Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mommy Guilt

I got to thinking today, after a tough day with my kids, about the things we feel guilty about as mothers everyday. We carry it around, all the time, but I'm not sure it's something we even realize. I feel it when I buy the regular apples instead of the organic because heck they are so much cheaper...but then I stand there and debate for a moment. "okay, the organic apples are $1.00 more...aren't my kids worth the buck?" I feel it when my kids seem out of balance...it's my job to keep them in balance, to ensure that their world seems safe and predictable. When Jalen starts crying, like today, saying he doesn't want to go to daycare I feel guilty, like if I was a better mom I could let him stay home for a "mental health day." When he comes home from daycare with these horrible behaviours that surely he didn't learn at home, I wonder if I've made the right choice to be a working mom. Some days, I feel like my child spends fifty percent of his life on a timeout, and then as I kiss him goodnight I back track and think about our day and I wonder "Did I do the best job as a mom today?" "Maybe I shouldn't have lost my cool..." This guilty cloak mothers wear surely must carry on throughout their lives. We want to raise our kids to be socially, emotionally and cognitively developed human beings. What a weight to carry on our shoulders each day. If I yell too much, if I let them get away with too much, if I use a sticker chart for reinforcement or not. Some days, I throw up my hands and say "I give up! I don't have the answers."

I remember the first time I felt this "mommy guilt" and it was literally one day after Jalen was born. I had had a difficult labour that ended up in a c-section. I was so sick and drugged with pain medication that I remember finally "coming to" a day later. My new baby boy was crying, and I tried feeding him and I didn't know what to do to make the crying stop. A friend was visiting me in the hospital room at the time and she said "Did you change him?" It hadn't even occurred to me as a new mom that I should change his diaper. I opened his teeny diaper to find a big mess and started bawling. I was thinking "what kind of a mother doesn't think to change her babies diaper?" And so it began....

We do the best job we can, seems like cliche, but now that I am a mother I realize that this is certainly a true statement. Each day, I approach the day fresh and I try really damn hard to raise my kids so someday they will be successful, and someday maybe they will find a loving partner. I am human, some days I don't have in me to read three bedtime stories, some days I just don't want to play hide and seek. Sometimes I get caught up in a power struggle with my four year old until I remember "Wait a minute...he's four." Sometimes it's a really nice day, and I know that a "good mom" would take her kids for a ride in the wagon to the park but instead I choose to put on sesame street and give them a bowl of cheesies.

I used to be so critical of other parents, like "those" kind of parents who yell at their kids in public, and "those" kind of kids who were not so well mannered and figured the parents screwed up big time! Alex and I being child and youth workers would surely not end up with a child like "that." With time, I could see that a "child like that" could happen to any of us. My son dug his fingernails into one of his friends arms at the park the other day and I was mortified. I talked to the other mom later that night and apologized on behalf of my son's behaviour and she was like "don't worry about it..." but I did. I worried all night...what can i do...what did i do wrong?

They say being a parent is the most important job on earth, and it is. We are raising the human beings that will grow up and someday run this country. However, I feel like moms need to take it easy on ourselves. I mean, until I was 25 I never ingested a single organic food item. I grew up in a time when a good spank on the bum was all a child needed to behave. Timeout's where not even a part of the vocab in the 70's and 80's. What do you know...I turned out somewhat okay. The problem is, we don't want our kids to turn out somewhat okay. I want my kids to thrive with joy, not just survive with whatever scraps I throw their way, so to speak. New studies apparently say that a healthy dose of guilt is good for us. Just so long as the guilt is not weighing on us for things that we really aren't guilty for. Losing my cool...guilty. Feeling resentful...guilty. Buying junk food...guilty. Using bribes and rewards in my parenting...guilty.

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the would have should have's that often cause guilt and don't stop to realize the positives that our children already possess. I need to remind myself of the fact that Jalen is creative, and funny. The fact that he loves books so much and already knows dozens by heart and can sound out words. Jalen is thoughtful and inquisitive....charming and loving. Ruby is sweet and gentle, nurturing and very good with manipulating small objects. Puzzles are no problem, she is thoughtful and patient with tasks. More than once people have commented on how well behaved my children are at the grocery store, at parties or wherever. However I choose to focus on the times when maybe the social skills weren't at their best (ie. digging finger nails into friend) or the times when potty training didn't go so well. Perhaps like gratitude, focusing on the good things we are grateful for each day, we should focus more on the hundreds of positive things that we have done and do as moms each day.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Style in a Snap"

Photo: These are the exact pair I have, the flower/jewel snap comes with this pair

Just before Christmas I was introduced to these cute little shoes by someone and I fell in love and instantly added them to my Christmas list. These Ballet flats by Lindsay Phillips allow you to change the embellishment literally in a snap! Not to mention these shoes fit like a dream, like a slipper they are extremely comfortable. You can purchase new snaps for your shoes for about $14.99 and voila! New Shoes!

One of the parents at the school I work at got me the above posted snaps as a end of the year gift in June.

I also have the snaps as pictured above I don't have the shoes in gold or black yet (they also come in bronze and leopard print) but I definitely will soon! How fun are these shoes! People stop me to compliment me on them all the time! I recommend these shoes big time!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Feeling inspired by....Breakfast Nooks

photos: better homes and gardens and kitchen bath ideas

For a long time I have been drawn to these quaint little dining spaces. In my searches for inspiration I stumbled across the phrase "breakfast nook" and knew that I needed to create one one in my home. What I love most is that usually the breakfast nook is tucked into a cozy corner close to the kitchen, and usually posed perfectly by a window. Much to my dismay, I searched my brain for ways to create one of these in my house and I don't happen to have a cozy little corner close to a window...however...I will tuck these images away into my "someday" file and when we buy our next house I will keep this in mind. I do have this one little corner I am eying down in my kitchen, and I wonder if I got just the tiniest table and chairs....

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Seasonal Splendour....Summer

"Summer is the time when one sheds one's tensions with one's clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all's right with the world." ~Ada Louise Huxtable

Photo: bleeding heart plant from my garden

I have to admit that seasons of extreme weather are not my favourites, I delight in the mild weathers of spring and fall. Ontario winters are too cold and the summers are too hot, in that humid and gross kind of way. However, with every season comes a new set a pleasures and experiences that are unique only to that time of year. As a child, summer represents freedom. Free from school, free from structured days, free from most of your clothes as you run barefoot through the backyard in your bathing suit. As an adult, unless you are a teacher (lucky to have the summers off) life carries on through the summer, we seek out air conditioning to avoid that wall of thick humid air, and before you can even finish your annual gardening, summer says goodbye. When I was a kid, it was like time stood still for a while during those summer months. I would float in my back yard swimming pool, take a bike ride around the neighbourhood to dry off, get in the pool again and sometimes lay right on the hot pavement to dry off this time. The day would carry on just like that. Mom would pop out the sliding doors off the deck with freezies or a plate of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Then, as dawn seemed to suddenly turn to dusk, we would get dragged in from outside. We would likely be planning the next game with the neighbourhood kids on our bikes down the street, we could hear our parents yelling from the porch.

Photo: Jalen and his best friend Ella staying up way past bedtime for some Canada Day fun in their Pj's

Now that I have children I find joy simply watching the summer through their innocent eyes. The shrieks of laughter as Jalen and Ruby run through the sprinkler, the excitement as I come outside with freezies. Blowing bubbles, finding bugs, water guns, running through the grass barefoot and staying up way past their bedtime to roast marshmallows over the fire. Last night, I put the sprinkler on to water my garden, made myself a cup of tea and sat on my front porch as my kids ran around playing in their pj's. I always thought it was so cool as a kid that in the summer time we were allowed to get our jammies on and come back outside! We love watermelon at our house and tend to eat piece after piece till the melon is gone and our bellies are bursting. When I was a kid, the hose was always off bounds for some reason, while it was filling up our little backyard pool we weren't allowed to touch it. For this reason, I let my kids have fun with the garden hose. They take turns watering the gardens and spraying each other (usually till one of them screams "NO THANK-YOU!!! after they've had enough)

Photo: Ruby getting sprayed by Jalen with the hose!

My soul seems to comes alive in autumn, however I must not forget the joyful simplicities of summer. I delight in eating too much watermelon, warm nights outside with my glass of crisp Pinot Grigio (I recommend Barefoot from California) and waiting on our covered front porch for a summer thunderstorm to roll in.