Friday Five Favourites

My Friday Five Favourite Things WM

My son was home from school today because of a pd day for his teachers.  We spent the day together, chatting, reading, we headed to the library and throughout our chats I realized that there are things that he’s going to stop saying because he’ll learn proper pronunciation and grammar.  And, I will miss each and every one.

So, today’s Friday Five Favourites are in honour of my son.  These are my favourite words/phrases/rituals that he says and that we do. When he learns the correct versions or when he no longer needs them, I will mourn and miss.

  1. Lellow for yellow.  This is one has been around for a while and I would love for it to stay forever.
  2. No I amn’t.  He has abbreviated “am not” into amn’t.  I can’t correct him.  It’s too cute and in a weird way, makes sense!
  3. Aminal for animal.  He just can’t invert that “m” and “n”.  Love it.
  4. Top. Tar. Stop. Star.  This is one is slowing being lost, but still creeps up on him and it’s awesome.
  5. The Love Bubble.  The love bubble is a ritual I started when he was 3 years old.  The love bubble is supposed to ward off all monsters and scary things at night when he goes to sleep – because mommy’s love is so strong that monsters will bounce off and he’ll be able to sleep soundly and be safe.  I still have to do the love bubble every night.  Every night.

I wish he could stay 4 forever; I’ve wished that at every age yet watching him grow up has been nothing short of amazing.

Any favourite words/phrases/rituals that are unique to your children?

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Having a Baby Does Not Mean You Will Lose Yourself

I follow an organization for parents in the Greater Toronto Area on twitter: Life With A Baby.  Today they had a great tweet and link to their blog:

When my son was born, my world stopped.  It all revolved around him.  At first I was so out of sorts.  I had no idea what I was doing, felt completely incompetent and in true Karen fashion, decided I would master this whole mothering thing. I failed to realize that I didn’t need to master anything.  I was enough the way I was for my son.  I also failed to realize that he wouldn’t be a newborn forever.

Since this is my second go at having a baby, I know what I need to hang onto myself: stop trying so hard, time to sleep, write a blog post or two, read something other than parenting books, ask for help, rely on my friends. These things will all help me to remember me and to survive the demands of a newborn. However, I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is that it is all temporary.

Those first few weeks of figuring out feeding and sleeping are insane.  It is so much work as you get to know the little person that lived inside you for 40 weeks!  It is overwhelming.  It is exhausting.  It is frustrating and amazing and awesome. And, it won’t last forever.

Very soon there will be time to go on dates again, go back to the gym, read books I love, keep up with the twitter/facebook/blogging world, meet friends for lunch or coffee etc. Once those first 6-8 weeks pass and the craziness passes, I will have a chance to reconnect with myself.

I will be able to play with my son,  play with my daughter and revel in being a mommy without being defined by it. I will enjoy every minute, be grateful for what I have and remember that I am living in a temporary reality that will change and change and change.  The demands of a baby will disappear into the demands of a toddler and I’ll eventually have another pre-schooler saying “I Know Mommy!”  when I remind her to pick up her toys or finish her veggies. The baby that demanded my time will be gone forever and I’ll have myself back.

Above all, I think the most important thing to remember is to keep in touch with that internal voice. If it says “I am happy”, then all is good.  If it says otherwise, then I will listen to it and act accordingly. After all, this is what we do when we are being true to ourselves.

How did you hang on to yourself after having a baby?  Any strategies that helped and you’d love to pass on?

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His Final Heartbeat

13 years ago today I lost my father to cancer after three long years of war against the disease.

It was October 4th 2000.  He had been in palliative care for a month.  My brother and I visited with him most of the day on October 3rd because the nurses were preparing us that the end was near.  After midnight we went home to get some sleep. Not my mom.  She stayed.  There was no way she was leaving his side.  Fifteen minutes after we got home the phone rang.  It was my mom.  She said “The nurses think you should come back.  Right now.”

We flew back to the hospital and back to my father’s side.  He was still breathing but it was laboured.  My mom stood at his left side, my brother and I on his right.  We held his hand, caressed his face and my hand fell to his chest because I needed to feel his heart.  We prayed and said good bye.  We reassured him we would be ok and that we loved him and thanked him for the most beautiful life he could’ve possibly given us.

My father loved us passionately.  And, he wasn’t afraid to show it or to let us know it.  We tried to return that love to him that night by helping him pass with dignity, with love, with the knowledge that he could leave in peace.

Death isn’t as simple as the movies or television shows us.  He was breathing hard and his heart was beating as if it would explode out of him.  I kept my hand on his chest needing to feel him alive for as long as I could.  The beating slowed, though it was still hard.  My eyes remained on his face as I tried to imprint him and never forget.  All too quickly, the pounding against my hand stopped with a chilling finality.  His chest was still.  I had felt his final  heartbeat.  Just as he had been present to welcome me into the world, I was there to ease his way out of it.

My brother knew he was gone.  My mother kept talking and praying.  “Mom,” I said, “he’s gone.”

——-

This is the first year that I have lived through the day of the anniversary of his death without shedding a tear.  I miss him, terribly.  And, as the saying goes, it seems like yesterday…

My mother, brother and I have always honoured this day.  We spend it together.  Now we are joined by my son and husband.  My son loves asking questions about “papito” and he loves knowing that I had a great dad, just like his own dad.

I am pregnant with my second child.

Death.  Life.

I like to imagine my dad watching us, seeing my children grow and enjoying them as only he would know how.  I like to think that Death is not as permanent as it seems.  I am grateful that he waited for my brother and I to come back and properly say good bye.  I am grateful that after a lifetime of devotion and love, I felt the last beat of his heart which I know without a doubt was full of love for his family.

Even though I didn’t have my father in my life for as long as I would’ve liked, I know that he gave my mother, brother and I the best of him in the years we did have together.

Now, it is my privilege to pass that love on to my husband, son and unborn child.  To let them know every day of their lives that they are loved, cherished and a part of something special.  I have a beautiful family; I am surrounded by incredible friends.  This is something that I will never take for granted.

I am a lucky, lucky woman.

——-

We all have stories, events, episodes that keep us grounded.  Some less traumatic than others, but vitally important nonetheless.  What keeps you grounded?  What reminds you of what’s important in your life?

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Will I Ever Be Ready For Kindergarten?

My little boy is so ready for kindergarten.  But, I. AM. NOT!

Due to overwhelming changes in a two-week span in our family life, I wasn’t able to reflect on my son’s first day of school. He has finished his first week as a kindergartner – and, just today while I prepared his lunch for tomorrow I realized that I am in mourning.

Beyond the complete loss of control over what his daily routine looks like, who influences him, who cares for him and how (this has been damaging enough to my mommy-psyche), I face the loss of the baby and toddler I know and feel comfortable with.  And, I never thought I would say something like this.  Jeez, I sound awful to my own ears (eyes).  I sound like a hyper-controlling, emotionally needy, wreck of a mom…”my baby”…really? The kid is 4!

He is a boy.  Not a baby.  Hasn’t been for a while.  I could relate to the baby and toddler and preschooler much easier than I can to a head-strong boy of 4 and a half.  A boy who is loud and declares his boyhood in volumes I can never comprehend the need for.  A boy who has enough energy to power a small country for decades.

The vision of these two versions of my son collide in my mind’s eye and the former fades while the latter stomps all over him loudly and happily because he is growing up and is thrilled by it.

I must say good-bye to my little guy and learn to accept this new hurricane who has taken over with his big voice, big movements and even bigger emotions.

A little voice inside me (begrudgingly) admits – I am thrilled by him too.  He is as exciting as he is exhausting, as curious as he is cuddly, as awed by life as he awes me by his insights, as sensational as he is sensitive.  And, so, I must treat him differently, I will always shower him with love and affection – but I have to learn to take a step back, to bite my tongue, to hold my hands in place and stop, stop, stop helping, guiding, rescuing.  A boy like this requires empowering.

I hope I am woman enough to do it.

All of this because of kindergarten.  His week was a combination of exuberance and separation anxiety.  Of making friends, establishing new routines and smiling brilliantly every afternoon at home-time.  My week was full of anxiety-ridden thoughts: is he warm enough? is he eating? is being treated well? is he making friends? And each thought evaporated at the sight of that brilliant smile every afternoon followed by the chatter of what happened at school.

Perhaps kindergarten is more about educating me, getting me ready for the growing boy who will pull and push and challenge.  It is about getting me ready to be his foundation, his port, his rock (any other analogy for strength and stability can be inserted here).

Ideally, he would remain little, under my care forever.  But, then, neither of us would grow or learn.  And, what would be the fun in that?

Perhaps I have more to learn from kindergarten than I ever thought possible.

How have you reacted to the milestone’s in your child’s life that have reminded you to let go?

Summer Reflections

(En español abajo)

Today begins the last week of FREEDOM.  You see, in Southern Ontario, most schools start the Tuesday after Labour Day. This is the last week of living my life without being hounded by the whiny “M-iii-s” when students are trying to get my attention.  The last week of puttering around my house, reading to my son, writing and enjoying time with my family without routines, structure or deadlines.

This school year brings even more anxiety since it marks my son’s first official year of school.  He begins kindergarten – that is wrought with its own set of nerves that I will delve into later this week.

Before I get all anxious about going back into teacher mode or thinking about leaving my little boy in a gigantic building with one teacher and one E.C.E. in a classroom of 29, 4-5 year-olds  (so much for a cap of 24 – what happened there Ontario Government?), I want to fill my soul with all of the wonderful things that this summer has brought me.  I want to envelope myself in summer memories so that the carefree summer loveliness inspires me to carry excitement into next week.  I want to be able to inspire my students to see the new school year as a chance to keep creating themselves.  I want to be able to inspire myself to do the same.

Things I loved this summer that will carry me through the school year:

  1. Watching my son vastly improve his swimming skills through daily swimming lessons
  2. Our family vacation to Punta Cana – read about it here
  3. Watching my belly grow and feeling my baby move and kick all summer long – we are in for one active child!
  4. Sitting under the shade of our huge tree in the back yard with my son as we read Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets – read how this began here (We are now onto the Prisoner of Azkaban)
  5. Watching my husband work diligently on his portfolio as he works toward achieving his goals
  6. 7 years of marriage!!! (13 years together) – I feel like I’ve “grown up” next to my husband in a way…
  7. Watching my brother coach my son’s soccer team and pass along his love for the game – I just KNOW our dad’s spirit was with us at every single game smiling on our family
  8. Feeling my mother’s love for her family, identifying with her and gaining even more admiration and respect for her ability to give, to love and foster such a beautiful family atmosphere
  9. A family trip to Grand Bend, Ontario with tio and dear friends – we picked the coldest week of the summer and ended up having a great time!
  10. Visiting friends at the cottage – watching my boy (who is now “the BIG-4 mommy” because he is 4 and a half) develop friendships, roast marshmallows and make S’mores – sharing time with friends
  11. The Power Puffs!!! My friend’s husband mocks our network of friends because we are constantly talking, emailing, texting and inventing some kind of excuse to get together.  He claims we are too emotionally charged with each other’s lives.  We claim that our friendship is what keeps us sane.  Anyways, I love being a Power Puff.

No shots of husband…he’s a little blog-shy.

These are but a few snippets of what summer has brought me.  I am blessed and (reluctantly) looking forward to the beginning of a new school year, because that means I get to do this all over again, with an addition to the family, next year.

What has summer left you with this year?

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En español

Hoy comienza la última semana de la libertad. Usted ve, en el sur de Ontario, la mayoría de las escuelas comienzan el martes después del Día del Trabajo. Esta es la última semana de vivir mi vida sin ser acosado por el quejoso “M-iii-s” cuando los estudiantes están tratando de llamar mi atención. La última semana de estar tranquila en mi casa, leyendo a mi hijo, escribiendo y disfrutando del tiempo con mi familia sin rutinas, estructura y plazos.

Este año escolar trae aún más ansiedad, ya que marca el primer año de mi hijo de la escuela. Comienza en jardín- pero esto mis sentimientos sobre esto los voy a profundizar en esta semana.

Antes de ponerme ansiosa por volver al modo maestro o pensar en dejar a mi niño en un edificio gigante con un maestro y una ayudante escolar en una clase de 29 niños, de 4-5 años de edad (tanto por un tope de 24 – que pasó allí Goberino de Ontario?, quiero llenar mi alma con todas las cosas maravillosas que este verano me ha traído. Quiero rodearme de recuerdos de verano, para que la belleza del verano sin preocupaciones me inspira a llevar la emoción hasta la próxima semana. Quiero ser capaz de inspirar a mis estudiantes a ver el nuevo año escolar como una oportunidad para seguir creando ellos mismos. Quiero ser capaz de inspirar a mí mismo a hacer lo mismo.

Cosas que me encantaron este verano que me van a llevar a lo largo del año escolar:

  1. Ver a mi hijo mejorar en gran medida sus habilidades de natación a través de las clases de natación diarias
  2. Nuestra familia de vacaciones en Punta Cana – leer sobre ello aquí
  3. Ver crecer mi vientre y sentir a mi bebé moverse y patear todo el verano – nos espera un niño activo!
  4. Sentarme a la sombra de nuestra enorme árbol en el patio trasero con mi hijo para leer Harry Potter y la Cámara Secreta – (Ahora estamos en el prisionero de Azkaban)
  5. Ver a mi esposo trabajar diligentemente en su portofolio para el logro de sus metas
  6. 7 años de matrimonio! (13 años juntos) – Me siento como que he “crecido” junto a mi esposo de una manera …
  7. Ver a mi hermano como entrenador del equipo de fútbol de mi hijo y pasar su amor por el juego – Sé que el espíritu de nuestro padre estaba con nosotros en cada partido sonriendo sobre nuestra familia
  8. Sentir el amor de mi madre por su familia, identificándome con ella y aumentar aún más mi admiración y respeto por su capacidad de dar, amar y promover un ambiente familiar tan hermoso
  9. Un viaje familiar a Grand Bend, Ontario con tio y amigos queridos – aunque fue la semana más fría del verano, disfrutamos y tuvimos un gran tiempo!
  10. Visitar a los amigos en la casa de campo – viendo a mi hijo desarrollar amistades, asar malvaviscos y hacer S’mores – compartir tiempo con los amigos
  11. Los “Power Puffs”.  El esposo de mi amiga se burla de nuestra red de amigas porque estamos constantemente hablando, mandando correo electrónico, mensajes de texto e inventando algún tipo de excusa para reunirnos. Esta amistad nos ayuda a mantenernos sanas.

No hay fotos de marido … es un poco tímido para aparecer en el blog.

Estos son sólo algunos fragmentos de lo que el verano me ha traído. Estoy bendecido y (a regañadientes) esperando el comienzo de un nuevo año escolar, porque eso significa que tengo la oportunidad de hacerlo todo de nuevo, con una adición a la familia, el próximo año.

¿Qué te ha dejado el verano este año?