With the amount of rain we have been getting lately, it’s amazing we’re able to sneak in time in the sun. But we do. I love the spontaneity that chasing the sun brings, and the adventures we’re still able to create in that short amount of time.
Parenting while experiencing fear is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. With everything going on in the world, it’s hard not to.
A world health pandemic made no exception, and that universal fear of never wanting anything to happen to our children, affected parents of all creeds, races, ages, beliefs; a simultaneous experience of collective fear in parenting.
For some, that fear was able to be met with a solution that provided safety again. Being able to work from home to keep one’s children safe. Having a home to bring them to. Being able to afford to stop working if needed. Having access to health care should something happen.
For some, that fear simply added to the pile of other fears one already parents with, and no easy solution for them.
The differences between those two experiences of fear in parenting is privilege.
I think we all experience some sort of fear when parenting, but I am acutely aware of the huge spectrum “parenting with fear” has, and privilege in direct relation to that.
The more privilege you have, the less fear in parenting.
The less privilege you have, the more fear in parenting.
This is not new information.
When I think about who would be more prone to chronically parent with a high level of fear, I don’t have to think about it for too long. The current affairs of the world right now will tell you who, and there are many, and it’s always those who are marginalized.
This is not new information.
The part that I especially can’t stop thinking about, is the lifelong consequences this has for both the parent and child.
That is generational trauma. And that is also not new information.
Even with all the best of my intentions, if I experience stress, I am humanly unable to parent the way I want to. And I acknowledge that the stress that I experience is few and far between. For some, parenting with chronic stress is an everyday normal, and with all the information available at one’s fingertips, a quick research on psychology will tell you the consequences that has.
That is generational trauma. This is not new information.
Generational trauma directly in relation to privilege.
I have hope in the generation of my children, hope that they are the light and the change that will make the world a better place. I have to be.
As a parent, I also know that my hope for the generation of tomorrow is supported by the parents of today, and they need support today.
How do I support the parents that are raising tomorrow’s generation -today, right now!?
That’s a question I have kept in my mind for every action I am taking on the current state of the world. How is that helping the parent that is raising my children’s future classmate? Future friends? Future life partner? Future co worker? Because to me, to care for my children, is to care for the parent, and their child.
My heart is with all parents, but especially with those who parents with love, with hope, with patience, with care, with perseverance, with pride, even while experiencing so much fear due to things they cannot change.
I want to listen to your story, please don’t stop telling it. Let me carry any weight I possibly can, even the weight of stories that are hard to tell.
I may not be able to offer many things, but I see you today, I hear you today, I act with you today, with a collective hope for our children tomorrow.
The end of breastfeeding is very much like the beginning of breastfeeding- a beautiful irony. My breasts are leaky, I have a bit of engorgement, and as the days pass, I wait for my supply (or end of supply) to regulate itself. A little bit of Mother Nature’s poetry.
It’s been three weeks since my Oliver nursed for the last time, and though there is nostalgia, it has been wonderful. His last time nursing was much more emotional for me than it was for him, as he happily nursed, blissfully unaware that he wouldn’t breastfeed again.
With nothing else other than our love for each other bringing us together now, it’s been wonderful to feel how bonded Oliver and I really are. He still asks to nurse every now and then, and when I say the milk is finished, he puts his hands on his face for a bit, but then easily distracts and we usually end up having a cuddle, or playing a game or singing a song.
Judging by his reaction, I think we were both ready to stop but neither of us wanted to make the first step.
Our two years breastfeeding have been so absolutely wonderful, and I loved every day, hour, minute of it.
From the newborn days where nursing sessions seemed endless and I had to often remind myself that I knew it would get better, to days later on in our breastfeeding journey when I looked forward to him nursing as it was a quiet moment in the day, to the many times when nursing is all he needed to be OK.
I’m proud of us, I am proud of me.
As I end this chapter in my motherhood journey, I feel like I need to share wise words of wisdom, and so I say this.
Breastfeed for as long, or as little, as it feels right for you and your baby.
Do it with love, patience, and confidence knowing it’s what you want to do.
Surround yourself with people who are supportive, and steer clear of those who aren’t.
And more importantly, enjoy the time you and your baby share while nursing.
Some days it will seem like you’re ready to end the journey, other days you will cry thinking about the end, but when you’re ready, you’ll know.
If I’m completely honest, as I’m writing this, I feel that lump in my throat, and I fight back tears brought on by a melting pot of emotions. I am happy. I am sad. I am nervous. I am scared. I am ready. I am unprepared. I’m basically the definition of a juxtaposition mess, ha!
But I am just that. I’m a little bit of a mess.
Going back to work after my Oliver turned one has always been the “plan”. It’s been the plan my husband and I discussed while taking a walk on a chilly spring evening 2.5 years ago. I was 9 months pregnant, we were going to become parents in a few days, and we decided that I would stay at home with the children for a few years. My husband knew it was important to me, and we made it happen.
It has been amazing. No! It’s been life changing. I fell in love with motherhood, with my children, and I found so much of myself in my new identity as a mother. I grew and learned with my children, and I am beyond grateful for that time. And though I knew I would go back to work eventually, like we had planned, I am still fighting that lump in my throat, because I’m sad.
With little preparation, and with shorter notice that I expected, an opportunity came up for me to return to work, and as I write this, I officially begin my countdown from being a stay-at-home Mom to being a working Mother. My countdown doesn’t begin with double digits. Seven days. In SEVEN days, I return to work full time.
It’s a weird concept to think about, and I’m sad for the era that is ending.
I am also happy, so happy and grateful for the past 2.5 years. I have been able to watch my little babies grow up. I’ve watched them grow in love with each other, with me, with my husband. We’ve had lazy mornings, and breakfast for lunch. We’ve gone for walks at random times of the days, watched movies before nap time. We’ve had pool parties in the backyard, and thought very little about time, because well, we had time… a lot of it.
Time, definitely worth more than gold. With limited time now, we will just have to be more intentional with how we spend it, and though I know my little family will find a new harmony soon, I already miss the time I won’t have with them.
Motherhood. Just when you think you’ve found a groove and it’s all figured out, something changes and you have to adjust and find that new harmony to make it all work again. If you’re a mother who has gone back to work after “x” amount of time at home, I’m sure you can relate. In fact, knowing you and thousands of women have gone through the same, gives me strength. It makes me admire women and mothers more and more.
And so this new era begins, and though I still feel that lump in my throat, I am more excited and hopeful for what this new season in life brings. I am sure I will be jumping through emotions in the next couple of days, but I am allowing myself to feel them all, but most of all, I am allowing myself to enjoy my babies for the next couple of days, with no other obligations or responsibilities other than them.
It’s officially the first day of fall! I happily welcome this new season; bring on the colder days and yellow leaves! We had such a great summer, and without nostalgia, I look forward to another season with my babies.
We had a simple summer. My first summer as a mama of two. We traveled a little, but mostly, adventured close to home, or at home. I’ve said this before, but in the act of doing nothing special, the most special memories are created, and that rang true for this past season.
I’ve watched my little Penelope learn to ride her tricycle, to fly a kite, to more confidently go down a slide. My little Oliver learnt to crawl in the grass, to love the outdoors just as much as his sister, and started wanting to try taking steps – always with a big smile on his face. I could keep writing about them; I know and love every single thing about them. Instead, I leave this video – for me to remember, and for the kids to watch in future and know how much their mother loved them.
It feels like just yesterday, I was pregnant for the second time, full of that nesting energy again, and my husband and I had decided our children would room share. What was then Penelope’s room, turned into the shared nursery, and within those four walls, so many memories, evolution and growth. It’s the place where my babies rest, where they dream at night, and always in each other’s company. Their little shared room, a space that is so special to me.
My children have been room sharing for 7 months now, and it has been wonderful. I love so many parts of it; their little chats before they go to bed, their patience with each other, especially when one has a bad night, and their happiness when they see each other in the morning (even though they’ve been in the same room all night) makes my mama heart happy. Are there nights that are harder than others? Absolutely! To me, that’s just part of being a parent of young children though. They need us through the night sometimes, and it would happen whether they were in the same room or not.
When Oliver turned 3 months old, I wrote a blog post on how the room sharing was going, and the things we did to prepare for a smooth transition. One of the things I mention on there is keeping Penelope in her crib for as long as possible.
Last week, my husband and I were surprised to hear little footsteps outside our bedroom door at 5 in the morning, and then a little voice that said “Mami”.
Penelope learnt how to climb out of her crib!
I was not anticipating this transition so soon. Penelope is only 27 months old, and I was planning on keeping her in her crib until she was 5 (kidding). She slept well in her crib, she liked it, so why fix something that isn’t broken. But, of course, as with many things in parenthood, you may not be ready for a change, but they are, and you just have to go with the flow.
We decided to transition her straight into a twin bed with side rails, and she loves it! We bought the frame, mattress and side rails from IKEA, and since Penelope graduated her crib, we gave hers to Oliver, as her crib was nicer. Even with a larger piece of furniture in the room, it still feels as spacious as before.
The transition to big girl bed has gone much easier than I had expected, which I’m happy for, especially since I wasn’t expecting it, ha! The first 3 nights, it was as though she didn’t think she could get out of her bed at all, and she didn’t. The fourth night, once the novelty wore off, she took forever to fall asleep. She tried to open the door and leave her room, which we then closed, and she didn’t like, so she screamed and protested, then moved the rocking chair towards the wall so she could reach the switch to turn the lights on, and scream and protested some more. After a few minutes, my husband went back in (which is when he saw her standing on the rocking chair, ha!), told her it was “night night time”, and she settled for the night. The silver lining? Oliver slept through all of this! haha! One of the advantages of room sharing, you learn to sleep through A LOT of noise, ha! It’s been a little over a week since the transition, and other than that crazy fourth night, bed time routine is back to normal! Woohoo!
I sometimes still get the “Is she crazy?!?!” look when someone learns that my baby and toddler room share, but it really isn’t as impossible as it sounds. During transitions, like a move to a big girl bed, it can be a little nerve wracking, but then I think to myself; I’m not the first parent whose children room share, and I certainly won’t be the last. The experience itself has taught me a few things along the way too, so even if we had a third bedroom on the same floor as our other two, I wouldn’t have done anything differently.
If you’re thinking/planning to have your children room share, from one mom to another…
Trust your gut. In my heart, I knew I wanted my children to room share, and I believed it would go well, and it has. They fed off our of energy that this was their normal, and that’s the way it has been.
Be Flexible and Adjust as needed. There have been times when one of them will go through periods of bad sleep (they are both still babies), and if we worried that they would wake/keep each other up, we would adjust. We’ve had nights when Penelope has slept in our bedroom/ guest bedroom in the play pen, and that’s OK. Once their sleep regulated, we would put them right back in the same room.
Babies are more adaptable than we think. The most common question I get when a someone learns that my children room share is, “Don’t they wake each other up?”. Penelope was pretty young (19 months old) when Oliver moved into the nursery, so she adjusted easily. Oliver hasn’t known anything other than room sharing all his life, so he didn’t have a choice, ha! They fall asleep to each other’s sounds, and almost sleep better for it. Penelope has only woken up a few times when I’ve nursed Oliver in the middle of the night, most of the time, she doesn’t even hear us. Also, White Noise Machine is a must when room sharing! So, no, they don’t wake each other up at night. If they did, I wouldn’t get much sleep at night, and I like sleep.
Separate them for naps. Daytime sleep is never as deep as it is as night, so the noises that they sleep through during the night, can wake them up in the day. They used to take day time naps together, but since Penelope’s naps are getting shorter, she would sometimes wake Oliver up before he was ready to during naps, so I decided to separate them. Oliver naps in the shared room, and Penelope either naps in our room or the guest bedroom. She will drop her naps before he does, so I wasn’t too worried about her not napping in the room.
Embrace the experience. On the nights they have 30 minutes of baby chit/chat before they fall asleep, and I’m annoyed because I just want them to fall asleep already, I realize the chit chat is exactly the magic of the room sharing experience. They are bonding over their little laughs and jokes, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. We have a third bedroom in our home, not on the same floor as our master and second bedroom, but the extra room is there. The day they request to have their own space, I will honor it, but for now, I am embracing everything that comes with room sharing… late night chats and all.
My babies are growing so fast, and so wonderfully. It’s still a little weird to walk into their room and no longer see two cribs, but now a big girl bed in there. Though it wasn’t a transition I had planned this early, at least now, I can sneak in a cuddle or two with my Penelope when I go and check in on them before I go to bed.
My favorite piece of the kids’ furniture, is a beautiful little rocking chair I found on Kijiji. Made out of wood, it’s heavy and chunky, with little dents on the arm rests and naturally beautiful tear and wear. You can tell it’s a chair that’s been lived on, and I like that about it. The seller’s children had outgrown it, and I was so happy to find it and give it a new home. A beautiful little rocking chair, and I only paid $10 for it.
If you’re a Canadian (mama), I don’t have to explain what Kijiji is, because chances are, you’ve used it before… many times. If you’re a mama, I also don’t have to explain how quickly babies outgrow everything, especially in the first two years of their lives. As a parent of two young children, my oldest just a little over two years old, I love buy and sell sites and children’s consignment stores.
It has saved us a TON of money.
I remember being pregnant for the first time and looking at baby items. Wow. You hear that babies are expensive all the time, but, wow! We’re an average middle class family, but I think regardless of where you sit on the income scale, when you start to shop for baby stuff, you just feel poor. Or at least I did. The list of necessary items easily adds up to thousands of dollars, and as a first time mom-to-be at the time, I wanted the latest and greatest, because for a second there, I had a little bit of “keeping-up-with-the-Joneses” (Fun fact: My neighbors are actually the Joneses #truestory).
My children don’t care about the latest trends, and honestly… neither do I.
90% of the time, my children are wearing second hand clothing or hand me downs from friends and family. They wouldn’t know it, you wouldn’t know it, and they always look pretty freaking adorable. My 2 year old and 8 month old don’t care if they are wearing the latest in kid’s fashion, and how much I pay for my children’s clothes doesn’t mean they aren’t wearing good quality items. Especially when it comes to baby clothes. There are times I have gone to consignment stores to find children’s clothes with a tag still on them! Another one is strollers. We found both a single and double stroller second hand, both in great shape and for a great price. If I was a jogger, and needed a stroller that was specifically meant for running, I would absolutely spend the money, but… I’m not jogger, ha! You get the point though. As long as it gets my kids from point A to B, is compatible with our infant bucket seat, and in fairly good shape, it was all the things I needed. We were able to find that and more.
Toys may not be new to you, but they are “new” to your children.
Baby toys are very age specific, hence don’t have a very long life. Chances that you’ll find a baby toy that is almost brand new, or in excellent shape, is high. Give it a good clean when you bring it home, and the kids will be so happy with their “new” to them toy!
The 3 R’s
In buying second hand, I’m reusing baby items and extending their life, which in it’s little way, positively impacts the environment. I like the idea of repurposing baby items as well, an idea of what you can do with old baby gates here.
A little extra cash is always nice.
The day will come when your baby outgrows his baby items, and you will be the one getting ready to donate or sell these items. Since you didn’t spend much money on these items to begin with, you could equal your investment, or even make a little profit. If you think this sounds selfish, then you’re morally superior than I am, haha. Jokes aside, it’s part of the second hand economy which is a win for both buyer and seller. Plus, I prefer to buy from another fellow mama, and give her a little extra cash to do whatever she wants with it, like a pedicure, which all of us mamas deserve!
My children have everything they could need, and more. Buying second hand gives me the ability to provide them that, and allows me to spend money on other things like activities, outings, travel for them.
Kijiji is one of my favorites resources to find second hand baby items. It’s easy to post and search for baby (and non baby) items in your area, and I have found a lot of little gems through it. Facebook is another great resource, with a lot of buy and sell groups you can join based on the area you live in. Once Upon a Child is another favorite. I have bought some the cutest baby clothes there, always in excellent shape, and for a great price.
At the moment, my youngest is outgrowing a lot of the baby items his sister used before him, so we’re slowly getting ready to part ways with a lot of items. It’s a bittersweet thing. Every swaddle blanket they broke out of, the bouncer they needed in order to nap for longer than an hour, the stroller they visited the zoo in for the first time; they all become items that carry memories with them. On the other hand, the day we say goodbye to these bulky items, with color palettes that stand out like an eye sore, and play the same 3 songs over and over again, it’s a happy day, ha. These items are also finding new homes and helping out other young families, the same way it helped us, and that makes me happy.
Did you know there is a nude beach in Edmonton? Yep, neither did I.
OK, technically, this beach is just outside of Edmonton, but it’s close enough haha. You gotta love this city though! There are so many little hidden spots and adventures, and every time we decide to go explore, we find something new. I love it!
Yesterday, we decided to go to our favorite river beach spot after dinner. We didn’t have much time before the kids’ bedtime, but it’s the summer, the kids were in a great mood, so bedtime can wait. Off to explore!
Near the beach spot we usually go to, there is a trail we had been meaning to hike, but had just never gotten around to it. As we were in an adventurous spirit, we gave it a go. About 10/15 minutes in, we came across the first sign. “Nude Hikers beyond this Point”. Now, if that doesn’t catch your attention, I don’t know what would. We had heard rumors that there was a nude beach around this area, but we’ve been to the spot in the river a lot, and had always seen people clothed, ha. Determined to see where this hike would lead us to, we kept going. Penelope was having a blast running around picking up sticks, Oliver entertained by all the scenery, we walked past a canola field on the way; the hike itself is quite beautiful. There were a few mosquitoes, and since we didn’t come prepared, that was a little annoying, but then where’s the fun in being spontaneous, right? We continued, following little orange tags along the way, so we knew we were going the right way. The next sign, “Clothing Optional On Trail & Beach”. Good. We didn’t bring a swimsuit for Penelope, and we know she’s going to want to go in the water. Another 10 minutes after that, we had arrived.
It was a very private and quiet spot next to the river, and well, when in Rome…
We had a blast! I can’t remember the last time I swam in a river wearing my birthday suit, but if you can, why not? You only live once. It was awesome. Perhaps because of the time of the day, we were the only ones there, and that definitely helped in my comfort with being nude, but honestly, after a while, I didn’t even think of it. An experience that, had we not discovered accidentally, I probably would have never tried, and it’s good to try new things.
A balmy summer night, spontaneous adventures, canola fields, birthday suits, and my little family. A pretty good night.
I am especially aware of how I perceive the way time passes ever since becoming a mom. When my little Oliver no longer fits a piece of clothing because his legs are too long. When my Penelope outgrows her shoes. Anytime they move up a diaper size – time.
Their play area, set up for a baby who just learnt how to crawl and a toddler who likes coloring, becomes an abstract portrait of my children at 2 years old and 7 months old Anytime they change and grown, so does this space.
I love their little corner. Other than their shared bedroom, this play area is the only other spot in the house that is completely theirs. An eclectic backdrop of toys, lots of handmade details, and stuffed toys that were once valentine’s day gift given to me by their father, now theirs. There is something special in that isn’t there?
We don’t spend much time in this area during the summer months, but with some rain the past week, I got a chance to watch them play in this space again.
As a parent, do you find yourself feeling nostalgia with things you never thought you would? I do, I am nostalgic often. All of their little toys have memories attached to them. Pepe, for example, was Penelope’s first doll. She loved him from the moment she saw him, in an IKEA hallway, love at first sight, ha! I have videos of her dancing with him when she was still learning to walk properly, because Penelope danced before she walked. Pepe is still her favorite doll. Pepe has a special place in her heart, and he does in mine too.
Oliver’s little corner still has a mirror at floor level, the one he could see himself in when he could only roll over. Now that he’s crawling and pulling up to stand on anything he can, that mirror will soon be gone, but I wanted to capture him playing in that area with the mirror still there one more time.
In this area, I watch how they play together. Oliver is Penelope’s little copy cat. If she’s reading a book, he wants to read too, if she’s in the little canopy, he wants to be there too. Perhaps the reason the second child usually does everything sooner, as he’s trying to keep up with the oldest. It’s a bittersweet thing, but I love that he sees Penelope as his teacher. As with any siblings, they are starting to have their moments of frustration towards each other. The time they both want the same toys, or when Penelope gets a little tired of him following her around, or when Oliver tries to walk like his sister, but he can’t. Regardless of their dynamic, it’s wonderful to watch them grow, and learn through play, with their little corner as their stage.
I pulled out my camera, and without any interventions, watched them play. Like a fly on the wall, I just watched. Their play, their interactions, their little conversations. The things I want to remember forever.
Whether it’s a hand written letter, a scarf you knitted yourself, or wall art you made with your children; there is something quite special about the handmade.
Large piece of white paper
Directions: Squeeze paint onto various spots on the paper, and using the branch as a brush, let them explore.
The handmade isn’t instant, and in a world where everything moves so fast, and “time consuming” is a bad thing, not- instant is a great quality. Crafting takes time. There are steps, there is a process, and within that process, moments to practice patience and imagination as one stops and makes changes along the way. It offers moments to slow down and to experiment, again and again.
With a 2 year old and a 7 month old, “slowing down” sometimes seems impossible to achieve, ha! When we’re making crafts though, I see it. Using simple materials – branches, a large piece of paper, and paint – the kids are happy and entertained for 15 -20 minutes. Penelope experiments in the ways she moves the branch to mix the colors, and in the process, the most beautiful textures and color made. Oliver still quite young, finds more wonder in the branch itself, examining the leaves, and trying to eat them, ha! Perhaps I’m a little biased (I have a Fine Arts degree), but I hope my children find making things with their hands therapeutic like I do, and if not, that they remember the moments we sat down around our kitchen table, creating moments to enjoy the process of making things, of spending time together, of slowing down, and of creating beautiful things with our hands.