Transformation of the kin kind

I am often puzzled and perplexed by the relationship that others have with their siblings – please note that I said siblings. The proper definition of a sibling is each of two or more children or offspring having one or both parents in common. Siblings are linked by genetics! 

Us - the younger years.

Us, the younger years

I feel for people who do not have a close bond with their “siblings” as I have with mine – I have more than just siblings – I have sisters, confidants, motivators, cheerleaders, mothers (yes, my sisters mother me…all of them!). They are my best friends – the ones that call you out on your shit and take on your battles like they were their own.  The ones who at any time of day or night, you can call and they will answer and stay up with you until you have cried out your frustrations, agreed with all the nonsense you just spewed and stay on the phone until you have fallen asleep, only to follow up with you the next day with ice cream and dirty magazines just to be with you and to hang out.

It hasn’t always been this way though. I haven’t felt this way about my sisters my entire life, and I know they have not felt the same way about me. I was an asshole of a teenager and I took advantage of my sisters ALL THE TIME! So I started to think – when did our relationship change? When did our bond become more than genetic? When did it change from a cordial hug to bum rubs?

No caption required!

No caption required!

We were not always this close. I mean, we were close (we kind of had to be) because we lived out in the middle of nowhere, with not a lot to do other than to create and be each other’s friends…at home that is. I remember having friends over, who would be nice and play with the other siblings during our childhood, and the fights that would ensue were very much “SHE IS MY FRIEND NOT YOURS!”

We would argue, scream, cry. We would say mean, hurtful things to one another in our teenage years. Then one day, I think when we all attempted to grow up, some of us forced (*ahem* me) when we really needed each other, and our world was falling apart, we found the best support system that you could find – each other. The love and connection of sisters. We bonded over heartbreak, and carefully picked up each other’s pieces and put them back together. We made promises to each other to always stay close, and be each other’s best friends.

Best Friends

Best friends

We all know each other from the beginning of our time, we know all the men from our past, and we do not judge…well, maybe not out loud. We have been with each other from diapers to training wheels, from puberty to acne. From uni-brows to the first painful plucking experience. We. Know. It. All.

We all have a difference of opinion, lifestyle, values, but the one thing we all share and respect is each other. I now do not go a day without speaking to one or more of my sisters. I do not go a day without thinking about them. I have hopes for our futures, and our children’s futures to ensure that we all stay together and support one another. I would love to go to every one of my nieces and nephews’ events, just like I would hope my sisters would do for my hypothetical children.

In the last few years I have had the pleasure of meeting two families. The first is my amazing co-worker who is a mother of four beautiful girls. Every time she talks about her girls, there is nothing but love… and maybe a little concern with the arguments that they have. I tell her that it will get better, it will get SO MUCH BETTER. It brings a smile to my face, and a glow to my heart, because it will…they will grow with each other, and will learn that the bond of sisters is everything, and when you have nothing left, they will be there to pick up each other.

The second family was introduced to me when my friend Jeff came into my life, and I met his amazing, hard working mother. A couple of years later I met his aunts at a party and I fell in love! These women attracted you with their energy and love for each other, I couldn’t get enough!  They are four sisters who are just awe inspiring and I absolutely adore them. They give me hope for the future. Their children are close, and they are close…oh my, how they are close.

I would not be who I am today without my sisters. May be a little cheesy, but it is all true. I love you ladies, and I can’t wait for the next 50 years.

~ Jacqui

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Engaged and looking

I thought when you met your life-partner, ‘penguin’, and live-in best friend, the frustration of dating, and especially the nerves of the first date, would be a thing of the past.

I should preface this by telling you that I was never great at dating – Michael can attest to all of my rookie mistakes when we were first seeing each other *hangs head in shame* –  so I was kind of relieved when he decided to keep me for life and asked me to marry him. I thought the days of first dates were over – after all I had earned this perk as sort of a rite of passage for being taken off the market.

Oh, how wrong I was.

Apparently, first dates also still exist for those who have shacked up. They’ve cleverly disguised themselves as job interviews – first, second and third ones – and include all the butterflies and nerves, the fleeting hope for a match made in heaven, the self-talk track to keep calm and confident in what you have to offer, the anticipation for the follow-up call or email in the days following – it’s all just a guise for a first date.

Even worse, interviews carry the same chance for disappointment as a flopped first date – the realization that he’s not your type, or the looks-good-on-paper but not so much in real life kind of first dates come with the territory. It includes the no chemistry matches, the mixed signals from one person being over zealous, the dashed hope and even the discouraging realization that you might be looking for a unicorn that just doesn’t exist.

While I am currently acting as nanny to three beautiful babies, I have also been actively dating a few new prospects for employment. Each time, the determination to find my match rallies the best parts of me to come shining through almost on cue – I’m charming and smart, quick-witted and friendly. I reach deep into myself to bring forward my inner sales person and I give it my all, every time, in the hopes of a possible long-term, mutually-beneficial relationship.

Sometimes this attracts unwanted offers, sometimes it means my qualifications are out of their league, and sometimes I’m just not enough to make the final cut.

While I’m still looking for my fairy tale-ending in terms of gainful employment, I’m starting to understand what people mean when they say, interviewing is a valuable skill.

I’m learning quickly who I’d like to have dinner with, past or present, dead or alive; I know my top three weaknesses and strengths like the back of my hand; if I get asked what animal I’d most likely akin to, I know the answer that takes the edge off is a tiger because my name is Toni – which depending on chemistry I can say with a wink; running through my career path from school to present day is like recalling a well-read tale, with which I take care to highlight different parts depending on the role I’ve applied for. I have a proven set of favourite and creative questions to ask when I’m given the opportunity to screen my candidate to help decide if I’d be satisfied long-term, having this stranger hold stake over the majority of my time. Most importantly, I know how to break through and get my possible match to relate to me as a person, to find common ground quickly and figure out a few of their triggers.

Just this past week I nervously met with a candidate that I had been hoping to hear from – the organization, product and team structure all interest me and the role is exactly the pieces I’ve loved about each of my previous ones. When I left I felt comfortable and confident and now am dangerously flirting with the hope of a follow-up request to meet again. The second interview is more my pace, where I feel a bit more in control and am a little more sure of how they’re feeling about me. It will be the date that tells me if I’m all in or not.

In the meantime, wish me luck – I’ve got some research to do for my next first date.

~ Toni

Five-year anniversary

Five years ago today I was on my second day of contractions, wondering at what point I would have my first baby. I had read all the books and taken all the classes, but somehow my baby wasn’t listening to any of the rules. After you have your first baby, you realize there are no rules and that babies run the show.

Her first love, Daddy.

Her first love, Daddy.

My baby, my first baby, is turning five on Wednesday. Five. A whole hand of fingers, a whole half a decade, a whole bunch of moments and memories and tears and nonsense and happiness and terror and pain and love and light. A whole lot of growing. Five.

It marks my five-year anniversary of being a mother.

She, my Sophie, made me a mother.

Her first bath. She hated water.

Her first at-home bath. She hated water.

It was a rough start. There were days (Literally. Four. Not a whole hand, but FOUR days.) of contractions. There were multiple midwife visits, including one where my midwife at the time slept on my couch overnight. She was impressed that there were freshly-baked cookies in the house. I was wondering when the hell my baby would show up.

Not her first (or last) conversation.

Not her first (or last) conversation.

Then there was the drive to the hospital at four in the morning on the day she would be born, the 30th of April. Ben drove through red lights and I was barely aware of where we were. My mom was in the car too. It was her idea to go to the hospital – she didn’t want me screaming and sleeping in the tub anymore (go figure).

Her first (and still) best friend, Elora.

With her first (and still) best friend, Elora.

There was the couple outside the hospital that congratulated us (it was pretty obvious why we were there) as we went in through the ER door. I wanted to punch them. At that point, I didn’t know what they were congratulating us for – so far this motherhood thing sucked.

Too cute. Always.

Too cute. Always.

When we got upstairs to the obstetrics floor, the nurse asked my mom if I wanted an epidural. My mom said, “Ask her.” Love was in short supply between them. The. Whole. Time.

Her first big-sister gig.

Her first big-sister gig.

When I finally got my epidural, and my break from the days-long contractions, I napped. That nap lives forever in my mind as the most blissful because I was by far the most exhausted when I got relief from the pain and was left alone in a quiet room for what seemed like hours.

Her first hair cut.

Her first hair cut.

At 5:00 p.m. my mother-in-law got to leave work ‘early’ on tax deadline day – the first and only one since she became an accountant. She took over for my mom in the delivery room because my mom wanted to kill the nurses (difference of opinion would have been an improvement on the situation). Thus began the insane intimacy I have with my mother-in-law.

Her first of many crowns.

Her first of many crowns.

At 6:00 p.m. I was finally fully dilated with my rule-breaking baby. And I was ‘allowed’ to push. Woohoo. My mother-in-law held one of my legs in the air while I did so. Yes I pooped. Yes I pushed. Yes she was there the whole time. Yup.

Still her first love.

Still her first love.

At 8:00 p.m. I was told that Sophie’s heart rate was dropping during contractions and that I had a fever. That if those things weren’t true, they’d ‘let’ me push for another hour. How nice. The obstetrician strongly suggested a C-section. All I heard was, You get more drugs! I said yes.

Do you want to build a snowman?

Do you want to build a snowman?

We were then told that some poor man fell from scaffolding twenty-feet high and that the anesthesiologist was busy in an operation with him. I was told we were waiting and that I wasn’t allowed to push anymore through my contractions. *sob*

She's only a little crazy.

She’s only a little crazy.

Finally, blissfully, I got to the operating room, I got my more drugs, and my baby was born at 8:50 p.m. They said what it was, but I couldn’t hear them. I asked my anesthesiologist (the one I took away from dinner, I was told) what it was and he said, What do you think? I think people in the hospital were begging for punches that night. He told me a girl after I refused to answer him.

Her first wheels.

Her first wheels.

A girl.

My girl.

Her first day of school.

Her first day of school.

Ben got to go with her to get cleaned up, go with her to meet the family and tell them we had a Sophie, go be her person first while I was getting sewn up. It’s a privilege I never got with my babies. I was never the first to hold them, or carry them, but that’s okay. I was the first to feel them, the first one to hang out with them, and the first one they heard. I was that first.

Feeding her baby.

Feeding her baby.

And she was mine.

Second-gig as big sister.

Second-gig as big sister.

Happy, happy, happy fifth, my beautiful first. Happy, happy fifth to us.

All grown up.

All grown up.

Love, Mama

~ Julia

Guest post – Surviving the empty nest

Julia’s mother-in-law and the Sisterhood’s second mother, Dianne, joins us today as our guest blogger. She’s awesome, so show her some love! ❤

~~~

When do we realize we have changed? It’s not the subtle changes we notice individually, but one day, after an enormous number of microscopic changes, we wake up and realize we are no longer “that person”…whoever that person was. For me, ‘cuz I can only speak for me, that person was someone else’s someone. I spent 55 years being someone else’s someone…a daughter, a little sister, the prize wife, the do-everything-be-everything mom.

Then IT happened, the empty nest happened. How, just tell me, how did this happen? Why did this happen, and especially to me? Empty nest is the quintessential double-edge sword. If it happens then you did a good job, you have successfully launched your offspring into their own lives. If it doesn’t happen then you are a failure, something went wrong and it is most likely your fault! The empty nest affirms that parenting is truly a two-person activity, because the end result is not a wonderful experience alone.

As much as having a child changes your life, no longer having one changes it. At one point in your children’s lives, you were everything to them. Slowly, they have extracted themselves from your scope of influence. If you blink, you will miss that instant when they stand alone, apart from you. You won’t realize it has happened until you discover that the grocery bill has dropped. Now you shop for groceries for special occasions, when the children and grandchildren come for dinner. Otherwise, always keep freezer bags on hand so you can separate the meat into one-person portions.

The question here is how to survive, pick up and press on.

When my mom passed away nine years ago, I baked. I baked everything I knew how and learned some new tricks along the way. I baked for six months. My daughter-in-law took baking back to her mom’s; I supplied the church socials with muffins, cakes and whatever else would fit into a 9×12 pan. That was how I survived that loss. If I couldn’t be thin, then God could make everyone else fat, and I was just doing my share.

When the last one leaves, you celebrate. For me, it was the last wedding, my freedom 55! When the dust settled, the party had ended and all the extended family had gone home, the house became quiet, too quiet.

Now I needed new coping skills. I saw two therapists. The first one decided I had so many issues that he would need to see me twice a week for 18–24 months. We would spend our time digging up all my past issues I had so cleverly buried. The cost would rival my mortgage payments for the period in question. One session with him and I was instantly cured of any repressed issues.

The second therapist lasted longer. She decided on cognitive therapy; let’s talk about what is happening right now, this will help us work on acquiring new skills to cope with being abandoned. She made me think about personal current events, my beliefs regarding those events, and how I might modify my reactions and strengthen the ME I wanted to be.

When I decided to write this blog, I came across one of my homework assignments. I was to make flash cards for myself. Each flash card had 3 positive declarations. Even if I didn’t believe them, I was supposed to write them down. Each day, I was to read these statements without judgement. It’s the power of positive thinking at work.

I stopped reading these cards some time ago. It has been almost two years since the party ended. My journey has not been without trials. Lots of people envy my life. I can sleep late without guilt, I eat cereal for supper because it is easy to prepare, I use the dishwasher once a week so that the parts don’t seize. People forget that at the end of the day, if I haven’t made a conscience effort to see family, no one will touch me, no one will hug me and no one, absolutely no one, will tell me that they love me.

Today, I still am someone’s someone. I am Nana to seven beautiful grandchildren. As they learn to talk, they tell me that they love me, they reach for a hug and a kiss. They continue to need me, even if their parents don’t. What I plan on doing after they grow up, who knows. Let this be a warning to my family: I may unexpectedly drop by, looking for nothing more than a glass of water and an excuse to tell you that I love you.

~ Dianne

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

Boys

So, we have someone staying with us. Joe works at a shop as a first year apprentice mechanic. His boss is an awesome guy who treats Joe and me like family. When Joe’s cousin Mike was having trouble at his old work (he is a fully licensed mechanic), Joe and I invited him to come over for the weekend. Joe usually works or hangs out at the shop on weekends, and his boss has told me countless times that I am welcome to hang out whenever. So with that fateful weekend, we all went to the shop, and Mike and Joe worked on an intake for a van, and Mike had a job offer.

It seemed perfect – Mike was cool with picking up Joe in the morning and they carpool to work, and we were all good with Mike staying with us when he wanted. I didn’t think this one through completely.

I love Mike – he is a great guy, treats me like family, and I can talk to him about anything. It’s easy semi-living with him.

The hard part is me. As my sisters can agree, I am not a joy and sunshine to deal with or live with. I am difficult and sometimes very uncaring towards other people. I have worked on this greatly since high school when I last lived with them, and moving out in college and living with strangers helped this. I have worked on being more patient with people, and while I don’t mind having him around, it’s more I don’t have a chance to actually be my morning self, which is less than the upbeat person I am after a coffee, or at least a tea. I am not a joy in the mornings, and most likely all you will get from me is a grunt. The first day I woke up and wandered out to the living room, I was immediately bombarded with questions about if I was okay, if anything was wrong, if Mike could help in any way, and then he looked to Joe completely worried. Joe patted his cousin on the shoulder, shook his head, and said, “Welcome to Andi in the morning.”

The other thing is that now I spend quite a bit of time alone. I like hanging out with friends, or spending time with people, and I miss the alone time that I used to get with Joe. I miss our dancing in the living room when dinner is just finished cooking. I miss getting the singular play by play of the day, but now I am treated to the double whammy of Joe and Mike both telling me the same story, and often more than once because they seem to be getting more forgetful.

Now, I am complaining a bit here, but on the other hand, I love having Mike around. When I don’t feel like playing video games Mike is always up for another round. When we all have gone out grocery shopping, the boys don’t let me carry anything up to our apartment, or out to the vehicle. It is also really nice that I have more than one person enjoying my cooking.

So, while it is an adjustment to having another body around, and another person to talk to, and another person to hang out with, it is bittersweet. I get to know Joe’s favourite cousin more with each day, but I still half-miss the nights alone, just me and Joe.

In the end, though, it comes down to the fact that I get to spend time with some new family, and I get to see Joe enjoying having his cousin around.

Now, if I could only stop worrying when they start beating each other up and when they gang up on me, then everything would be awesome.

*sigh*

~ Andreah

My black and white romance

I am sorry, lovers of The Notebook, The Vow and any other romantic movie that has come out of late and was once a novel, but nothing beats a classic. Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Roman Holiday, Some Like It Hot…the list could go on!

It could be the unfurling of an intense love affair, or the turmoil and drama that each character was written to work through. It could be the epic lines that make me swoon and go weak in the knees, or it may just be the monochromatic colour scheme – either way they are drool-worthy.

Today when you walk into most home décor stores you are bombarded with mass-produced wall art of Audrey Hepburn and lines that were pulled from interviews that women idealize. There is also the new telling of the late great Elizabeth Taylor’s life – it seems to me that the leading ladies are who everyone remembers. From their perfectly placed hair, to their healthy and natural curves, we place them on a pedestal. I, however, play over and over Humphrey Bogart’s intense stare into Ingrid Bergman’s eyes as he delivers his infamous line…

That is enough to make your foot pop! The leading men is who we fantasize about.

There is a rumour going around that chivalry is dead – but we need to update our fairy tale! In the days of black and white, men and women’s roles were exactly that – black and white! The woman was docile, timid, and picture-perfect and the man was rugged, manly, strong and always the dominant one.

Now to bring you into this decade … These past couple of weeks have been pretty insane, my hours at work have gone up and my hours with Cody have gone down. I am finding it pretty hard to balance all aspects of my life, family, fitness, friends –  but I would be lost if I didn’t have Cody. He is running our house, cleaning the kitchen, taking care of the dogs, making dinner, and making sure I am staying sane. He tells me constantly that he is proud of me, and thanks me for taking on the extra hours to help with saving for our wedding and preparing for the many repairs and updates our house needs this coming spring.

He is my Humphrey Bogart – every time I come home from a long day at work and I find the kitchen clean and the smell of dinner on, I want to jump his bones! It means more than any diamond or present, it’s better than flowers, and it is the biggest way he can show me that he loves me.

Cody is a general labourer, so he is on his feet for his entire shift, it’s hard on his body and it can be even harder on our relationship if he has had a bad day at work. Being together 7 years, you pick up on each other’s cues and signs that a day has been bad. I couldn’t tell you what my particular cues are, but Cody’s are very apparent to me. However even after a hard day at work, he still finds a way to tell me that he loves me. This is my black and white romance.

We are not the perfect couple – in no way. We argue – we are both very stubborn – extremely stubborn. I am right when I am right and he is right when he is right. We have our dark times, but it’s the bright moments that matter. It’s those times that still give me butterflies when he grabs my hand in a crowd, or pulls me in unexpectedly to lay a wet one on me.  My black and white romance is full of colour, thanks to my leading man!

~ Jacqui (a.k.a. Soon-to-be Mrs. Wright)

Dear 16-year-old me

Dear 16-year-old me,

This is the year that you change high schools (by choice this time), the year you start grade 10 as the new girl again, meet and fall in love with two of your still-close girl friends, meet and fall in like with a few boys and then finally meet and fall in love with your first serious boyfriend. He will teach you that laughter really is one of the most important things in life and also that saying goodbye to people you love is hard, but sometimes completely necessary.

Michelle, myself, Katey

Michelle, myself, Katey

I want to tell you that you should be a little more sure of yourself, you’ve got more to offer the world than you give yourself credit for and you shouldn’t put so much weight on the negative influences you’ve faced. I want to tell you that your anger was so, so wasted and it took some joy out of what could have been even better moments. I wish I could tell you that if you could have been a little softer, a little sooner, you might not have been so quick to cut people out of your life. But, you eventually get it in your own time – go you!

You will know by now that your curves – especially your boobs – can and will be both a curse and a blessing. You will one day embrace them for both sides of the coin, especially when it comes time to attend court for your first speeding ticket…don’t worry, he lets you off way easier than the cop did.

You will kick yourself when you realize you should have thanked your big sister sooner for stepping in, every time, without question, whenever, wherever and however you might have needed her – she kind of raised and saved your ass…a lot. (Seriously, thank you, Julia.)

Where would I be without you?

Where would I be without you?

You don’t know it yet, but you are about to make the bold, almost stupid, decision of not attending college directly after high school – I want to thank you for that. Seriously, good move. You get to meet the next great loves of your life – your future fiancé, the man you will marry and his beautiful children – because he remembers you years after your stint in the automotive industry is over. He’ll contact you on a site called Facebook (which I won’t even attempt to explain to you) and the rest is history.

Future You still doesn’t fully understand the feeling women are talking about when they say they “can’t wait to have a baby!” and that’s still okay, but stay open. Try not to let the influential voices in your life dictate this one for you – it is a choice that only you are allowed to make as you are the only one who will live with the results of that choice. And when women who don’t understand your indecisiveness about it make you feel small and ashamed, please don’t let them get into your heart. Not wanting or wanting children of your own does not shape the woman you are and the quality of life that you will have. Those women can suck it.

I wish I could find some way to tell you to be kinder and to go easier on your mama (not that you would have listened, you mule). She has always been your biggest cheerleader and your biggest defender – whether you believe me or not. One day you will be blessed to count her as one of your best friends and won’t ever be able to make it up to her for all the heart attacks and aches you’ve caused her. No matter what path you will choose – even the decisions you’re not proud of (there are eventually a few, trust me) – she will never leave your side. She’s also kind of the best example EVER for a mother’s love and will unknowingly provide the strength and wisdom you need when you become a step-mom.

mama and me

Mama and me

Also, it turns out there is a way to get what you want out of life without fighting and building brick walls at the first hint of heartache. You don’t have to be so ready to fight for your life at a moment’s notice and you will learn the hard way that people will only love and care about you when it’s good for them too. You will also learn that if you continue to make it impossible, they will walk. And some never come back.

Please don’t stop painting. I guarantee you will regret it.

You foolishly will stop running when you begin your first full time job. Thankfully, somewhere in your mid-20s you will fall in love all over again – with the freedom you feel mid-stride, heart pumping, legs aching, sweat dripping, telling yourself just one more kilometer, every kilometer, until you feel satisfied. It’s an even more amazing and rewarding relationship the second time around. ***Bonus hint: this rule DOES NOT apply to all relationships…but you’ll learn that one eventually too.***

Yes, you still cry easily – when angered, when happy, when sad, when overwhelmed, when frustrated, when elated…even commercials do you in. You don’t yet fully love this trait so innate to you, but you get used to it. Eventually. I hope.

You should be warned that people will tell you whatever you want to hear to get what they need or want from you. You learn this rule the hard way a few times (See a theme here? Donkey.). However, be grateful that it still has yet to harden your heart and you learn to always hope for the best from people, every time. The good thing with this is you’re a lot happier this way and more in tune with your gut feel about people or situations.

16 year old me

16 year-old-me

You still have an amazing circle of people that love you and want only the best for you – you have just become a whole lot more appreciative of them and almost hyper-aware of how incredible your friends, family and loves are.

Please, try to remember daily – you are so blessed. Never forget what God has done for you.

Love,

~Toni

Surprises of a stay-at-home mom

Before I had children, and knew everything (ha!), I had ideas about what stay-at-home parents did, what their houses looked like, and what their lives looked like. I also knew (ha!) that I’d never, ever become one. Ever. Never.

I went to a fancy university. I got a fancy (read: expensive) degree. I was a smart cookie. I had plans. I had ambitions. I had ideas. And I was stupid.

Fast forward through four pregnancies, three children, and years of being a stay-at-home mom to today, and let me tell you: I knew nothing. And I still know nothing.

I had some surprises when I became a stay-at-home parent and I thought I’d share them with you. So here, without further ado, are the 10 things that shocked the crap out of me when I became a stay-at-home mom:

1. My house will always be messy. If you do some quick math, I’m home from 10 until 3 every day. That’s five hours of prime cleaning time, you would think. But in reality, I do not have ‘free’ time from 10 until 3. I might have maybe 30 minutes of free time, maybe, and those minutes may not come all at once. They might come scattered throughout the day. So, while one would suppose (like I did before I took this gig) that I would have a magazine-worthy house, the fact of the matter is that there will always be floors to sweep, dishes to wash, toys to tidy, furniture to dust, windows to clean, toilets to scrub, and mirrors to shine. Always. It’s a horrible, self-perpetuating system that never ends.

2. The laundry will never be done. In therapy this week I was lamenting about the fact that my house is in constant chaos (see number 1) and that my laundry is never, ever ‘caught up’. One of the therapists (I had the pleasure of two at my last session!) said, “Unless you become nudists, that’s just the way it is.” She’s right. Even while I’m washing clothes, four other people besides myself are wearing clothes. Dirtying clothes is happening while I’m cleaning clothes. It’s just not fair. And it’s my reality.

3. I will not have a plan for every day. Somewhere in my ridiculous head I thought stay-at-home parents had some sort of social engagement calendar, filled with play dates, book clubs, leisurely coffees in shops, walks in the park pushing a  pram, library visits for grown-up books, or trips to the zoo, beach, fill-in-the-name-of-a-cool-place-here. So not the case. In fact, when we have a day where there isn’t a doctor’s appointment, a speech therapy appointment, groceries to fetch or errands to run, it’s blissful. It’s relaxing. It’s so much better than transporting all of the children with all of the things to the place that they’ll most likely destroy.

4. My kids will not do elaborate crafts every day. Or be enrolled in every play group or activity available to little people who aren’t in school. In fact, the moments where these things happen will be magic and the exception, and will be incredible and awesome, but will also be exhausting to coordinate, too expensive if they’re not free, and will wipe out any energy for anything else that week, making us yearn for days of nothing again (see number 3).

5. I will miss going to work. Before my last maternity leave from my last job, I couldn’t wait to stop working. To be at home and not have to get up with an alarm, or get dressed in fancy clothes and wear uncomfortable shoes, and eat lunch at a desk, and deal with the office politics that float in every workplace. But the reality of my day, complete with God-knows-what on my clothes, my hair looking like I’ve been run over by a tornado, and screaming children bouncing on me at 5:30 every. morning. there are some days, shockingly, that I dream of showering, brushing my teeth, going into work with clean, respectable clothing on, having structure to my day, performance reviews that don’t involve shrieking or temper tantrums, and a lunch where no one touches me. Some days having an out-of-the-house job sounds downright dreamy.

6. I will feel trapped sometimes. There seems to be such freedom for people who don’t have to work. But that’s just the thing: even though I don’t go anywhere, I still have to work. And my bosses don’t quit at 5 p.m. or stop sending demands outside of work hours. There are no such things as work hours. And so, some days, when my Monday looks like my Wednesday, which looks like my Saturday, it feels like I’m on a continuous loop with no end and no reprieve. Some days, there is nothing but boundary and restriction in my seemingly freedom-filled day.

7. I will wonder if I made the right decision. It’s a big decision to not return to work, to stay at home, and yet, for us, it was such a short conversation and it was made with very little debate or fuss. Ben and I talked about a few things: money that we would otherwise make, money we’d save if one of us stayed home, his career trajectory being able to recover in his industry versus mine after an extended absence, Lillian’s needs in terms of appointments at the children’s hospital an hour away, speech therapy weekly (at that time), and hearing aid/implant upkeep, and it just made sense: we needed someone to stay home and the person that it would work best for was me. Although logical, some days I wonder if everyone wouldn’t be happier, better off, our bank account less stressed out, if I were to just return to work. Some days.

8. I believe stay-at-home parents should be paid. I didn’t before. Because I didn’t recognize the magnitude of what they were doing and the positive effect they were having on their families by staying home. It’s a luxury in this day to stay home with your children. It shouldn’t have to be. It should be an option every family, whether single-parented or blended or couple-parented should have. It should be something that everyone has access too, not just the very rich. And let me say, we are not the very rich. I don’t know if we should get paid what people think we’re worth (like the infographic below argues), but I do think we should get something to make ends meet a little bit easier.

SAHM salary

No one is paying me this, let me tell you.

9. I don’t eat bon-bons and watch my stories. A little bit of me (okay, a lot a-bit-of-me) thought that stay-at-home parents had days like working people have when they call in sick – daytime TV, naps, lounging around in your pyjamas, eating because you’re bored, reading, playing video games, taking hot baths and going to bed early. Just like people who think having children is like having pets, I was mega-wrong. Even on days that Ben is home or someone is here helping me, my day doesn’t look anything like the sick days I had when I was in school or when we were just married.

10. I will work hard every day to stay present. It sounds like a fantasy, especially to a new mom or dad facing having to return to work: you get to stay home and watch your children grow up. You won’t miss the firsts that working parents might. You won’t miss out on milestones and you’ll have all the answers and know everything about your baby at appointments or when people ask. You’ll know you are your baby’s everything. The hard truth for me is that some days I want to be anywhere but here. That not every day is a monumental day that I give thanks for because I got to witness the first crawl, the first step, the first word, the first poop in the potty. That some days are bad or boring. Some days nothing happens at all, the minutes crawl by, and there is no end to the poop in the potty. Some days suck. But I know that this gift, this luxury, is a once-in-a-lifetime. That our babies will never be this age again, that I will never have this much access again. That I have a gift that Ben does not. That being home is a blessing. And I will work every day, even those crappy ones, to remember that. And I will accept that some days it will be impossible to remember. But most days it will be the thing that gets us through.

~ Julia

Guest post – Blessed

To celebrate our 50th post, we asked our mom to write a guest blog. Thank you so much for reading with us this far! We can’t wait for the next 50. And to our Mommita – we LOVE you!

As I anxiously await each new submission to the blog, I realized something: I crave connection with my babies every day. Even as they live their lives, I still want and need to be a part of their lives. After all, I am a mom and will always be. Oh, I have added a few titles to my repertoire, Grammie being my most favorite of new additions next to girlfriend. Before this blog there were days when I had no connection with them either by phone, chat, email, text or Facebook updates. Those days I felt almost empty; something was missing. You see, my greatest accomplishment and joy are my four babies. Just thinking about them makes me cry with joy and pride. When my girls asked me to write for the blog, I responded, “You know I am going to cry,” to which Julia and Toni immediately responded, “I know,” and, true to form, I did.

I love being their mom and always have. I never doubted that I would be proud of each of them, that I would be there for them, that I would do whatever was needed to help them, guide them or rescue them. As I see what lives in their hearts, I see the girls I know, love and adore. I am blessed!

The ladies, back in the day

The ladies, back in the day (L to R: Toni, Mom, Andreah, Jacqui, Julia)

My girls, each in their own way, were my strength as I ventured to take the most challenging of steps in my life to be me again, a woman, a single woman. They were my cheering section, along with their men and the many friends, Dianne and Paula to just name a few, and family. With each step I took, from renovating the house in preparation to sell, to moving to a new town, they were there. It was hard for me to find the courage I needed. I was scared – let’s face it, I had been a part of a couple for 28 years. I had never done this before, be just me. But I am absolutely sure that it was even harder for my girls to see me venture out, dating (we call it shopping for shoes), harder for them to start a new life without the two parents they loved not be in one place.

Oh, what had I done? How have I failed them? What kind of example am I to end my marriage? This was all I could think as I watched each of them struggle to find the balance in all this. It broke my heart to see the impact on each. When I expressed this to Julia so many moons ago, she said something to me that has stuck: you have shown us that it is okay to say enough, it is okay to say this is not good for me and move on. I hear my OH so wise daughter each time I make a change in my life.

Don’t get me wrong – if I had to do it all over again I would not change a thing about our life as a family. I loved my life, loved being his wife, rallied in the title that will be mine forever- Mommy, Mom, Mommita – joyful in what was “our family” no matter how flawed it was, it was ours. Through all the trials and joys, that is where we grew, where the bond as women began. Without all those experiences we would not be who we are today – strong, independent and dependent, loving, giving and, yes, emotional women.

A wise man once said to me that if you put God in your life and seek His favour first, all things are possible. He was right. Through many prayers, I found an amazing man who I loved and lost. I was lead to an amazing job that I did not apply for but got that I love and still have today. The many of the lessons in my life have shown me that it is okay to be just me, that no matter what society says I should have done, I did my very best. I am not perfect, but that is okay too. Over time and putting God first in my morning prayers and pleadings through the tough moments, I have found a new love that makes me joyful and filled with laughter. With that love comes new joy and even more family to love. I wake up every morning in love with my man, in love with our families, so happy to be me. I am blessed as only God can bless me, with a life that is worth living with no regrets!

~ Christine (a.k.a. Mom)

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!