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.

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.

Tell Me Something Sweet

“Tell me something sweet.” She whispered,

As tears roll down her face.

“Whisper to me sweet nothings,

Forget my ugliness and disgraces.”

“Tell me something sweet,

So that maybe I can sleep the night.

My mind is heavy, my heart is aching,

I’m forgetting how to fight.”

“Tell me something sweet.” She sobs,

Combing fingers through her messy hair.

Bags under her eyes, oily skin,

And a weight on her shoulders she can hardly bear.

“Please… tell me something sweet.” She groans,

Her throat sore as her voice breaks.

“I’m trying my best to just be strong,

But this is all so much more than I can take.”

A baby cries in the room behind her,

As she stares at the reflection of the stranger she once knew.

She’s just a shadow of the woman she once was,

After all her body and mind has been through.

“You are so… strong, you’re… beautiful, and… wonderful.”

She whispers when all she really wants is to disappear.

But instead she whispers something sweet to herself,

Because she knows her daughter’s there to hear.

 

If I’ve wrote it once, I will write it a thousand times: Parenting is hard!

There are so many mommies out there too afraid to admit their struggle, too ashamed to ask for help, wandering in the dark questioning themselves: Is this normal?

There is a lot of joy that comes with being a new parent, but there is also a lot of exhaustion, sadness, and this general feeling of being overwhelmed. As mothers, we overcome… but sometimes that requires a support system.

Reach out, ask for help.

 

A New, Emotional Me

Since I was a child, I was not the kind of person to cry freely. I shrug a lot off, bottle up more than I should, and thought suppressing tears that threatened to bubble over was an accomplishment.

Strength was beauty to me. Vulnerability was weakness and there was something so shameful in weakness. Weakness was like a wilting flower, sad and depressing.

Pregnancy changed that frame of mind for me. When I was pregnant, I was at my most vulnerable. Every waking moment was a struggle, a challenge I had to overcome. There were days when I was so uncomfortable, I didn’t even feel like I was myself anymore. I felt as though I were staring down at the water, watching the ripples completely change what I looked like.

Discomfort seemed never-ending.

Then suddenly, everything became still. I would get a day with minimal discomfort and feel like I could finally see myself again. Here I was, I was me, and I could get through this pregnancy.

Those were the days, the days when the waters were still when something lurked there underneath the surface.

It would happen suddenly, without prompting or warning. I would get a tightness in my throat, my eyes would cloud over and my chest would sink.

I found myself asking why a lot back then. I didn’t understand it, this wasn’t the person I was. Alone in my apartment, suddenly I was crying. Not just a sniffle and a lone tear. I was full out bawling, hysterically like my whole world was ending, for absolutely no reason.

It was ugly, it was so foreign to me, and it was this unprovoked weakness. One I thought was brought on by a new blend of emotions my body and my mind weren’t used to processing.

I thought of these emotions as a storm, thinking that along with my pregnancy, this would all pass.

My daughter is 6 months old now, and those emotions are still there. I get teary-eyed watching cartoon movies, I have a full on break down where I watch any movie where a parent receives bad news about their child over the phone like Soul Surfer or Walk. Ride. Rodeo.

Ads turn me into mush and even movies and shows that never affected me before can completely buckle me into an emotional rollercoaster.

That stoic person I once seemed like a distant memory. Now, I am this emotional ball of fatigue.

I definitely have realized that being a parent transforms you. It pulls you out of who you were and opens your eyes up to everything and everyone in a way you may not have considered before. And in that transformation, hopefully, comes a better understanding.

Our idea of women as a society is and has always been that our emotions are unreasonable and irrational. There are so many negative stereotypes that go along with women and our emotions that I personally feel like any public display of my emotion is downplayed or seen more as comical than for what it really is, which is genuine. Not all women are crazy or dramatic, but if someone sees you vulnerable just once, they will act as though that is the only way they’ve ever seen you.

Being a woman who is going through emotional changes is difficult. It’s hard to know who we can reach out to, we don’t know if there is anyone who will validate how we feel and not just make it seem like we are being hormonal. Even other women have fallen into asking us if we are on our periods when we tell them how we are feeling and about changes to our mental and emotional state.

Women are strong. We are given so much to constantly juggle, it’s understandable that at times our emotions get the best of us.

It’s okay. We are human, and our emotions are a huge part of that.

For any of your women out there who have been called over emotional, or crazy, or irrational. For those women who find themselves sobbing hysterically when they are on their own or just crying silently when the loneliness or sadness becomes a little too much.

There is beauty in your heartbreak, there is beauty in your vulnerability and your sadness.

You are beautiful! You are strong!

You can do this!

What Day Is It?

As a new mom on maternity leave, I am learning that time is irrelevant. Days are merging, my days sometimes feel like mere hours of weeks, and my weeks feel like they consist of anywhere from 3 days to 10 days.

I felt like yesterday I was working 8 hours a days, heavily pregnant in the blistering sun while I chased a pair of 5 year olds around, bargaining with them, trying to bribe them into spending the heat wave indoors. Then I decided to blink and I was at home, waiting for my daughter to arrive.

The time between working and being a mom lasted forever. It was a month but it honestly felt like 3 or 4. Our summer here in Toronto was heat wave after heat wave. 8 months pregnant, getting clothes on to go out for a walk seemed like too much of a task so I spent the majority of my days indoors, telling myself I would do something but procrastinating the days way binge watching shows on Netflix.

“After this episode I am going to…” was how I started all my sentences in those days… I never kept those little promises I told myself then. Nothing ever came after that episode except maybe another episode… and another…. and another.

I was due on September 20th and my beautiful daughter was born on the 21st of September after an induction. There was no fear when I went into delivery, nothing but anxious anticipation and the constant praying that it would all be over so I could have my little girl in my arms.

The first month of being a mom was a complete blur. It was a war zone of feedings, changings and getting sleep whenever you could. I was sleepwalking through it all. There, but everything oddly seemed as though it could be a dream. I was never 100% sure it wasn’t.

Somehow, my daughter is over 4 months old now.

I woke up this morning and just stared at her. She looked massive beside me on the bed, as though she could easily be 9 months old and I had just slept through it all. I looked at her, and she looked at me and we just smiled at one another all the while thinking “Where has all this time gone? What day is it? What month?”

19 weeks and 4 days old.

Time, for a new mom on maternity leave is completely irrelevant.

You have nowhere to be, your baby doesn’t really have much of a schedule so you are just rolling with the punches. One day, she may sleep in until noon and you tell yourself you are going to get up early to get things done, but honestly, you sleep in too. Because you are exhausted. Parenting is exhausting.

You take sleep where you can get it, some days you don’t change your clothes and live in what you slept in or your underwear, you don’t even brush your teeth until after 2:00 in the afternoon. I have days where I don’t even remember to eat. I will look up a the clock and ask myself if I have eaten that day.

I think this lack of schedule is common for mommies who have their babies moving into winter. Walks are restricted due to the weather, most days are too wet, too cold, too muddy, or just too much of a task to go out. So you spend the days indoors doing the same things over and over again to keep your baby entertained.

So what do you do?

Go out!

Pick a day of the week, every week where you go out. Typically this day for me is Saturdays. Saturday’s I go to my mothers for dinner, but I typically spend the whole day there. It’s a good opportunity for me to hand my daughter around a full household, and I can usually catch a heavy nap which is so rare for me.

Get dressed!

It’s such a small thing, but when you wake up, get into a routine much like you had when you were going to work. Get up, get dressed, maybe put on a little makeup and run a comb through your hair.

Why?

Because it will make you more likely to head out for the day, even if just for small walks, or to run errands. When you are already ready, you’ll be asking yourself “Why not?” If the opportunity to go out comes up.

Stay connected.

In this day and age, it is so easy to go days, even weeks without actually speaking to someone. You have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat. All these things that make it so easy to make yourself feel as though you are talking with people, having these conversations and keeping yourself social.

Guys, I am sorry, but this is all an illusions and it really isn’t enough.

Reach out, text a friend, call someone. It will keep you from feeling lonely and it will also keep your friends at arms reach and open to meeting up with you on those days you feel like you just have to get out of the house and socialize for your sanity.

Do something for yourself.

This is a big one. In the beginning, I was using all my free time when my daughter was napping to do things around the house. I was cooking, or cleaning, or trying to catch up on sleep. It as this endless cycle of giving and I wasn’t getting anything for myself.

It’s okay to do something for yourself, in all honesty, it is better for everyone, including your baby if you do.

Go to the gym, take a long showers, or soak in a hot bath. Curl up and read a good book. Make something. Play some video games.

Find something that makes you happy and you want to do. Something you look forward to, and do it. New parents neglect so much, they neglect their mental health, they neglect their hygiene, they neglect their relationships, their friendships. We bargain away everything that is for ourselves and trade it for things for our babies.

Parents, we can’t do this all the time. We are burning the candles and both ends and before long, there will be nothing left. We can’t be good parents , hell, we can’t be good people when we are trying to do it with nothing left.

Guilt is such a big thing, and we have to stop listening to what other people are telling us we should be doing and just do what we need to do for us.

Society expects parents to work like they don’t have kids, and raise their kids like they don’t work.”

Living your life this way is enough to always make you feel like a failure and like complete crap. Well, the solution is simple. Just don’t do it. Don’t listen to those people, ignore those judgmental glares. Your happiness is the most important thing to your children because they will benefit from it more than they would anything else. You can love your child better when you are happy.

We are somewhere in February and I am trying my best to work on myself. I am trying to figure out what makes me happy and do that more. Honestly, I don’t even remember what makes me happy anymore.

In this world where the cost of everything is constantly climbing and what we earn climbs substantially slower that costs are rising, we fall into this routine of just doing what we have to so we can afford to be happy later. I think along the way, we all forget what actually makes us happy.

I’ve forgotten. My happiness had become as irrelevant as time some ways ago. I couldn’t tell you when even if I wanted to.

Parenting is anything but simple. We are stumbling around trying to do our best, and along the way, I think we forget that we are still people. Not just parents, but people.

I’m constantly flustered and my mind is complete mush, I can barely remember the date or where I need to be, so remembering I am a person with needs is impossible some days.

If you are like me, just know, you are not alone. Reach out, find someone who is in this situations and weather the storm together. You’ll be more likely to find your way out of it, if you aren’t going at it alone.

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!

Comparison Is The Main Ingredient to Your Unhappiness

When I was younger, someone very important to me said something I don’t think I will ever forget. They said to me; “The man who always looks to his neighbours plate, will always be hungry.” Honestly, no truer words have been spoken and I think it’s so important for all of us to keep these words at the forefront of your mind. 

Those words, as wise as they are, weren’t words I really paid much attention to until the other day. 

As a new mom, I am looking to a lot of parenting forums, apps, and articles for information. My life is changing, I am a mother suddenly responsible of keeping this adorable little girl alive, and although 11 weeks have past and I am getting the hang of things, I still don’t know what is best for my daughter and how to get her on the right track developmentally. So for a lot of the answers I need, I look to others for guidance. 

This is really a double edged sword. Someone will tell you that at 2 months, your baby should be loving tummy time. They should be reaching for things and copying little noises you make. That will make you as a new parent sit back and think, Is my baby doing all that? If the answer is no, it is going to make you wonder about your child’s development. Are you not doing enough? Should you have done more earlier? Why is that baby already supporting itself on it’s front arms at 3 months? Will my daughter be doing that in just 2 more weeks?

As I sat there on the floor beside the mat my daughter was lying on and watched her angrily yelp and squeal (she absolutely hates tummy time), I wondered why she seemed to hate it when all the other parents told me that every baby loves tummy time. What’s going on with my Sunshine that she acts as though its some kind of torture?

I found myself comparing my situation, my parenting, and my daughter to other parents and babies. Let me tell you, this is a slippery slope. 

What started off as a routine exercise for my daughter that usually ended up in her giving me the stink face for several minutes afterwards, turned into me wondering whether or not she was where she was supposed to be. 

If I was baking a cake of unhappiness, I had already put in the most important ingredient: comparison. 

Any time in your life when you compare yourself to anyone else, you are asking for trouble. Yet, it something so many of us struggle with. I am a confident person in certain ways. I won’t change who I am as a person for anyone, I don’t care about people’s opinions about me, and I will always stand beside someone who I care about. That being said, I am not always the most confident when it comes to my looks and I feel like those waves of low self-esteem seem to hit me when I compare myself to someone else. 

Today, it’s impossible not to. Everywhere you turn there are images of beautiful, fit women who everyone tells you are perfection. It’s hard not to look at them and ask yourself what is different about you, what elements of yourself are keeping you from being seen like people see them? 

As a new parent, you are so vulnerable. Being a new parent, in my opinion, is isolating and in a way lonely. Even when you have an amazing support team, it’s hard not to be lonely. Sometimes it feel like you are losing the person you were and you experience that loss all on your own, no one else can share in that with you. As strong as you are for your new baby, you are vulnerable to the world and I feel like this is when you will most compare yourself with other people. 

You compare your delivery, you compare your bodies with other women who have just become mommies. You compare you weight loss, your stretch marks, your sleep, your feeding routines. It’s like there are just columns and columns of other women and every day you see if you can add a check next to something they too are doing. It’s tiring, it’s difficult, and at the end of the day, it’s just throwing more and more ingredients into that cake of your unhappiness. 

So, what can we do?

It’s not easy to just undo years of subconsciously comparing ourselves and our accomplishments to the people around us. It’s like our lives are a competition or a game, and everyone is working to get the high score. We can’t just turn it off, can we?

No. We are creatures of habit and once those habits have etched themselves into our character, they are hard as hell to get rid of. Trust me, I’ve tried. 

I do think that being aware of it is so important though. These past few days I have been aware of it more than ever. That first night I compared my daughter to other children her age, I was miserable. I reduced my daughter to this nameless faceless thing that was nothing more than her age and accomplishments. I have to admit I went to bed feeling extremely shitty. 

My daughter is the greatest gift I have ever received in my whole life. She is wonderful, silly, stinky at times, and I wouldn’t change her for anything or anyone else. So why the hell does it matter to me what other babies her age are doing?

You know what? It doesn’t! It honestly and truly doesn’t now that I realize that I was comparing her to other babies, I could care less if she is copying noises I make, or whether or not she loves the dreaded tummy time all other mothers swear their babies loved. 

We do not have cookie-cutter babies. They are not all the same. Some are late-bloomers. Some are creative things that want to imagine what they are doing instead of practicing to do it. Others are athletic, others are terrors, others are calm and content. There are no two babies that are exactly alike. Every baby is different, so why even bother comparing them?

My life right now is complex. I am happy as a new mother, but that doesn’t mean I am not struggling. Most days the only people I physically talk to are my 11 week old daughter, my 8 year old dog, and my husband for about 2 or 3 hours before bed. This often leaves me feeling like I am on this new Mommy Island that not a lot of people can get to, and that I can’t leave. 

It’s lonely and time does this weird thing of passing both slowly and all too quickly. I never get to really sleep, and most days I am just a cow for my daughter to constantly feed off of. 

Mentally, every day is a rollercoaster ride that I can’t get off of and I have a feeling I won’t get the chance to get off any time soon. 

But, we all have to celebrate small victories. 

I have stopped comparing my daughter to other babies and that has eliminate a lot of the stress and worry that had weaved itself into my every day life. She will love things and hate things at her own pace. She is her own little person that is growing and learning every single day, and I am so excited to see what and who she will grow into. 

The oven is off, the mixing bowl is in the sink, and I have thrown the main ingredient to my unhappiness in the trash. No more comparisons for me. 

I can breathe a little better knowing that… 

Everyone else out there that has been subconsciously baking a cake of their unhappiness that they will undoubtedly end up eating through thick tears while they struggle to breathe through heavy sobs in the dark, I hope you’ll join me in throwing it all away. We are all struggling through different things, there is no point in comparing lives, bodies, or anything else. 

Just live your best life, the best you can. 

Happiness will come. 

Winter Weather Blues

New parents have a lot on their plates. When you have made the decision to stay home with your new little one for the first year or so, a lot of people think that is a blessing. You get to stay in your PJs, you get to binge-watch your favourite shows, you get to avoid the bad weather if you have your baby right before the winter. 

I will admit, those are big pluses. 

On the other hand, when your partner is back at work, or you are doing it alone, staying at home with your baby can be isolating. With the temperature dropping outside, the sky remaining that bleak grey, and they fear of your little one contracting something during the flu season, you are more likely to stay inside. 

It’s easy to fall into a routine of nothingness. You wake up, spend most of your day in the same clothes, feeding your baby, entertaining her and changing her. The small naps she takes you tell yourself you will use to get things done, but chances are you use that time to catch up on some of the rest you went without the night before. 

Days of the week start to all blend together, and without people coming in and out for visits, they don’t really matter. 

It’s really hard to get motivated. I am trying to add working out at home to my daily routine to at least do a little something for myself, but it is hard not to fall into winter weather blues. 

My husband is at work typically all day. He has an unusual work schedule so I typically see him for an hour or so in the mornings and then not until after 11:00pm. That means that most of my day is spent with my beautiful daughter and our fur baby, but neither provide me with the stimulating conversation I crave. 

With us being a one vehicle family, spur of the moment outings are off the table because my husband typically takes the car to work unless I tell him I would like it for the day, which usually, I have no plans. 

So what can you do? 

Besides texting out constant SOS messages to anyone who will answer, I think it’s important, even in bad weather (so long as there isn’t a blizzard taking place outside) to go out and get some fresh air each day. For me, it’s easy because I have to go out to walk my dog anyway. I have to kick myself in the butt lately to actually go for long walks as opposed to just taking him out to do his business and retreating back into the warmth of our apartment. 

We have the Bugaboo stroller which has the large bicycle tires on the back to make it easy to get out in any weather. If you live somewhere with all four seasons, like me here in Canada, I would definitely invest in a stroller with big, capable tires. 

It’s also important to make plans to incorporate different people in your days each week. Seeing the same three faces, although you love your little family, every day can leave you feeling like a bit of a hermit. I try and see my mother, sister, brothers and nephew at least once a week. Usually we do Sunday dinners, but I also try and get together with my sister when I can. 

Do something every day just for you. 

Don’t set big unattainable goals that will depress you when you don’t complete them. Keep them simple. Maybe something as simple as getting up, putting make-up on and getting dressed every day. The routine can make you feel like your old self. 

I have been going without make-up since I started staying home from work in August. Without that routine I had before working in the morning, it is really hard to get myself going. I used to get up, make a cup a coffee (decaf unfortunately) bring that into the bathroom with me while I put make-up on and did my hair for work. Then I would get dressed and be ready to start my day. 

Now, as a new mom, that routine is almost impossible to stick to. Your baby wants your love and attention, so spending thirty-minutes in the bathroom by yourself is a no-go. 

I’ve changed this routine a little bit to include her. Now, I put some music on and put my daughter in her carrier on my chest. I have her with me in the bathroom as I dance around, wash my face, brush my hair… just make myself look a little less like a sleepless cave-woman and more like myself. I find the music keeps my daughter in a good mood while I do things like pluck my unruly eyebrows or moisturize. 

When I leave the bathroom, I feel more refreshed and less like I am a zombie just stumbling through the day. 

Despite my lack of appetite in the morning, I still get myself a bowl of cereal and eat it while I breastfeed. It’s like I am not eating alone and makes me feel great. 

Normally after breakfast my daughter will doze for a bit. This is the perfect time to put her in her swing while I do a 7 minute workout using my 7 minute women’s workout app on my phone. (I love this app!) 

Lately I have been using it just to guide me through stretches and easier workouts. Nothing overly taxing as I can’t necessarily wind down afterwards depending on my daughter’s mood. 

Reading this you may be thinking that none of this will work for you. That’s fine, we are all different. The point is, because the weather restricts what you can do outside of your house, it’s important to make your home comforting to you. A place that doesn’t feel like a binding prison but like it’s full of opportunities for you throughout the day. 

Maybe it’s reading a book. Maybe it’s taking time to do some journalling. Find what makes you feel good and do it every day to help you keep your winter weather blues at bay. 

Your mental health is as important as your physical health, especially as a new parent!

Toxic Relationships and How To Improve Or Move On From Them.

A few years ago, I went through a mental spring cleaning, so to speak. My mind was full, it was clouded and I found myself slipping into negativity. I would often pause and think back to the person I was just a few years earlier. I was someone who smiled often, fell back on being silly and carefree, and had this whole ‘Glass Half Full’ outlook on life. 

I sat back and reflected on a bunch of things going on in my life. 

After a lot of reflection, I realized it was some of the friendships in my life that were altering how I viewed the world and myself. Some of my friends had this way of changing my whole mood, which changed how I viewed things and how I thought about things. 

It’s important for a lot of people to realize that you personally define what is toxic to your mental state. I think when a lot of people think of a toxic relationship, they think about abuse or neglect. There are so many other little things you may not realize are sinking the ship of your happiness. 

I realized a lot of the friends in my life are overly dependant on me. There is nothing wrong with that, everyone needs a shoulder to cry on or someone to lean into when times are tough. Yet, when I thought about it, for so many of my friends, times were always tough. No matter how well things were going in their lives, they always latched on to that one thing that was going poorly and looked to me to encourage them and lift them up. 

There is nothing wrong with being someone’s moral support. This can be as beneficial to you at times as it is to them, but if you look back on your relationship and realize the only time they reach out to you is when they need you to lift them out of the emotional hole they had dug themselves into, it’s important to note that maybe they view you more as a therapist than as an actual friend. 

Relationships like this can be taxing and can leave you feeling worn and used which is not good for you. 

A lot of my relationships were like this, and all I did to clear the space in my mind and my life was stop reaching out to them first to see if they really valued me as a friend or thought of me outside of their problems. Another thing I did was took a day or two off from responding to their SOS text messages. If they messaged me when their crisis was over, then I knew they were friendships worth holding onto. 

When I was pregnant, I was emotional and a lot of those sad days were brought on by the thought that I didn’t have a friendship circle. I have one real and true friend. That’s it. 

I have a few other friendships that I would consider more of an aquaintanceship. They are there, and I reach out to them on occasion, but days, weeks, or even months could pass without speaking and neither one of us really has a problem with that. 

When you become a parent you think about whether or not these types of relationships are worth it, or whether it is just better to move on and make new friends. People grow, and because of that, it’s not uncommon for people to grow apart. 

Any relationship that weighs down on you, makes you feel negative or used, or holds you back from things you hope and dream for would be a toxic relationship. 

If you are hoping to hold onto these people and continue to have them in your life, the best thing to do is to speak to them. Let them know how your relationship makes you feel and that they are important to you, but that you can’t continue on in this relationship the way it is. You need a change, and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about wanting to free up some mental space and improve your mental health. 

Whether this is someone you are in a romantic relationship, a platonic relationship, or even if you are related, you have every right to want something more out of your relationship, especially if it makes you feel bad. 

Although people do grow, it is difficult for them to change. Some people may hear what you are saying but revert back to how they were after a few weeks. Don’t be afraid to pull away if that is what you need. 

Toxic relationships can really change the way you live your life, but it is still your life. Surround yourself with people that enhance your life and the way you live it.