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Posts Tagged ‘Motherhood’

Surprising Things I’ve Learned About Parenting

November 19, 2013 5 comments

I had preconceived notions about motherhood before I joined the cult.

I thought that newborn babies slept all the time. I imagined I’d set our round kitchen table for three balanced meals a day, but not much else would change. I believed my children would flock to me for advice, and once they were comfortably seated at my feet, I would begin my teaching moment. I thought my children would be exactly like me, just smaller and with better hair.

I remember thinking these thoughts, and now gently ask myself, self: were you on crack?

If motherhood is anything; good, bad, ugly, wonderful, transcendent, frustrating, confusing, beautiful (it is all of these, and frequently within the space of fifteen minutes), it is mostly full of surprises; reality has tossed my crazy ideas right on my perpetual ponytail.

Too late, I learned that newborns rarely sleep (except when you want them to be awake). Our place mats still have price tags attached. My life bears no resemblance to its former self, back when I mattered. The more advice I offer my kids, the less they want to hear. And my children are as different from each other as they are from me. But with better hair.

So, preconceived notions cast aside and thrown in the garbage alongside an astounding amount of candy wrappers, everyday I learn new things about motherhood that surprise me. Shock the hell out of me, in fact. A short list of recent surprises:

  • I didn’t realize I would be the butt of all jokes in our house, and that the only thing that unites my children is their collective laughter at me. Apparently, and without even trying to be, I’m hilarious. Forget surviving middle school relatively unscathed – if I can survive my daughters scorn, I can survive anything.
  • We spend more time discussing my teenaged daughter’s social life than socializing.
  • No matter how many groceries I buy, my kids can’t find anything to eat in our house.

I’m not exactly that all-knowing role model I expected to be. Surprise. But, and sorry to overuse the word, another surprise. Mostly, it is my children who teach me. I knew (or hoped) it would happen in time, but I’m astounded by how fast it’s happened. Here’s a short list of things I’ve learned recently, courtesy of my daughters:

  • The eldest educates me about important things like eye primer (did you know there was such a thing? She owns five.) and the vast difference between my mascara and the BEST mascara. Needless to say, I’m not meeting her expectations.
  • My twelve-year old patiently explains the rules of hockey to me. Every week. (Penalty! No mom, they’re allowed to do that.) She doesn’t play the sport, but grasped an understanding of the game – even an appreciation for the fighting – that I have failed to achieve in my lifetime. (Still, those refs are blind.)
  • My nine-year old signs me up for Instagram, and then explains the apps I should download and the filters I should use for an optimal experience. Her fingers fly across my iPhone like butterflies around a flame, and I’m like but wha – whoa – hey – where – wait a – how did you get there? Kids these days.

And then the more profound surprises, of course.

I knew I would need patience, but the frequency with which I meet its limits is astonishing.

I knew my children would need me, but didn’t realize how much it is actually I who needs them.

I knew I would watch my children grow, and by definition, overcome obstacles, but didn’t think about the pain and restraint involved in watching them struggle.

I knew I would love my children, but the depths of which I love them, still, is shocking.

Motherhood hasn’t been a smooth ride – on the contrary, it’s filled with potholes, sharp curves, and the occasional road block. And no driver’s test required, amazingly. It’s not a one-way street, and frankly, I’m not always in the driver’s seat.

But oh, the places you can go.

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The Mother Lode of Love

May 8, 2012 8 comments

I have received countless homemade Mother’s Day gifts from my gang. A hand-painted coffee mug, several cards where triangular globs of tissue paper form my body, etched pencil drawings of my likeness, and one year, a handmade lilac scarf with a stick-figure of me drawn in fabric markers. So many Mother’s Days, so many treasures.

But how to tell them that their gift to me is themselves? The amazement I experience as life happens to them. Just yesterday, my seven year old learned that dolphins sleep with one eye open, and she now tells this fact to everyone she encounters, the pride in her knowledge unmistakeable. My ten year-old sporty girl throws herself body and soul into every game she plays, and doesn’t leave an ounce of regret on the field. My twelve year-old daughter laughingly tells me every detail of her first date – how much longer will that last? I am privileged to be a voyageur into their world, and my nose is pressed up against the glass tight.

Easily, the most precious gift they give me is the chance to be their mother. I am quick to point out the pitfalls of motherhood, but this doesn’t mean I don’t bask in its sunshine, and at times its rays are blinding.

True story: I encourage my youngest daughter to stay in her own bed, telling her I can’t sleep as well when she is wedged in between myself and my husband.

She thinks this is due to the cramped quarters, but actually it is not. I can’t sleep because I can’t help staring at her face, perfectly lost in dreamland. I can’t sleep because I can’t believe my luck and fortune that this little face beside me, this beautiful person is my daughter.

She is seven years old, but the wonder of her is new to me everyday.

Their gifts to me far exceed the cardboard box that is kept underneath my bed. Their gift to me is the very meaning and embodiment, the mother lode, of love itself.

Wishing all mothers, everywhere, a very happy Mother’s Day this Sunday.

Lessons in Life (and Self-Publishing an E-Book)

May 4, 2012 12 comments

Not everything in life is fraught with difficulty, and littered with obstacles, like the garbage can I had to hurdle this morning while walking the kids to school. For instance, did you know any idiot can string a few sentences together and self-publish an e-book?

I’ve tested it. It’s true, and fairly easy. If you have all of your ducks in order, it takes about five minutes. By ducks, I mean a written manuscript, cover artwork, and a marketing description.

I thought it would be fun and fancy to put together a book of essays on motherhood in time for Mother’s Day. I found a graphic artist on Craigslist, Ed, who deftly assembled a cover for a miniscule amount of money. While Ed was creating his masterpiece, I cut and pasted essays I have written over the years into a Word document, and voilá, my main ducks were assembled. I planned on winging the marketing description duck. (In fact, I more than winged it, I wrote it in one minute when I heard my children coming up the driveway from school. In a bid to get something accomplished that day, I panicked and hit ‘publish’. I’m not sure what I said, but am hoping it can be changed if it’s as cheesy as the hamburger I’m about to eat.)

Since I have a Kindle, Amazon seemed the like the most natural recipient for my prose. They offer their own publishing service, Kindle Direct Publishing, and it’s simple to navigate the process. There were a few things I had to investigate further: ISBN numbers, Digital Rights Management, and the issue of dealing with an American company as a Canadian citizen, but nothing critical. It wasn’t brain surgery, or as difficult as getting my kids to eat vegetables.

I was hoping to publish it as a Kindle Single, but it turns out you have to apply for that special status. I am waiting for the Gods of Kindle Singles to get back to me on that one, fingers crossed.

But in the meantime, my status has changed from in review to publishing, so that has to be a good sign. I’m not trying to sell myself short here, but if I can do this, anyone can. Getting my children to eat vegetables, on the other hand, takes true genius.

A Mother’s Tonic: Tales from a Real Housewife of Vancouver, is available for $2.99 in the Kindle Store on Amazon, I think.

A Nauseatingly Warm and Fuzzy Story About my Kid

October 21, 2011 10 comments

Sometimes, in fact almost all of the time, the magic of motherhood can be lost somewhere between packing the lunches and shuttling to soccer. There is a fair amount of work required in rearing children, and by work I mean constant nagging. Make your bed, stop texting, feed your fish, stop texting, eat something green, stop... Honestly, I can hardly stand myself by the end of the day. I don’t know how they put up with me.

But occasionally, something sweet and tender happens that is absolutely divine, and I want to freeze time. Generally, I feel these cute-kid stories are overdone, and therefore I shy away from them (but you can’t say I didn’t warn you with the title).

My husband returned from a business trip yesterday. On the way to gymnastics the kids were musing about what little gift he would bring them. Yes, I wonder what he’s bringing me, I joked. My oldest daughter immediately picked up her phone to text him a warning that I was hoping for a present. I laughed, and told them I was kidding, I didn’t really want a present. My youngest daughter said solemnly, I’m going to make you a present anyway, Mummy. I told her a hug from her was all I wanted (my originality is not at its peak that time of the day).

While I was making dinner, she was conspicuously absent, whereas usually she is underfoot. She finally emerged from her room with a piece of paper, laden with her writing.

Why I love my mom - the front

...the back

Here it is, transcribed with her creative spelling:

from Ella

Why I love my mom

1. She bys stuf for me

2. She loves me

3. She takes kare of me

4. She comeforts me

5. She buys me food

6. She gets me toys even when she dose not want to

7. She touks me in at niuht

8. She sins me up for camp and attivitey

9. She helps me whith math

10. She helps me sleep

11. She buys some stuf for crismess and a bunch of other stuf

12. She gives me money

13. She gave me a houes

14. She gets me brthday

15. She payes alot of mouney

16. She gets me stoueys (stories)

I flipped the paper over, and on the back she wrote a poem.

every night I sing a song

about How I love my mom. And

How she gives me vegtbaball

whith out her Id be so fat!

I love her whith all

my mite and I love you

so mouch that Id clim a ben soukc (which she told me was bean sprout)

(and then she drew a picture of her and the bean sprout.)

At the wise age of seven, she was perceptive enough to see through my rather pathetic ploy for recognition. Her gift made me speechless, which perhaps was the real goal – to dissuade me from nagging for an evening.

Stop growing, stay little, I whisper to her when she’s asleep.

Who Do You Love?

May 5, 2011 6 comments

I am coming out of the closet, in my own small sense. I was nominated as one of Vancouver’s Top Mom Bloggers for 2011. A very nice nod of approval from VancouverMom.ca. If it’s the equivalent of a peck on the cheek, I’m presenting mine for a lipstick stained kiss.

Otherwise, I was content to keep this between them and me.

But upon further researching last year’s contest, I realized to my horror they show the results of the voting. Keeping this little secret to myself will be a big mistake when I register zero votes, and I look like the equivalent of the kid who gets picked last for Red Rover. Having been there and done that, I really don’t want to revisit my youth.

It’s down to the wire – voting closes tomorrow – so if you would be so kind as to click on this link and cast your vote, I would be forever indebted to you. In fact, I just might give you a Junior Mint the next time I see you.

As you can imagine, if you know me, this act of self-promotion leaves me squeamish and with sweaty palms. But saving myself from embarrassment ranks even higher on my list than asking for help.

It’s not about blogging domination, for which I clearly lack the killer gene. It’s about coming out of this contest with a marginal amount of composure, so that I don’t need to wear a bag over my MothersTonic face when running my errands around Vancouver.

Unlike our federal election, one vote really can make a difference – these are slim margins we’re talking about. Save me from becoming the blogging equivalent of Michael Ignatieff. And I did promise you a Junior Mint.