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.

 

Writing Time

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I am not a best-selling author.  I am a mother of two.  I am a wife.  I am an English teacher. And, I am also a writer.  I love writing.  I love blogging and lately I have had to literally scrape together minutes of writing.  I have had to carve and beg and steal time to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard).

I can’t be ruthless about protecting writing days – because in my world a day devoted to writing is a fantasy.  But I can be ruthless about protecting those precious twenty minutes I told myself I would use to write.

Writing is my happy place.  It nourishes my soul and revives me.  It gives me a little bit of space where I can be me.  I do something that is just for me without the tug of all the people in my life who incessantly need a piece of me.

It is my selfish, unapologetic, self-indulgent time.  And I wouldn’t be able to survive without it.

I keep this quote by Rowling within reach everyday because it helps to remind me how important writing is to me and it is something I will not compromise on.

I’d love to hear how you remind yourself to do the things you love – regardless of the struggle it may create.

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Friday Five Favourite: TV Shows I’ll Lose Sleep For

My Friday Five Favourite Things WM

Sleep has been a quite the commodity for me since last December…when my baby girl was born! For the past nine months I have let many things go in my life to make time for sleep whenever I can get it. Nonetheless, there are times when I will forgo an early bedtime and force my eye lids open so I can watch tv and feel somewhat normal (sometimes). And at least I’ll have something to say when I occasionally get together with friends other than recounting baby girl’s nap times, feeding times, amount of solids consumed, whether or not she’s constipated etc.

Here’s my top 5 shows that I’ll force myself awake to watch. (Yes, I realize that some of these start at 9 pm and only last an hour…but any nursing mommy with a baby that wakes multiple times during the night will tell you that 9 pm feels like 1 am to normal people.)

1.  Game of Thrones – violence, betrayal, sex, power, scheming…the perfect way to escape the daily routine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Ray Donovan – a man who fixes everything yet his family is in shambles. Does the law not exist for Ray Donovan? Nope. And it’s so fun to watch.

from tvrage.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Outlander – I love that these books were finally brought to the screen! I will be reviewing the show soon and I will add another review of the series since I recently finished Drums of Autumn. It’s a must watch if you’re a fan of the books.

from entertainmentdemocracy.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. The Voice – I’ve written about why I love this show in the past. I fall for the banter of the judges as they fight each other for the members of their team. I am enamored of the rivalry between Adam and Blake – oh those two! Mostly, I love the positive vibe of the show.

from blogsexpression.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Modern Family – funny, funny, funny! Oh, and the Colombian characters and references to the country and culture really help too.

 

 

 

 

 

A little laughter, a little drama, a little reality – it all keeps me entertained when I am drained from mommyhood. Do you watch any of these? What are your thoughts? What are your television guilty pleasures?

Have a great weekend!

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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:

watermarked children and books

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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Stop! And Do This Right Now.

  1. Tell your spouse you love him/her
  2. Hug your children…squeeze them, get lost in their cheeks, dive into their necks and revel in their laughter
  3. Call your mom and dad – thank them. Ask about their day.
  4. If your parents are no longer living…say a quick prayer to them, tell them what they mean to you.
  5. Repeat 3 and/or 4 with your grandparents
  6. Reach out to your sibling(s)…let them feel how great it was to grow up with them
  7. Text your friends or send out a mass email to all of your friends letting them know they are the family you chose…
  8. Thank the universe, God, the goddess, for your life, your health, the health of those you love and all of the good things that surround you
  9. Smile and give yourself a hug
  10. Eat some chocolate

Because sometimes life reminds us in the most cruel of ways that it is short. That in an instant everything can change. It is fragile and fleeting. Nowhere on my list is there a reference to work or the bank account or the kind of car in the driveway.

Stripped down to the essentials, life is not as complicated as we make it. Lighten the load and truly embrace what is important. It is far too easy to forget and ultimately, it is all that matters when we need it most.

Go ahead. Try it. You’ll be glad you did.

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Just When…But Then…

from diynatural.com

Just when you get a chance to sit down to write…the baby cries in her crib waking from her nap much earlier than anticipated. But then she gives you that huge, toothless grin making you feel like a hero swooping in to save her from the dark.

Just when you finally get to the washroom…your 5 year old needs to talk and opens the door believing it is perfectly normal to carry on a conversation with mom while she’s on the toilet. But then he finishes that convo with “You’re my bestest mommy ever!” Wait, what? How many mommies do you have…never mind, I get it and I’ll take it.

Just when you think you might have an afternoon to watch a movie…it’s three days later and you’re still only half way through it. But then when you finally get to finish it you realize you got two movie afternoons instead of one.

Just when you’ve made yourself a steaming cup of tea…the phone rings, someone’s at the door, and it’s time to pick up your child at school…you return to iced tea. But then your child hugs you and asks that you have a snack together while he chats about his day.

Just when you grab that cable bill you’ve been meaning to get to…you realize it’s a week overdue.  But then…there’s no upside to this one except it’s only a week overdue.

Just when you’ve purchased that book you’ve been itching to read for a few months…it’s a month later and the book hasn’t left the store’s bag; it is buried under flyers and school work and all sorts of paper that life throws at you somewhere in the pile on that spot on the kitchen counter reserved for miscellaneous…which helps to explain the past due cable bill. But then that magical moment happens when hubby is out bike riding with child 1 and child 2 is napping and all is quiet and there is nothing else to do but read. Ah!

Just when there’s that beautiful sunny day…you can’t use your backyard since the swampy mess is still there because you’ve missed the landscaper’s calls because of course he always calls while you’re trying to get your baby to nap so you can get some writing time. But then that sunny day is followed by three days of rain giving the landscaper time to get to your house and figure out a game plan.

Just when you sit to watch a little mind-numbing television (or television to take away the numbing of your mind)…hubby wants to talk about work and current events and house stuff and gossip and cool places to travel or to eat…you know, normal adult stuff that your brain has trouble computing.  But then your mind wakes up a little and you remember what it’s like to be you.

Just when you think you can get a moment to yourself…it’s 9 o’clock and in your world that basically means it’s almost midnight (since you’ll be up one or two times with the baby and sleeping in has become a hazy memory of a very distant past)…it’s time to get to sleep so you can do it all over again the next day. But then the baby strangely wakes up, feeds and allows you to sleep until 6 am…almost 9 hours of sleep! Amazing. I can do anything after that much sleep!

What are your just when…but then moments?

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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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Wednesday Quotables: Love

Wed quotables 3

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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Wednesday Quotables: Surrender

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This week’s quotatbles are all about surrender. Too often we find ourselves in challenging situations and we don’t know why and we wish we could wish ourselves out of them.  It is only once we are through those situations that we see why we had to live through them…and we learn that had we simply allowed ourselves to live through them, we probably would have had an easier time.

Surrendering is not an easy lesson to learn – nor is it easy to do because it requires trust.  (We can do next week’s quotables on trust.)  However, it is the most peaceful approach to all circumstances and surrendering actually helps you keep your sanity.

from yogametaphysics.wordpress.com

from yogametaphysics.wordpress.com

Surrendering is a great way to show yourself compassion, love and trust. I love this quote because it reminds me to breathe. It is my way of reminding myself to surrender. Once I got over the fear of not being in control it actually brought me a huge relief!

from zenstillness.com

from zenstillness.com

from shadowtext.net

from shadowtext.net

from wordsonimages.com

from wordsonimages.com

Surrendering teaches you about yourself.  It makes you get out of your own way and allow your path to unfold in ways you would have never imagined. It is pretty empowering to watch yourself grow and be the person you know you are.

from motivationalquotesabout.com

from motivationalquotesabout.com

from femalefundamentals.com

from femalefundamentals.com

from imgquotes.com

from imgquotes.com

These three quotes go hand in hand…accept what is happening, no matter how terrible because it will end and inevitably you will come out stronger.  The process and the outcome will teach you things about yourself that you never imagined…you will blow yourself away with your strength! Also, isn’t it wonderful to know that the past can stay there? That your present is completely in your power to create as you wish?

I hope these quotes help you through the rest of the week. Right now I’m dealing with surrendering to this crazy, frigid cold and figuring out how to battle cabin fever! It’s all good.

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Mommy Mondays: Bottle or Breast? This Time, Breast.

Mommy Mondays WM

Where do I even begin?  The past (almost) 7 weeks have been blissfully beautiful. Seriously.  I’m not sure if it’s the knowledge that this is my last baby or the fact that I’m an “experienced” mom or the gripping nostalgia for my son’s babyhood every time I look at my placid baby girl – whatever it is, I have never been more happy, nor felt more complete.

If you’ve read recent posts then you are aware that my breastfeeding experience with my first born was difficult at best. After having had my daughter, I can clearly see why.

The day before my daughter was born, the universe was really looking out for me because it brought into my lap this book:

courtesy: accustomedchaos.com

It was handed over by a dear friend who recently had twins and was able to breastfeed both.  She became my nursing hero and guru – especially once I witnessed her in her customary hurricane-style whip out a nursing pillow, plop each baby down beside her and latch them on comfortably within seconds at our friends’ house then proceed to chit chat and catch up with all of us as we stared in awe.

The day before delivery, I passed by her home and she passed along this book.  I was not feeling well that day and so laid on the couch for the rest of the day and perused The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.  I didn’t want to get too engrossed because one of two things would happen: I would feel overwhelmed and put the breaks on nursing before even having my baby or I would tap into my neurotic self, memorize every detail and then drive myself crazy because things were not going as described in “the book”.

The book is pretty hard-core and I felt intimidated.  However, one passage resonated.  One passage stuck with me and I knew I would take it with me into the delivery room (little did I know that that would be about 12 hours later!)

The book naturally sings the praises of skin-to-skin – which I thought I had done with my son.  According to the book, skin-to-skin should occur immediately after birth where the naked infant is placed on the mother’s bare chest. It is a calm, peaceful and quiet introduction of you to your baby. It should take as long as you need – not as long as the hospital deems necessary or appropriate.  I immediately saw flashes of my son being shoved onto my chest, then quickly whisked away to be cleaned, checked etc. only to be returned to me swaddled in blankets.  I shuddered and vowed the same would  not occur with my daughter.

According to The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, during skin-to-skin time the following occurs:

When a baby is born, his instincts and reflexes help him crawl to the nipple and latch on, even if you don’t help at all. […] As she recovers from the journey from womb to world, she’ll begin to think about sucking, usually sometime in that first hour.  She may start by drooling, or making sucking movements with her lips or bringing her fist to her mouth and bob her face on and off your skin. You can help her move closer to the breast or support her as she finds her way down. […] At some point, when her face is near your nipples, she’ll lift her head, open her mouth wide, latch, and begin to suck. She’s breastfeeding! (page 63-64)

Another flash of a nurse shoving my son’s face and mouth onto my breast.  She tried to latch him on and when he didn’t want to latch on (who would with that kind of treatment?), she blamed me for not preparing my nipples for nursing!  I was like WTF???  How was I supposed to prepare my nipples?  How come that never came up in the birthing course? That nurse set my son and I on a path toward breastfeeding disaster.  Again I vowed: the same would not occur with my daughter.

6 hours later, after I had put my son to bed, labour began.  It was a calm, easy (albeit painful), labour and delivery. My daughter entered this world with serenity, a short cry and eager to know me.  We lounged with each other for hours.  She was cleaned up, checked and brought back to me in her adorable naked glory and she laid on my chest forever.  We chatted and met each other face to face.  And, before I knew it, my perfect little girl began her downward wiggle.  Her head bobbed and her body moved and I let her do what she needed.  She got herself to my breast and with little help from me, she found what she was looking for and ate.  I was stunned.  It actually happened as described in the book!

From that moment forward I knew I would be able to nurse my baby. It was not easy. I had sore nipples, engorged breasts and after pains (the lovely labour-like pains that accompany breastfeeding with second and subsequent children). I fed her every three hours to get milk production going – which meant about an hour and a half of sleep between feedings. My phone was always within reach so I could text my “nursing-coach-mama-of-twins” and my mother was always within reach to hug me, reassure me and bring me water, tea or her delicious, Colombian “colada de pan” because breastfeeding made me so bloody hungry at three a.m.

It has been 6.5 weeks and we are successfully breastfeeding. I have (mostly) dealt with my mommy guilt of not being able to see breastfeeding through with my son who is now 4 and awesome. I hope my experience can help one mom out there as she begins her breastfeeding journey or one pregnant woman out there who is considering breastfeeding. It is after all a very personal journey.

My Lessons Learned:

  1. Empower yourself and read parts of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. 
  2. Skin-to-skin is not only essential, it is the most beautiful moment you can experience. After hours of pain, breathing, waiting, pushing it is a most calming, joyful reward to simply be with your newborn. If you have complications and cannot do skin-to-skin immediately after birth, then as soon as you have your baby in your arms, unswaddle her, bare your chest and snuggle her onto you. Get under a warm blanket. Enjoy.
  3. Natural birth or not…it is up to you.  Everything I’ve heard or read points to natural birth and I was all for “natural birth” when I had my son.  5 cm in I got an epidural and watched Meet the Parents until it was time to push.  He was a sleepy baby that fell asleep at the breast…so I thought maybe I shouldn’t have succumbed to a pain-free delivery. I got an epidural at 3 cm with my daughter, and took a 2 hour nap before it was time to push.  She was not sleepy and ate well from the start. Same epidural – two completely different experiences. Just make sure you own your labour/delivery experience. The rest will fall into place.
  4. The first few weeks of breastfeeding are hell.  I’m no expert.  I haven’t polled thousands of women. The women I know who have breastfed basically concur.  However, we also all agree – it really does get easier! Every time you think “I can’t do this” picture a video of your future self telling you “Don’t give up! It does get easier. I promise. The pain will go away, your nips and breasts will heal and your baby will feed.”
  5. Stay hydrated. Eat well. Sleep as much as you can.
  6. Have a breastfeeding partner – someone who you know will be there for you every step of the way without putting an ounce of doubt in your mind. Now is not the time for negativity or reverse psychology. Besides, you’ll need another pair of hands to pass you your water or phone or tissue etc.
  7. Surrender. This is temporary.  It will not always be this demanding. It will pass. The more relaxed you are and accepting that this new normal will be over soon the easier it will be. (This was the toughest lesson for me because I love to be in control of my environment).
  8. Housework. Cooking. Laundry. Can. All. Wait.
  9. Say yes to all offers of help.
  10. Seek assistance…breastfeeding clinics, lactation consultants, other moms, friends etc. If the advice of one does not help you, seek another.  If you can, have a few phone numbers stored or websites bookmarked before baby arrives.  Or have your breastfeeding partner do some research for you while you sleep.

My next mission: pump and store. I hope a few bottle feeds a week will give me more sleep and offer me a little more freedom.

Lastly, if it doesn’t work for you – it doesn’t work.  Find a way to feed your baby that will give you peace of mind and don’t look back. I formula fed my first after 5 weeks of breastfeeding hell and am now breastfeeding my second after 6 weeks of not-so-bad and I know I’m a good mother to both.

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