Sleep vs. Parenting

I think back to when I was in my late teens, early twenties. I had the kind of lifestyle where staying up all night, closing my eyes for an hour in the wee hours of the morning, and getting up to conquer the day unaffected was something I took for granted. I would down several coffees during the day more because I enjoyed the taste than because I really needed it. Sure, my energy wasn’t ever really at a hundred percent, but it was at this level where even my exhaustion had energy to it.

Fast forward to now.

I am a footstep away from thirty, a new mom and living off of that same amount of sleep I was back then, but now I fee, it down in my bones. That exhaustion I used to scoff at, wear as an accomplishment for days, even weeks, is this weight that has me dragging, my mind completely useless.

Most people can chalk all this up to aging. As you get older those aches stay with you, those sleepless nights roll over into your day, a day without eating can make you feel as though you are withering away completely. This is growing old.

That being said, there is something so complex about becoming a mother. The physical tolls from pregnancy and childbirth live on hour body for longer than they tell you, the emotional exhaustion only adds to the physical. For the first time in my life, my mental health is constantly at the forefront of my mind. There’s an alarm going off in my head constantly, warning me of what will happen if I dance too close to that line, wearing myself too thin.

Physically, my body may seem as though it’s bounced back, but deep beneath the surface I know there are aspects of my pregnancy, even my delivery that still linger. Exhaustion is like a weighted blanket I can’t quite get out from under, my mind constantly hazed, my emotions always up in a cyclone.

I constantly get asked when I will stop cosleeping. It’s so easy from the outside looking in to try and diagnose my problems and tell me exactly what I need. “What you need is more sleep.” “You need to nap during the day when you can.” “You need to get your daughter sleeping in her crib so you can get a better night sleep.”

Realistically, new moms neglect their self care for so long, it would take months of spoiling ourselves to really try and right ourselves. Its not the quick fix everyone seems to think it is.

The root of it all is sleep, but even when our babies are sleeping soundly in their own cribs, it’s hard to completely shut our minds and emotions off.

Moms are always mentally on the clock, and that plays a huge part on why we never really get the sleep we need and why self care, if not constant, doesn’t really work the way people preach it does. Personally, I don’t think going out to get my nails done or hair cut will ever really help with the constant emotions I have coursing through my body every day.

That all being said, parenting is definitely something I feel like has been my greatest happiness. Sure, I am exhausted, I cry more often than I would dare to admit, and underneath everything else inside me there is always this quiet voice telling me I am not a great mother, barely even a good one, but I wouldn’t trade my daughter for all the sleep and self care in the world.

Parenting is life changing, anyone who says it isn’t probably isn’t doing it right.

Sleep?

I need it and crave it, but have come to terms with the fact that it may not be something I get for another year or so.

The Holidays With Your Baby

For as long as I can remember I have never really been one who has been excited about the holidays. In this day and age, everything seems to come with a hefty price tag and December is already the month with a few birthdays for me so it kind of ruins the whole month for me.

I am basically the Grinch.

Having children really changes your outlook on things. Now, as a mom, I found a new sense of excitement surrounding the holidays. There is something so special about getting to watch your child experience things for the first time. I find myself getting giddy just thinking about watching her tear open wrapping paper, or see anything new. With that in mind, Christmas was different for me this year.

Last year, my daughter was here but she was so new that that feeling wasn’t quite there. We gave her any gifts we bought as we bought them last year because most of her gifts were things we hoped would make everything easier for us; swings, playmats, activity seats etc. Anything that would give us ten minutes where we could just sit, watching her from across the room was something we didn’t want to give her. We were exhausted new parents.

This year she was a toddler, walking around. She knew who Santa was in a sense from seeing him at the mall and watching little videos of him. Sure, she couldn’t fully comprehend the idea of Christmas, but she could participate in it this year which was a game changer.

The gifts were still things we hoped would keep her busy, but we actually waited until Christmas morning for her to open then. We got to see her walk around the corner and look at the Christmas tree with wrapped gifts under them. We got to hear her say her signature catch phrase (one we hear about a thousand times a day) “What’s that?” as she slowly walked towards her Bounce Barnyard Animal.

It was enough to put up with all the stress that goes along with Christmas.

As a mom, I do reach out to a lot of moms. I have a mom app that I regularly use to chat with other moms. Around the holidays, it really opens your eyes to the struggle a lot of parents are going through. There are so many parents who think the dollar amount is what makes up Christmas. They think they have to spend X amount for their children to enjoy the holidays, and let me tell you, they couldn’t be more wrong about this. Especially in younger children.

I have a friend who chooses her son’s favourite toys and wraps them for Christmas. Why? Because she knows he loves those toys, and she knows half of the excitement of these holidays is just opening things, regardless of what’s beneath that ornate paper. She buys him one larger gift, and then things he needs like PJs, socks, toiletries etc. Then she wraps two or three of his favourite toys. Every year (she has been doing this for three years and he is four now) he opens it and his eyes light up. He doesn’t care that he’s already seen those toys a thousand times before. He just knows they make him happy and he’s happy to see them again.

I do think this is a wonderful thing to do around Christmas because it makes your kids appreciate the things they already have without really breaking the bank.

Looking back on my own childhood, my mom was a single mom of 5 so splurging on gifts wasn’t really in the cards. That being said, I can’t remember a single year when I felt we didn’t get more than enough.

Utilize things like the dollar stores to fill stockings. What did doesn’t like holiday themed candies and chocolates, colouring books, and even picture books? All of these things can be found at the dollar store without breaking the bank.

My go-to gifts for most kids (including my own) is always books. My daughter can sit with a pile of books for half the day. So anytime a new book comes into our house she is in heaven. Places like thrift stores often sell books for as little as $1.49/book with the 5th book being free. These books are often in amazing condition and some are even donated by libraries and bookshops.

It’s really easy to make Christmas affordable if you try.

Something my mother still does is buy gifts throughout the year. I know our gift (a personalized Sherpa blanket) was purchased in April. Certain things will always be great gifts. Buy things throughout the year and put them away so the holidays don’t feel like such a big financial hit.

If I am being totally honest, the best gift I received this year was the photos I got to take of my daughter and husband opening gifts. I could have got nothing this year and that would have been enough.

Some of the best gifts come without tags.

Really try to implement family into your holidays. Make it more about time than gifts. I think that is the best gift you can give your child around the holiday… your presence.

I am hoping to make these posts more of a regular thing, until next time guys I’ll just be around… pretending I know what I am doing.

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.

Parenting vs. Time

When we are kids, it seems like we are anxiously waiting for time to pass. Each moment feels like hours. I can remember being in school and watching the seconds pass on the clock thinking time was standing still.

We wait for the school day to be over, we wait for the week to be over to have our weekends, we wait for the school year to be over to have our summers… summers that somehow feel like they would last forever.

Then something happens, and suddenly it feels like our whole lives are on fast-forward. We just whiz through months, even years. There are things that have happened to me over ten years ago that I feel like happened maybe last year. When I sit down and calculate the time, I find myself wondering where in the world it all went.

Now add being a parent to the mix, and time suddenly becomes an enemy.

I honestly feel like the day I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl could have been yesterday. I remember every detail with such clarity. I remember going in early that day to be induced, I remember how uncomfortable it was, and how long I waited there before being able to go home. I remember the anxiousness that went along with it, thoughts that I wanted her here so desperately but at the same time, I felt as though I wasn’t ready. I remember going home and putting on Don’t Mess With Zohan and my husband and I taking a nap because neither one of us was sure just how long it all would take once things got moving.

I remember waking up in tears as wave after wave of excruciating pain vibrated up my back. I didn’t know these were contractions because no one had told me ‘back contractions’ were a thing. I remember looking at my sleeping husband and thinking that I should let him sleep just a little while longer as I waddled into the room, hunched over the edge of the bed and cried for over an hour.

I remember toughing through my back contractions at the hospital at first before they wore me down after hours. I remember feeling as though I wanted to give up, that I could forget this dream of being a mother so long as the pain would stop.

I remember the instant relief of the epidural and suddenly feeling like I could close my eyes and sleep for hours. I remember lying to the nurse when she asked me if I was having a contraction because I was too tired to push and all I really wanted to do was sleep.

And I remember when she finally arrived.

I kept thinking to myself that it was all so surreal. I felt this wave of relief, and then this odd emptiness. I knew the very moment she was out, I could feel it like a balloon someone had let go off that blew around the room as it emptied.

She arrived quietly, and I wasn’t expecting that. Without so much of a boo, she was wiped down and put directly on my breast. Just like that.

I looked at her with this unreasonable amount of love, a love I never would have even thought I was capable of.

And time stood still.

I felt like hours could have passed, or maybe only seconds as I held her for the first time and she just stared at me, like she already knew exactly who I was. It’s weird because I didn’t cry but my heart was so overwhelmed.

The hours leading up to her arrival I cried nonstop and then I saw her and everything was just so right…

The first few months after I was a complete zombie.

It probably wasn’t until about three months postpartum that I felt even remotely close to functional.

With my body doing all it could to try to recover from labour and provide all the nutrients it could for my new beautiful baby girl, there was almost nothing left for me. There were days when I slept more than I was awake. She would be on my chest feeding and her warmth would just lull me to sleep.

In that time, I honestly didn’t even have the energy to think about myself at all, which in a way was a blessing. I didn’t care to think about my body trying to shrink back to normal, I didn’t have the time to think about greasy hair, blocked pores, breakouts. I was in this little bubble in a way.

Unfortunately, that couldn’t last forever and at around four months I started to be really hyper-aware of myself. My looks and how little my mind seemed to be functioning kind of hit me like a ton of bricks. I forgot a little bit about the wonder of childbirth and instead just looked at myself through these cold, judgmental eyes.

This is another instance when time seems harsh. Alone, time seems to slow and it gives you this infinite amount of time to eat away at yourself. It’s isolating, and it’s this very desperate loneliness at times. I would love to say it completely passes, but as mothers, there is no one who will be harder on us than we are on ourselves. It really is a whole process learning to love yourself and give yourself the time and space to make mistakes without coming down really hard on yourself for them.

Our first Christmas did not go off as I would have liked. I got this really bad 48-hour bug on Christmas Eve and wasn’t even able to leave the house to celebrate it as I usually would with my family. It was hard. I had this new baby and I had to breastfeed and care for her while I felt as though I was dying.

Those 48 hours felt like a week. It was another time that was just really hard and trying for me. It’s hard to feel like you’re being and doing all you can as a mother, especially when you can’t get out of bed. I felt really low that whole week. I had this image of what our first Christmas would be like in my head and it really just hit me hard.

I do remember when she was so tiny, my biggest thought was that I couldn’t wait until she was a tad bigger. I wanted to be able to have more of a social relationship with her. I wanted to be able to see her reactions to things, I wanted her to be able to show me when she liked something and when she didn’t. I wanted her to be able to sit and play on her own. Reaching a lot of those milestones became a bit of an obsession to me.

I wanted time to move a little faster.

Now as we are mere weeks away from her first birthday, I find myself wishing time would just stop. My Mat leave is officially over, I am attempting to get her into daycare so I can potentially go back to work and I find myself standing on this threshold desperately trying to hold onto this time with her.

On one hand, I feel like I do want to get back out there. I want my days to have a little bit more in them and to get into some kind of schedule. On the other hand, I want to be with her ALL THE TIME!

The thought of trusting her with someone else through a whole workday fills me with an anxiety I honestly don’t know if I will be able to push past. I have never loved something as much as I have loved her, and I have never been one to trust easily. This is going to be a really big hurdle for me, and I honestly don’t know if it’s one I can get over.

One thing that never changes is time just keeps ticking on. It doesn’t care about how I feel, or how any of us as parents feel. It doesn’t care that we are struggling to cope with being parents and the fact that it seems to just be whizzing by is crippling in a way. We blink, and our babies are toddlers, we blink again and they are teenagers.

As parents, time is an enemy.

I’m just struggling to come to terms with the fact there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I just have to sit back, enjoy the ride and try to make everything out of those fleeting moments while they are here.

I am so close to having a one-year-old… Excuse me while I go cry.

Raising A Baby In The Age Of Tech

This is a conversation I have a lot with moms. They wonder how much of things like the iPad and other gadgets are good for their babies, and if it’s even possible to keep your little one away from technology altogether. There are those that fear exposing their baby’s still growing mind to tech early, could in some way hinder their growth, while other’s worry that keeping their baby away from technology will have their child dropping behind.

I mean, I personally know two-year-olds that can turn phone’s from ringing to silent, know how to unlock iPads and navigate the apps with little effort, and for some parents who see how much technological skills it takes to progress in the world nowadays, it is a glowing talking point for them.

My view on this is, anything in moderation is okay. I think those who push too much, either way, don’t realize how hard it is for some moms. We don’t know everyone’s situation, and for a lot of moms, they are battling more than just motherhood. There are those working and struggling to deal with all the stress that goes along with that, there are those that are battling emotional and mental hurdles. For a lot of parents, the idea of just ten undisturbed minutes is a dream, and one worth faltering when it comes to those ideals.

Apple products seem to be taking over. There isn’t an infant of a grandma who isn’t carrying around an iPad to check The Facebook or watch YouTube videos. Naturally, when I got pregnant I looked at my husband and had the audacity to tell him that there was absolutely no way our child would be one of those kids addicted to the iPad.

Alright, guys, I am going to admit something big to you here. My daughter (gasps audibly, touches the back of her hand to her forehead and throws herself back dramatically) has iPad time. Now, what does that mean? She is 8 months old. How could she possibly be using the iPad?

Well, in the mornings when I am wishing I had more sleep, wondering how my boob fell out of my bra during the night, wiping crusts out of the corner of my eye, and zombie-walking towards the coffee maker, I open up the Amazon Prime app on my iPad and put on a Super Simple Song episode for her. What is that? I’ll tell you what it is. It’s about 45 minutes of Nursery Rhymes, Shapes, Colours, Alphabet, and Number songs that keep her busy long enough for me to at least attempt at getting my shit together in the morning.

For all those people gasping and pointing a for shame finger in my direction, I have a finger I can point at you as well, so let’s not get nasty.

I have said this once, and I will probably say this a million more times in my life; Parenting is hard! Sometimes we need just a little bit of time to ourselves, and for those people out there who think it’s simple to put a baby in front of a toy or activity and have them stay put without wailing, then they obviously aren’t parents.

My daughter and I have constant play time. We spend hours on the floor together with her toys and her books, we do lots of things to try and keep her engaged and work her mind. However, parenting constantly with no breaks to be a human being is extremely taxing on your mind and if you do that every single day without any time for yourself, you are barrelling towards a mental breakdown.

So, despite all I said when I was pregnant, my daughter watched the iPad when I need a moment to myself at home, or in the car (I have prayed to deities I don’t even believe in for a moment’s peace in the car while I am stuck in traffic and my daughter is screaming at the top of her lungs because apparently, the car seat is her nemesis).

Now, I do think that if you constantly hand your child the iPad during the day instead of attempting other ways to engage them and that time on devices is steadily piling up, that you should consider unplugging. I think an hour or two a day on any device is plenty and you shouldn’t constantly co-parent with technology. That being said, moderation is key.

I would also look into certain products or put devices out of reach if you have a little one that isn’t old enough to operate the technology on their own. I learned this the hard way when I was stuck in traffic, put the iPad in the back seat so she could watch The Greatest Showman and calm down a bit, only to get home and check my email. It was then I realized that, while touching the iPad the way she always does, she purchased over $50 in iBooks.

I am currently reading a bunch of them because the helpline is not as helpful as you would have hoped and I am now stuck with all these books.

Personally I would start taking devices away when you can see it’s becoming a problem for your child, and try to keep them off of YouTube as it seems like every kid that goes on there becomes a zombie unable to function while their videos are playing. Put some games on there that can help with their problem solving and development, reading or colouring apps are great for helping their focus.

If your child doesn’t give you clear responses when you are speaking to them and they are on the iPad, don’t just laugh it off. It’s not cute and you are allowing them to develop bad habits that will only get worse over time. Make sure their attention whenever you are speaking to them is completely on you, whether they are watching TV, on the iPad or even just playing.

Limit the amount of time they use devices and use other activities as a first priority before any electronics.

It’s good for your child to unplug several hours before bedtime to give them an opportunity to wind down. I’ve read several articles about the blue light in device screens disrupting their sleep patterns if they are used too close to bedtime.

So yes, it’s completely possible to raise your kids with technology, just so long as you keep in mind that all technology connects to the internet these days, and anything that connects to the internet, in regards to your child, should always be closely monitored and used in moderation.

Like anything in parenting, find your balance and do what’s best for your family. There is no cookie-cutter solution.

 

 

My Life and Kids

Since I was little, I have always had this responsibility for children. My mom was hard-working, she was one of those independent women who wanted to do it all herself, if not only to prove to herself that she could, to prove to the world that it could be done and to show her children that effort and hard work was always rewarded.

There were five of us, and she did it all on her own.

What that meant was as soon as my brother came along, my sister and I had this unspoken responsibility for him. We were his protectors, his surrogate mothers, his sisters, his friend, whatever our mother needed us to be. He was four years behind me, and my sister had a bit of a mean streak to her, so we stuck together as much as we could.

As time progressed, my brother and I grew apart, my sister grew up and we got two more brothers. The age difference between my brothers and I are four years, eight years, and ten years. So by the time my second brother came along, I was more willing to step into a maternal role for him. Babies to me at that age were cute, and I was more than willing to lend a hand.

I could say that when my teenage years came around I became rebellious, I didn’t want to babysit because I would rather be out with my friends and there was always something else I would rather be doing… but that would be a lie. I was a bit of a homebody. I liked making little hiding places for myself around our house, curling up in there with a dull light and reading a book. I was the go to when it came to someone to watch my siblings because my sister was more the rebellious type, she had an attitude and to be quite frank, my brothers were terrified of her.

When I was ten we moved into our first townhouse. We had only lived in apartments up until that point and the prospect of having a back yard and my own room that I didn’t have to share with my sister… who at times I could have sworn was possessed by a demon, seemed like some type of dream coming true. What also seemed like it would be something new and fun was that we lived a mere few blocks away from my mom’s sister, my aunt and her four kids.

It was fun. It was back in the time when children weren’t really supervised. We went outside as soon as we came home from school and stayed out until the streetlights came on. We roamed the neighbourhoods without fear, crossing streets, and climbing fences and no one could care less. We were being kids.

It was also a time when it was completely acceptable for a ten or eleven year old to watch your five or six-year-old. What this meant is that I was responsible for a whole brood of children while my mother, aunt and uncle were at work.

Most would think that once I got older, got my own job and a taste of freedom, I would put as much distance between kids and myself as I possibly could. I was finally in my teens, I had a handful of friends and was no longer a hermit. Somehow, pushing kids out of my mind and out of my way never really felt right. I went from babysitter, to volunteering at the local recreational centre, to being a camp counsellor, to working at a tourist attraction that was a mix of families and drunk university students. One way or another, no matter where I turned, kids were there.

I was never the type of person who dreamt about being a mother, despite always being surrounded by kids. My mother became a mom very early, and although she never really spoke about it, I could see her struggle. I could sense her desperation at times. She had my sister when she was only eighteen years old. I came along at twenty and so on.

My sister also go pregnant young. She had my nephew when she was twenty-two. It seemed like no matter where I turned, there were young mothers, especially growing up in the low-income “ghetto” that I did. I promised myself that I wouldn’t be one of those young moms, that I would try to figure my life out first. Mostly, because I didn’t want to do it alone.

Single parents have it hard. They are wonderful and they have a strength that few can understand unless they live through it. I have the utmost respect for them. That being said, I wanted something different for myself and for my family when I was ready for one. I didn’t want my kids to experience the heartbreak of seeing their parents break up, of promises to see a father that showed up once in a while and then never at all. I wanted that picture perfect family.

It may seem silly to some, but I didn’t want to follow in my mother’s footsteps… or even in my sisters. I lived through the struggle with both of them, I’ve heard about their regrets and didn’t want those regrets to become my own.

For a short amount of time, I did step away from kids. I moved out of my mom’s house. I became a hostess at a bar, a waitress for a time. I worked a bridal boutiques. I did whatever would make me the money I needed to try and sort my life out. I wanted the independance my mother had always strived for, I wanted to provide myself with things I felt guilty asking for as a kid.

Yet somehow, I ended up as a nanny.

Right back in the kids zone.

Now, as I am so close to becoming a mom I think about that a lot. About all the choices I made and how I always seemed happiest working with kids. There is just something about their innocents that almost rubs off on you, it lifts some of your worries and woes and leaves you a little bit lighter.

These days I find myself worrying about what is going to happen when the baby in my life is my own. When I can’t simply return it at the end of the day. I wonder if I will still have that patience I am known for, if I will still marvel in that innocence. Mostly I worry if I am as prepared for it as everyone else seems to think I am.

As someone who has always been surrounded with kids, I should be ready for this.

So why don’t I feel ready?

Is ready ever something anyone expecting to be a parent can be?

These are questions I am going to have more than enough time to try and find the answers to, questions I will learn the answers to sooner or later… ready or not.

Until then, I guess I will just keep on pretending.