expectations

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

Time to Press the Reset Button… Sigh.

Sometimes, I talk such a good game that I fool even myself.

I’ve written on this blog about all sorts of ways that I make myself feel better in times of stress. I’ve written about setting my feelings down beside me and leaving them alone, about allowing things to be #goodenough, and about giving myself a break when I take on unreasonable expectations.

Particularly, I recently wrote about allowing myself to enjoy the infant pace of life that I find myself consigned to with a newborn baby at home. And this has been working, for the most part. I’ve really been enjoying my mat leave.

But last night, Continue reading

Fingers Crossed! Little Things Seem Big

It continually amazes me how much parenting puts at stake, even in things that seem – objectively – very small.

Our two-month old has been sleeping pretty well, better than we could have expected, so of course we decided it was time to mess with that. We decided last night to try having him sleep in a different place – just eight feet away from his usual spot, and still in his same baby bed. We did the same bedtime routine, and put him down at the same time. So why did this seem like such a big deal? Well, because moving him eight feet meant putting him in his brother’s room. Yep: we’re trying to get 2 under 2 to share at night.

Continue reading

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