A little local love

I need to do some gushing.

I know, I know, what else is new?

But no, seriously. Have you heard about Heather Baker of Photography by Heather? If you haven’t, you need to check out her space.

If you have, then you’ve been let in on one of the best small business owners Galt, Ontario has to offer.

Heather is an incredible family, child and event photographer, working in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and greater Toronto area. As a small business owner, she gives back to her community, promotes what she loves – especially other small business owners in the communities she works in – and really is just an all around kick-ass human being.

Between her heart, her gift for the perfect shot and her ability to put her subjects at ease, she’s an ace!

I have had the pleasure of working with Heather on multiple occasions, in many settings and she never ceases to impress me with her growth in her art.

She’s shot me (with a camera and lens of course) and my sisters, and caught one of our favourite moments to date in frame:

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I’ve worked with her in a more intimate setting as a gift for my future husband:

The 'Mike approved' blog shot - photo credit: Close Your Eyes Photography

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She’s captured Julia’s growing family at almost every stage since she opened her business:

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She was entrusted with Jacqui and Cody’s big day and once again caught some of the most memorable moments:

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I’ve known for a while that Heather would be trusted with many memories and milestones to come for my family.

Just a few weeks ago, she stole our hearts with her generosity with our engagement shoot. While we only have a sneak peak so far, I already know we will love every picture in our gallery.

When she offered to pull a mini-road trip to a special spot to get the kind of shoot we wanted, I was thrilled. While there were some cues, and a few tuckings of this hair and untucking of this shirt, it felt as though Michael and I were on a date, surrounded by love the whole time, instead of posing for a picture. I feel she invested in our relationship, in our memories and in her work.

From planning our session, right down to the very last shot, she took her time to make sure what she knew of Michael and I and how Michael and I feel about each other, would resonate through our photos and be very personal to us.

I am so very happy you were the one to mark a special milestone for Michael and I, Heather. I love our sneak peak:

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I could tell you more, but I really think you should just have a consult or book with her and find out for yourself. To contact Heather, please email her here. I also highly recommend following her here and making sure to like her here.

~ Toni

A Call for Change

Before I get too far into this post, I would like to preface it with this:

I have the utmost respect for the police, the people behind the badge, the sacrifices they make that I simply could not and for keeping us safe. Seriously. I mean no disrespect to the honour they stand for, the lives they give up to serve and the horrors that I can only imagine they have seen as first responders and the mental health weight they carry from their role serving our communities. I especially mean no slight to those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives in the line of duty.

I am not a cop, I have never been in a situation that required my response rate and ability to make life altering decisions within seconds and I have no idea what it is like to be faced with situations like this.

I would also like to preface this with not being or claiming to be God and therefore unable to truly know all of the events leading up to and during the horrific incident that occurred in LA on Skid Row this past Sunday. This is not a post about race. This is not a post against our brave men in blue. This is not a post taking a stand or a side with or against anyone.

That being said, it is a post about this:

What I have a problem with are the four, fair-sized men, armed with multiple weapons and professional training – some of the worlds best and finest as we are told – losing control of one man. One man that while/shortly after being tazed to the ground was apparently able to manage the energy and strength to wrestle an officer’s weapon from them – in some accounts he only reached for it and did not actually have hold of the weapon. What I have a problem with is the man who was fatally shot was known to officers as was his history and struggle with mental illness. What I have a problem with is the way it seems lives are ranked in order of importance in a situation such as this – determining that the homeless man deserved to die for resisting and struggling with FIVE shots being fired at him, into him. That the officers chose to shoot FIVE bullets into an unarmed man. I have a problem with this being the solution. FIVE shots. Over what one witness claims was the repeated request for the removal of his tent. Here’s where I had to ask myself; How do unarmed nurses, orderlies and doctors deal with mentally ill patients that are clearly out of control or physically threatening them or another patient? And how do they stay safe without killing them? They tactically take them down by each grabbing a limb – in ignorance of never being through it, is this not part of basic training for the police?

I do not understand where our society went wrong. When this type of response became acceptable. When this level of violence, of force was a reasonable reaction to this kind of situation. When did this story become more and more familiar as we become numb to it. And while I do understand that the media tailors the main stream news to whatever cause or conflict they would like us to be fearful over at the moment, I also understand that the role of an officer is to ‘serve and protect’ the people of a community – it seems the many kinds and characters it takes to make up said communities is sometimes forgotten, specifically the mentally ill. When a man pleads for his life stating he can’t breathe, or a child raises their hands in surrender, or a homeless man struggles with police in broad daylight, yet their lives are still swiftly taken, I cringe that this is a world where I live. That this is the reality of our society today. That we agree this is how a ‘crime’ should or even can be punished.  The extremeness of our society scares me, as it should you.

Our jobs, regardless of earthly occupation should we ever be so humbly reminded, are to take care of each other. To look after and watch over one another. For the lions to protect the lambs – may they be children, mentally ill, senior, challenged in any way, your sibling who is overwhelmed, a friend that struggles with addiction, the hungry that need to be fed. Our roles as souls, as human beings, are to love one another and help each other thrive, heal and LIVE.

Our roles are to find peace and harmony, not perpetuate and accept fear, life-ending violence and judgement.

What made this life worth less than any other?

What made this life worth less than any other?

My heart hurts because it seems there has been very little conversation about what happened on Sunday. It hurts because on the third anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s senseless death, this society seemed more interested in starting actual arguments over the colours of a dumb dress then having any real conversation about our obligation to fix what we have accepted and therefore, have broke. My heart hurts that I am even a little worried at how this post is going to be received, because I know the majority of people don’t want to hear the truth or talk about the hard shit, or deal with the reality of where we are headed as a society. We would all rather talk about the colours of a dress and pretend that what is happening is just what they show us on TV and not what is occurring in our own backyards and in the streets of our own communities as it hits closer and closer to home.

As I said earlier, I am not God, nor do I claim to be – all we have is a bit of unclear video. I was not a direct witness to the details of this past Sunday, nor do I think we will ever have all of the information, as we see in cases such as this. I do not claim to have the answers, but I do have the feeling in my soul that this level of violence and response is unacceptable and that if is not addressed, curbed and improved upon, it will only continue to evolve beyond any solution, if it hasn’t already.

~ Toni

Je suis Charlie

We are a small blog with a small readership, but that doesn’t mean that every single post, every single page view, every single word we write isn’t an exercise in freedom of speech, thought, and creation.

The acts in Paris yesterday will do nothing to dampen the voices that call for equality, human rights, or the eradication of terrorism in all of its forms.

So, today, we stand with Paris and the world:

Je-suis-Charlie

~ WV Sisterhood

Clara’s Big Rest

We’ve already admitted that the Sisterhood has a HUGE girl crush on Olympian Clara Hughes. And we’ve all been watching her ride across Canada to raise awareness for mental health. But today we’d like to thank her.

Thank you for 11,000 km of bike riding to show your commitment to fighting the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Thank you for 110 days away from your home to speak to other people in their homes, to talk about something that should never be a secret or hidden.

Thank you for meeting with 105 communities to discuss mental health issues, their effect on people’s lives, and what we can do to help.

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Thank you for being awesome. For being strong. And for talking.

You’re a rock star, Clara Hughes. A bonafide rock star.

~ Weather Vane Sisterhood

*To find out how YOU can help, check out the Bell Let’s Talk website. And seriously – let’s talk. 

Overtime: A survival guide

These past couple of weeks have been nutso at work with the launch of our upgraded system! I was so very lucky to be a part of the team in the launch, but with this came overtime… hours spent with the team rather than cuddled up with my pups and Cody. It was so nutso that I have hardly made dinner and the laundry and the dishes are mounting…  However I made it through the wilderness, oh ya I made it throughhhhhhhhhhhOHHHH… And how, do you ask, did I make it through?

1. CAFFEINE

Coffee

I used to avoid caffeine because after all it stunts growth, and with how deficient I am in that department, I couldn’t chance shrinking! But then I became a grownup, one that gets up in the morning, packs a “proper lunch” and skips off to work with my second cup of joe in my hand. That’s right. I said second. This is a marathon, not a sprint people! When you have 12 maybe dare I say 14 hours ahead of you staring a computer screen, wanting to rip your hair, her hair and everyone’s hair out because you are so confused and tired, caffeine is your BEST FRIEND! It’s a warm cup of WAKE UP, and also is a good distraction to that very loud grumble coming from your stomach…which leads me to my next point!

2. Food for fuel

Hangry

Our team and our whole office consists of mostly women, and when women get hungry…we get hangry, which by definition is the emotion of anger coming from the lack-o-food in one’s belly. When you are hungry and working until the wee hours of the morning, there is no diet, or logical reasoning behind your cravings – just give in! You want bananas, string cheese, and Skittles, you get the damn things! Because if you miss something that one of your co-workers requested, you best believe that you are going to hear about it for the rest of the night.

3. Laughter

Laughter

No matter what it is that is tickling your fancy, laugh! If it makes you laugh till you cry, and it’s not even that funny, laugh. Laugh at a mispronounced name, or the way that your boss is slurping up her grapefruit while trying to be serious about the project you are working on. You are going to go CRAZY if you take everything seriously! Laugh – trust me…it makes it all better.

4. Caffeine

Caffeine

Yes, I am repeating myself, but it needs to be repeated. This is the mid-afternoon, 3-p.m.-we-gotta-make-it-till-1-a.m. coffee. Whether it’s iced coffee, black coffee, triple-triple, medium roast, non-fat, all the fat whole milk with whip, WHAT EVER IT IS… just keep the caffeine coming…I mean it. Caffeine makes the world a better place…I may need to get help…

5. Mirror avoidance

Mirror

When you go to the bathroom mid-afternoon (this is inevitable after 1 and 4; it’s just science), keep your head down. The mirror will only remind you of how many hours of sleep you missed out on last night…and the night before that, and the night before that, and what day of the week is it? Seriously – when you look in the mirror it’s not going to be pretty, all the mirror is going to do is show you the mustard stain that is on your shirt…even though you didn’t have anything with mustard today…and you may be wearing the same outfit as yesterday. But hey! You brushed your teeth this morning… so, go get yourself a cookie! And more coffee…

6. Goal setting

Goals

Whether it is those super cute shoes you saw in the window, a boob job, or your wedding… make you the reason that the overtime is worth it. And constantly remind yourself why you look the way and feel the way you do. That there is a point to this madness!  Just like when you are sweating your balls off while working out, you are doing it for something!

7. Clock avoidance

Time

Just like mirrors, clocks are also something to avoid! It will remind you that you are normally in bed at this hour, or your kiddies are just finishing up bedtime routine, or that you forgot to feed your cat, thus increasing the likelihood of them wanting to eat you when you go home at night and fall asleep before forgetting to feed them, while you are standing up pretending to brush your teeth. Trust me…just as long as there is a rough estimate, and you can look up from the basement windows of your office, and realize that you have no life right now…then refer to numbers 1-6 and keep pushing through!

8. Support

Teamwork

Whether it looks like a fellow co-worker, who HATES human contact, giving you a hug because you look like you are going to cry, which in turn makes you cry, make sure you have support. I could not have gotten through the insanity of this project without the INSANE women who I was working with. I saw their mugs a hell of a lot more than I did my own (see #5). But they made me go to bed when I was having a mental break down from lack-o-sleep. We listened to each other snap, crackle and pop throughout the entire project. There was also support from home, where Cody would send me sweet and encouraging messages to remind me of how far we came… and that quitting now would be pointless.

We did it ladies…we got through that hell…and we will get through the next bout of insane work hours as well. If I can do it…you can do it…but I am not responsible for the caffeine jitters that are to ensue.

~ Jacqui

Jitters no more

This week is Sophie’s last week of her first year of school. It’s ‘only’ junior kindergarten, but it’s so momentous…especially because she’s our first baby. Our first baby went to her first school. And she not only survived, she THRIVED. Thank goodness.

At the beginning of the school year I had a bunch of worries for a bunch of reasons. 1. I’m a worrier. Period. The end. It’s something that has always been part of my psyche and something I’m working on stamping out…or at least, getting under control. 2. My first day of school was filled with tears. Horrible, awful, ugly-cry tears. My mom put me on the bus to go to kindergarten and I was bawling. The old, curmudgeonly bus driver rasped, “Leave her. She’ll be fine.” The bus doors closed, my mom disappeared and I ended up sitting in the wrong seat (there was a boy side and a girl side and it was organized by grade – I sat on the boy side in an older grade’s row) crying all the way to school. 3. I’m a worrier. So yeah.

On this last Monday of this school year, I thought I’d recount some of the worries I’d had at the beginning of the year…and they all turned out okay in the end.

I was due with Isaac three weeks after Sophie started school. There was a lot of worry around how I would do it all. How I would make Sophie feel special and loved and supported with a newborn in the house. How I would waddle around post-C-section and be Mom of the Year without losing my mind. How I would keep track of three kids AND a school schedule. How I would have a newborn without the dreamy, sleepy, slow days that newborns had kick started for our family in the past. My C-section was scheduled Friday September 13. Sophie started school the week before. It was tight. It was dicey. I felt like I could totally do it. HA. Isaac showed up four weeks early on his own IGNORING ALL SCHEDULES. So I had a giant, new incision on the first days of school. And a newborn. And Sophie felt loved and cared for. And our dear friends, Heather and Adam, folded Sophie into their morning routine with their children and walked her to school for us for 6 weeks. And it was okay.

Sophie and her BFF Elora

Sophie and her BFF Elora

Would her teacher be nice? It’s a TERRIFYING thing, sending your child into a building you’ve never been in, to do things you have no control over, with adults you’ve never met before, for large expanses of time over and over and over again. TERRIFYING. They don’t tell you this. I didn’t realize this. Sophie wasn’t terrified, but I was SO WORRIED and SCARED for her. What if her teacher was mean? What if her teacher was awful? What if they didn’t understand her? What if they didn’t let her go pee? What if they made her take off her crown? What if what if what if? There was a horrible, no-good, yelling teacher, Mrs. Miller, at my elementary school that my sisters had…and she was HORRENDOUS. What if Sophie got her Mrs. Miller? Nerves, nerves, nerves. But in truth, Sophie didn’t get that teacher. She got AMAZING teachers. Ones that loved her. Ones that she loved. Ones that called her Princess Sophie. Ones that were excited with her. Ones that put all fears about teachers aside. I’m not naive enough to think that she’ll never have a teacher that she doesn’t get along with, or one that isn’t the best, but this year, she had three teachers that were awesome. And to Mrs. Service, Ms. G, and Miss Bunghardt – THANK YOU. Thank you thank you thank you for making her love school. And for making it okay.

What do you mean we have to walk to school EVERY day? That’s nuts. That’s crazy. That’s not possible. Have you seen how short her legs are? Do you know how many children I have? Do you have any idea how hard it is to have any sort of schedule or organization with a newborn and a two-now-three-year old and a non-stop chatting junior kindergartener? Do you know what it’s like in the winter in our town? What happens when there’s so much snow on the ground we can barely walk? What happens when it’s so cold we’d normally not go outside if you paid us? What THEN?? I was ALWAYS a sheltered bus student growing up. The bus came to my driveway. The bus picked me up. The bus kept me safe. The bus dropped me off at school. The bus picked me up at school. The bus kept me safe. The bus dropped me off at my driveway. No walking. No unknown. No weather that I had to deal with directly. But you know? Walking to school every day wasn’t so bad. And when it got SO BAD, my amazing friends Adam and Heather and my incredibly generous sister Toni stepped in to help. And when it got SO MUCH BETTER walking to school every day was awesome – it was fresh air, it was outside, it was time for Lillian to run and Isaac to see the sun and me to get fresh air and for us to meet other walking families with kids our kids’ ages and…it was okay.

What if she gets bullied? It’s all you hear about. Kids getting bullied. Bullies running wild with no repercussions. Children not telling teachers. Teachers not responding. All of the horror stories of school becoming a torturous place. But after healing and walking to and from school with Sophie and meeting her friends (she made FRIENDS!!) and asking her about her day and listening to what problems she was having (“I don’t like it when no one listens to me.”), I calmed down. She wasn’t being bullied. And again, I’m not naive enough to think she’ll never meet a bully (I met my fair share) or get bullied, but this year wasn’t the year. It was okay.

She can’t write any letters. She doesn’t know how to read. She’s going to fail. Again, calm yourself, Julia. CHILL OUT. You know – they teach kids at school. And if, while a hundred years pregnant with a toddler AND a preschooler at home you didn’t get around to teaching your kid everything they’re going to learn at school, it will be okay. You know what else is okay? Getting to school late sometimes. And missing school because of a bad night’s sleep. Or dealing with head lice. Or dealing with croup. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it’s hard. But overall…it’ll be okay. Seriously. Calm. Down.

Saucy...and too smart for me

Saucy…and too smart for me

After dealing with all of these worries…I only have one left. How on earth am I going to be as exciting as school this summer? I don’t have a curriculum. She’s going to be SO BORED. !!!! 

Julia

Random act of kindness

On Toni Tuesday, we were admonished to consider how we spend our kindness, how we offer help to others, and how we may not do it enough.

Today and into the weekend, try doing one random act of kindness. Just one. And let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page about it. And maybe we can be part of a movement that puts smiles on faces, relieves heavy loads, and brightens someone’s day.

Happy Friday! And good luck!

Society, you’re a crazy breed

I apologize now.

I need to rant.

This past weekend, I helped a few of my fellow human beings, stuck in situations that could easily ruin anyone’s day. While strangers to me, these people were still people and helping them in their situations did not feel like a heroic task by any means. Remember, kindness is free.

A little kindness goes a long way

A little kindness goes a long way

Early Friday morning, I stopped at the gas station in my neighbourhood to fill up my truck and put air in the tires of my bike as I was headed off to ride the trails with my girlfriend, Chantelle.

Roughly taking about 10 minutes to fill my tank, I noticed an older woman standing beside her vehicle at the air pump, next to a few pieces of luggage, her face wrought with worry. Upon further analysis of the situation, I noticed a man with his arms struggling with the spare tire near the undercarriage of the vehicle. After filling my tank and paying for my fuel, I pulled up beside them, jumped out of my truck and did what I thought any of the other 10-15 people that had been in and out of the station would have. I asked them if they needed some help.

I will forever have a hard time forgetting the thankfulness and relief on that woman’s face. Helping her brother release the stuck spare, he looked at me sheepishly and admitted that he had never changed a tire before. Luckily, I had.

I easily showed him how to adjust his jack and remove the lug nuts, but when it came time to remove the tire, it wouldn’t budge and I didn’t want to shake the SUV off the jack. I looked around for some assistance and noticed two men sitting in their work truck, watching me. They had been fueling their truck at the same time as I had and sat their watching me wrestling with this stubborn flat. Annoyed, I smiled shortly and waved them over to help. Quickly realizing how ridiculous they looked, they came over and helped me complete the tire change.

While they finished up I got to talking with Maria – we found some common ground in nationality, she apologized profusely for the chips in my day-old manicure, thanked me repeatedly and chatted about their situation and her brother’s four hour journey ahead. And then she broke my heart as she confessed she had tried to get a few people’s attention before I came over and gripped me in a thankful hug.

What happened to our society? Are we really too busy and too important to notice a fellow human in distress, requiring a simple helping hand? It hurts my heart that my actions were the exception and not the standard.

I carried on with my day’s planned activities – tackling 24kms of trail with Chantelle, running errands in the afternoon, Maria’s thankfulness never far from my thoughts and the worry for our world weighing on my heart.

The following morning, after a pretty ridiculous and amazing morning spent in a sun rise hike of laughter with three of my favourite ladies (which I will share with you next week!) I drove my mister to work as my truck was in service for the day and I needed his wheels. On my trek home I took notice of a 90’s Saturn sedan on the side of the 401, four ways flashing, no driver to be seen. She appeared in the horizon about up 5 km further down the highway and all I could think was, that’s a long way to walk on the side of the highway any day, let alone a busy mid-morning on a Saturday.

I weighed the risks, slowed my speed, put on my four-ways, ensured I was safely pulled over, and waited as the kind-faced woman approached the window. She kept her distance at first, as she explained she had ran out of gas and was unable to use her CAA membership because the card was in her husbands name and he wasn’t with her. I asked her if she wanted a ride. Again, my desire to help taking her by surprise, she introduced herself as Kathy and climbed in the passenger seat.

She thanked me after we reached the gas station, assuming our interaction over and gathered her purse. I quickly corrected her, offering to wait and drive her back to make sure her car started. Her face lit up with a smile as she accepted, located a jerrycan, and returned to the car. Our ride back to her car was filled with conversation about our shared Sarnia connection, her girlfriend from younger years that shared my name and dark features, where she was headed and the cottages she manages in Wasaga. She thanked me a thousand times and each time I reiterated that if it was me, I would have hoped someone would have stopped to offer to help. If it was someone I loved and I couldn’t be there to help, I would hope someone would be kind enough to help them.

The point is that yes, we all have things to do, people to love that we already know, and jobs to fulfill. Yes, it is easier to pass by a situation than help, but our communities could be so much more fulfilling with a little faith in human kind and the return of a little kindness.

~ Toni

ps. Kathy left me this little token of thanks in the door when I dropped her off at her vehicle and I didn’t notice until I pulled in the driveway. Seriously brought the biggest smile to my face. Thank you, Kathy ❤

Winner no matter what!

Winner no matter what!

Something special to me

Okay, so everyone has a thing, right?

Everyone has that guilty pleasure in their life that not a lot of people know about. Whether it is Julia and her love of gossip, or some people with their love of soap operas, everyone has one and everyone deserves one.

I have one… I have a love of web comics.

I have two that are my favourites that I read every day, and when I found them I went back and started from the beginning. I devoured and read them both through the night, and I still go back and revisit the beginning like I do my favourite books.

I love the fact that I got to see the artists grow with their followings. That their art work kept growing as well until it is the spectacular comics I read today, and they still try and improve, and are still doing as much as they can to connect to their fans, whether it is conventions or tours.

I also love how you get a glimpses into their lives every once in a while and you get to feel like a part of their lives even if only for a moment.

The first is called Questionable Content. It is by an amazing artist named Jeph Jacques.

It is about an awesome and eclectic group of friends. They live in a parallel word where there is Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), and the robots have a storyline all their own. (If you want more information check out the wiki page!)

My favourite character in this series is Hannelore, or Hanners. She has severe anxiety and mental health issues but she keeps improving and working through each one and she is happily getting better with the help of her wacky friends.

My other favourite comics is Girls With Slingshots. It is by an equally amazing artist Danielle Corsetto.

“The strip’s two main characters, Hazel and Jamie, sprung to life in a strip called Hazelnuts, the unintentional prequel to GWS. The title was derived from requests Danielle used to get at comic conventions to draw girls with guns (she sucked at drawing guns, so she drew them with slingshots).”

– Girls With Slingshots

Hazel is always stuck in the past and her best friend Jamie keeps pushing her forward. There is also the mysterious Clarice who is a librarian by day, Dominatrix by night.

There are more characters, but those are my favourite.

The thing I love about this comic is that there are so many dynamics of couples, relationships, and friendships. Each one has something special or different about them. For instance, Jamie is head-over-heels in love with a wonderful girl named Erin, but they are an asexual cuddly kind of lovely couple (I don’t know if I am explaining this just right, but I love the depth that this relationship has.)

The stories of each of the characters opens up your mind to new possibilities and gives you warm fuzzy feelings all over.

These two artists are amazing. I have been reading them for about four years now, and every time I visit these to web universes I am never disappointed.

If you want go give them some love, and hopefully you will fall in love with them like I did.

~ Andreah

Tell her she’s awesome

I talked about the idea of feeling bad for people who want children and who have announced that they’re pregnant – worrying over their mental health, the blow to their sense of self, and the permanent upheaval of their lives that they will experience – and how it is wrapped up in my own battles with PPMDs. But is it completely restricted to me or other moms who have experienced mental illness or something traumatic? Or might I be onto something bigger?

I read an article on HuffPost Parents (seriously love following them) called: Throwing a New Mom Pity Party. The author, Kate Rope, a two-time mother and PPMD warrior, postures that maybe, just maybe, it might not be such a bad idea to talk about the bad stuff, the hard stuff, the stuff that makes you think, “What the HELL have I gotten myself into?” with as much zeal as the sweet-baby smell, the realized dream of being a mother, and the all-encompassing love you’re supposed to feel.

She says:

…I don’t think it’s a bad thing to acknowledge the tragedy that can accompany this socially recognized miracle. Why do you think Zorba called having a wife, kids and a house “the full catastrophe?” That’s what life is — messy and filled with highs and lows. And, when it comes to motherhood, we need to normalize the lows. There is no shame in talking about how it sucks (albeit not around your friend who is on her second round of IVF) and in reaching out for help at any stage of it.

In the article, she talks about wanting to give a weary-looking mother of a newborn a hug when she spots her in a coffee shop. But she refrains, because truly she doesn’t know what’s going on with her and she’s looking at the mom through the lense of someone who has suffered in her motherhood. And maybe this mom isn’t suffering, per say, but she’s a mother of a young baby, and that is not inherently easy.

But that’s just the point – young babies notoriously don’t sleep, have trouble eating or latching, drain you, throw your schedule for a loop, cry because they don’t know how to pass gas and sometimes scream for no reason at all. Why can’t we talk to a stranger about that? Is it the same reason that we say “Good!” whenever we’re asked how we’re doing in passing?

I get it – you don’t want to freak out some poor defenseless person on the street with your insistence they talk about their feelings right now, but maybe we should relax a little about talking about it in our circles of friends, or family, with our own parents, or with people in our baby yoga class. Maybe we should let go of the idea of perfection and embrace the fact that it’s crazy messy and we’re all doing our very best.

A dear mom-friend of mine, Sara, texted me saying that I should write about “creating a new mom environment – supporting not critiquing – how to create a village”. I think there might be three blog posts in there, but she’s right: as new parents, we’re bombarded with a hundred different ways to do the smallest of things and each of those options claim to be the RIGHT WAY because the other ways just might KILL YOUR BABY. It’s overwhelming. And not helpful.

If you breastfeed your baby, you’re a rock star. If you don’t, you’re a horrible mother. If you make your own baby food, you’re crazy and a health-nut. If you buy jarred food, you better be buying organic, because goodness knows what’s in the ‘other’ stuff.

There is no winning. There is no making the best decision for your family and appeasing everyone else. There is no being perfect.

And therein lies the rub.

No one is perfect. No one has all the answers. No one has ever raised a child completely mess- and stress-free. NO ONE. EVER. PERIOD. But, ads, magazines, well-meaning relatives, friends with children, friends with pets, friends who live in their parents’ basement will tell you otherwise. Will tell you that you’re doing it wrong. That they have a better way. That they are right.

Not everyone will experience my personal pain of surviving a miscarriage or fighting with mental illness. Not everyone will walk the road that I had to in order to become a mother. But everyone who becomes a parent will stumble at some point. Will have a hard time at some point. Will wonder who they have become at some point. Inevitably. No life change comes without challenge. If it did, it wouldn’t be life-changing. It would be hanging out on the couch watching your favourite show. Not doing something awesome and crazy and hard.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

I have come across this incredible online community fueled by Glennon Doyle Melton, a woman who has lived a far from perfect life, but who is learning to embrace the truth that everyone has also lived and is living a far from perfect life, called Momastery. Here, mothers from around the world chime in about embracing their flaws and failures and not working so damn hard pretending that life is anything but nuts. It’s incredibly liberating. And comforting.

Because sometimes, days when I’m covered in poop (no, literally), when I realize the pants I have been wearing have been peed on by two different children on two different days, when I can’t remember the last time I had a shower, when I just want five seconds alone without any sound, I wonder if I’m doing it wrong. If I’m not accomplishing some illusive mom-goals. If I’m failing miserably. If everyone else is normal and I’m the exception.

And then I find things like Momastery. And the Messy Beautiful Warrior Project on Pinterest (an ATTAINABLE Pinterest board, people!) And I realize, not only am I not messing up, but I’m doing awesome because I’m doing it. 

So, the next time you see a new mom, or the mom who is yelling, or the mom on her iPhone, or the mom checking out the no-name, non-organic food in the grocery store, instead of judging, or wondering if you’re doing it wrong, maybe tell her she’s doing alright. She’s doing just fine. And then tell yourself, you’re not too shabby either.

Because as Kate writes in her article, “Even if being a parent is one of your most important life goals — it was for me. You are allowed to struggle — a lot. And just because you signed up for a life-changing experience, doesn’t mean you don’t deserve help with all the changes it brings.”

So, help her with her groceries, if your hands are empty. Be truthful when talking about this craziness that is parenthood. Don’t judge when someone makes a different choice than you. And keep in mind that you are doing your best, and that is pretty freaking awesome.

Just show up Be brave Be kind Rest Try again

~ Julia