Ending the cycle of judgment

One of the aspects of parenting that I have struggled with the most is the judgments. Sitting in a room full of people who you know think you should be doing something different with your child is not an easy thing to do. Everyone has their opinions and their beliefs when it comes to taking care of babies and raising children. I know I was warned, that other parents face the same harsh criticism and that I alone have been guilty of passing judgment however that didn’t make it any easier for me to swallow.

There has never been anything as important to me or where I have taken more pride than motherhood yet at the same time I felt insecure especially with my first. At times I feel unsure of myself and facing the judgment of others has always made me anxious.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about why we judge others. Especially as mothers. Why as mothers, do we ever allow ourselves to cause another mother to question herself in such a way when we know how horribly isolating that can make you feel? Don’t we realize how dangerous it is to judge? How quickly that could be you? You never know what the future holds for you or your children be careful of your judgments because it could come back to bite you.

I’ve come to the realization that most of our scrutiny stems from our own feelings of inadequacy. If you are a parent you know that crippling feeling that you are messing up, that you aren’t being the parent you should be. We have all been there. Agonizing over your choice to formula feed rather than breastfeed could have caused inner turmoil. Maybe you raised your voice at your child because he was dilly dallying when you were already late for work or perhaps you rushed through bedtime stories because you just needed some time by yourself. You aren’t alone. We all do things that cause us to feel shame, guilt and like we are failing, even when some of those decisions are right for your family. These feelings wage a war in our hearts, in our souls and when we can’t own our uncertainties we lose the battle and the war spills outward. Our judgment of other mothers become our weapons to defend ourselves, to ease our own tensions.

Once you stop beating yourself up over your decisions it’s much easier to be accepting of other’s differences. I’ve recently been referring often to the conference I attended, Blissdom Canada, where I heard a lot about kindness. Judging someone else for walking their own path is not being kind and it will not ease my mind over the mistakes that I make myself. I have made a promise to myself that I will be as kind as I can possibly be. I will not allow anyone else’s actions impact mine. I will strive every day to be the best person that I can be.

Since becoming a parent I have become much more accepting. We are all walking our own path. What works for me may not work for you and that’s ok. I may even vehemently disagree with you on something yet I still can recognize that does not make me a better parent. I make my decisions based on what is best for my children, what is best for my family. I assume you do the same thing. We are all just trying our best to be the best parent we can be and owning our shortcomings and mistakes actually make us better parents in the end. This is a daunting task we are facing and it is much easier to succeed if we have support. Don’t make that job tougher for someone by kicking them when they are already down. Let’s make a promise to ourselves to try every day to be a kind and supportive person and I bet our journey through motherhood will become even sweeter than it already is.

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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.

 

 

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.

Birthdays to party or not to party?

We have made a decision. A decision that we feel is best for our family in this moment. I know deep down inside that this is the right decision for us so why, I wonder, am I feeling so guilty about it?

We have decided to *gasp* skip a big birthday party for our kids this year!! What do I mean no party???? No invitations, no loot bags, no party games or crafts? As I’m typing I’m feeling like a bad mum. I’m a person of routine. We’ve had a party for them every single year since Mr. T turned 1. Changing our routine shakes my world a little. I’ve always loved party planning for them. I’ve enjoyed coming up with a theme, planning out the games, designing and baking the cake, and sending out the invites. This year started out no different. I started to plan. I wanted to do a super hero party with girl and boy super heroes. I researched and was very disappointed to find that I could arrange for superman, spider-man or batman to come to the house to entertain the children but there was no girl superhero available. This in itself is a whole post on it’s own!

During an evening chat with Mr. C. we remarked at how fast the kids were growing, how quickly this whole thing was flying by. We worried how much longer they’d want to play with us, cuddle with us, be our friends. We decided that we needed to make more time for just the four of us. This chat in turn led to us deciding that instead of throwing a big party we were going to use that money to go away together. Just the four of us. We very quickly settled on a couple of days at Great Wolf Lodge.

So there we have it. No party. Will our kids miss it? I don’t think so. I think they are going to have a blast. They have never mentioned a party. They did ,however, find a brochure for GWL and beg us to take them there. Wink, wink.

I do feel a bit guilty. There is a small part of me that wonders if they are going to feel like they missed out. Then I wake up, shake my head and realize who says they must have a party every year? There will never be a year that we don’t mark their birthdays with pomp and circumstance. Birthdays are huge. The only one day of the year that can be dedicated to you. A day to make you feel special. I want to make my children feel how special they are to me. They will feel special. I can’t wait to see their little faces when they open their presents. I will shower them with balloons and cupcakes, love and cuddles and most importantly fun! 

When they are old enough and want to have birthday parties with all their friends I will happily plan, bake and decorate to make their day as delightful as they imagined. For now, while we can get away with it, we are keeping this special day a small family affair. I think the fun that is going to be had will be well worth it and the memories made will last well after the party buzz would have worn off.

 

 

 

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.

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.