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.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Why I’m jealous of the Royal Couple

Unless you’ve been living in a cave you know  all about the Royal Couple and their new little baby. I know it’s silly and they really aren’t more important than any of the other couples that had babies yesterday or any other day but I have been super excited! I must say it is wonderful to follow a nice story rather than all of the tragedy that is going on in the world.

I will admit it. I’m jealous and not for the reasons you think.

I’m jealous because what they are living right now is the best moment of their lives. The moment you first meet your baby. Those first few moments, hours, days when you get to know the little being you created. Oh to be in those moments again.

When I think of it my heart swells with the joy and inexplicable amount of love I felt the first time I saw both my children. It was two very different experiences but they were both equally as glorious. I gasped when I first laid eyes on both my babies. It felt as though my heart was going to beat through my chest, my voice caught in my throat, my eyes filled with tears. I had never before seen anything as beautiful. Their beauty literally stopped my world, if only for a moment. I gasped and when my voice finally escaped I had no words, all I could say was “Oh my God”. I said the same thing both times.

It was two very different experiences. With Mr. T. they didn’t lay him on my chest right away. They whisked him away to the table beside me. They worked on him while I desperately just tried to see him. To meet his eyes. My soul knew that something was wrong. I felt it in my heart. It was an odd feeling. I was in awe at his perfection and amazed that I created him, nurtured him, grew him inside me. At the same time I felt an emptiness. They tore him from my body and took a part of me away. It was the first time in 9 months that our hearts did not beat together. He was only feet away from me but I felt like a part of me was gone. When they finally laid him on my chest I felt whole again and I felt him relax. He was afraid and all alone on that table. Then they placed him naked on my skin and he settled into me as if he was exactly where he was supposed to be. I continued to ignore that tug at my heart that told me something wasn’t right. I ignored it because he seemed so utterly perfect, how could something not be right with this?

I didn’t realize until Ms. J was born how much I missed of those first moments. When Ms. J came out I felt nothing but sheer bliss. She was here and she was perfect. While I was nervous because of my last experience my heart knew there was no trouble with this one. I watched her come out of my body and in one swift movement she went from inside me to laying on top of my chest. I felt her confusion but as I wrapped myself around her and spoke to her quietly I felt her uneasiness fade away. She, in turn, took away my fears and eased my mind. I didn’t want to ever let her go. We stayed there for what seemed like an eternity. The whole world around us faded away. I kissed her, whispered promises to her, I inhaled her scent. There was nowhere else in the world I wanted to be. When they finally brought us into our room, I slept peacefully with her safe beside me. I whispered to Mr. C. “we did it”.

The difference between Ms. J and Mr. T. is that I got to spend the next few days, weeks, months getting to know my princess. I slept with her beside me. I nursed her in the chair in her nursery just as I had planned. There were no wires or incubators blocking me from feeling every inch of her. I bathed her for the first time in our own bathtub. Not in a basin inside an incubator. Her cries woke me from sleep whispering my name “mama I’m hungry” she called. I happily, although sleepily, nursed her in the quiet darkness of her pink nursery. It was our time together. There were no feeding tubes pumping her with my breast milk, she gulped until satisfied and then her little eyes faded back into a milk induced sleep. I couldn’t have been happier.

Don’t get me wrong. I did bond with Mr. T. just in a much different way. We formed our relationship through wires and tubes. Our touch was through the walls of an incubator. We were apart for more than any mother should be from her newborn baby. Yet I could still pick his cry out even in a room full of crying babies. He still grasped on to me and his breathing slowed and relaxed while we rocked. It didn’t matter if we were rocking in a borrowed NICU rocking chair. It just mattered that we were together.

My relationship with my babies has continued to grow and change. The roots settled during those first few moments. They were the best days of my life. Holding a newborn baby has got to be the most magnificent feelings one could ever experience. You never get those moments back. It can pass in a sleep deprived haze and before you know it it’s over. Cherish every moment of it. Don’t miss out on any of it.

My heartfelt congratulations to the Royal Couple. My well wishes to any new parent. It is the most sublime, magical time in your lives. Breathe in every baby powder scented moment and hold them deep in your soul for safe keeping.

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.

A cause for celebration

I should be celebrating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Silence is Golden

I’ve often heard many parents speak of things they miss from their lives pre-children. Some miss partying, late nights, drinking and clubs while others miss lazy Sunday brunch, Saturday morning sleep ins and full nights of sleep period. Not me. Oh no. Not that I don’t have moments where I wish I didn’t have to cut an evening short so that I could relieve a babysitter or where I could open my eyes on a Saturday morning and realize that it’s after 8:00am and I have woken up naturally rather than by a toddler shaking me violently and demanding me to make them breakfast. I have moments. For the most part I have accepted these changes that children have brought to my life.

You know what I miss the most about my single life?

Silence. The lack of noise. Hearing a pin drop.

This isn’t something I really noticed when there was just one of them. The noise seems to have grown exponentially since Ms. J joined our brood. I’m not exactly sure why the chatter in this house seems to have grown 20 times with just one little tiny addition but it did. At times it’s exhausting. These two tiny little beings will try to speak over each other attempting to be heard over the other. THeir little voices become an almost indistinguishable frenzy of high-pitched noises piercing my ears while my brain tries to determine the actual words so that I may respond to each of them appropriately. There comes a point where they stop actually speaking and are just trying to outscream each other. Eventually it will turn physical and one will decide to either jump on me or grab my face roughly forcing themselves into my line of vision. I am fully aware they are competing for my attention. I try my best to give them both equal amounts of attention but the uproar becomes deafening.

Then there is the fighting. I’ve written about the fighting in other posts see: http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/family/kids/20121122/sibling-rivalry-will-end-right. The screams that exit their mouths are alarming and are not easy to just ignore. Now that Ms. J is becoming older it has become worse. They don’t yet have the vocabulary or patience to solve their disputes reasonably so their attempts at resolution are extremely loud. It is like nails on a chalkboard. As their arguing intensifies in both decibel level and heat my stress levels rise. My heart races. My mind searches for a way to get them to just stop! They are going to disagree, they are going to fight and I know they have to sort it out themselves for the most part but it is..just…so..loud!!!

Mr. T. talks non stop. From the moment my eyes open until the moment his eyes shut he’s chattering away. He tells me stories. What happened at school, what his daycare friends told him, what he dreamed last night. He has got quite the imagination and will tell me wild tales of things that were in his “nightmare” as he calls it. He’ll ask me questions about what our plans are for the day, what he wants to do, what he doesn’t want to do, what he wants to eat for breakfast, the toys he wants to play with, the games he wants to play, if he wants to play with me or Daddy. Then in jumps Ms. J. who wants a little piece of the pie. She will chime in giving her two sense. Usually retelling the same story that Mr. T just told but passing it off as her own 🙂 It’s amazing. It’s adorable. It’s beautiful. Does it make me a bad mother that there are moments, just moments where I just want some peace and quiet? 99.9999% of the time I love it. I love hearing their little voices. I love listening to the tales that are floating around Mr. T’s little four-year old mind. I must admit I have actually thought to myself that perhaps he’s a writer in the making, with his imagination and vocabulary it wouldn’t surprise me. There is, however, a moment every now and then where I just want to just walk into my room, lay down on the bed and close the door. I want to turn down the volume on life.

THe thing with me is that before I got married and had children I was a bit of a loner. It was on purpose. I just like my own space. I like to be alone. I like the quiet. My mind races…alot…and the quiet helps me slow my mind down. WIth all this noise and chaos in my life it’s difficult for me to turn off my thoughts. It’s one of the reasons I write. The cacophony of life in a home with children isn’t easy to just flip off so if I am able to keep my eyes propped open long enough I find that writing helps me to calm those racing thoughts.

I do miss the silence. I miss Sunday afternoons laying on the couch watching cheesy old made for tv movies dozing lazily, the only sound coming from the barely audible tv playing in the background. I miss showering without two little people begging me to let them come in then fighting over who is getting more hot water flowing onto their backs. I miss quietly cooking dinner, folding clothes in silence and using the bathroom in peace. I miss the silence. But I wouldn’t trade the noise for the silence in a million years. THeir chattering makes my day. I love listening to their little stories. Hearing about their day. Learning about who they are. I love knowing that by listening to what they are telling me; as mundane and monotonous as it may seem, I am helping build their trust and confidence. I hope that I am teaching them that they can tell me anything and I will listen. I don’t want to take for granted their little spirits.

Perhaps one day I will check myself into a hotel room and enjoy 24 hours of peace and quiet because I do know that silence is only golden when it’s broken up by long periods of beautiful noise. And my children provide me with the most beautiful noise there is.

Wait a minute! I’m not perfect????

Nothing has made me become more aware of my own flaws than my children. I mean, it’s not that I ever thought I was perfect. In fact I think I’ve always been aware of my flaws and quite self-conscious of them, attempting to hide my flaws whenever I could. However there are times where I feel as though I’m looking in a mirror and it isn’t always the pretty stuff that’s being reflected.

When you are pregnant, you dream about what your children are going to look like. What traits of yours they will have; will they develop a love of reading? Will they be athletic or love to bake? You don’t ever sit back and think maybe they’ll have a spiteful streak or a temper like their mother. Will they be impatient and forgetful? Your weaknesses usually aren’t the first things that pop into mind.

Mr. T. may look very much like Mr. C. but he definitely has my personality and it’s not as though there is some magic cell that wipes out all of the bad and just keeps the good, unfortunately the flaws are passed along too. I am seeing myself reflected through him and I am becoming hyperaware of not only my positives but of the parts of me that have frustrated loved ones for years.

First lesson, I whine. I never realize that I whined, until Mr. T. starting whining ALL THE TIME. Every time he doesn’t like an answer I give him, or doesn’t want to do something he’s been asked to do or sometimes just in normal conversation he whines. Have you ever seen those deer whistles you put on cars to scare the deer away so they don’t run in front of your car while driving?? Well I imagine that this is what those must sound like!  Eventually the tone started to sound familiar. When Mr. T doesn’t do as I ask the first time my voice rises up a notch and the words begin to draw out. Eventually the entire conversation is in whinese. He’s whining at me and I’m whining back.  It must sound like nails on a chalkboard to those around us. I have now become more aware that not only do I whine with my children, but sometimes I do it with Mr.C, my parents and I’ve even caught myself doing it at work!!! OMG I”m a whiner! I sound like a 4 year old boy!

Just like me, Mr. T has a need for routine and structure which isn’t a flaw in itself but it’s the reaction to the lack of routine that can be. Lack of structure or routine can lead to some very emotional outbursts.  Every morning,, the first thing he does is ask if we are staying home today or going to school. I now realize that he needs to “plan” his day in his mind, just as I do. Sometimes when our plans change from what we’ve already told him he will react emotionally and not want to do whatever it is was decided.  It was so frustrating to me until I realized…wait a minute I do that too! When I have a plan in my head and a wrench gets thrown into that plan I can become totally discombobulated and react emotionally. It’s not my intention but it’s almost like I need to be given time to reprocess this change in plans. Since this light went on I try to keep Mr. T in the loop on our plans so he feels prepared, but I also try to be a bit more understanding with him when things don’t go as expected.

I also started to notice that both Mr. T. and I have a tendency to get very agitated when we are overscheduled. When we are trying to fit too many things into a small block of time. I started to notice a pattern to some of Mr. T’s misbehaviour. When he doesn’t have much quiet time at home he can get flustered which results in him ‘acting up’. When it happens I feel what he’s feeling, the overwhelming need to just stop. I am trying my best to provide him with that downtime which can be difficult in the busy world we live in.

Next there is the temper. Ooooh do we have a temper. Mr. T. gets frustrated very easily and when he does he yells. He can be loud and it literally hurts my ears. But it was watching him lose his temper that made me realize what I’m like when I get frustrated. It was a tough lesson for me to learn. NOt an easy realization for me to come to, that I handle my frustration in the same way a 4-year-old does.

While Mr. T. has been like a mirror constantly reflecting my own strengths as well as my shortcomings, my realization that he is just like me, has helped me learn how to relate to him even more.

When I see Mr. T. getting frustrated and I notice his voice starting to get louder and whinier and more desperate I am better able to look at the situation and determine what the problem is. For example, during a recent meltdown Mr. T. was having with Mr. C. I could feel Mr. C’s tension levels rising. I sat back and observed the situation and instinctively knew what the problem was. I quietly walked over to Mr. C. and said “listen to him” as Mr. C looked at me in confusion I repeated ” listen to him, actually hear what he’s saying”. I thought of  how frustrated I get when I feel as though I’m not being heard and I was able to see  that same frustration in Mr. T’s eyes.  Mr C. bent down looked his son in the eye and  as he really heard the words coming out of his mouth the situation was diffused.

I am learning that although it is not easy for me to resolve my shortcomings overnight, especially considering I have had 30+ years to master these weaknesses, I can use this knowledge to my advantage to strengthen my relationship with Mr. T. I understand him in a way that no one else does. Because there is this part of him that is just like me.

There are so many moments of Mr T’s life where I wonder how I possibly could have created something so utterly perfect? To me, he is perfect in every way. He is brilliant. He is kind and thoughtful. He is loyal. He is loving and affectionate. He is wonderful. I am however, not blind to his flaws, in fact I might be more aware of them because we share so many. None of us are perfect, in fact all of the complexities, both positive and negative are what make us interesting. I think the best thing that I can do is use my personal in-depth knowledge to guide Mr. T through some tough times. To better relate to him and build on our relationship as he gets older. Hopefully I can help him accept his flaws rather than him spend his life trying to be perfect. He is already probably as perfect as they come.

Our attempt to say Thank You

I remember the day that Mr. T. was released from the hospital like it was yesterday. Up until that time, it was the second happiest day of my life. THe first being the day Mr. T. was born.

By that time Mr. T. had been transferred down a level in care to another hospital a bit closer to home. He no longer needed critical care but wasn’t yet at the point where he could go home, surprisingly even that was emotionally difficult for us. We had been at Sick Kids for so long that we were in a routine. We knew the doctors, we anticipated rounds and were comfortable with the nurses. While being taken out of critical care was a good thing and was a move in the right direction, in meant change for us. We would have to put our trust in yet another set of doctors at a different hospital. We would have to get used to new nurses and different facilities. Change was scary. But we were one step closer to home so we were cautiously optimistic and convinced ourselves it would work out.

I am the one who has a harder time with change so I turned to Mr. C. to assure me that everything was going as planned. We were returning to the hospital where Mr. T was born and he reminded me how fantastic they were in his diagnosis, I let out a sigh of relief.

We had our own room at this hospital so we were able to stay overnight with Mr. T. A hospital bed was set up beside his little crib and Mr. C and I squished ourselves into the single bed just happy that we didn’t have to leave him. On our first morning we were woken up by the wonderful doctor that would eventually discharge us. He tore into our room bright and early, rising us out of our restless sleep, his voice booming “Morning folks” he said, “let’s get you out of here”

We called him Dr. Dan. This nickname was because he reminded us of Dan from the show “Roseanne”. He was a big yet gentle man with a loud rowdy voice who kept a smile on his face at all times. From the moment he walked in to our room his goal was to get Mr. T. well enough to go home and it was just the attitude we needed at that moment.

In total we spent just under a week at this hospital. We had Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital cafeteria with my parents. Warmed in the microwave, we ate a delicious turkey dinner in that sterile setting with Mr. T. sitting in his little infant carrier beside us. We started to feel a little like a family here. Little did we know that shortly after this unconventional yet truly beautiful Thanksgiving meal we would be heading home.

Mr. T. was weighed every day and the conditions of his release were that he was steadily gaining weight and keeping down the majority of his feeds. FInally, finally after 6 long weeks, Dr. Dan swept into our room bright and early on a sunny fall day and announced that today would be the day we would be going home. I was elated. I wanted to jump up and hug him. We called our parents and packed our bags. Ready to go home for the first time as a family of three.

A feeling of slight panick came over me as I realized for the first time I would be alone. I didn’t have doctors or nurses to turn to for reassurance. It was all on me and I felt terrified.

I can still feel the warm sun on my face as I stepped out of the hospital into the crisp fall air with my perfect little boy beside me. I watched the other new mum’s make their first slow walk out into the real world with their babies in tow and although I had been a mummy for 6 entire weeks I felt just as new to this as they did. I was in heaven as I settled into the back of our car keeping my hand on Mr. T’s car seat the entire drive. Mr. C. and I chatted and planned the entire drive home. It was then that together we decided that this was not the end of this.

We talked about how lucky we were. How many wonderful people had crossed our paths over the past month. Not only doctors and nurses but volunteers and even the baristas at the Starbucks were so kind to us! There were volunteers that read to Mr. T. when we weren’t there. That rocked him for us if he was alone. That knit him hats and booties and made him quilts. We realized that the world was full of good people and we could never forget them. We vowed to ourselves and Mr. T. that we weren’t just going to walk away and turn our backs. We needed to figure out a way to give back.

A few months later at one of Mr. T’s many follow-up appointments I came across a poster for Meagan’s Walk. I came home and looked it up online and was so unbelievably moved by the story. Meagan was a little girl who passed away from a brain tumour at just 5 years old. She spent months at Sick Kids fighting this terrible disease that took her life. Meagan’s mother started the walk in memory of Meagan. The money raised goes to pediatric brain tumour research and the Sick Kids foundation. As I read her story I sat back and thought to myself that Meagan and her parents walked the halls of Sick Kids just as we did. They experienced terrible pain, worry, fear and the horrible loss of their beautiful little girl. They experienced a pain that I can’t even begin to imagine. I realized, again, just how fortunate we were to have walked out of that hospital with our little man in tow. We had to participate in this walk. It occurs every year on Mother’s Day, although this year it is occurring the day before Mother’s Day. I couldn’t imagine a better way to give back to the wonderful hospital that saved my little boys’ life than to walk in this precious little girls name on Mother’s Day. It also allows us an opportunity to remind Mr. T of just how much love and support he received in the first weeks of his life. It allows him the opportunity to give back and support others just as others supported us. I am hoping it teaches him to have a generous spirit. To always be thankful for the fortunes life has bestowed on us. To never forget where his little life began.

We are participating in Meagan’s Walk again this year. If anyone reading is interested in joining the walk, supporting our walk team or spreading the word of this amazing cause please see the link below.

http://my.sickkidsdonations.com/personalPage.aspx?SID=3326856&langPref=en-CA