Evening baths to morning showers

I stood there staring at my face in the mirror wondering what just happened here. A moment ago I stood in the shower preparing for a day at work. Without any notice at all I found myself standing on the other side of the shower curtain while my little man happily took my place under the warm flow of the water. As I listened to him behind the curtain, chatting to himself, singing, my heart swelled with both pain and pride. Is that possible? To feel such an overwhelming feeling of sadness right along side a beaming sense of pride?

He peeked out the side of the curtain and smiled at me, scrubber in hand. I smiled back, my bottom lip quivering slightly. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to wrap his little wet body into my arms and beg him to stay small. Just for a little bit. I wanted to plead with him to still need me.

As I overcame the shock, I continued to dry my hair and realized that this is in fact a good thing. My little man is becoming independent just as I want him to be. My heart may want him to need me forever and ever but my head wants him to be confident in his abilities on his own. This is how it begins. Every step into independence he’s taken so far has made me unbelievably proud, but every time my heartstrings are pulled along with the pride.

It feels like it was just yesterday that I sat beside his little incubator vowing to fight with him every step of the way. Yet somehow I blinked my eyes and he’s gone from bedtime baths with his batman to morning showers on his own. His determination makes me so very proud. This is how I know he’s going to be successful. He is never going to rely on someone else for anything and my job now is to encourage him to become more and more self reliant.

While every day I shed a tear for the baby that I’m losing, my heart also grows in pride watching him become a wonderful little boy.

I’m keeping the promise I made him just days into our journey together, I will continue to fight with him every step of the way. It’s just that now I need to start doing that from the sidelines.

Every single day he takes a tiny step away from me but then, in a moment of tenderness, he will lay his head on my shoulder during bed time stories and remind me that he will always be my little man. For the rest of our lives he will always be my little man.

 

 

Advertisements

How my path to Blissdom began with my children

I’m full of a nervous anticipation. I’ve been on a journey and thanks to my two beautiful children I’ve ended up right here. Anxiously awaiting my first Blissdom conference.

A couple of years ago my love of writing was reawakened. Shortly after Ms. J was born I realized that I was not over what happened with Mr. T. I hadn’t let go of my guilt, my anger or my fear that we would face another health scare. I did not own my feelings when it came to our experience and instead felt like I didn’t have the right to feel the way I did because it could have been worse. I knew deep down that I had to do something or else I was going to get lost in this abyss of post traumatic stress. Out of my agony a blog was born.

My blog was my own personal therapy:
http://wp.me/s1oMIA-11
http://wp.me/p1oMIA-y

It was magical. All of a sudden the pain that I carried around began to loosen its grip on my heart. The memories remained and will always be a part of who I am, but I was able to move on. Writing about it saved me. It made me a better mother and a better wife. I stopped living every moment in fear. I realized that I would never be the woman I was before my children came into my life and that was ok. I don’t know if I had forgotten about my love of writing or if life had just swept it under the rug but it was back baby and I felt great! Writing was the only thing that had the power to calm my racing mind.

It was last year that I first heard of Blissdom and to be honest it never occurred to me this might be an event that I could and should attend. I didn’t place myself on the same level as the bloggers who were attending. Who I am to go to a blogging conference? I had convinced myself that I wasn’t really a blogger/writer and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

My own feelings of inadequacy have often held me back. I’m not a risk taker and I fear rejection. I’ve always done what I thought was the “right” thing, choosing the path that I thought would make others happy but I didn’t really take the time to determine what it was that I wanted. It just never occurred to me that I could make something with my words.

I started to see the Bliss buzz again this year and I allowed myself to entertain the idea of going. My blog actually has readers, and it’s more than just my mum! I’ve had mothers of babies with health issues reach out to me and thank me for putting to words their pain. That means I’m touching someone out there. That is more than I ever expected when I started this venture. My goal was to let go of my hurt which I did but along the way I seemed to have helped others deal with their own pains.

I began to analyze my reasons for not attending Blissdom and I realized that it all boiled down to one thing: fear. Once I realized that fear was holding me back I knew this was something I had to do.

My biggest wish for my children is that they follow their passion. That they end up doing something with their lives that they love and that brings them happiness. I don’t want them to avoid any path because they are afraid. How am I ever going to teach them this if I am too scared to walk my own bliss?

Last night my 5 year old exclaimed “I’m the best artist!” as he finished his masterpiece. When did I lose that confidence? It feels much better to trust myself rather than rely on others to determine my own worth. So I’m trusting myself. I know deep inside that Blissdom is a wonderful opportunity for me and I am beyond excited to be a part of it! My children have inspired me to take a step out of my comfort zone. I hope that by taking my own risks I can teach my children to push their doubts aside and follow their desires. If they always listen to their heart and give it their all I know they will be successful.

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So…get on your way!” Dr. Seuss

An unseen beauty in the ordinary

There are times in our lives when something that seems so very ordinary contains an unseen beauty. A beauty that may not be seen by the naked eye but that beats in someone’s heart, that is felt deep within a mother’s soul.

Recently I had such a moment. From the outside it may have seemed like nothing special but if you looked closely you would have noticed the twinkle in my eye, you would have felt the pride emanating from my heart and known the smile that spread across my face was expressing an unknown delight.

It wasn’t a huge event. We were sitting at story time during our family birthday trip to Great Wolf Lodge. The wonderful animated story-teller was engaging all the kids sitting on the floor in front of her and asked everyone to scream out their names. She counted down 1…2…3 and pointed to the kids. A loud, enthusiastic burst of names echoed through the lodge. You could barely make out syllables through the deafening noise of these wired children. I clearly heard Mr. T. scream out his name, because he was sitting right beside me or so I thought. The story-teller congratulated all the little ones on a job well done and said “I heard a ‘aaaahhhhrrrrrrr’ from one side of the room and a great big ‘Mr T!!!’ from the other side of the room.” All the parents in the room giggled and looked at Mr. T. smiling and agreeing with each other. A mother sitting right near him patted him on the back while she confirmed “it’s true all I heard was a thundering MRRRR TTTTTTT”. Mr. T looked at me with a shy smile, slightly embarrassed for being singled out but just that little bit proud as well. His eyes searched mine wondering “am I going to get in trouble for screaming” Most likely cause at home I’m constantly telling him to please lower his voice, stop screaming, use your indoor voice.

Chastising him for doing exactly as he was asked was the last thing on my mind. I beamed with pride as my mind replayed a scene from shortly after he was born. As clear as day I could put myself back in that NICU exactly 5 years before. Standing beside his little incubator listening to Mr. T’s surgeon explain what she was going to do the following day. My mind was fuzzy, I was exhausted, my eyes burned from what seemed like an endless flow of tears. I tried to concentrate as she explained the procedure and recovery. It was hard to focus I must say but I know she was confident that she would be able to fix this. She explained what this would mean for Mr.T’s future, the complications he may face in the years to come and somewhere near the end of the list she told us that Mr.T was probably going to be very quiet. She explained his voice may be raspy. She assured us he would be able to speak but that his voice just may not get very loud. I remember Mr. C. saying “I guess he’s never going to be an Opera singer” and she chuckled “No I doubt that will happen”

In those first weeks I didn’t think much of it. We were just so focused on Mr. T. making it through his surgery and then healing, learning to eat, gaining weight and finally coming home. Him being quiet was the last on our list on things to worry about. We did notice he was a bit on the quiet side from the very beginning. It was actually the first thing I noticed when he was born. His cry sounded muffled. It wasn’t loud and angry at all as I had imagined it would be. It was soft and quiet and sounded pained.

Here we are 5 years later and his beautiful voice echoed through the lobby of the Great Wolf Lodge singing loudly above the cacophony of giggling children all screaming their names. My heart swelled with pride as our eyes met and it was like we were silently, secretly giving each other a high five. I was trying somehow to convey to him that not only was it ok for him to be loud in that moment but that he has made me ridiculously proud. 

No one around us knew our journey. No one understood the significance of his little voice being heard above all others. No one knew just how far he has come. To everyone around us he was a perfectly healthy rambunctious little boy. No one but me saw the tiny little baby laying helpless in his incubator bruised and tubed fighting the strong fight.

The beauty of the moment was felt deep within my heart, right down where I store all of the memories of our emotional start. I pulled Mr T close to me, gave him a great big hug and kiss, tears filling my eyes. Mr. T looked at me a little confused and concerned, why was I crying he wondered. I pulled Ms. J into our little family hug (Mr. C. was icing his sprained ankle..another story in itself!) To the outside world this was just a regular everyday moment. A normal child being loud. To us this was a beautiful moment shared as a family. A wonderful reminder of how far we’ve come and of how strong we are as a family.

5 years my beautiful loud little boy and you have already come so far.

The scent of a baby

I held a baby today. A week old baby. All sleepy and warm and cozy in my arms. On the drive over all I thought to myself was “this is going to make me want another baby so badly”. Mr C. and I have not been able to come to a final decision in regards to adding to our family. We flip-flop and go back and forth, usually ending up on opposite sides. Just when I think I’ve made up my mind that I’m over my baby days, Mr. C. decides he wants to go for number 3. When my heart makes the switch and I’ve warmed myself to the idea of a new little one Mr. C. huffs that he’s too old to do this again and declares he’s done!

I thought the moment I laid eyes on this new precious little bundle my uterus was going to skip a beat. She is beautiful and peaceful and pure perfection. She felt so warm and angelic in my arms. It’s been a while since I’ve held a baby that new and it felt so natural. She smelled heavenly! Without a doubt my favourite thing about babies is their smell. I used to sniff my babies like a wild dog. Their little heads, their faces, their toes, they just smell magnificent. I took in her powdery scent and my heart swelled a little.

Yet despite all of this, it seems as though meeting this new precious addition to our family may have actually had a completely different effect on me and solidified in my mind that my family is complete.

It reminded me that life with a new baby can be difficult. Sleepless nights and constant breastfeeding make your life revolve around this new addition. Breastfeeding did not come easy to me and did cause me a lot of stress and confusion. You can read about my experience here http://wp.me/p1oMIA-7f.

Planning your day around nap times and nursing schedules limits when you can do things and where you can go.

I realized that I will never again have the magic of a first baby. Our lives are different now, adding a new baby to our family would change the dynamics of our day-to-day life. Realistically it would probably be more chaotic than peaceful.

While looking in this new baby’s eyes I realized that I am happy with my family just as it is. My children are perfect and healthy, my husband is wonderful. I don’t know if I want to change what we have right now. Adding a new baby to our lives would definitely take my focus away from Mr.T. and Ms. J for at least the first little bit.

Saying goodbye to my kids babyhood has been very difficult for me but I’m almost out of it. Ms. J is going to be 3!! I blinked my eyes and my kids grew up. We are in a place that doesn’t include diapers, naps are no longer an absolute necessity, nursing is long gone. We are able to go on day trips and longer trips without huge amounts of fuss. We can play together. WE go on bike rides to the park and play soccer. We paint and bake together. Movie nights are great now that the kids are old enough to stay still. Watching the wonder in my little one’s eyes has given Christmas its magic back. There is so much joy to be found in my children that I think I can let their baby selves go.

I’m still not ready to close the door on the possibility of more babies for good. You never know what life has in store for you. If I’m meant to have another baby my love will multiply and grow. Ms. J. and Mr. T. will love having a baby around. If that’s the path I’m meant to take.

Meeting the addition to our family made me think it might just be time for me to pass on the baby making torch. I may have to get my baby fix through friends and family. My days may be over but I think I’m ready to move on to the next stage of our lives. I look forward to building our wonderful family memories and spending as many moments as I can with my two little blessings.

Why I’m jealous of the Royal Couple

Unless you’ve been living in a cave you know  all about the Royal Couple and their new little baby. I know it’s silly and they really aren’t more important than any of the other couples that had babies yesterday or any other day but I have been super excited! I must say it is wonderful to follow a nice story rather than all of the tragedy that is going on in the world.

I will admit it. I’m jealous and not for the reasons you think.

I’m jealous because what they are living right now is the best moment of their lives. The moment you first meet your baby. Those first few moments, hours, days when you get to know the little being you created. Oh to be in those moments again.

When I think of it my heart swells with the joy and inexplicable amount of love I felt the first time I saw both my children. It was two very different experiences but they were both equally as glorious. I gasped when I first laid eyes on both my babies. It felt as though my heart was going to beat through my chest, my voice caught in my throat, my eyes filled with tears. I had never before seen anything as beautiful. Their beauty literally stopped my world, if only for a moment. I gasped and when my voice finally escaped I had no words, all I could say was “Oh my God”. I said the same thing both times.

It was two very different experiences. With Mr. T. they didn’t lay him on my chest right away. They whisked him away to the table beside me. They worked on him while I desperately just tried to see him. To meet his eyes. My soul knew that something was wrong. I felt it in my heart. It was an odd feeling. I was in awe at his perfection and amazed that I created him, nurtured him, grew him inside me. At the same time I felt an emptiness. They tore him from my body and took a part of me away. It was the first time in 9 months that our hearts did not beat together. He was only feet away from me but I felt like a part of me was gone. When they finally laid him on my chest I felt whole again and I felt him relax. He was afraid and all alone on that table. Then they placed him naked on my skin and he settled into me as if he was exactly where he was supposed to be. I continued to ignore that tug at my heart that told me something wasn’t right. I ignored it because he seemed so utterly perfect, how could something not be right with this?

I didn’t realize until Ms. J was born how much I missed of those first moments. When Ms. J came out I felt nothing but sheer bliss. She was here and she was perfect. While I was nervous because of my last experience my heart knew there was no trouble with this one. I watched her come out of my body and in one swift movement she went from inside me to laying on top of my chest. I felt her confusion but as I wrapped myself around her and spoke to her quietly I felt her uneasiness fade away. She, in turn, took away my fears and eased my mind. I didn’t want to ever let her go. We stayed there for what seemed like an eternity. The whole world around us faded away. I kissed her, whispered promises to her, I inhaled her scent. There was nowhere else in the world I wanted to be. When they finally brought us into our room, I slept peacefully with her safe beside me. I whispered to Mr. C. “we did it”.

The difference between Ms. J and Mr. T. is that I got to spend the next few days, weeks, months getting to know my princess. I slept with her beside me. I nursed her in the chair in her nursery just as I had planned. There were no wires or incubators blocking me from feeling every inch of her. I bathed her for the first time in our own bathtub. Not in a basin inside an incubator. Her cries woke me from sleep whispering my name “mama I’m hungry” she called. I happily, although sleepily, nursed her in the quiet darkness of her pink nursery. It was our time together. There were no feeding tubes pumping her with my breast milk, she gulped until satisfied and then her little eyes faded back into a milk induced sleep. I couldn’t have been happier.

Don’t get me wrong. I did bond with Mr. T. just in a much different way. We formed our relationship through wires and tubes. Our touch was through the walls of an incubator. We were apart for more than any mother should be from her newborn baby. Yet I could still pick his cry out even in a room full of crying babies. He still grasped on to me and his breathing slowed and relaxed while we rocked. It didn’t matter if we were rocking in a borrowed NICU rocking chair. It just mattered that we were together.

My relationship with my babies has continued to grow and change. The roots settled during those first few moments. They were the best days of my life. Holding a newborn baby has got to be the most magnificent feelings one could ever experience. You never get those moments back. It can pass in a sleep deprived haze and before you know it it’s over. Cherish every moment of it. Don’t miss out on any of it.

My heartfelt congratulations to the Royal Couple. My well wishes to any new parent. It is the most sublime, magical time in your lives. Breathe in every baby powder scented moment and hold them deep in your soul for safe keeping.

The importance of mummy mentors

I think my generation is missing out.

In past generations women got married, had children and stayed connected with each other. They were pregnant together. Had children together and battled the toddler years together.  They had a social network of women going through the same life experiences at the same time.

Things have changed. We all have different lives, different paths to take. While some of us married and/or had children in our younger years, others chose to wait maybe to further their education, travel, focus on their career or hold out for the perfect partner. Some had our children in our early 20’s while many of us are well into our 30’s before it’s even an option. I’ve mentioned that I was the first person in my close social circle to have children. This meant I did not have anyone to pose my questions to. When I felt odd pains in my side I didn’t have anyone to ask if they had felt this before. When my mind raced with worry over the health of my unborn child, keeping me up at night, bringing tears to my eyes at a moments notice I turned to the internet. I had my mother, true and even my mother in law who had successfully survived pregnancy and giving birth. Who were well versed in the whole baby making business and gladly offered their thoughts and reassurances. The only downfall was that the last time they had gone through labour and delivery we were still using rotary phones, cell phones didn’t exist and the men folk waited in hospital waiting rooms smoking cigars, instead of cutting the cord. Time has a funny way of dulling your memory. While I know there are certain aspects of pregnancy that one never forgets, ie: throwing up in a plastic bag in the Go Train parking lot, there are certain memories that cloud over with time. They sit there, somewhere deep inside, and while you may feel them with every beat of your heart your mind doesn’t always remember them as clearly. Things change. Recommendations change. It’s just not the same as discussing with someone who is going through it at the same time or for whom the experience is so recent they can still hear the sound of the Doppler as the Doctor searches for baby’s heartbeat.

I realized early on that this was in fact an important part of motherhood that I didn’t want to miss out on. The need to have someone to relate to didn’t stop at pregnancy. I very quickly began to search out other mothers and I met some wonderful women. Women whom have become my mummy mentors. I am so very lucky to have formed relationships with women from all walks of life. We all have different parenting practices and beliefs, but we are in the same place. We are just a bunch of girls trying to keep our sanity while raising our families to the best of our abilities. We may not always agree and we have different parenting philosophies but I know when I turn to one of them with a question about some change in MR. T’s behavior or a suggestion on how to get Ms. J to sleep in her own bed, they will listen without judgment and give me their honest opinions and heartfelt suggestions. Sometimes the suggestions are life savers other times I need to go back to the drawing board . I must admit it feels wonderful to have people to turn to when I’m worried, frustrated or at the end of my rope. I don’t feel alone. On the flip side when my own mummy mentors come to me searching for advice, experiences or just for an ear to vent to, I love being able to be a mummy mentor to them.

Surrounding yourself with your own circle of mummy mentors is something that I think is an important part of the journey into motherhood. Can you do it on your own? Of course you can! Women have been raising children since the beginning of time. But trust me it’s much easier and even a lot more fun to do it surrounded by others who are in the same boat! If you enter into motherhood being closed-minded and isolating yourself you are doing yourself a disservice. Sharing stories, swapping tricks and just having others who can relate is such a fantastic part of the journey! A deep and heartfelt thank you to each and every one of my mummy mentors, I think you all know who you are. Know that you have made my adventure even better than I could have imagined.

Soccer mum…me???

If it were a movie, it might be called Soccer Mom and I had the starring role.

I sat on the sidelines watching a group of 4 and 5 years olds play their little heart outs. The air was sticky, thick and heavy. Droplets of sweat were already beginning to bead around the nape of my neck as I unfolded my lawn chair and settled down excited to watch my little man play the sport he loves so much.

I knew there were going to be problems when I saw the team we were playing. I have spent the past few games listening to one particular Dad on this opposing team scream and holler at his four-year old boy as if he were trying out for a world cup team. I have cringed as he shouted over the coach and I watched his little boy not know which orders to follow, the coach or his Dad. I knew I was going to have to sit there and listen to this the whole game and hold my tongue as he instructed his son on the best way to beat our team.

My heart went out to the opposing team who were so short of players that they didn’t have anyone to sub in. Ten minutes into the game these little ones were red-faced and sweating but giving it everything they had. I sat cheering on both teams, congratulating whoever was doing a good job.

It started slowly. With the same particular Dad hollering at his kid, instructing him to get the ball, face the net, take it from that guy, do this, do that. It moved on to another Dad going and standing behind the net where his daughter was goal tender. The rules in this particular soccer league are that parents are not allowed to be on the side of the field where the coaches and players sit nor are they allowed behind the net. This, to me, is a logical rule. Mr. C. who is the coach was asking the Dad not to stand behind the net and this seemed to start a vicious attack on my husband and the other team.

I sat quietly, rocking in my chair, talking myself down. I told myself not to get up, not to take it personally and just to ignore it. As the chatter continued my blood pressure began to rise. My heart began to beat faster. This is my husband they are talking about after all. As the people beside me complained loudly I couldn’t hold my tongue any longer. I calmly explained that was the rule of the game, what would happen if every parent stood there helping their kid? It would be chaos and the coach and ref would lose control. It was up to the coach to direct the teammates. This didn’t seem to help because the chatter continued.

Without going into every minute detail let’s just say I didn’t stay totally quiet. I was much quieter than crazy Dad screaming at his son, but I did vocalize my disappointment with these parents attacking a coach; who was giving his time to work with these children, a ref; who was just a preteen kid doing his job, and 10 4 and 5 year olds; who in the end really just wanted to play soccer.

How do I stay calm in these situations? This isn’t going to be the last time my husband is attacked for his decisions as a coach. I will probably have to hear people trash my son and/or daughter during sports games, especially as they get older and it gets more competitive. There must be a technique to this right? A technique to keeping my cool during these heated moments. To be perfectly honest my initial reaction was to jump this guy. To smack his smug little polo shirt framed face. To tell him to sit the f*&#k down and let his little boy enjoy a game. To kick him in the shin as he stood in front of me blocking my view of the game oblivious to anyone but him and his own son. Instead, I tried to rationally explain the rules to an irrational group of people. I tried to remind that this was not a world cup qualifier but little boys and girls who just want to play soccer. When one particular father started bad mouthing my husband I made sure he knew the coaches wife was right behind him.

It was my first experience as a sport parent in general and I honestly don’t know how I’m going to do it. I want my kids to have a positive experience playing sports. Mr. T. is athletic. He loves playing any sport. I am worried about parents making his sporting experience stressful in any way.

I know that watching my kids lose is not always going to be easy but that it’s a part of life. If they give their all I know I can walk away from it proud of their effort. Where I’m going to have a problem is when I feel like my family is being attacked. Today I felt like my family was being attacked and I fought back.

New task to add to my list of parenting challenges: Being a good sports mum.

First year of school, check!

Another huge milestone. First year of school is done and gone!

Where did it go? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was swaddling him in soft fleecy receiving blankets? Wasn’t I just rocking him to sleep, quietly singing lullabies as his little eyes fought the sleep? These memories feel like they were just moments ago.

I walked him to school for his very first day and the first year has flown by! I watched him grow this year into a little boy. Gone is the chubby little baby who overcame such huge obstacles. I said goodbye to the curious and mischievous toddler and I welcomed a real little boy. A little boy who loves to run and jump. Who played basketball at recess with the new friends he made. A little boy who came home excited to tell me how he learned about butterflies. A little boy who occasionally got into some trouble and needed a little reminder that hands are not for hitting.

While I know that this is just his junior year of kindergarten it is so important to me that I pass on my love of school to him. I adored school.  I was one of the strange ones who was sad when the school year ended. I loved classrooms and chalkboards. Those school hallways felt safe to me. I can still hear the sound of lockers banging shut. To this day the smell of a library book makes me smile especially when paired with the crinkly sound of the plastic it comes wrapped in. As an adult I’ve returned to school and I still get the same giddy feeling when walking into an educational institute.

I want Mr. T. to have that same love of school (with the exception of chalkboards since now they have smartboards). I want him to get up on the first day of school excited to meet his new teacher and classmates. I want him to feel at home sitting behind his little desk, pencil in hand eager to learn.

I think I am starting off well as I seem to have passed along my love of reading. Mr. T. can sit for hours reading books with me. He’s learning to read himself and is able to read some of the simpler books on his own. He will snuggle up tight, head on my shoulder, and listen to story after story.

While I do want to pass along my love of education and instill the importance of schooling, my biggest fear is that I will take it too far. I want to encourage both my children to pursue further education but I need to ensure that I support them in following their dreams. I need to be able to pick out their passions and direct them down their own path. I do not want to make their education about my dreams. I don’t want to push them into going down the path that I didn’t take but perhaps wish I did. I want to avoid pushing them into something that I feel might make them the most money or have a lot of perks. They need to understand that doing something they love is what will make them happy in the long run. Following their passion is the beginning of it all, the rest will fall into place. I hope, as they get older, I can remember that money isn’t everything. They will succeed if they are doing something they love. I hope I can look at them and see their strengths as well as their weaknesses and help them get to where they want to be based on that.

It took me a long time to find where my love lied.

It was never a question for me if I would attend a post secondary institute. The question was more what would I take. I didn’t follow my dreams. I took what was expected of me, what I was good at but not necessarily what I loved. I didn’t have the internal strength to be honest about what I wanted. I was afraid. Afraid of failure, afraid of disappointing, afraid I wasn’t good enough. Would I be in a different place if I had pursued my passion for writing from the very beginning? Possibly. To be honest I didn’t even consider writing as a profession then. I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. Maybe I wasn’t ready at the time. The important thing is that I’ve found it now. I need to continue to work on improving myself and not give it up, if only to show my children that it’s never too late to find your place in the world.

This is just the beginning for Mr. T. I have a feeling he’s destined for greatness. Whatever his greatness is meant to be. I want to encourage him. To support him. One day I will stand at his graduation, teary eyed, cheering him on. Most importantly I want him to know that as long as he’s giving it his best and being true to his own heart I will be one proud mummy.

How do we measure our grief?

I often speak, on this blog, of the emotional trauma I experienced when Mr. T. was sick. It’s probably one of the few places where I have been completely honest about how it impacted me. How the whole experience caused my entire world as I knew it to collapse around me. How in the almost 5 years since, I haven’t fully been able to rebuild my world to where it was. I’ve come to realize that I don’t think I was ever supposed to go back to where I was. I have permanently changed.

In a conversation recently I was explaining to someone why I began writing again. This of course, required me to explain Mr. T’s illness and hospital stay. I prefaced the story by explaining that he was ok now. The person who I was speaking with said to me “Don’t do that”. At first I wasn’t sure what she was referring to until she said “Don’t minimize what you went through” It was like a light went on inside. She was right I don’t have to minimize it.

I had never before realized that I did this but I did! Almost every time I speak of the experience I almost sweep away the pain by explaining that Mr. T is ok now. I sometimes feel such a sense of guilt over my pain. To explain my guilt simplistically is that I feel like I don’t have a right to anguish over any part of my experience because Mr. T. is ok. Yes, there are some complications that we have to face and some scary possibilities for the future. But he’s here. He lives a normal life. Who am I to distress when there are mothers out there who have to continuously watch their children suffer? When then are mothers out there who had to say goodbye and had to let their angels go?Who do I think I am? I get to kiss him every night. I read him stories and I tickle his back before bed. I watch him play soccer and play house with his sister. He gets to push my buttons and get into mischief. I have always felt like I didn’t have a right to feel sadness.

Throughout the past years I have become aware that there are people who tired of hearing me talk about the experience. They didn’t understand why I was having trouble dealing because to their eyes Mr. T. had no lasting effects. Yet I still felt the need to talk about it. I couldn’t shake it. I couldn’t let go. There was a constant ache in my heart. Yet as I continued to try to verbalize that ache I could feel the judgments. I could almost hear “Oh my god not again” It was when someone mentioned that I needed to get over it that I stopped talking about it and started to write about it.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we feel like there is a chart for our grief and in order to make it onto this chart there is a list of criteria we must check off? We compare ourselves to others out there and think that because someone has it much harder than us that we aren’t entitled to feel sadness. Is this where our world has ended up? That even grief has become a competition? A sad little reality show where there is only one winner and only the most distressing story wins the right to openly grieve. Why would someone think they have the right to judge my feelings? Or to dictate how deep my worry should venture?

The conversation that started my whole change in thought was, as Oprah calls it, my light bulb moment. I will not apologize for feeling the immense anguish that I have felt. I do grieve. I grieve for the loss of that magical first baby experience. My heart aches a palpable pain every time I sit with Mr. T through another test, x-ray, needle…My wounds are my wounds to heal the way I need to heal them. They don’t need to be compared to anyone else’s heartbreak. We are all walking our own path and are climbing our own mountains. This is my mountain and with Mr. T, Ms. J and Mr. C by my side I will make it to the top. That I can guarantee.

Lessons from my children

This Mother’s Day has me reflecting on some of the lessons that I’ve learned just a short 5 years into my journey through motherhood. Lessons taught to me not from other mothers, or family members but from my own children.

The list of lessons is longer than I could possibly get into however there have been a few that have stuck with me, impacted me and changed who I am forever.

To appreciate simplicity

I’ve often joked with Mr. C. that he’s a lucky man because I’m not a fancy person. I’m more of a beer and pizza kinda gal than a champagne and caviar lady. While this has always been who I am as a person, my children have made this even more important to me.

Recently I threw a “potty party” for my little Ms. J, to celebrate her potty training success. It was very simple, pizza, cupcakes and family. Mr. T. and I picked out 4 pink balloons to give to Ms. J. as a congratulations. As Ms. J gasped and I saw her little eyes light up with such excitement when Mr. T. passed her the helium filled balloons, it hit me how little it takes to make them happy. 4 pink balloons made her day. I can spend hundreds of dollars on fancy party decorations and catered food or on hiring an entertainer for a party in their honour but at the end of the day a cupcake, a balloon and their family/friends will make them just as happy.

Children are simple. They want hugs and kisses, cuddles and love. They want you to play with them, read to them, make time for them. They don’t care about a big house or a fancy party. THey don’t care what kind of car you drive or how many zero’s are on your pay cheque. It matters more to them that you are there. That you eat dinner with them every day and put them to bed with snuggles every night. You can spend thousands of dollars taking them on fancy trips but they will love you just as much if you giggle with them on the swing at the local park.

To be consumed or impressed with the fancy cars, expensive clothes and big houses is something that is learned. It is now how one is born. I don’t ever want my children to lose that appreciation of the simple joys in life. I watch them marvel in watching a bunny in the backyard, get excited over a movie night in our basement with microwave popcorn or see their eyes light up from a simple balloon and I realize just how important the simple things really are.

A lesson in patience

I am not the most patient person around. I hate waiting in lines. When I ask for something to be done I expect it to be done right away. I want what I want when I want it. This is not something that I didn’t know about myself. HOWEVER, I did not realize just how important patience was until these two tiny creatures entered my life. It started from day one, I had to be patient while Mr. T. fought his health battle. Hour turned into hour, day turned into day and week turned into week. There was nothing I could do except sit beside his little incubator and cheer him on. Many a time did I want to just pick him up and take him home. I wanted to scream at nurses and kick doctors. MAKE HIM BETTER NOW! That’s not how it worked. It took time, but we made it there. My first lesson in patience.

They don’t sleep when you want them to sleep. They don’t eat when you want them to eat. It never fails that a diaper needs to be changed right when you are walking out of the house or as they get older you hear “mummy I have to poo” after spending 20 minutes getting on snowsuits in the middle of winter.

Crayons on the wall, spilled milk, poo in the bath it all takes patience. A great deal of patience. I’ve cried, I’ve begged, I’ve even given myself a time out in the bathroom as two sets of eyes stare in disbelief wondering if they’ve finally made mummy crack. Perhaps this is a lesson in progress but it’s a lesson I have to put in practice. If I’m always impatient I’m going to raise kids who are impatient and anxious. I’m learning to take my time. To try not to rush through everything. To know that if we are 5 minutes late no one is going to die. I try not to cry over spilled milk or apple juice. I take a lot of deep breaths and every now and then a mummy time out is the only solution!

The importance of me

My kids come first. That’s easy. Their needs supercede anything and everything. Then comes my husband, then work, then the house, then extended family and so on and so on and so on. I’m overwhelmed. As are most mothers in today’s world. IT’s easy to forget about me. I’ve skipped meals because there is so much to be done. I”ve missed family functions because of sick children. I rarely get 8 hours of sleep and have eaten pasta every day for a week because that’s the only thing they’ll eat. I’ve even avoided bathroom breaks because guaranteed the second I walk into that room in the house all hell breaks loose elsewhere.

If I don’t take time for myself I will crumble. My seams slowly start to crack and I can’t give my best to anything or anybody. So I take time for myself. I write because I love it, because it allows me to vent without feeling guilty, because I can find comfort in other mother’s who are walking similar paths. I admit when I’ve met my limit. I try my best not to feel guilty about it. When I start to feel like a bad mother for not having anything left in that particular moment I think of how much better I do at this whole motherhood thing when I’m relaxed instead of anxious and stressed.

I acknowledge that I matter and that I am important and I make sure to do something just for me once in a while. That may be an evening spent on the couch writing. It may be an afternoon getting my hair done. Sometimes it’s even getting up at 5am for an early morning run on the treadmill in the basement of a quiet house. Whatever it is, I make sure that I make some time for me and ask for some help when I need it. I’m a better mother because of it.

Even the best laid out plans are made to be broken

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a planner. I schedule and plan almost my entire life. I know that if I want to be at work at 8am and that if I have to drop the kids off at daycare then I need to leave the house no later than 7:12. . Ask any parent and they will attest, children don’t understand the meaning of plans. They don’t know that you have to leave the house by exactly 7:12 if you don’t want to be late for work so they can’t comprehend why you are getting so frustrated that they are taking their sweet time putting on their shoes.

More than just planning my life, I actually have ideas in my mind of how things are going to work out. When they don’t work out the way I had envisioned I can become quite discombobulated. This lesson was taught to me early on. Within 24 hours of having my first child actually. I had an image of what having a baby was going to be like before children actually entered my life. I remember when I was pregnant, imagining myself in a hospital room with my baby beside me sleeping peacefully in a bassinet. I envisioned leaving the hospital with my precious bundle snug in the back of the car.  I imagined a chubby screaming baby. Never in a million years did I think it was possible that my child would be born barely able to cry. It didn’t cross my mind that before his second day of life my child would be rushed by ambulance to Sick Kids or that by day three he’d be in an operating room fighting for his life. Yet that’s the path that we were destined to walk. It may not be exactly as I had expected but it’s made us stronger and given us a tighter bond as a family.

Kids are unpredictable. I’ve learned to go with the flow. To try not to be so concerned when things don’t go exactly according to plans. Sometimes those change in plans actually lead you down an even more beautiful path. Maybe my plans for dinner are curtailed by heavy traffic so instead we decide on a pizza picnic style in the basement while watching a movie. Maybe my busy work day has to be put on hold because a child is sick and rather than dealing with work stress I get sick baby couch cuddles (sometimes those are the best kind of cuddles).

Let’s face it, my personality is to plan. I will always be a planner. My children, however, have taught me that there are times when plans are made to be broken.

How to have fun

Since having kids fun has changed. They have taught me to enjoy a run through the splash pad on a hot summers day. How giggling under the covers before bed is the best way to end a day and waking up to snuggles is my favourite way to start the weekend, even if it isn’t yet 7am.

Fun doesn’t have to involve spending a lot of money or even leaving the house. We can make fun out of anything and everything. I haven’t had fun like this since I was a kid myself. I know it won’t be long before they don’t want to play with me anymore. Until that day comes I am going to continue to have tea parties dressed in princess clothes and race on the Wii over and over until my arm feels like it’s going to fall off. I will dance like no one is watching  just to hear my babies giggle and I will watch Brave for the umpteenth time because they want to. I will have fun with them!

That I am capable

I haven’t always been the most confident person. I have often doubted myself and wondered if I could have made a better decision. In fact, I’ve often turned to others for reassurance that I am making right decisions.

I am now the one who needs to offer the reassurances. My kids turn to me and if I’m unsure of myself they can sense it. They almost have a sixth sense. So I have to be sure or at least appear sure even if I’m not. I’ve learned to trust my instincts. I learned that I actually know what I’m doing.

One of my great fears was all of us getting sick at once. Specifically, all of us getting a tummy bug at the same time. Last week it happened. It was one day after the next. I had it, Ms. J got it, Mr. C got it and lastly Mr. T. got it. Mr C. was not functional for a week. I barely had time to recuperate before I was helping a two year old deal with her first major bout of vomiting. I was terrified. Guess what??? We survived! Yay! I did it. The child vomit was mostly assigned to me and I survived!

I am capable. After the tough start we had with Mr. T. I know that I can face pretty much anything that motherhood throws at me. I don’t have all the answers but if I’m honest, I think I’m doing a pretty good job at this whole mummy business.

The true meaning of unconditional love

I am perfectly aware of how cliché this sounds but I’m going to say it anyways. I have never felt love like this before. They have peed, pooped and vomited on me. They’ve punched me, kicked me, and torn my cornea! They wake me up at 6 am on a Saturday jumping on me demanding waffles and cartoons. Sometimes after a long day all I want is to veg on the couch yet I lay beside them in bed tickling them until their breath slows into a steady rhythm. Their little bodies soften and I feel their warmth leaning into me and I know they feel loved and safe. What they don’t know is that I feel loved and safe too. They are needy. What they don’t know is that I need them so much more than they need me.

Sometimes, when they do things they aren’t supposed to do, and they are getting in trouble I can see fear in their eyes. I have come to realize it isn’t always about my reaction or about getting in trouble. They are afraid of disappointing me, especially Mr. T, he doesn’t want to disappoint. I can not imagine one single thing he or Ms. J can do to make me stop loving them. My love for them is pure. I love until my heart aches. Their pain is my pain,their disappointment is my disappointment and their happiness is my happiness. I’ve always been emotional but thinking of them can literally bring me to tears. I miss them when I’m away from them for even an hour. For the first time ever I love truly unconditionally. They can do anything, need anything and demand anything and I love them. I make sure to let them know that every chance I get.

I entered motherhood thinking that I was going to teach my kids all these things. I would teach them to talk, to walk, to ride a bike and to read a book. I would teach them lessons in life such as respect your elders, nothing that is worth anything comes easy, always give your all then you have nothing to be ashamed of. I never realized the lessons they would teach me. I haven’t come close to listing everything they have taught me and I know I have not even touched on the lessons they have yet to put forth.

This whole journey is one long life lesson and it makes me a better person every single day.