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.

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 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.

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?

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.

Fatherhood and the new normal?

Our family recently spent a week battling the flu. All four of us came down with the virus at varying degrees. Ms. J probably had the worst of it so we decided a visit to the doctor was required. During our visit Ms. J was sitting on the exam table, a little nervous, and called out for her Daddy. The doctor looked at us both, her eyes reflecting the surprise she felt in hearing Ms. J ask for Daddy rather than Mummy, and with a confused tone exclaimed “oh we have a Daddy’s girl”. Explaining that she sees more Mummies girls than Daddies girls, she went on to examine our little princess while Ms.J sat quite content in her Daddy’s arms.

There are so many indications that hands on fatherhood isn’t a given in our society. Recently Mr. C. and I were watching a stand up comedy routine where the comedian stated he “hated babysitting his kids” Ummmm..if they are YOUR kids it’s not called babysitting, it’s called parenting!

I’ve also heard from other Mummies stories of having to take on the brunt of the parenting duties as their husbands seem to think it’s not their responsibility.

This is not even taking into account all of the absent father’s roaming around out there.

Let me first make it clear that I had a very hands on Dad, who was there every step of the way. To this day there are times when I turn to my Mum for advice/comfort and there are times when I turn to my Dad.

I, in turn, have chosen a husband who is a very hands on Dad. In the 4 1/2 years since we’ve been parents I don’t think I’ve seen him turn down a parenting duty. Sure there are times when he’s tired, times when he’s frustrated, times when out of sheer desperation he begs “you’ve got bedtime tonight because I’m done”. He’s no different from me, as the mother. I have just as many of these moments. Mr. C. has changed his fair share of dirty diapers, cleaned bottles, comforted a sick crying baby and has even been barfed/peed/pooped on. The only thing he never took part in was breastfeeding 😉

There have been times when others assume he isn’t as capable just because he’s the Dad. I’ve often seen people, specifically women, assume he’s unsure and unqualified to take care of his own children! In the beginning I think he wasn’t as confident in his abilities as he should have been but as the years have passed he’s become as self assured as any mother. Meaning, of course he questions himself at times. Every parent does. I think that at this point he is aware that he’s doing a pretty good job.

Both Mr. T. and Ms. J alternate who they turn to for comfort. There are times when they call out for me
and times they search for Daddy.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So why is equal parenting not the norm? This is the year 2013! I think maybe I would feel differently and not have the same expectations of Mr. C if I didn’t work full time and was instead a full time Mum. Fact of the matter is I do work full time and so does Mr. C. This means that we are a team. We share all responsibilities equally, that includes parenting.

More importantly, I don’t think Mr. C. would have it any other way. He loves being a part of the every day life of his kids. He takes on the parenting challenges with finesse. He’s also smart enough to know that by accepting the challenges he gets to reap the beautiful rewards. The dirty work is overshadowed by the cuddles, giggles, kisses and hugs. Without the hard stuff he wouldn’t get quite as much of the good stuff.

I am so thankful that I found someone, who like my own Dad, would choose a night at home with his family over a night out drinking it up with the boys. Maybe I’m crazy in thinking that it’s normal for a father to participate in the same way as a mother. Call it crazy but this is our normal and we wouldn’t have it any other way. And I love Mr. C even more because of it.

Learning to accept myself;the good, the bad and the ugly

I recently blogged about seeing my own flaws through my children, more specifically Mr. T. who is so much like me it’s scary. Thinking through that post, writing it and now re-reading it has caused to think about my flaws from another perspective. I am finally beginning to not only accept my flaws but to be ok with the world knowing what they are. I am beginning to lose the need to be perfect all the time. I haven’t quite figured out if this is another side effect of having children or if it’s just a normal part of getting older, perhaps it’s a little of both?

I’ve spent much of my life focusing on my flaws in some way or another. From analyzing them, obsessing about them or trying to hide them, my weak points have been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. While I think this is probably quite a common by product of ‘growing up’, I really do think that seeing my failings reflected through Mr T is helping me to accept myself for who I am.

When I look at Mr. T, I don’t automatically focus on his weaknesses. I am aware of them and I do see them when they rear their ugly heads but I don’t think any less of him because of them. I kind of look at these parts of his personality and think so what? They are a side bar to his positives.

For every part of him that isn’t at it’s strongest he has multiple wonderful traits. He whines, true, but he is also extremely caring and generous. He will not think twice about sharing anything and everything he has and he always thinks of others. He is emotional which can be so trying at times but his passion transcends to everything he does. He loves with every breath he takes and he makes sure you always know just how much he loves you, never shying away from showing his affection.

Examining Mr T, and seeing myself in him, made me realize that if I am perfectly aware of his flaws yet I adore him with everything that I am then why am I so concerned with other people seeing my own failings??? Those who truly love me will not stop loving me because I’m not perfect and those who can’t accept my weaknesses will just have to move on.

I am not perfect. There I admit it. There are so many things about me that are so very far from perfect. Who cares?  Yes I am sensitive. My feelings get hurt easily and sometimes I will lash out because of that. I am a bit short tempered and have been known to get quite snippy and sarcastic. Sometimes my anxities can cause me to say and do the absolute wrong thing in certain situations and I spend alot of time trying to get people to think I am without flaw. I have too many shortcomings to even begin to list.

To that I say oh well!

Just as with Mr. T. for every fault you will find a positive.

As I get older I realize that perfection does not exist and I have wasted enough time struggling to try and achieve the unachievable. I am who I am. You gotta take the good with the bad. I’m am learning that the complexities of our imperfections mixed in with our accomplishments is what makes us beautiful, what makes us interesting, what makes us human.

I don’t want my children to beat themselves down for having faults. My hope is to teach them to own who they are blemishes and all. I want them to know that their downfalls will not define them, they will in fact make them even stronger. To try and learn from their mistakes, build on who they are and be the best that they can be, is a lesson I want to impart from early on. I will always love them and anyone worth anything will not allow the imperfections to blind them and miss out on their beauty.

 

Me the traditionalist?

I have never really considered myself a traditionalist. Although, when really examining myself, it’s not that far-fetched of an idea if you take into consideration how deeply rooted I am in routine and structure. It may be that this need for memory building is becoming stronger because I’m getting older or perhaps it was the birth of my children that brought out this side of me. Regardless, something has turned me into this sappy mess that is completely obsessed with my family traditions and building memories for my children.

With the holidays coming up traditions can become a point of contention amongst many families, and mine is no exception. Trying to balance my family traditions with Mr. C’s family traditions has, at times, kept me up at night worrying and stressing. As my children are starting to get older I’ve realized that while it is important for Mr. C. and I to carry on our family traditions it is equally important for us to start our own family traditions.

Recently, I decided that I was going to start a custom with Ms. J and her grandmothers that is all ours. I wanted Ms. J and I to be able to share a special moment with both my mother and my mother in law, along with Mr. C’s grandmother.

A tea party was born.

Tea Party

The ladies gathered around a table covered with little sandwiches, scones, pastries, jams and creams. We brought out the old tea cups that have been passed down from my own grandmother and shared an afternoon of delicious teas, treats and good company.

While Ms. J is still just a toddler, she behaved like such a little lady. She sat at the table sipping her caffeine free strawberry rhubarb tea and happily nibbled on her tasty scones and cakes. I am fully aware of the fact that she didn’t have a true appreciation of just how amazing it was for her to be sitting at a table containing 4 generations of women in her family tree, but I think she knew it was something special.

Family Tree

My wish is that I have started a new tradition for my own family. A special way for Ms. J to spend time with her mummy and her grandmothers. Something that she will look forward to as she grows. Perhaps one day my mother will be able to pass on the beautiful tea cups and tea pots to her granddaughter as a memory. Perhaps one day Ms. J will carry on the tradition by sharing a tea party with her own daughter and myself.

I’m not fully sure why keeping, building and making our own traditions has become so very important to me but it is. Rather than try to figure out the why’s I’d rather just enjoy the moments. Build as many happy memories for my children as I can and hope that they appreciate it…one day. As we move into the holidays building on both of our family values I can sit back and smile at the thought that maybe…just maybe…we can bring back the tea party.