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.

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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.

Patience truly is a virtue

Today I feel like a failure. I can’t be the only parent who ever feels like this. Like I am failing miserably at this daunting task. When they were babies it was so much easier. The hardest part was figuring out why they were crying or maybe lack of sleep. Why did people make it seem like babies were the hard part? That was easy peasy! And now I hear the teenage years are really when I’m in for it! Argghhh I might have to find myself a quiet place to hide during those years.

The thing is most of the time I feel like I actually am pretty good at this whole parenting thing. I enjoy it. Reading bedtime stories, baking with them, our Friday night movie nights snuggled on the sofa. Teaching them how to do things, sharing with them all the magic that life has to offer. It’s what I waited my whole life for. I am literally in love with them.

My feelings of inadequacy stem from my lack of patience. I am so quick-tempered. I promise myself every day that today I’m going to work on it. Today I will not get snippy. Today when my children go up instead of down, turn left when I’ve told them to go right, run when I’ve asked them to walk I will keep my cool. Yet inevitably once the chaos begins I feel my temperature rising.

The question is why? They are kids! They aren’t robots. So they splash me in the bath? So they jump in the bed? Is it really a big deal?

No it’s not a big deal. Yet every time it happens I get flustered. As they are jumping all over me and my no’s, stop’s and my don’ts are not being heard I can hear my voice becoming quicker, the tone going up a few octaves and I know what comes next. I’m going to yell. If I do raise my voice my immediate reaction is regret. I know as soon as it happens that there is a better way to deal with this. If I know there is a better way to deal with it why am I not dealing with it in that better way??

I’m jealous of those parents who are able to stay calm when their kids are trying them. Those who peacefully talk their kids down from a tantrum. Wait those parents exist don’t they? Or am I imagining it? Even the best of parents have to lose their cool sometimes don’t they?

In the grand scheme of life these little things are not important. Having said that my children still need to learn to listen, to follow rules, that they don’t run our home and that they need to respect authority. I am still trying to figure out how that happens. They are strong these two little beings. They have willpower. They have cuteness on their side. They are a tag team. Worst of all they come armed with tears! TEARS!

Thing is that my instinct is to yell. It’s what I’m used to. It’s what I know. I’m loud in general but when I’m angry, anxious, flustered I become even louder. I NEED to figure out a better way. I know there is a better way.

I am perfectly aware that I’m going to make my mistakes as a parent. I just didn’t know that it was going to make me feel so inadequate to make them. This is the most important thing I’ve ever done and that means it’s going to take the most efforts. I’m going to fall down a lot. I guess I just have to keep picking myself up. This parenting thing is messy. It’s beautiful and wonderful and brings me so much love that I am literally bursting. Yet at the same time there is this side of it that is completely disheveled. Being honest about the challenges that I face is a part of what’s making this job easier.

So today I admit that sometimes I feel like a failure. Today is one of those days. This isn’t the last time I’m going to feel this way is it?

To the father of my kids

Mr.C. took a leave of absence from work when Mr.T was born. He had saved up all his vacation time so excited to spend as much time as possible at home with our newborn baby. What we weren’t prepared for was that our son would be born requiring life-saving surgery within days of his birth. No amount of planning could have readied us for the fact that he would spend six whole weeks in hospital, much of that time spent in the NICU. His vacation time came and went and there was no sign of our little man coming home. He couldn’t imagine going back to work, so he took a leave of absence, and sat beside the little incubator day after day, quietly standing by his son.

Mr.T. eventually was released from hospital and his dad proudly drove us home, keeping to the speed limit and checking on us periodically through the rear view mirror. Mr C had waited his entire life to be a dad and he jumped right into it finding his place comfortably. There was nothing he wouldn’t do. He woke up in the middle of the night for feedings, changed dirty diapers and would almost clamber over top of me to be able to participate in bath-time.

One day he decided he would take our son to a baby playgroup that I normally attended. He came home disappointed declaring he would not be going back. He wasn’t warmly welcomed with inviting words but instead there were whispers and stares. Not one Mum spoke to him. He left discouraged feeling judged and unwelcome. It was our first but not last experience with Daddy discrimination.

Sometimes it was harmless, someone assuming he didn’t know how to change a diaper, or walking right past him to hand the baby over to me when he was fussy. Perhaps before being invited for a night out a friend would ask “can he handle babysitting for a couple of hours?”  When we announced that he would be taking the last few months of our parental leave most were shocked. Some asked why? A friend even asked if he knew what he was getting into, warning him that he wouldn’t be able to handle it.

I’m not sure this kind of Daddy discrimination is uncommon. We expect our partners to play an equal role in parenting but I don’t think as a society we treat them as equal parents.

Let me make it clear, he is a wonderful father. From our time in the NICU up until today he has not turned away from any daddy duty no matter how messy, scary or tiring.

I consistently turn to him, recognizing that there are just some things he does better. If there’s a boo boo that needs to be handled, he is the one to turn to. I panic. Even with little hurts. I cry, I get frantic, I almost run in circles screaming. Daddy stays cool and if he’s worried he doesn’t show this face to our kids. He wipes up blood, ices sprains and Band-Aid’s like an expert. When they are sick I look to him to keep me calm. He’s just as good at being the loving daddy as he is the bad guy. He will play Candy Land for the hundredth time and he can sip a cup of tea wearing a tiara like an expert even though he isn’t well versed in tea party etiquette. I couldn’t ask for a better father for my kids.

To all of the fathers out there who consider their parenting duties just a part of their day, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day. Especially to my own wonderful husband who, only a few short years into the job, has already proven himself to the best of the best. We love you and are so happy to have you in our lives.

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.

When do we have it all?

It is just after 9pm. I am barely able to keep my eyes open. There are toys strewn across the floor in front of me but I know that I can spend the evening cleaning them up and within 5 minutes of these kids getting out of bed they will be right back on the floor. This thought makes me feel even more tired. It makes me choose to sit on the couch with my laptop and write about how much I have to do instead of actually doing all of the things I have to do.

I have spent the past hour trying to convince one crying child and one mischievous child to go to sleep. I attempted to take a nice hot bath to relax my anxious body before bed. Settling into the warm water, book in hand, I began to soften. Yet before I am able to completely compose myself the door opens and a child who should be sleeping pops his head in loudly stating he has to pee. On the journey from the bathroom door to toilet he manages to ask me, what feels like 100 questions. Soon after the silence is shattered by the desperate cries of the other child who is by all appearances just crying to cry. I peel myself out of the comfort of the bath to try and soothe again.

This is all after a long day at work. 

I am supposed to have it all. Aren’t I? Isn’t this having it all? I have a decent career. No, I”m not changing the world or saving lives, but I enjoy my job. I like the people I work with and I actually work at a company that does seem to promote work life balance so I don’t feel as though I have to spend my life at work.

I have a beautiful family. A millionaire family, as it’s called. While they do have their moments, my kids are good kids. I have a wonderful husband who is a hands on Dad. One who doesn’t think everything that involves the kids is up to me.

I have it all.

On days like today I wonder how is this having it all? Can we really have it all? What does it mean to have it all?

I’m exhausted. By the end of the day I’m fried. Both mentally and physically. I feel as though I’ve run a marathon every single day. My house is by no means immaculate and while I do cook homemade meals pretty much every day they are by no means fancy. Yes we are having pasta again ok! Yet I’m beat. Is this having it all?

I feel as though my energies are being spent working, cleaning, doing chores, running errands and I don’t always have the time that I really want to have with my kids. Sometimes I feel a terrible sense of guilt because I know that I don’t have the patience I should have with them. I often wonder if I wasn’t over extending myself would I be a better mother?

I ask myself, if the women who fought for us to be able to join the workforce could forshadow that there would come a day when women would be working 12 hours a day while trying to mother their children in the few remaining hours. If they realized that there would come a time where some women were back to not having a choice. Rather than being stuck keeping house and children, they would be forced to work all day in a paid job and then come home to their unpaid full time job.

Please don’t mistake my venting in a moment of frustration as being unappreciative of those women. I am not. I am so grateful that I can make a choice. That I have the opportunities I have in the workforce as well as in the home. I am so incredibly thankful that women before me fought that fight so that I don’t have to.

It’s just as I sit here my eyelids are becoming heavier every minute. My house is a mess. My kids are wishing I had more time for them today. I’m wishing I could have given them more of me. I wonder how it’s possible to have it all? What does that even mean? I ask myself if having a career outside of the home is worth this? I wonder if I would be better off staying at home and if it makes me less of a “feminist” to actually want to stay home with my kids.

I think to myself, this is probably the dilema that runs through the minds of most mothers. For some reason, fathers don’t ever have this internal struggle. The battle always seems to be a fight for the women.

I don’t think I’ll ever figure out what it means to have it all. Tomorrow morning I will wake up and make the best of my day. Enjoy my family for every second that I can. Try and turn a blind eye to the chores I don’t get to.

I will remind myself that every precious second I have with my family is having it all, because it is, in all reality, the thing that matters to me the most.

 

A cause for celebration

I should be celebrating.

I think the day has arrived. I think we are finally diaper free!

I should be happy right? And I am. Don’t get me wrong. I’m so very proud of my little Ms. J. Amongst all the claps, cheers and happy congratulations are a few tears. For such a happy and momentous occasion why am I so sad?

This very well be my last baby. I may not ever get the chance to change another diaper. Now that I am out of it, those middle of the night quiet diaper changes where I snuggled my little bundle seem so much more appealing. Was I too tired to truly enjoy it? In the hazy fatigue and stress did I miss a moment?

I never really had an issue with diapers. They don’t bother me. The dirty messes they contained, while sometimes unpleasant, never caused me any true discomfort. I always used that opportunity to sing, chat and play with my babies.

This is going too damn fast. I’m desperately trying to grasp on to every single moment because they are disappearing in the blink of an eye. Yet the beauty is being tossed around chaotically right in the middle of real life. Somewhere in between loads of laundry, messy meals and dirty diapers my little babies are growing up.

This was all Ms. J. I haven’t pushed potty training on her. I didn’t stress about it the way I did with Mr. T. I asked her if she’d like to try, and when she obliged I helped her up on to the potty. But I didn’t push her. I let her decide and this week it seems she was ready. One morning she seemed to decide she wanted to use the potty and was done with diapers and that was that. It’s been days without an accident. Little Ms. J running around proudly sporting princess (of course)big girl undies. Her little bum no longer having that roundness that only a diaper can give. She’s even walking different without the squishy diaper giving her that little waddle. It’s official. Someone stole my baby and left a big girl in its place.

The same day Ms. J made her mind up on potty training, I walked through a parking lot holding Mr. T’s hand and as I looked down I noticed that his little hand is outgrowing mine. There is nothing I can do about this. My babies are outgrowing me.

Ms. J may no longer need me to change her diapers, but I do know that there will always be a place for me in her life. There will come a time when Mr. T’s hand will be bigger than mine, but I will always be there to hold it when he needs me.  I’m learning to accept my ever-changing role. This is just the beginning.

Little Ms. J, I am so very proud of you. I have a feeling this is just the beginning of how proud you are going to make me throughout your life. I hope you continue to face your life with the fearlesness and confidence that you tackled this whole potty training business.

Now, let’s celebrate with a potty party! (Thanks for the idea Carly!)