Mother, Wife and Student of Life. Join me as I face the challenges of balancing life as a mother, wife and student.
We’ve all met them. Those people who suck the lives right out of us. The “takers”, who take every ounce of what you have to give them, and then take some more. Some people call them Vampires, other’s call them bad friends. I don’t call them anything. I feel sad for them.
I was brought up believing that you “treat others, the way you want to be treated”. It’s a motto I live by, and one that I try to pass along to my child. It’s a hard motto, because no matter how kind and giving you can be, there will always be someone who takes advantage of that. I’ve always believed that if it is within my power to help someone, then I should, because I would want someone to help me, and let’s be honest…we all need a little help now and then.
Unfortunately, no matter what, someone is always sitting around the corner, or down the street, just waiting to tear you apart. Watching you. Sucking your generosity out of you, and when you take a stand to say “no more”, then they turn on you. They talk about you behind your back. They spread lies and rumours. They talk to whomever they can, they play the victim…”they’re so mean”…why?? Because I won’t let you walk all over me anymore? Where is your evidence? What have I done? Oh right, nothing.
These people can’t look in the mirror and take responsibility for their own actions, or the actions of their families. They blame, they point fingers, but they never look at themselves. It’s always someone elses fault.
Well, I’m sick of it. These people are raising a society of righteous children. Kids who believe that they do no harm. Kids that can walk down the street, giving “the evil eye” to neighbours, and then turn around and tell others that that neighbour is mean. Why? Because your “evil eye” was ineffective? Because your attempts at intimidation failed?
Kids who think it’s ok to walk around and spread lies and rumours, and then go home to a parent who praises them. A parent who says “steal their friends away”. Why? Because when they bullied a child, the child decided the friendship was not worth it, and played with others who treated them well? Parents who play the victim, instead of teaching their kids about responsibility and consequences.
Kids who are lost. Who need guidance from a parent that can be humble, and that can admit their mistakes. From a parent who isn’t afraid to be “the mean parent” every now and then, in order to get the point across. From a parent, who can show an equal amount of love and discipline. These lost kids will continue to be left out, because, honestly, kids aren’t dumb. They know when someone is a bully, and they avoid them.
A parent’s job never ends. Sometimes you need to be strict, enforce consequences, no matter how much your kid cries. Because if you don’t, then you are failing them. As much as they cry, they crave the structure. They thrive on learning. Consequences make them a better person. Balance that with praise and love for good behaviour, and you are providing them with healthy stepping stones for their life.
But most of all, parents, stop playing the victim. Stop lashing out, and accept responsiblity, teach responsibility. Look in the mirror and ask yourself, “could I have done something differently”? Model appropriate behaviour, because even when you don’t know it, your kids are watching you. They are listening to you, and they are absorbing everything you do and say.
As a parent, our child’s education is one of the most important things. Are they happy at school? Do they have friends? Are they asking questions when they don’t understand? Are they comfortable? Do they feel safe? Are they cared for?
Our school is currently involved in a Boundary Review, brought on by the increased request for French Immersion within our Ward. Boundary Reviews are the School Board, and School Trustees way of monitoring that all areas of a Ward are receiving adequate educational accommodation to support all students.
Now, this sounds all fine and good, and something that we as a community should support, but the more I have become involved, the more I come to learn that these reviews are political in nature, have little to do with what is in the students best interest, and are generally driven by some person’s personal agenda.
Let me be very clear. I believe that families should be able to chose the educational program they deem to be in their children’s best interest. I believe that as a society that is focussed on promoting health and awareness, and as a parent in a school community that puts much emphasis on Walking to School, neighbourhood schools are key to promoting healthy lifestyles for children. I believe, that people have a fundamental need and want to belong, and as we age, that need/want falls into the comm
You know that moment. We all have experienced it at one time or another. The moment when your entire world crashes down around you. When you loose control. When you can barely breathe. When, with each breath you feel another piece of you die. You can’t hold your head up, you can’t manage life, and you give in. You turn yourself over to something or someone else. You beg for strength, wondering if anyone will hear you. Wondering if you even have the strength to beg any more. Searching the skies for answers that might not exist, answers that may never come. Searching your very soul for something, anything to get you to tomorrow.
It’s amazing how in a flash all you think you know, all you believe, all that you have built your life on, all that you are and all that you ever wanted to be can change. Not asking for permission to change, but it just does. And it moves you in a way that alters your very being. You respond in ways that you never knew you were capable of.
How do you move forward? How do you find strength? When does life stop being so hard and just starts being?
When I became a parent, I thought I knew exactly what kind of parent I wanted to be. I’d used my pregnancy to reflect on all the parenting techniques I had seen through my life, and compiled what I believed to be the best of the best techniques. I thought I would use these techniques to raise my daughter, and we would never have any issues. She’d grow to be a healthy,well adjusted toddler, child, teen, adult. I was sure that I had it down. Throughout her life, she has proved me wrong time and time again. She has forced me to reevaluate and sometimes change direction completely. I remember swearing up and down that I would never raise a hand to her, because it goes against every fiber of my moral being. I swore that I would never bruise her self esteem, call her names, or be abusive in any way, shape or form.
But, I am not a perfect parent, I don’t think such a person exists. Sometimes, I am a bad parent, much to my dismay. Most of the time, I am loving, compassionate, patient, giving, engaging, and responsive. But, those brief moments, when I’m a bad mother are the moments that plague me…they haunt me at night. When my daughter was two years old, we used the timeout method for punishment. I knew how important it was to talk about what had happened, why she had ended up in a timeout and how to avoid that in the future. I remember one instance when we were doing this. I can’t recall what lead to the punishment, but I remember what had happened after. When discussing what went wrong, my daughter decided to slap me across my cheek. Not being aware of myself, I wound up and smacked her on her rear. In that moment, with the tears rolling down her face, I sought refuge, I wanted to crawl under a rock somewhere…this was not the kind of mother I had ever intended to be.
When we came back together, she looked at me and said “Mommy, I want to talk to you. I want to talk about you hitting me”. I have never forgotten that moment. The moment when we both knew that what I had done was wrong. The moment when she forced me to look at myself. Even as I write this, my heart is racing faster, my eyes are becoming wetter, and the pain of the memory threatens to haunt me. I vowed, never again to lay a hand on her, and I haven’t. My daughter is now seven, and she probably doesn’t even remember that event, but I do, and it drives me. It drives me to be more, be better.
My point is that none of us are perfect. Perfect parents don’t exist. We make mistakes, have moments of insanity, because we are, after all, human. These are not the moments that define us. It’s what we take from these moments, what we learn, how we change. Being a good parent doesn’t come easily, it comes from lessons learned the hard way, from moments of irrationality, and the inevitable clarity that is a result.
Well…it’s been a LONG time since my last post. Life got a bit busy with work, school and being a mother and wife. Busier than expected. Things are winding down now, and I am staring into an uncertain future.
Here I thought, when I went back to school, that I had it all figured out. Two years later, and I’m more confused than when I started. All the plans that I had in mind, have fallen to pieces, and now, I’m writing final exams, and wondering what life has in store for me after this.
I didn’t assume that I would be so great, that I would find work as soon as I completed school, but I was optimistic. I had hoped that with my experience, and education, that getting interviews would be a shoe-in. That’s not the case, and having sent out numerous resumes, here I am…still waiting.
It’s not that I don’t think something will come along, I know that it will, but how do I get there? How do I stay motivated to continue to try? Why is it that life seemed so clear two years ago, and now I feel like I’m sitting in a fog, not sure when I’ll emerge again?
I know that I have to keep on trucking…that’s a give-in, but some days, I just don’t want to. On the bright side, I should have more time to write!! So….stay tuned!
Well obviously I’ve been neglecting my writing, as I had to look back at what my last post was! Oops! This month has been a busy one.
Lots of fun and exciting things have happened for us, and especially for our daughter. She has been working hard in Grade Two, and to this day has done three spelling tests, for which she received 100% on each. Needless to say, I am very proud of her. She has always had an interest in learning, since she was a baby. My mother used to always say that she would fixate on something, and you could almost see her trying to figure it out. She’s loved exploring new topics, and new environments, and these are interests that both myself and my husband have tried to encourage. In the summer, we buy workbooks for the coming year, and when she needs a little structure and quiet, we choose a couple of activities and sit down to work on them with her. Sometimes she needs our help, and other times, she just doesn’t want it! I have to admit though, I am in awe of her, and her capacity to learn new things. I often wonder if I was the same way as a child. School usually bored me, but I’m not sure that I was as driven as she is.
Early last week, she was identified as a “Leadership Student”. The goal here is for her to be a student that others can turn to if they are having trouble, or get stuck on a word when reading. She was thrilled, as were we! I made sure that she understood that under no circumstance is she to put her work second, and that it was imperative that she complete her assignments and reading before spending time working with other children. I can’t deny the pride that I feel in having her be chosen for this type of role. At the beginning of this school year, she expressed so much concern when it came to the work, and whether or not she would be able to do any of it. This has made her confidence soar, and I am finding that it has taken her love of school to a whole new level!
On Friday, we received notification that her teacher would like her to participate in a program that involves higher level thinking for both math and language. Again, so impressed by my little one’s ability to show confidence in these areas, to the point where her teacher would like to give her work that is the equivalent of a third or fourth grade level. I’m amazed, and so proud!! I was also a little concerned. Sometimes providing a child who is excelling and comfortable with more challenging work, can turn them off of their interest in school. The first person I spoke with, was my husband. Together we talked about the pros and the cons. We talked about it being too much work for her to manage, but then we talked about the opportunity being provided to her. We both feel confident enough in her abilities to give her this opportunity, and so we responded to the teacher with a few extra questions. I then spoke with both my mother and my father. Each had their own concerns, but also shared their confidence in her ability to move ahead a little bit. The major concern was to not overwhelm her.
In my last email to the teacher, I expressed our concerns. But I also shared that we were interested, but not prepared to commit to anything until given the opportunity to speak with our daugther directly. We felt it necessary to share the expectations and our concerns with her, and get her feedback on her wishes. When she came home, we chatted about it while making some Rice Krispie Squares together. She expressed excitement, and interest. I made sure to express that the work would be harder, and would require more time and commitment from her, to which she responded with a simple “Ok”.
We’ve accepted this program for her, which is due to begin in December. For the time being, I believe it has boosted her confidence, and assured her that she is on the right track when it comes to school. On the other hand, we’ll have to wait to see what the workbook brings. I know she can do it. And I am prepared to support her however she needs it.
I’m such a lucky Mom, to have such a Great Kid!!! Thanks for allowing me to share this with you, I can’t seem to manage to contain myself anymore, I’m so PROUD of her!!!
So, this morning it happened. I reached my limit.
A little background of last week: I worked all last weekend (Saturday and Sunday), read seven 100-page chapters for school Monday and Tuesday, got called into work Tuesday night, had school during the day on Wednesday, had Movie Night at my daughter’s school on Wednesday night, had school during the day on Thursday, worked Thursday night, spent Friday doing groceries and running errands, my daughter had a birthday party Friday evening, worked Saturday, my daughter had a soccer game Sunday morning, followed by work Sunday afternoon. Needless to say, I am tired. Oh, and mix into all that making breakfast, lunch and dinner for my daughter and husband, plus baths for my daughter, plus doing the accounts for the house.
When I arrived home yesterday evening (Sunday, after a long afternoon at work), I was hoping that I could sit and relax. My legs were sore, my brain was overworked, I was exhausted. I, however, came home to a full dishwasher (still loaded, but clean, since I had put it on before I left for work), and three piles of laundry left to do. My sister-in-law was visiting, so I made dinner for the four of us. I fell asleep on the couch at around 9:30pm, I think out of pure exhaustion. I just couldn’t wait to get up and do another week like that all over again!! Ya, right. Anyways, I finally went up to bed at 10:00pm, and settled into a restless night of sleeping. I woke at least three times, and the fourth was when my husbands alarm went off. Why it went off, I’m not sure, since it went at 6:45am, and no one had to be awake until 7:00am at the earliest. But, the noise woke my sleeping child (who, I must point out, very rarely sleeps past 6:30am), and thus started the day.
I came downstairs. The dishwasher, still not emptied. Two loads of laundry still to go. Had to make breakfast and my daughters lunch. In between the two, I washed the pots and pans that had been sitting overnight, giving the food a chance to adhere to the surface, making it more difficult to clean. I turned the dishwasher on - again - since some dirty dishes had managed to make their way into the already cleaned ones. I ran upstairs, threw on some clothes, and readied my daughter for school. (Note - my husband was still laying in bed trying to sleep). I packed her school bag, and loaded her into the car. Upon hopping into the car, I was shocked by the empty coffee cups, and loads of clothes in the back seat, soccer shoes and balls, and umbrellas, all which happened to be left untouched the whole day that I was at work. We went to school, and I waited patiently with her until the bell rang. Upon returning home, I put away a load of clothes that had been folded the night before, but never put away. I put on the last load of laundry, and folded another load. Then I cried. I cried because I’m tired. I cried because I don’t want to have to ask for help. I cried because I should have to ask for help. I cried because I feel so totally taken advantage of and used. I cried because no one else seems to see any of this. I cried. Then, I emptied the dishwasher, put on a pot of coffee, and sat at the computer to balance our accounts. Because crying can’t finish the laundry, and crying won’t empty the dishwasher, and crying won’t pay our bills.
As I sit here now, having accomplished all the above before the clock struck 9:30am, I am almost ready to start the piles of homework that I have been neglecting since early last week. I have a mid-term exam coming up next week, and another hectic week ahead. My coffee is cold, I haven’t showered, and right now, I’m not even sure that I will have the time too. I knew that life as a mother, wife, student and employee would be challenging. I didn’t realize it would be this challenging. I struggle to find the right words to say to my husband. To reach out and help him see and understand how difficult it is for me to try to manage this alone. I want to be Supermom, and I want to be Superwife, but I’m only managing to burn myself out, and resent my husband in the process. I resent him for not offering to help. I resent him for not appreciating all that I do. I resent him for not doing more than he has, and I resent him for not recognizing the loads I’m trying to carry alone. And all the while, I recognize that he has helped out. He is tired too.
I know that if he were to read this blog, he would be sad. He would feel like he’s let me down. I know that it’s partly my fault for not speaking up. But I want so badly to be the perfect wife and mother, I don’t want to admit that I can’t do it. Admitting that feels like failure to me. Failure at being a Mom, and failure at being a wife. I also know that it won’t be long before we sit down together and hash it out. I know that eventually I will pour out my heart and soul to him. I know that I will cry, and yell. And I know that it can only happen when I can figure out how to resolve that asking for help, doesn’t mean failure. It means recognizing one’s own abilities, without straining oneself. It means putting faith and trust in another person’s ability. I’m not sure how long that will take, but for the sake of my sanity, I hope it will be soon.
Today I sit and write, looking for a way to escape my mind, and maybe even my life for a moment. The house is empty and quiet. I know it’s the perfect time for me to start on the piles of school work, that I’ve already been neglecting…but somehow, I just can’t get there. The kitchen and dining room tables are a mess, the dishwasher needs to be emptied…and for some reason, I keep eyeing the potatoes and yams, trying to figure out a delicious way to use them up today. Let’s be honest…dinner is ten hours away. I’m tired. The house is quiet, and all I want to do, is curl up in bed, with a good book and a cup of tea.
I’ve been lucky enough over the past couple of days to reconnect with a good friend of mine from years ago. I can so clearly remember the day that I met her, and I think, even then, I knew that she would be important in my life. I think I’ve only just figured out how. Although we have stayed in touch over the years, it’s been periodic. She attended my wedding, and I attended hers. However, in the past couple of communications, I’ve realized how much I truly have missed her. Her wisdom, her advice, her friendship. Today, I realize how much she has gone through over the past couple of years, and how much she has needed support. I can’t turn back time, but I vow to be there from today forward.
She’s also helped me to realize the importance of friendships with other mothers. To quote her “this motherhood gig is a hard one, and only other moms really get that”. Wise, wise words. And so much truth in them. A mother’s work is the hardest kind. We are expected to be experts on everything from nutrition to health to fashion and all that’s inbetween. We are expected to be strong and hard, but also soft and gentle. We need to excel at skills like time management, finance and problem solving. And all the while, we are still figuring it all out. Motherhood is an uphill battle. The motherhood friendship seals a bond that nothing can penetrate. All mothers, no matter their situation can understand. We get it. We understand that the ups are amazing, but the downs can truly change your life. We understand when time slips through our fingers and we wake up months later, having meant to send that email, or make that call. We understand that life as we once knew it, has changed forever.
While our childless or single friends can cheer us up with their stories, and can help us to remember what life was like when it was just us…they can’t understand how we feel when we’re rushing our children to the ER in the middle of the night. They can’t understand how it feels when something is so terribly wrong, but no one, not even the doctors can figure it out. They don’t understand when we have to cancel lunch dates or dinner dates, because our babies need us. We feel like failures in our friendships, because we can’t give them what they need anymore. We have bigger, more important things to be concerned with. And nothing is bigger than the responsibility and commitment to raising another life.
I would not trade motherhood for anything in this world. My daughter is my life, and that’s how I like it. So, I am thankful to all the women in my life who themselves are mothers, who support me and understand my challenges. And to all my childless/single friends, who, although they could have walked away from our friendship because of lack of commitment on my part, have stuck with me. I thank these friends for reminding me that I was someone else, before I was a Mom, and that somewhere inside, that person lives on.
Although life seems to have fallen back into a routine, I’m starting to find that our routines doesn’t include any time for me. As a mom, wife, employee and student, my days are full. Every waking minute is designated to someone else. This morning I didn’t even get to enjoy a coffee. I am longing for the lazy days of summer, but the reality is that they are gone, and I have to figure out how to reorganize my days, to find some time for me.
I know I shouldn’t complain. I chose this life. I wanted it, and frankly, I wouldn’t give it up for the world…but it’s only the second week, and I’m starting to feel the burnout coming on. Even my showers get interrupted! I have a great husband, who picks up the slack when I’m at school or work, but something happens when I walk in the door. Suddenly he assumes his position infront of the tv, and I get stuck with dishes, laundry, lunches, etc. It’s hard to ask him for more help, because I recognize that he also works, and picks up the slack when I’m not around…but I’m not sure if it’s too much to ask that he also put away the dishes!
I would sure like to come home one day, and be able to park myself infront of the tv, without having to feel guilty about it, or without spending my time thinking about the zillions of other things that should be getting done.
So, I ask…how do you manage to find “me” time…is it possible…or just a dream?
The past week saw the return to routine in our house. My daughter is settling into Grade Two nicely, I’ve started at a new job, and my return to school was uneventful. With having such a busy life, I have found the key to success is being organized and finding a routine.
When my daughter was in Grade One, I decided that I had to be SuperMom. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure that her outfits were complete, her hair was combed and neat, and her lunches were fun and healthy. Let me tell you, it was exhausting. The reality is that maintaining that level of expectation did more harm than good. At the end of the year, this resulted in subpar lunches, ponytails and the resolution to the outfits she chose to wear. Now that I have had the summer to re-energize, here’s some things that we’re doing now, to make life that much easier!
1) My husband instituted the “Bathroom Routine”. I’m not sure when, or how this came about, but it was the night before the first day of school and he looked at our daughter and said “Okay, time for your bathroom routine”. She got up, went up stairs and proceeded to wash her face, and hands, and brush her teeth and hair. Establishing this routine allows her to assert the independence that she so craves, and at the same time…she’s developing good hygiene. Win-Win!
2) Clothes. We allow her to pick out her own outfits at night. Once she’s chosen, we either give her the thumbs up, or suggest that she may want something different, depending on the weather. Mornings are so much easier when you do this.
3)School Lunches. Last year I tried letting her make her lunch a couple of times, only to find that the choices she was making were not ideal. This year, I’ve developed a strategy that still gives her control over her choices, but I know that nutrition is in balance. We also make her lunches at night, to help with the rush of the mornings.
We start every lunch with her main course. Some of the tried and true are: ham and cheese sandwiches, with lettuce and dijonnaise; cheese, crackersand kielbasa; cheese buns - on their own; or a thermos full of leftovers, or soup. This course should be something that they really enjoy eating, and this is always her decision.
Next I make sure to include both fruit and vegetables. For my daughter, this happens to be a variety of melons, and cucumber or carrots with low-fat ranch dip. We keep some other fruits and vegetables on hand, just in case, but these are her favorites, so I know they will be eaten.
She gets a bottle of water, and for now some juice. This will change, however, when the milk program starts up in October. We sign her up each year for the milk program, and she usually chooses to receive Chocolate Milk. Sometimes she surprises me and opts for White Milk, but either way, she is getting a good source of calcium.
Last, we finish it up with a small treat. We like the following: fruit cups in light syrup, granola bars, pudding, fruit snack, or thinsations. Again, her small treat, is her choice. We keep a cupboard with all these snacks, and while we’re busy making her lunch, she goes and picks.
When making her lunches, I allow her to take the lead. She is the one who will be eating the food, and I want to make sure that I am giving her things that she likes, not things that I like. Allowing her the choices makes her feel important, and includes her. I find that she is more inclined to bring home an empty lunch bag, when she’s had the input.
By doing most of these steps the night before, mornings are super easy. We get up, have breakfast, do the bathroom routine, and get dressed. It also frees up time, so we can still have our morning cuddles, something that I need to get me through the day!
These tips may not work for everyone. The key message to take away is: organize yourself so that you have a variety of options when making lunches (we talk about school lunches before heading out to the grocery store, and we allow her to pick one treat for her lunches during the shopping trip) and devise a routine that works for your house. Include the child in your decision making processes, so that they feel a sense of ownership over their clothes and foods. If you can do this, then school days should be a breeze!