Friday, September 22, 2017

Do Not Tell Me Not To Worry

"Don't worry."
"Be sure of yourself."
"Everything is ok and normal."

You know what's not helpful? All of those statements. And as mothers of children who are older than our peers, sometimes we say these things to other mothers looking for help, thinking we are being helpful. When really, we should just shut the hell up.

As a new mother, the world of parenting is "holy shit, what have I gotten myself into, all I wanted was a back rub and now I have a screaming 2-year-old" kind of scary. It's full of self-doubt and conflicting information and long books and self-important blogs (not this one though, definitely not this one.) So of course, when faced with a dilemma such as, "how do I get my child to eat anything other than food that is the colour blue?" we follow our primal instincts and go back to the tribe. The tribe of mothers. Those women who have been in the trenches and have come out alive, with seemingly well-adjusted children who eat the whole rainbow and go the bathroom IN THE POTTY. We put our hearts on our sleeves and we ask them "how? what? why? when?" and we pray that just one of those answers will result in the addition of peas and carrots and maybe even lentils to the dinner repertoire, a successful night's sleep, finally saying goodbye to the soother.

And then, like the sweeping curtain of Trump's combover, the feedback comes in like a tidal wave.

"I know how you feel!"
"I tried XYZ and it worked like a charm for us."
"My mother says this 1234 always worked for us."
"Tell me when you find out the answer!"
"Me too."

And for a moment you have a swatch of solutions that just might, possibly, for a single night, meal, car ride, work. There is hope, a light at the end of the tunnel you call the bedtime routine.

But inevitably, the feedback takes a turn into something akin to the First Wives Club, only this time is the More Experienced Moms Club and they're telling you:

"Don't worry."
"Be sure of yourself."
"Everything is ok and normal."


Let me tell you that I'm not coming to the tribe with a question because I need to be told to relax. You know what's relaxing? Having a complete stranger tell you you're overreacting. Yup. Super relaxing.

I don't pretend to be above this. Oh no, I know that I have done this too. It's so easy to look back and see that of course, eventually, they let go of the need to wear the same shirt in a row for 30 days. It's so easy to look back and laugh at how paranoid you were that they might not actually turn over onto their stomachs. As one astute dad once told me, "I've never met an adult who cannot turn over from their back to their stomach." But it doesn't mean that in the moment, you can see into the future. It doesn't mean that you're not worried about it RIGHT NOW. It doesn't mean that you can just throw out vague statements that imply you are overreacting because it's condescending, not helpful.

Real solutions are helpful. Have a tip about how you taught your child to tie their shoelaces using a YouTube video and string cheese? I want to hear THAT. Did you potty train your child by keeping a bucket of suckers next to the toilet? Sounds GREAT! If you can tell me on which night of walking your child back to bed 32 times that they actually staying in bed, that will give me a realistic expectation of what my jail sentence (I mean week) is going to look like.

Yes, every child is different. We all know that. But there are similarities, common roadblocks, and shared experiences that can help us wade through this loaded minefield of parenting. We owe it to each other to take a moment and ask ourselves the same question you would ask when buying a bottle of tequila for a birthday present:

"Is this going to help the person I am giving it to? Or is it really more about me?"

So the next time you're sitting at coffee with a fellow parent, logging into to your local chat group, or dolling out paint at parent participation preschool and that parent asks you for any tips or suggestions on how to stop little Johnny from only eating the marblestyle cheesestrings for breakfast, lunch and dinner perhaps either offer a real solution that worked for you or say "man, I remember how hard that was for us."

And keep your relaxation breaths to your damned self.

~ H

Friday, August 4, 2017

Childfree Costco

Most of you know my contempt for shopping with kids at Costco. The anxiety that comes with finding a parking spot, to the constant "no we are not buying this/that/those" to finally unpacking the cart while the children hoot and holler from their car seats. 

But can we talk about those far and few between childfree Costco trips that feel like a little slice of paradise? Can we talk about how it feels to not give a shit about where you park, because parking further away means the solo trip will take a bit longer and be a few more steps in your step count for the day? 

Let's talk about how it feels to put your PURSE in the bench seat. My purse doesn't demand to sit on one side, and then promptly change its mind to sit on the other. My purse doesn't insist on strapping itself in, only to fumble with the clip for 5 minutes while screaming "I DO IT MYSELF MOM!"

Let's talk about spending five quiet minutes trying to determine, "what kind of salad bowl person am I?". Am I a multicoloured plastic "Mexican fiesta-style fun loving" salad bowl person? Or am I more of a rectangle cherry blossom painted "Orient Express smoky cool" salad bowl person? Who knows and who cares, but I am certainly going to spend some childfree time pondering it. 

Let's talk about picking bread - seeds or no. With children in tow, I am tossing the McGavins 3-pack whole wheat in the cart at a frenetic pace with little regard for nutritional value or pairing options. Childless and carefree, I am reading the labels and thinking about whether I want flax seeds with my natural peanut butter or 12 grains with my nitrate-free ham. My bourgeois tendencies mimic the fire rating for today - EXTREME. 

Let's talk about the samples. All the samples. Why yes, I will sample the chocolate bark thank you very much. Guacamole made from organic avocados? Of course it is a party favourite! I must try it! What do you mean it will be another 10 minutes for the chicken sausage?!? Don't you realize I just sampled cheese and need to compliment it with meat. C'mon people!

And finally, let's talk about breezing out of the doors. Groceries paid for. No smiley face on the receipt for me today, thank you very much. The slow deliberate walk to the car. The quiet unpacking of the cart and the lazy return of the cart. The car seats filled, not with children, but with quiet toilet paper and placid diapers. 

Let's take a moment and savour the childfree trips to Costco. Savour and smile. 

~ H

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Change of format

I'm thinking about adding a little extra to this blog - a monthly post of family friendly events happening in the Tri-Cities and Ridge Meadows. I'm hoping this new addition will:

  • Keep me posting more regularly
  • Attract new readers (tell your friends!)
  • Bring some light during the darker times
  • Did I mention I want to post more often?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this idea. Leave a comment on the post about what you'd like to see here.

~ H

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Seven Year Itch

My husband and I have reached that next milestone in our lives - the one where some of your friends start, to borrow from Gwyneth Paltrow, consciously uncoupling. We're past the expensive years of engagement parties, booze-filled destination stags and stagettes, and weddings that are all pretty much the same (rustic, outdoorsy, nature - it's all the same fucking thing okay?); past the gender reveals, the baby showers and almost past the epic over-the-top 50 person first birthday party. It's okay, I did it too. You're among friends. 

And now we're here. People slowly starting to figure out their marriages aren't working, they aren't the same people anymore, they want different things. And it's freaking terrifying for those of us on the sidelines. We huddle together, shocked when we first hear of inklings of discontent. "Wow, I had no idea. They seemed so happy. We just had a dinner/vacation/celebration with them. I never thought it was that bad" And as a husband and wife you begin to look at one another, critically, wondering what is going on beneath the surface. Wondering if there's something he's not saying. Wondering if there's someone else she is talking to. Wondering, "could that be us?" Because you thought you were close, you thought you were the same as them. You thought you'd have your whole lives together, though maybe you'd drift apart if your kids played different sports. Or you might have a disagreement over where to go on a joint family vacation. But you never thought that this could happen. To them. To you. 

Mind you, it's not happening to you. But something is happening to you. You're wondering, 
"Would I let get that far? 
How would I know when to say something? 
Should I change? 
Should he change?
Do we need a change now, like a preemptive change?
Am I overthinking this? (The answer is always, unequivocally, yes for me on this one)"

And undoubtedly, you're laying blame on these friends, as a way of supporting yourself. Telling yourself that perhaps they didn't do this, or they should have done that. And aren't you a big person for recognizing that. Pat yourself on the back. You know that by doing this you're a terrible friend. But the idea of being a terrible friend is slightly more appealing that the dark notion that you can do all these things and they might not work. They might not "save the day". That at the end of it all, no counselling, date nights, moves, new job, no job, more babies, is going to save you. Some marriages can't be saved. You don't speak your vows in front of 150 people at your rustic wedding (sorry, I had to) with the idea that your marriage might be the one. The one that doesn't last. You can have no way of knowing that 5, 7, 10 years later, you'll look at that person and decide you don't want to married to them anymore. 

So if you can't know beforehand, and by the time you realize it, it might be too late as evidenced by your surrounding friends and family, you can't not be terrified when you hear from a friend they are having "marriage problems". 

You can't not wonder, "are we okay?" But you can grab the wheel, you can continue to drive the car you are in, even if your friends aren't driving the same way anymore. You can say to your spouse "I'm scared and I want to be okay."

~ H

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Race Day

Race day
I know. I haven't written in ages. No excuses. I just haven't written. Let's move on. Because today is RACE DAY!
For those of you who have not had a race day, I want to explain my process to you. Because race day is like the first day of school. Increased by 1,000. The night before race day, I am silent. Don't talk to me because I am busy processing every iota of what will be tomorrow. I am laying out my swimsuit, sports bra, bike shorts, shirt, and socks. I'm making my overnight oats, while muttering to myself "don't forget your earbuds, water bottle, goggles, swim cap, money, change of clothes, wait, did I make a water bottle? WHERE ARE MY EARBUDS?!?!" I'm walking myself through the race, wondering where I should put my stuff so I am out of the way but not too out of the way. I have a bath to calm down, but it's not as comfortable as I would like in our 1970's small tub. I try to read, but my thoughts drift to my transition plan (exiting the pool and heading for the bike, as well as getting off my bike and starting to swim). I go sleep, and usually, thankfully, sleep deeply until 5:55 a.m. I set my alarm for 6:45 a.m., stupidly thinking that I can sleep that long. Yeah right. The first twitch and I am up, itching to move and get going, like a child on Christmas morning. I try not to rush, since the race isn't for hours. But there's nothing left to do, for I have prepped the night before. Read the news? Good luck. My eyes reread the same words over and over. I move slowly, sip my tea, eat my oats. And I check the clock. Five minutes have passed.


I got to the bathroom, the first of many nervous pees. I pee all the time on race morning. There, I said it. ALL THE TIME. It's a bit ridiculous. I pack up my stuff. Double check my list. Earbuds. Check. Water bottle. Check. Wallet. Check. Flip flops. Check. Goggles. Check. Shoes pre-tied so I can slide them on during transition. Nope. Do it now. Put everything in the car. Load up my bike. Double check my stuff. Get in the car and go, because I'd rather be early to the race than kill time at home. 

Itchy. Pacing. Nervous.

When I drive to a race, two things happen. 
One - I listen to electronic dance music or rap so loud I cannot hear myself think. The whole way. I do this on purpose. Because of the second thing that always happens on race day. 
Two - I cry on race day. Every time. My emotions are running on overdrive, close to the surface, and I always cry driving to the race. Sometimes about something specific, sometimes just because. 

I get to the race and I'm early. Always. Like somehow I think the drive will take me three times as long, but it never does. And I get there and I wait. And I wait. And I wait. The nerves get better and then worse and then better. And then it's time to line up! I make nervous conversation with the people behind me in line, attempting to sound more experienced than I feel. My stomach bounces and my hands open, close, open, as I desperately just want this thing to start. 

As whistle goes and I quickly to the front of the line as more people get in the water and begin to swim, one by one. They all seem so much faster than me. Some people pass others, some people almost crash into one another and then, all of a sudden, it's my turn. Wait. I'm not ready. Oh wait. Yes I am. NO, WAIT! 

"3, 2, 1, go!" 
And I'm off.

The race itself is a blur. Mouthfuls of water when I need mouthfuls of air. A slow sticky transition. Dead legs. A burst of energy. 
And it's over.
That's it.
I wander around the finish area, looking for my family. Sometime races I find them, some races they can't make it.
I slowly start to ease back in the world of the non-racers. I drink my water, eat my orange and pull on my warm pants and flip flops.
It's over. 
I post pictures, give race recaps, perhaps finish a blog post ;) 
But, in the end, it's over.

~ H

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Those old ladies were right

The Babe starts Kindergarten next week. KINDERGARTEN! I started this blog when she was 6 weeks old and I thought I might be going insane so I decided to capture my 3 a.m. musings here. And now she is four and a half and heading to school next week.

And the old ladies were right.

You know those old ladies. The ones who come up to you in the grocery store or at the mall and smile at your baby and say, "cherish them because it goes so fast". Those ladies who you silently flip the invisible bird to as they walk away because they don't know. They don't know how it took everything for you to leave the house and go to grocery store. That you were halfway out the door when the first diaper explosion happened, and then halfway in the car when the crying started and your boobs began to leak and you had to feed, and another diaper explosion and you would have never left the house except that there was no milk for the coffee and you had used the last of the vanilla ice cream as creamer yesterday. They don't know, or else if they did, they wouldn't tell you to cherish it. They would know that you are just wishing he would sleep through the night, that she would walk already, that he would go potty by himself, that she would get her own damn glass of water. Cherish these moments of insanity? Yeah right lady.

Except they were right.

Because now she can get her own glass of water, go to the potty alone, pick out her own pyjamas and grab a snack from the fridge and she does it all in the silly little ways that I don't want her to stop. But I'm scared they will stop. I'm scared that she will go to school and I will lose her and who she is now. I will lose her silly sweet self to her peers and to her teacher and her librarian and I'm devastated that I wished it all away.

Because you can't know until you're here. Just like you couldn't know about having a baby until you had one. And now you know what those old ladies meant but it's too damned late. And I'm grasping at straws having dance parties in the living room and reading all the stories, but it's like waking up Saturday morning and mourning the loss of the weekend before it's even over. But you can see the end, you can feel it, creeping up the back of your throat when you give her a hug goodnight and a kiss.

Tell me your silly stories and yes, I want to go to the library with you. I will do anything to keep you this young right now. To freeze this moment and truly appreciate it. To really see you and not want you to be older, faster, more verbal, less clingy. To just be with you. Before you enter this new world and you perhaps become someone else, someone I don't recognize as well.

I want to stop time. So I can cherish you, because it really does go too damned fast.


~ H

Friday, August 19, 2016

Tonight they broke me

Tonight my kids broke me. And it took me awhile to put myself back together. It was a normal chaotic Friday night, nothing unusual other than the heat. We have central air (yes, I am an asshole but in my defence, it came with the house) so the heat generally doesn't bother us too much.

After spending the day at work, all I want to do is see my kids. For 10 minutes. And then I want to go back to work because no tiny humans yell at me there. And then I shake my head and engage and read them a story and laugh with them and remember that I want to be with my kids. For another 10 minutes. And then I want to hide in my room because they're yelling at me AS I AM GETTING READY TO TAKE THEM SWIMMING. A TREAT. FOR THEM.

So I tell them to fuck off.

Not really. Just in my head. Loudly. Emphasis on the "fah" and the "k".

And then we are swimming and laughing and playing with the garden hose in the yard and I think "this is what it's all about". But it has to end soon, because bedtime is nearing and I'm tired from a long week. So we head inside and then the real yelling begins. And the stories and snacks get revoked. And the yelling turns into screaming. And the jammies can't be decided on. And the screaming now includes tears.

So I break. I cannot function anymore. I go in my room. I close the door behind me. I lay face down on the bed. And I just stay there. Broken. Done.

And then I take a deep breathe. And another. And I put myself back together. And I go out there.

And tell them to fuck off. (Just kidding this time)

I give one a kiss, put her pyjamas on, make a bottle, and lay her down. Then I go to the other one, put on her now clean bedding, put her pyjamas on, take her to the bathroom, comb her hair, and send her to bed. I head back to the first one, tuck her in, sing her songs, and give her a kiss. Tell them both I love them. And close their doors.

And then I lay outside, on my deck, in the heat, with a drink, and a sigh. And I watch the sun set.

Because "the world breaks everyone and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." - Ernest Hemingway