Just me

I don’t know if it is something that happens to every one, or even every woman, but at some point in this last bit of my 20’s, I’ve really grown to like me.

Just me, as I am. Right now.

I know it sounds silly, or like I am boasting, but I’m not. I have lots of demons and areas of myself that I know need a shit ton of work and things about my being that I would rather not have to face. But I do. And I am.

Constantly.

What I mean by really liking me, is that I really like who I am growing into. I really enjoy my own company and find myself craving more time alone. I am really comfortable with myself today, even more so than yesterday and even more so than the day before that.

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It’s an evolution I am enjoying the more and more I learn and understand about life from a spiritual perspective, a topic which is sometimes met with eye rolls and sighs. A few that are closest to me have started to referring to me as a hippie when I speak about being more conscious and awake or the adventures I get up to – a title I am fine with because I know what they mean and that they mean it with love. I have come to the realization that people can only meet you as far as they have grown themselves and that is okay. I have also noted on this journey that when some people cannot accept you for who you are or struggle with who you’ve grown into, it is okay to know their time in your story might be coming to an end.

I am okay with not being normal or what is expected. I am aware that I am a bit different and it feels good to me. I am enjoying being in a place where I can look back and say, I have come so far from who I was and I’m getting even closer to who I really am.

In fact, if you met me last year and then met me again today, I would bet you would say, “You’ve changed”, and I bet I would laugh and say “Thank you”. It would be even more apparent if we were close in a past life and you met me today…if you’ve not been here for the past few years, you definitely do not have a clue who I am anymore. And I am pretty cool with that.

This whole idea began spinning in my head this past holiday Monday. A last minute change in Michael’s schedule meant our plans for a few nights away were no longer an option, leaving me to find my own entertainment for what should have been a holiday Monday for him too. The let down of Michael not hanging out with me definitely bummed me out, but I was not against a day alone.

Now, early 20’s Toni, I will admit, would have panicked a bit about not having anything planned to fill my day with or people to hang out with and it would have been a scramble to try to fill the space with shenanigans with a girlfriend or sister. Late 20’s Toni though, she’s got this. Instantly I began to think of all of the places I have been wanting to explore but either hadn’t made the time or had a willing partner.

Michael started work at noon, so we spent a lazy morning together in bed, had breakfast and coffee and then off to work for him and upstairs to pack a bag for me.

I had no idea where I was going to head, so I threw in a sweater, a sports bra, shorts and extra tank, a bikini, book, towel, earphones, some water and snacks. I grabbed my hiking boots, a pair of sneakers and threw on my flip-flops.

Instead of worrying about directions or a GPS, I just got in the Runner and drove.

I drove myself straight to the coast of Lake Huron and parked there for hours. I read, wandered, laid out in the sun and grabbed a beer by myself in a small town along the way. I didn’t pay attention to my phone, I didn’t take a single picture to capture the beauty of my day and I barely spoke a word to another soul all day.

It was perfect and peaceful and my soul felt full by the end.

During the drive home I started to think of how many other people I know would do such a thing on a day of freedom. I also started to think about how much I had enjoyed my day. How much I needed my day, and my very own company.

Just me.

It made me very aware that while I do love the companionship of my man, my friends and especially my sisters, there are just some days when you need to sit alone with yourself for a bit and be comfortable with whatever you find, good or bad.

As I was finishing up with this post, the most suitable email from Elephant Journal floated across my screen and it read:

“No matter where you go or what you do you are always yourself.
There is nothing you can ever do, nothing you can wear,
no story you can tell that will change the basic fact of who you are.
Instead of running from it, accept it, trust it, embrace it,
love it because it’s all you’ve got.
” ~ Kino MacGregor

I am okay with me.

Just me, as I am. Right now.

~ Toni

It’s all a bunch of labels

Labels are a funny thing.

The ones we give ourselves, the ones we’re branded with, with or without knowing, the ones we hear in our minds day in, day out, the ones we’re taught, the ones we assume, the ones we accuse.

Labels of love and understanding, labels of hurt, fear or hate.

I have to wonder how many of us walk through this life as someone we don’t really like, or that doesn’t feel genuine because of what we have been told to be throughout our growing periods. Because of what we have seen, been shaped to know, raised to understand.

How many of us would shed certain parts of ourselves if we could, in a heartbeat, because we didn’t know any better that there was a choice, an option to change it, to accept or reject them?

29 has been an interesting year so far – only a few months in and already bursting with change, possibility, excitement and challenge.

I almost expected this year to play out like this; after all, ‘they’ do say that after great heartache and turmoil comes great change and growth. The trick is staying open to the lesson, and not falling into the role of eternal-victim.

I think know my great teacher so far has been the absolute battering of my ego.

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Taking the very picture of myself, who I thought I was because of who I thought I ought to be at this point, and watching it disappear into thin air, with really only the important, core-stuff, staying, sticking it out and still showing up in the end. You know, the stuff about yourself that you would think about when your mom used to tell you to, “remember who you are” as you left the house with what she could only assume were extreme hooligans – that’s the important stuff that stays.

It was horrible.

It was AWESOME.

It takes a certain pit-fall up-shits-creek type of life altering situation to really get yourself to take a deep, LOOONG look at yourself and come up with the truth.

And then sit with it.

And sit some more.

And then see some things you like…and some you’d rather not have to admit to, that you really, honestly, deep down, cannot STAND about yourself.

That’s when the magic happens.

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I sat with my ‘stuff’ for a while before I figured out that I was the only person who created this very unflattering mess in my hands, and, therefore, I was the only one who could change it, or at least attempt to improve it. And not another soul in the world could have helped me get there.

So, then there you are, with this pile of ‘stuff’ in your hands that you get to decide what to keep and what to get to work on, and you realize then:

It’s all a bunch of labels.

A bunch of labels that you’re so used to that you’ve forgotten to make sure you like them all, that you’re all right with them all, and if you would like to continue along this path of life with them all.

For me there were a few labels others had given me that I knew to the core of myself were not truly me. These labels were the easiest to deal with. These labels lost their power when I looked at the people that had branded me with them and considered the source, and if their opinions of me truly mattered at the end of the day. When I asked myself that question, the answer always came back absolutely not and those labels came off.

Then there were the labels about myself that I had some pride in before, and was having a hard time watching be worn off with time, with change. Eventually when I started to realize I have needed a LOT of what I didn’t ask for, I saw that my pride in them were only bolstering my ego (the cause of this whole debacle in the first place, really), which was hindering the growth of my soul. I had to let these labels go and be okay with what I was left with underneath.

Then there were the labels that were true, but that I did not like. Certain things about who I had become didn’t sit right with me, certain aspects of my personality and demeanor I knew were hindering my growth, but that I had clung to – like anger – as a security blanket, a thick skin appearance. These labels are still a work in progress, probably always will be. The hardest part I am finding about these ones is feeling and living the growth so much that others start to see it in you too, so they know you are not the same version of yourself that you might have been in the past.

And then there are the labels I love.

I call them the important stuff. The stuff that at the end of the day is what counts. I loved most of my important stuff.

This love, however, is not in the sense of traditional love, faltering or weakening during hardship or struggle. This love is a deep-soul kind of love, filled with acceptance and understanding. You see, some of the labels I love about myself may not appeal to the masses or anyone else in my life at all, for that matter. The important stuff counts because it’s the stuff about yourself that even if it makes you less popular with more people, you don’t care because it is what make you, authentically YOU. I see these things about myself that I know grind people’s edges, and make them uncomfortable, and maybe even cause them to misunderstand me, but because I love these labels, I do not care. They are the things that make my soul sing, my heart swell with joy and my mind be quietly at peace. I am okay with them, even if no one else is and that is a little slice of freedom I’ll take any day.

~ Toni

The final lap

I realized yesterday that in a few short weeks, I will be entering into the very last year of my 20s.

I was sitting on Julia’s couch, gabbing about the accomplishment of partially teaching Isaac to say my name, my goal before my birthday, when it dawned on me that my deadline was now in terms of weeks, and much sooner than I thought. Julia was quick to point out that it was the last of the 20s, with a big grin.

The end of an era.

A milestone I have long looked forward to, truthfully.

People say that your thirties are totally different. But good different.

I’m pretty pumped about the whole thing. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I kinda do feel a bit like a fine wine, slowly getting better over time.

I feel like this back half of my 20s have felt very…vivid, is the only word I can come up with in attempt to describe it.

The highs and the lows have all felt very vivid.

The balance of life, if you will, but with the good majorly out weighing the bad, thank God.

Michael proposed and we faced some of the tougher challenges of life together in these years – I’m so grateful for our friendship, love and passion for one another because it meant we faced them together and grew even stronger as a team. Go us! Some of those challenges would have been so much harder to face alone, almost unbearable for me.

I’ve been able to take some very negative more recent experiences in my career life, and cling desperately to the feeling I have in my soul that it’s all for a very specific reason. When you’re not listening to the tiny whisper in your soul, life has this funny way of redirecting until we ‘get it’.

I got it.

Well, I haven’t yet. But I know I’m well on my way, and leaps and bounds closer than I was a month ago.

I’m getting it.

I said to a long lost friend the other day that I am not who I was a few years ago because something amazing has a chance of happening when you hit rock bottom and are severely wounded in the process by some of the people that you cared for the most.

I was lucky enough to look around when I hit that proverbial bottom and in doing so realized that I came out clean with the people who truly matter sticking by me through it all.

Now that is a blessing of a bounce if you ask me. To know who is on your team no matter what kind of shitty day you’ll have to face is pretty fabulous.

The part about getting older that I love the most though, is the odd realization of how precious time is.

This will help you make time for the people that are important, that you care about, and give you the reasoning for saying “no” to the ones who just aren’t. The double edge sword of this is coming to the slow realization of who made exactly that decision about us, and determined we just weren’t worth the spending of precious time.

But it’s part of life, of growth, of growing up.

Letting people go is something most people, myself included, have had to face by this stage of life – whether by choice, or even harder, death. It’s the ache of what’s left behind, what almost happened, the words you wish you’d said sooner, the forgiveness you wish you’d given faster, the moments you wished you would have paid more attention to. Some, you never quite get over.

As I stride towards 30, I’m fighting for that balance between a heart that loves as wildly as my beautiful nieces and nephews, as cautiously as my jaded nature needs me to and a soul that always stays a little bit tender with some hope, no matter what.

I’m hoping that my ever increasing love of yoga will help to keep me more mindful, present and most importantly help me to remember to keep breathing – something I’ve been known to have trouble with. I feel like part of my rebuilding process from this latest bump in the road has to largely be attributed to my involvement with my practice.

My favourite breakthrough I’ve had with yoga so far is that my intense desire to be still should be fed.

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Psalm 46:10

Being still allows you to see and hear things that God wants you to know, but are too busy rushing around with daily responsibilities to hear.

It connects you back to your heart, forces you to take a listen. Can often help you to see.

Recently it helped me confront a situation that has been giving me all sorts of heartache without the fear of not being in control of the outcome – my usually crippling downfall.

How completely liberating.

To be totally honest, brazen if you will, with someone and then let go enough to accept whatever may come, doesn’t come naturally to me by any means. But over the past 5 years, I have realized this practice is so important for survival.

Couple that with the understanding that everyone in your life has only a certain amount of love to give you – for some people that means heaps and heaps of love, and for some that means it may leave you struggling to understand why they treat you the way they do. The kicker here is figuring out that you have the opportunity to either accept that love, or walk away from it. You get to truly choose if the way someone shows you love, and how much they are capable of giving, is acceptable to you. I find peace in the knowing it doesn’t reflect on your heart by any means and that often times it has nothing to do with you at all.

Hardest. Lesson. Ever.

I’m feeling better and better about this old soul of mine as I prepare to take this next lap around the sun, the final of my 20s. I feel like I am so much closer to where I want to be spiritually, physically and mentally, as a person – the truly important milestones.

I really can’t wait to learn what’s next.

~ Toni

Welcome, 2015

Ah, 2015.

Welcome. I’ve been waiting for you.

First and foremost, waiting for you to watch my baby sister plan her wedding and become a wife.

Waiting on you to help determine my next steps in my career path and even make some surprising changes.

Waiting for you to give me opportunity to reflect on the mixed bag that was 2014, with some very intense highs and very dark, lingering lows.

But mostly, waiting for you to see what adventures you have prepared for us, unbeknownst to our planning and projecting human natures.

In the name of honesty, the end of 2014 wasn’t exactly my favourite. In fact, if I am being completely open with our readers, the last quarter of 2014 can SUCK IT.

Man. That felt good.

For 2015, I personally have begun to mull over some goals – resolutions, if you must.

Not so much things that I will resolve to change about myself such as kicking a bad habit, but a little more of an ideal of what I would like to focus on to get the most out of this beautiful New Year we have been gifted:

1. Setting clearer, more specific intentions. At the beginning of every yoga practice, we are asked to set an intention for that session. As opposed to setting long-term goals, these are supposed to be your short-term focus of what you most want from that session, the benefit you are personally seeking when you step onto your mat. They can be as simple as wanting to be quiet for an hour, more physically specific such focusing on mastering my breathing, or even seeking a deeper spiritual need to be met like letting go of something heavy on your heart. Sometimes I am very successful in setting and meeting my intentions at the mat. But sometimes, and lately more often than I would like to admit, I’ve been struggling with setting clear intentions while settling into savasana.

As my practice is still in its infancy, I’ve granted myself a lot of patience with my growth; however, I’ve come to the conclusion that adopting the same practice of setting my intentions at the beginning of class to the beginning of my day might be the key to me being more successful when I do reach the mat. And in turn, I’m sure it won’t harm me to have a clear intent for the day for which to boomerang myself back to when the world gets to be too much.

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2. Practice self-forgiveness…sooner. I have a hard time letting go of my own mistakes. I’m quick to accept an apology and hope for the best the next time around from those that I love when a wrongdoing is experienced, and even those that I don’t necessarily love receive it sooner than I tend to allow myself. I’m a bit of a martyr in this way and will torture myself relentlessly when I screw up with someone I care for. But it’s come to my attention that I have to cut myself a break too and realize that I am just as, if not more, human than anyone and the furthest from perfect you can imagine. Self-forgiveness is required for survival, but more importantly it’s required for growth and true fulfillment in life.

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3. Focus in faith. My relationship with God has, for the most part, been a good one. Even when man-made religious parameters and beliefs failed me, I have yet to lose complete faith in the love God has for me. As with any good human-tainted relationship, there of course have been times of doubt, times I’ve struggled with understanding and times I’ve wondered if he’s still with me at all. Human thoughts from my very human mind. This year, I hope to explore and experience more in my faith and my relationship with the Father. I hope to build in my trust and commitment to Him and grow more in the image He desires of me.

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4. Become and stay flexible. While both a lofty physical goal as well as an internal one, I desire to work on and improve upon my flexibility. Flexibility with my need to control what I can. Flexibility in my hand-stands, back bends and splits. Flexibility when things don’t go as planned. Flexibility all around. For my sanity, my self-improvement and for my body, heart and soul as they age. Flexibility in my ways, my opinions, and my beliefs. Flexibility in my needs, wants and desires. Flexibility in the way I stay active and fit. Flexibility.

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I hope whatever goals, dreams, desires or resolutions you have for this calendar year of 2015, you above all are kept safe, find joy, feel love and grow more than ever.

~ Toni

Gratitude

I guess the sisters have all shocked you at one point or another, so I really have nothing to lose…here it goes….

Christmas is NOT my favourite holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore all the family time, delicious food, time off work to unwind, joy in the children’s shrieks and giggles…

But what trumps Christmas for me in terms of ranking holidays, is Thanksgiving – it will always be my very favourite of the days we celebrate.

There is something about the simplicity of this holiday that melts my heart, slows me down, brings me back to my centre.

Thanksgiving day – weekend, in my family, really – filled with family gatherings, where we simply set aside the time spend with the ones we cherish dearly, in gratefulness and reflection for all we are blessed with has always been the one I look most forward to every year.

Last year, for no specific reason I can think of, the day spent at Jacqui’s with most of the family I got to thinking (scary thought, I know) of how full I was that day.

Last year's 30lb bird

Last year’s 30lb bird

And while yes, I have been known to be able to pack back my fair share of food in atrocious amounts, in this instance, I do not mean the physical sense.

I mean spiritually, emotionally, and even mentally. Full.

I was so full. Full of love, full of happy, full of peace, full of hope. Just so full. And I loved just how full and satisfied I felt.

I decided then that the focus for my years ahead on this earth would be to consciously be grateful, thankful, and satisfied with whatever present I was faced with.

SO, so much easier said than done, let me tell you. While I do feel I have been so much fuller throughout this year, I know I have most definitely struggled – some days more than others – to keep a perspective of gratitude for whatever the present moment presented to me.

Yet, I still feel full. Thankfully.

With my most favourite holiday just around the corner, I was happy when our editor-in-chief, Julia, suggested we dedicate this week to mark its approach. In tradition and honor of this wonderful day, I am most grateful for:

Love: the ability to give it, and to recieve it. The people I am proud to say I love and even prouder to say love me. I’m thankful for the handsome man who loves my heart – especially on days when I’m not sure why, even the wild and crazy parts, the babies he’s blessed me with in the non-traditional sense – my beautiful step-children and yes, even my fur-babies, and the home he’s helped me build for us.

So thankful for this love

So thankful for this love

Love in the sisterly sense, my inspiring sisters by blood (I will never tire of saying “I don’t know what I would do without you”), the ones through marriage (Kim), the ones we’ve adopted, and the ones through kindred spirits that I find in my closest girlfriends.

This love <3

This love ❤

I’m thankful for the love in the smile of a stranger on the street on the days I so desperately need it. I’m thankful for the people that will never know just how much I truly love them – my ridiculous nieces and nephew. I’m thankful for the love of my parents, the one I was born into and the one I’ve grown to appreciate. So, so thankful for love.

These faces <3

These faces ❤

Ability: I’m thankful that I can. That I can run, that I can breathe, that I can sing (even if not well), that I can see, that I can work. I’m thankful that I can drive, that I can walk, that I can vote. I’m thankful that I can say I’m healthy, that I can buy and afford healthy food, that I have – for the most part – the freedom to choose my own path. I’m thankful I can love, laugh, feel and express without fear.

Ability to take this in

Ability to take this in

Growth: I’m so very thankful for the lessons I’ve been faced with that have allowed me to grow. I’m most thankful for the hard ones I’ve already been able to get out of the way – the ones I’ve watched many loved ones older than me struggle to grasp and still haven’t arrived at. I’m thankful for these lessons that have resulted in growth because it pushes me to grow more – it keeps me thirsty to uncover the next adventure that will show me another true part about myself, that will bring me closer to understanding my purpose and my place.

Always.

Always.

Grace: so incredibly humbled in thankfulness for the grace of God and his love. Thankful that I know in my heart, even when my brain fights me on it, that I am not alone, never without purpose, never without his love, shelter and protection. I’m thankful for the path he’s chosen for me, the faith he’s instilled in me and the sacrifice he’s made for me.

Gratitude makes the heart full

Gratitude makes the heart full

I’m thankful for grace in the human sense – the forgiveness that has been extended to me, especially when I didn’t exactly deserve any of it. Grace that’s come in the chances people have taken on me, and the grace that has come from them overlooking my shortcomings. I make it a regular occurrence to make an ass of myself, and I’m always so grateful when grace is granted instead of making me live it down.

I hope this year, as you gather with your loved ones and share in a feast, that you take the time to really reflect – not on the material possessions and earthly accomplishments – but on the parts of your life that touch your heart daily, that you take for granted, the ones you sometimes forget to recognize your gratitude for, the moments with people that matter that we are often so busy we forget to take note. Revel in your lives in whatever the present moment offers you. Breathe, focus your mind on the abundance that we all have and see how full you can make yourself feel.

From our family to yours

From our family to yours

I wish you a happy, incredibly filling Thanksgiving.

~ Toni

An ode to motherhood

When we made this plan to write about motherhood for the week before Mother’s Day, I was stoked. EASY post. I am a mother.  A full-time-nothing-else-all-day-long-but-a-mother. What else would I ever write about?

And then I started to really think about it.

And all I could come up with was the usual stuff that I write about. The crap about motherhood. The hardness of motherhood. The complete unfairness of my motherhood journey. The way that motherhood has exploded my life, identity, world, body, mind, soul and perspective until I’m unrecognizable to myself.

And I thought, how depressing.

I did this. I had babies. On purpose. Heck, I had more than one baby. On purpose. So why am I constantly dwelling on the ugliness of this highly marketed, highly edited, highly misleading role?

Because for me, those parts, the parts that no one talks about, the parts you hide from poor, unsuspecting pregnant women, were the only parts that I could focus on.

So, why did I do this more than once? Why am I such a glutton for punishment? And why am I not alone in my craziness (to be a mom, not just my medicated, therapy-treated craziness)? Why are their billions of moms in the world and more being made and remade every single minute of the day (a quick Google tells me that a baby, and therefore a mom, is born (or reborn) 300 times in a minute)?

Because being a mom is kind of awesome. And not just kind of. It kicks ass.

For my Mother’s Day post, I thought I would give you my top ten list of why motherhood just might be the best job on the planet (you know, so all the pregnant or wanting-to-be pregnant people can breathe a sigh of relief).

1. You get snuggled. A lot. Babies, toddlers, and young children (which is as high as I’ve gotten so far) are great snugglers. They give the best hugs. They lay right on top of you without inhibition. They treat you like a Barcalounger, with limbs everywhere, their heads tucked under your chin, and their heat and yours keeping the world warm. They are the sweetest when they want to snuggle. And some days, the fact that my babies want to still snuggle with me makes me feel like I must be doing something right among all of the things I’m sure I’m messing up.

2. You get to be somebody’s everything. And not in a small way. In a BIG way. You’re the one they want when they need something. You’re the one who wins the opportunity more often than not to do their hair, kiss their ouches, fix their ears, hold their hand when they cross a street, help them with tricky buttons, stairs, colouring pages and sentences, be their protector when they’re scared of the invisible monsters or the very real dog, spider, giant Daddy who is chasing them. You are theirs in a way you’ve never been anyone’s ever before nor will be ever again. It makes you feel needed. Wanted. And powerful. Until they discover teachers and friends and other experts. But there is a window, however small, where you are the world. And that’s pretty cool.

3. You get told, “I love you” without agenda or prompting. This is probably one of the sweetest moments in my day, where one of the talking babies will come up to me, call my name, pull on my hand, grab my face between their hands, and say, “Mommy, I love you.” It makes my breath catch and stops the tasks that are running through my head into my feet just for that minute. There’s nothing like it.

4. You get a free pass to go to bed early. No, seriously. You’re not a wuss, you’re a freaking hardworking warrior who chases after crazy people, while juggling a job or a house or a yacht. It’s hard work, people, so do it. Go to bed early and embrace the fact that it’s still daylight out. You’ve earned it. I swear it.

5. You get a huge appreciation for sleep, hot food, and personal space. Related to points 1 and 4, this is solid proof that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. I can’t remember the last time I had a decent night’s sleep…or uninterrupted sleep…or sleep that left me feeling refreshed in the morning (Is there such a thing? Or is this again some awful marketing ploy?). Hot food is similar – if I don’t want to eat my meals cold, I’m shoving burning hot lava food into my mouth before the baby/toddler/kindergartner decides to start demanding things. Better to just let it get cold and suck it up. And personal space is a laugh. I don’t go to the bathroom by myself. I don’t eat by myself. At this very moment, I’m typing with Lillian on my lap. My body is theirs, my space is theirs, my very being is theirs. And that’s just the way it is. So if ever I find myself in a hotel room at 6 p.m. with a steaming hot plate of food on my blanketed lap watching television by myself, I’m going to enjoy the CRAP out of it, I promise!

6. You get to witness pure awe and joy regularly. When’s the last time you felt genuinely happy? Laughed with your whole body until your face hurt? Found happiness in something as simple as a pair of shoes or some stickers? Well, I get to watch people experience pure feelings every single day. And the best ones, by far, are the moments when something ridiculous makes them laugh insanely…like ripping paper.

Or when they see you and they light up, or you make them smile for the first time (and capture it on camera, of course):

Sophie

Sophie

Lillian

Lillian

Isaac

Isaac

That kind of awesome honesty? Nothing like it in the world.

7. You get to be part of a family instantly. Whether you’re a step-mom, a single mom, a mom to a blended family, a married mom, moms in a same-sex family, a mom in an alien family or a mom in an extended family, you are part of a family. A family of you and your children and whoever else gets to share in your life. The moment you hold your baby, there is more than just you in your world. It’s a huge transformation to go from being a single person to being someone’s family and have them be your family. Just like that. Sure, it comes with drawbacks (see point 5), but the idea that no man is an island is never more true than when you’re a mother. You’re not an island. You’re queen of a country. Or maybe you are an island and have been invaded by an army of crazy people. All I know is that you are no longer alone. You have a person and they have you. And that’s pretty damn amazing.

8. You get to watch a person be born. I’m not talking about the birth part, because, really, how many mothers actually get to ‘watch’ that? Not many. I mean the person your children will grow up to be.  You are there when they’re figuring out who they are, what they want to become, what they don’t want to have anything to do with. You get to see them fall in love with pieces of their world, learn how to navigate all of the social nonsense we throw at them, and come out the other side as their own human being. You and that child are linked by biology or necessity or choice and then you slowly become separate from them as they figure out how to exist without you all the time. It’s such an honour to bear witness to their coming of age. It’s a privilege that can be easily overlooked amid the potty training and the tantrums and the rebellion and the sickness and the daily grind, but the truth is all of those things lead us to the things that make our children the people they will eventually become.

9. You get to feel extremely accomplished. Not every minute and certainly not every day. Sometimes not every week. But there are moments, crazy-hard moments, where you look around and think, “I’m actually doing this. And I’m doing it well. I’m not screaming or crying. They’re not screaming and crying. I am a rock star.” These moments are when one kid is puking in the toilet while the other is peeing on the floor while the other is screaming because you’ve abandoned him on the floor to deal with everything else and you stop, after admiring the hair on the puking child, and calmly prioritize the tasks ahead of you and how much you’ll deserve the coffee at the end of the rainbow, and you have a moment of pride for the mother you have grown into. These moments are like a runner’s high for me – it was hard, it was a slog, it sucks, not everyone can do it and not everyone does it, but you’re there and you’re doing it. Kick-ass, lady. KICK-ASS.

10. You get to feel voracious, boundless love for other people. There are very few things in this world where the things you offer, do, and feel for someone else are perks. Where you get to put your whole self out there, expose it to all the elements of your world and their world, to worry about every breath and interaction and event and moment, and love them so much you want to wrap them in bubble wrap and throw away the key, and it turns out that panicky, anxiety-ridden, exhausting feeling is the best feeling in the world. My love for my babies is like nothing else I’ve ever felt. It is what gets me out of bed in the mornings. It’s what made me get pregnant four times. It’s what makes me grab whichever head is closest and take a huge inhale of their hair. It’s what keeps me from tossing them all out the window and keeps me from running away from home. The love I have for my babies makes everything else worth it. They are the best thing in my life. Period. Stop. The end. They are and my heart is for them and that is all.

11. BONUS! You get a whole day devoted to you and all the awesome stuff you do. And seriously. It’s awesome. And you’re doing it. So take a bow, a handmade card, a questionably made breakfast in bed, and a bubble bath, because you are doing a great job and it’s your day.

Happy Mother’s Day!

~ Julia