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.

 

 

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.

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?

How do we measure our grief?

I often speak, on this blog, of the emotional trauma I experienced when Mr. T. was sick. It’s probably one of the few places where I have been completely honest about how it impacted me. How the whole experience caused my entire world as I knew it to collapse around me. How in the almost 5 years since, I haven’t fully been able to rebuild my world to where it was. I’ve come to realize that I don’t think I was ever supposed to go back to where I was. I have permanently changed.

In a conversation recently I was explaining to someone why I began writing again. This of course, required me to explain Mr. T’s illness and hospital stay. I prefaced the story by explaining that he was ok now. The person who I was speaking with said to me “Don’t do that”. At first I wasn’t sure what she was referring to until she said “Don’t minimize what you went through” It was like a light went on inside. She was right I don’t have to minimize it.

I had never before realized that I did this but I did! Almost every time I speak of the experience I almost sweep away the pain by explaining that Mr. T is ok now. I sometimes feel such a sense of guilt over my pain. To explain my guilt simplistically is that I feel like I don’t have a right to anguish over any part of my experience because Mr. T. is ok. Yes, there are some complications that we have to face and some scary possibilities for the future. But he’s here. He lives a normal life. Who am I to distress when there are mothers out there who have to continuously watch their children suffer? When then are mothers out there who had to say goodbye and had to let their angels go?Who do I think I am? I get to kiss him every night. I read him stories and I tickle his back before bed. I watch him play soccer and play house with his sister. He gets to push my buttons and get into mischief. I have always felt like I didn’t have a right to feel sadness.

Throughout the past years I have become aware that there are people who tired of hearing me talk about the experience. They didn’t understand why I was having trouble dealing because to their eyes Mr. T. had no lasting effects. Yet I still felt the need to talk about it. I couldn’t shake it. I couldn’t let go. There was a constant ache in my heart. Yet as I continued to try to verbalize that ache I could feel the judgments. I could almost hear “Oh my god not again” It was when someone mentioned that I needed to get over it that I stopped talking about it and started to write about it.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we feel like there is a chart for our grief and in order to make it onto this chart there is a list of criteria we must check off? We compare ourselves to others out there and think that because someone has it much harder than us that we aren’t entitled to feel sadness. Is this where our world has ended up? That even grief has become a competition? A sad little reality show where there is only one winner and only the most distressing story wins the right to openly grieve. Why would someone think they have the right to judge my feelings? Or to dictate how deep my worry should venture?

The conversation that started my whole change in thought was, as Oprah calls it, my light bulb moment. I will not apologize for feeling the immense anguish that I have felt. I do grieve. I grieve for the loss of that magical first baby experience. My heart aches a palpable pain every time I sit with Mr. T through another test, x-ray, needle…My wounds are my wounds to heal the way I need to heal them. They don’t need to be compared to anyone else’s heartbreak. We are all walking our own path and are climbing our own mountains. This is my mountain and with Mr. T, Ms. J and Mr. C by my side I will make it to the top. That I can guarantee.

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!)

 

 

Bedtime battle Royal

I don’t know when this happened. The lines are kind of blurred. Bedtime used to be one of my favourite times of day. A time of day I looked forward to almost from the moment I woke up. Laying in bed between my two little angels reading stories, chatting about our day and cuddling is my idea of heaven. Everything I imagined of parenthood. After our moments of bonding, I would leave them to fall asleep quietly and peacefully, feeling safe beside each other. Their little eyes heavy with sleep, their breathing slowing, becoming a rythmic dance with each other. I then made my way downstairs where I relished in a little alone time; usually only for an hour or so before I, myself, headed up to join them in bed. Time to watch tv or a movie, write a little maybe even fold some laundry.

I don’t know when this changed. It feels like it was an overnight change. All of a sudden bedtime has become a battle. I try to continue our routine. I lay in bed with stories and it begins. They argue over which story is read first. One speaks over the story  wanting to go back a few pages to show me something, once the page is turned back it’s not clear what is to be shown. There is tossing and turning, kicking and flips and sometimes jumping! I leave them to fall asleep but instead of tired little eyes slowly drifting off into slumberland I hear two children giggling under covers. To hear them giggle with each other before bed time may be sweet and delightful however it is not as pleasant when it eventually turns into yelling, crying, begging and tattling. Inevitably myself or Mr. C will have to perform the walk up the stairs reminding Mr. T. to keep his hands to himself and scolding Ms. J when her chatting and jumping around is keeping Mr. T. awake. I often hear “mummy” being whined from upstairs and someone tells me the other hit them, turned on the lights or won’t stay quiet.  Mr C. and I will take turns stomping up the stairs firmly demanding they stop fooling around and go to sleep or else they will each be remanded to their own beds. Every time we head up the stairs we become more frustrated and less effective.  Each round of scolding is followed by discussion on the efficacy of our methods, what we are doing wrong, if we should be forcing them to sleep in their own beds, what is the solution. If it’s been a particularly difficult night, as was tonight, I will spend the rest of the evening feeling incredibly guilty. Guilty because their day ended in frustration. Remorseful beause I didn’t handle the situation better. Afraid that they are going to be tired the next day because their bedtime was dragged out for so long. Confused because I don’t know how to handle the situation better.

There is also an immense amount of guilt in the feeling that I’m not enjoying this time with them the way I should be. We still cuddle and read however I spend much of that time anxious. Waiting for the chaos to commence. Mr C and I have been known to argue over who is taking bedtime tonight, each claiming it’s the others turn. I’m ashamed that I don’t always jump at the chance to do bedtime. My head tells me that in just a few short years they aren’t going to want me to put them to bed. They will prefer to close their door, shutting me out of their private thoughts. Falling asleep all alone without mummy cuddles is going to be their choice. How, when I know that is coming sooner rather than later, can I not enjoy every precious moment of such a special time? I spend way too much energy allowing these thoughts to make me feel like a bad mother.

I know I’m doing something wrong. I’m not 100% sure what it is yet. I’m not entirely clear what caused this break in our bedtime routine. I think the answer may be found in the reason behind the shift, I just have to determine what that reason is. Do I sit back and just let it be? Let them figure it out on their own. Do I force them into their own bed? (see my past thoughts on co-sleeping http://bit.ly/XYIauk) Am I ruining their sleep patterns? Am I messing them up for life? Am I failing at this thing called motherhood?

I am really trying hard. Every time it begins I take a deep breath and try to live in the moment. I try to focus on the wonderful aspects of bedtime with my babies.  I try to focus on their little arms around my neck. I listen to their favourite parts of the day. I appreciate their begging me to cuddle them first and just a little bit longer. I always tell them how much I love them.

I’m hoping that this is just a phase. That I can somehow make this easier for us all. That our bedtimes can go back to cozy cuddles in bed and have less disorder. Because bedtime can truly be the best part of our typically hectic day.

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.

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.