Archive for the ‘Mother Knows Best’ Category

Back-to-School

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”…usually this song pops into your head when you think of Christmas shopping and family visiting for the holidays, but now Staples has claimed this popular song as part of it’s commercial campaign to celebrate the Back-to-School season. 

I watched the commercial the other day and it got me thinking, “Is this the most wonderful time of the year for me?” ironically, despite my children having spent the last 12 days of August bickering over whose turn it was to choose the cereal, or who gets stuck with the earphones that don’t work as well, I am going to miss them when they are back in school full time. There I said it. Sue me. I know that most people are thinking that I must be crazy to be sad that they are going back to school; and don’t get me wrong, I’m going to enjoy a little bit of free time each day and enjoying a full cup of coffee while it’s hot or an uninterupted shower. But I will also miss the lazing around on the sofa taking turns snuggling the dog or reading a book. I will miss playing Wii with the kids who marvel at my athletic ability because they haven’t realized the playing Wii games doesn’t really involve full body interaction, really only a little flick of the wrist is needed. I will miss the hours spent at the splash pad and how the icky things discovered at the Lowville park creek mysteriously finding their way into my car.

Back-to-school is great because it brings routine and consistency to our home, schedule and family. But it also means that my babies are out in the world marveling and learning with other people besides Mommy. For 6 and a half hours a day, someone else gets to hear their incessant questions and wipe their tears when they fall off the monkey bars. I miss that. I guess the only consolation is that rather than being ready to lock them in separate towers to keep them from fighting by 3:10pm, I am actually anxious to see them and hug them and hear all about their day!

Advertisements

The Luxurious Stay-At-Home-Mom

As a Stay-at-Home-Mother (SAHM) I often find myself faced with various questions regarding my choice to make Mothering my only full-time job. Any woman who chooses to have children will inevitably face the issue of whether to stay at home with them, work full-time and put them in some form of daycare, or try to work out some manner of part-time work as well as staying at home. It’s a difficult and delicate struggle, individual to every woman and every family.

Although I believe that God has entrusted me with amazing children and I believe that I have been called to make raising them my first and foremost priority, at the same time I believe that it is up to each couple to determine what is best for them. It is not my place to judge any parent for the choices they make in child-rearing; be it potty training, discipline, schooling or working outside the home.

Unfortunately despite my efforts to live and let live, I am periodically subjected to the insensitive commentary of working Mom’s, forcing me to defend my personal choice. One such instance occured just the other day when I was at the store shopping with my 5 year old daughter. The lady asked me about whether G was in kindergarten yet and in the course of regular conversation the topic of me staying home came to light. The woman said “Wow, you are SO fortunate…I wish I had the luxury of staying home….” See?? Now that’s my problem, I’m sure you heard it too, the inference that I am sitting around all day basking in the glow of Stay-at-Home-Mommyhood; lounging on the patio all day with a fruity drink and servants fanning me with palm branches while my children raise themselves.

The truth is that my luxurious choice comes at a price; not working outside the home means that I am not bringing in a second income, which drastically alters our family lifestyle. I don’t want you to misunderstand me, God has more than provided everything our family could need and more, but staying home with the children has definitely meant a pay cut! Fortunately the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

The discussion with the store clerk, although disturbing, was in no way unique. I have been subjected to any number of comments referring to the perceived luxury of being a SAHM. Let me share some of my favourites with you…

  • “Must be nice! I CAN’T go on all the school trips because I have to work…”
  • “Yeah I would LOVE to stay home with the kids, but I have a mortgage and can’t afford to have it ALL!”
  • “Wow, you’re SO LUCKY that you GET to stay home and not work.”
  • “Boy, I’d love to NOT work, but you know…”

The truth is, both sides think they have it rough. I am not going to lie, I love that I can “go to work” in my pyjamas and not wear make up, I love that I can chat with friends on the phone while I watch the kids play outside, I certainly couldn’t do either if I was working outside the home. However, there are several drawbacks that come along with the choice to Mother-Full-Time.  For example, I don’t get a break from my children throughout the average day; which means I have company while I eat a meal, drink a cup of coffee, go to the bathroom, talk on the phone and every other little task that I attend to throughout the day. I have to be constantly “On”, I can’t let my mind wander while the kids are in the pool or while the little ones are even chewing their food! I am constantly aware that every word out of my mouth is being monitored (whether they appear to be paying attention or NOT), every grown up conversation I have on the phone, in the store or with the neighbour is peppered with interruptions from little voices wanting to have a snack or do a craft or play a game. Or voices that simply want to be heard for a minute and need me to drop what I am doing to watch them complete whatever feat they have been working on.

And don’t even get me started on what I teach my children on a daily basis; there is no daycare provider or ECE teaching my kids to count and tie their shoes, play nicely or share, helping them colour and paste pom poms on construction paper. I am the one who teaches them how to pump their legs on the swing and chew grapes properly so they don’t choke. I spend time daily pouring information into them about character and answering the million questions about the world around them. I believe that they are better for it, regardless of the fact that I may not always know the answer to every question.

My beef here is not with the fact that I am a SAHM or the fact that I have to do all these things, I LOVE my job, and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world (most days). My irritation comes from people who have made a different career choice, belittling me or insinuating that somehow I have taken the easy way out.

I dare say that Full-Time Mothering is anything but the easy way out, in fact I think that the next time someone gives me a hard time, I will just invite them to sell their big house and cottage and come live where I do, anyone can learn to sacrifice the finer things in life to spend time with the finest people in life and I’d be more than happy to share my secrets!  Now, where did I put those bon bons??

The “Icky” Side of Parenting

There’s a show on t.v called “Dirty Jobs”, it’s a fascinating look into some of the ickiest, messies, stinkiest jobs that are performed on a daily basis by people all over the world. Not surprisingly, my husband and children find this show utterly fascinating. I find it interesting but some episodes are a little hard to stomach! The other day I saw the commercial and it got me to thinking that as parents we have a “Dirty Job” too, in fact I think that raising children can be one of the ickiest jobs around. Of course I wouldn’t switch careers for anything in the world, my benefit package is far too rewarding!

Noses– they are almost always snotty, runny, drippy, crusty or worse….being picked!

Bathroom Issues – this is an all-encompassing term that includes everything starting with meconium in-utero, followed by explosive newborn diapers, orange and green baby food tinted diapers, solid no-longer-baby-big-kid-poop diapers, potty training, accidents in the grocery store, peeing the bed, “I-can-wipe-myself-messes”…boy does it ever feel good to be past most of those issues now!

Owie’s – children will incur every manner of scrape, bump, cut, goose egg, broken bones and stitches. If you’re lucky the Dr. will do the stitches for you!

Illness – the most harrowing part of this childhood problem is the vomit, but there’s diarrhea, administering medicine and suppositories, applying cream, oral and rectal thermometers and of course, the terrible feeling of being helpless to put an end to their suffering, or even keep their vomit out of your bed.

Potty Humour – from 3 year old who likes to pee anywhere outside and in front of anyone who might be passing by, to the 5 year old who thinks “poop” is hilarious, to the 8 year old making “farting” sounds in church, to the 11 year old “belching” the alphabet, to the 17 year old making “farting” sounds in the grocery store, to the 20-35 year old who bursts out laughing everytime someone in the room passes gas! Children always seem to find the most embarrassing time to share their most disgusting bodily functions!

Lice – not much else to say.

Emotions – from the moment they are ripping us open from the inside out in the delivery room, to the day we watch them walk down the aisle, children will cause us to feel some of the most powerful, wonderful and often messy emotions within the realm of possibility. They will irritate us, infuriate us, bowl us over with their kindness and cuteness. Most of the time they will bring us indescribably joy but once in a while they will cause us indescribably pain and yet, we wouldn’t give them up for all the peaceful days in the world.

10 Things I LOVE About My Kids!

10. I love that they both look very latino, brown hair, brown eyes and lovely tanned skin. They are both even browner than their father from whom they get the latin flavour! I find it exotic and simply lovely.

9. I love how they can spend all morning bickering and snarking at each other but when the car door opens to drop J off at school, he leans back in the car to give Princess G a kiss goodbye and she shouts “I love you J, have a good day” as the door closes behind him. So cute.

8. I love how well they share, with each other and with others. I get a huge surge of joy in my heart when he comes home from school with half a bag of popcorn b/c his baby sister missed popcorn day. Or when Princess G and I go to McDonalds and she voluntarily takes her happy meal girl toy back and asks the lady to give her a boy toy so she can give it to her brother. * sniff*

7. I love listening to them read. It makes me so happy to hear J reading and imagining the stories in his mind. She is just starting to sound words out and it is such an exciting time to observe them and so much fun to be a part of this huge developmental milestone, watching the world of words open up to them.

6. I love listening to the detailed explanations about their artwork. What appear to be splotches on a page or random scribbles in pencil, are actually exciting worlds they have created offering a sneak peak into their beautiful little minds.

5. I love their independence. I carried them for 9 months inside my body and then for about a year after they were born and now I revel in the fact that they can walk on their own! I also enjoy the fact that they can put on their own clothes, go to the washroom, eat a meal and climb up the ladder at the park, ALL on their own…

4. I love how cuddly they are. Everytime I’m at their school and I see one of them in the hall or the class, their face lights up and I get a full on hug! That’s the BEST feeling in the world! And every morning one by one they climb up on my lap for good morning snuggles!! Love it! I don’t care how old or big they get, I will never tire of the snuggles. Mmmmm snuggling’s my favourite!

3. I love how much they love their Dad. Even though sometimes it’s tough to share them with someone else, deep down I truly LOVE that they have such a great Dad and they know it. One of the funniest things in our house is the moment when Daddy comes home from work and the children run from wherever they are in the house screaming “Daddy Daddy Daddy” and swarm him, lavishing him with cuddles.

2. I love their quirks. I find it so entertaining that G like to have her armpits kissed, changes her outfit 8 times a day and consistantly wears shoes mismatched or on the wrong feet. He likes to carry his star wars figurines in his bedroom trash bin, puts framed family photos out of a box in the basement to set up all over his desk and likes to make a nest behind the armchair in the living room.

1. The #1 thing I love about my kids is that they are MINE. The Lord gave them to me to care for and love. He knew that they would bring tremendous blessing to my life and I am so grateful to have been gifted with the most amazing, intelligent, quirky, lovable munchkins in the world. And I love them more than I could say.

Maybe I Could Have a Do-Over…?

I often wish I could go back and start raising my kids all over again. You know, right from the delivery room all the way through until now. A do over. I would love to have a second chance to avoid the mistakes I’ve made with my children thus far, and implement all the wonderful ideas I never got around to accomplishing the first time. What would I do differently you ask…well….

1. Immediate Epidural with J –  that’s right, I don’t believe we get any awards, nor do our offspring give two hoots whether gave birth to them with or without drugs. I suffered immensely and actually about 12 hours longer than necessary b/c of my stubborn refusal to take an epidural. Once I had received it, labour moved swiftly and painlessly. And frankly, I consider a vaginal birth as “natural” as can be but I don’t deny that I used several types of pain management drugs and finally an spinal epidural. My son came out healthy and he and I were both safe so whether or not I had an epidural; I still count it as a natural birth, anyone who disagrees can label their own birth experience anyway they like.

2. Make J sleep in his crib right from the start – spending his first 2 weeks in the incubator gave my little lamb a comfortable cocoon feeling, such that, when placed in the “giant crib” he had difficulty sleeping comfortably. Our solution was to allow him to fall asleep in the swing or car seat, and then we would move him to his crib where he would happily wake up unaware that he had been transferred in the night. Unfortunately when he became too large to sleep or even sit in the swing, we had a terrible time getting him to fall asleep in the crib. Lesson learned, baby #2 ALWAYS went into the crib awake and fell asleep!

3. Spanking –  As our oldest is a Strong-willed child in the first degree, we found the use of spanking when he was little a necessary part of attempting to discipline him. Although I believe that the Lord gives us the authority and right to spank our children in a loving and controlled manner, I don’t believe that this is always an effective and successful choice for all children. It certainly had little affect on J, and we eventually stopped implementing this form of punishment because it seemed to be more causing more problems rather than solving them. Given a chance to do it again, I would not use corporal punishment again.

4.Work from home – A couple of years ago, I was offered a job that involved researching, editing and writing content for a website. This was a part-time job that required me to work a little every day, entirely from home and according to my schedule. In theory. As much as I loved the people I worked with and found the job stimulating and enjoyable, it became overwhelming and occupied far too much of my time. I found my career as a “stay-at-home-mom-working-from-home” became a “working-mom-at-home-sometimes-noticing-the-kids sort of career! Not cool. Whether the job itself was too demanding for what I could offer, or whether I am simply not very good at organizing and balancing my time, I am not sure. I do however regret allowing any job to consume me and keep me from spending time with my little ones, which of course is the whole reason I stayed home in the first place.

5. Baby Book – Here is where my shameful secret comes to light. I have no baby books for my children. There, I said it, too late to take it back. The truth is, I am not very good at following things through. Ever. The truth is that I started a Winnie the Pooh baby book for J and only made it through a couple of the first pages that mark the early milestones. I also started a scrapbook for G  (because by the time she came along, no one was doing baby books anymore, it was ALL about scrapping and stamping!) with about 5 fully finished pages of cropped photos, funky decorative trim and carefully printed journalling under each image. Yeah, I would definately maybe do a proper memory book for my children if I could do it all over again.

6. Baby Videos – So with my oldest, we had a video camera, a fairly big camera compared to tiny credit card size video cameras around today. It was a wonderful gift from my parents to help us chronicle the amazing  movements and gassy smiles of our firstborn, as well as a way to help keep grandparents engaged as we live about an hour apart. We took videos of every bath given, mess pooped, grin smiled, toy broken, shelf trashed, book ripped, wall coloured, yogurt spilled, tantrum thrown, pool splashed, sleep dreamed, jolly jumped and bite taken….but just with the first one. Why not videos of baby G you ask? Well the answer is as simple as it is embarrasing; our camera broke a couple of months before she was born.  The battery pack died and we had to plug it in so we could use it, and with the onset of wireless and camera phones, it was sort of embarrassing to lug this big camera around looking for an outlet just so we could catch a glimpse of her ladyship picking her lovely little nose. Fortunately for her and any future episode of “Gigi the E True Hollywood Story”, we purchased a digital camera so there are thousands of photographs of every stage of her life for the last 4 years. Future fans will simply have to take our word for the fact that she could speak.

I fear the list of things I would do differently as a Mother is quite likely longer than the list of things I consider myself to have successfully accomplished. I think that is the nature of mothers, to look back through our personal history and second guess ourselves at every turn, so I will stop my list here for now. Besides I have some photographs to sort through, maybe I can upload them and make some sort of home video out of them…

Literally Speaking…

“I’m going to run out and start the car, just watch your sister and I’ll be right back.” Simply enough instruction right? I guess, unless you are a very literal 4 year old. I came back in the house in time to see my 1year old baby more than half way up the stairs to the second floor. “What is going on, I thought I asked you to watch her?” I said. The answer? “But Mommy, I AM watching her…I’m watching her go up the stairs!”

“Take the toys downstairs” I feel like this one is self explanatory, how could a child not understand this instruction? We have a huge play area in the basement filled with toys, books and puzzles etc . And yet as I just tripped on the pile of Polly Pockets at the bottom of the stairs and lay face up on the cement floor with a basket of dirty laundry underneath my back, I realize that my littlest child has taken my instruction literally and has left her toys “downstairs”…right at the bottom of those stairs!

“Get rid of the stuff in the living room” Now when I say “get rid of” of course that is Mom-Speak for, put the toys in the toy box, garbage in the garbage can, shoes at the front door, pillows on the couch and dishes in the sink. However what I end up getting is toys and books stuffed behind the lazy boy in the living room and all dishes and paper garbage shoved behind the basement door!

“Hurry up or I’m going to leave you in the car!”  This one usd to be an effective threat to achieve compliance from defiant children. Unfortunately the last time I pulled this threat out I was surprised at his response, “Ok, that’s better, I didn’t want to go into the store anyways!” Oops. Now what?

“Yes you can taste the cookies, just don’t eat the whole bag.” I figured that my daughter was smart enough to catch the sarcasm in my voice. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that perhaps my sarcasm is lost on the children when I found the nearly empty bag and heard “What’s wrong Mommy? There’s still ONE left!”

We’re leaving in a minute“. My little ones will chomp at the bit, driving me crazy if I tell them we are going to the park and we’ll be leaving in a minute. My husband also has trouble not taking this one literally. When I say that we are leaving in a minute of course I mean that we will be leaving sometime in the next 20-30 minutes. After I get my purse, get my jacket on, my shoes on, put the dog in the cage, pack a snack, check my blood sugar, make a coffee-to-go, find my keys, answer one last email, get the children pottied, dressed and in the car.

Of course the most famous of which is, “stop touching your sister!”…I’m not touching her! *with finger pointed 1 cm from her face*…well at least they are listening…literally.

Through Their Eyes

I had to laugh last night as I watched my hubby teaching my son to play the electric guitar. Having played since he was a young boy, he decided that it was time to move past fiddling to actually start teaching him technique and notes. In a moment of father-son bonding, Daddy pulled up some old videos online to show him the music he used to listen to and imitate, mostly big haired heavy metal groups like Scorpion, characterized by their rapid-fire “shredding” guitar solos. I too remember how “cool” these bands were when I was young, but I had to chuckle when my 4 year old peeked at the screen and said, “But they’re so HAIRY Mommy!!”  How interesting to see my world and the things of my childhood through the eyes of my little ones.

Something very popular in our home right now is the Star Wars phenomenon. My 7 year old son is absolutely besotted with all things Star Wars; the movies, the books, the toy light saber, the Wii game. He dressed like Obi Wan Kenobi for halloween and we dressed the dog as his Padawan. It’s bordering on obsession to be perfectly honest. I find it intriguing to see my son enjoying something from my childhood to such an extent. I vividly remember sitting in the movie theatre at about 6 or 7 years old and watching Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi all in a row. Now my children are experiencing it as though it were new to their generation. (My daughter gets excited every time she sees the Storm Troopers marching across the screen, “Mommy, loooooook it’s the Darth Whites!!!”)

My kids seem are under a common misconception regarding some of today’s pop culture; they don’t realize that Indiana Jones, the Simpsons, neon rubber bracelets, punk eye makeup, Bugs Bunny and GI Joe have been around since their parents were little. Whenever we are watching Scooby Doo, their Mommy takes a perverse pleasure in identifying the villain before those “meddling kids” unmask the guilty party. “But Mommy, HOW do you know who the bad guy is???” I know it seems silly, but I get a kick out of their confused shock. 🙂

One of the things that brings me immense joy courtesy of the internet, is the ability to access clips from old cartoons that I watched on the television when I was their age. There is just nothing on the t.v these days that even rivals shows like the Smurfs, Jem and the Holograms, the Snorks, the Wuzzles, Shirt Tales etc. I do have to draw the line however, at one particular show that I have never enjoyed…regardless what anyone says…the Barbapapas are still super creepy!

And then there are the toys; Barbies, Cabbage Patch Kids, Transformers, Hot Wheels, Care Bears, the truth is that everything old is new again. Last summer we gave my daughter a beautiful pink and purple retro big wheel. I found it at the local department store and was beside myself at the prospect of watching her spend hours and hours enjoying it in the same way that I did at her age. I lived on mine, racing around the neighbourhood with my friends on their big wheels like a school yard motorcycle gang. I remember the day the plastic wheel wore all the way out and the big front wheel split, ending my posse days.

Imagine my dismay and disappointment when my little princess was not the slightest bit interested in the big wheel, it sat in the basement until it got accidentally broken and thrown out. Well I guess it’s too much to ask my offspring to be excited about every little thing that I ever did as a kid, right?

%d bloggers like this: