Dear Me: You are enough.

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Be patient with yourself. The healing will come as you do the work and show up for yourself. I know some days that is really hard because you have a little one who needs so much of you but you’ve been through this before, it will get easier. Babies grow up into toddlers, then preschoolers and then five-year-olds with no patience who can do so much without your help but still need you to be the audience to their big imaginations. Then they will be 12-year-olds who know so much and have such big ideas for their lives but still want game nights and bear hugs and to show off their newest pieces of artwork, and still ask permission to put on nail polish. Then will come 19, so ready to leave the nest and live on their own but still bringing home their laundry on weekends to be washed.

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This new baby will grow up too and all too quickly you will wonder where the small, helpless babe at your breast has gone. You will regain some degree of freedom as he stretches his legs and learns to let go of your hand but the freedom comes at the cost of your sweet babe growing up so try not to rush it. Enjoy your afternoons of rocking together, his head curled tight against your chest, his newborn smell still filling your nostrils for time steals these precious moments away and fades the memories to dull aches of longing for more of those quiet uninterrupted afternoons of just dozing and rocking.

The healing will happen but there’s no need to rush it at the expense of this time with your little one. Don’t let the guilt of unwashed dishes, large piles of laundry and consecutive nights of boxed meals interfere with your healing for it’s in the raw quiet moments that you can let everything go, all the years of pain, disappointment, anger that has built up like uric acid in aching joints so that even when all is well your brain is plaguing you with anxiety and worry, wondering when it will all fall apart, just like last time and the time before that.

I have something really important to tell you, it doesn’t have to be like last time ever again.

You are learning better ways, you are finding your voice, creating your own path to a new future where you will be doing what you want to do and providing for your family while doing it. Right now is just a temporary bump in the road while you nurture and love the newest member of the family in the way that works best for you while navigating your demons from the past and not letting them get a foothold in the present, no matter how hard they might try.

You are stronger than you have ever been but when you are feeling weak know that you are surrounded by people ready and willing to lift you up and remind you that you are enough just as you are and it will be enough to accomplish everything you want to. You just need to reach out to them, they will remind you of your worth when you have forgotten.

And it’s okay to cry. It’s safe now. You’re safe now. You are loved and held. Space has been made for you to release all that pain you hold so tight like an armour around you, keeping everyone out. You don’t have to do that anymore. Let the pain and anger that poisons your soul flow out of you, let the tears come and let them cleanse you. In that cleansing you will be reborn, stronger, more beautiful and with a trust in yourself and your abilities that you can only imagine right now. Let the floodgates open, let the ink on the page be smudged with your tears and know that you are strong and you are more than enough just as you are right now. The tears are just a really long overdue cleansing.

Love yourself, because that’s important too. You are worthy of your own attention. You do not need permission from anyone else to do the basic tasks of self-care. It’s okay to get your hair done and to go to spiritual meet ups and to find time to clear out your space in the house.  It’s okay to read books, to cross-stitch, and to write. It’s more than acceptable to find time for your on-line classes and work on your future, and to purchase the needed materials. I know it feels selfish to do those things for yourself but it’s not, so make your lists, set your goals and get up in the morning and tackle them, one at a time. And if you need to, it’s also okay to ask for help.

I love you and I’m tired of being your punching bag for every little perceived wrong you have done in your life because you have also done so much right. Stop measuring yourself by your failures and start measuring yourself by your successes, and others around you will have no other choice but to also do the same.  You are worthy of your own love and you are worthy of the love of others but you must open yourself up and let them in. I know being vulnerable is really hard for you but it will be so worth it, trust me!

I will write again. You need more pep-talks, someone to remind you how wonderful and amazing and strong you are. Who else is better to do that than me?

Love yourself!

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Oops!

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IMG_2410March 18, 2015 life changed for my family in an extraordinary way.

There was shock.

There was disbelief.

Really? Is this really happening?

My husband and I were sitting on our bed. The kids were asleep in their own rooms and my husband was settling in for some TV show streaming.

IMG_20150326_112807I said, “Can we talk before you start watching your show?” and I handed him the purple and white stick with the plus sign….

I blamed my husband and all the super shakes he’s been drinking…

Without revealing too much information, this should not have happened!

Whatever and however it happened 2015 just turned into another crazy year for us. Our family is growing. Our house is shrinking. Well not actually shrinking but it’s sure going to feel smaller in November with six people and a dog living here.

Next Christmas I will have a 19 year old and an infant in arms…. That just blows my mind right now!

I am looking at this as an opportunity. An opportunity to live my business and blog about the process. Sacred Pregnancy is an amazing program and I want to bring it to women and their families here in the Ottawa area. What better way to get the word out than to tell my own story.

Stay tuned for more details, it will be an amazing journey!!!

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Love is Not a Mistake

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wpid-wp-1413783567264.jpegI have made many mistakes. Many of those mistakes have in return fundamentally changed who I am.

Motherhood started out as a mistake, a responsibility thrust into my young arms that felt too weak to bear the weight. I made so many mistakes but my son was not one of them. He was a gift. A gift I just wasn’t quite ready to receive or fully appreciate. As a result I fumbled around the world of motherhood very lost and distrustful of my instincts. How could I know anything? How could I possibly get anything right?

But I did get one thing right.

Love.

I just forgot sometimes….

Even early on in my pregnancy when my son’s biological father was encouraging me to “get an abortion”, I chose life for my unborn child. I walked out into the world and looked into the eyes of the people around me and wondered why they had any more right to life than my child did?

In that moment I chose love.

I didn’t even recognize it as love until I looked into my son’s eyes and finally met him in the quiet of the hospital room after everyone had gone home. When the nurse came to get him after his feed and I asked her to leave him with me for a while so I could really meet him, fall in love with him, just hold him and smell his beautiful smell. I didn’t want to send him back to the nursery. He was mine and I loved him.

Love didn’t pave our path with bricks of gold or lay pillows on the ground to cushion us when we stumbled and many times we lost the path completely. Loving someone is hard and it is work and it is staying when you want to run and learning from and apologizing for mistakes and most of all its forgiveness when forgiveness seems impossible.

I wear layers upon layers of bruises from all the mistakes I’ve made in the last eighteen years of motherhood. I don’t doubt my son has his own layers of bruising. Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair that my introduction to motherhood and his introduction to the world had to come with such painful lessons. The effects of those lessons still ripple through our lives and we’re trying to find forgiveness in a chaos that seems unyielding to any efforts at finding peace. Even in the good moments anger breaks through and smashes the fragility of the bubble that is encapsulating the laughter and connecting fibers being forged by our moment of happiness. As the bubble disperses it is like our world is exploding and though I try to keep it together as with the thin film of a bubble when it pops, it disappears like it was never there and we find ourselves yet again staring across a painful abyss filled with blame, repercussions, anger and resentments.

Many tell me they would have given up on my son by now, that it’s time for some tough love, “let him learn his lessons the hard way” they say. It feels like he’s learned too many lessons the hard way. Moments where I ignored my instincts, made uneducated choices, gave into pressure to follow society’s ideas and notions, or failed to ask for or find help or apologize when I should have or hold my temper when my depression was raging out of control and the pressures of meeting the outside world’s demands trumped meeting my son’s need for love, like the day I lost my cool because he was struggling to practice French dictation words and I screamed out in frustration and smashed my head into the wall leaving a hole in the drywall. Then there were tears and broken spirits and emotional bruises as we tried to pick up the pieces.

I had no idea what I was doing. What I should have done was let the dictation go and pull him into my arms and hold him and tell him it was okay, the dictation didn’t matter, I loved him and would help him. The pressures of meeting the demands of the teacher, the school system, the expectations of society in general that were labeling him a problem child overwhelmed me. I just wanted to prove them all wrong.

They were wrong. They are wrong. I never had to prove them wrong because there was nothing to prove. Love was more important than all that, but I didn’t understand that then.

I do now.

And I’m sorry.

Sorry doesn’t fix the broken walls or broken spirits. That takes work, a lot of painful, slogging through mud and emotional trenches work, not to mention the willingness to dive head first into the trenches and face the demons of the past, the demons of our emotions and behaviours that created the abyss I find myself staring across into the blue eyes of a soul so broken he hides from me in his video games where he finds an outlet for his pain and anger by blowing things and other characters/people up. His video game world is safer than the real world and it was my mistakes that drove him into that world because I forgot that love is more important than anything, than video games, or toys, or money, or meeting society’s expectations, or getting our way and insisting on showing him who’s in charge and that we can make him do what we want him to do regardless of his own will and desires – an illusion of power at best.

After eighteen years I’m trying to hold the memory of looking into the trusting eyes of the seven and a half pound child laid in my arms by a twist of fate he had no control over, and remember the overwhelming waves of love I felt and my need to hold him close and protect him. If only I had spent more time listening to that instinct like when he had night terrors and I sat next to him singing “Jesus Loves You” over and over, drawing him out of the terror with my soothing voice that had rocked him to sleep so many times.

Now my soul is doing the singing, calling to my son to remember the moments in the chaos where love conquered the fear and anger, to remember the love that holds him and surrounds him no matter what because society is wrong and I was wrong. He is amazing and wonderful and talented. He may not fit into the mold society wants him to but it just means he thinks different, he sees the world around him in a different light and somehow he will make it work for him, despite society trying very hard to stuff him in a box and get him to “get in line”.

It will take time, patience, healing and most of all it will take love. That’s my commitment going forward, I will radiate, enclose him and even smother him in love, until the raw wounds become aching scabs, then itchy scars and with some luck at some point even the scars will fade to a barely visible lightness, and we will find our peace, rebuilt upon a solid foundation of love. The scars may never disappear but some day I want the memories to be faint whispers of by-gone stories instead of festering wounds filling an abyss that separates us.

I’m ready  to let love build us a bridge over the abyss. I am ready to heal. I’m ready to do the hard work. I’m ready to forgive myself and let my mistakes go and I am hoping that my son can eventually forgive me too, and help me build that bridge. Surrender the future to love and we will find our way, the path will meet us where we are and if we stay true to love, it’ll show us the way forward.

To my son: you are the child that made me a mother and I will always love you and that isn’t and never was a mistake.

 

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The Story-Teller

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe’s three years old, dark-haired with deep brown eyes framed by long eyelashes, talkative, loving and with an imagination so big that it engulfs our entire world.

He is my third child, probably my last. I’m drinking up every moment of him, trying to slow down time so he doesn’t grow so fast but he just amazes me with his ideas, his ability to articulate complex ideas and his physical abilities to master tasks, especially sports. He loves hockey and is an avid Ottawa Senators fan. One of his favourite toys is his hockey set with sticks and nets just his size to play with.

He’s intense. He uses his hands to pull your face to look at him, to make sure you’re paying attention to what he wants to show you or tell you. And it must always be NOW. Patience is not easy for him…

For him the world holds untold possibilities, where cucumbers make good light sabers, and Britax car-seat boxes make good garbage trucks and his bed can take him anywhere because some nights it’s Santa’s sleigh and other nights it’s a rocket ship or even the TARDIS from Dr. Who. We go on such adventures!

His first words were a simple sentence, “What’s this?” He was asking questions before he could walk. Now at three “Why?” is one of his favourite words, sometimes to our frustration, but it’s hard to discourage his enthusiasm for knowledge. Hopefully it’s a trait that will fuel a lifetime of learning.

We have a Museum membership that gives us access to three local museums and he loves exploring, playing, touching everything and weaving stories of adventures as he goes. Most visits it’s all I can do to keep up with him as he moves from one area to another, at times settling on one place for a little while before moving on. Usually just enough time for me to catch my breath!

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We also have a membership to Little Ray’s Reptiles and we love going to hang out with the animals and playing in the gift shop like the time he picked up a whole handful of bouncy balls and dropped them all at once sending them flying every which way and then he laughed as I tried to catch them all. Or the time he fed a whole bunch of tiny rubber frogs to one of the toy dinosaur heads that you use a lever to open and close their mouths. Sometimes he just goes into the empty presentation area and pretends to bring out the animals, imitating the presentations he has watched so many times. We love Ray’s and the last time we visited he insisted on taking some of the cookies we were baking to Ray. Ray loved them!

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I love that I am home with him and I can experience his love, his intensity, his questioning, his imagination full on. It’s exhausting but never dull.

This past Friday we spent an hour or more painting our tub walls with water-paints. He started out in the tub by himself but before long I was in the tub with him and we were painting each other, our nails and drawing tractors on the tub wall. We made nose prints and he drew a smile on my face because my smile was missing some lines apparently. I drew him a small John Deere tractor but he wanted one of the big blue ones we’d climbed on at the Farm Show the week before so I drew him a big New Holland blue tractor and he was happy.

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When it came time to scrub the walls clean he just as enthusiastically crawled back in the tub and helped me scrub the walls with baking soda. Most of it came off! The little faded spots of blue will be a reminder of an afternoon spent indulging his big spirit.

He is my wonder, my spirit, my story-teller, my reminder that there is so much in this world that is amazing from the sticks and rocks he collects to the whimsical stories he weaves to the fountains of knowledge he seeks but I cannot always answer. He’s also my quiet, my love over-flowing when I rest my head next to him at night and sing him “Winken Blinken and Nod” until he falls asleep because I know tomorrow he will be bigger and time cannot be stopped so enjoying him now, as he is, is the greatest gift I can give myself and him.

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My daughter is beautiful!

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10002989_10152284089025505_1001480336_nA moment caught in time. I wish I could have frozen the moment forever.

I sat in the hair dresser’s chair, the woman clicking away with her scissors and asking me to tilt my head down but I kept lifting my eyes to watch my daughter through the mirror.

What I saw was inspirational…

She was breathtaking. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I had no way to take a picture of her, but a photograph would not have fully captured what I was seeing in that moment as she waited her turn.

I saw the child she used to be, the pre-teen she is becoming and the woman she will become, all radiating from her in a single instance.

It was more than beauty. It was a sense of blossoming energy, of dreams and her potential occupying an indefinite space of possibilities.

It took slowing life down enough to create the opportunity to see it. At home there is so much craziness and different energies vying for my attention that it is hard to catch these fleeting moments. Moments where I am reminded of how very awesome and beautiful my daughter is, and not because of anything she has achieved or is capable of but simply because she is, no qualifiers necessary.

I am glad I was able to take her out and away from the distractions of everyday life and be reminded of her awesomeness. Her joy for life, her excitement at spending one on one time with her mom – getting her nails done, her hair cut and doing some shopping, and talking, talking, talking. Talking about how she loved her nails and about her trip to Nova Scotia for March Break, and her running commentary on how she sees the world around her.

Yesterday was a visible reminder that I need to slow down and take more time to watch my kids, to catch them glowing with their unique awesomeness, and love them passionately and without reservation for everything that they were, are and are becoming.

The moments may be fleeting but they are always there if I take the time to look for them.

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If I knew then what I know now…..

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NewbornshotI have a 17-year-old son and a 3-year-old son and the way I have parented them has been completely different. Even with my 3-year-old I wish I’d known some things when he was real little that I know now.  Over the last 18 months I’ve explored and read information on birthing practices, baby care, nutrition, particularly breastfeeding, circumcision, attachment parenting practices and so much more.  And I believe I’ve read pretty widely and many different view points which has led me to feel for the first time as a mother confident in my parenting choices.  Before I did what I knew and took advice only from a small group of women, which while it was not bad advice by any means, it was lacking, and not intentionally lacking either.  Practices change, improve, as information sharing becomes easier, and old ways of doing things are discredited. Every mother only wants what’s best for their children, and the wealth of information available now is mind-boggling.  I have waded through a great deal of that information and here is my list of what I wish I had known then that I know now.

  1.  Circumcision is wrong.  It’s not up to us as parents to make that decision for our sons.  It is their body, and most when given the choice do not choose it.  My oldest is circumcised because 17 years ago I didn’t know any better.  Most of the men in my family were circumcised, it was what I knew as normal.  My 3-year-old isn’t and I’m glad I just decided not to by default because I was too tired to look into it.  Now I’m glad I didn’t and wish I hadn’t with my oldest.  Aside from inflicting incredible pain on an infant too young to understand, there is just no medical reason to do it.  Thankfully in Canada we’ve come a long way and most boys are left intact now, but I still believe that this is an important message to spread as there may still be people who believe the outdated information.  I encourage you to check these sites for more information:

http://www.wholenetwork.org/

http://www.savingsons.org/

2.     Breastfeeding and more importantly, extended breastfeeding – as society has termed it – is incredibly healthy for both mother and child and completely normal.  I will admit I used to fall into the camp of thinking breastfeeding past a certain age, about a year, was wrong, but now I have learned better. The health benefits don’t stop as a child grows.  Breast milk changes constantly to meet the needs of the child, even when tandem nursing children of different ages.  Breast milk is liquid gold, and the benefits of breastfeeding an older child is huge to both mother and child.  In the mother extended breastfeeding can help lower the risks of illnesses such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer.  In the child it provides continued immune support against common ailments and is the perfect building blocks to help them grow strong mentally and physically.  Emotionally it is an easy way to help soothe a child in pain or who is over tired.  No matter what formula companies may say, they can never duplicate the amazing, adaptive qualities of breast milk.

That brings me to my next point on breastfeeding; support systems.  In Canada, partially because of our maternity and parental leave benefits, there’s a decent support system in place and it has definitely improved since my 17-year-old was born but there’s always room for improvement.  Even with my 3-year-old I wish I’d had a stronger support system and that when he was three months old and I decided due to my extreme post-partum depression to quit, someone had said “No, what do you need to keep breastfeeding?” because the truth is I didn’t want to quit, I just didn’t have the support I needed or the words to express my frustrations.  I sometimes wonder if I would still be breastfeeding him.  He totally loved it and still will reach for my breasts occasionally like there is a lingering memory there.  So support isn’t just about hospitals supporting skin to skin immediately after birth (weighing and even cord clamping can wait, unless there is a medical reason to whisk the baby away, the baby should always be placed skin to skin on the mother’s belly right after birth), or providing good qualified breastfeeding consultants if they are needed both in hospital and after discharge, but it also includes community and family support, especially in the first 3-4 months after birth, which is labelled the fourth trimester for a reason. Community support also includes supporting a nursing mother when you see her out in public.  Women should be applauded and encouraged for providing the best possible nutrition for their children and not made to hide or feel ashamed in any way.  As a by-product of encouraging breastfeeding in public, it also normalizes it for the next generation.

3.     Birthing practices is one I’ve spent a lot of time reading about.  I started my training to be a doula a year ago but after doing the weekend course, decided to put the practical side on hold as I still have a young family to care for. I continue to read extensively on birthing practices and absorb all the information I can.  I’m an advocate of natural birthing practices as much as can be possible but each labour, each woman is different and at the end of the day just needs to feel supported and loved as she moves through this rite of passage to motherhood, whether it’s for the first time, actually most importantly if it’s for the first time, but also for each subsequent child she births as well.  Birth isn’t just about delivering healthy babies, it’s about birthing strong, confident mothers, and the quality of care and support will have a huge impact on how a woman sees herself both as a woman and as a mother.  I have learned an incredible amount and I will revisit this topic again in future posts. Suffice to say my views on the pregnancy and birth process have changed quite a bit over the last 18 months, and I hope will be an integral part of my career path. I’m actually already signed up for two Sacred Pregnancy courses this summer where I hope to extend my knowledge and care skills exponentially.

4.      There are other areas as well that I have learned so much about, like attachment parenting for example.  Some elements of the practice I always knew deep down but society insisted on different approaches, and especially with my 17-year-old I didn’t have enough wherewithal to argue the status quo.  For example, I left my 17-year-old to cry it out because 17 years ago that was an acceptable method.  Now, never, not even with my 3-year-old.  About 8 months ago he suddenly developed a fear of shadows, and after that his easy bed time routine evaporated.  It became a long protracted affair, but when he cried, I, or my husband, was always there.  And now, he’s learned to handle shadows and scary monsters, but even more importantly, he also knows without question we are here if he needs us. The relationship I have with my 3-year-old is the most connected and natural of all my children. Attachment parenting does not breed spoilt brats, it breeds confident, happy, well-adjusted children.  Yes, it’s more work but the rewards are worth it.

Below I’ve listed my favourite websites and Facebook pages for information on all the above.  It’s just a sampling, I have many, many favourites and can’t possibly list them all.  There are some amazing women and yes, even men, changing the face of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting in general.  I encourage you to check them out.  I’m sure I will be writing more on these subjects in the future, both to provide information and to relate how they apply to and affect my life.

http://www.handsfreemama.com/

http://www.evolutionaryparenting.com/

http://www.ourmuddyboots.com/

http://www.drmomma.org/

http://freeyourkidsblog.com/

http://www.thebadassbreastfeeder.com/

http://www.littleheartsbooks.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Consciousparentingnow

http://www.positive-parents.org/

http://www.birthwithoutfearblog.com/

http://guggiedaly.blogspot.com/