Saying Goodbye

I’ve been inundated by waves of nostalgia of late.

The babies are gone. An incredible little person in the form of a 7 year-old boy greets me every morning and awes me with stories of learning, friendship and growing up every evening. An incredible little person in the form of a nearly 3 year-old girl shows me the power and strength of will in a larger than life personality. Both are so very loving. Both are so very courageous.

I am humbled by the privilege to mother each of them.

Watching your children grow into themselves is nothing short of miraculous. As exciting as it has been for me, I can’t help but feel haunted by the ghosts of the babies I once cradled in my arms for endless hours – quite often in the middle of the night.

I find myself lost in memories of the cooing, the first recognition of their extremities, the gurgling laughter bubbling out of cherub cheeks when their favourite stuffy reappeared from behind the cushion again and again.

I find myself projecting into the future. What will their future selves be like? Who will they grow up to be? Above all, my only hope for each of them is happiness. As long as they are happy and at peace, everything else will fall into place.

But, then I have to nudge myself out of these reveries because I’m missing them now. These days which sometimes seem so long, are fleeting. Losing myself in their past or in the possibilities of their future prevents me from enjoying them NOW.

I don’t know if all parents experience this kind of nostalgia. And, I never in a million years thought I would fall privy to such sentimentality. But here I am.

So, rather than hiding from my feelings, I’m owning them with the intention of being able to lovingly say goodbye to the past, to the babies which brought so much joy into my life, and embrace the present. Be with the children who light me from head to toe. I can see now that this will be a bit of a state of being for me in this whole parenting business.

Nonetheless, every night, once they are fast asleep after a day full of adventure and fun, I indulge in a brief moment of mothering by tucking their blanket around them, ensuring their favourite stuffy is cuddled up close, and after a soft kiss on the cheek I quietly whisper good night. Another day has passed taking them farther and farther away from the babies they used to be.

That’s when I realize, I couldn’t be happier because it means I get the chance to witness these beautiful people unfolding and growing into themselves.

And, that is something I don’t ever want to miss.

 

Friday Five Favourite Moments

My Friday Five Favourite Things WM

Wow.  Is this place dusty! Life and all that was terribly in my way of writing.  I missed my blog. *sigh*

Considering the pace of my living and the expectations placed upon me from family, work and all sorts of other sources, today’s Friday Five will be about my absolute favourite moments in which I felt that “Today is the day that life is excellent”  – wise words from my 6 year old son!

5.  Laughing all together as a family.

4.  Feeling the pudgy arms and legs of my 18 month old squeeze as tight as they can in response to my “I love you”.

3.  Walking down the staircase at the end of the day, leaving my children in their rooms for the night and heading down to the couch to chat with my husband, watch some t.v. or pop open my laptop.

2.  Hearing my six year old say please and thank you and excuse me and you’re welcome.

1.  Right now.  I am blogging.

What are your favourite moments where everything is just perfect?

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Bookish Thursdays: Reading With Your Child

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My son has been looking at books since he was four months old (read more about that here). My daughter is now doing the same. It is the most special time of the day to have my baby on my lap as we read the alphabet, count to ten, or flip through a cute and cuddly touch and feel board book. Or to laugh out loud at the antics of Captain Underpants as my son now proudly takes on some of the reading himself.

It is the book-lover in me and the English teacher in me that drove me to instil a love and respect for books in my son and I hope to continue that with my daughter.

There is something about reading that teaches us to slow down, to appreciate the written word and to use our imaginations in ways that modern society does not challenge us to do in our every day lives.

The importance of reading to children and babies is firmly supported by a plethora of journals, researchers, parenting websites etc etc etc.

I do not pretend to be well versed in this research – but, I do know that as a mother of two my heart is warmed by my son’s excitement when we discuss our favourite parts of a book and  my 7 month old’s little fingers grasping at her book when I say “turn the page”.

I admit that as an English teacher, I am aware of the connection between being a good reader and being able to inquire, research, deduce, create and write well. So instilling a love of books is as much about their education as it is about loving the written word. This is easy for me because I love reading. But what about those adults who don’t? If you’re at a loss for how to give your child something that you may lack, but you know is important, here are a few tips that might help:

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They deprive me of sleep, push me to the borders of irrational rage, squeeze every last bit of patience out of me – but when we sit to read everything dissolves around us. My children and I willingly lose ourselves in the magic of the words and pictures.

Love for reading is a gift that will last forever. Teach it with passion. Give it with abandon. Your children will thank you.

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Bookish Thursdays: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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I am a first generation Canadian born to Colombian parents with a long Colombian ancestry. I grew up eating arepas, sancocho, frijoles, chicharron and aguacate. My favourite fruits were mango, papaya and pineapple. I went to my junior kindergarten class speaking Spanish because that’s all we spoke at home. I knew that being Colombian in Toronto years and years ago was strange. Most of my friends were of European descent and when I spoke Spanish with my parents they all assumed we were from Spain. Colombia was foreign and different and let’s face it, it did not have the best reputation.

(Nearly) every person we came across would mention the word cocaine as soon as they heard we were Colombian, followed closely by drug cartels and Pablo Escobar. My culture and people were smeared by the actions of world-class criminals and the world media that focused on and sensationalised them. My parents, and their cohorts, would retaliate with Colombia is also the land of coffee, emeralds, fruit and a rich history of music and folklore. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is Colombian. Colombians are a loving, friendly people. Resourceful, determined and above all, passionate. To which people would nod and say “Really?” but in their eyes you could tell they were still thinking, cocaine. Sometimes, however, it worked and we would feel vindicated that at least one more person saw Colombia and Colombians in a different light.

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I grew up amidst people who are very proud of their heritage and defiantly challenge the world with many proofs as to why our Colombia is so much more than the illegal drug trade. And, always, those proofs included the great Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I heard his name bandied about in my home or amidst my family when we visited Colombia. As a child he was beyond my reach. I was always interested in the writings of the literary giant but didn’t begin my journey into his worlds until I became an IB teacher.

I quickly learned why Garcia Marquez was one of literature’s greats. I’ve only read three of his novels, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. Each one gripped me and I was fooled into believing that writing is so very easy because his stories are seamless. His narration appears effortless. And, that is how you know that he was genius at his craft.

He learned his narrative style from his grandmother who told him fantastical tales with a deadpan expression and that is how he wrote. One has no choice but to simply be swept into his narratives, be immersed in his descriptive, yet succinct, attention to detail, and allow him to take you on a splendid trip.

Fortunately, I live in a Toronto that is vastly different from the one in which I grew up. Our city (and surrounding suburbs) is home to people from all over the world. Being Colombian is no longer strange or weird. Our language, food and music has become more mainstream. Other famous Colombians are showing the world that Colombia is beautiful and so much more than it’s difficult past. We no longer have to defend our pride in our country.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is fundamental to that pride. I am saddened that he is gone – that no more of Gabo’s stories will be published. His legacy is a beautiful and inspirational one – for Colombians and all people. A boy from the northernmost tip of his country, a remote and hot area of Colombia became a Nobel Prize Author by giving shape to a new literary genre. He did much for Colombia’s image when it was at its lowest. He did much for me as a teacher, reader and writer. Thank you Gabo and rest in peace.

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Mommy Mondays: Second Time Around

Mommy Mondays WM

When I became a mother for the first time it seemed like I was constantly on high alert. I was stressed about my baby boy’s sleeping (or, non-sleeping) habits. It was all organic, home made foods. I rushed to wash his hands, change his clothes or his barely used diaper whenever a hint of germs or spit up or whiff of foulness was detected. My radar was sharp. I missed nothing.

I would invariably catch the attention of a more relaxed mother, perhaps on her second or third child, who would smile (condescendingly? nope, I think remembering her own hysteria) and say “he’s your first…it’ll be so much easier with your second”. I would nod and laugh and say something short like “I bet” while groaning inwardly.

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The blissfully relaxed smiling face would say “You’ll be so much more relaxed with your next child” and I’d say “I guess so.” But what I really meant was:  ‘Really? You mean you can see my anxiety-ridden shoulders that are practically in my ears and my tight smile that is about to make my cheeks explode?”

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Mother of Year would say “You’ll worry less with your second”. No response. Just a head nod as I would think, “Mind your own f***ing business because if I decide to have a second I’m not going to let that child swim in their own shit, be covered in vomit and drag themselves all over the grocery store because I’ve learned that babies/toddlers are tougher than we think.”

Ahhhhh. Even though there’s nothing worse than someone belittling your present experience because in the future it’ll seem like a trifle, I know that they all meant well.

Well, I’ve had my second child. And, while I still strive to give my daughter the same attention and care I gave my son…it is different.

Am I more relaxed? Yes, but not in her care. I am more confident in my abilities to care for her and to read her. I don’t necessarily find her easier – it’s more that I don’t feel like a baby-idiot any more.

I accept that the intentions of those mothers who were trying to help me relax with my first baby were good. Don’t we all love to impart the lessons we’ve learned to ease the hardships or trials of others. Except it doesn’t really work that way. We learn through our own experiences. Period.

I’ve been a mother to two children for three months now.  So, how have I changed my approach to motherhood as a consequence of my experiences?

  1. I will carry and hug and kiss and cuddle my children as much as I want. They grow fast and I will never, ever have this day with them again. I want my children to look back at their childhood and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they were loved.  And even if they do get a little spoiled with hugs and kisses…better that than feel less than important.
  2. When my baby cries I will pick her up. If my baby needs to fall asleep in my arms, she can.  If she wants to sleep with me, she can…because her brother did…and now he’s fine and sleeps independently…well not since his sister was born (but that’s another story)…and I doubt either of them will require to sleep with us when they’re adolescents…
  3. If I am in any way feeling irritated or less than patient, it is better to wait a few minutes before tending to my children. A deep breath, a moment to myself will help me be there for them without feeling exasperated.
  4. I can leave my baby in her play pen to simply take in her surroundings, check out her toys, get to know her hands and the sound of her own voice. I am not neglecting her because a baby does not require constant stimulation.
  5. I know that dirt won’t kill them. I get it that it is good for their bodies to be exposed to germs. I know that rolling around on grass, kneeling in soil, playing in sand, and jumping in mud puddles should be done with abandon. And, afterwards it should be thoroughly cleaned off. I cannot leave them dirty or in dirty clothes for long. Making the memory is awesome…smelling the memory, not so much.
  6. I will now approach my first born with the same confidence that I do my second born. My experiences with my son will always be a first for me…it’s not fair to him that I muddle it all up with anxiety to then breeze through life with my daughter.
  7. Babies just want to feel loved and protected. All the extra stuff that marketers wish to push down our throats … it doesn’t matter. The same goes for older kids too.
  8. Everything else can wait.
  9. My health matters. I will take care of myself because I hope to be with my children throughout their journey. As my son loves to ask me, “Mommy, how old will you be when I’m 100?”

Now that I’m doing this for a second time…I’m still on high alert but my shoulders are squared where they should be. These are a but a few ways…if you’re a first time mom and these help you out, great! If not, revel in your anxiety and worry…should you choose to do this again, the anxiety will magically disappear. However, I would never dream of telling you so.  

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Bookish Thursdays: My Son’s Life In Books

Bookish Thursdays WM

For the past 5 years my husband and I have been adamant about instilling a love for books, an appreciation for literature, a mind that thinks beyond the screen in our son. And, so, my son’s books could very well stock a day care, preschool and library. No regrets on the money spent on books or the fines on overdue books. We are left with rich memories of bedtime stories, rainy day tales and early morning reading when it was way too early to be up and about.

Age 0-2 years:

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These were some of our favourites. I exaggerate not when I say I read Good Night, Sleep Tight every night for 2 years. Every. Single. Night. We even took it on holiday. At 3 he was able to recite most of these by rote. I recited them in my sleep. By seven months he knew what “turn the page” meant and loved flipping to the next part of the story.

Age 2-3 years:

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We graduated to more sophisticated, longer reads. He loved reading about his favourite television or movie characters. The best part was giving life to the characters with different voices and intonations. Oh, and we read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas well into July.

Age 4 – present:

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This phase of his reading began with Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone (Read about that here). It was love at first word. He was hooked and now LOVES chapter books. We read them to him, and now that he’s learning how to read he helps with the reading too. It is incredible to see his brown eyes light up with delight, joy, laughter, curiosity, intrigue…as we read each book and listen to the plot unfold.

My son’s journey through literature has been exciting, fun and adventurous. There is nothing we love more than cuddling up to a great read. I can’t wait to see where his journey takes him next.

Wednesday Quotables: Love

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As a woman in her late thirties, love is about the breakfast my husband leaves ready for me in the morning before he goes to work because he knows I’ll be too busy with the kids to feed myself. Or my organizational help in the evenings once the kids are asleep and I yearn for my bed but know that he values my input on his projects. Love is not about the one time fall, it is about the continued falling and growing and living together.

My husband and I don’t do a big Valentine’s Day thing because it is our son’s birthday. Even though he’s an extremely private man, I’ll dedicate today’s post to him. We’ve been together for 13 years…married for almost 8…3 homes and 2 children later…here we are knowing that we’re in this together and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Happy Valentine’s Day readers! May your lives be full of the kind of love you need right now.

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Mommy Mondays: 37 Weeks 5 Days

Mommy Mondays WM

Only during pregnancy do days matter – especially near the end.  The final countdown to the moment when you finally get to meet the little person who invaded your body and knew every one of your secrets for 40 weeks give or take a week or a day or two, must include days.

Her room is ready.  Walls have been painted a lovely lilac and her white furniture is ready.  Decals of butterflies, flowers and bees decorate her walls – lovingly placed by her parents and brother.  Her clothes, new and gently used from generous friends, are washed and neatly folded in the drawers. Receiving blankets, wash cloths, socks, mitts, caps – the whole lot awaits my infant girl.  Big brother helped to select the softest bunny in the world for his little sister and her bassinet stands gloriously next to my side of the bed.  I peak inside every morning visualizing her in it and am simultaneously overcome with memories of  how her brother once slept in there all bundled up.

Our bags are ready.  Everything is ready.  Everyone is ready to hear the news.  I am not ready.

I have a list of things to do, to complete before she arrives.  Most of it includes finishing Christmas shopping and wrapping.  There are also a few more things to settle in the new house.  Our short list of names keeps changing and I’d love just one more good night of sleep.

I feel like I am racing time each time my uterus hardens as I live through Braxton Hicks.  I stop and wonder after some period-like cramping that I haven’t felt in…well, in 37 weeks and 5 days!  I wonder if this new found energy to settle, put away, clean up, cross off one more thing from my perpetual “to-do” list means that I am in nesting mode.  I know it all means she will appear soon – but I still need a little more time.

I also know that I will miss feeling her move around inside me terribly.  She has been a most physical inhabitant.  Her brother was calm and occasionally reminded me he was there.  She has been happily bouncing around since I was 17 weeks!  I will miss feeling her and having her all to myself.

As with all things parenting related, when a baby decides to arrive has nothing to do with me or my wishes.  It is the precursor to every lesson that parenting brings, particularly how you are no longer in control of your own life.  It is all about letting go and letting life happen.

I can do that.  I can let go.  Just give me about 2 weeks and 5 days.

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Mommy Mondays: Teacher Christmas Gifts

Mommy Mondays WM

Check these Christmas Ornaments out.  I bought them at Pier 1 Imports.  I thought they were beautiful. Each comes in a lovely box (no gift wrapping!) with a little description inside of the hand painting and creative process in designing each treasure.  And, the year appears on the ornament too.  A great gift for a teacher don’t you think?

Each teacher will be receiving one from my son this year in addition to a few other important people at his school who have helped to make my life easier.  Yes, I am Christmas shopping early and with as little travel as possible. Actually, it’s my first time venturing out to Christmas shop – most of it has been accomplished from my laptop in my living room!

I thought I’d share these as sometimes we can get pretty stumped about what to buy the teacher!

Happy Shopping 🙂

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Friday Five Favourites

My Friday Five Favourite Things WM

My son was home from school today because of a pd day for his teachers.  We spent the day together, chatting, reading, we headed to the library and throughout our chats I realized that there are things that he’s going to stop saying because he’ll learn proper pronunciation and grammar.  And, I will miss each and every one.

So, today’s Friday Five Favourites are in honour of my son.  These are my favourite words/phrases/rituals that he says and that we do. When he learns the correct versions or when he no longer needs them, I will mourn and miss.

  1. Lellow for yellow.  This is one has been around for a while and I would love for it to stay forever.
  2. No I amn’t.  He has abbreviated “am not” into amn’t.  I can’t correct him.  It’s too cute and in a weird way, makes sense!
  3. Aminal for animal.  He just can’t invert that “m” and “n”.  Love it.
  4. Top. Tar. Stop. Star.  This is one is slowing being lost, but still creeps up on him and it’s awesome.
  5. The Love Bubble.  The love bubble is a ritual I started when he was 3 years old.  The love bubble is supposed to ward off all monsters and scary things at night when he goes to sleep – because mommy’s love is so strong that monsters will bounce off and he’ll be able to sleep soundly and be safe.  I still have to do the love bubble every night.  Every night.

I wish he could stay 4 forever; I’ve wished that at every age yet watching him grow up has been nothing short of amazing.

Any favourite words/phrases/rituals that are unique to your children?

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