Monday, July 06, 2009

Counting My Blessings

I know it's "supposed" to be summer around these parts, even though it doesn't feel like it these past rainy weeks. In keeping with the Summer Re-run Season, I'm pulling another post from the archives. This one was originally published on May 14, 2006 - Mother's Day. Even though we've passed Mother's Day by a few months, my thoughts and feelings of that day three years ago have warmed my heart on this chilly evening, and reminded me once again that even though things get rough sometimes, it's always better to count my blessings...and that really, every day is Mother's Day. I hope this inspires you to do the same. Enjoy!

Today I fell in love with my family all over again and was reminded why I cherish this "unpaid" job of motherhood so much. I wish I had a camera so I could share all the pictures with you, but all I have are the special little moments from today that I've imprinted into my memory. Ready?

* This morning, Connor sat on The Big Bed and casually chatted with me about his brother and sister. He affectionately refers to them as his "kids." Today he was wondering "When are my kids going to wake up?" and informed me that "My kids are growing so much. Terran is big enough..."

* Madeline used her creativity yet again and wowed us with a wonderful fruit tray of apples, banana and melon with yogurt in the middle for dipping. Her gift to me was a beautiful handmade card and a bookmark with pressed flowers on it. The little poem on the bookmark almost made me cry, and the part of her card where she had scrawled in her best handwriting that I was her best friend actually did.

* Terran put the kettle on for me this morning to make a mug of Lemon Echinacea tea, because I have a cold, and with it a nasty sore throat. He also pleasantly surprised me with a rare display of public affection (in front of our neighbor), in which he wrapped both arms around me for the best Terran hug I've had in a long time.

* Levi created a beautiful breakfast of hemp granola, almonds, rasins, and raspberries layered on top of plain yogurt and served it to me in a large wine goblet. He (I mean the kids) also thrilled me with a gift card to one of my favorite stores and the new Oprah magazine.

* When I was in the bathroom this morning, Connor was pounding on the door yelling "Happy Mother's Day!". I opened the door to a dirty faced, beaming three year old thrusting a chubby fistfull of dandelions at me. "Happy Mother's Day Mama!" I scooped him up in my arms and hugged him, breathed in the earthy smell of him and tried not to weep.

* We went fishing this morning, and at one point, Levi and the three kids were all lined up against the bridge rail, silently looking over the edge into the water below, holding their fishing poles and waiting. It was like something in a painting. What struck me in that moment was the sheer beauty of it all, the warmth of the sun and the angle at which it shone on their faces, the sounds of the birds, and the unexpected stillness of everyone. I held my breath for fear of breaking the spell, and drank in the sight of my family, the entire time feeling as if my heart would burst with love for them.

* A little later, Levi came up from the brook with Connor under one arm, and laughed "He fell in." In an instant, Connor was in front of me with one leg soaked to the hip while Levi pulled off his little rain boot and dumped out a bunch of water. It was so insanely comical, I half expected to see a little fish flopping around on the ground with the boot water.

* After a trip to Summerside in which the main purpose was to return a Max & Ruby DVD to the video store, we returned home with our bellies full of Burger King's finest and Max & Ruby still sitting on the floor of the van. This was our second attempt to return it...

* Levi and the kids were playing soccer for a bit in the back yard while I laid on a blanket on the grass and read my new Fitness magazine. Levi came over to join me, then Connor wanted a snuggle with "Mama and Daddy" so we amused ourselves by listening to the conversation/arguement between Terran and Madeline, who were at this point scaling the sides of the swing set and grabbing onto the swing ropes in an attempt to "Tarzan" their way across. Levi and I both looked at each other with confusion, chuckled, and shook our heads. Neither one of us "gets" them.

* Connor was dancing in the kitchen as I was writing this, and declared, "I'm dancin' my arse hole off!" I'm still giggling, even though this sort of talk is completely inappropriate and I have no idea where he would hear something like that. *snicker*

* Levi has steak on the BBQ. And mushrooms and onions. 'Nuff said...

Perhaps the best gift this year for Mother's Day is realizing how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful family, and knowing that they love me as much as I love them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I stumbled across this post as I was going through some of my older work this morning. Originally published in June of 2006, I still find myself having days like this, but am thankful for the gifts of time and experience. Life is a learning experience, both for myself and my children, and I have learned to accept its imperfections as well as embrace the joys. Once you focus on what really matters, the rest is just small stuff.

One day last week I was bustling around the kitchen making supper while I was washing the dishes from lunch (and breakfast). While I was doing this, I was also doing laundry. I tripped over a million pairs of shoes in the laundry room while attempting to carry yet another load of dirty clothes to the washing machine, and tripped over the same mountain of shoes on my way back out with the clean clothes to be folded. I cursed the shoes under my breath and announced to Whoever Might Be Listening that if I tripped over them again I was going to burn them all and the owners would have to go barefoot for the rest of the summer.

Once I got to the kitchen table and dumped the clean clothes onto it, Madeline began whining about how she didn’t “get” her homework and would I please help her. It was also around this time that a very grumpy Connor decided that her homework looked like the perfect spot to draw pictures, so he kept trying to climb onto her chair and scribble on her work.

“Mommy, I can’t do this… Con-nor! No Connor! Get down!!… Mommy! STOP Connor!! Mom! Connor is tryin’ to… NO Connor!! MOM-EEEE!”

Meanwhile, Connor is taking a tantrum: “Eeennnggghh! Maddie! I want to draw! Nnnnnn! Uhhhhh….I WAAANT UPPP!! I want to DRAAAAW Maddie!! Uhhh huhhhh! Waaahhhhh! WAAA-HAAA!!! Then he crumbled onto the floor and screamed. Very loudly.

It was here that Terran saunters into the kitchen and says to me in a dead voice; “Oh yeah, I have Cadets tonight at six.” I stopped in my tracks for a moment, glanced at the clock and saw that it was 5:15. In disbelief I looked at him – sweaty and dirty from playing outside and waiting for me to tell him what to do. I didn’t disappoint. “Don’t you think you should be in the shower then instead of in here doing nothing?” I snapped.

“Whatever.” He snorted as he headed for the stairs. He mumbled something but I couldn't hear it over the escalating tantrum happening on the floor in front of me.

By this point Madeline was shrieking about a pencil mark on her work, Connor was on the floor kicking and screeching at the top of his lungs, and the potatoes were boiling over. Rushing to the stove, I tripped over the dog, who panicked and bolted for the door. In doing so, she walked on the cat, who was sleeping on the mat in front of the sink. The cat of course hissed and swiped at the dog, who panicked some more and ran back to me, bumping into my legs and causing me to burn my hand on the steam rolling out of the pot.

Madeline was whining “He ruined my HOMEWORK!!”
Connor was screaming “ I WAAANT TO DRAAAWWW!!”
Terran was yelling from the bathroom upstairs “MOM! There’s no hot water!!”
The washer started spinning off balance, banging and rattling the entire back porch. By now, the other two cats had to get in on the action, so all four animals were flying around the kitchen like someone was chasing them with a knife. My hand was burning. Cursing, I dropped the lid, where it fell onto the stove and then onto the floor, spitting little beads of boiling water onto my bare arms and legs like miniature daggers. Then it happened.

I lost it.

“That’s IT!! EVERYBODY knock it OFF!!!” I shouted. Sucking in another breath as fast as I could, I continued my rant “I’VE HAD ENOUGH!! JUST STOP IT!! What the hell is WRONG with you guys anyways? You’re all making me CRAZY!!”

For a split second, there was silence. Or maybe that was just my brain exploding. “Nice. Way to go, dumbass” it chastised me.

The washer continued to squeal and clunk loudly in the porch. Connor sucked in his breath long enough to fuel another scream. Madeline sniffled and then started bawling. The animals looked at me as if I had grown three heads, then scampered off into the rest of the house. Terran continued to yell down for me to shut the washer off.

I wanted to disappear. I felt weak and suddenly very drained. As if on autopilot, I slowly picked up the lid off the floor, put it back on the pot, turned the burner down, then shut the washing machine off. In the midst of all the chaos, I eased myself into a chair, ignoring the world around me. “What is wrong with me? What the hell was I doing? Why? Why did I just freak out like that?”

“Because you’ll never be perfect, Amy. They don’t expect you to be.” Huh. The voice of reason.

I realized then that I was not living my life for me and my family, but for everyone else. I was letting other people’s expectations of me as a stay-at-home-mom dictate how I was managing my home. I was swimming upstream against a strong current. Why? Why was it so important to me what other people thought, when I had just lost it in front of my kids? Did I feel that I had something to prove because I wasn’t working outside the home? Did I feel that somehow I had to conform to their expectations because otherwise I would seem lazy? Like a bad wife and mother? Somehow I became so consumed with meeting these expectations, I failed to realize what I was doing to my children. I was robbing them of their mother. And now I had hurt them because I felt inadequate.

“I’m losing it. I’m friggin’ losing it.” I muttered to Nobody In Particular. Putting my head in to my hands, I drew a shaky breath. The tears were stinging my eyes, yet I didn’t cry. My throat was raw, and my insides felt empty. I felt like the worst mother in the world. I violated something somewhere, perhaps it was my own sense of self along with my children’s feelings. This was not the mother I wanted to be. I felt like such a failure. Their little hearts are in my hands, and I crushed them. I was so careless with their feelings. How could I do that to my beautiful children? Do they know how much I love them? Are they feeling unloved right now?

“I’m sorry guys.” It came out in a whisper. “I’m really sorry guys.” I tried again. “I should never have said that.” I picked up my sobbing toddler up off the floor and kissed the top of his head as I pulled the sniffling Madeline to me for a hug. My tears spilled over. “I’m so sorry. Mommy loves you sooo much. I’m having a really bad day and I took it out on you guys and that was wrong of me. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”

I’m not sure how long we stayed like that, embracing and soothing our hurts. I felt their warm little bodies against mine, and fresh tears rolled down my cheeks. How I love them! They’re growing so fast, this is not what I want them to remember about their childhood. They need to express themselves, however much I might disagree. They need to cry. They need to giggle. They need to whine. They need to argue amongst themselves and solve their own problems. They need direction when they can’t find it on their own, but they need to try first. They need to get dirty and be smelly sometimes and they need to know that they are loved unconditionally. They need to be little. I was reckless with their feelings. I had taken them for granted, and they still loved me. I silently vowed to try harder, to do better, to be a better mom for them. To be the mom I know I was meant to be, not the mom other people think that I should be.

I think maybe every mom has days like this. The days where we just wish we had a solution for everything, a calm demeanor and an organized home. I realize that every individual family has their own coping strategies, and I have to use the one that works best for my family. For example, my friend only does laundry on Mondays and Thursdays. She is raising six kids. Six. To me, she seems organized, relaxed, seems to have a pretty good handle on All Things Family. If you were to ask her, she would laugh as she hands out a snack to her toddler while picking up hockey gear off the floor and say that her life is one giant car pool and call it “organized chaos.” She genuinely seems to love it. She doesn’t sweat the small stuff. In retrospect, it is all small stuff, really. Laundry gets washed, the plants get watered, pets get fed, the floors get scrubbed, supper gets cooked, and the homework gets done. So what if the house isn’t spotless every day? Who really cares if there are six loads of laundry instead of two?

It’s the important stuff that will enrich my life, and it is the important stuff that humbles me. The important stuff is worth crying over, especially if you learn something from it. The important stuff is the fragility and innocence of the hearts and feelings of my children, and remembering that without them, I would not be a mother at all.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Baby Forever

Remember the day when we sat on the front deck, you and I? Remember how we kicked off our sandals and let the cool breeze tickle our bare feet?

Remember how we spun around in the hammock swing until we were both dizzy and breathless, giggling at how the world around us was twirling so fast even after we had stopped?

"Take a picture Mamma!" you squealed with delight, "take a picture of us being dizzy together!"

That was when you told me you would be my Baby Forever, and that you didn't want to grow up because you loved me so, and that growing up eventually meant that you would have to leave me to spin in the swing all by myself.

I reassured you that some day soon you would want to grow up, that being a Baby Forever wasn't as much fun as being a Bigger Kid. Being a Bigger Kid meant that you got to do cool things, like riding a bike without training wheels or going to the mailbox by yourself, or going to the movies with your friends.

"If you were a Baby Forever, you couldn't do all those things that a Bigger Kid gets to do" I gently reminded you.

"Like going to school?" you hesitated, placing your little hands on my cheeks and staring into my eyes, the way you always do when you are very serious about something.

"Yes," I replied "like going to school. Your brother and sister are Bigger Kids, and they go to school."

Your eyes clouded with determination and you patted my face. "Well, you don't have to worry Mamma. I'll be your Baby Forever and I will stay with you so you won't be lonely. I think that I would miss you if I went to school."

My heart cracked open a little bit, and I had to swallow hard so you wouldn't hear the tears in my voice. "Oh My Sweet Boy," I whispered into your hair as you nestled your head into my neck, "you know that no matter how old you get, or wherever you go, you will always be my Baby Forever."

As the seasons changed and the years passed, I believed that you would be my Baby Forever. We spent our days reading and giggling, playing and snuggling as we wove an invisible nest of closeness and security around ourselves. It was a strong and cozy nest, and we were happy in it for a long time.

Sometimes though, even the strongest of nests are not always strong enough when the Winds of Change start to blow.

"Mamma, I miss playing with friends" you would now start to lament. Things that we used to do together didn't make you as happy as they once did. The soft and familliar nest that we shared together for five years was getting too small for you, and you were yearning to stretch your wings.

One day, you came to me with a troubled heart, and your chin quivered when I asked you what the matter was.

"I sometimes think that I would want to go to school, but then I feel sad because who would snuggle you?"

I took in the expression on your worried little face and realized that the time had come to let go. I smiled at you and pulled you onto my lap. "You would, My Sweet Boy! I think that if you went to school, then you might be happier. If you are happy, then Mamma is happy too. School is only for a little while during the day, and we would still have all the rest of the day to snuggle!"

You studied my eyes, tiny hands gently resting on my cheeks again for a few minutes before answering "I think I would feel proud if I went to school."

"Then you will go to school, and I will be proud too." I spoke into your hair as I hugged you close to me.

"But Mamma?" you squeezed tighter, "I'll still be your Baby Forever won't I? Even if I get big and go to school?"

With my heart in my throat, I kissed the top of your head, "Yes my love, you will always be my Baby Forever."

Sunday, January 04, 2009


I think a little alone time is good for everyone. It gives us a chance to unwind from the events of the day, and to let the thoughts wander.

Connor tends to become overstimulated quite easily, and calming him is usually not an easy task. Oftentimes, I need to move him to a quieter, more soothing environment until he's not feeling so overwhelmed. Finding him sitting quietly on his own Friday evening came as a pleasant indication of his increasing autonomy and self awareness.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of another term at school for the two older kids, and a few new exciting projects for myself. After the hectic pace of the holidays, I'm looking forward to getting back into a normal routine again, and starting a few new ones.

I took advantage of some quiet time myself this weekend after the kids were in bed. It was nice to feel myself sinking into the sofa and finally being able to take that deep, relaxing breath...

Hope you find some quiet time for yourself this week too!