In The Thick of Motherhood, It's Not All Pretty

Sitting in my quiet home today has me somewhat in a state of bliss, I’ve actually contemplated reorganizing the shoes I’m that happy! Days like today are the ones that aren’t listed in the Motherhood books. I have YET to find a book titled Motherhood: The state when a person fully understands the value of silence.

I’m sure there’s a title out there which is similar to the one I’ve noted but it definitely wasn’t on my pre-Motherhood reading list. Within the stacks of What to Expect books there was an absence of information on what my reality would be.

I suspect that my book choices for the early years of Motherood must have been driven by my idyllic view of what my experience in Motherhood should be. At that stage of my life I was a person who pasted on a smile, sweeping any concerns under the rug and did my best to seize the day, continuously moving forward amidst the chaos as if I were fine.

Much like that cupboard under your kitchen sink which you hope nobody ever opens, I looked great on the surface but things were a mess inside of myself.

Always fine and oh-so happy to be a Mother.

In Motherhood I haven’t always been fine.

Motherhood Playing recorderThere have been many times during Motherhood when I haven’t been fine, when I’ve been frustrated to the point where I was certain I was a failure. Times when I used crutches to get by and stuff down my emotions.

Because like every good woman I’d set the measure of a “good Mom” so bloody high there was no way I’d ever reach it.

When my eldest refused to wear clothes to school, leaving me no choice than to drop my 7-year-old off at school dressed in the pyjamas she’d worn the night before. Or the day my house cleaner told me I should be ashamed that I hadn’t found the dirty panties my 5-year-old hid behind her dresser and I believed her. From the birth of my children until this day I have too many of these examples to list.

When my breaking point came, which it does for every Mother, I had to make a hard decision. I could either choose to live on the next decade or so counting down the minutes until bedtime, trying my best to stuff happy memories into these children’s lives, pretending to myself I was fine OR I could roll with the life I was actually given.

My Quirky Family Is Mine

Motherhood shoppingWe are the family who can be relied upon to be noticed when out in public. We are the rag-tag bunch with one child inevitably dressed in some DIVA-bling get up, one child sullenly following with her super-comfy jeans which have been worn for more than 4 days in a row and a Mother and Father who are walking along smiling through it all, having given up on trying to fit into a mold.

I’ve chosen to accept myself and my quirky family for exactly what we are. Please don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I don’t have days when I wish the hours until bed-time away. There are difficult days, too many of them, but I’ve given up measuring my performance on my personal Mom-fail meter.

Honey, if I continued measuring myself on such a strict scale I’d be feeling like a failure constantly and running around like a Mamma chicken with her head cut off. That’s tiring, far too tiring.

Instead, these days I snatch the small moments to fill my cup of gratitude.

Whenever and however I can, I steal moments from my children with the swiftness of a professional thief. Some of these moments happen throughout the day; when I notice my offspring are actually playing amicably together rather than arguing, when I catch a glimpse of my child engrossed in a good book, the way her lips purse as she’s sleeping….simple moments which hold such power!

I stash this power away in my heart and I use it like a source of energy when I am in the middle of the difficult days. When nothing I’m doing is going right and I’m certain I should be performing better, I pull a memory out of that stash and remind myself that I’m in the thick of it all.

In The Thick of Motherhood, It’s Not All Pretty

That’s a saying my Father used to use when I was in a particularly difficult math problem or something challenging, “You’re in the thick of it Julie, don’t give up yet!”

Being in the thick of it and knowing it’s difficult means I’m doing something right. It means I’m connected, invested and willing to face the challenge of the moment and when it comes to Motherhood that’s a success in my mind.

Being invested in my role as a Mother includes knowing how I’m doing with it all and ensuring that I take care of myself. By allowing myself to have bad days, by relishing in the silence of an empty house, by talking with friends and being open about the frustrations, all of this helps ground me and allows me to actually BE the Mother God wants me to be.

As long as I’m present and willing then I’m on the right path and that doesn’t mean that I’ll be enjoying every moment but it does mean that I’m in the thick of Motherhood as it really is!

 

Children and Cell Phones – Oh Give Me a Break!

I like to view myself as a laid back person, heck with a past like mine it’s difficult to draw judgement over choices folks make. There are a few things that do rile me up, one of which is the topic of children and cell phones. I don’t mean a teenager, although I did love the recent letter Janelle Burley Hofmann wrote to her 13-year-old son regarding his new cell phone.

Children and cell phones

Photo: freedigitalphotos.net “Michal Marcol”

What I’m talking about can be seen in the realm of elementary schools. In the hallways, at recess, walking home and anywhere else these young children can be found….I’m talking about putting the responsibility of a cell phone in the hands of a child.

Get ready folks, I guarantee you that you’re going to have an opinion here and I most certainly want to hear it.

As I look around and see these wee human beings texting, playing games and scouring the internet it strikes me that they may not even be able to properly spell the words they’re Googling let alone pay the bill.

There’s irony in that.

Nowadays it’s not uncommon to see a child strolling around using up data enjoying the latest apps and yet the adults in their lives probably don’t expect them to be responsible to work the washing machine on a regular basis.

Times have changed and although I’ll go with the flow on many things, I won’t be granting the cell phone wish any time soon.

My eldest daughter just turned 9 years old and the requests (begging) for a smart phone is in full force. At first when this began over a year ago I laughed it off, not able to believe that her peers were actually toting these devices around. Slowly it’s become apparent that it’s not unheard of and in fact in many circles it’s common.

Can Someone Explain Why a Freakin 9 Year Old Needs a Smartphone?

Color me overprotective but my 9-year-old daughter has no need for a smart phone because she’s not left unsupervised long enough for the need to arise. Personally I don’t believe she has reached the age where her safety and judgement are assured without supervision so the only reason I can see for a cell phone would be attributed to a want.

Want, ah yes the proverbial pain in my behind.

These days the wants are loudly proclaimed here, often merging into the need factor. I’ll admit that I often feel the guilty pull to give into demands because “everyone” is getting one but a cell phone?

NO!

I’m drawing that line and putting my head in the proverbial sand until the fall out recedes.

Cell Phones Have Risks

Handing over a cell phone equipped with a data/text/phone plan is more than a gift. It’s my opinion that in doing so we’re handing children free access to the world without having us a buffer.

When a child is given the gift of a cell phone we are removing the filter and choosing to rely upon a child’s judgement.

Putting aside the potential costs of purchasing a phone and the monthly bills, we as parents must understand the risks attributed to the phones.

Children these days catch on to technology very quickly and while this is a benefit it also desensitizes them to the potential for harm.

Companies like Telus offer up information and training for parents. While I’m not planning on signing up for another phone in the near future I did check out their Mobile Safety site and here are just a few of the risks they list:

Text /Multi-Media Messaging Risks

  • Texts containing private, personal information could be sent to the wrong address
  • Texts containing personal information could be shared with other users and misused. Once the user sends the text, control is lost
  • A child/adolescent could receive harassing/unwanted texts/IMs, and/or spam text messages which could contain inappropriate material
  • Children/adolescents whose mobile phone does not feature unlimited messaging use could be racking up large bills without a parent’s knowledge. Remember that MMS and information messages would fall outside of “free unlimited” texting offers – you will incur charges for these things

Camera/Video Phone Risks

  • Photos/videos sent to other users can be reproduced, altered, or posted online without the subject’s consent or knowledge
  • Photos/videos can disclose a user’s appearance and location
  • Text messages containing photos or videos could be shared with other users
  • Camera/video phones can be used to photograph or videotape a subject without his/her knowledge
  • Some public facilities have banned camera/video phones—your child/adolescent taking a picture could be considered a crime

Internet/Mobile TV Access Risks

  • Like personal computers, mobile phones with Internet capability are vulnerable to spam, viruses and other malicious content
  • Children/adolescents whose mobile phone does not feature unlimited Internet/TV access could be racking up large bills without a parent’s knowledge
  • Can impact learning at school if restriction aren’t placed upon cell phone use

Global Positioning System (GPS) —”Social Mapping” Risks

Most cell phones come equipped with GPS, which means that users can be located and pinpointed within a few metres, and can tell users where they are located on a map.

For today I can honestly say that the risks associated with my child having a cell phone do NOT outweigh the benefits.

What do you think, what age were your children when you felt they were responsible enough to factor in these risks?

Have you actually done enough research, because frankly until I began researching this post I wasn’t aware of the magnitude. In my case it’s an easy choice, until my girls can line their boots at the door properly the conversation is closed and me thinks that’s a ways off.

This isn’t a sponsored post, nobody has asked me to blog about this and yes I actually have a spare iPhone here……and I’ll proudly look my 9-year-old in the eye and let her know I love her so much that I’m going to allow her to stay a little girl for a while.

I’ll have to learn to handle the fact that I’m not the coolest Mom on the block anymore.

Parents Get Out Of The Spotlight – I'm Getting All Up In Your Face

With the kids back into normal routine I’ve found myself in situations where I’m surrounded by other parents with their children. At gymnastics, at school and the other usual locales where my radically exciting life leads me. While hanging in my yoga pants performing the perpetual parental waiting game, I’ve found my oh-so-busy mind picking up on something which is irritating the snot out of me.

little girl gymnasticsIt all began with gymnastics a few years ago…..cue the sappy reflective music and the fog. As I stood watching our little Chelsea somersaulting, cartwheeling and learning all things gymnastics I felt a deep sense of pride. She has a natural talent for the sport and you can feel her love for it across a room.

My pride felt justified, I was really enjoying watching her learn and improve as the lessons progressed. One fine afternoon as I watched my little one I overheard some Moms chatting, discussing their own gymnasts.

Throughout the conversation one of the women repeatedly noted how she had been a gymnast and how her daughter took after her….it had me smiling, looking down my proverbial nose at this woman’s need to bring the attention upon herself. I was glad I wasn’t the one stuck in that awkward convo with Gym Mom. Chuckling to myself I returned my attention to my future star and considered buying her a new super-blingy gym suit.

Time pottered along and as is typical when I get my knickers in a twist about something, I kept noticing parents doing this wherever I went.

It Felt Like Everyone Was Vying for Attention

I felt like a bystander watching parents pushing the spotlight off of their children, only to grab it for themselves. A father talking about his years of Junior A hockey achievements at the hockey rink while his son is trying to gear up, a mother gushing about the award she won at graduation as her daughter struggled to choose a hairstyle for prom…..examples of parental stories rushed at me from the peripheral while I moved through my quiet life judging it all.

kids boxingI’m so slow to pick up on my own defects of character that this didn’t occur to me until last night while watching my daughter at Boxing. There was my normally slow-moving eldest daughter sweating profusely, giving her heart to the work out and my thoughts drifted back to my days of Track and Field practices. I was pulled back into the feeling of the memory; it was as if I were there.

Long ago, far away I was a child who didn’t feel she would ever be really talented at any sport. I was “pretty good” at many things but a master of none until I found throwing. I was fortunate to be introduced to throwing the shot put and discus at the age of 10 and from there on had the pleasure of realizing a natural talent I had. For years I belonged to a team, I loved practicing and seeing my own improvement…..my self-confidence took a radical lift through Track and Field.

In that moment at the Boxing gym these great memories had an effect upon me, my gaze travelled around the parents seeking out someone to gush to. It was like I was lost in the good feelings and just HAD to share them. That’s when it hit me, I was one of those parents I’d been noticing….and mocking in my mind. As I rallied to deny it to myself a sinking feeling hit me, gawd how I hate when these realizations happen.

Firstly let me publicly apologize to all of you lovely folks who I judged. I thought that I’d evolved more than that but apparently once again I’ve proven myself incorrect. Please don’t forgive me yet…..I’m bringing you more of my wonderful, say it like it is self and some of you may not love what I have to say.

I’m here to slap all of you parents into my reality and to get all up in your face!

Let Kids Be the Star of Their Own Lives

Is it because we are living vicariously through our children, satisfying the stage Mom need for the spotlight? Perhaps it’s because we remember our own insecurities and the hurt feelings we experienced as children and want to spare our offspring the same pain. I’m sure each case is different but for myself it’s a combination of both.

Irrelevant of the whys, I’m told we parents need to be aware if the behavior some of us have been perpetuating. It’s totally understandable that going through life leading our children into new experiences, we’ll be pulled into memories of our own childhoods but we cannot allow it to become all about us.

As parents we must allow our children the time to shine and embrace their own mark in the world.

Frankly I really don’t appreciate this at all, with my days spent finding mouldy discarded yoghurt cups hidden under pillows Mama needs some love!!!

Grudgingly I pledge to be a better parent, I vow that I will try not to tell my boring stories of past stardom whilst my child is creating a memory, I vow to allow them to shine. But I will NOT give up embarrassing them in public, that my friends is a privileged I earned during the nine months of atrocities which it takes to brew a human!

How about you my fellow spot-light seekers, have you ever noticed that you do this or am I alone….someone had better answer here or I’ll be forced to post some photos of myself at track meets or highschool prom….wait I’ve done that!

 

Anger Management – My Mom Fail Moment

Today my friend Ellie at One Crafty Mother has raised a challenge which I cannot ignore. In case you haven’t come across Ellie or her blog let me just say she’s inspiring to say the least and when she puts a call out I know it’s going to benefit me to respond.

Here’s the challenge:

I want you to think of a moment, or period in your life (maybe it’s still happening – even better) where you were feeling shame and vulnerability. There is a difference between shame and guilt – just to clarify – shame is feeling badly about who you are, guilt is feeling badly for something you’ve done. Vulnerability is that feeling we have when we’ve placed too much power in the opinions of others (oh, if they only knew how _______ I am) and shame and vulnerability feed off each other in very toxic ways.

Once you’ve identified a time when you have (or are) experiencing shame and vulnerability (almost always accompanied by their evil cousin fear) – I want you to write about it. Tell the truth, every part of it, especially the little nuggets of shame, fear or guilt you’ve mentally edited out because thinking about them makes you feel small.

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This summer seems to have been one of change for our 8-year-old, there has been a dynamic shift in her that somehow occurred so swiftly and silently I missed it. She has suddenly become unable to deal with any kind of frustration, she immediately flys into a rage such as I’ve never seen. This has been happening at every impasse for over a month now and until now I thought I had a hold on it….by controlling situations I thought I could avoid her being frustrated and help with her anger management.

Every morning I know I must have things in order; Sydney’s chosen clothing is laid out the night before, lunches are made, school bags are packed up with homework and permission forms are signed and ready to go. Heaven help us all if something creates a hitch in the morning routine, I cannot cope with the fallout of her rage first thing in the morning.

This morning I lazily raise my eyelids halfway to glance at the clock after a horrible night of broken sleep, hoping I have a few more snooze worthy minutes before the alarm would sound. As my gaze settles upon the blue neon digits awareness seeps through my body like a blood chilling anesthetic. Fear instantly overtakes me as my muscles tighten and my brain begins to race, fighting to understand what these numbers mean to me.

8:00am

How is this possible, what the HELL????

As my rate of breathing increases, I raise my achy body from the bed as quickly as I can. My mind fights to ignore the chronic pain I wake with daily as I try to move as quickly as possible down the hall to the girls bedrooms.

Oh Lord please let this be an easy morning, please God just let her wake in a happy mood. I pray as I enter into the unknown which is my lovely, funny, amazingly over-sensitive daughters bedroom.

How could I allow this to happen, I’m a horrible Mother…..I dropped the ball again and slept through the alarm, Brad will be home from work soon and that’s going to set her off….

“Sydney, Syd lovey it’s time to get up” I say gently to her as I gently stroke her messy hair, careful not to rush this waking moment. Her eyelids flutter revealing her beautiful sleep fogged eyes which take a moment to come awake. In the next second I realize her mood as she growls at me and rolls over to face the wall mumbling something about me going away.

Moving along to the next bedroom I call out in my fake, happy Mom voice “Come along ladies, time to get up for school.”

Twenty minutes, I only have twenty minutes to get them ready….my anxiety is building, must get it down…oh I’m not built for this…other Mom’s do it with more than 2 kids, I SUCK! I begin to make myself yawn in an effort to calm myself…

Finding my second daughter already up out of her bed enjoying a HUGE morning stretch I begin to smile, she sees me and I’m greeted with her sunshine and lollipops attitude. Forcing myself to ignore the griping coming from #1’s bedroom, I slow down for a moment to receive a hug and to whisper to her that we’re running late, could she get herself in the bathroom and get moving quickly for mama?

Thankfully she’s in a fine mood and agrees but that still leaves the other one, my first born baby who saddens me with each horrible name she’s yelling at me from under her covers. I take a breath and enter her kingdom of animosity, preparing for the battle which will surely ensue hoping my armor can handle it all today.

“Ok Sydney here’s the deal, it’s after 8 now and we’ve got to get moving. You won’t have time to watch TV this morning. I’m going to make you some raisin toast. Please get up and get dressed.”

“WHATTTTTT oh you’re so MEAN, NO! NO! I’m not going to school then! I want a new family! It’s not FAIR!”

Her rage is instant and palpable, it feels like the walls are shaking. My hands are trembling as I take a huge deep breath and turn down the hall ignoring the urge to either hug her or discipline her. There’s not point trying to do anything now, I don’t have TIME for this!!!

Entering the kitchen I make them a quick breakfast on auto-pilot, paste on a smile for my younger daughter as I serve her while ignoring the racket from the far end of the house. Please let her be getting dressed….she’ll never have time to get her hair done, brush her hair and eat now.

My husband arrives home from a night at work and his loving greeting is interrupted by stomping feet heading into the bathroom. My hand whips into the air as I visibly stop him from saying a word “Let’s just get through this please.” I state in a firm, tense voice above the recriminations coming from the bathroom.

Placing Sydney’s toast on paper towel I give my youngest a kiss and a hug and guide her out the door instructing her and my husband to go ahead, I’ll have Sydney out in a few minutes. Ten minutes left until the bell rings, that gives me 5 minutes to get her into some sort of a good mood and out the door….

Weighing the odds I know I’m fighting an uphill battle but can’t face the defeat I already feel deep in my bones. As she stomps into the room with half brushed hair, wearing the shirt she had on the day before and pants which are going to be much too warm for the forecast my last vestige of patience slips further.

I bite my tongue and step gingerly towards her with that oh so bright smile on my face, hoping to catch a glimpse of the girl I KNOW is in there. The loving, generous child who strokes my hair when I’m sick, the one whose giggles make my soul sing…..hoping with my whole being that she’ll show her face.

She snatches her breakfast from my hand, grabs her backpack and slams the door on her way out, leaving me with parting shots which hit my heart like darts.

Staring at the door I’m breathing deeply, glad to have it finshed…when the internal dialogue begins. The self-deprecating internal chatter which wrecks my facade of capability. And of course I do what every good, caring Mom does at this point…..go get a coffee and google “coping with rage in children”.

This is an example of a not-so pretty moment in my life, unfortunately as you can see I’m still a selfish person…my inner dialogue is often more focused upon life’s demands and my own feelings rather than my child’s turmoil but it’s a work in progress and I realize I’m still learning.

Thank you to Ellie for the challenge, I hope many of my readers and friends will link up!

 

School Lunch Made Easy & Healthy

It’s no secret that I’m a Mom who loves the routine when my girls go back to school, there may have been a few celebrations here in my home this week as my ears recover from the incessant chatter which accompanies our summer.

With school however, comes the responsibility of making daily lunches here. This shouldn’t be a big deal right?? Why doesn’t anyone tell you what a thankless job it is?

Over the years I’ve spent time researching fun, creative, healthy ideas….nicking my hand with a knife on too many occasions as I cut my children’s sandwiches into fun shapes only to hear complaints at the end of the day because something wasn’t delicious.

I don’t remember being this picky when I was a child, we had brown paper sacks with soggy mock ham sandwiches and chewed on without a word….or so my memory would lead me to believe.

Healthy School Lunches Aren’t that Difficult

Ydempsters school lunches it’s true, I waved that white flag and admitted defeat. Last year I took the easy way out and purchased pre-prepared choices, oodles of packages of little “real fruit” treats and cheese strings left the house and were happily enjoyed by my offspring. The complaints lessened and the left overs diminished right along with them.

One would think that I’d sit back happily, knowing that their bellies were full and their opinion of Mom was high but it ate at me. So much so that my husband and I did some research and this year we’ve baked a ton of healthy, honestly delicious treats for the first few weeks of school. We have given up white breads and found an alternative which is the perfect choice!

Dempster’s has relaunched their bagels with new recipes, they offer 16 varieties which keep both of our girls happy. In the past I’ve avoided bagels because I thought they were a heavy choice of little nutritional value.

No so Julie, the new line of bagels are not only delicious but packed with premium ingredients. The Everything Bagel is our favorite, it toasts crispy on the outside and soft on the inside each time.

The girls love bagels in their lunches and I’m satisfied that the nutritional value meets my new requirements, the only issue is that they will ONLY eat Dempster’s bagels now….sigh, I’ll count it as success.

If you’re looking for a school lunch that your kids will enjoy check out Dempster’s bagels as a choice, they have FAB recipes on their website to help and share on the Dempster’s Facebook Page regularly.

Disclosure: I received free product coupons to allow me to purchase the products for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Back To School Kids, Mommy's DONE

With the end of summer many of us are wiping tears away…..certainly some of us here who have months of cold weather which will sneak up upon us quickly. In each magazine I see there are headlines screaming at me, instructing me how to get the best value for my dollar while school shopping, get organized, establish a routine….oh so many things I have to look forward to over the next few weeks as we transition into the dreaded back-to-school routine.

back to school

I am miserable at the thought of not having my two glorious daughters by my side, constantly asking or NEEDING something….my attention….anything to ease this boredom which seemed to set in one hour after school let out for the summer. I cannot imagine what it will be like to hear the ringing silence as the girls once again settle into their little desks and I pine away here at home for them.

Cue some jazz….lower lights….pour a tasty mocktail and don your blingiest pjs ladies because Mothers everywhere are holding secret pre-school celebrations late in the nights as we label all the new school gear.

Yes my friends it’s true, I’m one of those Moms!!

WHOOHOOOO School’s BACK IN SESSION!!!

As the chaos which is our household rages around me, I’m internally picturing what routine will feel like. The summer has been wonderful overall, many amazing memories were made but let’s get real for a minute folks…….there’s nothing like a successful BEDTIME to make a Mama exhale.

If you’re the Mom who puts me to shame and genuinely misses her children while you’re at work/they’re at school well I bow to you and excuse you from the remainder of my musings here. Our friendship will remain intact and perhaps you can overlook my joy as I ignore the messes the kids have made in the last 5 minutes of me writing this.

If you’re at all in doubt about my views on back to school time, just have a glance at my post 1 year ago titled Back To School Mommy Dance and you’ll have a heads up where this is going…..

I can handle the painful transition of putting my kids to bed while it’s still light out, I can handle the complaints over the contents of lunch boxes and even the battle of clothing selection in the mornings will slide off my back over the next few weeks. These skirmishes to establish order will not affect me (much) because the reality of being home with the children 24/7 is doing my head in and the memory will be fresh.

When I went to work and the girls attended daycare in the summers it wasn’t this bad, I had an outlet….a challenge which was all my own….and the children had the same. Now we’re stuck together like glue and apparently I make a very attractive dart board for the oh-so-sharp frustration they’ve developed at their young ages.

back to school 2Thankfully we all made it out alive, we’ve had wonderful experiences amidst the mess and now, yes NOW is the TIME!

Tonight as I opened the huge 2012/13 Mom’s calender and slapped it up on the side of the fridge I felt a sense of accomplishment. I’d made it through another summer! I took a moment to give myself a pat on the back, standing tall I surveyed the carnage which was once a clean home and it hit me…….

That calender wouldn’t be blank for long, hundreds of pretty stickers which they provide seemed to multiply before my eyes as lessons, birthdays, holidays and more ran thought my mind.

NO NO NO NO

I effectively put up a mental wall, excluding these overwhelming thoughts from my brain. Today is the day when I’ll spend time relishing and celebrating another summer done and I will not get caught up in the turmoil of what will certainly come.

Today I’m raising my mocktail to all of the Moms and Dads who unite with me….let our cheers ring out loud as we look forward to kissing the school steps!

Serenity is Hard To Come By When My Kids Are Driving Me Batty

Ah it’s Sunday which is usually a relaxed day here, church is generally the only commitment we make and leave the rest of the day open. Today I had actually booked myself to attending a meeting where I’d hear from a man who has established a dynamic program where he speaks to high-school aged kids about alcoholism. I was really looking forward to gathering information for the program some of us folks in suburbia are going to establish…..

Alas it wasn’t to be, my alarm hadn’t yet woken me when I was once again rudely awoken by our offspring. Apparently someone had left the front door wide open and Miss Coco Bean (our naughty boxer) saw this as an opportunity to leap around the neighborhood saying hello to anything that moved.

To say I am a slow riser these days is the understatement of the year, between interrupted sleep (chronic pain) and meds I’m as alert as a cotton ball. My darling husband leapt out of the marital bed sans snuggle time and happily (totally bloody lying, he was swearing like a trucker under his breath) retrieved our wayward mutt.

Shuffling into the kitchen to turn on the cup of life machine I was greeted by the sight of spilled cereal, milk on the counter and two girls arguing over who left the front door open.

Ahhh yes the bliss which is my life.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the mundane every day existence of our family, I just realized this today. Seems to me that anyone who follows Sober Julie Doing Life on Facebook gets the low down and I apologize for not airing my dirty laundry here more often.

So what’s new? Well for those who aren’t aware I was in a car accident 2.5 years ago and still living with the chronic pain, mental and emotional challenges….oh and now the legal issues. I can’t write about it but suffice it to say it’s draining.

My faith remains strong, it’s amazing how God has built me up during this time when I was torn down…..there’s a book in that one day where I’ll be struggling not to use profanity as I am now.

Over the summer we’ve spent some time at our trailer in Muskoka which is a (agonizing) 2 hour drive from our home. The drive is spattered with children arguing, asking how long until we get there, pit stops for my pain and oh yeah I can’t drive on the highway so my Hubby has to drive us there and back even if he’s working that day.

Muskoka is one of my favorite places on earth and I’ve written about it often, it’s where I find peace and serenity simply with the landscape. Days spent feeding deer, attending chapel, reading, meditating and sleeping when the children are at program rejuvenate me.

Peace and serenity have often seemed far off this summer, in between the moments where we were making memories my children have been seriously challenged by the need to defy any/everything I say…..ah the joys of motherhood are overwhelming.

Are you all warm and fuzzy yet?

Ok let me lend some light to this lamenting post, I’m sitting in my recliner right now…yes the Sleekcliner is in full effect!!…with my legs raised, my back supported by a pillow and my precious neck pillow in place here is where I write. Call me SEXY now!

Sitting here on my throne I have read some amazing posts from my blog reader today. I’ve read how a friend has found hope while battling cancer, how another mother found joy during her child’s tantrum (you know I’m re-reading that one). Blogs bring me inspiration, not only for writing but for my hard heart.

It’s you folks out there who read who motivate me to keep going, with a simple message I become fired up to continue on the days when it would be easier to close this down. When I’m feeling beaten by all that life throws at me God will send me a boost through one of you, it ALWAYS happens.

Why would I want to close my blog?

Ah well many reasons, not the least of which is lawsuit related…..apparently a person who blogs is fully able to return to their past life. There, I said it and will leave it at that. Add to this the airing of dirty laundry, well thankfully I haven’t written much that would fire folks up but being “Out” and open about my alcoholism isn’t always simple in the real world. By seeking to inspire others I’ve committed myself to this life, to keeping myself on track in thought and deed…..and it’s not always easy to see the best in others while sweeping away the shadows of my life.

On the flip side blogging has given me somewhat of a purposeful feeling for my days. It stimulates me to arise from slumber when I want to hide from the pain of my life, writing allows me to rise above and find the spiritual plane I choose to live upon.

Whew there ya go, blather much Julie?

I’ve also been reading back on my blog, going back 1 year and seeing where I was at. This time last year I wrote Practice Makes Perfect and I can still learn from what I wrote…in hindsight I’m actually quite intelligent at times.

It is only by redirecting the direction of my longing that I have found my own value and purpose. Quite simply it is my love which defines me, my loves are habits. By changing my social practices, activities and thoughts my love has been channeled to a different end. Towards an end which continues to afford me serenity.

Today there’s not much I can say that will beat that…above all of the challenges in life I am blessed. Blessed with breath in my body, faith in my heart and the knowledge that I am NOT in control and simply have to be aware of the amazing opportunities to grow around me.

I CAN change my thoughts while in the midst of a horrific childhood tantrum….that lasts DAYS…..I CAN take back my emotions and see my children through God’s eyes….and CHOOSE to feel blessed even in those messy moments which feel like they last forever.

 

 

When I Couldn't be a Mom to My Daughters My Friend Could…#CelebrateMom

This post is part of YummyMummyClub.ca‘s support of the Dove® Celebrate Mom Contest. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors. You can nominate inspiring moms here: www.CelebrateMom.ca.

While I was growing up in small town Ontario, the world was quite different than it is today. All the Moms united in our neighborhood and supported each other freely. It wasn’t uncommon to be reprimanded by another mother or fed dinner just because. The old saying “It takes a village to raise a child” seemed to be in full effect.

These days we Moms are often too busy to connect with our neighbors, merely passing each other on the street with a wave as we struggle to keep up with our lives. With many of us commuting to work, escorting our children to activities while trying to focus upon family time we often find that we don’t have time to give back to others.

A few years ago, I was rushing around juggling all the balls in the air when my life came to a screeching halt because of a car accident. Suddenly I was unable to function as I was used to, unable to even provide the basic care to my children. With my husband working evenings I had no idea how we could cope when my friend Krista Buchta stepped in.

I’ve had the pleasure of having Krista as my friend for 5 years now, she has always been someone I’ve held in high regard but these events have solidified my esteem for her. Krista was 7 months pregnant at the time and had a toddler to look after but each day after school she arrived and took care of the household duties for me.

Krista jumped into the daily routine of our evenings, helping with homework, dinner preparation, bathing and loving my daughters when I couldn’t. Krista truly showed me her love for our family, she was working full-time as a teacher, had a husband and family of her own and for months she picked up my slack simply because she cares for us!

From my spot on the couch I could see her kissing boo-boos, making dinner, bathing my girls, helping with homework as I convalesced. Krista showed me what true generosity looks like, balancing her own life, her career and helping our family.

Watching Krista with my girls I was so proud that there was a woman in my daughters’ lives who was such a wonderful role model.

We aren’t the only people Krista shows this kind of love to, she is an elementary school teacher who truly seeks to connect with the kids. By putting her heart and soul into the children she works with I’ve seen Krista turn children who were on the edge around. Nothing is too small when it comes to the children, she gives up lunch hours and dedicates after school time for these budding youth….she is determined to show them that they matter and they WILL succeed.

When I couldn’t be a Mom to my daughters my dear friend Krista could and for this I’m forever thankful to have her in my life which is why I’ve nominated her as an inspiring role model in the Dove® Celebrate Mom Contest.

Do you have a friend who is an amazing Mom?

Visit www.CelebrateMom.ca by September 4th to nominate a mom who’s an inspiring role model to
women and girls in the Dove® Celebrate Mom Contest. Four inspiring women will win $2,500 for herself
and $2,500 to be donated to the charity of her choice.

And check out more stories on YummyMummyClub.ca about amazing role model moms:
www.yummymummyclub.ca/family/mummy/celebrate-a-mom-in-your-life

 

Parenting & Puke, they just go together

Today I’m pleased to have my friend Leslie from Ruff Ruminations writing for us. Leslie is a Mom with a great sense of humor, she and I often end up chatting about some of the pleasantries of parenting……..

About Leslie Brooks
Leslie Brooks is stay at home Mommy to Grady, she is certain this is the best job she’s ever had! Avid reader and crafter whenever life gives her the chance to indulge in herself. Leslie also blogs at Ruff Ruminations.

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Puke – The Ins and Outs

This post is thanks to a conversation with Julie on twitter the other night because I was missing the beginning a twitter party due to some ill (pun intended) timed puking by my 3 year old son. I was being thankful that he was finally learning to hit the toilet. I bet your thinking “what a crazy thing to be thankful for!” Well it is and I’ll tell you why!

If you’re a parent you’ve probably had your fair share of puke incidents. If you’re not a parent you might want to stop reading, and if you’re on your lunch break you DEFINITELY want to stop reading! Here goes:

Karma is a bitch, or so they say, I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting her in person but I’ll reserve judgement until I do! I do know that wherever she is she is laughing at me for all the times I bragged about my son not spitting up, especially those times when my niece was wearing a waterproof bib on car rides and I thought I was sooo lucky!

Its true as a baby my son rarely spat up and never puked (once I figured out how to slow my milk flow).I talked about how he could wear the same clothes for days and rarely need a bath let alone a cloth. Then he developed a gag reflex, out of nowhere I swear! Around the same time he developed a distaste for going to bed…can you see where I am going? No? At the time we were also trying the wait it out approach for going to sleep…wait for it! He, glory of glories (not at all) figured out how to make himself puke! Clever bas- kidding- I won’t say that! But still smart eh? Cuz you can’t wait out a kid who has puked all over himself. And in all my naiveté I thought it couldn’t get worse!

I became PRO at hearing that fateful sound and sprinting up the stairs before he could do it, and we got over that hurdle. Then the game changed and my son was old enough to get for real sick. And every little one needs their mama when they are sick. He would ask to be held then promptly throw up his guts right down my cleavage! I hope you’re laughing because I am. It is funny now and it took me a good year to recognize the warning signs and move fast enough to avoid it. Many a time I changed my clothes more often than he had to! Once after a couple long days in the hospital due to asthma I thought it was safe to hold the little guy, I mean he had barely eaten. But I swear to you I have never before and since seen such an amount come out of a child and to make matters worse it was like he actually shat out his mouth! Poor guy and laugh it up because it was all over me, and I didn’t have a change of clothes!

So what can you learn from this? Have the reflexes of a ninja and as soon as you can teach your kid to hit the toilet! It’s a funny thing to think about teaching but it’s much better than cleavage alternatives, and now he’s fast like a ninja and we listen when he says he needs to go to the toilet, cuz he doesn’t mean he needs to pee!

But as sad and hard as it is to have puke-fest on your hands it usually ends in this:

 

 

Or this:

Or these:

And that makes up for all the chunks down between my, well you get it! Happy Ninja training and I hope you enjoyed this post 😀

Being a Mom Isn't Always Easy

Monday has arrived and with it the peace of a quiet house. I appreciate these moments of solitude when I can reflect upon all that God has blessed me with. Most mothers can be found to be doing this at some point today, looking back over Mother’s Day weekend and feeling truly thankful for their role in these little one’s lives.

Listen I’m not saying being a Mother is easy, frankly if you knew me in real life you would often see me at my wit’s end with my daughters. Day to-day they eat at my patience, between my 8 year old’s stubborn, fiery nature and my 6 year old’s incessant chatter it’s draining at times. I’ve been known to reach my limit, to wave the white flag and admit defeat when both girls are in a frenzy of childhood emotions. white flag

These moments find me at a loss but they pass quickly. Generally speaking it’s 5 minutes of me closing myself in my bedroom, emotionally walling myself off from them to regroup. During these times I picture myself anywhere but there, often sitting on a beach with someone I picture as serene (yes Matthew McConaughy is serene…and handsome..cough).

Taking a few moments to be alone, ignoring the perpetual noise from the other side of the door helps. It doesn’t remove the stress of these childhood dramas but it protects my daughters from seeing me at a loss. I don’t want the girls to see me furious with them (which I often am) nor do I want them to feel that they’re not entitled to their emotions.

Having two girls who are less than two years apart is a challenge to say the least, add in the fact that they’re polar opposites and it’s a recipe for excitement. Did I mention that we only have one bathroom in the house?

Drama is the mainstay of our home, it’s my job to diffuse it and guide these precious future women in dealing with ever-fluctuating emotions. There’s a bloody tall order, one that I didn’t quite foresee as I gazed lovingly at my future during my 8th month of my second pregnancy.

Being a Mom isn’t easy.

It’s not always pretty, it’s messy, loud, defeating, stressful….but worth it all. My girls will be young for a very short period of time, in the blink of the eye they’ll be adults and I’m sure I’ll be missing these times. My Mum always tells me that I was just like my girls are and she never seems to focus upon my bad behaviors as a child. There’s wisdom in this, I know I’ll remember mainly the wonderful moments of love…..and try to focus upon those daily.

Even if it’s for just one minute in a day that I get a smile from my saucy 8-year-old, I’ll consider that day a success!

My point here is that my life as a Mom isn’t always simple, my children help to ensure it isn’t. They are wily, crafty, intelligent creatures who mess up my just-cleaned home, stain my new furniture and generally baffle me every day.

The key to a happy experience during the tough times of motherhood for me has been being present for the small joys. By being sober of mind and emotion I have been blessed with these moments which fill my heart and my arsenal of love for the battles of the day.

It’s truly a battle at times, we Mom’s have to be well defended against becoming resentful. As we tire, as we wear down we have to replenish ourselves so we can function well for the little beings we’re entrusted with. For me I do this by spending time alone, by talking with friends, by meditating and spending time with God…..and yes by picturing myself having deep conversations with Mr McConaughy on a beach.

It’s normal to have negative emotions but it’s what we do with them that matters! So many of us are apt to chase escape through alcohol, drugs, over-spending, over-working and other vices. Evidence of this is simple to find, just watch Facebook for the status updates and I’m sure you’ll see a Mom begging for a drink in response to her children’s behaviors.

God entrusted me with these children and I’m determined to give them the BEST of myself!

I’ve learned that a clear head and sober mind are essential to experiencing all that life has to offer and am truly grateful I’ve learned to cope with the challenges life is throwing at me.

How do you deal with the wonders of motherhood, are you replenishing your stash of patience? I’d love to hear what works for you.