Monthly Archives: July 2016

Question into the Abyss: “Somebody’s Mom” vs. Just Me

One of my main uncertainties going into motherhood was how I would retain my pre-parent identity once I was a mom, and I know from talking to lots of other moms that I was not alone in this wondering. This dilemma was also one of the reasons Shannon and I started Raise A Mother about a year after our kids were born: we craved a space where we could hold onto and explore our identities as individual adults alongside the role of ‘mom’ that seemed at times to tidal wave over everything else we were.

Well, if being literally attached to another human for all their feeding, conforming to that person’s sleep demands, cutting out large portions of your old social life, leaving work, and falling out of touch with some of your pre-parent friends wasn’t enough, then comes the day, which I had yesterday, where for the first time, someone will address you not by your name, but by the title of “[Your kid’s name]’s Mom.” Continue reading

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Why It’s Important to Travel With My Kids

Traveling with kids is more difficult than without. Hands down, bar none. I say this based on my own experience: my pre-parent self lived and traveled in Southeast Asia for two years in her mid-twenties, and my now-mama self just finished her first two-week air/road trip with a baby and a toddler.

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free tickets when they’re under two, but you have to hold them on your lap…

In what now seems like my past life, traveling was a breeze and a joy Continue reading

What Happens When I DIY… Self-Sabotage Edition

Shannon wrote a few weeks back about how when she DIYs, it’s a form of self-care. More power to her! But as we know, each mama is different, and it got me thinking about what happens when DIY… and I’m coming to accept that for me, it’s apparently self-sabotage.

This past Christmas, I tried to make one of these for my kid:  Continue reading

Sometimes I’m Mean-Mean Mommy… But That’s Actually Okay

My mother-in-law always described the dynamic in my husband’s house when he was growing up, as “mean-mean mommy and fun-fun Daddy.” I don’t think I have to do too much explaining about what she meant here. And it often seems true of my household, too. I think it might be common in many homes for Dad to be the “fun” one, and for Mom to be the one who enforces the rules, but I don’t want to make any generalizations, so I can only speak to my own experience. (If anyone else wants to share their own thoughts on this, thereby giving me something to generalize about, as well as making me feel like I’m not alone on this one, please share them!)

Usually, I try to avoid this dynamic, because it feels really sucky to be in. It’s not fun to be the mean role, obviously. But it often seems like it’s just what I’m destined to do: Continue reading

What happens when I DIY

IMG_20160618_172816A few weeks ago, Linds and I were thrilled to be interviewed on our favourite podcast, One Bad Mother. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the episode, you can check it out here.

Talking to friends and family afterwards, one of the main take-aways from the interview was our overall emphasis on accepting things as #GoodEnough. (Many thanks to everyone who participated in the #GoodEnough challenge — feel free to keep ’em coming!) In particular, people related to Lindsay’s experience of comparing her preparation for her son’s birthday party to my DIY prep for my son’s party a month earlier.

Since this experience has struck such a chord, we wanted to explore it further. Because here is something that is true for me, that is not necessarily true in the same way for my sister — or for many others scanning Pinterest with a mixture of anticipation, inspiration and guilt: my DIY-ing gives me a creative outlet that I’m otherwise missing in my daily life. It’s actually about me.

I am, and have always been, a creative person. Throughout elementary and high school, I steadily took almost every English, art, theatre and music course available (though not dance — I am not a graceful or coordinated person, just ask…anyone). Lindsay and I both participated in extra-curricular theatre groups as well as school shows. My first jobs as a teen were performing as a children’s entertainer (read, clown — don’t judge), and helping to run a kids’ theatre camp. Even on vacation, I would sit on the beach and sketch set and costume designs for hypothetical productions.

And then I went to university and became an adult and I no longer had the time or resources to spend on creative pursuits that were really just for me. Sometimes, I have grand plans for a creative project that’s just for my own enjoyment, but I never seem to prioritize actually making it happen. Case in point: since we moved into our house, I have planned to paint something for a giant wall in our living room. I can see the picture in my mind. In reality, it’s four years later and I haven’t even bought the canvas, let alone picked up a brush. The wall is still sitting blank because I keep insisting that I’m going to paint one of these days.

Here’s the thing, though — when I’m planning a DIY project that is ostensibly “for someone else”, it gets prioritized and I get to do something creative.

I’ve been like this since well before my son was born. I took up knitting six years ago, and in that time I have knit gifts for each of my five sisters, for each of my six nieces and nephews, for my parents, for my husband, for my son. I have knit a total of two things for myself — one of which was a Christmas stocking to match the stockings I had already made for Randy and Lucas.

The thing with my son’s birthday parties is the same. Look, mamas, we all know full well that 1) they don’t give out prizes for children’s birthday parties, and 2) my child will be happy and feel loved on his birthday regardless of whether or not there are themed decorations. We also all know that there are plenty of things out there that just make us feel bad about ourselves, that are in no way real measures of how we’re doing as parents.

Geeking out on thinking up theme-y puns for the punch label and Pinning inspiration for a sea turtle cake doesn’t make me a good Mom. It’s not actually about my kid. In my case, doing these things makes me me.

What happens when I DIY is that I give myself permission to spend time doing something creative that makes me feel good. It’s sneaky self-care. It keeps me in touch with a part of myself that was there long before motherhood, and will be there long after my kids are grown and have kids of their own. For me, DIY-ing is not about trying to be something or someone that I’m not. It’s about getting in touch with who I am.

I think what makes any of us a good Mom is being ourselves, and showing that person to our kids.  So, you do you, mamas! The best Moms are the ones who do.

Lucas' Birthday 2016 2

The Mom Guilt Catch-22: Crazy If You Do, Lazy If You Don’t

Recently, I had an awesome day with my infant son. At 11 weeks into my mat leave, our day while my husband was at work included:

  1. Put the baby down for his first nap.
  2. Have a shower.
  3. Take care of some overdue mat-leave-related admin with my employer.
  4. Walk to the cafe for a caffeine fix.
  5. Host a date with other moms and their babes in the backyard, chatting and playing.
  6. Have lunch.
  7. Take a walk with another soon-to-be-mama friend, then sit on her porch sipping sparkling water with coconut.
  8. Stop to grab a few groceries on the way home.

Idyllic, no?

Of course, this day also included feedings and naps, diaper changes, songs and tummy time interaction, but these all turned out to be pretty convenient to what I wanted to do anyway – NOT always the case!

On the surface, I could take this as an achieved life goal – as you may know, I’ve been trying to take more of a paternity leave this time around. And this day seemed to fit the bill. I seem to recall that when my husband was on parental leave, the story he would often tell me about his day included a lot of playing and socializing, and not a lot of stress, chores, disappointment or guilt.

So on one hand, I feel I should be proud of myself. I’m successfully avoiding the isolated, lonely difficulty that befalls so many women on mat leave, right?

On the other hand, I felt guilty in the back of my mind for the entirety of that day. Continue reading

Reminder: Eventually, They’ll Be Hard to Wake UP

I wrote recently about how I was trying out having my two kids under two share a room. And it is still going well… during the night. The problem we’re having is in the early morning hours. For the last week, one or other of our kids has gotten up too early each morning. Too early meaning pre 6 a.m.  Continue reading

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