RSS

Category Archives: parenting

Love Hurts

On the first day of grade eleven, my daughter came home and told me about a new girl who sat behind her in one of her classes. She’s from Denmark. She’s living here for one year. She doesn’t know anybody.

Alice needed a friend. And I knew Abi was the right girl for the job.

“You’ve been there. You’ve had that exact same need,” I told Abi. “You’ve lived in a different country and needed deep friendships even though you knew you would be leaving. You know how hard it was to get people to invest deeply in a temporary relationship. And you know how hard it was to say good-bye at the other end. You need to grab Alice and immerse her in your circle of friends tomorrow. Treat her as if she’s always been there and as if she’ll always be there. Don’t wait for a slow-developing, organic friendship. Make it deep immediately.”

And that’s what she did.

Now, if you know Abi at all, you know that she has big feelings about everything. Every feeling that she has is big. BIG. She is emotionally invested in ALL THE THINGS. Every relationship. Every activity. Every place she’s ever been. Everything she owns. Every bite of food. She is ALL IN.

So to tell her to invest in a relationship was probably redundant advice.

But to recall that conversation with her this week was helpful. This week brings Alice’s year here to an end. There have been a lot of tears. (Not just at the final good-bye last night, but on random days leading up to the inevitable. I think those random days started a couple of months ago. “Honey, why are you so upset?” “Because Alice is leeeeeeeaving!!!!!” Jesus, take the wheel.) And we looked back at that first day of school when Abi made the choice to love Alice – knowing how deeply she was going to love, because that’s just who she is, and knowing how much it was going to hurt saying good-bye.

I am so proud of my Abi Mae and her example of Christ-like love. Relationships don’t always end in heartbreak, and when they do, we don’t usually know at the onset that that’s how it’s going to work out. But choosing to love deeply for the sake of what might end sadly, that’s no small thing.

Today we said good-bye to Abi for the next nine weeks. She is off to camp for the summer to be a counselor to dozens of kids. We talked again about loving deeply. About investing emotionally, even though it’s an even shorter timeframe. It is her best gift to give, and the hardest.

And she’s the right girl for the job.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on June 25, 2016 in Family, parenting

 

Single At Night

We’ve been parenting together for 16+ years now, but when it is nighttime, I often feel like a single parent.

In the beginning, there was a very logical reason. I was nursing the babies. There wasn’t a lot my husband could do to help. Sure, I could have woken him up to change a diaper after I’d finished the feeding, but that just seemed mean. I was already up.

Once the nursing was no longer an issue, he reasoned that it still made more sense for me to get up. I could fall asleep so much faster than he could after the random midnight crises were tended to. I didn’t argue. I was too tired.

There were, of course, a few times that I insisted he be the one to respond to a child’s cries, only to have the child desperately want Mommy anyway.

He did get up that one night a mouse bit our daughter’s finger. Blood-curdling screams tend to jolt a person out of bed.

And there was another long, long night with multiple near-death experiences (as portrayed by our offspring). When there was yet another call from a far-off bedroom, I just couldn’t do it. I started crying. Eventually, my sobs compelled him to get up and see to the child’s needs. He returned  shortly thereafter…to ask me where we keep the clean bedsheets.

(Just one mom on the jury. That’s all I need…)

Our kids are mostly old enough now that nighttime emergencies are few and far between. But our youngest still has the occasional accident or night terror. Or itchy nose (for the love!). Recently, I was up with him four nights in a row (and more than once each night). By myself. Every night. I did not have lovely, tender thoughts towards anyone in those moments.

I recall being awakened the morning after the fourth night by some outside noise. A scratching, scraping noise, over and over again. It took several moments of fighting towards consciousness to identify the sound (and at the same time, trying desperately to stay asleep for just a few more minutes. I was So Blasted Tired!).  It was a shovel. My husband was shovelling the driveway.

Just then, the clock radio clicked on. Time to get up. I stayed where I was for a few minutes, realizing that he had been up for more than an hour already. Reading his Bible, bringing in a bin of firewood, getting the woodstove burning for the day, making my coffee, and shovelling our long driveway. All before my alarm went off.

I may be single at night, but praise God from whom all blessings flow, I am married in the morning!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 2, 2016 in Family, Marriage, parenting

 

Boys are…Different

I would like to go 7 years back in time to when we were in the middle of the adoption process and change my answer to the question, “Would you like a baby boy or girl?”

Not because our now 7-year-old boy isn’t delightful. But because all the other 7-year-old boys are not delightful.

Really, really not delightful.

We love our delightful 7-year-old boy, so we decided to throw him a birthday party with a bunch of other 7-year-old boys. And they are not delightful. Really, really not delightful.

I booked the party at the movie theatre. We did that last year, and it was an easy party. It’s not terribly expensive (compared to most other party options out there), they can accommodate a group as small as 8 (unlike most other party options out there), and we were really excited about “Big Hero 6”.

We arrived at the theatre half an hour before the movie (as per the manager’s instructions) to allow us lots of time to get our cake and presents and any decorations set up in the party room. Unfortunately, they’d double-booked the party room, so it wasn’t available for us until after the movie. They did provide a space for us to lock up our presents, cake and coats. But the boys…the boys were not contained.

The screaming, running, break-dancing little monsters were everywhere. In the foyer, in the arcade, in the bathroom and running out into the mall. I could not keep track of them. And there were only 8 of them!

I didn’t even know all the kids or remember their faces after their parents dropped them off. Imagine a crazy lady snatching kids as they came out of a public bathroom, asking, “Are you supposed to be with me?” Yeah, that was me. Classy, eh?

After much chasing and herding and gnashing of teeth, we managed to get everyone to make a trip to the bathroom (“Are you SURE you’ve gone? You can make it through a two-hour movie now?”) and sorted out their drink and popcorn orders (“I don’t like popcorn.” “That’s too bad.”). Finally, the dreaded half hour of free reign was over and we were in our seats.

All I can say is, “I’m sorry” to everyone who was sitting behind or in front of us. There was talking and spilling and crying and many trips to the bathroom.

After one trip to the bathroom, I returned to my seat and whispered to the kid next to me, “What happened?”, thinking he might fill me in on any pertinent plot details. “I don’t know,” he non-whispered back. Okay, fine, I can figure this out. Oh. An important character died. Really? That wasn’t an obvious, helpful little tidbit that you could’ve shared? Thanks, kid.

And the crying. “I dropped one of my Pokemon cards and I can’t find it!” “We can look after the movie is over and the lights come on.” Crying continued for 45 minutes until the movie was over and the lights came on. “Oh look, here it is. Maybe you should put them in your pocket until the party is over so none of them get lost again.” “I don’t have a pocket.” I am going to throat-punch your parents.

So the movie is over, we get to go to the party room now, right? Wrong. The other party is still in there and then the room will need to be cleaned up. But we got some free arcade tokens to use in the meantime.

Again with the screaming, running, break-dancing monsters. Except now they’ve had Coke and M&M’s and they have basketballs to throw and game tokens to lose. “Can I have one more? I lost one behind that game.” How did your token get behind that game?!?!

Finally. The party room. That blessed little space where they can be as loud as they want and I can just block the door and keep them there.

That blessed little space where drinks are spilled and kids try to play tag and icing is smeared all over faces. “Look at my blue boogers!” “I got icing in my hair!”

And then I hear, “What the *#$%&@!?” from one of the not-delightful monsters. I look over, and one of the other not-delightful monsters is opening a present. A present that was meant for my child! I got in that kid’s face, with my finger pointing right at his nose. “This is NOT YOUR party and that is NOT YOUR present. So hands off! Sit down! And maybe try being NICE to the people around you.”

Don’t judge me.

Do you know what little girls do when they have a birthday party? They dress up in princess costumes so you can take them for high tea at a real castle. And they walk in a line to see all the fancy, old furniture. And they use their napkins after they nibble on fancy cookies. And they stand and smile for a group photo.

This is what boys do for a group photo

.IMG_7702

 
5 Comments

Posted by on November 8, 2014 in Family, Humour, Marriage, parenting

 

Reality Bites

There have been several articles in my newsfeed lately that bemoan the perils of blogger moms. “Don’t read those things!” they warn. “You will be made to feel inadequate. You will hate yourself and your children. You will get so obsessed with making the quintessential tiramisu that you will forget to change your baby’s diaper for three days.”

Okay, the advice is actually well-founded. You can’t let yourself get sucked into the hype. Truly, if a blogger (or an Instagrammer or a Pinterester or a Facebooker) is posting only their amazingness and subconsciously (or intentionally) letting you think that they tend to every detail of their mommyhood and wifehood with such exquisite perfection, you should block them from your inbox.

However, I would like to think that I am not that kind of blogger. I’d like to think that, but maybe you are just dazzled and frazzled enough to have forgotten some of my glaring faults (which I am not shy about posting). In the unlikely event that I intimidate you, I shall hereby take a moment to share a few snippets of my reality with you.

First. Yes, it’s true that I make my own laundry soap. And I love hanging my laundry outside to dry. But I am not a laundry diva.

This is my laundry room.

IMG_20141001_163703

It is in the unfinished basement of our 140-year-old farmhouse. There is dust. There are cobwebs. There is dryer lint. There is cat poo (not pictured). I do clean up all that stuff once in a while (FYI the cat poo gets cleaned up way more often than “once in a while”. More like ASAP.) But you don’t need to feel like Satan if you buy ready-made laundry detergent. If you are somewhat capable of maintaining a reasonably clean environment in which to use said detergent, you are awesome!

Next. You may think all the sparkling wit, hilarity and brilliance that is created right here must happen in a zen bubble of peace. You would think I would be incredibly organized with the God-given gifts of administration and structure. Wrong-o! This is my desk right now:

IMG_20141001_163600

There are about 6 different to-do lists here. There are reminder notes stuck all over the place. And see all those pens? Half of them don’t work. Whenever I grab one and it doesn’t work, I just drop it and grab another one. You do not need to feel like a rabid honeybadger if sometimes things are disorganized. If you have a general idea of where most of your stuff is, or at least some good ideas about where to start looking, you are fantastic!

Next. I know, I know, you talk about my carefree beauty at your playdates. You are in awe. You are jealous. (Riiiiiight.) This is me right now.

IMG_20141001_164243

The truth of the matter is, once or twice a week I put on mascara and use some sort of product in my hair. And if I need to have my picture taken, I’ll make sure it’s on one of those days. The rest of the time, I look like this. You do not need to feel like Quasimodo if you have more important things to do than Kardashianizing yourself. If you have showered and/or brushed your teeth, you are a beauty queen!

Next. I enjoy a good decluttering day as much as the next gal. I do not keep scads of my kids’ schoolwork and artwork and church lessons and paper snowflakes and restaurant menu drawings. They show it to me, and I praise the work, then it goes in the recycling bin. The kids each have a Rubbermaid tub in the basement in which to store the most precious papers and keepsakes. I, however, have all of this:

IMG_20141001_163803

I’ve been mid-sort for about a year. I would like to get this job finished and purged and minimized. But…ain’t nobody got time for that! So I’m a hypocrite. That’s what I am. There. You do not need to feel like a Nazi if you sometimes have standards that are, shall we say, double. If you have realistic goals that you intend to someday work towards (and if your kids are not hurt by what they don’t know), then you are a rock star!

Next. I have been so proud of myself these 2 weeks while my husband is away. I’m staying on top of so many of the jobs that he usually does. I am single parenting like a boss (and I’m not even in a drunken stupor). I’m looking after his chickens and turkeys – feeding and watering them every single day! I have taken out the garbage. I have brought in firewood and built a beautiful fire in the wood stove. I looked after a sale of something that he had listed on Kijiji. I got rid of a dead mouse in the driveway (and by that I mean I stepped over it and then I guess a racoon or something dealt with it later). I have even made an appointment to take my van into the mechanic tomorrow!

However…

IMG_20141001_164459

I didn’t notice right away that the water softener was out of salt. I noticed AFTER I’d scrubbed the tub and then a day or two later, it was looking like this. We have iron issues.

And…

IMG_20141001_163744

It turns out that sometimes dehumidifiers can overflow if they are not emptied regularly. So know this, dear mom. You may be the most capable, strong, independent Guru of Multi-tasking and Super-Ability, but you don’t need to feel like Rob Ford if you make a few little mistakes here and there. If you didn’t burn down the house today and most of the children ate most of their meals, then you are pre-fraud Martha Stewart.

Next. I have a lot of things on the go. Too many plates that I’m trying to keep spinning. I don’t really like frantic busyness, but I do sometimes bite off more than I can chew. And then my schedule gets crazy. And sometimes people look at my schedule or ask me what I’m up to, and I probably come off sounding like I’m so glamorously needed by everyone and I just have to suffer humbly under the weight of all my astonishing talents. But the truth is:

IMG_20141001_164411

I’m on level 480. Sometimes there are just too many things to do and I buckle. It doesn’t happen often, but there are days when I get absolutely nothing worthwhile done. So you don’t need to feel like a speed bump when the world is running you down and all you can do is lie there. If those days are the exception, not the rule, then you are Michael Phelps (without the DUI and with, I don’t know, a cute sweater/skinny jeans/boots ensemble).

There you have it, folks. A few little bites of reality from your favourite (ahem) mommy blogger. Now go out and conquer the world.

Or don’t. Whatever.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 1, 2014 in Family, Humour, parenting

 

Knock Knock

I know that all parents go through this developmental stage with their kids. And kids reach this stage at different times. And it takes some kids longer to catch on than others. Even bright kids that seem to learn everything else so easily sometimes struggle with this concept. That’s normal childhood and normal parenthood. Anyone making the decision to raise a child understands this before they begin.

But sheesh! I thought we’d accomplished this and moved on a year ago. I thought we were done! Why are we having to go through this whole stage again? I am losing it over here, people.

The concept of knock-knock jokes, of all things, might just be the death of me.

This is my life right now:

L: Mom, can we tell knock-knock jokes?
Me: (with phony enthusiasm) Sure! Knock-knock.
L: Who’s there?
Me: Anita
L: Anita who?
Me: Anita go to the bathroom.
L: (uproarious laughter) Okay, my turn! Knock-knock
Me: Who’s there?
L: Levi
Me: Levi who?
L: I need to go to the bathroom!
Me: No, honey, you need to use the name and make it into a funny sentence. Like this. Knock-knock.
L: Who’s there?
Me: Levi
L: Levi who?
Me: Leave? I just got here!
L: Ohhhhhh! Okay. Let me try it. Knock-knock.
Me: Who’s there?
L: Levi
Me: Levi who?
L: Why do I have to leave already?
Me: Well, that’s close, but you have to take the first name and then make up a funny last name so that the two names together make a joke.
L: Ohhhh! I get it. Okay. Knock-knock.
Me: Who’s there?
L: Levi
Me: Levi who?
L: Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?

Knock-knock.

You don’t have to answer that. It’s just me banging my head against the wall.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Family, Humour, parenting

 

Summertime ~ And the Living Is Adequately Bearable

The whole menu planning/grocery shopping/meal preparation thing is beyond my grasp. I cannot get it together. I cannot think of new meals. I can barely remember enough regular meals to fill a week. I can write an extensive grocery list of things like flour, juice, butter, olive oil – whatever we might be running out of. But I frequently get home from the store, put everything away, and then remember that I didn’t actually shop for meal components. I can spend $100 and not have anything to serve for supper!

And now it’s summer. (You’ll know this because my posts are short and far-between and probably not well-written. There are so many people here all the time and there is always talking and noise and needs to be met and fights to break up and I tend to spend most of June, July and August hiding under my bed.)

Summer makes my whole meal-planning ineptitude a fatzillion times worse. All these people here want to eat. Like every day. Multiple times a day! I have to plan for this and provide for this and supervise this. And I suck at this!

On top of that, I’ve been having a bit of a dietary problem lately. You see, due to year-end stress and busyness, my emotional immune system appears to have been weakened. (That is a real thing that I made up and self-diagnosed.) And now, through no fault of my own, I find that whenever I see the food that I have bought and provided for all the people, I want to put all of it in my own food-hole. Every day my jeans cry out to me, “Why do you hate us? All we ever did was try to make your thighs look skinny and your ankles look also skinny. And this is how you repay us?”

Do you see my dilemma? I cannot formulate enough cohesive thoughts to write a grown-up grocery list + all the people wanting all the food all the time + my compulsion to avoid the sight of the constant food-flow = a house full of cranky people.

Solution: off-load part of this chore!

So yesterday I handed my Better Homes and Gardens comprehensive cookbook to my 13-year-old and said, “Here. Look through this and find some recipes you want to try. Figure out some things that we can eat. I will buy the ingredients and you will cook them.”

She was so excited! She looked through the book and she made a list of recipes. I picked out a few to try this week, and headed off to the grocery store. Tonight’s dish is veggie-stuffed pasta shells with spinach and ricotta and carrots and all kinds of wonderful things.

If I’d remembered to buy the pasta shells, that would’ve made this plan super impressive, right?

 
5 Comments

Posted by on July 8, 2014 in Family, Humour, parenting

 

On Parenting: The Truth Behind Everyone Else’s Warnings

This post is inspired by a young couple at our church who just birthed the most beautiful baby in the history of humankind. Apparently they heard that all babies are beautiful and they just went ahead and popped out a baby who was beautiful already. What they should have been told is that all babies become beautiful over their first few days or weeks, but they’re actually born kind of squidgy-looking. Because of that incomplete information, this lovely couple from church has already gotten it wrong. Such a shame.

There is hope, though. I’m here to enlighten them (and you) on the underlying truths of what parenting is really like.

You may have heard that parenting is exhausting. And you may assume that refers to babies waking up frequently through the night. That is the truth, but it is not the whole truth.

  • Toddlers wet the bed. (Word of advice: keep a sleeping bag in your linen closet, even if you store the rest of your camping gear in the basement. You can have that kid back in bed in two minutes if you don’t have to wrangle with fitted sheets at three in the morning.)
  • Kids pick their nose – and when they wake up with blood on their face and hands and pillow case, they may scream like something has just been amputated. (Word of advice: you don’t have to scrub the pillow case right then and there. Throw it in the corner until the sun comes up and then just pour some hydrogen peroxide on it and let it soak for a bit.)
  • Teenagers who join sports teams will have practices at unreasonable times, like 7 in the morning. And you will have to drive them there. And they get snarky if you’re still wearing your fluffy bathrobe. (Word of advice: don’t let your kids join sports teams.)
  • Those same teenagers also like to participate in social activities that keep them out until other unreasonable times, like 10 at night. And you will have to pick them up. And they get snarky if you’re wearing your fluffy bathrobe. (Word of advice: if your teenagers know that you’re going to be wearing your fluffy bathrobe when you pick them up, they will be ready and waiting at the door of said social activity when you pull up. You won’t have to go in looking for them. Rather, you won’t have to do it twice.)
  • Throughout your parenting career, you will have multiple opportunities to stay up late into the night making 28 cupcakes decorated like cornucopias for a grade one class, and Medieval-style bread for a history project, and a traditional Spanish dessert for grade nine international food day – all because your children will forget to mention these dire necessities until bedtime the night before they are due.

You may have heard that your body will never be the same after birthing a baby. And you may assume that you will have stretch marks and your hips will be wider. That is the truth, but it is not the whole truth.

  • Your hair will change. Whether you cut it all short because your baby keeps pulling it, or you grow it long so you can always have it in a ponytail, you will almost never have time to make it cute. And on those rare occasions when you have 60 extra seconds to blow dry, your work will promptly be undone by someone’s boogers, banana mush, or vomit.
  • Remember that gorgeous, red dress that you wore to all your friends’ weddings before you had kids? And you kept it after you had kids because it has a bit of a flare at the waist so it would still camouflage those widened hips? You may eventually lose all the baby weight and go put that dress on and then you will discover that your hips weren’t the only thing that widened to accommodate babies. Rib cages widen. Whatever your go-to naughty words are when you have an infuriating shock, you will use them when you see that weird extra bulge between bust and belly. Nobody wants a weird extra bulge there. Stupid red dress.

You may have heard about ‘baby brain’. And you may assume that this refers to putting the milk away in the cupboard and putting the cereal away in the fridge. That is the truth, but it is not the whole truth.

  • At some point, many years from now, you will be in the middle of writing a parenting blog and during your potty break you will have a brilliant idea for your next point but by the time you get all the way back to your computer, you will have forgotten it so completely that you will stare open-mouthed at the ceiling for several minutes wondering if aliens invaded your body and cleared your brain’s browser history. And then you will wonder if it wasn’t aliens, but actually Kathy Griffin. And then you will wonder if Kathy Griffin is an alien herself. But all of that is hypothetical. What was I talking about?

You may have heard that kids say the darnedest things. And you may assume that kids say those things in private or when they are young and cute. That is the truth, but it is not the whole truth.

  • There will come a day, I promise you, when you are at the mall or the grocery store and your sweet cherub makes a very loud and incredibly inappropriate comment about someone’s weight. If that someone is you instead of the stranger ahead of you in the check-out line, believe me: you are blessed among mothers.
  • You may one day tell your teenaged daughter that you have entered a contest to win a free smile make-over from the local orthodontist office. And for the briefest of seconds, her incredulous “Why?!?!” will make her your favourite child. And then more words will come out of her face: “But you’re almost forty!”

You may have heard that parenting is hard. You may assume that refers to getting your picky eater to eat peas that have touched mashed potatoes. That is the truth, but it is not the whole truth.

  • No matter how prepared and open and honest you are with your kids, at least one of them will ask you a sex question that makes you gasp and choke on your own spit. And they’ll probably ask you in front of your in-laws or your pastor.
  • You will find yourself wondering about the legality of things that have never before crossed your mind, such as “Will I be arrested for helping my kids film a French horror movie in a cemetery?”
  • You will use your go-to naughty words again because your kids will develop uniquely bizarre habits like not screwing the salad dressing lid on all the way.

You may have heard about how fiercely you will love your kids. You may assume that refers to wanting to watch them sleep and being hurt when they stop kissing you in front of their friends. That is the truth, but it is not the whole truth.

You’ll have to discover that whole truth for yourself. Because I can blab on and on about some topics, but how much you’ll love your kids – that’s one I just can’t put into words.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Family, Humour, parenting