I see the photos plastered across Instagram; mothers and daughters enjoying manicurers and pedicures, hair blow outs and make-up sessions, bonding across the salon chair. Excited little girls getting their tiny toes painted the most adorable shade of pink. Maybe lunch or ice cream afterwards? It’s something that I have always dreamed of. From the moment I found out I was having a girl I was already planning our mother daughter salon days.
Then my little girl entered our lives. She’s a beautiful mix of frilly girl and tomboy. She is obsessed with lipstick and nail polish but she can wrestle like a WWE fighter and don’t ask her to wear tights because it’s not going to happen! As her requests for pink lipstick became more desperately frequent my concern began to grow. I started to notice that even at an early age little girls are bombarded with images of beauty. Princesses clad in beautiful ball gowns trying to attract their prince. Little girls dressed in clothes that must be made for teenagers, with perfect hair, and shiny lips. It just seemed overwhelming. Three and four year-old girls wearing make-up seemed a little over the top, even for me.
Her Dad was pretty clear with his opinion. He didn’t want Ms. J wearing make-up, even to play, he felt she was too young for two piece bathing suits, and nail polish was a no no. It was something that he felt so strongly about that I had to back him up.
I struggled with it at first, having these fantasies of matching manicures floating around my mind. Yet the more we stayed away from the salon days the more I realized that maybe this was something that was best saved for when she was a little bit older. When she had a better understanding of what it meant. When she could truly appreciate it. If I’m taking her for manis at 3, what am I going to do at 12?
I want Ms. J to be self-confident. I want her to feel great about herself without being all done up. I don’t want her to base her value in her looks. I don’t think, at her age, she is ready for a professional manicure or pedicure. Daddy eventually conceded, just a little, and ok’d the play stuff at home. So for now our salon bonding is done in play, at home, she does my nails and I do hers. She puts on my lipstick and brushes my hair. At the end of it all this is what it’s about, right? Spending time together. In all honestly she’s probably having more fun with me sitting on the bathroom floor messily painting my toe nails than she would staying still in a salon chair for the entire length of a pedicure. There is definitely a time and place for mother daughter salon time and I am anxiously awaiting those days; I just think we have a few more years before we get there.
Maybe passion is too strong a word.
I've never really been a lover of winter. I'm not one of those people who longingly waits for the cold to hit and the white stuff to start falling from the sky. I've always preferred the long lazy days of summer. Yet when I was younger, I didn't hate winter. I spent weekends skiing with family and friends and I attempted to learn to snowboard. I lived for hot chocolate by the fire after a long day on the slopes, but I still anxiously awaited the snow to melt away making room for picnics and late night swims. Eventually I actually began to dislike winter and in my University years I pretty much stayed indoors from November until late April.
Then I had kids.
When they were babies, I had to force myself out in the snow but it was really just from car to baby playgroup and back. The kids tucked tightly into their infant carriers and me running from car to house with my coat flapping in the wind. There was the occasional walk around the yard pulling my little ones in their tiny little sled but those never lasted too long.
My kids are getting older and my son, Mr. T. is an outdoor kid to the bones. He needs to be outside, a lot, it's how he centres himself. Last winter I made the conscious decision that I was going to join him in some outdoor play. I invested in a good pair of snowpants, a warm winter coat and a serious pair of snow boots. I took on a "if you can't beat 'em join 'em" attitude. We had a blast! We giggled the entire way down the toboggan hill. We glided across the outdoor ice rink without even noticing the cold.
Alright, I barely noticed the cold.
Ok; so the cold didn't kill me. Point is we had fun.
And so it began...a kind of semi-love for winter.
Most of us are dreading the arrival of the white stuff but there is this little part of me that's kind of looking forward to it. I'm super excited to introduce Mr. T. to skiing this winter, or if he gets his way I may have to brush up on my snowboarding skills. I can just see the two of us bonding on the chair lift.
Ask me again in February and I may give you another answer, but for now I am a teensy bit excited for old man winter's arrival. I raise my hand and volunteer myself as my son's outdoor play buddy. I will use this as an opportunity to spend some quality time with my buddy, just the two of us.
November 17th is World Prematurity Day. I am not the mother of a premature baby. I am, however, the mother of a NICU baby and I do have a deep and real understanding of the fears, worries, and pain that many parents of preemies endure.
In honour of World Prematurity Day I would like to send a message to all mums who are going through the difficult and painful journey of the NICU.
Hey NICU mum,
I see you.
I see you shuffling silently through the hospital, your slightly swollen belly a telltale sign that you have recently given birth. I see the pain in your red-rimmed eyes; eyes that spill tears down your cheeks without you even noticing.
I hear your thoughts. I know you are wondering what you did to cause this situation, or maybe what you didn’t do. I have felt the guilt you carry with you every second of every day. Your pain is palpable and you never knew that your heart could physically hurt. Your dreams have been dashed. Lullabies are not being sung in the beautiful nursery sitting empty in your home. Instead you hum over the beeps of the machines monitoring your little one’s vitals.
Your exhaustion goes beyond the normal fatigue of a new mother. Waking up every three hours - not to feed a baby, but to pump - just reminds you of your reality. The few hours of restless sleep you manage to catch in between is almost an escape; moments where you dream your baby is home with you, happy, healthy, home.
Your hands are raw from continuous washing in scalding hot water. You've mastered how to rock and maybe even bathe your baby while managing all the tubes and wires that are a part of them. You are surviving on whatever food they are offering in the hospital cafeteria and your back hurts from hunching over the isolette day in and day out.
Your brain is swirling with medical jargon you are actually starting to understand. You celebrate each little victory; each poop, each ounce of milk your baby was able to consume on their own, each gram gained. These little victories have become your lifeline.
Your baby will get stronger; they will learn to breathe on their own, they will learn to eat on their own. Eventually you will be discharged and you will feel on top of the world.
Your life will never be the same. It will be filled with follow-up visits and explaining to family why they must wash their hands before touching the baby. Some will not understand. They will expect you to move on right away. With time your pain will ease but it will never go away. It will become a part of who you are, tucked away in a secret, special place right next to your heart.
Yet in these early moments - moments where you can’t yet see the birthdays and holidays you will celebrate in the years to come - you feel alone.
You are not alone. You are part of a tribe no one wants to be a part of, one that no one ever imagines will be a part of their story. You are a part of a tribe that is here to support you whenever you are ready.
This will not kill you. You will be stronger.
You are not alone.
I see you.
This is Natalie's first post for YummyMummyClub.ca. Join her at Putting it Out There often, won't you?