Microblog Mondays: A decade from “I do”

Q. and I celebrated our tenth anniversary this week. The traditional gifts are tin and aluminum, because a marriage that has lasted a decade has had to be both strong and flexible. Q. bought me a tin lunch box with envelopes in it with menus for restaurants in our neighbourhood, along with the promise to take me out to lunch at one of these restaurants each month. I riffed off of Love Shack (the “tin roof, rusted”) and promised to buy him (and me) new pillows once we get home.

We left both kids with Granny and one of their aunties and escaped to a restaurant with a spectacular view and amazing food. We drank an entire bottle of wine over lunch. It was wonderful.

Earlier in the week, we’d been woken up at midnight to the sound of E. vomiting. We went in to discover that he’d been sick all over his room- his floor, his mirror, his sheets, his duvet, his pillow, his favourite stuffed animal. And we fixed it. I stayed with E. while he threw up again (in the bathroom this time) and then cleaned him up. Q. dealt with the linens. And then I washed his stuffed animal (repeatedly) in the bathtub while Q. mopped the floor and remade E.’s bed. Then I got into bed and snuggled with E. until he fell asleep and Q. disinfected the bathroom. Finally, Q. and I crawled back into bed, wondered aloud to each other what had set E. off, and then fell asleep, until we were woken up a couple of hours later by E. vomiting again (thankfully this time into the bucket we’d left in his room after the first round).

It’s that night I keep coming back to when I think about why our marriage is still so strong, why we’re still so happy. It’s not about the fancy gestures or the creative presents. Ultimately, what it boils down to is respect, kindness, a willingness to compromise, and the knowledge that when our child is covered in vomit in the wee small hours, we’re both going to get up to fix it.

We’re a team. Always.

(Although the occasional really amazing lunch doesn’t hurt either.)

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Choose Happiness, Joy, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: New Look

Three days before we flew overseas I went and got my hair cut, for the first time since my “we’re going to have to go to a funeral so I’d better make the time to do this” hair cut back in August of last year. To say I was overdue would be an understatement.

“Look at your hair!” exclaimed my hairdresser, not (I think) in horror. “How can the baby be one?! She was only a few weeks old when I last saw you!”

I sat in the chair and we chatted and nattered and all the while an increasingly large pile of my hair was heaped upon the floor.

I told her I wanted bangs.

Not side bangs, but proper straight bangs.

And, yes, the irony of asking for a recognizably high maintenance style after failing to make the time to get my hair cut for TEN months was not lost on either of us.

But I’ve wanted to try bangs for years now and keep chickening out, so I pressed on and my hairdresser did as I asked, and I went home with bangs for the first time since grade school. For a while I was convinced I looked like a Vulcan (and not in a good way) but I’m more used to it now. The bangs are refreshingly easy to look after, largely because my hair is so straight I can get out of the shower, finger comb it, and then it air dries exactly how I would want it to look. The only shock has been realizing just how much grey is in there- I’m clearly not going to take after my grandmother who still doesn’t have a single grey hair at 93.

Thus far the great bang experiment appears to have been a success.

Now I just have to see if I actually make the time to get them trimmed.

Have you ever made a major change to your hairstyle as an adult? Was it a successful change?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Daily Life, Microblog Mondays, Mirror, Mirror (Body Image)

Microblog Mondays: Waves

We’re down under at the moment, visiting Q.’s family.

It’s technically winter here now, but the weather has thus far more closely resembled what would be a nice spring day at home (except in the late afternoon when it gets cold and dark unexpectedly quickly).

Yesterday we walked to the beach. There were humpback whales breaching off shore and sea eagles soaring overhead. It was a beautiful day.

E. went for a paddle in the shallow end of the rock pool.

Q. went for a swim in the ocean.

He caught a few waves and even though I know, I KNOW, that he grew up doing this, that he has done this thousands of times, that he knows how to read the ocean in ways that my father never could have, I still spent his entire swim trying not to cry or throw up (I wanted to do both).

I haven’t been next to the ocean since it happened.

I’m going to be visiting this beach every couple of years for decades to come. One day my children will not want to swim in the rock pool. They will want to dive into the waves, just like their father, just like I once did.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do it again.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

8 Comments

Filed under Anxiety Overload, Family, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Deep Clean

Two weeks ago I hired people to come in and deep clean my house.

It was an act of desperation: we’d just been away and we were about to have visitors who were on their first (and likely last) trip to Canada. I wanted to leave them with a good impression of our life here, as I’m a bit sensitive to the fact that most of Q’s family think we’re nuts for living where we do.

I wanted a super clean house but didn’t have time to scrub baseboards, so I threw (a not insubstantial amount of) money at the problem until it went away.

They came in, and they cleaned, and afterwards, I felt…disappointed.

The house was cleaner, definitely, but I didn’t walk in the door and be amazed by the change.

I suppose that’s a good thing, as it means that Q. and I generally clean our house pretty thoroughly. The only two places where we did notice a huge difference were the windows and the kitchen (not coincidentally, those were the two areas that prompted the deep clean in the first place as they were driving me crazy but I just didn’t have time to get to them).

Basically if I can find time once a month to really scrub down the kitchen and we clean our windows even a couple of times a year, I can see no reason to ever hire someone else to clean our house again.

I’m not sure I’m pleased I’ve made that realization.

Do you have a house cleaner, or do you sometimes get someone in for a deep clean? If you clean your house yourself, how do you fit in the extra chores above and beyond the usual laundry, vacuuming, bathrooms?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Daily Life, Microblog Mondays, Money Matters

Microblog Mondays: Firsts and Lasts

My first baby had his first sleepover this weekend.

He was excited and nervous and worried about saying goodbye to me, which basically sums up E.’s reaction to most new things.

Q. and I weren’t sure if we were going to have to go and get him, but he had a fantastic time.

My last baby is in her last week of being a baby.

Every time E. does something new I’m reminded, again, that we will get a second chance to experience those firsts.

And every time P. does something new, I am reminded, again, that her firsts are also my lasts, for she is, truly, our last baby (despite E.’s insistence that we should have a third child because he’s “not done being a brother”).

She is the baby we never thought we were going to have, so every one of her firsts brings with it this complicated mix of emotions.

Gratitude. Grief. Nostalgia. Anticipation.

I am excited, so excited to see the little person she is in the process of becoming.

But it is bittersweet.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Blink and you'll miss it, E.- the seventh year, Microblog Mondays, P.- the first year

The eleventh month

A bit late but I’m under pressure to make sure I get it done before P. actually turns one!

Dearest P.,

This is so bittersweet. I have loved watching you learn and grow this past year, but now that your first birthday is just around the corner, it’s hard to accept that my last baby is almost no longer a baby at all. I’m not sad for you, because I know you’re so much happier now that you can do so many more things, and you’re becoming such an active member of the family. I just know that this really is the very last time I will get to watch a child of mine grow from a tiny, helpless infant, to a real little person. This year seems to have gone by so quickly.

This was a big month (again) for you! At the start of the month you were confidently pulling yourself up on everything, but you weren’t yet ready to move your feet. That soon changed and by mid-month you were starting to cruise around the furniture. As you became more confident standing you started to experiment with going up on your tiptoes and stretching out your arms to increase your reach, so another round of baby proofing (particularly with the magnets on the fridge) was required. You’re still not interested in taking any steps- you’re much too fast when crawling- but you have started to stand without holding on to anything for five or six seconds at a time. You love to crawl underneath the chairs to find one of your balls when it’s escaped and you’ll very carefully crawl underneath the coffee table to get to the other side if you can’t quite reach what’s on top of it. One day you pushed one of your brother’s little chairs all the way across the kitchen and I realized it was time to get out the yellow and green ride on car that your brother used. Over the course of the month you went from needing to be put on it and pushed around, to crawling along on your knees pushing it, to being able to get on it yourself, to being able to push yourself around slowly if you sat on it backwards. You can also walk along behind it holding on to the bar but at this point you prefer to ride.

This was also a month for climbing. Emptying the dishwasher has become even more of a challenge as you’ll climb up onto the lowered door and then sit up there, triumphant and deeply pleased with yourself, and “help” me by unpacking the cutlery basket. You always manage to find the sharp knives first- I don’t know how you do it. Most mornings now I take out the cutlery basket as soon as I open the door and put it on top of the counter. You’re not at all pleased, but it is much safer.

The other major safety change this month was we now have to shut the gate at the bottom of the stairs. We discovered this had become necessary one day early in the month when I went upstairs to put a few things away, heard a noise on the stairs, looked down and discovered that you were five or six stairs up already! I went down the stairs very slowly and carefully and scooped you up as soon as I could, but you sure gave me a fright! By about midway through the month, after several (supervised) attempts, you were able to climb up all fourteen stairs to get to the very top. The first time you did it your brother was sitting at the top cheering you on with every step and he still gets a big kick out of watching you rush to catch up to him.

You can also now climb onto the couch if one of the cushions is pulled off onto the floor. You love being up there and looking out the window, but your favourite couch activity is when E pulls off all the cushions and puts them on the floor to make an obstacle course. He’s busy jumping, crawling, and wriggling, and you’re right in there participating, rolling around and giggling. You may not have any idea about the order of the obstacle course (which frustrates your brother to no end), but you know that you’re playing with him and that makes you so happy.

As I’ve said to your Daddy more than once this month, we’re officially in the “living with Yoda” stage. Your favourite thing to do is to unpack, pull down, or tip over anything you can possibly reach, all day long. Folded laundry in a basket elicits shrieks of excitement as you barrel towards it, and bags of groceries are equally enticing. You also love to pull all the cloths and tea towels down from the door of the oven. You sometimes then put them on top of your head, just like your brother used to do, but you’re not as into “blind crawling” as he was.

Your wave is now open handed and is no longer identical to your “milk” sign, which is a good thing as you’re still trying to use your “milk” sign to mean anything from “I’d like to nurse” to “Can I have my water” to “I need help opening this lid” to “Can’t you see I need something right this instant, Mummy? Figure it out!” (which is when you frantically sign “milk” with both hands while squawking in frustration). You will put your hands on your head if asked where your hair is (although you still don’t have very much) and you can give high fives. You love to blow air out of your mouth (not raspberries, although you love doing those too), but we haven’t had any luck getting you to blow bubbles yet. You hate diaper changes and having your face washed, but with the exception of those two activities you’re almost always very cheerful. You also like to assert your own autonomy by staring us right in the eye while dropping food over the side of the high chair if you’ve decided it doesn’t look nice.

You love to put things into other things and then take them out again, so your favourite toys are your brainless elephant, your shape sorter (you can get some of the easier shapes in if we line up the sorter for you), and the seat of the ride-on car, which lifts up to make a handy storage compartment for various treasures. You can find “Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb” and “Baby Beluga” on your bookshelf and will hold them up in the air if you want them to be read (although most of the time you still close the book after a few pages). You still want to do absolutely everything your brother does. If I bring him home new books from the library you’ll sit next to him and “read” them too (they’re usually upside down).

This month we started a baby music class. You were a little apprehensive the first time we went but now you absolutely love it. You sit and bounce up and down in time with the music, chew on all the props, and watch what the other babies are doing. You’re still enjoying your one day a week with your babysitter, although you crawl frantically towards me signing “milk” as soon as I walk in the door since you do still love late afternoon cuddles and nursing. There was one day where I stayed in the house longer than usual and you were obviously confused and upset by the change- you like your babysitter, but you didn’t want to be with her if I was around.

We were so close to getting you through your entire first year without you getting sick, which I thought was incredible considering your older brother must have been bringing all sorts of new germs home from school, but our luck ran out this month as you came down with your first cold. You had a very runny nose and a weepy eye for a few days. You still managed to sleep fairly well but it was obvious you weren’t your usual cheerful self. You very nicely shared your cold with me so we had a few days where once we dropped your brother off at school we did very little else.

At the start of the month you went on a  real streak of getting up for the day somewhere between 5:20 and 5:40 a.m. Although this meant you were only waking up once to feed in the night, after nine or ten days of this your Daddy and I were utterly exhausted. We decided to try pushing back your bedtime to 7 p.m. This almost immediately solved the issue of you getting up too early but it meant that you started getting up twice a night to nurse again, which we felt was unnecessary at this point. So at the end of the month we started sending Daddy in to give you a cuddle and put you back to sleep when you first woke up in the night if it was before 3 a.m. We had some success but it’s too early to tell whether it’s going to be a permanent change. One of the reasons we were so desperate to fix the early wakings is that if you wake up too early there’s absolutely no chance that I can give you a cuddle and nurse you back to sleep in our bed. If you come into our room you get ridiculously excited- your Daddy says it’s like being in bed with a kraken. Even in your sleepsack you’re able to thrash around and climb all over us. If it’s the weekend and your brother comes in too it’s like being in a whirlpool. We’re definitely not going to be one of those families where everyone has a big family cuddle in bed on the weekends- you two just get too excited.

You’re still taking two naps a day, but we’re now at the stage where I have to wake you up from your first nap by 11 a.m. to make sure that you’ll be tired enough to fall back asleep before we have to go get your brother from school. Now that the weather is (slowly) improving it would be wonderful if you would nap in the stroller as then we could go for a long walk in the afternoon while you napped, but, just like when you come into our bed in the early morning, you’re too excited in the stroller to sleep. You want to see everything! At home, when it’s time to put on your sleepsack, you like to stand up in the crib and have me put the sleepsack behind you. You then lean backwards into the sack and fall (supported) onto the mattress with a huge smile.

You’re very, very busy. Unless you’re sleeping or sitting in your high chair, you’re almost always crawling, standing, cruising, climbing, and playing. The time we have together while your brother is at school flies by.  I’m so glad we’re still going to have the summer together before I go back to work as I can’t wait to see what fun we’re going to have once you’re walking. Your cheeky grin makes me smile every morning when I come in to get you out of your crib. You are such a happy little soul. I love you ever so much, my darling girl.

Love,
Mummy

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Filed under Letters to P., P.- the first year

Not My Story

If you’ve been reading me for a long time, you’ve probably noticed that I post a lot less about E. these days.

Partly this is because of lack of time. I post less about everything these days and my Google Doc file of “potential blog posts” keeps getting longer and longer.

Mostly it’s because I’ve decided that E.’s life is not mine to share.

When he was a baby, his life and my life were intertwined. Writing about learning how to be a mother meant writing about what he was doing.

He’s six now.

He’s a big little kid (or a little big kid depending on how you look at it).

He has his own thoughts, wishes, dreams, plans, questions, and opinions (this child is NEVER short of opinions).

Writing about him without his permission feels like a violation of his privacy, but he’s too young to be able to give me permission to tell a story- he wouldn’t truly understand what giving me permission means and what the ramifications are of something being published online (he’s desperate to be able to put “how-to” videos on YouTube when he makes, say, a conveyor belt out of toilet paper rolls and old linens, and can’t understand why I keep saying no).

The problem is, I desperately need someone to talk to about him, and (as I said recently) I don’t have the right kind of friend nearby.

E. is not easy to parent.

I know all kids have their challenges, but I also honestly believe that some kids are harder work than others.

Nothing drove this home more than chatting with one mum after school one day when she told me that the teacher had called her about her daughter. “That’s the first phone call I’ve had from the school about any one of my kids,” she said (she has three- the eldest is in grade four). “I guess one of them had to be the rebel.”

At the time, I was right in the middle of a months-long stretch where I touched base with E.’s teacher (bless her) every single day after school. We talked with E. about what went well, what hadn’t gone well, and what we could do to make things better the next day.

I went home after that conversation and cried.

I feel like most of this past school year has been spent trying to figure out what is going on in E’s head.

I’ve been to eight appointments (not counting follow up discussions with his regular doctor) with three different specialists.

His teacher and I have filled out questionnaire after questionnaire.

I have spent hours Googling, even when I know I should NOT be Googling.

The end result is that the developmental paediatrician thinks that E. probably does have something going on. It’s mild enough that for now we’ve avoided a formal diagnosis (because E. has made huge strides in the areas where we were concerned over this past school year), but we’ll revisit this in a year’s time as the demands of Grade One are going to be much heavier.

I don’t like labels.

I especially don’t like the label that the developmental paediatrician thinks probably applies to E. because it brings with it a lot of assumptions for a lot of people, assumptions which, for the most part, are not applicable to my son.

At the same time, if E. does need more support to be able to thrive in the school environment, and a label is required for him to become eligible for said support, then I will do whatever is necessary to make sure my child gets what he needs.

It’s hard though.

I’ve cried a lot in the last couple of weeks.

It is hard to think that my beautiful boy’s brain is likely to make it harder for him to cope with school (and with life) than it will be for his peers.

It is hard to realize that I have many, many more meetings with teachers ahead of me, that the school may not be able to look past the other stuff to see what he is capable of (and he is so incredibly bright, so capable, so curious).

It is hard to think of myself as a special needs mum, even as I recognize that I am his first and best advocate.

It is hard not to be scared of what the future will bring, especially if you start Googling.

It is hard to know that P. will be at a much higher risk for the same thing and to also know that it will likely be years before we will be able to tell whether her brain is wired like her brother’s or not.

It is hard not to think that this is somehow my fault, that I have done something wrong somewhere along the line to cause this (even as I read over and over again that it is not my fault).

It is hard not to feel guilty that he was five before we put in the paperwork to start asking questions, that we didn’t investigate earlier, that I kept telling my gut to be quiet when it whispered that something was going on, that I thought he would grow out of it or that he just needed more time to adjust.

In my heart, I know that E. is going to be fine in the long run.

Scratch that.

He’s going to be more than fine.

He’s going to be amazing.

P. too.

But the road to get there just got a lot rockier.

And I wish I had someone to talk to about it.

 

4 Comments

Filed under Anxiety Overload, Brave New (School) World, E.- the seventh year, Grief