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The Frozen Wasteland of Parenting

Oh Friends…

It has been a trying time of late here in our house.  Darling Daughter – who was 19months on Monday – has taken to screaming.  And when I say ‘screaming’ I mean screaming.  Like: horror flick, virgin girl screaming.  And I’m understanding that it has more to do with her lack of control over really anything in her life.  Honestly though, understanding will only get you so far.

screeching child

After that, it’s up to your good friends and alcohol.

And then, once the friends are gone home and you’ve slept off all the gin you drank (~ahem.  Hypothetically of course.  <cough>) and you wake up to the cherubic sounds of more god damned screaming you start to loose your mind a little bit.  I did what many have done in such circumstances: I asked facebook for help.

And you know what?  Facebook helped.  In a matter of 5 minutes – at 7:00 in the morning, mind – I had responses from several people.  They were all saying, “Chin up, it gets easier, it’s a phase, ignore it, you can do it” and so on.  It didn’t stop the screeching, I’m sad to say, but it did help.

It reminded me that I am not alone in this frozen wasteland of parenting.  And today, that’s all I needed.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2014 in Family, Raising Kids, Vexations

 

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Language: Who Cares?

We consider ourselves to be fairly regular parents.  We aren’t extreme to either end of the spectrum.  We eat healthfully, but we love our french fries.  We have schedules and routines, but we like to shake things up sometimes (just not bedtimes.  OH GOD not the bedtimes).  In one way that we are more liberal is in our view of language.

We don’t restrict the use of any words in our house.  Our kids – from time to time – say things like “damn it” and “Jesus” and yes, “Oh shit.”  We use these same phrases.  We treat them like words.  Which, you know; is what they are.  When I was in high school, I had a friend who’s parents did not police language.  She swore just as much as the rest of us.  The difference was that she was swearing in front of her parents without fear of punishment, while the rest of us were catching ourselves mid-phrase and changing to “holy sheep” instead.

The other day, Sam’s best friend was walked over to our house by her uncle, for some play time with us.  When she arrived, I was in the kitchen and Connor came and said, “Caleb* is here.  He wants you to know that yesterday, when Sam was at Mary’s* house, he said ‘God damn it’.”

<blink>
“Ohkayyy….” I said.
“Yeah,” Connor says, “He just wanted you to know.”
<blink>
“Ok.  Got it.  Wait: is Caleb here?”
“Yes,” Connor replied solemnly. “He’s waiting to talk to you.”

You see, I hadn’t even heard the door bell ring, nor the door open.  So not only was I surprised to be receiving this report (a day later, I might point out), but I was also surprised to know he was waiting in the front hall.  I had no time to prepare, what was I going to say?

Will you be surprised to know I did not apologize?  No, of course you won’t.  You’ve been here before.

All 3 of my kids, plus Sam’s friend Mary, were in the front hall.  I took a deep breath and started, “Hi Caleb, Connor’s filled me in and well, in our house, we don’t police language.”

“Oh…” he responded, eyes bugging out of his head and his chin pulled back (you know that look of judgement and shock all at once?  Yeah, that one).
“We talk about how these are really just words.  Our feeling is the more forbidden you make them the more likely they are to use them.”
“Well, it’s just that last year we took Mary off the bus because the language was getting out of hand.  Mary was using it, Sam was using it and they were learning it on the bus.”

I dug in here.  “No, not the case.  Sam is learning the language here.  At home, we use these words and phrases.  Like I said, they are just words and we do not police them.”

“Well.” He was ruffled at this. “We do in our house.”

“Okay.  We make a point to talk about how there are appropriate places for this type of language, and that it’s important to respect the rules of where you are.  So Sam,” I called, looking at him “Now you know that you are not to use those words at Mary’s house.  And if you do, there will be consequences.  Are we clear?”
“Yep,” he happily responded!

I turned back to Caleb and smiled.  He was backing out the door so fast I thought he was falling. “I’ll be back at 5 for Mary,” he said as he ran down our driveway.

I was left on my own, pondering the discussion.  What is the big deal, anyway?  It’s not the 1950’s anymore, and most of us who are parenting now were born well after the 50’s.  Aren’t we freer?  Many parents regularly allow their kids to watch violent cartoons.  Mary in particular has a fondness for underground Japanese Anime series’ and she my friends, is 6.  Her uncle Caleb is 27 and so should be more liberal than we are, being more than 10 years younger than us.  And yet…

Am I wrong?  Should we be policing our kid’s language, saving them from the plague of profanity?  I can’t bring myself to that.  Too many things are in the “when you’re older” box, and I am loathe to put language in there.  I think there is a far greater value in helping their formative minds understand there are times when using these words are ok, and there are times when it’s not.  Like with your Nanny, or your Grampa.  They don’t appreciate that language, and you will offend them.

And then I go back to this idea here.  I want my kids to feel comfortable talking to me as they grow.  I want them to see me as a reasonable adult, who they can come to with big problems, and know that I will help them as best as I can, with as little judgement as I can muster. When I think back to that friend in high school who was allowed to swear at home, it’s interesting to note too that we all went to her Mom for advice and guidance.  We were comfortable with her; we could talk to her.

Add to that, this is the time when they are already sorting and assessing situations, determining how they will behave.  I think giving them this one other aspect – is it ok to swear here? – to consider and sort is fine.  Responsible even.

But enough about me.  What do you think?

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2014 in Opinion, Raising Kids

 

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Perspective & 5AM

You know that feeling you have when you’re with someone you totally love and adore, and they begin to share with you about how they feel inadequate, inferior, unworthy, and generally like the biggest loser you’ll ever meet?  Your eyes grow wide with surprise and shock, your jaw opens, and your lips form words like, “Are you kidding me?”  And, “You are so totally awesome – how can you not see that?”

I’m sure you know it.  It’s happened to all of us a few times in our lives.  And likely, you’ve been the one confessing your loser-dom to someone who thinks you’re the best thing in the whole universe, and they’ve said as much in response.

I think we all go through this, to some extent.  Life can be harsh; we take our experiences and we distill them into irrefutable facts about our selves, and thus: low self esteem is born.  I have spent the better part of the last15-20 years sorting through all of these so called truths and discarding those that do not serve me.  It’s a process full of pain sometimes, relief, fear… and ultimately wonder.  I thought I had it all sorted.  I faced my deamons and beat them.  I re-wrote my truths, and life was good.

Then I became a mother.

Turns out, I had only resolved part of my issues.  Who knew?!  Certainly not me.  And you can be sure too that the past 9 and a half years as been full of early mornings, late nights, wet beds, midnight feedings, middle of the night fevers and so on that I really haven’t had a chance to delve deeply into these newly surfaced “truths”.  It was only after coffee with a friend a few weeks ago that I decided that it was time to bring my issues to the forefront.

This is a fairly new friend, although I’ve known her for about 5 years now.  We’ve just started making the time to get to know each other, and as you do, you share your foundational stuff.  You know, what your job was before kids, how you met your husband, and so on.  It was during this “discovery” shall we call it, that I said, “I never wanted kids.”

She was shocked!  Her eyes were wide, her jaw hung open and she said, “Wow!  But you’re so good at it!”

Then it was my turn to be shocked.

Really, I know this parenting thing is tough.  I look at all the people around me with kids and I know that they are doing the best that they can for them.  I do not judge them, I accept them where they are, and honour their struggles.  I do not afford myself this compassion, however.

In fact, it’s been coming to light for sometime that I don’t afford myself much compassion at all.  I see my faults in glaring harsh light.  I count my failings continually.  I am fretting over the current interaction I’m having, hoping that the person I’m engaging with won’t run screaming when they realize it’s me they’re talking to.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You’ve got to get out of your own way”?  I have heard it a few times, and used it myself in fact.  Recently, others whom I respect and admire have said it to me, and so I’ve been pondering what it means and how to take it’s advice.  I asked a few people what it meant, and what came back usually was something about making excuses.  I asked MOMD – since wordsmithing is his craft – and he had an explanation that really resonated for me.  He said, “Having the awareness of the patterns and behaviours that prevent you from success or attaining your goals.”

Huh…  The key for me in that is “awareness”.  Have an awareness of your patterns and behaviours.

And so: I began to think on all of the instruction and teachings I’ve received over the past 5 or so years.  What do successful people do?  What patterns serve them to achieve their highest and best?  How do people who feel good about themselves behave?

How do I tell myself that I love me?

Which brings us to the 5AM Club.

The jist is that successful people get up early.  They spend the first hour or so of their day focussed solely on serving and nurturing themselves.  No emails, no texts, no phone calls.  No reports, no letters, no research.  They exercise.  They meditate or pray.  They read for their own personal growth and development.  They spend the first hour of their day caring for them.

Two days ago, I joined the club.  They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and I am committed to this for that long at least.  When I was practicing yoga yesterday at 5:20AM, I had a salient realization: I had nothing to think about but me.  I knew where the kids were (sleeping), they didn’t need anything from me, no one was expecting to see me for another hour at least, and I could set it all down and care for me.

Sure – I’ve taken a day here, a day there, to relax and rejuvenate.  But really: over the past…  really 10 years, I haven’t had a moment where I was not concerned with someone else’s needs, someone else’s expectations of me.  In that moment, that unexpected moment at 5:20 in the morning, I drew in a deep breath and cared for me.

In doing so, I am telling myself that I love me.  I am supporting myself so that I can stretch, reach and achieve my personal highest and best.  I am inspiring me to greatness.

And that….  that is awesome.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Oversharing, Self Love, Sickness/Wellness

 

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The End of Summer

Oy vey!

You know you’re a parent when you are celebrating – no wait – begging for the end of summer.

Remember the days when you would count down the days until summer started?  And you knew that once it got here, your days would be filled with miles of this:

Woohoo!  Sprinklers of freezing cold water!  Wheee!

Woohoo! Sprinklers of freezing cold water! Wheee!

And this:

toasted marshmallows... nom nom nom...

roasted marshmallows… nom nom nom…

and this?

All friends, all fun, all the time

All friends, all fun, all the time

Yeah, me too.  Summers were the best, right?

So what happened?  Because I’m a parent now, and really summers are more like this:

OMG who are you people?!

OMG who are you people?!

Actually, I run some businesses from home so it’s actually more like this in my house:

... who am I kidding?  I never wear suits anymore.

… who am I kidding? I never wear suits anymore.

And really?  It’s time for them to go back to school all ready.  Here, take your baby sister with you.  Nono, she’ll be fine I swear.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2013 in Family, Raising Kids, Vexations

 

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Thoughts on Irony

For years, MOMD has wanted a treadmill.  Literally, years.  2 years ago, when we were spending Christmas on the Rock with his family, and his Mom got a new treadmill (she had worn out the other one), he was so jealous he was almost in tears.  I have watched flyers for him around boxing day, thinking that perhaps we could buy one after the Christmas madness.  No matter how good a deal it was though, he never made a purchase.

A couple of months ago my Aunt mentioned on Facebook that she was selling a treadmill.  And a couple of months ago, MOMD was about to turn 40.  So I thought, it would be a perfect gift for him: get him the treadmill he’s always wanted!  Thing was, the price was over our “don’t need to discuss before spending” limit (which is $100, so *most* things are well over this limit) and even thought his birthday was a milestone one, I knew he would not be pleased if I made this purchase without his involvement.  So I told him what I was thinking.

And he was over the moon excited!

So now, we are the proud owners of a Tempo 611 T:

Fancy walking machine, right here

Fancy walking machine, right here

My aunt was selling this because she – like almost everyone I’ve ever heard about – was excited to get this, but then life got in the way and she couldn’t make time to use it.  It happens, right?  All the time, to all of us, I know.  Her desire to declutter her home of things that she is no longer using, was our gain.

We went out to her house, changed the configuration of our seats in the van, and got the treadmill back home.  MOMD was so excited!  He set to work getting it reassembled, and in the perfect location for all his treadmilling.  “I don’t have to worry about going to the gym,” I could see his smile saying.  “I can make time for a run once the kids are in bed,” I knew he was thinking.  “This is so awesome – I’m going to be healthy in no time,” I imagined him saying.

It had been in our house for 7 days and not touched by anyone.  10 days, and had seen exactly 0kms tread upon it.  On day 15 I said to MOMD, “So I’m thinking about the irony of someone selling their treadmill because they never use it, and someone buys it from them for a decent amount of money, and they too, never use it.  I can’t help but find that so funny!  hahahahaha….”  Oh, how I laughed…

But really: I can’t be the only one who finds this funny, can I?

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2013 in Family, Randomness

 

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On Shopping for Shoes

I just came back from a couple of days State-side.  The 5 of us, plus 3 more from my side of the clan, all loaded into our modes of transport and headed south of the boarder to celebrate a friend’s nuptials.  Yes, the wedding was lovely, and the weather was great.  The kids did really well on our journey – thank you for asking!

This post however, is not about any of those details.

This post is about shopping for shoes.

We spent some time in a local mall on the day of the wedding, not wanting to be too far from where we needed to be that evening.  And they had a couple of my favourite shoe shopping places.  And really – when does a girl *not* need a pair of shoes?  Exactly.  Never.  So of course, I went in along with my sister, my Mom, my niece and my daughter.

While I was perusing the aisles for the illusive basic, black, everyday shoe that I’ve been looking for on-again, off-again for the past 2 years, I was struck by how my 20 year old self would be dying of embarrassment over the shoes I was looking for.  Actually, that didn’t occur to me until I was pondering whether or not a shoe like this is what I was wanting:

It's nice, right?  I mean, for an older, middle aged woman.  Oh crap: I fit both criteria!

It’s nice, right? I mean, for an older, middle aged woman. Oh crap: I fit both criteria!

Don’t get me wrong: I still think this shoe looks like it would fit the bill perfectly for me.  My 20 year old self though…  well, it’s not like I rocked stilettos or anything in my youth; I surely did not.

This was more my style:

Yeah bitches, combat boots!

Yeah bitches, combat boots!

Okay, that was in my late teens.  You’re right: in my 20’s it was more like this:

This looks almost exactly like mine.  Except my favourite ones were square toe.  LOVED them!

This looks almost exactly like mine. Except my favourite ones were square toe. LOVED them!

I “came of age” in the grunge era.  I wore mismatched flannel shirts with dirty jeans.  I wore long johns and worker socks and baggy sweaters.  And yeah, I had some heels, but they were more like this:

I think I had this exact pair!  Except they were black, of course.

I think I had this exact pair! Except they were black, of course.

Cute, right?  I know.  So anyway, in my 20’s I thought I had style with an edge.  I listened to Oasis, I drank G&T’s or Guinness; some times both on the same night!  I went to bars like Velvet Underground or (s)Lime Light for the retro 80’s night.  I lived in an awesome city and when I met people my age who lived in the surrounding suburbs, I would say to them, “Oh – I’m so sorry!” and laugh and laugh…

Which brings me back to my shoe quest.  Which, it turns out, is probably more about me making peace with being a subrurban-dwelling, mini van-driving, stay-at-home-mom than it is really about the shoe.

I guess the combat boots just kicked the shit outta my urban self when my arches fell?  Yeah, let’s go with that.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2013 in Randomness

 

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Should Have Known

When I woke up this morning in a neutral mood, and MOMD left the house without saying good bye and I noticed that – before coffee, even – I should have known.

When – at 8:45AM – I was saying to my kids, “I have a very little amount of patience today.  And what you are doing right now has spent almost all of it.  I haven’t been out of bed for 2 hours, and I am all ready at the end of my rope.

“Excellent Behaviour is required today.”  I should have known; they should have known.

When we were traipsing through stores purchasing what we need for next week’s camping foray and I almost bought a metric ton of chocolate in each store, I should have known.

When we got home and I made lunch, and the kids didn’t come when I called them, and I didn’t call them again but rather put it on the table and left, I should have known.

When my (newly) 5yo said, “Ellie’s crying,” and I responded with , “I don’t care,” (yes, I really did. *guilt*) I should have known.  I think the kids knew at that point.

When I started wondering, “Why am I not drunk yet?” at 11AM, I probably had an inkling, but c’mon, I shoulda known!

And when I went to pilfer that same 5yo’s chocolate only to discover the entire bar – the WHOLE THING – was gone and I called MOMD to accuse him of theft and causing “a watershed moment” (my actual words) I was grateful that I had figured it all out.

Because man: these kinds of hormonal swings and shifts are exhausting.  It’s tough being a woman.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2013 in Oversharing

 

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