Ending the cycle of judgment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Evening baths to morning showers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

How my path to Blissdom began with my children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An unseen beauty in the ordinary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birthdays to party or not to party?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Wear your baby body with pride

I was recently reading a copy of People Magazine and was frustrated and disappointed to come across an article called “Body after Baby”. The article spoke about how Hollywood Mama’s got their sexy bodies back. Beside each celeb pic, none of which by the way resemble any new mother I ever came across, was a big circle showing how long it took each mum to lose the weight. The longest timeline featured was 5 months.

Really? 5 MONTHS? Really?

Should I now feel bad because at 5 months post partum I looked nothing like what I did before my life revolved around diaper changes and breastfeeding.

I am so tired of reading article after article and seeing picture after picture of women, or specifically celebs, getting praise for looking sexy again the minute they walk out of the hospital. Why is this even a story at all let alone something that is taking up 4 entire pages of a magazine??? Why am I not reading articles about their wonderful journey into motherhood? How their lives have changed? Their ups and downs. Why are these magazines not praising these women for the ways they are striving to ensure they can be positive role models for their children? Ways in which they are embracing their new role of mother? I guess it’s more important for us to know how long it took for them to get back into their skinny jeans.

Let me point out that every single mother in the article is in their 30’s. Not young 20 something’s whose bodies bounce back a whole heck of a lot easier. But women who are in their 30’s when things just begin to get a little more difficult.

 I call bullshit! Who wants to join me??? I don’t buy that it was THAT easy for each and every one of them to lose the weight. Even if it was, what is the point of this article? To give a pat on the back for working out 3 hours a day and paying ridiculous amounts of money for diet food to be delivered to you daily? Yay!! Good for you Jenna Dewan-Tatum you lost it all in 2 months!  Do you feel better now that you and your little celeb friends have made the real women out there reading this article feel just a little bit worse about themselves? Women who have to work 9-5’s, clean houses, cook dinners, take care of their families. Women who don’t have stylists, makeup artists, professional hair dressers or meal delivery services? Women who are looking at these pictures of you, which may or may not have been taken post partum, and are wondering why they don’t look like they did before they had kids?

What happened to the whole it took 9 months to put it on theory? Why is it considered a great success to not look like you ever had a baby just days after giving birth? Or worse yet, while your pregnant? Is it really a compliment when someone says “You don’t even look like you just had a baby” or “I wouldn’t know you were pregnant from behind”. That shouldn’t be compliment. The praise I’d rather hear is how I’m doing a great job as a mother, not thumbs up for looking hot again!

How have we turned pregnancy and child birth into another way to judge ourselves on the way we look? I challenge us all to fight back against this. I do not want to read another article about how wonderful a celebrity is just because she’s lost all her baby weight within hours of giving birth. Please aren’t we better than this? We are more than just a number on the scale. Motherhood is about more than just pounds gained and pounds lost.  When are we going to stop putting such high importance on our outward appearance?

If it took you two months, two years or if you’ve accepted the fact that your body will never be the same, wear your baby body with pride. You will never get back the time you spend stressing about your body. Own in, accept it, love it. It’s a part of your journey into the wonderful world of motherhood.

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.

Soccer mum…me???

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First year of school, check!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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