Days like these

If you had asked me when I was younger what my life would look like in my 30s, as a mother, as a wife, I would never have been able to guess it would be this.

That my house would be a complete disaster every single day, unless company was coming over, and then it was a minor disaster to be put on hold for a small number of hours.

All the dishes. All the time.

All the dishes. All the time. (That dishwasher is there purely for aesthetic.)

That I would go to bed thinking about all the laundry I need to fold, wash, put away…yet never ever get to.

How many loads of clean laundry can I hide behind my couch?

How many loads of clean laundry can I hide behind my couch? (That chair is tipped over because Isaac likes to climb).

That I would be a stay-at-home mom, walking babies to school, cooking all the meals, in charge of all the cleaning, and watching my hard-earned degree gather dust on our wall.

Have you tried cooking dinner with acrobatics happening at your feet?

Have you tried cooking dinner with acrobatics happening at your feet?

That I would be forced to negotiate with the most unreasonable creatures on the planet just to put on their shoes so we could go to the park FOR THEM, or eat their food because they were the ones sobbing at my feet hungry, or to go to bed and sleep because all of the hysterics that they are currently stuck in are because they are tired.

Waiting for snack time...weirdly patiently.

Waiting for snack time…weirdly patiently.

That I would not get a hair cut in over a year simply because I would need to orchestrate a child-care/salon hours/extra time formula that only works once every 15 months or so.

Can you see my kitchen table? I haven't either.

Have you see my kitchen table? I haven’t either.

That I would donate all of my dress pants, skirts, blouses because I don’t need them anymore – my uniform consists of durable material, wash-and-wear ensembles with denim being the star.

Dress pants are no match for a breakfast thrown by Isaac.

Dress pants are no match for a breakfast thrown by Isaac. And the random dirty sock.

That we would not go to church in months simply because we are too sick/too exhausted/too worn-out to get to one more place on time.

That sitting on the couch and zoning out for an hour, followed by an early bedtime is my idea of the perfect night.

That eating hot food is an anomaly so rare that I regularly burn my mouth whenever the opportunity does present itself.

That I would drink and seek out and need coffee to fuel my day, every day.

Sweet nectar that makes all of my efforts in futility possible.

Sweet nectar that makes all of my efforts in futility possible.

That the feeling of not having a body on me or near me or touching me would be more alien than having three children piled on and around me.

That sleep would be the most precious and most scarce commodity in my life, so much so that on days where the babies are overnight somewhere, sleep is all I can think about.

That when planning our 10-year anniversary trip, that it’s a legitimate toss-up between Europe and an all-inclusive tropical resort because all I want to do is SLEEP.

That I would be fulfilled by the feeling of a smooth, not sticky counter, kitchen table, coffee table, floor.

That I would find pleasure in finding miracle cleaning products that worked instead of just made me work.

That I would write more, clean more, cook more, and walk more with babies hanging off of me, screaming at me, crying on me or asking a million things of me, than not.

He's not really a fan of this blog post.

He’s not really a fan of this blog post.

That I would love my babies more fiercely than anything ever. That I would do all of the above and more for them because it’s ingrained in my DNA that they are mine and I must fight for them.

That I would get up and repeat over and over and over again, regardless of the fact I make no money, have no sick days, and no vacation time.

If you had asked me then, I wouldn’t believe you. And yet, it’s the most natural thing today.

~ Julia

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Help wanted

Dear readers, fellow parents, and strong-willed-children-turned-upstanding-citizens,

I need HELP. I need massive amounts of advice and ideas and guidance. And I need some reassurances.

Lillian has turned FOUR and I thought that meant her reign of TERROR and INSANITY and TORTURE TACTICS were over. But, I was wrong.

I love that she LOVES Spider-Man...I don't love how she tries to shoot me with webs when I ask her to put on pants.

I love that she LOVES Spider-Man…I don’t love how she tries to shoot me with webs when I ask her to put on pants.

She’s still a force to be reckoned with. She’s still a whirlwind of demand and stubbornness. She still won’t do whatever it is you want her to unless SHE wants to, and even then, she probably won’t because it wasn’t her idea.

It’s enough to make me weep with impatience and exhaustion and I-wanna-quit.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE HER FIERCELY. I DO.

I especially love her like this...

I especially love her like this…

But, I feel like all of our interactions of late have been a battle of wits and a war of wills, that every time I open my mouth to ask her to put her shoes on so we can go to her school, or go pee so we can go play, or get her coat on so we can go fetch her sister, I’m met with this horrible noise and a temper tantrum for the ages and a lava-filled “I don’t want to!”

I’m getting close to breaking. And I’m afraid I will break her spirit and her happiness and some days, SOME DAYS, I feel like I might physically lose it and break her and me and our family.

It’s awful. And scary.

So, I’m posing this question to you, dear readers, what would you suggest? How would you handle a ball of fury that will be awesome in the future, that will lead to a crazy incredible adult human being, but right now is slowly killing my will to be a stay-at-home-parent? How would you discipline? How would you negotiate without actually losing ground? How do you compromise without giving in?

She is one of Isaac's favourite people...mostly because she's INSANE and he thinks it's AWESOME.

She is one of Isaac’s favourite people…mostly because she’s INSANE and he thinks it’s AWESOME.

If you have any ideas at all, I’m all ears.

Because I love my baby, my troubled middle child, the one who tests me and pushes me and ultimately wows me every single day.

But I’m afraid for us, for our future, for our path. I want her to grow up as strong as she is, but kind and able to navigate this tricky world of ours. I want her to thrive and succeed and become the best she can become without being hindered by a childhood laced with anger and yelling and being in constant trouble. And I want us to still love each other when we both grow up…and not the obligatory love you hand out to the relatives you have to see and hug and chat with on the big holidays.

I adore that Sophie and Lillian are sisters...and I pray that they can have that sister bond the Sisterhood is blessed with.

I adore that Sophie and Lillian are sisters…and I pray that they can have that sister bond the Sisterhood is blessed with.

When (if) she has babies, I want to love on her and them. I want to be part of their lives. When she wins all the awards, I want to be in the front row or at the front table, leading the standing ovation, embarrassing her with my display of love, not making her resentful because it’s for show. And when she falls, as every person in the world does, I want to at least be considered on her list of people to call to help her stand back up again and make sure she knows she’s worth standing back up for.

She's growing up so fast...I don't want to ruin any of it.

She’s growing up so fast…I don’t want to ruin any of it.

I want all the things. How do I get them?

~ Julia

Writing…with children

I want to be a novelist. I want to see my books on the shelves of bookstores. I want to talk to people about the stories that are in my head. And I want to do that as my job. That is the dream. It’s a lofty dream. And it’s all the more complicated because I am a writer…with children.

Kids make everything messier.

Leaving the house is infinitely harder and requires complex terrorist negotiations.

Eating a meal is fraught with flying food and temper tantrums about broccoli touching potatoes.

Going to sleep is a perilous activity that can be interrupted at any time by puking, screaming, or banal updates, such as, “I woke up.”

Even simply moving around your house is now an obstacle course with hard plastic or pointy wooden toys ready to stab you at any moment.

Kids make everything messier.

Me trying to be a writer is no different. Writing my book has taken me almost 5 years so far. And while great novels often take a heap of time, mine is taking so long because of children. Children being born. Children not sleeping. Children not stopping. All the children all the time.

If I could sit down and write my novel in larger chunks of consistent time, I feel like it would be more cohesive (I’m dreading reading it all at once…all in a row…oh, the horror) and that it would probably be DONE by now. Or at the very least, in a third or fourth draft phase.

My book is being written, though, and I feel it’s because I’ve come to accept that writing with children comes with its own set of rules. Here they are (as I know them):

1. Be prepared to write at any time. 

I write at night after the babies go to bed. I write first thing in the morning when I can convince myself that writing is more important, more dear, than a couple more hours of sleep. I write in the morning, when Isaac and Lillian are still getting along. I write during nap time under Lillian while she watches a movie during her quiet time, until I ultimately fall asleep because I’ve stopped moving. One piece of advice that is given to writers is to set up a routine, to write at the same time every day, but when you’re writing with children that golden writing time is a moving target…and you’ve got to hit it when you can and nap when you can’t.

In the morning, when everyone is still in pyjamas.

In the morning, when everyone is still in pyjamas.

2. Be prepared to be joined. 

There is nothing my babies love more than to join me in writing. When I pull out my computer, they also want to pull out their toy laptops. When I’m writing by hand in my fancy journal to plot out my book, they also must have fancy journals. And when I’m editing my paper copy of my written words in my binder, they also want to write and print and colour in a binder as well. I make sure that whichever way I’m writing at the time, they also can join me…otherwise, they might try to join me in other ways…

Isaac...helping...

Isaac…helping…

Lillian sharing her writing with me.

Lillian sharing her writing with me.

Sophie and her masterpiece.

Sophie and her masterpiece.

3. Be prepared to be interrupted. 

Life doesn’t stop just because you need to finish a thought, follow through an idea, or wrap up a section. Children don’t look at you and see you sitting and quiet and pensive and decide, “I’m not going to bug her. She looks busy.” They think the opposite, in fact. They see you there, with your super exciting looking pens and paper, with your coffee that might still be hot, with your eyes closed, maybe, so you can drown out the outside stimulation and focus on the voices in your head, and they say, “This is our moment. This is the time to sit on her, lick her, ask her to help me with my craft, my game, the voices in my head.”

Isaac helping me write this blog post...on my lap...with his blanket.

Isaac helping me write this blog post…on my lap…with his blanket.

4. Be prepared for your solo writing to be a compilation. 

When I was in my writing class, we were tasked with providing critiques of the other writers’ work. I would often have to hand back copies of their stories with Sophie’s scrawls all over them, because she wanted to help. Everyone was lovely and said it made the critiques more charming…but in truth, I wonder how many authors would put up with that kind of nonsense. In my fancy novel-planning journal, you will find crayon, marker, pen, pencil and stickers, all from each of my children. And I like to think of it anthropologically, that when my biographer goes through my notes, or when my planning goes viral, like Ms. Rowling’s, they’ll see that I was writing with children. And that that is not for the faint of heart.

Stickers from Sophie...to help make my book look beautiful. Success.

Stickers from Sophie…to help make my book look beautiful. Success.

5. Be prepared for all the rules to get tossed out the window. 

If there’s one thing I know about child-raising, it’s that the rules change, sometimes moment to moment. I’ve had to come to terms with this in my own writing life, and it’s been a hard pill to swallow. I have all of these ideas and all of these words and the characters are screaming and want to be let out, but they can’t because I am a full-time mom, both in work and at home. It’s what I do. And that means that sometimes I’ll get to write on consecutive days. And other times I won’t be able to write for weeks, or even months. That sometimes I’ll nail writing in my scriptorium that Ben built for me in our laundry room and others I’ll be at the dining room table. That some days I’ll have energy and creative fire, and others I’ll want to nap with my free time. It’s the way of parenting, it’s the way of life with children, and it’s the way of writing. Sometimes things go exactly as planned. And others are so far from any plan you wonder if you’ll ever get back on track. At the end of the day, though, I’m a writer. And whether it takes me 5 years or 10 years to finish my book, I will. Because how else will I ever shut the voices in my head up?

~ Julia

Momfessions: Part 2

It’s that time again. The moment where I drag out my worst moments, my not-so-proud talents, my dirty, dirty secrets. The time where I say all the things I hope and pray other moms/dads/parents/humans are feeling because I can’t be the ONLY one that does/feels/thinks these things. RIGHT?!

It's TRUE.

It’s TRUE.

And today I feel it’s even more important to talk about the nitty gritty, the behind-the-scenes that will send non-parents RUNNING, because there are some incredibly brave, new, raw parents in my life, ones that are probably sinking under a hundred ‘flaws’ that are actually ingenious survival tactics and I want them to know that they are NOT alone, it DOES get better, and one day (I SWEAR/HOPE) we’ll look back and remember this time of war with fondness. AND that it is NOT today.

My house is always a disaster. No, really. Seriously. There are always Cheerios and crackers and other random dried food on my floors. I can sweep once, I can sweep a hundred times, I can not sweep for a week and the result is ALWAYS the same. It’s depressing. And my socks and my children’s socks (if they’re wearing socks) and Ben’s socks and all of my guests’ socks are ALWAYS crusted with something horrible. And I feel bad. But then I sweep and within seconds it looks as if I don’t give a rat’s ass about my floors. And in truth? Right now? I don’t. On the one hand, it’s too hard to care about something that NO ONE ELSE EVER CARES ABOUT. And on the other hand I’m providing my children with important immunity-boosting licking opportunities. The more dirt they eat, the stronger their bodies will be at fighting off the plague, right? Right. Because science.

I feel bad when I go to other people’s houses. Because my house is SUCH A TREAT to be in (i.e. you can find a treat on the floor regardless of the room you’re in…) that when I go to other people’s houses I can not see the flaws. All I see are all the things that they’re doing better than me…like the sweeping, or the dishes being all clean, or the fact that clear counter space exists, or that the bathroom doesn’t look like a frat house bathroom, or the grown-up furniture that looks like it belongs in the room, versus the what-we-had-given-to-us-or-found-on-the-side-of-the-road decorating aesthetic we’re currently obsessed (read: stuck) with. I try to tell myself that I don’t know the whole story. That I don’t know what they’ve sacrificed to get it done. I don’t know what kind of woodland creatures they have employed. I have no idea what’s hiding behind the doors or in the drawers I’m not privy to. But every time…EVERY TIME…I feel like everyone else has a grown-up house and I’m living a dorm life with three kids and that somehow this is a failure.

I hate when my babies are sick. And not because I feel bad for them or I wish I could take it away from them. But because they SUCK at being sick. They don’t want to watch TV all day. They don’t want to lie on the couch and sleep. They just want to whine and cry and be hugged and cuddled, but not that way, this way, no you’re doing it wrong, why do you SUCK, why did you put me DOWN, pick me UP. AND. They like cuddling while they puke. They don’t know how to blow their noses to remove the snot so they stop coughing. They still want to DO something even though they have no patience or capacity for it. I love my babies. But sick versions of them SUCK.

I love hunting boogers. Some people love popping pimples. Others adore digging out blackheads. Some people are vomiting just reading this. BUT. I take great pleasure in stealing my children’s boogers. Especially Isaac’s. He gets so grumpy and his boogers are so satisfying and big and…I kind of love it. I even like going after the ones that Lillian and Sophie have missed. It’s disgusting, but it’s the one pleasure I get from my kids being sick, so I’m going to take it.

My kids don’t do chores. I know I’m supposed to assign chores to my kids, but I just haven’t. I’m too tired and there is too much to do. And teaching my kids to do the things they could be responsible for is exhausting and takes more work than me just doing it. I know it’s a future investment thing, that if I spend the 9384737 minutes and 382473984 kJ of energy, it will pay off big in the future. But, I just don’t want to. I don’t want to do the dishes, but more than that? I don’t want to teach someone how to do the dishes. I have, however, just won the jackpot. Remember Adam Sandler in Big Daddy, where the kid tells him he wants to go to school and he’s so impressed with his parenting strategy because by letting the child choose his own path he ultimately picks the right thing to do? That is happening in my house RIGHT NOW. Sophie and Lillian have magically started clearing their plates after dinner and take turns sweeping and have even cleaned up their playroom spontaneously a bunch of times. It works! Adam Sandler is a GENIUS. Wait…

I hate bedtime. I have a friend (Hi, Heather!) who is basically in charge of all the bedtimes all the time. And I have no idea how her children are still alive and her marriage is intact and her hair is not snow-white. Seriously. Bedtime is not the cozy, cuddly, dreamy place that TV/movies/ads/bookstores sell it as. It is not filled with sweet children who are cutely snuggled in their pyjamas, waiting patiently and quietly while their parents read them stories filled with wonder. It is a cluster-f#*@ of nonsense, where everyone is tired (me) and hyped up (them) and no one is doing what they’re supposed to (Lillian) and there are a thousand questions and demands (Sophie) and people chucking their favourite blankets and pillows out of their bed (Isaac) and someone is sobbing in the corner (me). It’s a lot of asking them to sit still so we can read the damn story and praying that it will be over soon because if I don’t have fifteen seconds of time to myself before I have to go to bed to wake up to DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I might just kill someone. I hate it. Almost as much as doing dishes. At least they don’t bounce around and change their minds over what story they want read while screaming about putting on their pyjamas. So, actually, I hate it MORE than dishes. (It’s serious, yo’).

Welcome to the underground.

Welcome to the underground.

Okay. I’ve confessed my sins, my dirty secrets, and the things I probably shouldn’t have said out loud. Now it’s your turn: what are YOUR confessions? Momfessions? Dadfessions? Humanfessions? SPILL. Then I won’t feel so naked.

~ Julia

What I know

Close on the heels of my post about weaning depression, something I had no idea about, I thought I’d follow up with a post of things I do know for sure. And since it’s my 32nd birthday on Friday, I thought I’d give you 32 things I know for sure. Because I’m crazy that way.

1. Embrace coffee. Or green tea. Or something hot that kick starts you. I spent decades avoiding coffee and now, it’s one of my favourite things ever. Also, it makes me go.

Ryan-Gosling-Meme-Delivering-Coffee

2. Move. Go for a run. A swim. A dance. A walk. A yoga sequence. A gymnastics routine. Some parkour. Anything. Just get up and move. I didn’t understand as an indoor youngster, reading the books and eschewing gym class, but damn, it’s my new drug and I’m all for it.

3. Take care of you. No, seriously. Take a break. A rest. A timeout. A reading session. A napping session. A running session. A session that rejuvenates you. And when you need it, ask for help.

4. Say no. I’m working on this one, I really am. But say no to things. Your time is precious and sometimes no is the right answer and yes will just hurt.

No

5. Say yes. To new things. To happy things. To positivity. To light. To spirituality. To the future. To looking up and standing in the sun.

6. Family is everything. Blood family or life family, family is everything. It is what props you up, reminds you who you are, and helps you grow into who you will be. It’s everything. Don’t poo on it.

7. Make friends. Friends that get you. Friends that are fighting similar battles to you. Friends that will love you and your mess.

8. Be a truth-teller. Your truth. All of it. Every single messy piece of it. Even the parts that scare you. Tell the truth to yourself, to your family, to your friends, to strangers who will benefit from hearing it. Never stop telling it.

Mess

9. Eat your vegetables. And fruit. And whole foods. And things not purchased in a box or a package or are ready-made. I didn’t understand why our parents made us eat ‘real’ food when we were growing up, but I’m so glad they did.

Butter vs margarine

10. Eat a cookie. Or a brownie. Or some chips. Or that cheeseburger. Just don’t do it every day, all day. Your body deserves better. It does. But you also deserve a treat. Or two.

11. Have fun. No, seriously. Life is hard. Really hard. And it just keeps going and going, filling up your time and energy with hard things. So, cut loose a little. Giggle. Stay up too late. Play that game. Read that saucy book. Dance your own jig to your own tune. Enjoy your time here.

Daily Odd Compliment - sweat pants

12. Help. Your family. Your friends. Your neighbours. Strangers. People who are hurting in your town. People who are hurting across the ocean. People you walk in life with. People you will never meet. Where you can, when you can, help.

13. Be kind. In word and deed, be a nice person. You never know when you’ll meet someone again, or when you’ll need something from someone, or what they are battling. Be as kind as you need them to be to you. And then add some more. Because there just isn’t enough kindness in the world.

14. Learn to park. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to deal with a bad parking job. So, figure out your vehicle’s edges and length and depth and learn how to park. Countless people will be grateful.

15. Be polite. Please. Thank you. You’re welcome. I’m sorry. Excuse me. Pardon? Small words, big impact.

16. Babies are hard. Really hard. Like life. They suck everything out of you all the time. They ask for things all the time. They are a 24/7 commitment that you’ll never be ready for. They are really, really hard.

17. Babies are worth it. Every second. Every minute. Every hour. Every hug, squeeze, kiss, ‘I love you.’ All of it. Worth it.

18. Mental illness is as serious as a heart attack. It kills. It hurts. It destroys. It can be beaten. It can be stopped. It must be.

2013-11-21-Helpful%20Advice

19. Stop judging covers. That chubby girl? She can run. That run-over-looking person? Doing their best. That human race, full of people? All them, showing up, doing their best. Even you.

20. Money isn’t everything, but it sure helps. We were broke growing up. And now, I’m living a one-income life with three kids. Money isn’t everything…but damn, it helps.

21. Love is everything. For each other. For yourself. For God. It’s everything. If you walk in love, if you work in love, if you act in love, you’ll never go wrong. Period.

smallthingsgreatlove-768x1024

22. Put your damn cart away. No, really. I watched a woman who had to be in her 80s reorganize an entire cart caddy in a grocery store parking lot. She said, “If everyone would just put their cart away, we wouldn’t have this problem.” Never forgot it. Always put my cart away properly.

23. Listen. Not to respond, but to listen. To let someone else be heard. We all need to be heard. Make sure you’re doing your part.

Heard

24. Believe in the good. The bad will always be there, weighing you down, pulling you under. Believe in the light, in the good, in the hope. And look for it. Actively. Always.

25. Sit in silence. Turn off the news. Turn off the music. Turn off the internet. Turn off the chatter. Sit still. Breathe. Disconnect. Note that you didn’t die. Remember what it was like to be quiet? To not be plugged in? Take time to reacquaint yourself with it.

Silence

26. Sometimes it sucks. You’re asked/required/obligated to do something you don’t want to do. Sometimes you have to suck it up, grow up and do it. I feel like this one gets confused with number 3, Take care of you. Yes, you should take care of you, but you’re still a grown-up and you still have to do stuff you don’t wanna. Too bad. Get cracking.

27. Be creative. I had a boss that told me I wasn’t creative. He was an asshole and wrong. So wrong. I am creative, in the cards I make, the words I write, the mittens I crochet, and the songs I make up on the spot about going pee in the potty and wiping our bums and pulling up our pants because we’re soooo prettttyyyyyy. I’m creative, dammit. And it’s good for the body, mind and soul.

28. Don’t listen to assholes. You’ll notice them, quietly or loudly, obviously or passive aggressively shoving other people down so they feel bigger, better, smarter, faster, more successful. I’m not sure if they’ll ever ‘get theirs’, but I do know their opinion of you and your talent and your brain and your body doesn’t matter. Not one little bit. Don’t give them power. You have the power and you are awesome.

29. Make it better. Pick up litter. Rearrange some carts. Hold the door. Fix the mat so no one else trips. Pay for the person behind you. Don’t wait for a thank you. Don’t demand a thank you. Just leave this world better than when you got it.

30. Love with everything you’ve got. It’s going to hurt sometimes. And it’s going to be hard sometimes. And sometimes you’ll question your sanity. But, loving with everything I have has been one of the most rewarding things ever. I love Ben with everything, even though I want to kill him sometimes. I love my babies with everything I have, even though one of them lives in heaven and the others I want to run away from sometimes (at least once a day). And I get hurt. And bruised. And sometimes I don’t know if I’ll recover. But, I’m all in, baby. All. In.

Broken heart

31. Have dirty little secrets. Like the dirt you swept under the couch with your foot before your guests arrived. Like the smutty book you like to read. Like the so-bad-it’s-awesome television you can’t miss. Like the Oreos you can shove into your mouth without any children noticing. Any little thing that makes your life a little brighter, yet is probably not meant for public consumption? Keep on keepin’ on.

32. Celebrate your birthdays. I don’t get this “I don’t like my birthday” crap. I just don’t. And the whole, “I’m 29 again! Twelfth year in a row! WOO!”? No clue. You made it around the sun again. You are given a day that’s yours. There are people who want to celebrate you. You should celebrate you. Grab your cake and your glass and let’s toast the incredible things you did last year, like write potty songs and survive five-year-old fashion crises, and outlast the weaning engorgement, and all of the time spent loving and helping and creating and resting and just being.

Birthday hat

~ Julia

Guest Post – Never ever

Julia’s sister-in-law and the Sisterhood’s honourary fifth sister, Kim, is here for her second guest post! Her first, about a steamy Leo DiCaprio dream, can be found here.  

Something wonderful happens when you become a parent. Your world changes for the better and your heart becomes bigger and filled with love beyond any capacity that you even knew was humanly impossible. You would do anything, be anything, for your small bundle of joy and often times you do.

iStock_Happy-Family-Large-size

You become that parent that sings goofy songs to distract your child from their most recent bruise; you do ridiculous dances to entertain them while their meal is cooking and partly because you’re bored and full of caffeine. You start judging other parents and the choices they make because they are different from yours and you become a hypocrite of your own words only a few months into parenthood, because you had no idea what you were talking about then.

Yes, becoming parent changes things. It changes you. Sometimes it’s messy and silly and hard and emotional. So to help you remember that it’s worth it and that even if today is rough, tomorrow will be a new day, I’ve made a drinking game just for parents! Because hey – who couldn’t use a little break to relax after you’ve spent all day wiping the same nose, butt and face!?

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busy-mommy

Introducing…

Never Ever: The Parenting Edition

Rules: Gather your favourite friends with shorties and have a sip/shot/gulp for every sentence that is true. Feel free to add your own statements too!

Never ever have I washed toys that were once in the toilet.

Never ever have I served my kid hot dogs or macaroni and cheese for three or more meals within the same week.

Never ever have I retrieved an object from my child’s orifice that wasn’t their mouth.

Never ever have I expanded the 10-second rule beyond one minute.

Never ever have I let my kid wear the same outfit more than three days in a row.

Never ever have I told my kid to be careful when climbing bookshelves, dressers or counters.

Never ever have I skipped every other page during stories.

Never ever have I broken into my kid’s candy stash from Easter/Halloween/Christmas.

Never ever have I blamed my kid for my own lateness.

Never ever have I questioned if a substance was poop or chocolate/pee or water.

Never ever have I let my kid eat snacks found in their car seat, couch cushions or underneath the furniture.

Never ever have I seen my kid hanging from a chandelier and thought to myself, “I’ve seen them do worse.”

Never ever have I thought, “Unless there’s blood, I’m not breaking up their fight.”

Never ever have I seen my kid doing something dangerous and thought about how it would make for an awesome extreme sport.

Never ever have I had to fish poop out of the bath, shower or sink.

Never ever have I used the same threats on my kids that my parents did with me.

Never ever have I taken my kid out in a Halloween costume and it wasn’t even October.

Never ever have I saved getting out dessert for when my kids are in bed.

Never ever have I pretended I didn’t know my kid when they had a temper tantrum in public.

~~~

Please drink responsibly and think about saving this game for a night when the sitter can sleep over! 😉

~ Kim

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!

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

Momfessions

I am a stay-at-home mom. In another life, where I had time to straighten and then curl my hair, where I didn’t drink coffee because I didn’t need it, and where there was far less crazy around me, I was a professional corporate writer. Super sexy, I know.

Now, I wear jeans every day, except bad days or days when the laundry is waaaaay overdue, and then I wear yoga pants. Or pyjamas. All. Day. Long. (Living the dream, right here).

My standard hairdo is a messy bun that inevitably comes apart as I chase babies, sit on couches under babies, and change countless bums. Oh, the poop.

My fancy, or the bit of sparkle in my outfit, is found in the pearl earrings I wear and the eyeliner and mascara that I count as part of my daily uniform. Without these three things, I feel tired, depleted, and run over.

There is an underbelly to this super-relaxed-yet-never-relaxed lifestyle that I want to expose. Things that I feel kind of dirty about admitting. And things that I feel other moms or dads or people whose job it is to chase children will understand. Here are my Momfessions (mom+confessions = I’m super smart).

I brush my teeth in secret. Sometimes. Not all the time, because technically I’m supposed to get my babies to brush their teeth all the time too. But sometimes, when I just don’t feel like hauling out four different toothbrushes, two different toothpastes, and helping one daughter balance on the toilet while the other one hogs the sink, I sneak a teeth-brushing. It’s bad, I know. And kind of sad. But let me tell you – I LOVE brushing my teeth. It’s like a massage for my mouth, it makes me feel fresh and clean even if I can’t remember the last time I had a shower, and I hate having bad breath. Or worrying about having bad breath. So sometimes, I quietly uncap the toothpaste, slowly turn on the water, maybe flick on the bathroom fan to cover me, just so I can brush my teeth without having to help other people spit or clean up the spit that just didn’t make it into the sink.

I have admired Sophie’s hair while she was puking. Sophie, my oldest daughter, is a puker. Any car trip longer than 15 minutes can turn into a full exorcism of everything she’s ever eaten, ever. We have a stock of Gravol on hand and she has become quite adept at puking into a large plastic cup while we’re driving and not getting any on herself. One time, when she wasn’t carsick, just flu-sick, I was holding her hair back as she heaved over the toilet, I noticed the stunning, natural highlights in her hair, the way her hair beautifully gathered and fell in her own version of a messy bun, and how shiny and new it was. And then I got jealous. Of my daughter’s hair. While she was puking.

I can fit a whole Oreo in my mouth. And then chew it without giving myself away. There are moments when the chief cook-and-bottle-washer needs a little treat. And usually those moments require that I don’t share the treat…because who wants to give their kids sugar right before lunch or right before supper or in the middle of the afternoon or ever, really. This skill can be transferred to spoonfuls of peanut butter, handfuls of chocolate chips, or cold chicken wings leftover in the fridge.

I would rather keep driving than go home when the babies are asleep in the van. Waking up sleeping babies is against everything I believe in and the quiet that comes from babies asleep in a moving vehicle is like no other. I wish that gas were free so I could keep driving forever, so that they would be asleep for longer, and it would be quieter for just a few more moments.

I cherish the quiet outside of the van. In fact, it is one of my favourite moments in a day when we have appointments we have to drive to. Normally, Ben has the van and, as a one-vehicle family, we walk or stay put. But on days where wrangling everyone out of the door includes seats and buckles on top of the usual winter clothing and negotiations, my favourite time is when all the doors are closed, when the screaming is contained, and when all of them are strapped into their seats. There is nothing more peaceful than being by myself for a few seconds, no matter how fleeting.

My favourite day of the week is Thursday. And not because of the hot TV on at night (Grey’s and Scandal…SO good). But because of the flyers that come in the local free paper. I love flyer day. It’s the day that I get to sit down and find the best deals on groceries, dream about shopping at the local crafting store with the 40%- and 50%-off coupons, and then satisfyingly recycle all of it, clearing away a pile of paper and clutter. LOVE Thursdays.

I hate that the girls like bacon. There was a time, not so long ago, when both Sophie and Lillian couldn’t eat bacon. It was too chewy for them and either they would choke, or simply chew and chew and chew and then spit it out. So having bacon and eggs meant that Ben and I got some of the delicious salty pig and the kids did not. Now they are older and their eating is more sophisticated and skilled. And they actually like it. In fact, Sophie will often ask for more than one piece and with all of the fabulous counting skills she’s learning at school, she knows when it’s divvied up fairly or not. Hate that we have to share our bacon.

Momfessional over. I’m not sure if I feel better or not.

Anything you’d like to share?

~ Julia

Mama is always studying

Among the sisterhood, we have noticed quite the trend with our mama.

We hear about it when we want to plan a family event, set a wedding date, or need her help with something. It’s not something that is necessarily new; however it is something that has caught our attention, is becoming more frequent, and makes me incredibly proud of her.

Mama is always studying!

Known to some of you as Christine, our mom has always been an amazing example of a strong-willed, smart, determined and independent woman.

Growing up, I remember Mom worked hard to maintain a household, raise her daughters right (and in turn, deal with all of our sass), and support our entrepreneurial father any way she could with the family business. Helping our dad run their own company was not always the easiest task – she functioned as a Jill of all trades by balancing the books, completing payroll, managing HR, being the receptionist and overall customer service provider. While she had originally completed her college diploma as a Medical Office Assistant, she has always been a natural with numbers and has dedicated the majority of her professional life to accounting.

When our family experienced a tragedy that caused our parents to have to make the difficult decision of closing down the family business, my non-papered, well-trained accounting mother had to figure out what she wanted to do to help support our family. While she had years of experience to back her applications, she lacked the education to back her know-how. As God always provides for us at just the right time, Mom soon landed a temp job, which turned into a 15-year stint with a local church head office in the accounting department.

Being the incredibly hard worker she is, Mama quickly established herself in a role that would allow her the chance to do something she has always wanted to – go back to school and complete her CGA designation.

Mama began chipping away at her courses in 2005 and being witness to her dedication and drive is incredible. Regardless of the hiccups and setbacks she has had to overcome to continue in her pursuit, she has never second guessed her desire to reach her goal. Watching her push through some of her life’s biggest struggles and continue with her education is what inspired me to decide on a college diploma and apply for school.

mama and me date night

Mama and me date night

We often hear, “I can’t come for long, I have to study” from her when our über busy and event-filled family gets together. We chide her, and may jokingly roll our eyes when we hear it, but I think it’s safe to say that we all smile with pride at the thought of her driving hard toward her goals and being so close to watching her complete her diploma and then degree. I will most definitely be a mess of tears watching her walk at both of these occasions.

She wrote her insane-o External Auditing exam yesterday afternoon – I know she nailed it, but I’m sure she’s eagerly anticipating her results. As she told me the other day, “It’s a lot of work, but I see the light and it’s a good one.”

Mama – you are a super star in this sisterhood’s eyes.

~ Toni