Tantrums and Terrible Twos

For those of you who have followed my blog since my Little Bean was in the oven, you’ll know she is 17 months now. One month shy of being a year and a half. So many of you are thinking, well, she has got about 6 months until she gets thrown onto the emotional rollercoaster of her toddler, feels completely overwhelmed, and becomes a patient at a facility to overcome everything that takes place during the Terrible Twos. 

Well,  buckle up people, have I got some terrifying news for you.

The Terrible Twos don’t always happen when they’re two!

Apparently, children don’t give two flying fluffy ducks about milestones and schedules. They do what they want when they want and you just have to deal with it as their parents. All those timelines and studies they’ve done to give you a rough idea of when things with happen? Just chuck those right on out the window, you’re in Crazy Town now and there are no maps. Up is down, and up, and sideways, and backwards, and down is anything is wants to be but always stops at a screaming toddler who bites when they are frustrated despite your best efforts.

I started to notice my daughter had a bit of an attitude to her as soon as she started walking which was around her 1st birthday. I remember sitting there thinking “This is way too much attitude for this tiny little person”. 

Every day she gets a little more and with that, takes a little bit more of my sanity away.

The word ‘No!’ is a bullet in my house, laced with hormones that explode and go all through her body every time I have the audacity to say it. Once those hormones have reached every corner of her body, she screams, turns red, throws herself on the floor and just goes haywire.

In the beginning, I found myself stepping in right away, trying to soothe her and talk her through it. After a bit of time I noticed the more I did this, the more often those tantrums happened. I found myself stepping back, letting the tantrums run their course and telling her I would talk to her again when she was done.

Some days, she just isn’t done.

*SIGH*

I think the most frustrating thing for a parent is trying to figure out if this is right? Am I doing the right thing? In the back of your mind and in the depths of your heart you tell yourself that if you were, it would be easier, and that thought alone plagues you with a pang of guilt that some days is crippling. There are days when the tantrums are constant and as a parent, especially if you are home with your little all by yourself, you just feel like a failure.

Then you go to bed, wake up, and for whatever reason, your child decides to skip the tantrums all together that day and you fond yourself wondering what went wrong the day before.

Children have very little logic. What is fun to them one day may drive them to hysterics the next. What they refuse to eat becomes a favourite food overnight and those moods are just as unpredictable. The lack of communication between you and your toddler never feels too obvious as when they are just flipping their noodle and you are sitting there begging them to give you some sign of what is wrong.

What does this mean for us logical adults trying to parent to the best of our abilities? It means sometimes we have to bend a little for our sanity. I think people try and make parents out to be martyrs. You’re either doing it exactly like all the studies say, to hell with your own health, or you’re a bad parent.

To those people, I have a very special finger on each hand.

Maybe step away from the 100% organic, homegrown, ethical treats and give them a goldfish cracker if it means it gives you the time you need to regroup and catch your breath. Ignore that article about how screen time is no good for our kids (even though every kid from like the 50s was raised in front of the TV and are completely functional), and put on a movie you know will keep them entertained enough for you to wash your face, brush your teeth, and do whatever you need to do. Even if it is just to sit in silence without a clingy baby clawing at you and screaming.

DO IT FOR YOU!

A happy parent, is a happy kid and it is going to take a lot of effort to remain even functional, let alone happy when the waves of tantrums start to roll in… trust me, I have a new patch of grey hairs that will attest to this.

Comparison is a one way street to depression. Please, please, please, don’t look at the woman at the park with the kid the same age who is playing happily, grinning ear-to-ear while yours lashes out and kicks you while you try and load them back into the stroller. They have been there, or they are going to be. Just because they are not going through it right now, in front of your eyes, doesn’t mean they are a better parent than you.

We are all great mothers (and fathers)!

When the junky snacks, mindless programming, and bargaining doesn’t work just remember, THIS IS ONLY TEMPORARY! 

However wrong they may have been by calling them Terrible Twos the one thing they did get right was that it isn’t going to last forever. Once your child is better able to communicate their needs with you and understand your responses to their requests (AHEM DEMANDS) it will get easier.

Hang in! Binge-watch shows while you are going to bed while cramming junk food in your mouth for your sanity, and maybe have a little cry every now and then. You just have to run out the clock…

YOU CAN DO THIS!

Toddler Mom Winter Blues

This is my second winter as a mommy, and I would have to say this winter has been tougher than the first.

Why?

My daughter was a September baby, which meant the first winter she wasn’t very mobile. I was still recovering from giving birth, so it’s not like I had any plans to do anything. Spending the whole winter in High Top Hanes Her Ways, with thick reading socks on and a shirt that was always either wet or stained from breastmilk while I binge-watched all the shows I had never gotten around to while working was the perfect way to pass the winter.

All her cries could be easily soothed with breastmilk or a diaper change. She was asleep more than she was awake and if I’m being honest, so was I.

This winter, she is big, she is mobile, and she is her own little person. The amount of attitude and sass is immeasurable and just like you or me, she gets bored on days when we are stuck inside. Typically, no matter how busy I keep her through the day, at around 3:00 pm, she is just over being inside and that is when her tantrums begin.

I have dealt with a lot of children in my time, and tantrums usually go hand-in-hand with children this age. That being said, the intensity of her tantrums still surprise me! (I will likely do a whole post just on tantrums later.)

She screams until she is beet red, pulls her hair, hits. This kind of tantrum was something I wasn’t expecting so soon and had thought would come more around the age of 2.

Lucky me, the Terrible Twos have come early and with an unrivalled intensity. YAY!

On a good day, 4:00 pm is her nap time. So typically, I let her ride the waves of her emotions and tantrums until she has tired herself out, sneak in with a bottle and she will pass out. However, sometimes this just doesn’t happen.

With staying indoors, it’s hard to really tire them out. There is so much unspent energy, sometimes she doesn’t go down for a nap at all.

One these days, the Winter Blues kick in super hard for me. My emotions are spent, my nerves are wound to the point of breaking, and that weight of parenting guilt so many of us feels becomes just too heavy to manage. I feel exhausted, worn down, and just so spent that each moment feels like an hour. My eyes are constantly glasses over, the threat of tears constantly there as I just try to make it through the day.

Parenting is HARD!

Parenting through the winter when you have a rowdy toddler who wants nothing more than to run around and play outside, is even harder.

My suggestion for any moms who are going through what I am going through is to reach out. Find moms in your area that can come over with their little for an hour or two and just lessen the weight for both of you. Go for a walk, even if the weather is awful and it’s just to the corner to get a coffee. Set play areas for you and your little that are inside, but close to the window on days when you can’t get out.

Making it through the winter in places with four seasons is tough. A lot of days the weather just doesn’t permit being outside with a child under 2. The past few days we have had winds so strong, they have blown her over when we ventured out to walk the dog. Nothing like a child turned into the wind, gasping for air as it blows into their face that ends up on their back to really improve both your moods. (Insert dramatic sigh here.)

Really, I am just trying to hold onto my sanity until Spring decides to make its appearance. With how the weather is here in Canada, Spring is almost never on time and we always have a teaser of Spring before we backslide back into Winter for another month or so.

*SIGH*

I got this. I can do it.

Helo!

The Stressful Search For A Daycare In the GTA

The longer I’ve been a parent, the more obvious to me it becomes that stress is endless. From the moment of conception, your mind is constantly racing. Can I eat this? Can I drink this? Can I do this? Can I lift this? Every moment you are constantly second-guessing everything decision you make.

I told myself once she arrived, it would get easier on me mentally. Sure, I would be tired, I would be breastfeeding, but I would have a little more control and that in itself would be freeing.

Boy, was I wrong.

The biggest stress in my life right now is daycare. Apparently, it is well-known to most moms, or at least all the daycares speak to you as though you should know, that you should have your child on the waiting list for daycares the moment you conceive. Before that little bean matures enough for you to even feel safe telling people about your pregnancy, you should be adding Little Baby Unknown to every daycare waiting list in your area to ensure when your child is 18 months (which is the youngest admitting age for most daycares) your child is close to having a spot there.

It’s even worse if you have this ridiculous idea of getting your child into a city-run daycare instead of a private one.

Late to the party, of course, I managed to put little ReeRo on waiting lists when she was a year. I know, I know… what was I thinking?

If I am telling the honest to goodness truth, I wasn’t. My train of thought at the time was that I knew for sure she would be staying home with me for a year, I had a hope she would be home with me until 18 months because I knew she would be my only child and wanted to spend as much time with her as I possibly could. That being said, I thought right before a year would be the right time to look through the options and see what I was looking at in my area and in my price range.

Well, I was pretty much floored as I looked. All the ones in my area with openings are private daycares in which we will be handing out as much as we pay for our 2 bedrooms + Den apartment with our utilities and parking. I was just sitting there looking at website after website not only wondering who the hell was paying this, but how in the world people could afford it.

A lot of people like to sit back and complain about Millenials, but Jesus, the cost of living for us, especially in a city like Toronto, Canada, is INSANE!

If your maternity leave has run out and you are trying to get your child into an affordable daycare spot relatively quickly so you can start working, you’ll quickly realize just how ridiculous it all is.

First; this information isn’t readily available to everyone. When I tell moms who are still in the early stages of their leave about my struggles finding a placement for her, they are in disbelief. A lot of moms who are going about this for the first time are completely blindsided by the cost and waitlists involved in childcare.

Second; if you are a parent who qualifies for subsidized child care, you should know there is a waitlist for approval for that as well. What does that mean? Well, it means that before you even think about getting a place for your child in a subsidy approved daycare (with waitlists that probably triple the length of any other daycare you’ll be looking at), you’ll have to not only apply for subsidy in your district, but also go to an interview, and get approved.

Third; if you are going the route of subsidy, THERE IS A TIMELINE! Once your interview is booked with subsidy, you have to go and be approved. Once approved you have somewhere between 30-90 days to find your child a spot in a subsidy approved daycare or you will be moved back to the bottom of the waiting list!

You’re probably reading this thinking: That seems like a lot of time. 

Let me put my timeline out here for you guys so you can see if it really is enough time (if you were unaware of how long the waitlist was and put your child on those lists late).

I applied for Toronto Child Subsidy at the end of August right before my daughter’s first birthday. At the same time, I applied for Subsidy, I made about 30 calls and put my daughter’s name on waiting lists for daycares in my area. Every daycare that had a waiting list I put her on, this worked out to be 23 daycares of the 30 I called.

I heard back from Toronto Childcare Subsidy in December letting me know I needed to go to an interview in January. Just applying to subsidy took just about 4 months, and that was without even being approved. It’s important to note, that from August to December when I received the letter I hadn’t heard from a single daycare letting me know there was an opening.

The second week of January I called every daycare she was on a waitlist back to see if maybe there was an opening and I just hadn’t heard from them, I also called 15 more daycares, branching out to the point where we would need to travel to get her to daycare and it would no longer be an easy pick-up/drop-off situation. The 14th place I called told me I needed to recall Toronto Childcare Subsidy and go through them in order to put my daughter on the waitlist at that location. It was only at this point I was informed that once I attended my scheduled interview and got approved for Subsidy, I would potentially lose my spot if I couldn’t find her a daycare in time.

This is when the panic began to set in. It had already been five months and I hadn’t heard from a single daycare. That meant I would need to hear back from them relatively quickly after getting approved. I didn’t want to lose my spot and then have to wait another 4 months to once again reach the top of the list.

I called 10 MORE DAYCARES going as far East as Bay St (I live completely WEST and getting there would be a hassle and a half, but I was desperate).

If you weren’t keeping track, that is a total of 55 different GTA daycares called and not a single opening. It definitely has me asking the question if there are enough subsidy approved daycares in the GTA. There is a population of roughly over 5.2 million in the GTA, a good number of those families would require Toronto Child Subsidy for daycare and would be looking in the same places I was for child care. Just how many calls do you have to make before you find that opening, if ever?

How can there possibly be enough daycares for that many children? How can they expect parents to afford to become a single income household when you can’t find childcare for your child to return to work? Is it any question why debt is becoming such a huge issue for Millenials in the GTA and why mental health issues are on the rise?

Personally, I can’t even express to you the added stress and anxiety this search has added to my already stressful day to day life of being a stay at home mom to a very moody toddler. When I am not pulling my hair out, or prying her off of my, I am struggling to try and figure out what the hell is going to become of my life. No matter how much I prepared, I didn’t prepare for this.

The cost of living is constantly rising, being a single income family in Toronto in 2020 just doesn’t even seem possible.

For any parent who has a baby on the way and is reading this, the time to start looking into daycares was a month or two before you read this… definitely get on it before your little bean makes its entrance into the world. Waiting until you’re ready like a lot of first time parents think is the best thing to do, is definitely not the best thing to do.

Travelling With A Baby Or Toddler

The stress, anxiety, and just basic wear-me-down of parenting gets to you in the first year, which was why we thought going on a family vacation with my mom and siblings was something we both wanted to do. We worked the cost into our budget and decided it was worth the money to escape the daily routine of parenting.

Sometimes for your mental health and overall wellbeing, it’s important to step out of the rat-race of your life and have someone else cook your meals, lay on a beach, and not have to think about every little thing and moment of your day.

This was not our first trip with our daughter, we had taken ReeRo on a plane when she was barely two months old so we could go and visit my husband’s family in Nova Scotia. This vacation was very different. When we went to the East Coast to see his family, there was little stress around the packing process, because we knew that if we forgot anything, we could always run to the store and pick it up.

This destination was different. We were going to Santa Maria, Cuba and I would be able to run to the store and grab diapers, wipes, and other baby necessities if I had been so careless as to forget.

Packing, to say the very least, was quite stressful. She basically has a small carryon case and half of a larger suitcase all to herself. It was packed with diapers, wipes, baby wash, teething medication, bug sprays, lotions, toiletries, snacks, toys, I had to anticipate her every need for the upcoming week and make sure we were prepared for it. A destination like Cuba meant I knew she couldn’t eat a lot of their food options that had come in contact with their water, and she also couldn’t have any of their dairy. Goldfish crackers, Gerber Puffs and Cheesies, and breastmilk were her main diet for the week, despite me trying to get her to eat things there, she just wasn’t having it.

One thing I will say is I did anticipate her diet when travelling. Cuba is a bright and colourful place and I knew she would be overwhelmed with it all. She left our Canadian winter and was suddenly in the sun, free to explore the entirety of our resort on foot. Usually, when something changes in our routine, she gives me a hard time when it comes to eating, so I did arrive there knowing full well she would want to breastfeed more than anything else. I wasn’t prepared for her to not want any other food.

The only thing she would ever eat was their pancakes and bread.

What also made this trip very different is my baby girl was no longer the baby she was. She was this little person who got bored and had her own routine she liked to stick to. She was stubborn, and she more often than not, let you know if something wasn’t exactly how she wanted it.

She started to walk around the beginning of November, thank goodness. Her finally walking meant that there was no need to pack a stroller, and it also meant that a sense of independence would result in less tantrum and more exploration.

The fact that she was walking made the airport a breeze. She wanted to walk the length of the big windows, watching all the planes and other vehicles on the tarmac. With her new explorative side, I was worried she wouldn’t want to sit still on the actual flight.

Our last flight she was so small, she breastfed the whole short flight and I don’t think she knew we weren’t just as home sitting on the couch. This was very different, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well she did.

I packed her little princess backpack (that she could carry herself had she wanted to, of course, she didn’t want to) with two of her favourite books Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and Baby Bear, Baby Bear, some snacks, and of course the iPad with some interactive games and a few videos that we knew she liked and would keep her busy. We brought her noise-cancelling headphones because they have been said to help with the air pressure on take-off and landing. She did her own thing for most of the flight and did take a small nap on both the way there and the way back.

There seemed to be a lot of kids on our flight and she seemed to be amongst the best behaved, so I definitely felt good leaving the plane knowing how well she did.

I think whenever you travel with one of your littles, it’s important to just prepare. Over prepare! If you even think maybe you need something, pack it. It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

I think a lot of parents, especially new parents worry that travelling with your children may take away from the feeling of it being a vacation. Sure, it’s not as relaxing and you are never really off-duty, but there is this different feeling of bliss watching your child(ren) experience things for the first time. That sense of wonder is really so special.

I loved watching her see lizards scurry across the grass or the walls. Watching different, more colourful birds fly around and watching her try and walk up to a frog. We went on an excursion and swam with the dolphins after seeing a dolphin show, which I wasn’t sure if she would be okay with. She only had a small freak out when it swam by and her fingers grazed the underbelly (even though she had touched it’s back several times and was completely okay and even excited about it).

All in all, it was a wonderful trip. I prepared. I made sure she had more than enough for the weather, and to keep her busy and I am so happy we decided to take the trip.

If you’re a parent and you just aren’t sure, it’s a good time to test out travelling. Why? Because usually children under a certain age stay free and all you have to pay for is their tourist visa which costs under $30CAD in Cuba. And you DESERVE it!

A Low Bar For Self Care

My morning routines may not seem like much, especially considering most mornings my sink is more full than empty, my daughter is no doubt walking around the house with one slipper on, no pants, her hair still slightly messy from her sleep. Toys make up most of the space on the floor and at any given time my TV is playing Super Simple Learning Songs around the clock. From the outside looking it, I am sure there are handfuls of people that will wonder what in the hell I am doing with all my time.

For most stay-at-home parents, this is the norm and they are used to constantly drowning they don’t really expect a lifeline. They’re comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I never get to drink my coffee hot, I’ve stepped on more half-eaten ArrowRoot cookies than I can count, there are a lot of days when I don’t brush my teeth or my hair until late in the evening, track pants and old tees are my new fashion trend and all of my showers are taken with a small human at my feet, occasionally looking up at me from that very observant spot between my legs.

This is parenting.

I’m so used to it at this point, I don’t even know how I would function if things changed.

Today, while scrolling through Instagram, I saw something that pretty much stopped me in my tracks. It was a post by @scarymommy that had me pausing and rethinking the way I did everything.

To sum up, it pretty much said there has never been an instance where taking a shower, washing your face, or brushing your teeth has been considered self-care for dads, so why is it that when a mom gets to spend an hour by herself doing errands, taking a shower or doing anything any normal person gets to do as a daily part of their routine, the world stop and screams “Self-care!”?

Life for moms is rough. Someone who I love who tells it as it is; Chrissy Teigen will be the first one to clap back at anyone who questions her parenting, but having those questions and comments thrown out at her in the first place is not only eye-opening but completely normal in this day and age.

We live in a time where taking a moment to breathe sans kids is considered negligent. Where sitting at the park and pulling out your phone to message people about your day as your kids play ten feet away is enough to call the authorities about in the eyes of All-Knowing Amys and Judgmental Judys.

When did moms become these less-than-human things who had to live for their kids every moment of every day? Who isn’t allowed to admit they need time to themselves without being made out to seem like complete monsters.

Even I am guilty of calling things that should be my basic human rights self-care, when in reality, if I kept the bar where it had been before having my daughter, I haven’t received a single moment of self-care since becoming pregnant.

Society is failing moms, and for every troll on the internet that has the audacity to call a mom who dares go out for a drink with their girlfriends a bad mom, we fall lower and lower.

Sure, this isn’t the life of every stay-at-home parent. Some parents who stay home get up with an alarm clock every day, take a solo shower, put on their faces and get dressed without a child ever even popping up. But more often than not, that isn’t the case. It may be a few days, or even weeks before you see a make-up brush. Dry-Shampoo may know you better than your shower does, and although that is okay, don’t settle for the little things and tell yourself it’s big.

As parents, especially as mothers, we’ve earned the right the have guilt-free time to ourselves. We’ve earned time to work on our mental health and emotional wellbeing without someone saying that doing so makes us bad mothers. We deserve a lot more than we’re given and shouldn’t be shamed for saying so.

Basic care is not the self-care we desperately need and pretending it is maybe more damaging than helpful.

Look, I am just as guilty as every other parent out there. I’ve hidden out of view behind the couch eating a snack I didn’t want to share and raised a ”Self-Care” flag in triumph. I’ve gotten ready; makeup, hair, clothes, without being interrupted and dubbed that alone time as self-care. As ridiculous as it may seem, those stolen moments without a child attached to me are blissful.

But I deserve more, parents deserve more.

Mothers deserve more.

Let’s stop pretending basic care is enough.

The Impossible Job of the Stay At Home Parent

Before I got pregnant there was always this discussion about the difficulties of the stay-at-home parent. Often it was discussed by people who didn’t have kids, ones who stood on the outside looking in while they went on to their 9-5s somewhat envious of the stay-at-home parent for the possibility of sleeping in, staying in your PJs or workout clothes all day, and getting to spend most of your time at parks or other seemingly enjoyable locations.

“What is there to complain about?” “How can a job you do in your PJs possibly be difficult?” “God forbid, I had to spend my days at home binging hours of Netflix?” “What are they complaining about? I would love spending all that time with my kids if I had them?”

These are some of the most common comments you have probably heard.

Well, this is for all the people who don’t have kids and think that parenting 24/7 is such an easy task.

There are days when even parents who don’t intend to co-sleep have spent a whole sleepless night with this child in their bed, little legs and feet in their back, hands thrown over their faces, wishing for just three inches of childless mattress so they can close their eyes enough to make it through the next day. Then, exhausted and sore, they have to get up and go a whole day at the beck and call to their little minions.

There are no sick days, there are no holidays or days where you can phone it in and just go through the motions. Even the routine of being a stay-at-home parent isn’t as much of a routine as you’d like because children are unpredictable. They are living, breathing things that are in charge of every waking moment of your day, no matter how much you schedule or plan.

One of the most tedious jobs I’ve had was working at a Bridal Consultant. I worked at four different wedding gown stores and the job seemed simple enough; help brides-to-be find the gown of their dreams during a one-hour consultation. Usually, you are one-on-one with the bride (and usually an entourage of her choosing) in a room trying to decipher all her contradicting wants and needs. There were honestly days of this job (which I stayed in for over seven years) where I wanted to pull my hair out and burn the boutique to the ground. But, at the end of the day, I got to go home. I got to unload, I got to leave those brides behind for evenings, little weekends, vacations, and completely forget about them.

Imagine having to do your job constantly. From the moment your eyes open until they close and night (and most nights, even after your eyes are closed). There is no clocking out, there are no care-free evenings, there are no vacations.

Don’t mistake me that for meaning that being a parent is awful. It’s not. Most days you smile more than you cry, you forget about the underlying exhaustion while you make playdates, and meet-and-greets, and appointments. You go through 22 hour days without even realizing you’ve taken five mini-naps while your child is eating, or playing, or watching their favourite program. Parenting is a rollercoaster, and for most of it, you are smiling (even when you’re screaming). Saying it’s easy though, is like saying you can wake up today after no preparation and enter a strong man competition… every minute of it will be a struggle.

I think what a lot of people don’t realize is what exactly makes being a stay-at-home parent so isolating. Your social life completely disappears if you don’t have other stay-at-home friends. It’s isolating and lonely, and sometimes all you want is to sit down with any other adult person and have an actual conversation.

There isn’t a lot of support for stay-at-home parents. When the bulk of people out there think that it’s easy, there isn’t a lot of support. Some people say you can lean on your families and friends for the support you need, but sometimes you just crave support from people who don’t necessarily know you. Ones that won’t respond with “Yes, but you’re so strong, you can get through it.” or “I know you, and this is just a bad day.” 

Making new friendships is extremely difficult. You spend a lot of time at kids programs and the park hoping to connect with other parents but a lot of them are just out there trying to catch their breath, their eyes glued on their kids and hoping to get a few moments alone before they have to go back in and do a load of laundry, or start dinner, or get their kids in the bath. When you factor in that becoming a parent has most likely isolated you from your social circle if they are still without kids, not being able to make any new friends can be depressing.

Alongside all of that, there is the constant guilt. You feel guilty because your child may not be making their milestones. You feel guilty because you spent those extra ten minutes in the bathroom, or on your phone, or computer ‘ignoring’ your child(ren). You feel guilty about reaching out and asking your partner for help because they’ve been at work all day and you’ve been home. The list of things that trigger guilt in parents is miles long, and new things get added to that list every day.

And all of this is barely scratching the surface. Imagine having a child who requires extra attention. A child with health issues, or developmental issues. Just imagine the constant struggle of being home with them all day, never getting the chance to come up for air.

Parenting isn’t easy.

If it was, there would be a lot more high-functioning, perfect adults running around. The truth is, we never know if what we are doing is right, we just do our best and hope everything turns out.

In a world where the cost of living keeps rising along with the cost of childcare, a lot of parents are opting to stay home until their children reach school age to help with the expenses of childcare, which means there are that many more parents out there staying home and reluctantly signing up for the difficult job of being a stay-at-home parent. So many more single parents that have to get on assistance just to make ends meet.

All of this definitely weighs on the stay-at-home parent. The mental and emotional strain on parents, in general, is immeasurable.

As someone who has always worked with children in one way or another, my eyes have always been somewhat open to the issues and the hardship of being a parent, but becoming one myself has definitely put things in a whole new light.

Parenting IS a job.

For anyone out there that doesn’t think so, they clearly have no idea what they may one day be getting into.

Mother’s Day Bliss

I woke up today with this joy that I hadn’t taken the time to feel recently. With my 7-month-old daughter’s foot in my mouth as she screeched like a banshee the way she does to entertain herself, I thought back to the same day last year, when I could feel her little feet kicking my ribs. Now, a whole year later that same little foot was prodding my face, the little toys squeezing my skin almost painfully.

I am a mother.

Yesterday, I went out for an early Mother’s Day celebration with my own mother and my sister. Three mothers celebrating one of our biggest accomplishments. We went to a trendy bar, with confusing but delicious food and an atmosphere that can best be described as loud and the kind of place you would go to drink colourful drinks with your gal pals at the end of a tiresome work week. What made the dinner special was the company. My mother, my sister, my nephew and my daughter.

So much of this day is lost in greeting cards, gifts, and flowers. I think a lot of mothers forget that it should be a day you spend with your kids, just enjoying your little creations and the people they are, and hoping for the people they will someday become.

Not so long ago, someone I know asked me what I would give my daughter that I didn’t necessarily get when I was a kid. It was a group discussion and a lot of people said they would give their kids a better education, a more stable environment to grow up in, siblings, the list went on and on. There is something all of us craved when we were kids, something a lot of us didn’t realize until we were grown and looking back. The thing I said I was going to give my daughter was simple and may have seemed a little silly to most, but it was time. I just want to give my daughter as much of my time as I possibly could.

My mother was a single mother of five. She worked tirelessly to be sure we didn’t go without, but that also meant that although we had all the necessities, there was a lot of time where we just didn’t have her there. The most important piece to the puzzle.

So today, on my first mother’s day I spent it alone with my daughter. We woke up together, we napped together, we played together, we danced together. As much as this day is to celebrate mother’s it’s also a day I think we should take the time to celebrate our children. These amazing little beings that cause us stress, exhaustion, joy, wonder, and who without which, we would have nothing to celebrate today.

Today, I gave my daughter all of my time.

I know, I know. At this point, you are probably wondering how this differs from any other day. She is a 7-month-old who requires almost constant attention and interaction. Well, today I didn’t dare even try to steal moments for myself. I wanted us to be together. Even now, as she is sitting on my lap while I type this, banging the keys every now and again and causing me to erase whole sentences as I lose my thoughts, we are together.

Some women wait their whole lives for a chance to be celebrated on this day, some mourn the fact that they can’t. Other’s look at it as a tearful day where their trying still hasn’t paid off, and I think a lot of us mothers sometimes forget that. We forget to take a moment and celebrate the gift we have been given.

Today, I hope I have started a tradition with my daughter where I gave her all of my time on Mother’s Day.

I hope all you moms, ones that have been moms for what feels like an eternity and ones who may just be starting, take this special day and start some long lasting traditions of your own that you will look back on with a smile and nothing but joy.

Happy Mother’s Day, mamas!

6 Months A Mommy

It’s crazy to sit back and think that all of these changes to my life have happened in a mere 6 months. 6 months is nothing, it can fly past in the blink of an eye. It is hard to fathom that I transformed, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly (a very messy, usually un-shower and under-rested butterfly, but a butterfly none the less) in 6 months.

For anyone who has been a part of my blogging journey from the very beginning, you all know that pregnancy was rough for me. I would turn my nose up at any woman who talks about being pregnant as a joy, and I would throw fists and anyone who dare mention the pregnancy glow. There was no glow, there was no joy. There was survival. I was trying to survive while my body grew and stretched, while the things I used to take joy in slipped away from me because I was either unable to do them due to lack of energy or just unable to do them with my growing belly in the way. Nausea was a ghost that constantly haunted me, taunting me with a heightened sense of smells.

Not that I want to get into the whole pregnancy thing in this blog post, although I could write a book on my experience that is sure to contradict a lot of the other books out there.

Maybe one day.

This blog entry is to celebrate my beautiful 6-month-old daughter.

Gosh, 6 months.

In that time there have been sleepless nights, sore muscles, days I forgot to eat, days I forgot myself. There has been laughter, tears, frustration, anxiety. Coaching and cheering, negotiating, tossing and turning. There have been hundreds of cute outfits. There have been doctors appointments, vaccinations, ears being pierced, more tears, more tears and more tears. Milestones I thought she would meet but didn’t, and milestones I thought she wasn’t even close to reaching but have been met.

Being a parent is this crazy thing. It’s like being tossed in a tornado and you are reaching out for anything and everything trying to steady yourself. When you’re finally back on the ground you are exhausted, you are worn and you don’t even remember how you got there most of the time. But you are face to face with this adorable little person, who looks up at you with eyes that hold your whole universe in them. That one look, that one little grin or giggle, makes everything else in your hectic world worthwhile.

Being a parent is an adventure, and sometimes instead of trying to control it, you just have to surrender to it. Let yourself be taken, float along with the stream.

As I type this out, my daughter is screaming Da-Da from the other room while she watches Paw Patrol (yes, I let my 6-month-old watch TV when I feel like I want a few minutes to myself). The clothes I am wearing are the same ones I have been wearing all week aside from my underwear, my hair is a grease trap, my face still hasn’t been washed since last night and as I run my tongue along my teeth, I let out a small sigh of relief once I realized I remembered to brush them this morning.

It’s been 6 months of this, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

(I would tweak it a bit to include more showers, more overall grace and style and being able to pee by myself… but I try not to hope for the unattainable :P) 

 

 

Mommy’s Me Time

My baby girl will be three months old tomorrow. I have to admit, as rewarding as being a new parent is, it’s also tedious, overwhelming, and downright exhausting. It is a 24/7 job being a parent, and even a super parent is still human.

About a week ago I got completely worn down. I was tired, I was frustrated, and mama just needed a break. I sleep with my daughter, I am up with her in the night if need be, I spend the whole of my day with her, and all-in-all I maybe get about two hours a day to myself where no one is touching me and I can just breathe.

2 hours is not a lot considering how much time you have to do nothing or everything before you have kids.

Worn out, I popped on my computer and signed up for a membership to the Fit4Less down the street from my house and told my husband that I was going to get up early in the morning and go to the gym. I needed adult interaction, I needed a moment where I didn’t have to be in Mom Mode. I just needed to swim up to the surface and catch my breath.

The next morning I was up before my alarm. I fed my daughter, changed her bum and slipped her back into her bed and clocked out. Mom duties were done for me for the next few hours. It was daddy’s turn to be at our sweet baby girl’s every beck and call. No mommy to pass her off to.

Out of the house, I walked to the gym, signed in, got my membership card and started in.

I was in the gym for a total of two hours, some of that time was spent just exploring and getting to know the new facilities I would hopefully be spending several days a week. I did dome exercising, some cardio and I left the gym feeling refreshed and like I was ready for anything.

I took my time walking home, stopping off for a coffee at the little shop across the street to chat with a few strangers and just relish in feeling a little bit like my pre-pregnancy self again.

This is definitely going to be something I do often, I can’t tell you what something as simple as going to the gym did for me mentally. I just felt good knowing that if I did ever get too overwhelmed, I had somewhere I could retreat to for a few hours.

And dad survived, so that is a major plus!

Parents, if you can, try to find time to do something for yourself, by yourself, outside of your house. I can’t stress how important this could be for your happiness, your mental health, and even your relationship with your partner and your baby!

How Important Is Including Your Family In Your Child’s Life?

When you are pregnant or thinking about starting a family, it is so common to think about the kind of family you want for you baby. You start to think about your own childhood and your experiences and memories, and you make a mental list of all the things you want to do differently, all the experiences you want your baby to share with you. 

My childhood was rocky. It was chaotic and messy, and in a way lonely.

I have four siblings, an older sister and three younger brothers. It was an odd place to be in the line-up. My sister was a cool kid, very Regina George from Mean Girls. She was the It Girl, she had all the friends, knew everyone, did all the partying. Because of this a lot of the time people just knew me as her sister, and not as myself. Having Regina George as an older sister also meant that I was bullied mercilessly, and put in the supervisory role for my younger brothers because she was always doing something that kept her from babysitting. 

My mom was a single parent. She worked tirelessly to make sure we all had what we needed, but that also meant that I didn’t get to see her very often. One of the first things I told myself when I started making a family of my own was that I wanted to spend a lot more time with my kids when they came along. It isn’t something I hold against my mother at all, I admire her work ethic and she taught me a lot, but it is something I wanted to do differently. 

My relationship with my father was complicated. He had cheated on my mother when I was a kid and had an abusive relationship with her both emotionally and physically. It was difficult for me as a kid because when I was really small I was more of a Daddy’s Girl. He was the one I ran to when I had a problem, he was the one I ran towards with pure joy, he was a big part of my life and I idolized and loved him more than I could ever say. 

However, watching what he put my mother through and the emotional toll losing him put on my brother, he suddenly became the villain in the tale of my life. Parents are human, and I completely understand they will make mistakes, we will all make mistakes. But I do think as a parent, it is your job to hide some of you mistakes, some of your villainous attributes from your kids and he made no effort in doing any of that. He included us in his villainy, made us bear witness to it all, and that to me was unforgivable. 

When I became a teenager, I cut all ties with my father. He is a toxic person and I could no longer stomach his influences. I just needed distance, I needed to pull away for my own survival. I think in a big way that is what being an adult is, realizing that a lot of life is just trying to survive different situations. 

When I was pregnant, I thought a lot about family. My husband’s family is the kind of family I always wanted when I was a kid. Two loving parents. A mom that is supportive and just radiates joy and love, and a father that finds a lesson in every situation. He is close to his two brothers and they have this bond that seems as though it would survive anything. Not to mention both his parents come from huge families and he is close to all 15+ aunts and uncles, and their children. It’s just such a wonderful family vibe and I am so happy to be a part of it. 

However the downside of being the new addition to such a great family, is that it makes you look at your own in this sort of judgemental way. It made me long for they type of family I never really had. 

In our family it is just us. We aren’t close with my mother’s sister and her kids. We don’t speak to our dad who remarried and has a whole new family. We don’t have relationships with our grandparents. It’s just the 6 of us, my mom, my four siblings, and I. Over time that family has grown a bit. My sister had a son, my brother had a son, I married adding my husband and now our daughter. Our family of 6 has become a family 11. It’s dysfunctional at times, but it’s mine and I love it. 

When I was pregnant a lot of family related questions came to mind, but the biggest question I asked myself was whether or not I would finally answer one of those emails from my father, the ones where he makes a weak effort to reach out and attempt to rebuild the bridges he had burned. 

Hormones can make you act crazy and question everything. I questioned my decision to completely cut him out. 

I am happy to say I resisted that urge. Why? Because although family is important for children, there is nothing better for them then a healthy environment where they can witness healthy and functioning relationships. 

There are no cookie-cutter families. Some families are two parents, four grandparents with lots of aunts and uncles and cousins. Some are one parent, four grandparents. Some are just a grandparent. Some are just one parent. Families come in all shapes and sizes and as long as everyone in that family is constantly working to make one another happy with their best interests always in mind, that’s what’s important, no matter what members make that family. 

Toxic relationships are never good for anyone, and although it’s hard, sometimes you need to say goodbye to the harmful people in your life to ensure your happiness, and the happiness of your children. 

It’s so important to make a family for your baby and your children, but it’s important for us as parents to be smart enough to know what family our children need. Sometimes including everyone isn’t what’s best.