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Missing Out on the “Lasts”

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When it comes to our children, we pay so much attention to their “Firsts”. First step. First word. First visit to the dentist. First day of school. First loose tooth. But how often do we think about our child’s “lasts”. Last time we watched them crawl.  Last time we changed a diaper. Last nap. Last time in the stroller, high chair or car seat.  Last lost tooth.  All those lasts that come and go and we miss them because we don’t even know we are going through a “last” or we are too busy focusing on what comes next.

Sometimes when you are going through a tough season you can only see the end game: “if we can just get them potty trained”, “if we can just get them sleeping through the night”, “If we can just get them to ride a bike without training wheels”. And while we are so focused on the end result, are we are missing out on the moments we are living in…right now?

Recently, my four-year old son has decided that he needs one us to lay in bed with him until he falls asleep… every night. So, we do it. Either my husband or I. We lay down in his bed for anywhere from 5-15 minutes and watch him as he slowly and peacefully drifts off to sleep.

Rewind 2 years ago. This would not be happening! I would be missing out on this sweet bonding time with my son. Why? Because I viewed bed time as a time to go to sleep. It was MY time once they were in bed. I had so precious little of it that I coveted even 5 extra minutes.

So what changed?  My perspective.

After 6 exhausting months of living with a newborn, who never slept more than 20 minutes at a time, I was a walking zombie.  Until, that is, I learned about “sleep training”. Once I figured that out, there was no one who could convince me having my kid in bed was a good idea. And at that time, I believe it was the best thing for my family. It saved my sanity.

But things change. I changed. As the kids get older, I find I’m more relaxed about most things. Even open to hearing other’s perspectives on touchy parenting subjects. One of the most enlightening conversations I had was about letting your child sleep in your bed.  One friend was complaining that her 18 month old son was still sleeping in her bed. My other friend replied “Oh, I really don’t mind when my kids come into my bed in the night. Sure, I don’t get a very good night sleep because they are kicking and tossing and turning sideways.  But I think it’s so sweet they still need me. I mean, they aren’t going to be sleeping in my bed when they are 14”. Wow. I never really thought of it that way.

My mom always says she enjoyed each stage of our childhood. Because everyone is wonderful and new and different and then it was over before she knew it.

Ask a parent of a teenager when the last time their child crawled into their bed or snuggled with them on the couch. My kids are only 7 and 4 and yet I’ve already gone through so many lasts without even knowing it. Some because up until recently, there was always a tiny possibility in my mind that we might have a third child. So I didn’t really need to pay attention to the lasts. But now that door is shut, I’m paying attention. I want to enjoy each stage that they go through because one day it will be the “last” and I won’t even know I missed it.

Until I write again…

x Shay

 

 

 

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Parenting – Where’s the Instructional Manual?

Excuse me Doctor. You’ve given me this baby, but where is the instructional manual? Seriously! Where is it?

That’s how I felt when I got home from the hospital and looked at my precious new baby girl 7 years ago. I quickly realized that I not only had no idea how to work my diaper genie, but I also had no idea what to do next.

A friend recently posted on Facebook about how there really ought to be real parenting classes for parents. Like How to cook one-handed and How to pee with 2 under 2. Oh how that brought back so many memories. I spent my 1st anniversary spending the entire weekend in a pre-natal parenting class with my husband. Hours on hours learning how to breathe and watching that insanely cheesy and out-dated birthing video. And in the end I had a c-section and nothing from that class was helpful.

So where do you turn?  Every medical practitioner, new mom and ever so helpful parenting advice books all have plenty to say.  But I personally found no information on what to do when you baby spits out her soother and you are driving in rush hour. Or how to juggle nap times and preschool when you have your second child.

So where does this leave us? As new clueless parents that’s where. Who are so hard on ourselves for not being the perfect Mom we envisioned we would be. But the truth is we are all doing the best we can with what we know. I truly believe parenting is all about survival. You may have the best intentions to have a perfectly clean and organized house. To never yell at your kids. To always have your family wearing coordinated outfits. To always have children who are on their very best behaviour. And of course being that perfect wife and mother who has lost all the baby weight, only serves organic freshly made lunches and has plenty of time for her husband at the end if the day.

Well here is my reality check. You make think all the other moms are living like that. But I bet if you peeked into their homes you would see her kids eating spilled Cheerios on the couch and watching tv while Mom runs around the house frantically trying to get everything ready before she ships off her kids to school in un-matching outfits which she likely pulled from the pile of laundry she ‘hoped’ was the clean pile.  I know at my house you will see my son wearing pajamas nearly 24 hours a day and likely I un-matching footwear (maybe even one rubber and one winter boot in the middle or summer).

So let’s make a pact. Stop pretending to be super Mom. Stop striving to be. Stop judging other moms! Bond together and admit it. It’s hard. Hard being a mom. Hard feeling guilty if you are a working mom. Hard answering the question “what do you do for work” if you are a stay at home mom. It’s. Just. Hard. And that’s ok.

Did you feed and cloth your kids today? I say Rock Star Mom! I don’t care if they still have jam on their face or you have five loads of laundry yet to be put away. Your kids are happy. They are loved. You did good today. So have a glass of wine and go to bed early. Because let’s be honest. You have to do it all again tomorrow and that’s without an instructional manual.

 

Take A Moment. And Listen to Your Children

It’s hard. We get busy. Life. Is. Busy. You work. You volunteer. You take care of you family. You try to find time for yourself and your husband. Life feels like it’s pulling you in a million directions. All the while you are just trying to do your best. Because that’s what we do as Moms right? Our best. Yet we are constantly berating ourselves for our failures. For not doing our best. For the small and large mistakes we make. We would never, ever want our kids to be beating themselves up days after they made a mistake. So why don’t we let ourselves off the hook?

I missed something. Something important. My daughter tried to tell me that she was going through something at school and I missed it. I brushed it off. I thought she was being unreasonable. And when I found out that I should have listened. That I should have pushed aside my busy morning and really taken the time to listen to what she was saying. To ask more questions. I beat myself up. Until I a friend reminded me. To stop. Because we in the end we did talk. And I did listen. And it’s going to be ok. And I’m allowed to not be perfect. To make mistakes.

So I’m going to let it go. To accept it as a good lesson. To listen when my kids want to tell me something. To really listen. And when they are upset, to take an extra minute to ask more questions so I really find out the whole story.

Sometimes when our kids talk to us, we are right in the middle of something. A text, paying bills, cooking dinner. But I think we need to stop. For just a moment. Look them in the eye. Smile. Listen. Acknowledge. Hear what they have to say. Really hear it. It might just be “check out the ten thousandth Lego car I’ve made (that looks exactly like all the other ones). Or. It might be something big. It might be about the kid at school who is bullying them. Whatever it is. It is important. To them. So it should be important. To Me. To You.

That’s it for now. My daughter just told me she has a story to tell me. So I’m going to go listen.

Until I write again…

x Shay

30 to 40

30 to 40

Thirty days until I turn 40, how crazy is that? 40 always seemed so old. But I don’t feel old. I mean other than the abundance of grey hairs that have recently taken up residence on my head. But nothing a little trip to the hairdresser can’t fix.

I remember talking with my girlfriends about turning 40. It always seemed so far away. We would chat about taking a big trip celebrate us all turning 40. Yet as it approaches I’m looking forward to a quiet party at home with my nearest and dearest. And I’m wondering if I’ll be able to stay awake until midnight. Lol. Oh, how times have changed.

It seems not long ago I was turning 30. It was such a crazy and exciting time. 10 years ago, I was telling my loved ones that my boyfriend, of less than a year, had been offered a job and we were moving to a new city.  I left everything I knew: family, friends and a career I loved; all for the unknown. I had no idea what my 30s would bring but I knew it would be an adventure. Everything in my 30s was new a new beginning: marriage, friends, 2 kids, 3 houses, 4 cars, 2 new cities, countless road trips and several career changes.

Now as I leave my 30s and enter my 40s I feel more settled into my life. I’m still excited about what the future holds but also happy to be living a quieter and more predictable life.  I’m looking forward to not moving and instead exploring more of this beautiful west coast. To watching kids my grow up and into the people they are meant to be. To finding more “me” time to write and get out with friends. To figuring out (in a couple of years) how I’m going to spend my days once my kids are both in school.

The one thing I learned in my 30s is that life rarely turns out how you planned. I’ve always enjoyed the journey and am looking forward to seeing the adventures life bring in my 40s.

Until I write again..

x Shay

“Getting There” is just as much fun as “Getting There”

I LOVE road trips. It’s one of my favourite ways to travel.

When I was a child, we drove out to the coast to see my Grandparents every summer. The best part of the trip was always getting there. I couldn’t wait to see my cousins and go swimming in the lake. The ride home was never as much fun. It seemed longer and I was always sad to leave.

I still feel that way, but now I enjoy the journey as well. I love unscheduled stops, beautiful scenery and reminiscing as we go by places we traveled as a kid: my Dad’s joke whenever we drove by a Deer crossing sign “hey did you guys see the deer on the side of the road?”; trying to remember how many tunnels we go through; the place our station wagon broke down one summer; and so on.

Even more fun is sharing these experiences with my husband. He’s one of the reasons I love road trips so much.  One of our first trips was very early on in our relationship.  We did a 10 day road trip around Eastern Canada.  Everyone thought we were nuts. 10 days in a mini-van with someone I had just begun dating. They thought we would fight the whole time and come home broken up. Instead we had a crazy adventure. Driving around with no plans. Stopping at every weird and wonderful thing we could find. Talking for hours about anything and everything – religions, kids, pets, you name it.  My favourite was a conversation that I still joke about today: “so let me get this straight, you’re name translates to ‘Steve Steve’, so you’re like …Steve squared? And you have brothers named Steve. So you’re like Steve the 4th and the 5th?” LOL, good times!!

10 years later and we are still having a blast. Although these days our conversations often revolve what’s going on in our current lives – our kids, upcoming work trips, how we think the Walking Dead season finale is going to end, etc.  In addition to our conversations, we enjoy listening to our satellite radio (a gift for my husband years ago, which he still refers to as “the gift that keeps on giving”).  While he is overjoyed with all the available song selections, I am continually vetoing his choices –  seriously, Steve “Rush Rush” by Paula Abdul??? But I did love that he did knew every word to a Backstreet Boys song and sang it loud and proud. We both showed off our car dancing moves to some Bel Biv Devoe. And don’t get me started on how many times we heard Pompeii or Timber. But by far, my favourite musical memory of our trip, was listening to my 7-year old belt out “Let it Go”  from Frozen, at the top of her lungs.

I love these trips and I love the memories we are creating for our kids. I love how special it is for my children to count-down the days to Grandma’s house. Or listen to my son ask “are we almost there yet?” 20 minutes into our 2 day drive.

As an adult, I’ve realized that getting there, is just as much fun as the place you end up.

Until I write again…

x Shay

Letting them Go

At what point do our kids go from being an adorable little 4-year old who barely have a care in the world and say whatever is on their mind:

“Mommy, something in here smells stinky…and I’m pretty sure it’s you”

To a self conscious 7-year old, who worries what their peers think of them:

“Mommy, I can’t wear my Dora winter boots anymore because Johnny laughed at me and said only babies like Dora”

My goal as a mother has always been to raise my kids to be independent confident people who will grow up strong, fierce, kind and caring individuals; who leave home and go out into the big scary world ready to face it without me.

It’s so much easier when kids are little.  If we are at the playground and some kid starts throwing rocks at my 2 year old, I’m going to be right there to step in.  But as they get older it gets tricky. We need to prepare out children to deal with these matters themselves.

As my daughter started elementary school last year, I’ve had to watch her face bullies and other challenges. Part of me just wants to hold her tight and protect her from those mean kids and hurt feelings. I want to solve her problems and shelter her from pain and rejection. But I know that’s not my job. My job is to empower her to be strong. To teach her to be heard. To get her to find her voice and speak up when she is afraid, scared or upset.  It’s a struggle to find the balance. To protect your kids when they need you, all the while letting them go to figure out the world themselves and let them fall. My hope is that when they do fall, they know I will be here to catch them. And no matter where life takes, them, I will be in their corner whenever they need me.

Until I write again…

x Shay

Little Conversations

Working for a Living

How fun is it to simply listen to conversations your children have with each other and their peers? I’ve especially enjoyed this now that my son is older (4) and can carry on a conversation on his own.  Sometimes I find the kids and their friends will whisper, assuming I cannot hear them.  But I’m usually within ear shot (like sitting next to them at the table) and can hear every word (which seriously makes me chuckle – especially when it’s something like “after lunch, let’s hide behind the couch from your Mom”).

This morning’s breakfast conversation was a particular humours one. My 7 and 4-year-old were discussing where they were planning on working in the future.  The consensus seemed to be that they would both be employed at Chapters and Toys R Us. What really made me laugh was when they were discussing their shifts and if they would over-lap.  My son seemed to think he would be working around the clock, to which his older sister reminded him about the importance of making time for his future family.

Play-time

One of my favourite times of the day is when I get to put my daughter to bed (my husband usually does this, so it’s a treat for me when he is away for the night).  We will lay in bed and talk about whatever is on her mind.  Sometimes the conversations are serious, while other times they are just plain goofy.

Here is some of the commentary she’s shared with me lately:

Me: Who did you play with at school today?
Katie: Lots of people.
Me: Like who?
Katie: Small people. Medium people. Large People.

Katie: At centre time, we played house today. We pretended it was my birthday and I got an iPad. Then I just played on the iPad for the rest of centre time. (Oh how times have changed)

Katie: Today at recess we played family.  I was the baby. We pretended the bicycle rack was the jail.
Me: Someone in the family was in jail?
Katie: And then a tornado hit. Some people didn’t make it. But I was ok.

Until I write again…

x Shay

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