Organized Chaos

I am a planner. I know I’ve said this in previous posts, but I mean I”m a serious planner. I plan out what I”m going to wear every day and lay out my clothes the night before. I plan my meals for the week. I even decide ahead of time which days I’m going to get up early to exercise. I think calling myself a planner is not even a true self encompassing description of all my oddities. I am also a creature of habit. I take the same route to work every day. I listen to the same radio station. I eat the same breakfast (unless I’ve pre-planned a change).

The more chaotic my life gets the more I feel the need to plan everything and I need to stick to my routines. When I look back on some of the most stressful times of my life, for example exam times when I was in University or when I went through a particularly tough break up with an ex boyfriend, my need for structure was at it’s peak. It’s almost my way of keeping control of things when I feel like certain aspects of my life are waving out of control.

When things start to stray from my planned path it effects me drastically. My fuse gets shorter, my mind races, I have a hard time focusing and I even have been known to get nauseous.

Even as I write this out I am fully aware of how crazy this makes me sound. It’s not something that is easy for me to admit to. I used to spend a good amount of energy trying to hide the fact that I wasn’t a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl. Now that I”m older and a parent I’ve learn to accept that this is just one of my things. I own this wacky side of myself and try to work with it rather than fight it.

The hard part of this is that life with children is very chaotic. It’s very difficult to plan and you have to be used to things going astray. This afternoon for example, I tried to leave the house to go shoe shopping for the kids and finally after much struggling to get them into their current shoes, ensuring that I had a diaper bag with all the necessities for Ms. J and getting a snack for both of them to nibble on in the car, I get them both in their car seats and am ready to go when Mr. T. announces that he has to pee! Are you kidding me??? I’m stressed because of the struggle I just faced but also because I see the time and we’re cutting it close to lunch time. I worry that we don’t even have time for this shopping trip as I get Mr. T out of the car seat and back into the house for his potty break.

These types of incidents are difficult for me because of my need for structure. The difficult part of parenting, or should I say the difficult part for me, is that while you actually must have some structure you need to keep in mind that things will always stray from the plan. It’s a catch 22 because kids need to have a routine, structure makes them feel safe. Yet at the same time your best laid out plans will be destroyed by potty breaks and tantrums.

So here I am, trying my best not to let these things throw me for too much of a loop. I am trying so very hard to keep my cool when Mr T. is calling me from the bathroom yelling “mummy I’m done!” and Ms. J is mid crying fit because she doesn’t want me to put her down all while the smoke alarm is going off because something fell into the element while I was cooking the other day and I forgot to take it out! I’m learning that the fact that my life is full of chaos doesn’t make me a bad mother, it’s a normal part of family life.I can’t be the only mother in the world who is living this even though at times I feel like I am. It’s really the way I handle this chaos that matters the most. Letting this get to me and make me crazy is not going to make the chaos magically disappear so I just have to learn to work with it.

I keep telling myself that there is going to come a day where I will miss this crazy frenzy of activity that is my life. For now I will embrace the organized chaos of each day and know that this is all a result of my beautiful family and I wouldn’t trade it for all the monotony in the world.

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In Honour of Father’s Day

I will admit that I lived a fairly sheltered life. Growing up in my world there was no such thing as an absent father. I was fairly old before I realized that not all families had a Dad. I was even older before I realized that sometimes even a Dad who hasn’t left a family is an absent father.

Now that I’m an adult and have had a little bit more exposure to the world, I have become more aware of the impact that a Dad has on a child’s life. I see what not having a Dad can do and have learned the importance of a positive father figure.

I guess I am one of the lucky ones. I had a very present father, in all aspects of the word. He was not only there but he was a hands on father. So, I will take this opportunity, dear Dad, to say thank you. Thank you for so many things, where do I even start?

Thank you, Dad:

For working long shifts in a dirty factory, not only to put food on my table, but so that I could wear nice new clothes to school every year, and take vacations, and go to music lessons.

For coming home from those long shifts late at night and standing outside in the middle of winter to flood the backyard so that I could have my own private skating rink.

For teaching me to skate on said rink, and to ride a bike.

For cooking dinner before heading out to your afternoon shift at work, showing me that it takes teamwork to run a household and a family.

For fixing things.

For eating my Easy Bake Oven cakes. I mean c’mon..a cake that comes in an envelope and is baked by a lightbulb?? Yet you actually ate them!!

For attending every single baseball game, music performance and dance recital. Even when taking the time off work meant working even later into the night.

For giving me an appreciation of hockey.

For making me a Canadians fan.

For helping me with my multiplication tables when I struggled with them.

For taking me to the zoo, amusement parks and March Break skiing trips.

For defending me when you felt like I wasn’t given a fair chance and encouraging me to do my best when I wasn’t giving it my all.

For driving a van full of loud, giggling girls to school dances and being there at the end to pick us up.

For not letting me stay out all night and always questioning where I was going, who I was going with and when I was going to be home.

For breaking up fights between Mum and I and for making sure I knew when I had crossed the line into disrespect.

For loving my Mother, in turn teaching me that I deserve to be loved.

For working hard enough and being smart enough with your money to help me with my education.

For talking me through some of my political science papers in University.

For giving me enough freedom to let me move away from home to go to school and enough sense to know how far that freedom stretched.

For forcing me to get myself out of some of my own messes (ie:very large phone bills)

For standing front and centre, eyes filled with tears, heart filled with pride, video camera in hand as I walked across that stage to get my degree at my University graduation.

For wanting to beat up anyone that has hurt me but for not actually going through with it.

For giving me your honest opinions when we were car shopping and house hunting.

For helping me understand mortgages, lines of credits and RRSP’s.

For walking me down the aisle.

For loving my husband.

For guiding me through fixing my own furnace.

For not expecting me to pass that task along to my husband.

For always expecting me to be able to do anything and for never assuming I couldn’t do something because I was a girl.

For being a good Grandfather.

For spending so much time during Mr T’s NICU stay holding him close, letting him know he had a huge support system.

For planting flowers with my son.

For giving my daughter Grandad cuddles.

For still listening to me cry when I feel defeated and giving me the words I need to pick myself up.

Most importantly for giving me the tools to have picked a good husband. A husband that not only is good to me but is and will continue to be the kind of Dad to my children that you were to yours.

Thank you Dad, from the very bottom of my heart.

Sharing the talent…life with kids for those without

I just came across the most amazing blog post that I just had to share! It is hilarious, a little sad and just so true! Reading this post had me in tears of laughter but it also got me thinking, and questioning things in my own life, with my own relationships.

I love to share talent and this is a creative, funny and well written post…take a look, if you haven’t already read it.

http://tryingtobegood.com/2012/06/02/an-open-letter-to-all-parents-from-a-non-parent-10/

How true does this ring in your life?

THe fact of the matter is once you’ve had children your life changes. Regardless of how much you think you will stay the same after you have kids you don’t.  Those without kids tend to think they understand that and are prepared for it, but I truly believe there is no preparing you for this. It is a shock.

I feel terribly sad that my relationship with some of my childless friends has suffered since my family has grown. I know a huge part of that is me. Let’s be honest. I don’t have the time to call you as much as I used to. It’s not because I don’t care it’s mostly because my kids can be acting like angels yet as soon as I pick up the phone they go all “Lord of the Rings” on me and it becomes pointless. If I even hear you over the screaming, fighting, pushing and throwing of toys I will not be able to pay attention because I will be too busy trying to prevent my little angels from seriously injuring themselves or killing each other. By the time I’ve put them to bed I just need some quiet time by myself so that I don’t go completely insane and that only lasts as long as I can manage to keep my eyes open.

Nights out are difficult for so many reasons. Again, not because I don’t care or dont’ miss you. It’s because trying to get me to stay up past ten o’clock even on a weekend is difficult. I’m tired, drained and my idea of the perfect night is sitting on my couch in my jammies watching tv, writing or doing just about anything that is quiet and doesn’t require me to do anything for anyone else.  My entire days are spent catering to other people; my children, my husband, work, all I need is a few minutes, maybe even an hour to myself to regroup and get ready for the next day. I know it sounds awful but  mustering the energy to go out and socialize is a chore and I don’t need any additional chores. Not that I never want to do that again, just not as often as I used to and in a different way.

This brings me to the types of activities that I enjoy. This too has changed. Forget late nights filled with wild parties..it is just not going to happen…for a while! I know you want fun-loving, happily buzzing me to show up every once in a while, but that side of me was left behind in the delivery room. Does that sound selfish or just brutally honest? I am no longer 19 years old. I can not dance, drink and party into the wee hours of the morning and function the next day. This has nothing to do with children but more with age. The difference with me is that I can’t afford to not be functioning the next day because Mr. T. will not understand why I can’t wake up at 6:30 when he’s whispering in my ear that he peed the bed and he’s hungry. Ms. J. won’t care that my head is pounding and my stomach is churning when she delivers the poop of all poops and needs a diaper change while I’m in full hangover mode. I have two full days a week with my children and I’ll be damned if I spend a day of that lazing around the house unable to fully interact with my babies because of a hard night of partying, it’s just not worth it to me.

Long afternoons of shopping still interest me but it will be different. I have to plan them around nap times and feeding schedules. If it’s planned out properly then I can leave the kidlets with Mr. C. and we can have a few hours to ourselves. If plans fall through then expect our shopping trip to be spent pushing a stroller around the mall with a bored toddler who just wants out and will scream bloody murder until she gets her way. We then may spend our time in each store chasing said toddler through racks of clothes trying desperately to ensure that we don’t lose her and inevitably, panick mode will set in, when for a fraction of a section she disappears from your line of vision. The types of stores I may visit might also change. I may now be more interested in visiting children boutiques because they need new summer clothes and this is the only opportunity I have to be in a mall so I need to get it done. While I will still happily accompany you to the same designer stores I used to shop at and now love to dream in, it won’t be my only interest, and won’t be where my purchases are focused.

It just isnt’ the same. No one’s fault. It just isn’t the same.

I understand why you might feel like I am the one who changed, because I did, I had babies. My life did a complete 180. But deep down inside I am still the same person. Maybe if you could just meet me half way then our relationship wouldn’t have to change all that much.

When you get frustrated try to put yourself in my place for just a moment. Try and imagine what my life might be like and try to remember that it has nothing to do with you.

There may be some tension between us because there is some judgement flowing from both sides. You judging me for my parenting and life choices. Judging me because I don’t want to go out anymore or because I don’t call you. Judging me because I talk about my kids all the time, or because it’s difficult to even have a focused conversation with me through the million interruptions.

Me judging you because you don’t understand.  Judging you because you don’t seem willing to make any accommodations for me and my life with kids. Judging you because you expect me to be able to come to your party, put my kids to sleep in your bed for a couple of hours while I get my drink on and then wake them up in the middle of the night to bring them home. Judging you because even as you make the suggestion you don’t hear how ridiculous it sounds. Because I can’t help but take your judgments as a personal attack on my parenting.

I wish that our relationship didn’t have to change but it does.  To all my childless friends, know that I still love you. Know that I am fully aware of how I’ve changed. Know that it’s possible to maintain our friendship but the path we were on has been altered. Know that I’m doing my very best even when it may not seem like I am. Know that if and when you decide you want to join babyville I will be there for you every step of the way and I will try my best not to say I told you so!

Children and the strain on your marriage

Mr. C. and I fight. There it is, I said it. Ya we fight…and?? Tell me you don’t?? Ever? I would like someone to show me the couple that doesn’t argue

Some of our arguments are minor and are resolved almost the moment they occur. Others are momentous, last days and alter our relationship for good. Most times for the better.

What I underestimated was the impact having children was going to have on my relationship with my husband.

When we were in one child heaven life was a breeze. We enjoyed our time with our baby. Dinners were made, house was cleaned, laundry done during nap times. We had free time. We bathed in the warmth of our love for each other and our new family. After our rocky beginning we were just so thankful to have Mr. T. home with us and relatively healthy that the regular baby stresses didn’t phase us. Not sleeping through the night? Not a problem! Crying baby? Easy peasy! Nothing could knock us off our cloud nine.

Then along came Ms. J. and the experience was so much different. While our love for her was too much for words, we were on the go non stop, 24 hours a day. We didn’t have the same amount of free time anymore. When Ms. J was napping Mr. T. needed attention. I had to be sure that I had Mr. T. entertained so that he didn’t get into trouble. We were out a lot at playgroups and baby classes. There was double the laundry and no time to clean the house anymore. We were running on empty and were just trying to keep our heads above water.

Free time with Mr C? It was pretty much non existent. By the time we managed to get both kids in bed, we were both exhausted and could barely muster the energy to keep our eyes open for 15 minutes let alone talk to each other! We were wiped!

It got very overwhelming very quickly.

Now here we are almost two whole years later and we are dealing with a busy 3.5 year old and an independent toddler who wants to do everything herself and has a will that overpowers mine any day of the week. We are stressed. Do I even need to say that? Almost every single day that goes by I feel like a big failure. When I walk in the house and see toys scattered on the ground. When I look at my kids sitting on the couch watching T.V. while I’m desperately trying to put together dinner. When one of my kids knock over a pile of folded laundry because I haven’t had the chance to put them away yet…I feel like a bad wife and mother.

All of those overwhelming feelings of anxiety come out at some point and in some form, usually in anger and frustration. Which is usually directed towards Mr. C.  Is that really all that surprising? He’s the closest to me. So I argue with him.

I look around at all the chores that need to be done and I fight with Mr. C. to help me. I fight with him because he questioned my parenting when Mr. T. was disrespectful to me. I carry around resentment and it’s aimed at him because I’m tired, frustrated and defeated. It’s completely unfounded and not the right direction for my feelings but it’s the path they take nonetheless.

In discussing this with Mr. C. he opened up that he too feels overwhelmed. He feels inadequate when he sees that other dad’s in the neighborhood are always out working on their lawn, washing their cars, doing work on their houses. When he’s so tired after a long day at work that it’s tough for him to even manage walking the kids over to the park to play. He too feels overwhelmed when he feels like he’s going non stop and is still struggling to do all of the things that need to be done. He even feels bad when he sees me stressed because he can’t fix it.

One of the most important realizations for both Mr. C. and I is that what works for one family may not work for us and that’s ok. Yes, some dad’s are out there fixing their lawns every day but they don’t take their kids on bike rides every day the way Mr. C. does. Just like some mum’s may keep their house spotless at all times but maybe they don’t make fresh, homemade dinners every night. Point being, it doesn’t really matter what everyone else does, nor what everyone else thinks. We have to find our place and what works for us.

I’ve learned some even more important lessons from these fights with my husband. I’ve learned that life with two young children and two working parents is not as easy as it looks. It’s tough and mentally draining. The worst thing we can do is take that out on each other. It will get easier, as the kids get older and more independent. For now this is us and we need to work together as a team. One thing I always remember is that when Mr. T. was sick, Mr. C. and I banded together as a team and that was the only way we made it through. If we can face that we can face anything.

The most important thing that I learned is that sometimes fighting between couples is a necessary evil. It’s a requirement to work through some tough issues. The sign of a successful marriage is how you get through the tough times, how you resolve your issues. I am actually grateful for our arguments because we are at a point in our marriage where our arguments actually make us a stronger couple. Mr. C. may drive me crazy at times but I wouldn’t want to face this journey through life with any one else.