Tag Archives: parenting

Consumed.

It’s all-consuming, isn’t it?

It does something to you the minute that you find out it’s real. It takes over your soul, your mind and your body. It quickly takes control of your heart with a grasp so tight that it almost takes your breath away. It screams so loudly that it’s hard to hear anything else. It turns you into we.

It makes you a better person, but it makes you so unsure of yourself. It makes you stronger, but it causes you to drop to your knees more often than anything else. It fills you with unspeakable joy, but it’s quite often wrapped in tears. It causes you to beam with pride while you hope that no one notices the bumpy road that got you to that moment. It is everything you ever hoped and wished for, but until this moment, you had no idea what that even meant.

I became a mother, and my world as I knew it completely fell apart.

From the moment of conception, I’ve been consumed by something that’s hard to even describe. It’s a fire that fuels my every thought, my every hope and my every breath. It’s a voice that roars from the core of my being. It’s a force that pushes and pulls me in ways that I could never have prepared myself for. It’s a warmth that fills every empty spot within me. I simply do not exist without them, and that’s the most terrifying yet incredibly wonderful thing ever.

My children changed me.

Because of them, I am a much better version of who I used to be. Because of them, I am braver than I ever dreamed possible. Because of them, I’m learning how to do things I didn’t even know I wanted to learn. Because of them, I’ve experienced true love without strings attached. Because of them, I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve screamed, I’ve worried and I’ve accomplished great things. Because of them, I am strong. I am fierce. I am awesome.

Because of them, I found myself.

Motherhood has consumed me. It has not made me weak. It has not made me less than. It has not made me “second”. It has made me who I was meant to be.

  

 

 

I See You.

To the Mom standing at the back of the grocery store trying desperately not to cry while her toddler screams uncontrollably, I see you.

To the Mom that has just paid a babysitter to watch your kids so you can go and sit in your car up the street and read a book, I see you.

To the Mom that has just dropped her kids off at Ikea Smaland to not go shopping but to just wait at the restaurant in peace until your pager lets you know your break is over, I see you.

To the Mom that has left the television on for the past 4 hours straight just so you can lay on your couch uninterrupted, I see you.

To the Mom that is trying desperately to keep your eyes open while your kids play at the McDonalds playplace, I see you.

To the Mom that is hiding in her ensuite bathroom while her children sit on the other side of the door crying for Mommy, I see you.

Truth be told, I’ve been you.

I’ve been the Mom that is so tired that I can no longer think straight. The Mom that is looking for places to hide from all the noise and chatter that just doesn’t ever seem to stop. I’ve been the Mom that gives up on everything that I thought was important, just so I could get through the day.

I’ve been this Mom and I’m still a friggin’ good Mom. I need to remember that. You need to remember that.

This job that we’ve been blessed with is not an easy one. It truly is a gift that we have been given and sometimes it’s a craptastic gift that you’d love to return, but you don’t. Instead, you wrap it up at the end of the day and reopen it tomorrow. Tomorrow has been my saving grace on more than one occasion, and I for one am thankful that the gift of starting over is always available.

Every day I look into the eyes of my children and I see me. I see the best of me and sometimes the worst of me, and that can be a little bit scary. But at the same time, when I look into their eyes, I see how deeply they love me. How they see nothing but their Mom. They love me in spite of me. They love me regardless of how badly I screw up or how many times I’ve failed them. They are my gift.

I wish I could always remember these words when I’m in the middle of one of my really bad days, because more often than not, I don’t. But in my heart, I know them to be true. I may have moments filled with nothing but weakness but those are actually the moments that are making me better. It is during these days that I find out that I’m actually a stronger than I ever dreamed possible. It’s in these moments that I realize that being a Mom is exactly what I’m supposed to be.

So next time you find yourself desperately trying to escape a moment filled with craziness and noise, remember that you’re not a bad Mom. You’re not broken, you’re not a screw up, you’re not a failure and most importantly, you are not alone.

Welcome to the Imperfect Mom club. It’s where all the Good Mom’s hang out.

Who’s Guiding Who?

I know that everyone is really sick of the whole Miley Cyrus uproar and frankly, so am I. There are way more important things going on in the world, and our focus SHOULD be on those things. Instead, we focus on a celebrity and her supposed downfall. AND we try to blame her for corrupting our children.

Oh, Please.

I didn’t enjoy her performance at the VMA’s, and yes, I thought it was inappropriate. I think it took away from the real talent that she truly is. She has a great voice and she’s a great performer. What “that” was, I’ve got no idea, but I don’t believe that it truly reflected “her”.

Would I have chosen to behave that way on stage? Absolutely not. Would I be proud of my children for acting that way, nope. Did I tell my children that her performance was inappropriate for a young lady? I most certainly did. What I didn’t do was call her a slut, whore, pig, skank, dirty cow, etc.

Those are names that I’ve seen and heard her being called on Twitter, Facebook and while out on the town.  Good upstanding adults that I have always respected and admired. Friends that I would consider to be examples and pillars in our community. People that should know better.

From what I saw, she danced provocatively and did some fairly suggestive “moves”. What I didn’t see was her having sex with anyone or anything. I didn’t see her make-out with multiple partners. I saw nothing that would earn her those titles.

I am in no way justifying her “behaviour”, as I don’t agree with it. What I am saying is that if we were all judged by what we do at any given moment, we’d all have some seriously scary titles hanging around our neck. Yes, we can be judged for our actions.  And in Miley’s case, she could be called a bad example, a terrible dancer and inappropriate for a younger audience. All of those things I think we can agree on as that is exactly what we saw. But did that make her a slut, No.

Her performance was actually an awesome learning experience at my house. My children all watched it and the first thing they said was “why would she do that, that’s so dumb, why can’t she just dance normal, etc.” In fact, they basically sat there with their mouth’s wide open and just stared in shock. They watched it, shook their heads and then went away.

Her performance and every other one that night did not change them or their character. They saw it for exactly what it was, a performance and nothing else. Thankfully they also saw my reaction and heard the words that I said, and not one of them was derogatory or ignorant.

Reality is, Miley Cyrus and all of her peers are not my children’s examples, I am.

We need to be more concerned about being the person that we want our children to be. Society, movie stars, singers and performers are not guiding my children, I am. I am their voice of reason. Their example. It is my words and actions that they copy. It is me that they look to for advice. I am responsible for developing their character and building them up. It is my morals that I hope they will hold true to their heart. It is my job to help them recognize truth from fiction and right from wrong.

If I’ve done my job well, the things they see and the words they hear will come second to mine. Don’t ever take your position as a parent AND a role model for granted. Your face is the one they see EVERY DAY.

So before you announce that a certain performer is a whore, maybe ask your kids what they would’ve done differently, had that been them on the stage. Or just say, “that’s too bad that she chose to act like that because she’s got a great voice”.  Choose your words carefully as your kids are listening, and watching and learning.

I want them to remember YOU, and not the person dancing around a stage.

This post is part of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. If you want to follow along with all of us “challengers”, click on their links below. 

Liam ~ Natasha ~ Zita ~ MagzD ~ Peter ~ Christine ~ Cliff ~ Hethr ~ Tracy

Everyday, Ordinary People

As most of you know, my husband and I are foster parents and have been for the last 13 years or so. We’ve had over 20 kids enter our lives and that number continues to grow.  My parents started fostering when I was 12 years old so I’ve also been blessed to have many foster brothers and sisters to call my own. This has been my “story” for the past 28 years and frankly it’s all I know.

People tell me all the time that the job we do is amazing. How much they admire us, and how they could never do what we do. I’ve heard that the world needs more people like us. That we must have the patience of saints. People thank us, congratulate us and pat us on the back.

But here’s what I have to say to all of that.

We are no different from anyone else … we just chose to try.

What we’re doing isn’t rocket science, or anything that’s really all that out of the ordinary. We are parenting the exact same way but with extras. We are still the same parents as we were before they moved in. We are exactly like you.

Our lives are so not perfect, just like yours. We have really, really bad days, just like you. We pray for more patience, more income and more free time in our days. We laugh, we cry and we have complete and total meltdowns. Just like you.

We have struggles and challenges that are “different from yours, but that’s all they are, they’re different. We see hurts and pain up close and personal, but we’re all surrounded by that, we just don’t always notice. We have more bodies sitting around the table at meal times, but who doesn’t like having company over? Our world is quite often chaotic, but isn’t yours? We just call it for what it is….Life.

Being a foster parent isn’t something reserved for a “special kind of person”, it’s a journey worth considering. It truly is an honour and a privilege to be able to say that I’m someone’s Mom. And in my case, those blessings are many.

If you’re even remotely considering giving it a try, send me a message. I’d love to help you make a difference. All it takes is everyday, ordinary people willing to give kids a chance. Are you that person?

This post is part of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. If you want to follow along with all of us “challengers”, click on their links below.

Liam ~ Natasha ~ Zita ~ MagzD ~ Peter ~ Christine ~ Cliff ~ Hethr ~ Tracy

The Hunt for a Happy Place

When I was young, I had a vision of what my life was going to look like.

I was going to be wealthy beyond measure. I was going to live in a mansion with servants. I would travel around the world and drive a really nice car. There would be much shopping, and many pairs of shoes. Jewelry, make-up and salon appointments would be a part of my daily life. It was going to be friggin’ awesome.

I met my amazing soon-to-be husband and we planned our fairy-tale wedding and then our life together. We talked about future hopes and dreams, and in my head, my vision was still alive.

We got married and we moved to another city. I didn’t move into a mansion but into a basement suite, in a place where I knew no one. I was not rich and was having to do all the cooking and cleaning myself. I was happily married, but I was not where I thought I should be. Suddenly, my vision was flung off to the side somewhere and reality set in.

I would spend days and sometimes weeks wondering if we’d be able to pay our mortgage. I was shopping in second-hand stores and only buying things that were on sale. The husband was always at work and I was home alone. I was going crazy from the peace and quiet that was now my life and I hated it.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my husband and I loved being married but I wasn’t prepared for the real world. I was 21 years old, had never lived on my own and had in fact, only lived with my parents. I never attended college and only had “life experience” to put on a resume. I was completely dependant on my husband, and had to rely on him for everything. If I needed to buy milk, or underwear or tampons, I had to ask him for money. I was madly in love, but totally trapped at the same time.

I eventually got a job, made some friends and fell in love with the city that I still call home. But for those particular moments in time, my vision had led me down a path of unrealistic expectations.

I adjusted to my new life, bills were paid, businesses started and failed. Travel and experiences occurred and then I dreamed of having children, and my wild visions went crazy again.

I was going to be a perfect Mom that bought her children only the best of everything. I was going to make their baby food, and teach them everything they needed to know. There was going to be hours spent playing and learning. I would do crafts and make up stories and play board games. They would be angels, and my life would be complete. It was going to be flippin’ fantastic.

And then I had babies. I was madly and deeply in love, but I was tired. With my first child, I had no clue what I was doing. I was fumbling about just trying to keep her alive. I let Barney and Wheel of Fortune teach her the alphabet and all of her colours. We played games and did fun things, but more often than not, I was stuck in “life” and not on her.

I then had a son, with more issues and trials than one could ever prepare for. He struggled to breathe, and learn and survive. Small everyday things challenged him in ways that were unfathomable. He was the cutest little thing, with the biggest smile and sweetest countenance, but man, was he a lot of work.

I never made a single solitary jar of baby food, I nursed them both for about 6 weeks and quit because I hated it. We tried crafts, but they both despised being dirty so that always ended in screaming. I became the Mom that loved her kids beyond measure, but one that purchased every single solitary thing from a store. I guided them and protected them and taught them how incredibly fabulous they were, but we didn’t go on nature walks or did all that much frolicking in the wilderness.

I absolutely hated myself some days and couldn’t believe how incompetent I was in many areas. I had become pretty much opposite to all that I had envisioned. I was SO not June Cleaver or even one of her long distant cousins.  Once again, my vision had set me up for failure.

Looking back now, I do know this, I raised some UNBELIEVEABLY AWESOME children. Someway, somehow, I did the right things in spite of myself, and this crazy dreamer head of mine. 30 children later, I get it. I know what’s important and what doesn’t matter. My vision was wrong, and was in no way “me”. That’s where I got lost…I was trying to create a story that belonged to someone else.

Life is a weird thing sometimes, we paint a picture and then get stuck somewhere outside of it. Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t limit where you and where your path may go. Don’t set a standard that is unattainable. Don’t put unreasonable expectations on yourself or your children or your spouse. Don’t get caught up in the world’s version of perfect life, perfect wife and perfect children. That’s all crap and it doesn’t exist. Do not wait for something else, or another time or place to make you feel complete. Don’t judge yourself based on someone else’s standards.

Instead, Breathe. Enjoy the moments that you’re in, no matter how big the struggle may seem. If you can’t provide the “best” of everything, let it go. Who decided what the best stuff was anyways? If you need to run away or cry sometimes, that’s okay. If you feel like today was a complete failure, remember that there is always tomorrow. If you find yourself standing there wondering where it all went wrong, start again. Listen to your heart and find your way out to something better.

Paint yourself a new picture of “perfect” and trust in that. For me, that means happy faces running amuck and becoming people of character. They have the best of nothing, but have everything at the same time. It’s hissy fits and belly laughs. It’s unmatched socks and extra TV time. It’s unbalanced meals, unbrushed hair and a sink full of dirty laundry. It’s a husband and wife that love each other more today than they did yesterday. It is leaving this world a better place.

Let it go, and just be the best YOU that you can be. I hope you find your happy place.

charliebrown

Rocks in the River

Growing up in my house was different. Not different bad, “just” different.

My parents started fostering when I was 12 years old, and because of that, things were quite often, really crazy. Sometimes we’d have 8 kids living under one roof, and chaos quite often did ensue. There was lots of laughing, story telling and fun. But more often than not, there was a whole lot of loud, whiny and complaining children.

Obviously, that kind of busyness and that many little bodies from different walks of life, needed things to run “differently”, and that is where my parents excelled. My Dad was crazy but my Mom was his level-headed balance that kept us all alive. Literally.  🙂

My Dad spent many years working for different marketing companies, doing motivational speaking and encouraging people to reach higher and do better. A part of that involved putting different and unique plans and tools in place and naturally, he brought some of those things home to us.

If we got lippy or rude, we had to do push-ups or sit-ups. We had to write out “lines” saying positive statements. We were given the Think and Grow Rich and the Richest Man in Babylon books as presents. AND we were expected to read them. We had to write out the hours that we spent doing chores or helping out around the house, if they weren’t written down, we didn’t get credit for them. We had water fights IN the house, and had to listen to my Dad’s “mix-tape” that played NOTHING but Don’t Worry be Happy when we went on family vacations. We stopped at EVERY tourist attraction on our way to anywhere. We were led up on cliffs and waterfalls while my Mother screamed at my Father.

We were also “dragged” and I say dragged because none of us were excited to be going, to see different motivational speakers. I saw Anthony Robbins, Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy, all before I was 16 years old. There were “positive thinking” signs ALL OVER our house. My Dad would write sayings out on poster board and tape them all over the place for us to see everyday. He installed speakers in our bedrooms and bathrooms, and we would wake up every morning to the Zig Ziglar, “Born to Win” soundtrack. Every morning. To this day, I can still hear those words in my head. There was always something new to encourage us and lift us up. It never ended.

Now back to the whining and complaining. I believe I was about 13 years old when my parents had, had enough and put a plan into place. We had no idea what was going on, but my Dad had us all invite our best friends along and hauled us all down to the river bottom for a picnic. When we got there, we had a great time eating and playing with our friends, and then my Dad got weird again. By now, we were very much used to his strange games and stories so when he asked us to go and find the biggest rocks that we could carry, we did it. Without question.

Needless to say, we all managed to find some huge rocks and hauled them back to the picnic site. We all sat down, and were given felt markers and crayons and were instructed to write the words “I Can’t” on our rock. We all rolled our eyes but did it. He then told us to decorate them and make the rocks beautiful. We did. Once they were all beautified and complete, he said, “pick them up, we’re going to the bridge”. We all did some serious complaining as we had all found the biggest stinking rocks we could carry, and “the bridge” was at the top of a steep hill. And we were at the bottom of it.

It took awhile to get our little wagon train of whiny and complaining rock yielding children up the hillside but we did it. Once we were up there, he asked what our rocks said, and we all screamed, “I can’t”. And without much ado, he said, throw them over the edge and into the river. Our initial response was heck no as we had just hauled them up what was basically a mountain and now he wanted us to just throw them away. Why would we do such a thing …. but we did.

Once we watched them all crash into the river and fought over whose rock made the biggest splash, he told us to be quiet and listen. Then he spoke the words that I will never forget. He said, “I can’t is no longer alive at our house. As of this moment, it is dead. If you say it, it will be ignored. You may use other words such as I won’t, I don’t want to, or I don’t know how, but you cannot say I CAN’T”. We all looked at him, laughed and giggled and agreed and ran back down the hill to tell Mom what our crazy Dad just made us do. She just smiled and nodded.

Well, we went home and life went on as usual. The fighting and complaining started and so did the “I can’ts. But this time, my parents were ignoring us. We’d be screaming I can’t, and they would just stare at us and smile. Let me tell you, your hissy fit loses a lot of its steam when you have to stop and change what you’re saying to “I don’t want to” and realizing that you were just basically being a whiny baby. We kept trying the I can’ts for a couple of months, but we eventually gave up. CAN’T really had died, and 100% without question, it made a significant difference in our lives.

That one simple trip to the river showed us that anything WAS possible because failure was no longer an option. At the time, we were all sure that there was something really wrong with my Father, but now we get it. That positive attitude made us into the people that we are today, and frankly, I CAN’T is still dead in all of our lives. My life growing up may have been really different or weird, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Thanks Mom & Dad.

you-can

G is for Guilt

You get mad. You get frustrated. You scream. You give totally unreasonable punishments. You promise to do things that you would never even considering doing. You slam your door and pout in your bedroom. You pay people to sit at your house so you can escape it. You do everything possible to not come straight home after a meeting.

Does any of this sound familiar? You must be a Mom.

You are going to make mistakes and screw up more times then you’ll ever be able to count. You’re going to make decisions and immediately question or regret them. You’re going to try too hard or not try hard enough. You’re always going to look back and wonder if you should’ve done things differently. Stop it.

I can remember one evening when my daughter was about 4 years old. I had put her to bed about 14 times, and it was now 11pm. On my 15th trip to her bedroom door, I lost my mind. I was screaming, and mad and quite possibly foaming at the mouth. I’m pretty sure I made horrible threats. I’m quite certain that I really scared her. The second I left the room, I was overcome with guilt and I started crying, and basically lost it all over again. Once I was calm, I went into her room, picked her up, apologized and held her until she went to sleep. I can remember thinking that I had scarred her for life. How in the world did I get that mad at someone so little? What had I done?

I asked her today if she remembered that, and she said No. She actually found that really amusing and wanted all the details of what she had to done to make me that mad??? Point is, I screwed up terribly, I apologized and we moved on. Was I a bad Mom? No. I was a tired Mom at the end of my rope, still desperately in love with my child, but worn down. It’s normal and she doesn’t even remember it.

No one is expecting you to be a perfect Mom. Not the people around you and not even your kids. It’s something that we put on ourselves, and it’s stupid. Stop getting caught up in what you see going on with other Mom’s around you. If everything about them looks perfect, if they only speak of how perfect their children are, if they spend hours telling elaborate stories of their greatness … they’re lying. It’s pretty hard to copy something that’s not even real, so quit trying.

Your kids are going to forget all of your little mistakes. They’re not going to remember all of the times that Mommy got mad or raised her voice. (Unless of course you’re screaming and freaking out every moment of the day. If so, get help. Seriously). When you mess up, apologize. Explain why you got upset, ask for forgiveness and move on. Those moments will be what they remember and frankly will teach them lessons that you couldn’t teach any other way.

If you need to work outside of the home. If you can’t afford the same toys or trips that your friends can. If your kids wear hand-me-downs. Who cares?

If you need to just run away by yourself to breathe somewhere. If you need to lock yourself in your room. If you choose a nap over reading another story. Don’t stress.

I make my children leave me alone sometimes, and I’m a much better person for it. I don’t say Yes to every request that they make, and somehow they’ve managed to survive. I’ve sent them on sleepovers at other people’s houses just so I could sleep in. I’ve let them eat nothing but cookies and pop for lunch so I could sit outside in peace and quiet, alone. All of these “breaks” have made me a better Mom and kept my children alive another day. (Be honest, we’ve all had “those” days).

You need to figure out what works best for you and your family, accept it and live it. No guilt needed. And if you’re still feeling like a not so great Mom … read this and enjoy all of my mistakes. You are SO not alone in this journey of fun. 

I leave you with this thought. 

Just kidding.  Kinda.  🙂

 

This post is Day 9 of the Summer Blog Challenge – 31 posts in 31 Days

Please visit the other fabulous bloggers and read their stories.

Zita at The Dulock Diaries.

Meaghan at MagzD Life               Natasha at Natural Urban Mamas

Aramelle at One Wheeler’s World              Jessica at 2plus2X2