Winter Wear and Carseats

If you are living somewhere with four seasons, one of them a lengthy winter, you know that when winter really hits and you are facing temperatures as low as -40 Celsius, you know there is nothing more important than bundling your little one. However, if you’ve taken a moment to read through your car seat manual, you know you’re not supposed to put your child in the car seat in their winter jackets or snow gear as most manuals say it impairs the effectiveness of the belts.

So what to do?

Last winter we were mostly in the infant seat and my daughter was small enough to wear a coverall Sherpa suit which was lightweight. The infant seat is a blessing in so many ways because you can use the winter covers, your baby never leaves the seat outside and the click-in base means you can completely cover them and not have to worry about a thing. Once you switch to a convertible seat, things become a little more tricky.

Here in Canada, our winters can get intense. This means that our little ones need to be wearing something to get them from the house to the car that is warm and can fend off those frigid winds. My first choice, of course, was another Sherpa coverall, but it seems like they only make them to the 9-month sizes then they switch to jacket styles. Winters here typically mean thick winter jackets, hats, scarves, mittens, snow pants, and heavy-duty boots for our kids, add in a car seat and even if you decide to disregard the manual, it can be hard to get all that bulk in those belts.

Insert dramatic eye roll and sigh here.

Did I mention how easy last winter was?

After searching for the coverall Sherpa suits with no luck, I was out shopping and came across the character onesies.

As most parents know, these things are warm. Really warm. Too warm to even sleep in despite the fact they are sold as PJs. Most of our kids will wear these around the house, happy to be a shark, unicorn, cat, monkey, even dinosaur, but when they are tucked into bed they complain they are too hot and it gets stripped right off.

That got me thinking.

Are these onesies really that much thicker than the Sherpa suits?

Not by much.

I had finally found a warm, and cute solution. So long as my plans for the day mostly involve my toddler being in the car and stroller (it’s definitely not warm enough to play outside in) that was warm and cute. We bought her a handful of these PJs and would put them over her clothes for outdoor wear.

Sometimes being a parent means you have to use a little creativity to find solutions. She still, of course, has her heavy-duty snowsuit for days she wants to play in the snow, but for the most part, my one-year-old will be snug as a bug in a car seat in her PJ onesies.

The Wonders Of Breastfeeding, The Terrors Of Weaning

From the moment I got pregnant, I found myself hoping that I had a good milk supply. I knew more than anything that I wanted to breastfeed and I wanted to do it as long as I possibly could. My sister was a veteran, she had been brave and determined enough to breastfeed for two years and for some reason, I couldn’t remember it being something she struggled with. Knowing that my goal was to breastfeed just as long.

The benefits of breastfeeding just seemed right to me, not to mention the savings. I wouldn’t have to spend as much on bottles, I wouldn’t have to keep up with the whole sterilization process, I wouldn’t need to get up and make formula bottles in the dead of the night when she woke up fussy… there was no question. Not to mention the bond breastfeeding created, it was just everything I wanted.

Something I’ve mentioned a lot in my blog thus far is the lack of candid blogs when it comes to the whole pregnancy and parenting process. For whatever reason, a lot of motherhood is wrapped up in a pretty bow, sprinkled in glitter and presented to us women as this glorious thing. In many ways, it absolutely is, however, I wish I had been better informed of the struggles that went along with breastfeeding.

I’m not saying, had I known, I would have made a different decision. There is just something about walking into a battle informed that makes things easier. You knew the hardships that would be ahead, and that makes it all the more easy to shrug off the constant feeling of being exhausted and drained, the way your body gives up when you have been breastfeeding for hours and hours when your child is going through a growth spurt, sickness, developmental leaps (the changes in your baby are constant and not as broken up as they lead us to believe), the aches and pains, the sore nipples and irritability. A lot of things go hand in hand with breastfeeding.

Hair loss.

Yes… hair loss.

After 14 months of breastfeeding, I am just about ready to throw in the towel. I miss having my body to myself. It’s been 14 months of breastfeeding, 9 months of being an apartment to my baby as she grew and flourished. That’s almost 2 whole years of sharing my body 24/7 with someone else.

This means it’s been almost two years of no (minimal) caffeine, no alcohol, the inability to take medications for certain things that pop up, a careful eye on my diet, prenatal vitamins… the list is endless.

Breastfeeding is taxing, and I really have to throw my hands up to any woman who has done it time and time again, pregnancy after pregnancy. Good on you, you’re a Queen because I keep telling my husband he couldn’t pay me to do it again.

At this point, it seems to be more for comfort than anything else, but that also means that every slip and fall, every bump, every bruise, every fussy moment means she is climbing up and pulling my shirt down, getting a single moment to myself without a baby attached to me by the nipple is a rarity.

I can’t tell you the amount of jealousy I feel when I see videos of pictures of a baby just chilling with a bottle. Lying in their crib, casually sipping on a bottle while mom snaps a photo. With social media, the stream of content is constant, and it is so easy for a photo or video to have you questioning every parenting decision you’ve made.

I’ve found myself thinking that bottle-fed babies seem less fussy, they seem to have less separation anxiety, better capable to self soothe… the list of things were endless in my mind and at times, when I am extremely tired and at my breaking point, in those moments it makes me question whether I made the right decision for my baby as mother and wondering what I’ve possibly done to her with the decisions I’ve made.

I’ll have an order of parenting with a huge side of guilt please… yes, just keep the guilt coming.

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a hundred more times, being a parent is hard. It’s especially hard for mothers. Add breastfeeding to the mix, and most days just functioning is such a task for me.

As the weening process begins, I had found my already somewhat difficult girl to become an actual terror. There is hitting, there is screaming, there is scratching and pulling. There is a lot of time with her spent on the floor, crying hysterically as she lays sprawled out as I try to offer her a bottle.

If I thought breastfeeding was hard, weening is a battle I don’t think I will either win or survive.

A 10-15 minute tantrum is honestly enough to make me want to crawl into bed, pull the covers up over my head, and just hope tomorrow comes and is a better day than today. It is rough.

When she cries the way she does, it honestly strips me bare. It exposes every single nerve and emotion in me and leaves me completely vulnerable. At the core of it, I feel like a terrible mother. Cradling her against me, singing to her, trying to both soothe her and let her know that I mean business breaks me down. Every moment I am smiling through it, but inside I am fighting back tears because if I am being completely honest, I never imagined it would be this hard. I never imagined that she would swipe at me, that she would act so primal and desperate.

It’s honestly heartbreaking and something that wasn’t mentioned in any parenting blog, forum, social media post. That lack of information is so damaging to moms. We already do emotionally and mentally fragile after giving birth, some of us never really get back that armour we wore before. To look for answers and reassurances from other mothers and to find none just leaves us feeling like failures.

Not every moment in parenting is picture-perfect. There is a lot more screaming, crying, yelling, and lashing out than any Instagram mom will ever dare to tell you. There are a lot of days spent in track pants and a sports bra/nursing bra, with your hair greasy and unkempt, streaks of tears down your face as you wonder about yourself, about your baby, about parenting, and everything else.

Parenting is hard.

Babies are little people who can’t fully communicate and often lash out because they don’t know what else to do. Their behaviour is especially bad with mom because you are their safe space and they trust you so completely that they know they can be their absolute worst with you (lucky us).

I honestly wish I could use this post to give you some helpful tips that are sure to get you through the weening process, but at this point, I am just taking it day by day. Instead, I will use this post to tell you to hang in there, remind you that you are an amazing mom and you will get through this!

We are all stronger than we know, and we will survive the weening process.

Until then, we will have a little cry and pretend we know what the heck we are doing.

Second Birthday As A Mommy

At the beginning of this month, I celebrated my 29th birthday. As long as I can remember, I have not really been a birthday person. The idea of celebrating entirely for me has always left me feeling awkward. However, now that I am a mom, I am trying to embrace celebrations.

Trying.

This year was a difficult one to really try and embrace the celebrations. It was a cold day on the 9th and my husband was working long shifts. My sister was also working which meant the two people I would usually celebrate with were unavailable, and if I am being perfectly honest, it was something of a relief.

As much as I told myself I wanted to lean into my birthday this year, I really didn’t want to. Getting older has always been an odd thing to celebrate for me.

A lot of people kept asking me what I did. Like my birthday was a grand event that needed to be thoroughly celebrated. I spent my day much like I have spent most of my days for the past 14 months; with my daughter.

We played all day, practiced her walking, I taught her some coordination games. Honestly, there was no better way to spent the day than with my favourite person.

As much as I want to make every celebration special for my daughter, there was nothing more special to me than just spending time with her.

These last two birthdays with her as a huge part of my life have been the best birthdays of my life.

Cold Weather and Your Child

For any moms that live somewhere that has four seasons (or at least rumours having four distinct seasons) you’ve likely said your goodbyes to summer come September and should be enjoying the wonders of Autumn/Fall. Here in Toronto, Fall has felt short-lived. Sure, our leaves are still changing colours, the pumpkins and other gourds were out and we are surrounded by Pumpkin Spice everything, but the cold has crept in quickly. I know a lot of people who have been wearing their winter coats for the past two months and will likely, keep them on until May.

As parents, we find this in-between season a struggle when it comes to dressing our little ones. Although a lot of days at hitting between 1-12 degrees Celsius, there are those random days that will surprise us with a little more sun and a little more heat. Is it time for our little ones to don their hats and scarves, to keep their little fingers covered?

My opinion on this will always be: YES.

Nothing makes me more annoyed than when I pass by someone pushing a stroller who is wearing a hat, scarf, mitts and a warm jacket and you look at the baby/toddler they are pushing and they have their hands out, bright pink from the cold.

If you, as an adult, need mitts or gloves, then those tiny little fingers definitely do. If you have your ears covered than your baby/toddler needs their little ears covered. If you have your winter coat on, please don’t have your baby/toddler wearing just a sweater. What makes you think their tiny little body is more capable of keeping warm than yours?

I’ve heard a lot of excuses for this. “My baby/toddler gets hot.” “My baby/toddler doesn’t like wearing a hat or gloves.”

Its always better to have your baby bundled, even if they get hot. It’s better to have them a little too warm than cold, especially since there is no visual way of knowing if they are too cold. How the body works when it is cold, is to protect its core first, which means if your child is not wearing gloves, the body will not work extremely hard to push blood into their fingers or hands, and will instead protect/work to warm the torso. Extremities such as fingertips are highly susceptible to frostbite when there isn’t blood being pushed into them.

How likely is it that your child will get frostbite? You’re just out for a stroll.

Frostbite or frostnip can occur in children under 0 degrees Celsius, which is a common winter temperature for us here in Canada. It is also more common when there are winds because winds cool the skin faster. One of the most common causes of frostbite in small children is not dressing warm enough for the weather. With that being said, it’s definitely better to be safe rather than sorry.

As parents, we are going to come across a lot of things our children don’t like to do. When we were kids ourselves, the idea that we didn’t like something didn’t really cross our minds. Once our parents told us something, that was kind of it. In this age of parenting, we are more likely to take our children’s feelings into consideration in a lot of our planning, but being safe and prepared for the weather really shouldn’t be one of them.

As winter approaches, please take all the necessary precautions for your children when it comes to combatting the winter weather!

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.

The Mental and Emotional Weight of Milestones On Parents

Every baby develops at their own pace.” This is something that you will hear a lot as a new parent. This gives your mind a little bit of peace as you move through the days. You tell yourself that your baby will sit up on their own when they are ready, your baby will crawl on their own when they are ready, your baby will start to coo and babble when they are ready. You just wait, excited to be a part of their moments when they happen.

Yet, the check-ups happen often and at each appointment, you get the same question. “Is your baby hitting the scheduled milestones?”

For a parent, this question can make you overly anxious, especially if your child is one of the many that beats to their own drum and wants to set their own pace. That tiny little devil named Comparison creeps in and you find yourself looking at other babies, wondering how old they are as they take wobbly steps across the playground.

Up until this point, my daughter has been on track for all her milestones, early even. I would start to get a little nervous and then we would wake up one day and it would just happen. She would be sitting, she would be crawling. Just like that.

Walking has been the hardest milestone to tackle so far and I feel like everywhere I look there are younger babies wobbling around. I can’t fully express to you how this makes me personally feel, and I feel like this is a common feeling shared among parents who’s children don’t follow the curve of the developmental charts. You feel like you’ve failed. You’re frustrated with yourself for not doing more and you look back at everything you’ve done over the past months leading up to now. You wonder what you should have swapped out to ensure your baby was hobbling along with the others.

I’ve said this once, I will say this a thousand times; parenting is lonely. That inner voice you had before you became a parent that makes you doubt yourself and question your worth suddenly gets a megaphone when you become a parent. Every emotion you feel has a side order of guilt.

Those people who joke about parenting being the hardest job in the world, really have no idea. It is a lot more than just organizing programs, carpools, and playdates. The emotional and mental toll of being a parent is unmeasurable and something a lot of people who aren’t in the same situation will never understand. We don’t get to log off at the end of a workday, we are on 100% of the time. Can you even imagine being so thoroughly mentally and emotionally consumed every minute of every day?

That’s being a parent, and no… it most definitely isn’t easy.

Outside of the doctor’s office, everyone else questions you about their milestones as well. It’s like you are in competition with every other parent and their child and those parents want you to know exactly how advanced their little baby is. They will tell you just when they reached the milestone your baby hasn’t yet, note their child is younger and then reluctantly add… “But she’ll get there. Every baby moves at their own pace.”

I know babies who had started walking as soon as 8 months, and then I know other’s who started when they were around 2 years. Everything else in their lives was comparable, there was no big issue or rhyme or reason to it. That was just when they were ready. So how can there be a chart that says when our babies should accomplish what tasks when that is such a huge gap? How is that second mom supposed to feel about her baby’s development when the chart states walking should take place between 12-18 months?

I can tell you what I am feeling, I am feeling a bit stressed, a little worried and overwhelmed and definitely guilty.  I practice with her for a few hours every day, I don’t like to overdo it because she gets frustrated and I don’t want her to associate walking with frustration. Yet, I can’t tell you how many messages I get a day asking me if she is walking yet. It’s frustrating and disheartening.

I tell myself I am just going to release the reigns a bit. I am going to sit back and let her tell me when she is ready, but a part of me can’t help feeling like I should be doing more to help her along.

For anyone who is feeling this way, I am right there with you. It’s hard to let them figure things out all on their own, but that looks like the only way to progress.

Whether or not I am capable of this is irrelevant right now, I am going to have to figure out how to step back and let her take the lead on this.

Rainy Day Madness

As Canadians we know moving into the month of October we had better buckle up for the rollercoaster weather. September brought us low temperatures of 10 degrees Celsius, and highs of 34 degrees Celsius which I think left the bulk of us, here in Toronto, wonder what the in the world was going on. One day you are wearing a light sweater and thinking it may be a bit too much for the weather, the next day you’re contemplating taking your winter coat out of hibernation.

This weather means two things. The first thing is dressing your baby or little one for the outdoors becomes difficult. You struggle with dressing them warm (which is what I always tend to do) and removing their little hat to see sweat matted hair, or dressing them on the lighter side and having to hurry home as soon as the sun starts to dip in the sky and it goes from warm to freezing in a matter of moments. The second struggle is your little one getting sick.

The constant up and down, being bundled, and unbundled usually leads to some kind of cold. My daughter usually gets congested with thick, mucus boogs that dry on her face before I can ever wipe them away. Wiping their nose is a constant battle which usually means you have a kicking, swatting, screaming baby who would tell you to f**k off if they could as you wipe their nose over and over.

It quickly becomes a routine of sitting in the bottom of a steamy shower, humidifier, essential oils, saline sprays, and chamomile. I always find congestion is something that sticks with you longer than any other symptom. When it is the lone symptom, it really does want to hang around, especially when the weather is so unpredictable. Going from hot weather outside, to AC on full blast inside, back to a freezing night outside really messes with your body, especially for babies and children whose bodies are still so small and trying to figure things out.

A lot of parents decide to spend most cold days indoors, not wanting the trouble.

Now, just for fun, let’s add some rain.

This past week we had three-four really grey, damp, and rainy days. Rain for me, especially now that I have a one-year-old, means its an indoor day. Unfortunately, for a lot of parents, days, where you have to keep your kids indoors, makes you feel like you are the warden in an insane asylum where your patients/inmates are bouncing off the walls, rioting, wound up with unspent energy, and refusing the essentials like naps and snacks. My daughter turns into Mr. Hyde when she is kept inside for two consistent days in a row.

We were in for four.

By the third day, I was hiding in the bathroom, pushing snacks underneath the door while a naked baby screamed at me, banging on the door and snatching those snacks in-between fits of rage and lunacy.

And my child is only one.

I can’t say whether or not it gets easier when they get older or whether or not this is the easy stage (insert nervous laugh here). Part of me believes this age is harder because there is no negotiating. They are too young to want to sit inside a fort and watch a movie or do anything that will really give us a break. This is also the stage where any minor change completely throws their routines up in the air. Not going out for a walk or going to the park for an hour or so to spend some of her energy, means she has all the energy built up and it turns into a frustration she can’t voice or work through.

This usually means she crawls over to her ‘zone’ (the mats by the balcony door), lies down on her back and fake cries for anywhere between 15-45 minutes because she just doesn’t know what to do with herself and she is sick of both mommy and her trusty best friend Toby (our dog). She is a kid who likes to be social, so the same faces for days on end makes her act pretty irrational.

Our apartment turns into a battle zone. Toys and books all over the floor, more snacks scattered around than in her mouth, baby songs playing on a loop, usually a lone diaper open somewhere on the floor that she has taken off at one point so she can crawl around naked and I have forgotten about for the time being.

Fall is hard. More rainy days mean more madness (for both of us). I honestly can’t wait until she is old enough to enjoy just sitting and watching her favourite movie or show for a few hours. (Insert new age gasp here as I admit to wanting my child to sit and watch TV so I can get a break.)

As we move closer and closer to December and when they are predicting we will have our first snowfall here in Toronto, I wonder how adding more indoor days is going to affect her mood. Will she adjust over time, realizing this is just another part of life, or will indoor days always be a battle. Some kids just need to be outdoors.

I guess time will tell.

Trading Sleep For Memories

I can still remember the days when I would be up all night, close my eyes for a wink and be ready to conquer the world the next day. Whether it was binge-ing DVD box sets, staying up late chatting with my girlfriends during a high school sleepover, or diving into a book I just could not put down until it was finished, the night sky would brighten, morning would come, and with a smile, I would greet the day so unaffected by the lack of sleep.

When we are young and weightless, unbound by responsibility, it is so easy to think we can go on forever like that. In some ways, our youth is like a dream. We live life like montages in a movie. All smiles until it’s heartbreaks, nights that will never end, anthills we turn into mountains that shake our whole world up, convinced it will completely destroy us.

Fast-forward to now. Closer to 30 than 20, and sleep and coffee is all that keeps me going. If I stay up past midnight and don’t sleep in until 10am the next day, I feel like I am closer to death. Some mornings I just lay there, knowing I have slept less than a few hours that night, my baby girl crawling all over me while I stare up at the ceiling thinking back on the days when I didn’t need sleep.

How funny life is. They let us function in our youth with such a minimal amount of everything, no sleep, no food, no problem. Now, when that skill will come in handy, everything is thrown in reverse.

When I talk to people about my lack of sleep, they always blame it on my parenting choices. “You’d be getting way more sleep if you would just put her in her crib.”, “If you had chosen not to co-sleep it would be easier now.”, “You cuddle her too much, so she’s too dependant on you.”, “If you had breastfed less and introduced the bottle earlier, it would be easier to get her to sleep on her own.”, “Co-sleeping was a mistake, and you are paying for it now.” I could go on.

To those people that think they have all the parenting answers and can so easily outline all my mistakes and correct them with perfect parenting, I have this to say; less parenting is not better parenting.

Yes, my daughter is very attached to me but children, especially babies, are supposed to be attached to their mothers. Parenting is not supposed to be easy, and despite all the articles that suggest things like the cry it out method and independence in your baby so you can parent, work, and have hobbies is best, you are supposed to parent around the clock.

This new age idea that we should love our children a little less, ask them permission, make sure all our plates are in the air at the same time, and step back from parenting in my opinion is a crock of sh*t. You can’t spoil a baby with too much love and attention if that is exactly what they need. You can’t over-do love, and the thought that you can is complete nonsense.

Yes, I still co-sleep with my one year old which means I get a lot less sleep than babies that are sleeping soundly in their crib. But I also get to wake up to her beautiful face next to mine, I laugh through silly situations when a tiny foot slaps me awake in the dead of the night, I have little conversations with her as she babbles at me in the wee hours of the morning instead of going back to sleep.

I have swapped out the luxury of sleep and easiness for memories, and I am okay with that. I have forgone the simplicity of her napping alone for endless cuddles and this unbreakable bond of trust between the two of us. I am given up a lot of my personal space, for dependency.

Yes, babies are supposed to depend on their parents! I know, crazy, right?

I am tired, I am worn, but I am more tired of trying to explain to people how this type of parenting is not crippling my child, as they suggest. How giving her all the love and attention she needs when she is feeling sad or grumpy, or fussy, is not bad for her. How not letting her cry her lungs out until she is to tired to be awake anymore is not neglect, quite the opposite.

There is no doctor or professional that can tell me that centuries of parenting is wrong and this new age parenting that is less than a few decades old is best.

If my plan works out, and life goes the way I want it to, she will be my only baby. I would hate to look back and regret not loving her more. Not breastfeeding her for longer, not holding her a little tighter when I had the chance. That feeling of being so thoroughly nurtured, so safe, will open a door in her life later that will make her feel like I am her safe place, I am home to her.

So yes, I am giving up my sleep for my daughter, because as parent’s we should be willing to sacrifice a lot more than that. And for all those people out there telling women otherwise, you should be ashamed. Let people love their children as fiercely and selflessly as they want, it’s really not your place to tell them otherwise.

The Quest To Find Yourself

A whole year has passed, and when I sit back and think back on my pregnancy, it has been even longer since I feel like I’ve lost my sense of self. In our teens, we look at adults and think they have it all figured out. We associate being an adult with this sense of surety. They know all the answers, they know where to find this happiness that seems to constantly elude us as teens who have to constantly ask permission for everything. So many of us spent those years wishing we had that freedom that goes along with being an adult.

All too soon, the years roll over and we are out of our teens and into adulthood.

Well, if anything was ever more falsely advertised than adulthood I’ve yet to find it. I turned twenty waiting for this transformation to take place. I thought the birthday would come with a clarity I had been so ignorant to before. My acne would disappear, this confidence would become my new personality, I would walk with my head held high, filled with all the answers to the questions I had been asking for years but wasn’t old enough to know yet.

Instead, I was just as lost and confused as ever and found myself wondering how the hell all the other adults in the world had functioned and kept up this façade for all these years. Nothing changed, you were still the same person you were, just a year older. The main thing that changed was the weight on your shoulders.

With the knowledge that this was adulthood, you weren’t given any cheat sheet to life and the added burden of being an adult, it’s hard to avoid feeling as though you are drowning. You suddenly become aware of how pointless the curriculum in high school is. Physical Education was mandatory, but there were no classes that taught you how to fully function as an adult. There was no class to teach you how to file your taxes, how to save you RESPs, how much of your paycheque should go towards living and what should go away if you wanted to have a safety net for when you suddenly found yourself unemployed. What to look for in a used car, what price was reasonable for mileage. How do you even go about purchasing your first piece of real estate?

Suddenly being an honour roll student means nothing. For those who don’t have the parents with this knowledge, you are up a creek with no paddle.

Now, add being a parent to it all. Suddenly you have a tiny human to take care of, no more answers but countless more questions, and society expects you to keep it all together.

The slack for new parents in our society is non-existent. You are supposed to breastfeed because breast is best, you should spend every waking moment raising your child, but you should also have a promising career and not be dependant on ‘government handouts’ and god forbid you admit to being helpless. Life has become endlessly more complicated and has no sign of getting easier.

Sometimes I wish we were centuries back. All you had to do was learn a trade and you were set. You were a blacksmith or a shoemaker and that was life. There was no credit scores, no retirement funds, no judgment about parenting whatsoever. If your child survived, you were the parent of the year.

In my teens, I told myself I was going to be a writer. There was nothing I wanted more than to walk into a bookstore and see my name on a hardcover book, sitting on an almost empty shelf. I told myself that was who I was, and I was so close to being exactly who I wanted to be.

Now, let’s add adulthood to the mix. Suddenly, that dream seems unattainable and unstable and people start telling you that you should have a backup. The thought that what you want isn’t enough means that all the writing you’ve been doing gets put on the back burner so you can work 40 hours a week and earn a living. Sooner than later, that back burner gets almost forgotten, although that creativity in you still burns brightly and there are notebooks full of these ideas that one day you promise will come to fruition.

Just becoming an adult can be enough to make you lose your sense of self, all while telling yourself it is because you are on a quest to find yourself and determine exactly who you are.

Now, just for fun, let’s add pregnancy.

If you had the dream of doing something creative being pregnant, suddenly tired with a mind that feels like it is surrounded by thick fog will definitely put a damper on that. I felt a change in my creativity when I was three months pregnant. Just waking up and pushing through my workday so I could get home and go back to sleep was literally all my brain could process. Looking at my half-finished pieces of work was depressing. I would open my laptop and put my fingers to the keys hoping for the best but wasn’t able to do much work. I found myself forgetting my own stories, having to read and re-read everything I had written just the day before and forgetting simple words.

Telling myself this would pass helped keep me from spiralling into depression, but it was difficult being unable to summon the energy to do little more than sit there, my mind completely blank and half asleep.

When I finally had my daughter, the weight of exhaustion was unreal. I kept telling myself next week would be the week when I felt more like myself again, next week, next week…

It’s been over a year. Almost two when you factor in my pregnancy since I have felt like myself and if I am being honest, I am nowhere close to finding her. I like to think she is sitting in the clearing in a lush forest of my mind. Books piles in a happy circle around her as she goes through notebook after notebook, trying to capture all her thoughts, telling all the stories that have been trapped in my mind while I wander around completely lost. I’d like to think she is happy, content waiting for me there, so sure that I will find my way back to her eventually.

That thought keeps me going on days when I feel so lost and overwhelmed (which is honestly most days). A furrow in her brow as she writes, a faint smirk across her lips as she hears me in the distance, desperate and afraid I’ll never find her. The smirk is knowing, because she knows it will be just a matter of time as she glances as the clock at her feet, counting down the moments until I find her again.

I guess in the meantime, I will just wait. Wait and try to survive until I can find myself again.

Split Second Happenings

The birthday party had ended and if I am being honest, I was filled with this sense of relief. All those DIY crafts that took hours had been pulled down in a matter of seconds, decor thrown away, and a baby coming down from a sugar high that I thought meant she was going to nap so soundly, I may actually get that break I’ve been hoping for since… well, a year ago.

Finally home, you tell yourself the rest of the day is going to be relaxing with your feet up. A warm cup of tea, comfy jammies, and not a care in the world.

Then you remember you’re a mom and that is as much of a pipe dream as being the first person to surf on the moon.

Nana and papa flown in from the East Coast to celebrate with us, sitting all together after the party with my little munchkin standing right in front of us, within grasp. One minute she is there, then there is a bang, and she is down. Just like that. Fully supervised.

A split second.

I feel like as parents, we receive a lot of judgement. People judge us when we take a moment to look at our phone while pushing our kids on the swing. They judge us when our kids have bumps and bruises from tumbling while learning how to walk, they judge us based on their clothes, their hair, whether they still have food caked on their face from the snacks they had on the stroller ride over to the park. With noses turned up, they judge us for every little move we make.

They expect our kids to be wrapped in bubble wrap, supervised 24 hours a day. The reality is, it can’t be done. We are parents, but we are also human.

One split second and she had fallen, smacked her face off the coffee table and split open her eyelid. Four people watching her, within all of our grasps and it didn’t make a difference. My heart was racing, my stomach in knots and up in my throat, the amount of guilt that filled me was immeasurable. Picking her up, I tried to move her hands away from her face to see what I thought would be another bump, instead I saw what I’m sure would be any parent’s worst fear; blood.

I knew right away it was a hospital visit. Bundling her up, I threw on my purse and went out in my pjs.

There were so many thoughts going through my head. My anxiety was crippling on the drive there. I was worried about her eye, so close to where she had banged her head. I was worried about concussions, I was worried about whether or not her fall would deter her from learning to walk. I was worried most of all, in that moment that she would need stitches.

In the back of my mind, I kept telling myself the doctor would look at it, tell us we were being over cautious parents and send us home with the assurance that it would heal on it own. When the nurse came out and put the numbing cream on, I knew that wouldn’t be the case and I can’t tell you what I felt in that moment.

Kids get hurt. That’s the truth of it. The guilt that goes along with our kids getting hurt, especially when they are so young is so heavy. Add that to society’s need to input their comments and opinion on every parent’s parenting, and you can add to that guilt tenfold. The amount of pressure on parents is unreasonable.

And that night, I was feeling all of it.

Two stitches and about ten years off my life.

All of this had me thinking about how parenting affects us mentally. No one is harder on us as parents than we are on ourselves. Every bump, every bruise, every stitch, every delayed milestone, every tantrum weighs on us and makes us question whether or not we are good parents. Sometimes, convincing ourselves that we are can be the most trying task.

Parenting is so constant, and there are rarely people patting us on the back for every accomplishment. Sometimes without that, we forget about our accomplishments altogether and focus solely on our failures. This is especially difficult for mothers.

We carry the brunt on the weight. We tend to be full time parents, putting ourselves aside for the well-being of our little bundles of mischief, adventure and joy. We sacrifice our bodies, our hormones, our emotions, our mental health, our sleep. Everything that we are is transformed into this entirely different personality, changing us so completely we almost lose ourselves when we become mothers.

Add the endless guilt and questioning of whether or not we are doing a good job and some of us can feel so low.

The fact is that babies get hurt. They fall down, they get bumps and bruises. They overreact to small pinches and squeezes, they cry sometimes without reason. Even a mom at the very top of her game will turn her head for a second and turn back to see her little one sprawled on the floor.

Don’t beat yourself up. Babies are super resilient and I am learning that every scratch, bump, and bruise seems to traumatize us more than it does our babies.

Keep at it, tomorrow is another day filled with even more challenges. One day you will wake up and years will have passed and all of those ‘failures’ won’t even have made it into their memories.