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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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.

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.

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.

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.