first thing Ellie says when I pick her up at school is always, “Is Annie at home/in the car?”
And the first thing Annie says when she gets in the door after school is, “where is Ellie?”
They might be 7.5 years apart but they are tight.
They even call each other Ramona and Beezus at home when no one is listening.
And that makes my heart sing.
The past five years have been hard, I’m not going to lie.
But they have also been amazing.
Because I have been pushed to my limit.
And have been blessed to see that I am indeed a better parent than I thought.
Thank you God.
For having faith in me.
To raise this child.
And keep her alive this long.
You can read about Ella’s eventual ADHD diagnosis here