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.

A Whole Year Spent

It’s crazy to think that a little over a year ago I was an independent person. I was in charge of when I ate my meals, when I slept, what I did with all my time. I showered and slept alone, slept in, and spent my time however I wanted to. I arrived for appointments and functions ON TIME.

A year ago, I was a completely different person. I was not yet a mother.

And then she arrived.

Her birth couldn’t come fast enough, but once she arrived, it seemed as though time jumped into hyperspeed. If you asked me when she was born, how it all went, I could retell the story as though it were just yesterday. Every detail of that day is still so vivid in my mind. Yet, when I look back over this past year I can’t believe where all the time went.

How did I get here?

I’d love to use this post to look back and tell you all the things I’ve learned along the way. I could say that after a year, I have parenthood all figured out, but that’s not true. Every day is another battle, and I am standing in the line of fire with no armour armed with nothing but a banana and some Gerber Puffs.

One thing I have learned is there is no such thing as a perfect parent. What is perfect for one child will be chaos for another. You can feed them organic everything, never feed them artificial sugars or processed food and still feel like you’re losing the battle. You can cook a quick, easy meal that requires mostly heating up and feel like you’re killing it.

When you strip all the Instagram photos away, wipe off the make-up and the forced smile you wore through eight repeat playings of Old MacDonald, the only thing that really matters is your baby’s happiness.

Whether that means scheduled naps, healthy snacks, playdates and book time, or endless cuddles, eating from your bowl, and watching movies, their happiness outranks everything else all those articles are telling you to do.

Take lots of pictures, live in the moment as often as you can. Skip cleaning, or doing the dishes, they will always be there but your baby won’t always be so small. You’ll blink and they’ll be gone and you’ll be missing it all, wishing you had stolen more moments with you babies while you had them.

Love them as much as you can while they let you! That’s the best way to be the best parent you can.

Baby’s First Birthday

I have been to so many first birthday parties as an adult, I honestly couldn’t tell you how many. Everything comes in waves. You reach adulthood and there is a time in your life where it seems everyone you know is getting married, and of course, soon after everyone is having babies.

With my own baby girl’s birthday closer than I would like, it’s really got me thinking about first birthday parties.

My initial thought about my daughter’s birthday was to skip the party. I know, I know. I can hear so many parents out there gasping even as I write it, but let me tell you why. I think in this age of technology, a lot of people do things just for the photos. They want to throw these huge elaborate parties so they can post all the photos on Instagram and have their followers look at them and think; “I wish I could throw a party like that!”

Personally, my thought was to keep the whole occasion centred around my daughter and what she likes (Crazy, right?). I was going to do a small get together at my mother’s house, maybe have a barbecue or something, and put most of my time and effort into her Cake Smash photos. No-fuss, no muss, no coconuts. My thought in all this was that my daughter sometimes gets overwhelmed and burnt out when there are too many people around, and when she gets overwhelmed and burnt out she gets extremely cranky. A cranky birthday girl would definitely ruin her birthday.

However, with the knowledge that my husband’s parents are coming all the way from the East Coast to celebrate her first birthday with us, I kind of felt like maybe I would need to put a little more thought and planning into the day. So I started (very last minute, I might add) to put more of the typical birthday party together.

One thing I think a lot of parents need to come to grips with and fess up to, is that the first birthday is in no way, shape, or form for your child. We can pretend it is all we want because the celebration is about them, but it’s really for all the adults who will attend because our little ones are never going to remember this birthday.

Although I have no problem with a first birthday party being centred more around the adults, I feel like we have to be realistic about it and honest. A lot of parents like to masquerade around this fact and what ends up happening is you end up with a birthday party for kids, where the bulk of your guests are adults which, to be honest, is just really inconvenient.

I can’t tell you how many kids parties I have been to where the parents invited over 30 adults to the party and there were maybe 10 kids. Is that bad? No, as parents you have every right to celebrate with some adults. You have made it through your first year and that was no small feat. With that being said, plan your party with those adults in mind.

Why? Because it isn’t fair to the parents of the 10 kids that arrived for you not to.

A lot of you read that and are wondering “What the hell is she talking about?”. Well, of course, I am going to tell you.

One of the huge things a lot of parents planning a party who invite more adults than kids don’t account for are two things: seating and food.

What usually happens when you invite adults who don’t have kids, is they sit down and socialize. They are a bit more removed from it all because a lot of them just don’t know what to do or whether they should interact with the kids. It’s a little awkward for them to find their place at a kid’s party, so they sit. Which is absolutely fine. But for the parents who have trekked their kids to your party and chased after them while at your party, it isn’t really fair to them that there be no seating left. They really do need a few moments where they can sit down, have some food, and have some adult interaction while at the party too. Plan for this.

Another thing is the food. I don’t want to be that person, and when I attend a kid’s party I usually just roll with the punches, but you can’t plan a kid’s party with kid food only if you plan on inviting more adults than children.

I get it, your an adult and you want to invite your adult family members and best friend etc. I also understand that it’s so much easier to have hot dogs and chips and pizza, but I think you should really plan for the adults as well. Don’t go overboard! You don’t need steak dinners for every adult there, but a cheese and meat tray, some veggies, maybe even some easy appetizers would be something to consider putting out.

Another big thing is making sure you provide activities for everyone and be okay with the fact that not everyone is going to stay as long as you wanted them to, especially the adults.

With all of this in mind, I really had to think about her party. Ideally, a restaurant with a party room would have been my first pick. We don’t have to worry about food, everyone can choose what they want to it as opposed to having to eat kiddie foods, and absolutely no clean up for me! After some research, I realized that unless you are doing a wedding or a business dinner, there aren’t really too many options down this road.

(Insert exasperated sigh here)

I am hoping the party room pans out but if it does, that means I am going to have to plan for food. I would do pizza for the kids since my daughter has recently discovered pizza and loves it but would have to think a little outside the box for the adults.

This is the first party that I have to plan for my baby girl, and I have to say I am not thrilled with how much work it is all turning out to be. If I am being honest, I would love sticking to the original no fuss plan.

Is it too late to throw in the towel and go back to the no party idea?

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.

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.

 

The Dreaded Routine

When you first get pregnant and are preparing for your baby to come along, the main thing a lot of parents will preach to you is consistency and routine. You have to keep a routine, you have to be consistent to get your baby on any kind of schedule.

For parents who are successful at that, I tip my hat to you. For those that aren’t, you are my kind of people.

In the beginning, I have to admit I was far too exhausted to come up with any type of routine or stick to it. I was a first-time mom and like most first time parents, the threat of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) meant I spent a lot of the time too afraid to let my daughter sleep on her own. This meant that I let the window of opportunity close to make my daughter’s sleeping routine more independent.

There were a lot of things that went into my thought process at the beginning. Sure, I was told that babies should sleep on their own, even my doctor was pushing me to get her into that crib. Yet, despite what they were all suggesting, I trusted my gut. I knew that women had been delivering babies since the beginning of time, I also knew that cribs were something of the modern age, and before that, a baby slept peacefully nestled in their mother’s bosom. Knowing this told me that co-sleeping wasn’t the bad thing everyone made it out to be.

In truth, parenting has been changed over time to fit the modern woman. I understand the need for these changes, what I don’t understand is how we’ve completely ignored history and tried to shun those who stick to the basics.

Babies need attention. Babies need to be comforted when they are crying. Telling yourself otherwise is denying how we evolve and grow as people. Knowing all this, I put myself at the every demand of my daughter.

There are some parents who will tell me this is a mistake, and they are absolutely allowed to their opinion, just as I am equally allowed to ignore it. If I am only going to have one baby, I want to devote all my time and effort into that baby. I don’t want to take the easy route simply because it’s there. I know co-sleeping has made the transition into a crib or solo-sleeping more difficult, but that is countless more hours I have gotten to spend bonding with my baby. I know solely breastfeeding has made my daughter way fussier when it comes to bottles and cups, but again, that is time I wouldn’t have wanted to spend any other way.

Parenting isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time and effort. Whatever decisions you make when raising your child are yours to make.

Routine in the beginning felt impossible, and our routine now may seem non-existent, but it is there. I feel like because it doesn’t fit the typical routine, a lot of people may not see it.

To be perfectly honest, at this point in my daughter’s life, her mood affects a lot of our routine. Why? Because although some people would much rather power through with their routine to make their lives easier, I have opted to let my daughter set the pace. My hope is if I move with the ebb and flow of her moods right now, we will both have a better day.

If she wants to sleep in a little longer, than she sleeps in a little longer. If she is fussy at night and wants to stay up a little longer, we do that too. We don’t always go down for naps at the exact time, we don’t schedule our walks based on the time but rather on whether or not her attitude is telling me she needs one.

My daughter is overly fussy. She is stubborn, and she is relentless. What this means is sticking to schedule and a set routine means that she spends the entire day fighting it. She will constantly whine in moments she is not crying. She will throw her weight around to resist doing anything she doesn’t want to do.

For all those parents reading this and thinking; Well, if you stuck to a schedule, this wouldn’t be a problem I will simply say, you haven’t lived my life. I tried the schedule thing for almost a month and it was a month of the most miserable baby and mommy you would have ever come across. I woke up every morning with this dread to face each day.

I didn’t like being a mother when we were on a routine. I was constantly tired and worn out, I was having anxiety attacks that would bring me to tears, I didn’t have patience for my daughter, and I was just in misery. I kept searching for answers, reading mommy forums and blogs, and was depressed when I couldn’t find anyone I could relate to. Every parent out there seemed to be slapping this beautiful coat of pain on their parenting experience which just left me feeling guilty.

Why wasn’t I enjoying being a mom?

Well, it’s because that routine every parent was standing so solidly behind isn’t for everyone and it’s sad there aren’t more resources out there to tell moms and new parents that it’s absolutely okay if the routine doesn’t work for you.

That calendar that you feel like a failure for not sticking to, throw it away. Be the best parent you can in the way you know-how. Trust what you feel, because chances are, that is the right thing to do.

I do not let my daughter cry it out, and for parents who tell me it’s good for her, I give them the simple answer. It’s not good for me. And in parenting, what is not good for you, is not good for your baby, plain and simple.

That cry my daughter does that so many parents have told me is good for her, fills me with an anxiety I almost can’t push through. It physically brings me to tears, and when I hold my baby after all of that, she can sense it, and it changes her whole mood. That can’t be good for either of us.

When we sleep together, I may get a foot in my mouth, an elbow to the nose, or random pinches and bites when she crawls over to me, but the sleep I actually get is sound because I am not worried about whether or not she is breathing, or okay every single moment of the night. I can feel she is, and that comfort is good for both of us.

There are so many people out there who have been parents, so many with wisdom they are constantly throwing at you thinking they are giving you gold, and almost offended when you don’t take it. What’s important to note is, yes, they have raised kids before, but they have never raised your kid. There is no manual for flawlessly raising a baby because these are living, breathing beings with their own thoughts and emotions. Every tiny body works differently, so that routine you are constantly telling me to get on, won’t work for every one of them.

My advice to new parents is to find your happy place in parenting. Ignore everything they tell you parents should be doing and just feel it out. You will know what is right because what feels right for you is what is right for your baby.

Whatever schedule or lack-there-of works for you is what is going to work for your family. And remember that it is something that will constantly change as your baby grows.

You are a wonderful parent. You know what to do!