For the days when you want to quit

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“I don’t really like my three-year old.”

“Sometimes I hate my child and then I feel terrible for thinking that.”

Both of these comments were whispered to me by friends. I admit I’ve thought similar things during my not-so-shiny moments of parenting.

I usually refrain from posting whiny, complaining-type posts and tend to focus on the sweet things my kids do. I complain a lot about sleep but try not to be that bitter mother whose kids bring more grief than joy.

But some days just suck.

The other night my husband kept texting, “leaving any minute” “be home soon” “just waiting for the bus” and it was almost 7:00 before he got home. I’m not sure if I was tired, the kids were tired or if it was a full moon, but by the time he walked in I was ready to walk out.

I get to the end of my rope regularly. Life with young children jumps from amazing and awe-inspiring one moment to out-of-control and exasperating the next. I have an up and down personality and my highest highs are followed by crashes of the lowest lows, all within one rotation of the minute hand on the clock.

The other day my children were playing together on the top bunk in my son’s room. They cuddled on the pillows with their stuffed animals and blankets, both giggling and squirming around like Labrador puppies. My son made his little sister laugh hysterically and she tickled him under his chin and teased him back; a real sibling love fest. I smiled and felt all warm inside and proud of the beautiful healthy kids I was raising. All was well.

Seconds later I turned away to brush my teeth and the whole scenario cratered. Laughs turned to screams. Giggles turned to cries. Snuggles turned to grabs and pushes. Toys flew across the room. My heart raced and blood boiled as I jumped to separate the two before someone fell off the bunk. Both kids were crying. It was the end of the world, in preschooler land. It was one of those moments when I just wanted to quit.

Growing up, if I didn’t like something, I quit. I quit competitive swimming, gymnastics, ringette, art classes and who knows what else after a few years each because I wasn’t a star at them.  My world was very black and white. Do the enjoyable and easy things that I could excel at. Avoid the difficult things. That philosophy was fine when there was just me to worry about. It even worked with my husband in the picture, for the most part.

The months (and years) after becoming a mother were the hardest of my life so far. I’m not really sure how I made it through those years of terrible sleep deprivation. My fierce love for my newborn son (and then three years later, my daughter) taught me that just because something is really, really hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. The wondrous little children that were created and carried and loved and rocked and fed, sometimes with my tears blending in with theirs, are mine to keep.

It’s okay to want to quit. Anyone who tells you parenthood is blissful perfection is a liar. It doesn’t mean you love your children any less. Parenting babies and young children is like riding a ferris wheel that never stops. There’s no smiling man at the bottom to push a button if you want to get off to catch your breath.

Embrace the high highs and perfect moments, fleeting as they may be. Breathe them in and take lots of pictures. Cuddle up to your son’s snuggly warm cheeks. Trace your daughter’s dimples with your finger and hold her tiny feet in your hands. Freeze the perfect moments in your memory so you can bring them back to your mind during the times when everyone is screaming, you are trudging through a dreary day and your ferris wheel is scraping the bottom again.

The next time you have a day when you want to quit, take a deep breath and hold on. The rough times will pass and the view really will turn back to beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was glared at for talking in Starbucks

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Green logo used from 1987-2010, still being us...

Green logo used from 1987-2010, still being used as a secondary logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday afternoon I went out for coffee with my parents and my two young children. Chaos ensued when my children realized there was only one cookie in the display case. Then we had to discuss the whip cream on the hot chocolate and find the little bags of popcorn.

When we finally made it to our table, my two-year-old sat by her grandma, my six-year-old near his grandpa and me somewhere in the middle. We had our usual happy conversation around the big wooden table. The kids were fine, but they are kids…they don’t sit and stare into space while drinking hot chocolate. They discussed their days. They told my mom tiny details about their favourite toys and goofed around with my dad. My daughter screeched when her foot got stuck in the high chair that she was too big for. My son freaked out a little because he wanted his popcorn in the bag, not in a cup. They weren’t being rude, just kids happy to be with their grandparents in a fun setting.

I felt like I had to hush them for the whole hour we were there. Why? Because every other person in the coffee shop was silent. Everyone was dead quiet and concentrating intently on an iPhone, laptop or tablet. Many people have written about the fact that our devices are making us antisocial. We all know that. It’s been said a million times. I get it, I really do. I too love zoning out in front of my iPhone at any opportunity.

What was different about today is that it was the first time that I felt like the minority for sitting in a coffee shop and chatting with my family. Maybe I’m just getting older but I remember back in the good old days when Starbucks and Tim Hortons were places to meet and talk.

Is it now more socially acceptable to be antisocial to those around you, while simultaneously being active on social media?

The next time I’m in a coffee shop with family or friends, I’m not hushing my children. I’m going to sit back with my coffee and company and talk and laugh away. I dare you to try it.

Age-Appropriate Chores for Toddlers ;)

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The following chart appeared on my Facebook feed this morning. Take a look and carefully read the appropriate chores for 2-3 year olds. What helpful suggestions! Don’t forget to read below for some added tips.

Age Appropriate Chores for Children | a free printable chart from flandersfamily.info

My 2.5 year old loves to “help” too. Her version is slightly different. It goes more like this:

  • Throw toys toward toy box. Decide that’s no fun and dump toy box out instead.
  • One by one, remove books from shelf. Make a tower out of them. Stand on the tower to reach books from higher shelves. Fall over and scream.
  • Remove brother’s dirty underwear from laundry hamper and place on head. Dance around the house and sing, “Underwear, underwear, underwear on my head!”
  • Collect all the full trash baskets from around the house. Use them to make a tower, with each basket upside down, of course.
  • Carry firewood around the backyard. Find some nails and a hammer and start banging. Get a splinter, hammer your fingers and cry.
  • Remove all clean wash cloths from the cupboard. Unfold them. Use each one to tuck a dolly to sleep on the bathroom floor.
  • Help clear the table after supper. Place each dirty utensil carefully back into the utensil drawer. Throw plates onto the counter.
  • Fetch 17 diapers and a package of baby wipes. Wipe each of your older brother’s plastic super heroes’ bottoms with four baby wipes and attempt to diaper each one. (I don’t make this stuff up!)
  • Find a water sprayer and some of mommy’s good towels. Drench the baseboards and big picture window until they are dripping with water. Wipe with a white towel. Repeat.

This picture reminds me of the time my daughter “helped” me clean the bathroom:

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning (Of Age 6!)

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Hot chocolate happinessIn Developmental psychology, the age of reason is the age when a child is capable of carrying on complex conversation with an adult, usually around seven or eight years old.  My BA was full of psychology courses but all the textbook reading and expert opinion comes alive as I actually watch my own children go through the different stages.

My son is turning six this week and I can see glimpses of the age of reason popping up all over the place. Suddenly we are having conversations about death, about right and wrong, about why some daddies don’t live in the same house as the mommies and kids. I watch my son thinking about the things he overhears me saying to my husband and I’m more careful when I talk, knowing that he misses nothing.

The sweet filter of innocence is starting to fray around the edges as my son realizes that not everyone is kind and good and not every story ends the way he thinks it should.  I’m torn as to how I feel about his approach to this new age and stage.

On one hand, I adore finally having more in-depth conversations with him; conversations that go beyond, “Can I have some juice?” and “Mom! My sister broke my Lego!” It’s been almost six years of baby and little-kid conversations and it’s nice to change things up. It’s exciting to see my son maturing and taking on little bits of responsibility all by himself. “It’s okay, little sis, I’ll get your dolly for you.” and “Mom, today I took my friend to the office because someone hit him in the face.” I wonder, is this stage a reward for a mom who’s talked about only snacks, toys, sleep and bodily functions for six years?

On the other hand, it breaks my heart. Walking up the hill from kindergarten the other day we had our first conversation about death. “You mean everybody dies, Momma? But I don’t want to die!” The look on his face almost finished me off then and there and I realized that this was just the beginning of the tough discussions. Ready or not, they are here. I hope that the listening and responding I do now will be good practice for when he is a teenager and the questions get even harder.

I saw the best quote on Facebook last year that has stuck with me:

listen

What Your Toddler Really Wants For Christmas

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20121221-061243.jpgWhile roaming the aisles of a big-box toy store the other day, I realized that my 18 month old daughter could care less about 99% of the stuff for sale. I know what she wants for Christmas and it’s not a dolly that sits on the toilet or a pink plastic household appliance. Here’s a list of what every toddler really wants to see under the tree:

  • A Kleenex box. The biggest one you can find, with the cardboard piece already ripped off the top. Free reign to pull the tissues out when she pleases, shred into tiny pieces and fling around the house.
  • A box of Christmas oranges to dump, line up and move in and out of the box to her heart’s content.
  • A toothbrush to chew as much as she wants, swirl in the toilet and poke her big brother with.
  • Her own roll of tape. She can rip the tape out over and over with no one saying, “Give it back to mommy, please. Give it back to mommy” and prying it out of her tiny hands. A roll of wrapping paper from the dollar store will also go over well.
  • A family sized box of rice to spread over every room of the house, just for fun. She already knows how to do this. She learned it last week in Sunday School.
  • A Lego set for her to step on and throw against the wall while laughing with glee.
  • An extra $10 to put towards the water bill so she can play at the kitchen sink and yell, “water! water!” as she pours, stirs and splashes joyfully.
  • An expensive fabric angel decoration to hug and kiss with spaghetti-sauce-stained hands & face.
  • An old plate to take to the cement floor in the garage, lift high over her head, and smash to smithereens.

Ah…the perfect Christmas.

*If you’ve been following me for over a year, you will recognize this post from last Christmas. I can’t resist posting it again this week.