Friday, 26 September 2014

When your kids make you cry

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So I'm lying in bed right now, trying to stay put, because I feel absolutely miserable and know that bed is the best place for me right now to fight whatever bug I caught. But as I was lying here, mind racing in the silence of my room, I started thinking about these (almost) four years since I became a mother...and I realized something that I never really realized before.  I've never cried so much in my life as I have since becoming a mother. 

It's something that I wasn't prepared for. It's something that the OB's and doctors don't talk to you about. It's silent whisperings that I somehow never heard about through all of the mommy groups that I got to know. I know that everyone says that parenting is the hardest job in the world (yes, indeed it is), but I wasn't prepared for the shedding of tears that I now know comes along with the title of "mom" (at least for me, that is).  

It's starts from the moment that you take a deep breath and stare at those two little blue lines. Those lines that tell you that you're going to be a mom. Those lines that tell you that your life now immediately shifts, changes and transforms into something else...something wonderful, something incredible. And you cry. Because this is what you've always wanted and you just can't believe that it's actually happening.

Then the day comes when you're lying on that table, belly covered in cold gel, heart pounding as you hear the click, click, click of the computer beside you and the intense silence that fills the room. And then she finally turns the screen and you get that first glimpse of your baby...and you cry. Soft, slow tears of relief and disbelief, because you just can't believe that you're actually watching this little life that is growing inside of you. And that heartbeat that flickers on the screen means that the whole weight of the world has just been lifted from your shoulders. So the tears stream down.

Pregnant with Carter

Then that incredible day arrives when the cramping starts and the phone calls are made and the rush to the hospital begins. The day that is long and tiring and painful and amazing. My absolute favourite day of the entire process. My absolute favourite. The day that I look forward to and anticipate and yearn for for nine long months. The day that that sweet little baby is born. The day that your life changes forever. So as he takes that first real breath, and let's out that first beautiful tiny cry, you weep...because a miracle has just been placed in your arms, and it's the most incredible thing in the world.

Newborn Mya


Then you go home and soak up that newborn smell, and welcome visitors, and change diapers and zip up tiny sleepers and gaze at this precious little soul for hours on end.


Until that moment.

That moment when it all becomes overwhelming. When it's 4am and you're still rocking a crying baby who hasn't slept at all all night long. That baby who wants you unconditionally. Who will sleep on your chest but nowhere else. Who is crying and crying and crying and you just can't figure out how to soothe him...and you're exhausted. And you cry right along with him. Because sometimes it's all that you can do.

Then all of a sudden a year has gone by and your heart is pounding as you strap your now one year old into that car seat and pretend for his sake that you're not about to melt down at the wheel as you pull out of your driveway. And you continue to pretend that you're not on the verge of a full blown anxiety attack as you pull into the daycare parking lot for the first time and walk through those doors. And you hold it together for the moment that you hand him off to those loving ladies who reassure you that his tears will stop once you leave...and you kiss him goodbye, and hold him in that moment for as long as you possibly can before you have to be strong and let go. And you walk out. And you cry. And cry. And cry.

Carter-1yr old

Mya-1yr old

Then another year goes by and you have a two year old who is silly and funny, and fast and lovable. And you can't believe that you're staring at a two year old when it feels like it was just yesterday that you were rushing to the hospital anticipating his arrival. But you learn very quickly that two year olds are tricky and exhausting and emotional and full of meltdowns and crying. So toddler meltdowns become your norm, counting to 10 to keep your patience in check becomes routine and reminding yourself that everything is a phase becomes your daily self-talk. Because two year olds are not always easy. So on days when life is hard, work is stressful, the house is a mess and your two year old decides to scream and cry over every little thing imaginable...sometimes all you can do is wave your white mama flag that tells the world you've given up for a moment, and you sit on your bed and shed a few tears. Because motherhood is not always easy.

Carter, almost 2yrs old...meltdown #1000

Mya at 2yrs old...meltdown #1000

And then when they hit the ripe old age of three, and the diapers are gone, preschool (then kindergarten, in our case) has started, the meltdowns in the grocery store line have ended and they start turning into true little people, you learn very quickly that life is now changing once again. You all of a sudden have a child, not a baby anymore.




You have a child who is fun and witty and still learning who she is. You have a child who will test boundaries, test your patience and who is learning the importance of her tone of voice--because three year olds still have a lot to learn. And so when you go to pick up that three year old from school one day and the teacher pulls you aside, you have a moment of panic because you just don't know what is coming. And then they stand there, smiling, telling you that your daughter is so loving and caring and has a "soul that is so kind"...and you breathe, and then take a minute in your car on the ride home and try to hold back those tears once again. Not simply because you're so proud of her, but because you know that the journey has not been easy, and you're so grateful that you're now finally in this place. So for all of those days when motherhood felt so overwhelming, when siblings were fighting (yes indeed they do), when you could hear your voice getting louder than you ever wanted it to be on those hard days when it all seemed too much (yes, guilty)...well, they're all of a sudden washed away a bit...because her soul is kind. And that's all that we could ever wish for. And not that it's always this way every day--we're still reminded daily that she is still three and still has a lot of learning to do. But the tears that day came from knowing that the work, tireless patience, daily reminders to keep toddler behaviours in check, moments when we felt like we were actually losing our minds and constant, never-ending love and sacrifices that we poured out over the past four years were all worth it in that one little moment.



So when someone tells you to soak up and enjoy every last minute of parenthood, kindly smile and nod and then remind yourself that parenthood is a journey that is hard and tiring and wonderful and amazing. And man, will it ever make you cry.

Erica xo


 







         

Thursday, 4 September 2014

1st day of kindergarten

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So...we did it.


The first day of kindergarten is under our belt.


And although I pretended throughout the entire morning that I was super excited for her...doing the happy dance in her bedroom as we clapped and cheered that this exciting day was finally here...I had a moment in my car as I left her where it hit me hard and I wiped away a few tears.



Because as much as I know that kindergarten will be so good for her and there is no doubt that she will grow, learn, mature and make a ton of new friends (not to mention experience new things that she wouldn't have otherwise)...letting go of your babies into the 'real' world is still hard.


But the good news is that she loved it. Absolutely loved it. She walked through those school doors this morning, smiling, excited and didn't even look back.

And when Terry and I sat outside of those same school doors at the end of the day, the very first eager-beaver parents there, watching like hawks as the doors opened and closed as each class piled out, we finally spotted our girl...and she was smiling...thrilled to see us and even more excited to tell us about her first day.

"I want to go to school a bunch of times mommy!" she said.

And you could feel the sigh of relief coming from both Terry and I.

So, we made it. And we'll start all over again tomorrow, with a lot less anxiety and a lot more confidence. Because she loves it. And that's all that we could ask for right now.

And after school? Well, as Terry and I were making dinner tonight we walked into the living room to find these two snuggling...because a mixture of exhaustion and missing your mini side-kick all day means that sibling time, when they're not wrestling over toys, is now a bit more precious.


So to all of the parents out there who dropped off their little ones to school this week...give yourself a pat on the back. You got the lunches made, you got the outfits picked out, you got the forms filled out and the labels stuck on. You did it.

And if you peeled your little one off of your neck today, tears rolling down their cheeks, please know that it will get easier and easier with each new day. I promise you.
I carried several teary eyed JK's into my classroom this week, reassuring their parents that they would be okay once they got into the school...and each and every one of them was. It's a process that sometimes takes a bit of time, but it will get better, it will get easier...just hang in there and keep telling them how great school will be. It will all come together, I promise.

Happy first week of school everyone--teachers, parents and students alike. We all made it.

Erica xo

 

Monday, 1 September 2014

The night before school starts

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Here it is.

The night before school starts.

As a teacher, every single year before this one has been the same for me. The same feelings. The same nervousness, anxiety, excitement and always that ting of panic (do I have every single thing ready for these students and parents??). It's always stepping into the unknown. Stepping into a new year, with new kids, new parents, new experiences.

But this year is completely different.

My nerves aren't as much for my own experiences--my own students and parents..they're completely for my kids experiences.

Carter is going to daycare tomorrow. And I can tell you right now it won't be easy. There will be tears from him--guaranteed--and from me I'm sure too, alone in my car on the way to work. Because dropping off your babies to anyone (even if you know they are being incredibly well cared for), is just plain hard.

And Mya? Well, I know she'll be okay eventually--but I worry about her too of course. I worry that she'll feel uncomfortable. That she'll feel shy. That she'll feel nervous and worried. I worry that she'll feel left out or alone. Because it's hard walking into a classroom full of strangers--especially when you're only 3yrs old.

But life moves us forward, and as much as I'd like to wrap my kids in bubble wrap and climb into bed and just snuggle them and not let them go for the next 80years, I realize that this is a far cry from reality (or what is actually good for them of course). So we set off tomorrow on a new adventure, a new reality and a lot of change.

And I'll realize in the process that by baking up 10x the recipe for my muffins, and packing up a weeks worth of school lunches for all of us, and getting literally everything labelled with either Mya or Carter's name on it are all just distraction tactics to make me feel like I'm ready for this. Because if you appear to be organized and ready, then maybe you actually will be.

But it's all lies. It's all complete lies.

I don't think I'll ever really be ready to hand over my kids. Now, or when they're 30.

It's why father's have a hard time giving away their daughters as they walk down the aisle, dressed in white. It's why a mother cries when she kisses her daughter goodbye as she boards a plane to work overseas. It's why I'll be in my car tomorrow, pretending that I'm not as upset as I really am, as I drive away from my babies. Because it's just plain hard. And the reality is that it's going to be as hard tomorrow as it will be when they're 30.

So sleep tight parents out there and at least know that if you're lying awake tonight with a million thoughts running through your head--you're not alone.

And in the end they'll be okay. They really will.


 Erica xo

 




Monday, 25 August 2014

Get ready for Kindergarten

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I looked at the date of the last time that I actually sat down and wrote, and it was almost a month ago. A whole month where my fingers didn't hit these keys and where my brain and body have both been on complete over-drive. Because moving, renovations, cottaging and school starting in a few days means that life is moving faster than I can keep up with. But we're finally moved into our new house, the drywall dust is settling, the boxes are slowly getting unpacked and there are finally groceries stacked in our cupboards. But school? Well, all of a sudden this year is a million times harder...because it's not only me going to school in a few days. Mya is starting kindergarten.

It takes my breath away for a moment just writing that...because I just can't believe it.

I had a moment the other day at the cottage after getting home from the beach with the kids when it all just hit me. I finished wiping down sand covered feet, dried off slippery wet bodies and decided to randomly log online for just a moment--just to see what the rest of the world was doing...and you know what they were doing?

GETTING READY FOR KINDERGARTEN.

They were discussing the best lunch pails, backpacks and 'prepping your little ones for kindergarten' techniques. They were having picnic lunches to practice opening tiny Tupperware containers, and they were taking trips to the new school to scope out the kindergarten door and playground. They were practicing numbers and letters and how to zip up little coats. They were reading stories about the first day of school and organizing playgroups ahead of time with fellow classmates so that their little kindergartener would already have a friend at school who they knew. They were baking batches and batches of muffins and freezing them and carefully placing permanent labels on every single thing imaginable.

They were READY. They were totally prepared.

And I was AT THE BEACH.







So I let myself have a moment. A moment to panic. A moment to feel like Mya and I both just might not even survive since I hadn't crossed off much of any of the to-do list things that I should have done by now. A moment to start making a list of all of the things that I needed to do--all of the things that WE needed to do, in order to make me feel like she would be READY. Because all of these things that all of these other moms are doing are exactly what they should be doing. As a kindergarten teacher, it's exactly what I tell any mom or any parent who asks me what they can do to get their little one ready for kindergarten. Because being prepared is definitely helpful.

But as I started to get my list together of all of the things that we would do when we got back from the cottage, I started to realize something that I had never really realized before that moment.

She's already ready. 

And so is yours.

Because prepping for kindergarten has been happening for years.

All of those times that you read bedtime stories and tucked her in at night? You were prepping.
All of those times that you hugged little bodies, kissed scraped knees and said "I love you"...you were prepping.
All of those times that you set boundaries, reminded her to use her manners and encouraged her to share...you were prepping.
All of those times that you set up playdates, brought her to the park and told her to be kind and brave..you were prepping.
All of those times that you showed her that you loved her and held her little hand...you were prepping.

Because kindergarten is more than just numbers and counting and knowing how to properly write your name.

You've already done the work. You've been doing it for years. You've been raising a good little human being. And that's what really matters. The numbers, letters and reading? It will come. It will all come.

But a good little person? Well, that's the start to a lifetime of success.

So breathe, mama. You'll both be just fine.

And I'll remind myself of this as I let her go that first day and pretend that I'm not going to go sit in my car and cry. Because it's hard. It's just plain hard.

So sleep easy tonight. Know that you've done enough. Know that she's already good. She's already ready.


...And now excuse me while I go stick some Mabel's Labels on a million different things, pick out her first day of school outfit, bake up some muffins and get some snacks ready for us to take a trip to visit her schoolyard tomorrow--because some things still gotta get done.

Love to all the anxious parents out there. I feel you.

Erica xo




 
 
















   

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Almost done

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It's interesting, this whole moving process.

We're almost at the finish line--almost done living out of cardboard boxes and eating random combinations of food from our freezer, trying to dwindle down the amount of food that has to be packed and moved. We're almost done kicking empty boxes out of our way as we bring dinner in to the kids and we're almost done living in a house that feels like it's caving in on us--box by box. We're almost done with the guilt of watching our kids try to play in a space that was once their own, but is now a tower of cardboard and packing tape. We're almost done with the stress and anxiety of all of the details, logistics, meetings, house visits and signing our names on a million different pieces of paper. It's almost ALL DONE. And we're getting excited...and getting sad.

The distraction of the details and the meetings and the packing and the new house renovations means that I can feel that sense of excitement of what's to come. But then, out of nowhere, in the rare moments of quiet, it hits me hard...every time.

Like when I'm driving in my car, windows down, radio cranked up...and Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" comes on, and I crank it up even louder because I love it...and then all of a sudden I'm wiping tears from my cheeks as I think about the reality of what is just about to happen.

Because what is just about to happen is huge.

We're moving away from a 2minute walk to my sister's house and we're moving away from a house that has become a home that we love. It all weighs heavy on my heart.

So with every box that we pack, and with every picture that comes down off the wall it's such a mixed sense of both excitement and complete sadness. Sadness that our family has grown out of our small little house and sadness that we're moving away from my sister, brother-in-law and niece and nephew (only 15minutes away--but still not just a quick walk to their house anymore). But then excitement for the space that our kids will now have, and the new playroom and yard that will hopefully become their childhood paradise.

Moving is definitely not easy.

So we've been trying to enjoy these last few weeks in our first home together.

We've run through the house trying to find raincoats and rain boots when the clouds randomly begin to part and the rain starts to pour down in the middle of the day...




...we've taken the kids on a train ride...




...and celebrated my old age...


(with the cutest and best little present that any girl could ask for!).



..and we've taken trips to the beach where little Scarlett took her very first steps. 


And so we'll now wait for the big day...only a few days away. And I'll cry, and be excited and be exhausted and be ready--because life is about to change.

Happy long weekend everyone,
Erica xo









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