Nothing has brought as much joy and happiness to my life as having children. Sometimes it feels as though my life didn’t really begin until these little people entered my life and it can be hard to look back and remember exactly what it was like before I had them.
I spend time each and every day - sometimes a little, sometimes a lot - thinking about how fortunate I am to have them and how much better my life is with them in it. Yet even with my heart bursting with love there are times when they are just downright annoying.
The whining, constant sibling squabbles, the 6:00 am Saturday morning wake up calls, the noise all the time; it’s enough to make me want to drink. Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling so irritated. Does it mean that I’m a bad mother if sometimes they bother me? I can love every inch of their beautiful little beings and still get irritated, can’t I?
Parenting really is the most amazing experience but at times it can also be annoying, routine, boring, and unbelievably frustrating. Ask parents what are their least favourite parenting tasks and you will get a list so diverse that you will not feel alone in your frustrations. We all have moments where the bothersome parenting moments overcome us. What makes the list you ask?
1: Hair Brushing: You would think I was torturing her slowly. Every run of the brush is followed by screams and tears. I then chase her around with the hair brush trying work out the knots as she begs me to stop. There is begging and pleading and then finally she agrees to have her hair brushed but ONLY if Daddy does it. Apparently Daddy knows how to brush hair without hurting…who knew?
2: Brushing Teeth: Unlike brushing hair, brushing teeth does not involve tears and begging. It does, however, involve a very real power struggle. Jaws stay shut while I try to pry the toothbrush in between clenched teeth. We will stare each other down until someone gives, which is usually me, when I throw my hands in the air and give up. Then and only then will they call me back and agree to allow me to brush.
3: Public Bathroom visits: Without fail, every time we leave the house my children need to use the bathroom about 15 times. I don’t know what it is about public bathrooms that they are drawn to, maybe it’s just to mess with me because they know that I’m a germaphobe. I think they sit back and laugh at me while I literally shake in fear thinking of all the germs growing on each and every surface. They smile in satisfaction while I shudder at the pee on the toilet seat that I have no choice but to clean off before I let my daughter sit. It is the most dreaded moment of any trip out of the house for me.
4: Refereeing Sibling Squabbles: For Julie Cole, this is one of her most frustrating tasks and I have to agree. Listening to my kids fight is like nails on a chalkboard. I feel my blood pressure rising as I struggle with myself internally whether I should let them figure it out themselves or step in and break it up.
5: Picking things up: Socks off the floor, toys scattered everywhere, dishes, you name it - we’ve picked it up. When polling YMC bloggers, almost each one mentioned picking something up as one of their most frustrating parenting jobs. It would be easy to pick up their snack bowl and carry it to the sink, much easier than searching the room for a shelf and then moving books around so the bowl will fit. Yet they still choose that option over walking the 20 or so steps it would take to get to the sink and just drop their bowl in it. For Deb Lowther, it’s flushing the toilet: “Three kids all over the age of nine and I am still flushing so many toilets every. single. day,” she says.
6: Bedtime: I used to love bedtime. It was one of my favourite things to do, in fact both Mr. C. and I would argue over whose turn it was to put the baby to bed. That was as a baby when you could to feed them and cuddle them and watch them fall sleep sweetly. Now bedtime is an exercise in negotiation. 5 more minutes, one more story, stay with me for 5 minutes…ok 4 minutes…ok 3 minutes…In the half an hour leading up to bedtime I feel tense and stressed and I absolutely hate when it ends in an argument. According to YMC blogger, Katja Wulfers, it doesn’t end as they get older, it just becomes more difficult to get them to understand the consequences of staying up late.
7: Getting out the door: “I could mediate and diffuse a tense international conflict in the time it takes my kid to put on snowboots.” Says Nadine Thornhill. Winter is the worst time to get your kids out the door on time. I have to tell my kids to put their coat on at least three times before they even begin to make their way to the closet. Sometimes I think the only solution is to put them to bed in their snowsuits, then maybe we will make it out the door on time.
8: Homework: There is a reason nine out of 10 mums, including many of the YMC bloggers, loathe homework; it is terrible. From getting them to actually sit down, focus and complete their homework, to helping them with their assignment, it is a stress not only for the assignee but also us helpers. I’m still very new to the homework struggle but if I already break out into a sweat each time I see that homework pouch come out of the backpack then I can only imagine was it’s going to get like as they get older!
Don’t get me wrong, the pros definitely outweigh the cons in this whole motherhood game but that doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t just want to toss in the towel or wave the white flag. They can outwit me, they have more willpower than I do, and they sure as hell are quite skilled in the art of arguing. I love the fun we have together, the way they make me laugh and nothing beats watching them grow into their own amazing people but man there are some parts of parenting that make me want to lock myself in my room with a little drink…hang on; someone’s knocking.
I was warned, before the arrival of our first baby, that once you have children it's easy to toss the romance to side, letting it gather dust in the corners. Life changes, priorities shift, and let’s face it, sometimes you are just too tired...so very very tired. When you're trying to juggle diaper changes, laundry, school runs, and playdates the thought of adding one more to do to the list seems impossible. Cozy pj’s, a nice book, and your bed seem like the best option sometimes.
Yet here we are, almost 12 years together, seven years of marriage and two children and romance is still alive! It may require a little more effort and a bit of imagination and it's definitely not the Hallmark definition of romance, but look closely and you will see the passion is still alive within us.
The moment my first child was born my love for Mr. C grew ten fold. When I saw the kind of man he was as he rocked our baby, I knew this was the man I was going to grow old with and I would do whatever it would take to make this marriage a happy one.
Romance, for us, is not defined by candlelit dinners or expensive gifts. It’s not flashy. You won’t find it in a fancy restaurant or wrapped in a pretty blue box. Contrary to many of the meme’s that I see floating around social media, I do not consider doing the dishes romantic. Flowers and chocolate are not the way to my heart. Wait! Scratch that; the path to my heart is always lined with chocolate.
Romance doesn’t die once you have kids but it does change, it evolves. It’s not always found in the obvious places but if you look for it, your love story can be found in the hidden corners of your life.
Romance is putting the kids to bed early so you can indulge in burgers and fries while watching a movie that doesn’t include animation or characters who randomly break out in song.
Romance is in the way he looks at you while you are helping the kids with homework.
Romance is placing my feet in my husband's lap at the end of a long day for a nice foot rub.
Romance is late night scrabble games.
Romance is when he chooses to go to East Side Mario’s for his birthday dinner just because his kids love it.
Romance is wandering through Target together at 9:30 on a Saturday night date night just to have a few more minutes alone.
Romance is dancing together in the kitchen while your kids look on giggling.
Romance is chatting over coffee on a lazy Sunday morning and feeling sad when one of you gets up to take a shower.
Romance is the moment he grabs your hand while skating with the family and it feels like it’s just the two of you on that rink.
Romance is when your exhausted husband tells you to go take a bath and he’ll do story time tonight.
Romance is when he lies at the end of your bed rubbing your feet while you cry yourself to sleep after having a miscarriage.
Romance is when he wraps himself around you from behind while you stand at the sink doing dishes, surprising you with a kiss.
Romance is when he brings home your favourite chocolate just cause he was thinking of you when he was out running errands.
Romance is holding hands while you walk to the park.
Romance is when your kids smile at the sight of you kissing.
Romance is laughing, big belly laughs that cause tears to roll down your cheeks.
Romance is knowing there is no one else in the world that you'd want to take this journey with.
It's not about grand gestures or who gets the biggest bouquets, it's a feeling that starts deep within your soul. The answer lies in how you look at things, spotting those moments of romance amongst the every day chaos is sure to put a smile on your face and warmth in your heart. The moment that baby enters your lives everything changes, romance, is no exception. You just have to learn to look for it in different places. Our passion can be found scattered all over this beautiful life we have created with each other.
She introduced me to horror movies and Pogo's with mustard.
We rode bikes, played in treehouses, and giggled our way through sleepovers. Our Barbies lived complex lives and we even shared a Ken doll. We were very different people but somehow we just clicked.
As we traded in dolls for Walkmans, and jelly shoes for high heels, our friendship evolved, sometimes taking us down different paths yet those paths always seemed to wind their way back to each other and it was as if we had never parted.
Until, one day, our paths stopped crossing.
It was a baby that blocked our path. I had the baby. She didn’t.
It was even more complicated, I had a sick baby. A sick baby can scare people into disappearing, avoiding what makes them uncomfortable. It was too much for me to deal with; the aftershock of my sick baby and to face the pain of my friend’s absence during my crisis, so it blew up. She, the one without a child, didn’t understand what I was going through. Me, the one with a child, didn’t understand how she couldn’t. A wall went up that was just too hard to climb.
It’s inevitable, to lose friends. We’ve all been through it haven’t we? It might be a disagreement that pulls you apart. Or maybe you just grow in different directions. One of you goes away to University, one of you gets married, one of you has a baby. You may not even be able to pinpoint the exact moment but somewhere you just stop understanding each other.
Perhaps it happens slowly, gradually over months or even years. You pretend that everything is normal, even though you find you have less to say to each other with each passing moment until one day your only contact is the occasional awkward run in at the grocery store.
Some friendships need to end. The friends that are very good at taking but not as good at giving. The friends who aren’t very supportive. Those who don’t rejoice in your success because they feel better when you are down. Those who only want to be there when it's easy. Sometimes those friendships are the hardest to walk away from.
Still, when a friendship ends it's a loss and it can leave a very deep and real void in your life. You become a sideline spectator to her life, viewing it through what she chooses to post on Facebook or Instagram. You smile when you see the photo of her first child or when you learn she finally followed her heart and is succeeding in her career. Social media allows you to feel as though you are oddly still a part of her life if even from afar.
I have gone through break ups; puppy love that fizzled out quietly, bad boys that broke my heart over and over again until it felt like there was nothing left to break. Break ups that knocked the wind out of me and left me broken, picking up the pieces of the life I had imagined. Each ending leaving me with new lessons to take forward in life. Yet, nothing has left me feeling as empty as the loss of my friend. We saw each other through most of our endings. We heard each other’s tears, and hated each other’s enemies. This time I couldn’t pick up the phone and call her. Like a phantom limb, it felt like she was there but each time I reached out for her I was shocked into the reality that she wasn’t.
I have walked away from boyfriends without so much as a glance backwards, knowing in my heart that they weren't right for me. Walking away from friendships hasn't been that easy. Time heals all wounds and in the years that have passed wounds have been healed. I mourn the friendships lost however I also revel in the memories they left behind. I take with me the lessons I have learned. New friends have filled the empty spaces. New memories are being made but the old memories are not forgotten.
There are certain special friends, who though no longer a part of my life, will always remain a part of my heart. To those I say thank you for the part you played in my story and I wish you nothing but the best in your journey.