The Baby Show Toronto 2016

Pregnancy can be overwhelming. Being constantly bombarded with information, opinions, ideas and the most needed baby gear at every corner is completely exhausting.

If it’s your first baby how on earth are you supposed to know where to start?

The Baby Show is a great place starting point.

The Baby Show is happening in Toronto at the Enercare centre, Exhibition Place on April 2 & 3 2016.

It’s all things baby and mummy under one roof and is a fantastic place to learn about pregnancy and parenting.

All day long you’ll find experts giving talks and showing you tips and tricks to help you along in your journey. You can learn about everything from exercise during pregnancy to breastfeeding tips to baby sleep advice. Make sure to check out the speaker schedule so that you don’t miss out on some of the great experts that will be there.

I must say that my favourite part of the show is the shopping. I’ve purchased some of my most coveted baby gear at The Baby Show! Nursing covers, handmade jewellery for both mamas and babies, strollers, car seats and even art work for your nursery wall. You can find almost anything while strolling the aisles of the show.

Both my children have a beautiful framed initial hanging on their bedroom walls that we found at The Baby Show a few years ago.

On top of the opportunity to buy some of the best gear and products around there are tons of free samples to be tested. I found some of my most used bath time products via the samples that I received at the Baby Show.

Testing out products and gear is reason enough alone for me to attend. Having a baby can get expensive. You almost need a down payment to purchase some strollers. Having the opportunity to try things out; touch them, push them, lift them up makes your decision making so much easier.

I love the shopping but many, especially pregnant mothers, might just choose the pampering over the shopping. The complimentary massages might make the whole day worth it!

Stroll the aisles, check out some of the latest and greatest in baby gear and products, talk to experts and even take a moment to pamper yourself! The aisles are large enough to accommodate strollers, there are plenty of activities available to keep your little ones entertained and lots of places for you to take a break from the excitement, including the DK Rest Area and Reading nook.

Tickets are $15.00 and can be purchased online or at the door. Use my promo code NAT2016 and receive 3$ off your online tickets!

If you are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or supporting a pregnant friend The Baby Show is a must. There are way too many exciting things happening under one roof to miss out.

 

What should I tell my daughter? #IBelieveSurvivors

The verdict that was handed down yesterday in the Jian Ghomeshi trial left me with a feeling of complete hopelessness. It’s not actually the verdict itself that has left me feeling so confused; I expected nothing else. It’s the treatment of the victims that has left me almost speechless.

I truly thought we were past this.  I thought we were moving in the right direction. It has devastated me to learn that I was wrong.

It wasn’t enough to simply clear Ghomeshi on all counts but the judge felt it necessary to spend over an hour chastising the survivors, pointing out every single way they acted inappropriately, every single word they said wrong and every way their actions were not the way a sexual assault victim was supposed to act.

I couldn’t listen to him talk, each word felt like a kick to my gut.

Now I am left wondering what next?

What am I supposed to tell my daughter?

I have spent so much energy trying to make it clear that if someone touches her in a way that makes her uncomfortable that she should tell someone, even when it’s scary.

How do I tell her that when she does report it the attention will be focused on her actions before, during and after the event and there will be no focus on the actions of the person who hurt her?

How do I tell her to report it even though she will most likely be the party who will be dragged through the mud, that her character will be put on trial?

I have spent most of her short five years telling her she gets to be anything she wants to be if she works hard enough for it.

How am I supposed to tell her that even after all her hard work, unwanted advances from a boss or co-worker could derail her career?

I naively made the assumption that I was bringing her into a world where she had a certain amount of freedom.

I was wrong.

The expectations and judgments that will be placed on her make her anything but free. She will be expected to be pretty but being too pretty might make her a slut. Be friendly but not too friendly because then she will be a tease. Be nice but being too nice will mean she was asking for it. She will be expected to stand up for herself but not too much because then she will be seen as a whiny, shit disturbing, complainer.

What am I supposed to tell her when she’s told to calm down as she tries to give her opinion, as though her thoughts and ideas are no more than a woman’s silly emotional response?

What am I supposed to tell her the first time she’s called a bitch because she refuses to give someone her phone number?

What am I supposed to tell her when she’s called a cunt because she turns down a request for a date?

Last night I lay down beside her in bed and I felt defeated. A terrible sadness overcame me as I thought of all the ways society has failed her.

Today I refuse to feel that way.

Today is a new day.

Today I woke up prepared to go to battle for her.

Today I woke up to the realization that I can’t give up. It’s not over. The battle will go on and we are a part of that battle whether we choose to be or not.

I will continue to tell my daughter that she owes no one her niceness and that she should never stay in a situation that makes her uncomfortable because she’s afraid of how she will be perceived.

I will continue to teach my daughter that her body is her body and no one else gets to decide what she does with it. She gets to decide who touches it and when and she is the only one who gets to say what’s acceptable and what’s not.

I will continue to tell my daughter that she can be anything she wants to be, even though I know there will be obstacles put in her way.

I will teach my daughter that when someone judges or her calls her names that it says more about those people than it does about her. Yet, I will also make it clear that it will sting when it happens.

I will give her the message that when something isn’t right, she has a voice and it’s perfectly ok to use it.

I will continue to teach her that even though she is receiving so many messages to the contrary, she is free to be who she wants to be.

I will make sure she knows there is no “right” way for her to act to be deemed worthy.

We will continue to have discussions around consent so that both my son and daughter understand what is acceptable and what’s not.

I’m not ready to give up. I can’t give up. Giving up means I give up on her and I don’t have that option.

The scariest thing about the Ghomeshi trial to me is that there really was no question that he committed these acts, the question at hand was if the women wanted it.

Ghomeshi was protected by an organization that swept complaints from their female employees under the rug. He was protected by schools who silently stopped sending interns to work for him. He was protected by the judge who felt that three women weren’t acting “abused” enough for him.

While he was protected, these three women were left with the impossible task of proving that they did not actually want to be abused.

How can I possibly explain that to my daughter?

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Resolutions

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. For me, they were always false promises I made myself as a result of a sense of newness I felt on that first day of the year. Promises that were most often forgotten within a week.

I’m not even a fan of New Year’s Eve. Always overhyped and full of excess, it seemed to let me down each and every year.

It’s often considered best to forget the past and focus on the future but I can’t move forward into a New Year without looking back. For me, New Year’s is a time to reflect on the year that has passed. To recognize the lessons that life threw at me and to take those lessons forward as I move into a new year.

2015 was a big year of growth for me. I learned a lot about who I am and who I want to be.

This year saw me learn just how important communication truly is. The experiences of this past year have shown me the true value of communicating with people, whether they are friends, family, significant other or my children.

My husband and I together learned how talking with each other on a regular basis about everything big and small can help us become closer to each other. We’ve always been talkers but this year we seemed to come to an understanding of just how important our chats are for our marriage. We learned so much about each other’s expectations, dreams and visions. We have spent the past year growing so much closer to each other through both easy chats over pancakes and coffee while the kids run around playing beneath our feet as well as uncomfortable talks while we drive in the car struggling to look at each other. Both the easy and the tough talks have allowed us to see right into each other. There are no walls, no barriers, no secrets or surprises. This year solidified how talking to each other is what builds our bond and it’s what is going to help make our marriage successful.

2015 is the year that I learned that open communication is not just important to my marriage but also an important part of parenting. My children are growing into their own people. They have their own thoughts, values, feelings and needs. For me to truly know my children, I have to be willing to talk to them and really hear them. I spent many evenings in bed beside my son listening to him tell me not only about his daily shenanigans, but how he is feeling. We talked about his worries and fears. We laughed about what he thought funny and dissected what made him afraid. He asked questions and I answered. I’ve learned that the chats I have with my kids can actually change the way I parent them. This year saw me talk with my children, not just at them. I actually heard what they had to say and their words have changed me. I hope this is just the beginning of a lifetime of open communication with them.

2015 is also the year that I saw friendships change permanently because we lacked the ability to talk freely and openly about things that hurt us. Rather than honest communication, we tried to get our message out passive aggressively or sometimes just plain aggressively and all it did was increase the space between us.

Not everyone is comfortable with talking and many feel it’s not necessary.

Though it’s not always easy, I think that there is no better feeling than being able to talk freely with someone, it’s what helps to build your bond.

The days fly by so fast that it leaves the year in kind of a blur. This year saw new jobs, exciting opportunities in my writing and so much fun with my kids. Yet what is leaving the most impact and what I think will help me as I move into 2016 is the depth I have gained in my relationships with those who are most important to me. The closeness that I have gained through something as simple as being willing to talk and being open to hearing.

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Why we should just calm down about the Elf

She was not planned. In fact, we had no intention of welcoming her as a guest until she was given to us as a gift.

Claire, our Elf on the Shelf, joined our family for the first time last year.

Typically one to buck trends, I was reluctant to have Claire join our family. Yet, when she was given to us, I sat back and thought about how excited my kids would be if she just showed up one day and I thought “Why the hell not?”

If you google Elf on the Shelf you will be bombarded with a whole slew of articles, opinions and blog posts criticizing the tiny little creature.

Parenting experts and parents alike denounce the idea of our kids learning to behave ONLY because of the little Elf who is overlooking their every action. They claim that we should be teaching our kids to behave, not because the Elf will go back to the big guy up North and report on their actions, but because they know intrinsically know right from wrong.

To all those naysayers I say calm the f&*k down.

C’mon people, you are taking this thing wayyyy to seriously.

It’s a toy…It’s…a….toyyyyyyyy!

For goodness sake people what happened to lacing our kid’s lives with just a teensy bit of Christmas magic?

Let me make something clear, my initial objection to the Elf had nothing to do with a fear of my kids learning about Big Brother watching over them. My objection lied solely in my own preference to avoid jumping on bandwagons.

I’m so thankful I let that sh*t go.

When I hear their excited little feet running down the stairs each morning wondering where Claire is hiding, it makes my morning just a little bit brighter. When I hear the squeal of whichever child finds her hiding spot first, all I can do is laugh. As we giggle over the silly spot Claire was found in on any given day, it fills my heart with warmth.

These years won’t last long. Before I know it, I will be the one waking my kids up to open their presents on Christmas morning instead of being awoken by two excited little beings crashing into my room yelling “Santa came!” Soon their little lives will be filled with angst about school tests, broken hearts and searching for summer jobs.

For now I want to try and fill them with as much magic as I can. My kids do know right from wrong. Trust me, they know that hitting their sister or stealing a cookie isn’t right, they don’t need an Elf for that. Throughout the year, Elf or no Elf, they are going to make both good choices and bad choices. They are going to make mistakes and learn from them. They are going to do wonderful things and learn from those as well.

Claire is not going to impact their behaviour drastically either way.

What I hope they remember, as they grow up and they start to figure out the world, is that their childhood was filled with love.

So, for as long as I can stretch it out, I will gladly spend each December morning searching for Claire and seeing what she’s been up to while we were sleeping. I will do so knowing that the only impact this is having on my children is to bring them a little Christmas excitement and cheer.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go find a way to make my tea since Claire seems to be hiding in the kettle.

Shifting Family Dynamics – What will we do without our people?

I grew up in a house where people would drop by. Without pre-planning or calling ahead; they stopped by just because. We pulled up an extra chair, poured a drink or a cup of tea or set an extra place at the table. They were always welcome, no questions asked.

Recently this German supermarket holiday ad went viral and it has hit us all right in the feels.

It definitely shook me and made me start questioning when it became the norm for families to drift apart?

There was a time when big events, both good and bad, were shared with those you love. Graduations, weddings, babies, they were all filled with loving support from family. You called in your people to help you celebrate your successes and they were more than happy to toast in your good fortunes.

Even more importantly, the moment life knocked the wind out of you, it was your family and close friends that were your support system. They brought dinner, cleaned houses and helped to care for children while you picked yourself back up. You were never alone.

Somewhere through the years the winds have changed and people are retreating into their bubbles. The dynamics in extended families are changing. Suddenly invitations are required, struggles are hidden and stipulations and control surround celebrations.

We have become selfish and guarded. We have built a wall that is intended to keep people out. We have lost focus. We have forgotten what it takes to build our village.

We all live busy lives. Double income families that are just trying to keep their heads above water with soccer practice, dance recitals and homework taking up every free moment of time it can often feel like we have nothing left to give.

Relationships require effort. They require care and feeding. When you don’t nurture you run the risk of having those relationships fall apart.

Social media has given us a false sense of closeness with people. Our pictures of new babies garner 300 likes but who actually visited the hospital or brought flowers to welcome the new addition home? You get birthday messages from people you haven’t seen in 20 years but who actually helped you cut the cake? Messages of condolences are sent via email or text when you have lost someone you love but who shared in your tears?

Distance used to be measured in kilometres from home; how many flights it would take you to make it home for the holidays. That’s no longer the only form of distance. We have family that is within 30 minutes by car and we are no closer to them than we are with family who live an ocean away. Our need to shut ourselves off is pushing us further and further apart.

My mum fondly remembers the hospital room full of people who welcomed my brother into the world just a day after his birth. I will never forget the family dinners we shared every single evening that my son was in the NICU. Dinners that were made with love and brought to us warm every single evening for 6 weeks, just so that we didn’t eat alone.

It was all about people. It was our people. It has always been our people that have made our highs feel high and helped us survive our lows.

If we aren’t careful, if we don’t start focusing on our people, we will lose them.

Sometimes we really don’t feel like setting that extra place but if we stop inviting those we love to the table eventually they will no longer want to join us. What then? What will life be like without our people?

Getting Crafty with Weavy Loops

I am not a crafty person. In fact I am probably the furthest thing from a crafty person you will ever meet. The problem is that I have these grandiose dreams of getting artsy and creative with my kids and usually it ends in disaster and the crafts end up looking like a disaster.

That’s why when I was asked to try out Weavy Loops I was a little apprehensive. I wondered how long it would take me to give up and toss it to the side. Yet, I agreed because I still have a vision of me crafting at the table with my little ones.

As soon as the Weavy Loops arrived my daughter was super excited to try it out and I was super doubtful that I would be able to pull it off.

After getting ourselves all set up, we started watching the videos to learn how the Weavy Loops work. If I were to go back again, I would probably would have watched the videos before I brought the kids in to begin. Since crafting doesn’t come naturally to me, I did have to watch the tutorial videos a couple of times to really understand how to weave.

The kits come with almost everything you need; the loop tools, cords and even little decorative items like stars and hearts that can be used as key chains. The only items I needed to have at home were a tiny amount of tape, a small set of pliers and a little glue to keep the ends from fraying.

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My daughter, who is five, was able to sit on my lap and we got to creating together. Without hesitation, the first thing she wanted to make was a bracelet and she couldn’t wait to wear it to school and show it off.

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She is pretty particular about her hair so I was pleasantly surprised when she suggested that we use the Weavy Loops to make a neat headband for her to wear.

While it did take us a little bit of time to get flowing once we found our groove we had a lot of fun making neat things together. At five years old, my daughter did need a little help, but it shouldn’t be long before she’s able to weave all on her own. I found myself thinking how much fun I would have had with this as a young girl.

As we worked through our little projects we began discussing all the great things we could weave; bracelets, headbands and key chains among other things. You can weave just about anything, adding your own personal touches to almost everything.

When my daughter’s friends saw the cool bracelet and headband she made, they were instantly impressed and wanted one of their own. We decided right then that maybe we would be able to hand make some Christmas gifts using Weavy Loops. We know a few people who would love to receive something handmade from us!

I’m so glad I had the opportunity to try Weavy Loops. To be honest I might have been afraid to pull it off the shelf if I had seen it in a toy store, making an assumption that it would be way too complicated for a novice crafter like myself. Once I tried it, I realized that it’s really not scary at all, it was actually a lot of fun.

My little artist to be, who loves drawing and creating, was so happy to spend quality creative time with her mummy and I am so glad that I finally had the opportunity to get crafty with my little girl.

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Thank You NICU Nurse

During our NICU stay our son was seen by dozens of doctors; surgeons, neonatologists, anesthesiologists, cardiologists, orthopedics and radiologists. He was treated by occupational therapists and physical therapists.

If you were to walk in the room during rounds on a typical day you would have found five or six doctors huddled around his tiny body reviewing his charts. They discussed his numbers throughout the night, their opinions on his treatment and how he was responding. The doctors didn’t always turn to us to include us in the conversation and to be honest we didn’t always understand their language.

If you were to look very closely at the scene you may have noticed someone hovering in the background almost going unnoticed. If you looked hard enough you would have noticed my son’s NICU nurse who rarely left his side during rounds. His nurse stayed close by and tended to my son while the doctors tended to his illness. His nurse always helped us understand what the doctors had said after they left.

Those nurses were our background heroes. They didn’t get the credit that the doctors got and they didn’t search for the praise but they were such an important and necessary part of our NICU journey.

NICU nurse, I don’t know if you know the impact you had on our family.

I don’t think I thanked you.

I hope it’s not too late.

Thank you for quietly closing the curtain to give me privacy when I couldn’t stop the tears.

Thank you for rocking my baby when I couldn’t be with him at night.

Thank you for knitting him hats and booties.

Thank you for reading to him.

Thank you for singing him lullabies.

Thank you for staying with him in the operating room.

Thank you for being gentle with him when he was battered and bruised after hours and hours of surgery.

Thank you for being his advocate and questioning everything, even the doctors, when you felt like he was being given unnecessary treatments.

Thank you for keeping the small bit of hair that was shaved off of his head when the only available vein was on his skull. It was his first hair cut you said when you handed it to us the following morning.

Thank you for teaching me how to bathe him without making all the alarms ring.

Thank you for teaching me how to read the machines he was attached to.

Thank you for helping me hold him without pulling out all his tubes.

Thank you for silently standing beside me while I cried tears of helplessness.

Thank you for helping me see the good I was doing by heading off to pump every three hours.

Thank you for making feel like a normal mother in the moments when I felt anything but normal.

Thank you for celebrating each ounce of milk consumed, each breath taken without the breathing tube, each time the number on the scale went up.

Thank you for celebrating when he was discharged.

Thank you for helping me get through one of the toughest experiences of my life. You were a part of the reason I survived it.

 I know I don’t know the half of what you have seen. I know that even though you always seemed to be smiling, behind closed doors you cried your own tears. I know that in the moments of chaos when alarms were sounding and codes were being called and my world seemed to be crashing down around me, you stayed calm and focused and you made sure that my world stayed upright.

 I hope you know that I felt your hand of my shoulder. I hope you know that I was grateful to see your face every morning. I hope you know just how important you were to us.

I hope it’s not too late to say thank you.

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Another year older and another lesson learned. 37 lessons learned in 37 years.

Another year has come and gone. I keep getting older and not that I expected it to, but time has not slowed down a bit.

The crazy thing about getting older is that with each passing year I become more comfortable in who I am.

I become more confident in the decisions I make and less afraid of making mistakes.

I become more stable.

I become more settled.

I become more of who I’m supposed to be.

Last year I wrote a post about some of the life lessons that I have picked up along the way and that I want to pass on to my children. This year was full of lessons but I decided to choose just one more to add to my growing list of teachable moments that I hope to be able to pass on to my own kids

1 – Don’t ever be afraid to show your vulnerable side. There are times when the only thing that will make you feel better is to cry. The ability to show this side of yourself actually makes you strong.
2 – Do not waste a moment of your life trying to be perfect. Perfection does not exist. We are all flawed. Own your flaws, they are a part of who you are. They make you beautiful.
3 –  Be yourself. Do not try to be anyone else. People will always see through it.
4 – Your job won’t hold your hand when you are sick or dying. Always give it your all but remember it’s just a job. Don’t sacrifice everything else.
5-   Slow down. Enjoy the moment. It will all pass so quickly so take the time to relish in the beauty of life.
6 – Don’t compare yourself to others. You know nothing of their journey and they know nothing of yours.
7 – Try to give people a second chance everyone deserves a second chance. They don’t, however, deserve a third.
8 – No matter how much of a cliché it is, what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
9 – Don’t go into debt. It’s more of a hassle to get out of than it’s worth. Live within your means.
10 – No one gives a f*&# about the Jones’ do not try to keep up with them.
11 – Learn to say no. It’s ok to say no sometimes.
12 – Don’t ever make someone else feel bad just to bring yourself up. Don’t be a bully and don’t allow yourself to be bullied.
13 – When deciding on a career path, do something you love. You are going to spend a lot of time working, make sure you love what you do. Don’t think about money first. You will be happier doing something that fills your soul over something that fills your bank account.
14 – When someone tries to bring you down, know that it says more about them than it does about you. Haters gonna hate 😉
15 – You can’t control others. The only thing in your control is you.
16-  Love doesn’t conquer all. Choose wisely.
17 – Read. There is nothing better than getting lost in a book.
18 – If someone loves you they won’t make you chase them.
19 – You never know unless you try. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things.
20 – Don’t be flashy. The kind of car you drive, the label on your clothes or the size of your house doesn’t mean a thing. Be modest. Stay humble.
21 – Feed your creativity. It’s necessary for the soul. Find your outlet.
22 – Bad things will happen; a true test of your character is how you pick yourself up when you fall.
23 – Be honest. There is nothing worse than a liar.
24 – Looks always fade. Don’t put your self-worth into what’s on the outside.
25 – See the world. It’s big and beautiful. You will learn so much about yourself and others if you travel.
26 – Demand respect. If someone won’t give it to you, don’t keep them in your life.
27 – You don’t always have to be the best. There will be things you aren’t good at and that’s ok.
28 – Mistakes are how we learn. Don’t be afraid to make them.
29 – Life is a journey. Don’t spend every second worrying about where you’re going, just enjoy the ride.
30 – Celebrate the little things. Use the fancy dishes, wear your best clothes don’t always save it for another time that other time may never arrive.
31-   Touch people. Hug those you love. Kiss them. Hold hands. Cuddle on the couch. The touch of a loved one can soothe even the most battered soul.
32 – Get outside. Fresh air and sunshine is as necessary as food, water and sleep.
33 – Relationships are 50/50, even friendships. Be a giving/caring friend but if you aren’t getting the same back, know that it’s ok to turn and walk away.
34 – If you have a handful of close friends you are lucky. Having a few meaningful friendships is far more important than many superficial ones.
35 – You are stronger than you know. You will have moments when you feel weak. Remember you aren’t.
36 – There is still so much left to learn. Once you realize that you really know nothing, that’s when you know you’re a true grown up

37 – Find beauty in the ordinary. Don’t spend your life waiting for the big, dazzling moments, they are few and far between. True beauty can be found in the mundane; snuggling under the covers on a snowy day, looking at the stars on a summer evening, seeing your children smile. Embrace those moments because those are the real magnificent moments of life.

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Celebrating a year in our not so new home

Just over a year ago I wrote this goodbye to our sweet #38. Though I was excited to start our new life and make new memories, the thought of leaving behind where we began our family was breaking my heart just a little.

I sit here, a year later, sitting on my couch in my not so new home, listening to the breeze blow outside my big windows that offer the most beautiful view of the sunset, and I am unbelievably happy with the decision that we made.

It took me exactly five minutes to feel perfectly at home in my new house. My kids started running around enthusiastically staking out their rooms and very excited that we had two bathrooms upstairs now!

It took me another five minutes to fall madly in love with my new home. The breeze that blows through the entire house. The sun that shines through the huge windows running along the entire back wall, the sound of the birds in the trees outside.

The kids started poking around almost immediately and now a year later my doorbell rings constantly, when it’s working, and the flow of kids through the house is non stop.

My daughter and her friends skip in the driveway and exchange dress up clothes in between bike rides. On more than one occasion, I have walked out to find a gaggle of shirtless boys walking down the street carrying Nerf guns and eating popsicles.

I love it!

I love that my kids can run outside after school to play. I love that there are always tons of kids running the street.

I love that I can drive anywhere in this city in under 20 minutes and that I don’t have to wait in line for 20 minutes at the grocery store.

I love that we can have ice cream by the river and go canoeing in the lake.

I love that we can eat in cute little diners and check out family run businesses.

Me and change? Well, we never mix well and over a year ago I was terrified about moving. I was terribly sad to leave the home where I became a wife and mother; the house I brought my children home to. I silently wondered to myself if we were making the right decision.

A year later we have already created so many memories in our new home. We said goodbye to training wheels, we said hello to full day school, we learned French and we got our first pair of glasses!

Our story continues with a different backdrop. We are building new memories here and they are just as beautiful.

Happiness isn’t determined by the four walls in which you reside. Happiness is determined by so much more than that. It’s about who you share your life with, it’s about the dreams you pursue, the goals you attain. It’s about getting up when you fall and sometimes changing direction. Happiness is made up of so many little things and the place where you decide to lay down at night? That’s the icing on the cake.

 

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Motherhood is a universal language

It wasn’t until I first looked in Mr. T’s eyes did it hit me; the magnitude of what I was about to embark on. Throughout my entire pregnancy, he was this figment of my imagination. I imagined what he would look like, I invented the life we would have together. I envisioned what kind of mother I would be. Then they placed him on my body and he took my breath away. Everything that I had been fantasizing about was tossed to the side. This was real. This wasn’t a story that I was writing in my mind. My needs and wants suddenly seemed less important. He was it. My family changed in that instant. My world became much smaller; I now lived in a world of three; Mr. C, Mr. T and myself. Nothing else mattered. All of a sudden I knew that I would do anything to make sure that he lived a beautiful, happy, peaceful life that helped him grow into a lovely young man who had the courage to follow his own path and find his bliss.

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photo cred: Jennifer Monroy

Exactly two years and 10 hours later my family grew to a family of 4 when Ms. J burst into our world. Though I had been through this once before, again my own imagination couldn’t prepare me for how big my heart would grow to wrap itself around this wonderful little girl. A girl that has taught me more in 4 years about courage, kindness, and acceptance than I had even come close to learning on my own in the 32 years before she was a part of my life.

janmum

This is it. My entire life I had spent wondering where I was going. Each and every path I took just didn’t seem entirely right, as though something was missing. Yet here, in this moment, it seems as though all the stars have aligned perfectly and these two amazing little people fit like a glove into my heart and my soul. Those paths that didn’t feel quite right? They were leading me to my village. The village where I belonged. This village of mothers.

Yesterday, I took my kids to the park and as I pushed Ms. J on the swing, I watched Mr. T play soccer with another little boy and his mother. I felt thankful that she was playing with Mr. T so that I could push Ms. J on the swing. It took away that feeling of guilt that I sometimes feel when I can’t be in two places at once. Later we chatted while the kids all played together, she referred to me as auntie. Her kids had never met me before but they referred to me as auntie. This, I thought, is what it should feel like to be a part of this village of mothers.

Later, as we sat eating our dinner together, I found myself wishing that every mother could feel as though they were being supported by their tribe every single day. I know that so much of our journey in motherhood is shadowed by guilt. Guilt that we bestow upon ourselves when we make our mistakes. Guilt that others push onto us when they pass their judgements on the decisions we make for our families. I wish instead of passing judgements, we could embrace each other. Be the person another mother can lean on when they are struggling. Help each other stand when motherhood tries it’s best to knock us down.

Motherhood is a universal language. Look at families across the globe and you will see that across every race, culture and language, mothers everywhere have the same wish for their children; that they are happy, healthy and loved. We are all in the journey together.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mummy’s out there who are doing their best every day. I make you a promise that I will always be a part of your tribe if you will have me.

Happy Mother’s Day to my own mummy, who taught me that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful and who has always been there to pick me up when I have fallen and to cheer me on when I have succeeded.

mummyme