Friday, August 29, 2008

If I only.....

We have all heard them or even uttered the words ourselves.I only knew then what I know now. I am one of those woulda-shoulda-coulda people. Annoying, I know. I wonder should I have bought the bigger bottle of Advil? Should I have finished school? Should I have said more? Should I have said less? Should I have gone right when I went left? It drives my husband crazy every time I do it.

My life is filled with things I maybe shouldn't have done. It makes me wonder if I hadn't made the terrible decisions I had, would I be where I am today? For that matter if I had not made the good decisions I had, where would I be today? I think about how much I have grown; in confidence, in fortitude, my perspective, my spirit. I am more myself today than I was 5 years ago. This might not sound like much. Who isn't more them self than they were 5 years ago in some ways. Well, not everyone would see the possibilities in that. I am a wife, mother, and follower of faith. These are all self sacrificing roles, and roles many who consider themselves to be intellectual, would consider hindrances to self discovery. While I have little time to myself I have discovered more of me within the safe and challenging confines of these roles than I ever would have imagined possible.

As I look back on my (short) life so far sometimes I think, "Man I wish I had known then that I would meet my husband. I never would have dated "him" or done "that". I wouldn't have. Then again, those choices all led me to where I am now. I think less that it was my bad choices and fate, and more that despite all my choices, God was still able to work it out for good. Yes, I think that. Am I so big and important that God can't take my mistakes and work around them? Umm, no. I do wonder what would have happened had I not chosen what I did then and just listened to what I knew I should have been doing. This brings me to now. What am I supposed to be learning now for use later? What will I look back one day on and think "If I had only known then what I know now"? I know that I will. What can I look around me and learn from today? Is it that I should appreciate the days as they are limited?

I guess this post isn't coming together like I want. Sometimes it is hard to muddle through this mess in my head to get it out. What I mean to say is what should I be learning right now that I am running from again like I did then? 20 years from now, or even just 5 , what will I look back and say if I had just listened, I would have decided better. This is not about regretting the past or even anticipating the future. It is about making those changes now and being fully cognisant of the possibilities if you just stop fighting and get out of your own way. If I only knew now, what I will know then.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why do they have to grow up??

I had one of those sobering (read: reduced to tears) mommy nights the other day. My babies are growing up and getting older. With school starting next week, it is my ritual to start with the oldest boy and go through his clothes. I pass down to his next youngest brother what is too small and still wearable, and toss what is stained or ratty. Then I do the same thing with the next boy. Everything was going great until I got to Ryker's clothes. It was then I realized why I have been putting this off for so long. I have no one to pass his "too smalls" down to. Then I remembered - I hate doing this.

There I sat surrounded by tiny baby clothes. Remembering. Reminiscing. Poor Ross; he didn't get why I was crying. Men. You know ladies. Most likely even if you have no baby clothes lying around you have some dress you wore on the first date with Mr. Right or the Sweater in which you finally realized he was Mr. Wrong. Whatever, clothes can bring this all back. Tiny little baby clothes are sentimental to me. My mom saved clothes from when I was a baby for me to pass on to my kiddos. (Fat lot of good that did me with this house full of boys)

As I sifted through the tiny apparel I cried. Ross looked at me lovingly (but still like I had spontaneously sprouted a long scaly green tail) as I pressed the sweet little blue dragonfly outfit I brought Ryker home in to my nose and inhaled. He promptly said "Umm, It doesn't smell. Its clean." Yes dear. Thank you. I realized I would probably never smell that sweet baby smell from my own children again. Notice I said PROBABLY. I don't want to say never because God has a sense of humor, and with my second child, no sooner had I finally released all his baby things did I find out I was pregnant again. So I let go of a stage in my life, the 0-12 months age. So sweet. So innocent. So immobile. And while I was at it, I bagged up all clothes that read 18 months to 2T. It's was a night that was so completely, indescribably, simultaneously wonderful and utterly horrific.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mothers with Careers vs. Career Mothers

From the moment you are brave enough (or na├»ve enough) to share the good news of your pregnancy with your family and friends and let’s face it, the general public because you can’t hide that thing for long, you are faced with millions of complicated questions about your intentions for life after the baby arrives. Are you a breast or bottle girl? Will you vaccinate or just focus on really good handwashing? Disposable or Cloth (which really should be phrased as gross or GROSSER)? Will you have your son circumcised or will you just let nature be? At their core most of these decisions are more about your baby, than you. Except there is that one burning question that is equally about both of you (and your spouse/partner/whatever) too - will you work or will you stay home?

And no matter which you decide to do, you will find that immediately it will set you squarely into one camp of mothers or another: the mothers with careers or the career mothers. And the mothers from those camps don’t cross over, they may coexist peacefully on the playground, but their relationships are tainted with suspicion and judgment and of course, guilt. Of course moms may get along one on one with other mothers from the opposite camp, but when it comes to group interaction you’ll see a line down the middle more clearly than you would at a sixth grade dance. I could spend pages exploring, the psychology and the guilt and the motivation behind making and living with this decision, but I am not a social anthropologist and really, I am the mother of three with a load of laundry to do and a bathroom to clean. So I’ll spare you. I do however, want to let you in on one little secret and I think once I put this out there it might be as eye-opening for you as it was for me. This whole tension between the mothers with careers and the career mothers may be due to a simple misunderstanding. By way of explaining, I’ll share a little anecdote with you.

During a visit to the playground, a friend of mine (who happens to be employed - just so you know that I do have one or two of that kind of friend) overheard a conversation between a couple of moms in the career camp. One mother was bemoaning the fact that her nanny had been absent for a week or two and she had taken her place at home with the children. Now you must understand, this mother was not begrudging her nanny the time off. And she wasn’t complaining about all the things she couldn’t do because she was home with her kids. Instead she was simply admitting to her friend that she was miserable at home because she didn’t like who she had become since being at home for a couple of weeks. She warned her friend "Shoot me if I ever tell you I want to stay home, all I do is yell at these kids all day long." While a part of me would love to poo-poo this mommy with a career and claim that she is clearly not cut-out for full-time childrearing, I know that’s simply not the case.

What I do know is that someone, preferably a stay-at-home type mom, should take this woman and absolve her of her guilt by telling her our (career mommies’) little secret, that’s all we do all day too! That’s what mothering is, hard and frustrating and relentless. And yes there are little moments of hilarity and tenderness and all that good stuff, but there is a lot of struggle in between. This poor woman has been at her office all these years thinking that all those PTA moms and after-school brownie bakers are greeting their kids with sing-songy voices and simply coping with all the hair-pulling, and spills, and selective listening and general bad behavior that comes up in any given day. She could not be more wrong. Sure, we stay-at-home-moms may have a few more tricks up our sleeves for these situations, like turning on the vacuum cleaner or locking ourselves in the closet, but we’re not having any better of a time than she would. So I say this to all the working mothers out there who are struggling with guilt over leaving your children at home: stop second-guessing yourselves, the reason no one is yelling at your kids right now is because you are at work and there is someone with them who you pay to NOT yell at them.

And to all the stay-at-home moms who have wondered if they would stop yelling and start appreciating their kids a little more if they weren’t with them all of the time: stop second-guessing yourselves, no matter how much time we spend away from our children we will never altogether stop yelling at them, because they are our kids and we love them. And sometimes they deserve it.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the Year

OK, well it's really not.....but Back to School time is once again fast approaching. The kids have all had their doctor, dentist, optometrist check ups done. Clothing and shoe shopping was done this week, and we bought Drew a saxophone since he'll be starting band in middle school this year (HOLY CRAP!!! Am I old enough to have a kid in middle school already?!?), and now all that's left is to get haircuts and go to the school open houses. Also, this week, Drew went to scouts for the first time, and really enjoyed now it seems he has a new Wednesday evening activity to go to. Hopefully when basketball starts next month they will have a different night then Wednesday planned for practice night. One thing I've realized (ok....was chastised for by a friend who shall remain nameless.....) is that I never posted any pictures on my blog of our trip to Canada. Yes, there are some on Facebook, but not everyone is over there to see I guess I will end this blog with a few shots from our great trip to Canada.

Cooling down with ice cream after the Canada Day parade

Ryker and Dagan playing hockey in the backyard

Cameron Falls -- Waterton National Park

Red Rock Canyon -- Waterton National Park

Drew on the slip n' slide

Ryker pigging out at the family bbq on Canada Day

Randall in grandma's backyard

The boys -- my three and my two nephews

The kids and my parents on our last morning in Canada

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