Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Numbers Game

I was talking to a friend of mine who is a mother of one and we were discussing if and when she would have another.  With one out of the way, isn't this the first question on everyone's lips?  How about number two?  Number three?  Once you start popping out kids, it seems one is never enough, at least for other people.  But maybe for some it is.  Think of all you could give to just one child, how quickly your life could become more your own again.  Think of how much more time and money you would have.  As a mother of two, I think about these things from time to time, but ultimately I know I'm happier with what I've have gained than what I may have lost.  The truth is I probably would not have realized whatever benefits there may be to having only one child - I would have been just as stressed with one as I am with two.    
I now struggle with the thought that I may be done having kids?  I'm just not sure.  Saying yes fills me with both relief and sadness.  Saying no makes me think I might be crazy, but it also thrills me to consider the crazy love I would have for another.  
When I got pregnant with my son I was really worried that I wouldn't (couldn't?) love him the same as I love my daughter, that she would always be my special girl and I might resent him for taking time away from her.  Of course, everything changed when my little Buddy was born - I love him just as much as my Best Girl, and I am so proud to see their friendship grow.  
Back to the question of more kids.  If I see a woman strolling around with four kids, a very pregnant belly and a huge smile on her face, I wonder 1) Is she on medication and where can I get some?, or 2) Is she a better mother than me?  Bottom line, at least as I see it, there is no magic number, no algorithm for motherhood.  In the immortal words of Xtina, "Whatever makes you happy and sets you free."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Second Time's the Charm

My son just recently turned one and continues to grow and change at record speed with each passing day.  I am sad to see him growing up so quickly because I have really enjoyed him as a baby.  My daughter was more challenging during her first year.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, she was 7 weeks early and I was a first-time mom ridden with anxiety.  Putting those things together can make a bit of a bumpy road.  I had always expected that my son would come early, and was happy to have carried him 3 more weeks than Jane.  The labour was quick, he latched right away and grew like a weed.  He was happy and relaxed and continues to be most of the time.  I am not sure how much of that had to do with my attitude and experience this time around, but would guess that he gets most of the credit for the positive time we've shared.  My husband always says that if we'd had Dillon first we would have thought we were the greatest parents.  Luckily, our daughter let us know early on, and continues to remind us, that we really don't know what we are doing.  This is not because she is a particularly difficult child, she is actually quite wonderful.  It is because she is the trailblazer.  Everything she does, good or not so good, is a first for us as parents.   The second time around there are fewer surprises, less time spent worrying about things you can't change and a better understanding of how quickly it is all over.  People always talk about the second child sympathetically because he doesn't get the same attention that the first one did and that there aren't as many pictures of him.  I think that these things are most likely true, but I don't think that they are necessarily detrimental.  In my experience the second gets less attention because I don't have time to hover over him, wipe his hands a thousand times a day and worry about every little thing.  There are fewer pictures because I'm out in the world with him, living.  When Dillon was born, Jane was 2 and her life did not stop because his began.  He went everywhere that she did - to the park, the pool, play dates, everywhere.  When Jane was born, there were days when I didn't even leave the top floor of the house.  It would seem, that in my family, that the second time's the charm.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I was happy to let bedtime linger tonight, not wanting to let my daughter go to sleep.  It is her last night as a 2 year-old, and I want to savor it.  When she was born, I couldn't imagine ever getting out of the NICU, let alone envision the person she would become.  I remember looking at her tiny swaddled body in what seemed to be an enormous crib on her first day home from the hospital and thinking - now what?  Her first birthday was an emotional milestone for us, not only for the passage of time but that we had made it to that moment.  Raising children is a real experiment in time and space.  There are moments, usually between 5 and 7 o'clock, when time seems to stand still.  Then there are moments, like tonight, when I look back over my three years as a mother and cannot understand how it has rushed by so quickly.  A year or so ago I was walking with Jane and an elderly woman smiled at me and said, "This is the best time of your life and you don't even know it.".  The problem is that I do know it, and that is why it is so hard to have it speed along so fast.  Watching my baby girl sleep her way to being a 3 year-old is bittersweet.  I am proud of the fact that she is healthy, strong and most of all, happy, but am sad to see the baby in her disappear.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Weekend Update

I have received a lot of emails from people inquiring about the status of my daughter's transition to Nursery School, but I've put off responding due to my superstitious nature.  In my experience, whenever something is going well the surest way to end the hot streak is to talk about it.  The more smug  I am, the quicker it disappears.  I think my kids are trying to keep me humble and appreciative of the simple pleasures they provide me, such as 6 consecutive hours of sleep, a 10 minute break during the day, or a 3 minute shower.

Getting back to the nursery school issue, I can apprehensively say that things are going well.  I  decided to increase the number of times she attends during the week, which has provided more consistency for her and she has now been three times without tears.  We also have allowed her to take her blanket with her for comfort.  She has four blankets that we used to swaddle her with that she continues rotate through to sleep with every night.  She loves these blankets and I am happy knowing she has a piece of home with her at school.  I was reluctant to let her take a blanket as I worried that it was a crutch and that I was encouraging baby-like behaviour.  After careful consideration, I decided that many kids her age have or need a security blanket in these types of unfamiliar situations and Jane's just happens to be an actual blanket.  There are other children who are there with the support of a close friend or sibling, something familiar to remind them that they are safe.  When Jane holds her blanket, she is not walking into her classroom alone.  It allows her to leave me without crying and once she is inside, I hear that she may actually be having fun.

It is a strange transition to independence.  You want it for your kids and for yourself, but for me, there is a little bit of sadness about my baby girl out in the world without me.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hush Little Baby

I love bedtime.  I love my kids and I cherish the time I get to spend with them, but I LOVE bedtime.  There is nothing better than a quiet house with children nestled safely in their beds.  As a mom, down time is a precious commodity.  Since my daughter stopped napping in December, it has become even more sacred to me.  That being said, there is nothing more irritating than kids who are not cooperating at bedtime.  My daughter is about to be three and her negotiating skills are quite impressive.  She doesn't take no for an answer and has a long list of tactics to extend her bedtime routine.  There are nights when I find this cute and enjoy reading "just one more story".  There are others when all I want to do is pour myself a glass of wine and see what the Kardashians are up to.  My cousin recently sent me a link to some bedtime reading material that may come in handy on such an occasion.  Pre-order yours on Amazon today;)

A sense of humor is an important tool for motherhood.  I hope that this appeals to yours.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I just wanted to say thank you to all the moms who have reached out to me in response to my last post.  Being a mom can become very isolating and it can be hard to keep perspective when the majority of your conversations are with a 2 year old.  It is wonderful to feel the support and encouragement of others like me, who sometimes struggle with the decisions we are faced with as parents.  I have enough trouble trying to put together the perfect outfit for my daughter each morning, never mind the decisions that have real impact (although, the polka dot leggings she wore today made quite an impression).  It is so reassuring to hear about similar situations and to be reminded that I am not alone in this.  I love it when a woman, especially a mom, can admit her struggles and is willing to share them.  It is like a weight lifted off my shoulders when I hear someone talk about her child keeping her up all night, or throwing a fit in the grocery store.  This is the news we need to share.  It frees us from the pressure to be perfect.  Good moms are not perfect.  They make mistakes.  Good moms need and accept help.  I am so thankful for the help I have received from all of you good moms and good friends.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Just Keep Swimming?

I spent most of my career as a Kindergarten teacher without children of my own.  A big part of my job, especially when dealing with a child's first time at school, is communicating with parents.  Looking back, I am appalled at how judgmental I was and how easily I gave advice that, I now know, I was not fully equipped to give.  When you are not a mother, there is no way to understand the life of one.  There were many days in September and beyond, where a had to tear a crying child from their mother or ask that a parent leave because it was what was best for the child.  What was I basing this on?  I am not really sure.  Eventually the child would stop crying.  Some in minutes, for others it would take months.  But eventually they all adjust.   

Now I am a mom.  I have been taking my daughter Jane to different programs since she was 3 months old, and continue to enroll her in everything from gymnastics to art.  She recently completed a gradual separation program where she had no problems and loved going to "school" for an hour, once a week.  When I take stock of all of this, I feel like I have done things as best I could.  So when she was ready to start nursery school last month, I thought the transition would be fine.  Not so much.

Today was her fifth time there and it is not getting any easier.  She cries and clings to me and asks me not to leave her.  The mother in me is holding back tears while my heart is breaking, but the teacher in me pries her little hands off of me and walks out the door.  The whole time she is there I feel sick and anxious.  When I pick her up she cries when she sees me, but seems otherwise okay.  The teachers tell me that she is crying less throughout the morning and seems to be having some fun.  Back at home she has become increasingly worried about me leaving her and we have been having trouble getting her to go to bed.  She is so afraid that I am going to leave.

After I dropped her off this morning, I went to see my mom at work and just broke down crying.  This is killing me.   Who am I doing this for?  She is upset, I am upset, but everyone tells me that it is "good for her" and "she'll be fine".  These are things that I once said as a teacher, but now I am on the other side of it - now it is MY child crying.  It is so much harder to follow the advice than to give it.  Of course I want Jane to be independent but I am confused about whether her independence needs to be forced upon her in such a way.

As we were driving home from school today, Jane was watching her favourite movie, Finding Nemo.  In the opening scene, Marlin is holding Nemo's injured fish egg and claims that he will never let anything happen to him.  Later  in the movie, Marlin recounts this to Dory who tells him "Well, you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.".  Am I Marlin?  Have I worried too much or kept her too close to me?  And if I am Marlin, is that such a bad thing?  

I am so conflicted about sending her to school and feel like no matter what I decide, it'll be wrong.  If I listen to the teacher in me, I will persevere through the pain and hope that in the end she is happy at school.  But in the process I feel like I am losing her faith in me.  She doesn't understand that I am trying to do right by her.  All she knows is that I am leaving her scared and alone in a place she doesn't want to be.  If I listen to the Marlin in me, I will stop taking her and try again in September when she may be more ready to handle it.  But even if I do this she may still cry and I'll know that I should have just gotten it all over with now.  And then there is the added pressure of what the other moms will think - that  I'm a bad mom dragging my poor child to school when she isn't ready, or that I'm a bad mom for indulging my child's fears and sheltering her home.

My mind is racing, my heart is in pieces and I am trying to figure out what is right.  When it comes to parenting, I have learned that the word "right" is not an absolute.  What is right for our family may not be right for another.  What is right for my first child may not be for my second.  I have to try not to worry about how my decisions are being perceived but rather how they are affecting the people who matter most to me.  Once again, advice that is much easier to give than take.