Is that my son pooping under the playground?!?!

So this past weekend I met with a good friend of mine who has kids that are the same age as James and Jocelyn. We always get a good laugh at the things are kids say and do, and better yet the way we react to them. As we shared how we spent our Mother’s Day weekend, she told me a story that I just couldn’t keep to myself. With her permission of course, here is a great story about how she survived a very embarrassing mother’s day present…

It was a busy day for my friend and her two boys, the first baseball tournament of the year, a never ending parade and a long break until the awards ceremony. Oh, and of course it was Mother’s Day weekend. It was a beautiful day and it only made sense to go to the park at the marina so that the boys, aged 3 and 5, could play and burn some energy before their next game. Naturally, being a small town, this was the same idea the rest of the moms had in mind as well. The park was packed.

As the boys played, she caught up with some family and friends and enjoyed the nice breeze and warm sun. It was a beautiful day. Until that is… she looked over and saw her youngest son squatting in the sand under the playground. Oh god… is he doing what I think he’s doing? She hurried over to her son, only to realize that he had indeed just pooped at the park. Oh, and just in case you think I’m implying he pooped his pants, think again. He pooped in the sand. Under the playground. On Mother’s Day.

While  all the moms stared and pointed while their jaws hit the ground, my friend quickly grabbed a wipe and reached down and picked up the giant dump in the sand. If the humiliation of picking up poop wasn’t enough for her, next she had to pick her son up and carry him bare ass to the port-a-potty to do an industrial style clean up. With her head held high and her face beet red, she returned to the park and continued to enjoy her afternoon. She looked down at her phone and noticed a missed text message. It read as follows, ‘Kudos to you for hand picking up your son’s poop from the playground 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day!’ Who was this kind text from? An acquaintance and mom who happened to have my friend’s phone number in her address book. She had obviously witnessed the whole thing and instead of judging her or avoiding eye contact, this mom reached out to show her support.

The fact of the matter is, our kids do things that embarrass us all the time. The best way to get through it is to keep your head held high and know that we all go through it at one time or another. And maybe, if you’re lucky, there will be another mom kind enough to send you a simple text message to let you know that you aren’t kicked off their playdate list. To all the moms who have experienced their kid crapping at the park… you’re doing a great job. And if you actually picked it up instead of covering it up with more sand… you’re amazing!

Confessions of an Anxious Mom

guestpost_dovetailShawna is a wife to one and a mom to two, aged 2 years and 11 months. She started blogging at Dovetail Blog in 2011 when she left her job to become a stay at home mom. She openly shares her hard truths and belly laughs on marriage and motherhood, her journey in going gluten and dairy free and getting creative with DIYs. You can find her drinking too much coffee and taking too many pictures of her kids at Dovetail Blog or on Facebook

I came across this really interesting article.  It lists five types of mothering styles: perfectionist (she is hypercritical and controlling), unpredictable (she parents based on the mood she’s in), best friend (she avoids taking on the ‘parent’ role), me-first (her kid’s job is to make her ‘shine’) and complete (the ‘balanced’, well-rounded mom).

You might read through this and make a mental list of other moms you know and their associated styles. Then you might think, ‘Oh, well they don’t have the ‘caffeinated and awesome’ style so guess I’ll default to the ‘complete’!’. We’d all like to think we are the ‘complete’. I’d like to think I am, but I’m not.

Any parent knows that we don’t always fit into a handful of tidy categories. We are chameleons of nurturing and teaching; constantly shifting and responding to the assorted needs of all the people around us. But maybe in my case I embarrassingly plunk into place for one of these five mothering styles.

I’m going to put myself out there. I’m gonna be honest and will admit that I’m probably the ‘unpredictable’ mother.  Now I am not in the mood swing category, I’m sure my friends would say I’m generally ‘kindergarten-teacher-happy’, which is activated by a morning coffee. But I am the unpredictable mother in terms that I’m very predictable. I’m driven by my anxieties. I feel this internal drive to keep things predictable, ordered, calm and on-schedule. I hate dishes and mess (though they are always there); I hate pushing nap/bed times; I hate not having a plan for dinner and dealing with hungry kids; I hate being spontaneous with the kids; I hate flying solo with kids that might meltdown; I hate that I hate all these things.

I could blame it on being ‘conditioned’ to feel this way after having our second baby who put my mothering up to the test, but truth be told I was a little like this with our first. It just wasn’t very noticeable. Everyone would say I was so laid-back with our first, but he was one kid. One mellow, adaptable, chubby, happy little man! We joke that he taught us nothing about being parents. He made me look better than I was (am). 

I was raised like this; I had an anxious mom.  I grew up fearful of things I didn’t know about and reflexively questioned ‘what if?’. I grew up living in a self-contained routine of doing what was easy and familiar. It probably kept me out of trouble in my youth but made me a naïve, overly-cautious adult and an anxious mom. This took me a long time to become self-aware of this and even longer to admit that I was like this. Denial was a beautiful tailor-made coat I didn’t want to take off, despite the heat.

As I hinted, things boiled up to the surface after having our daughter. That’s when my anxieties started really affecting more than just me but my family as well. I was stressed out by baby girl’s health problems and so focused on getting her better. I became the guardian of how our family spent our free time – and I said ‘no’ to everything. ‘There is no time’ I would try to explain; I was desperate for more time. Time to myself: to clean, to cook, to prepare, to have a break from the kids, to heal baby girl. Time to find that ‘magic formula’ of habits those other moms seemed to have in order to make their lives glide fluently and tidily along. After extensive googling, a few wine-soaked baths, some good long chats and the ugly cry I can let myself conclude: There’s no magic formula. It’s not supposed to be easy.  It’s real life, it’s parenting. It’s gonna be messy and stressful and unpredictable. I have to stop and remind myself of this almost every day.

Once I saw these limits I was imposing on everything, I had a decision to make to go against my instincts. I could say ‘yes’ more, I could deal with the meltdowns, with the mess, deal with the uncomfortable knot in my stomach while my mind over analyzed every potential hurdle I would need to navigate around. I could just deal with ‘real life’. But another truth, I’m working on it, I don’t always say yes.

I’m keeping an eye open for those times I’m letting my anxieties be in charge. Which is step one. Step two is harder, because it means letting go and for me that is scary. I’ve got a couple great ladies in my life that help me with this (and of course one handsome man who also opens pickle jars).  I want my kids’ lives to be filled with more ‘real-life’; more wonder and adventure. I want them to be adaptable and fearless. I want them to be strong and brave.  I want them to be all the things I wished I was.

Why does Dad get to help the weirdo, but I have to yell FIRE?

So despite how much work our last camping trip was, we decided to head out again this past weekend for 3 fun filled days of bird watching, dirt digging, s’more eating, and of course playground paradise. A situation that occurred while the kids played innocently at the park, made me realize how important it is to teach our children how to be both cautious and compassionate…

I’m sitting in a lawn chair relaxing. This is glorious. I watch the kids play independently at the park which is conveniently right across from our campsite. As they push each other on the swing I feel a tremendous sense of pride. My 3 and 5 year old are playing together and at this particular moment they are loving each other’s company and taking care of one another. I must be doing something right.

I see James stop and look over his shoulder. Then Jocelyn hops off the swing and is looking in the same direction. What’s going on? I stand up and walk towards the park while trying to figure out what the disturbance is. I look over to where they are staring and I see a blue cargo van (you know the kind with no windows) with a shirtless santa looking man sitting in it. Is he talking to the kids? You’ve gotta be kidding me. I storm over with my ‘mommy on a mission’ power walk.

‘Is that man talking to you?’ I ask the kids.

‘Yeah… but we’re not talking to him,’ James replies.

‘Okay good. That man is a stranger. You don’t talk to strangers, especially when they are at the park.’

‘I know Mom,’ James says while rolling his eyes.

‘Never?’ asks Jocelyn. Alright… I guess I need some clarification here.

‘Okay, if mommy is with you then it’s okay to talk with other moms or dads that talk to you, but never talk to people like that man.’ I’m obviously struggling to set clear guidelines.

‘So don’t talk to old men with beards and no shirt?’ asks James.

‘Exactly. Come on, let’s go to the beach.’ Crisis averted… or so I think.

On the way to the beach we continue the conversation with my hubby. ‘If a stranger like that ever comes over and talks to you or wants you to go with them it’s really important you yell. Actually, you need to yell FIRE,’ my hubby tells the kids.

‘FIRE?’ both the kids and I ask, clearly confused.

‘Yeah… cause if you just yell randomly, people will just think it kids playing. Everyone turns and looks if you yell FIRE!’ Got it… if in trouble yell FIRE.

Later we return from the beach and I look over and the same man is at the park. He must be waiting for a tow truck. The day goes on and eventually the park warden moves him to a site directly across from the playground. That’s great… now I have to be at the park for the rest of the day with a watchful eye on the shirtless santa. Wonderful. Did he just pull out a camera? Are you freaking kidding me? He’s taking pictures of the kids!!!! I rush the kids back to the campsite and by the time I get my husband he’s back in the creepy windowless van.

‘That guy is a serious weirdo. I’m calling the front desk if it happens again.’ I say to my husband.

I look over and I can see that the kids have overheard this conversation. Whoops. James begs to go back to the park and promises not to talk to the ‘weirdo’. Note to self… do not name call in front of children. All four of us return to the park with a watchful eye on the picture taking pervert… oh my, I just did it again. No more name calling. Everything is cool for all of five minutes until I look over my shoulder.  Oh god… shirtless santa just fell over. Is he passed out? Do we have to go and help? My husband decides he better go help and tells me to take the kids back and get his cell phone and bring it to him.

You see, hubby is probably the most kind and compassionate person I know. He is constantly helping others and coming to the rescue in less than desirable situations. I love that I already see these amazing attributes rubbing off on the kids. I see hubby kneeling down talking with the old man. A few minutes go by. It becomes apparent that the man is extremely intoxicated. Oh… now the park rangers are there. Now there’s an ambulance. Hubby stays there by shirtless santa’s side the whole time, listening and helping this man through an obvious tough time in his life. The kids are full of questions,

‘Why is there an ambulance? Did Daddy call that?’

‘Why is that guy lying on the ground. Is he hurt?’

‘Is Dad going to be back soon? I’m hungry. Is that guy coming for dinner?’

‘Why does Dad get to help the weirdo but I have to yell FIRE?’

It takes me a moment to realize that my dear son wants to know why he too can’t help this poor man. It becomes clear that the pervert picture taking weirdo is nothing but a  lonely drunken man who is in need of some help (probably A LOT of help). I explain why their Dad can help… he is grown up, he has a cell phone to call for help, he’s got me watching to make sure everything is okay. I struggle, but I think I get the point across.

I learned two things from this whole experience… how important it is that we teach children to be cautious around strangers, and also how great it is to show the kids what it means to be kind and compassionate. Oh… and that ‘name calling’ is wrong.

Accidents happen… even when you are actually watching your kids.

So I’ve had many comments and emails from moms who feel tremendously guilty about this little thing called ‘accidents’. I remember hearing a mom outside of one of my son’s preschool classes boast that her kids don’t experience accidents because she’s always watching them really good. As much as I wanted to take this woman’s head and shove it in the toilet while flushing repeatedly…. I simply said, ‘My son broke his collarbone by jumping on to an exercise ball. And guess what? I watched the whole thing happen in slow motion.’ That shut her up pretty quick.

As I looked around and saw all the other moms smirking just a little, while this other woman squirmed uncomfortably, I knew one thing for certain – they all had kids that have had ‘accidents’. I can guarantee you most of the other moms out there have had their kids have fall off/out of at least one of the following: change tables, beds, high chairs, grocery carts, couches, stairs, bumbo’s or strollers. There is also a very good possibility that their kids have choked on something, stuck a foreign object somewhere it’s not supposed to be, got excessively sun burnt, pinched a finger or two in a door, and probably whacked their heads on a sharp edged table or counter. Don’t kid yourself… those child proofing kits are a waste of money.

The thing is… no one ever intends for their children to get hurt, that’s what makes them ‘accidents’. Half the time I have no idea how my kids even managed to obtain their bump, bruise or cut, until I hear the elaborate story of how it happened. Amazing how so much can occur when you simply turn your head for a minute or run to answer the phone. So, I find it hilarious that moms are so quick to judge one another based on their children’s accidents. Why else do you think you rarely hear moms talk about their children falling from various danger zones? Rather than be honest, we’re so worried that moms will judge us, we simply wallow in our guilt.

Instead of telling you that you should let go of your guilt and be honest with other moms, I’m going to start what I hope will be a chain reaction. My daughter fell out of the trailer. She also managed to fall out the front of the stroller after she undid her belt and shimmied her way beneath the tray.  My son stuck a grape stem up his nose, and a rock in his ear (not at the same time, thank goodness). He also rolled off one of the benches in the camper in like less than a second flat. As mentioned already, he did a superman jump across the room onto an exercise ball only to be launched across the room and land on the floor breaking his collarbone. Oh… and he also got a tick burrowed into his ear that I failed to notice for 3 days. Yes.. that is right, you heard me… a tick.

So the next time you hear a mom boast that ‘her kids’ don’t have accidents, know this, she’s either flat out lying or she seriously needs to buy a lottery ticket. So to all you moms out there that are wallowing in your own guilt because your kids fell or hurt themselves when you weren’t looking… you’re a good mom. Accidents happen. That’s why they’re called accidents… no one intends for them to happen. Just be sure to keep that first aid kit stocked for next time, unless of course you’re like the woman who’s kids never hurt themselves. In that case, sit back, relax and enjoy dumb luck while it lasts.

Keep your neighbourhood watch nose out of my damn business!

I find that since I’ve been back from vacation all my posts have been very warm and fuzzy. I guess that’s what a few weeks of no work and free of of mommy responsibilities will do to you. However this all changed when the neighbour up the road, with her perfectly pruned gardens, decided to question my parenting decisions. I’m not sure if anyone has ever taken notice, but I try very hard not to use profanity in my posts… I just feel like it’s not really necessary, so I often backspace while typing my thoughts. Today however, it is required, so I apologize in advance. This woman, who apparently took it upon herself to grade us all on our parenting skills, is an uptight snarky bitch.

Before I go any further, I have to tell you that this woman already rubbed me the wrong way when she made it perfectly clear that she did not want her precious grandchildren playing with our kids. She scurries those kids into the backyard quicker than you can bat an eyelash to avoid any sort of interaction whatsoever. My son honestly asks me why those kids aren’t allowed to play in the front yard. I want to tell him that it’s because the snarky bitch is worried that his fun free spirit might possibly be contagious… but that might be a tad inappropriate.

The other day Jocelyn, my 3 ½  year old, was determined that she was going to walk to her nana’s all by herself. She is going through that whole ‘I can do it’ independent phase, and I think that the best thing to do is embrace it and teach her how to be safe. We live on a dead end street, and two houses down there is a little path (on city property) that goes directly into my mom’s backyard. Beside this path, is where the uptight neighbour prunes her flowers in her pleated pants and refuses to say hello to me, our kids, or my parents. I even pondered if perhaps she was indeed mute. Until the other day that is.

As Jocelyn walked safely down the road, proudly sporting her princess backpack and glittery baseball cap, I watched from the end of my driveway. I was talking to my mom on the phone, who was anxiously waiting for her to proudly strut into her yard, when I heard someone yelling at me.

‘Excuse me,’ (insert condescending tone here) ‘Are you watching her or not?’ yelled the snarky bitch on the corner, who knows damn well that my mom is waiting for her just a few steps away.

‘Yes, I am. And so is my mom. Thanks.’ I replied with as much attitude as I could round up.

Are you freaking kidding me? I honestly pictured myself walking down there and telling her exactly what I thought while stomping on her perfectly colour coordinated tulips. She knows damn well that Jocelyn would never be out of my view… and she can clearly see my mom watching her from her yard. My first reaction was that perhaps I was doing something wrong. Maybe children’s aid would be knocking at my door to tell me that I was an unfit mother. But then I came to my senses and realized that supporting and encouraging my daughter’s independence was none of this woman’s damn business.

As I write this, I can tell you that my ‘do-gooder’ attitude has gone missing. All I can think of is my adorable son and his desire to constantly pick her flowers and make me a beautiful bouquet. And while I have always discouraged this from happening… I’m not sure if I will be supervising as closely the next time he is tempted to show his love for me. Wait. I am supposed to be the role model here. So, the fact that I also keep envisioning my son peeing on her beautiful japanese maple is I’m sure a sign that I have completely lost my mind. I’m sure my daughter would love to dig for buried treasure on her lawn, or leave cut up apples in her garden for the local deer to snack on. Maybe we will just invest in a dog that I can train to poop on her lawn. Yes… that is it, unleash doggy warfare on her ass. Okay… seriously, I am officially a bad person.

I constantly write about supporting and encouraging one another, so I feel a little guilty that I am stooping to this horrible level of disdain. But I have to say, while I may not support this woman’s superior attitude, I do encourage all you other moms to stand up for yourself and not let others judge your parenting decisions. I’m not saying you should turn your kids into the neighbourhood tyrants carrying out your demented fantasies of destroying your neighbours lawn… but know that you don’t have to stand for the neighbourhood watch bitch on the corner. To all the moms who’ve ever been questioned, judged or criticized for your parenting decisions… you’ve got my support, because this job is hard enough without all of that!

The moment I will celebrate this Mother’s Day

I thought it would be rather uncanny to have a blog about motherhood and then write nothing about Mother’s Day. So I’ve thought long and hard about what to write, and it’s been quite the struggle. I could write about how Mother’s Day often ends up causing us moms more work to entertain the whole idea of family gatherings and celebrations. Or, I could write about how much I adore my kids and all the cute things they do to let me know they love me. I could also write about my own mother and the lessons I have learned from her. But instead, I’ve decided to write about one single moment.

After hours of pain, exhaustion, anxiety and unexpected road bumps… the moment finally occurred. I was now a mother and it was by far the most powerful and emotional experience in my life to date. I had no idea how that one moment would impact my life forever. In the years to come, that one single moment paved the way for me to experience joy, tears, frustration, laughter, anxiety, fear, responsibility and pride. When I looked into my son’s eyes and heard his healthy lungs belt out for everyone to hear, I had no idea I would look back and treasure that exact moment so dearly.

Motherhood really does change everything for a woman. We often celebrate all the perfect, what I like to call ‘warm and fuzzy’, parts of being a mom. But for me, I want to take this opportunity to celebrate what being a mom means to me. It means being happy that my kids are both healthy. It means feeling overwhelmed with sadness when I see my children struggle or hurt themselves. Motherhood is hiding your uncontrollable laughter when food is thrown across the dinner table and hits someone smack in the nose. It’s having the most responsibility you’ve ever felt, and knowing that you will forever be depended on. Being a mom has kept me up at night fearing the unknown… and praying that everything will be okay. It’s left me furious and using up every ounce of self control, when my ‘mommy authority’ is brushed off like some sort of random annoyance. Motherhood has brought me more pride than I thought you could ever feel about another human being. It has left me constantly questioning myself and wondering if I am indeed still a sane person. It’s given me memories that I can look back on forever and simply smile about for an eternity.

So many of us think of Mother’s Day as a time to celebrate our own moms, or to allow our children to honour us in some way. When I struggled about what to write, it dawned on me that I want to recognize something of my own. As much as I love the cards and the handmade presents my kids make for me every year, I want to make this Mother’s Day about something more than appreciation. This year I will celebrate a single moment… one that brings me a mixed variety of emotions daily. That moment is when I looked into my son’s eyes and realized that I indeed was now a Mom. To all the moms out there… celebrate whatever moment is near and dear to your heart, after all… it is your day. Happy Mother’s Day!

Motherhood never gets left behind… even on vacations.

janet_irelandSo for those of you who don’t know this, I’ve been gone for about a week on my first vacation without my kids. I visited a friend in Ireland for my birthday and traveled completely solo. I thought it would feel weird traveling without my little monsters, and it was… but I have to say, at no point was my mind really without them. I feel truly blessed that my husband gave me this wonderful gift and supported me by allowing me to travel solo… however I’m not sure I was ever really alone.

As I sat on the plane awaiting my eight hour flight to Dublin, I felt oddly comforted by the screaming children trying to send their parents into full blown insanity. I was happy that they were not sitting directly behind me, however it made me think about travelling with my own little ones. I was able to sleep for four hours straight… until a very cranky and tired little boy decided it would be hilarious to slap me on my head as he strolled past me. I jumped up and heard a very quiet ‘I’m sorry’  mumbled by a clearly embarrassed mother. It reminded me of the never ending list of ‘embarrassing moments’ that I endure while in accompanying my children pretty much anywhere.

I thought about my son when I went surfing and how he would absolutely have loved it. Every time I saw a magpie (a type of bird we do not have in Canada), I got excited because I knew that my son would have be fascinated with this odd looking bird. As we biked across one of the Aran Islands, I kept seeing families riding with their little ones. I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of my daughter biking this long trek and the temper tantrum that I’m sure she would eventually have had. While I leaned over the highest scariest cliff I’ve ever seen in my life, I thought about how I would have most definitely had a heart attack if my kids had even come remotely close the edge. Even while I was enjoying a nice cold pint of beer, I thought of how weird it would be to endure a hangover with no little ones poking at me.

When I left for my vacation, I thought that I was leaving motherhood behind. I really did plan on going and thinking only of myself for once. The funny thing is that when I got there, that was the last thing I wanted to do. The biggest thing I learned from this trip is that I am a mom, and that will never change… nor do I want it to. I will always think about my kids regardless of if they are with me or not. They have imprinted on me something that is so special and amazing, I can truly never live without… motherhood. I had a great trip and I really enjoyed my freedom and seeing the beautiful country of Ireland. I got to do and see things that I definitely could not have done with small children. I have many great posts coming up that this trip has inspired me to write about, and I can’t wait to share them with you. But… I need to get over some serious jet lag first. To all the moms out there that are worried about leaving motherhood behind on your next trip… don’t worry, you will realize that your kids will be with you no matter where you go!

Bathrooms with cute little hand towels

I often wish we were the family who’s bathroom displayed those cute little hand towels on the counter. I always wonder if you are really supposed to even use them to dry your hands. I mean they are out sitting next to the sink, yet it appears that they have never been used…

I can assure you that you will never get those perfectly placed hand towels at our house. Chances are, there will be no hand towel at all… and if you ask me about it, I will probably toss you a used beach towel or direct you into the kitchen to find a tea towel. What you will find in our bathroom is proof that I do indeed have children and of course a husband that regularly use that room as their grooming quarters. I often refer to them as the zoo animals.

How I wish that just one morning I could go into the washroom without having to clean up after the zoo animals that have used it. Don’t let me fool you… it is rare that I make it beyond the giant ‘sigh’ to actually reach for the lysol wipes, but every now and again I do surprise myself. Our counter tops are always covered with bottles of hair product, hundreds of accessories and then of course there are the superheroes and hot wheels that made it in for their morning cleanup. If you can manage to find the sink through all that you will discover that the toothpaste and hand soap must have had a vicious fight to the death, leaving stickiness everywhere and empty bottles on the floor. Oh… and for some reason there is toothpaste spit all over the mirror and surrounding sink area.

And then of course there is the toilet or as the men refer to it as, the ‘dumping’ station. First of all, everyone is perfectly capable of flushing the toilet in our house, yet for some reason it seems to slip everyone’s mind. You would be amazed at the number of times I’ve gone in to discover not one, but two dumps in the toilet bowl from separate children. To spare my husband a bit of embarrassment I will leave him completely out of this paragraph… but he is not that innocent in the matter either. What the heck?? Just push the flusher already!!

Oh, and don’t worry I’m not through with the toilet yet. I haven’t even told you about what happens when you lift the seat up. Like most households that inhabit men, there is urine everywhere. That toilet bowl is enormous… why does the pee never seem to make it inside?? There is pee all over the bowl and often sometimes hidden down underneath in those little nooks you have to get down on your hands and knees to clean. Seriously… PAY ATTENTION when you urinate, that’s all I ask.

Our little corner garbage pail, that was once white, never seems to get emptied until it is overflowing onto the floor. Our bathroom drawers haven’t been cleaned out in over a… it’s been a long time, I’ll leave it at that. The shower has been beautifully decorated with bath paint and tub crayons that can only be hidden with fully closed shower curtain. Whoever decided bringing ‘art’ into the bathtub was a good idea, should be forced to go around to all the homes of young children and wash their great idea off the walls.

So to wrap it all up, our bathroom is a disaster. Even if I were to clean it every single day… I’m not sure you’d even notice a difference. At the end of the day, I figure it’s just not that big of a deal. And one day, when my children are grown and I have my OWN bathroom… I will put out those neatly folded hand towels on the counter. In the meantime, I’ll do the best I can to provide you with maybe some hand soap and a beach towel. To all the moms out there that just can’t keep up with the zoo animals that have inhabited their bathrooms… you’re doing a great job. Oh… and if you are a mom who has it all together with those cute little hand towels, you’re doing a great job too. Just do us a favor and ask your kids to spit toothpaste in the sink a few times, just to make the rest of us feel a bit better.

Jealousy, Judgment and everything in between.

I am a very honest person. There is very little that I keep from my readers, and that is why it’s sometimes hard to write… because the truth isn’t always pretty. I recently discovered that I am guilty of judging some of my closest mom friends. Why? Because they go on childless vacations.

Before I go any further, I need to apologize. It’s so much better if I apologize first I think. I’m sorry to all my friends out there who I secretly judged because they enjoyed a vacation without your children. I really didn’t even know that I was being so  judgmental. I would hear about their great vacations or see photos of the carefree days and think, ‘how is it possible they were able to do that?’. I wondered how they could take the leap of faith and leave their kids. I figured they just didn’t worry as much as I did or perhaps they were less attached to their children. I realize now that this was just my own jealousy coming out in its ugliest form.

Don’t get me wrong, I would never say or do anything to show my judgement, but I knew deep down, that I thought that I must be a better mother because I never went away… ever. It takes a lot to admit you are wrong. And it sucks to have to confess that I judged anyone that I love and care about. But the reality is… we make mistakes. The first step to making them right, is to admit you were wrong.

I realized that I had mistakenly judged as a result of my jealousy these last few months. I have a big birthday coming up and my husband bought me a ticket to see a friend in Ireland. It will be my first trip away in six years (before I got pregnant with my oldest son). I will be travelling solo (without my family that is) for one whole week! I will miss them terribly, but I am so excited to go and feel like this trip is long overdue. Knowing how I feel now was what made me realize how jealous I was of my mommy friends that had been given this same luxury.

So, the next time you feel that little devil on your shoulder saying ‘you’re a better mother because…’, toss that little bugger to the side. I am embarrassed to say that I judged some of my closest mommy friends, but like anything else, I myself am a work in progress. I can now say that I will never judge another mom for enjoying a solo vacation. So if you know another mom who will be going on a mommy vacation, tell her to enjoy herself. We all know how hard us moms work, the least we can do is be happy that another mom is getting some R&R. And if you’ve ever judged another mom, take the first step… admit you were wrong and forge ahead with the mission to support and encourage one another. I leave this coming monday, and hope that by the time I get back my mommy friends will have forgiven me and maybe even scheduled our next trip away together.

The Nightmares… and other sleep disturbances

20120831-bed-monsterI used to think that once my children grew out of that ‘newborn’ phase that I would slowly get back to my full eight hours of sleep a night. I can tell you that it is a rare event that I can sleep in my own bed and get a full night’s sleep. It’s kind of sad that the next thing that I want to write is ‘It’s not my fault.’ I feel like every time I tell someone the truth about our sleeping situation, it’s assumed that it’s something that we the parents have done, or not done for that matter. I promise you I have nothing to do with my three year old dreaming of skeletons that live under her bed, witches screaming in the hallway, nor did I encourage monsters to hide out in her closet with mean scary glowing eyes.

Our kids are just our not great sleepers. James used to have night terrors (says the doctor), which are something totally different from nightmares. He would wake up at the exact time every night and scream hysterically while his whole body trembled. It didn’t take us long to realize that he wasn’t even awake… and if we did abruptly wake him up we would pay the price. He would projectile vomit all over the place and become violent. It was the craziest thing I had ever seen, and he eventually grew out of it. But this had nothing to do with my mothering skills, or what I was doing during bedtime routine. It was just something that occurred when he stopped napping during the day and his sleeping habits changed.

Right now, a typical night goes down with about 2-3 interruptions. If I’m lucky I get the kids to bed before 8pm, and myself by 11pm. At around midnight normally a very scary witch has circled outside Jocelyn’s bedroom screeching high pitched screams to wake her up. Before I have even falling back to sleep, usually a skeleton has made a terrifying appearance, bears have tried to eat her toes, monsters have stolen her blanket or snakes have found their way under her pillow. If you think it’s the television, you may be right, but I have a feeling that little imagination would be just as active if we never turned on the cartoons at all. James has grown out of most nightmare issues… but he has developed allergies. So what does that mean? It means that at 2:30am when I’m finally back to sleep he starts coughing, from post nasal issues, consistently until about 4 am, regardless of having the humidifier running. He doesn’t even wake up… must be nice. If I’m lucky, no one else is up after that, but sometimes Jocelyn manages to pee through her pull up and comes sneaking into our room at 6am to inform me that her sheets are wet. Sigh. My daughter has an overactive imagination and my son has allergies… will I ever get to sleep through the night?

So when I hear mothers knock other moms because their kids are ‘still’ not sleeping through the night, I get upset. It may be that they haven’t done something up to the ‘parenting handbook’ standards, but it also might have nothing to do with the mom’s bedtime skills. Either way, I sympathize. If you know a mom who never sleeps, share with her a simple smile and some kind words. Trust me, being tired and dealing with toddlers all day is not the easiest task in the world. The last thing any mom needs is being asked if she feeds her kids chocolate while they watch nightmare on elm street. Tell another mom to hang in there… and that she’s doing a great job fighting off all the scary monsters from the closet.