Rant a little…

This morning I had a breakdown in a grocery store. I never would’ve imagined I’d be able to say that, but it’s true. I could get into the particulars of this, but I’ll only say that it ended with me walking out of the store line crying and being chased by an employee saying, “come back… don’t make me feel bad.” I replied, “Don’t feel bad. It’s personal.” And well, it is. It’s extremely personal. I have no idea why this was the morning, and that was the place, but it happened. I cried so hard I should’ve pulled over because I couldn’t see. All around my  mouth went tingly, as it usually does when one starts to hyperventilate. I got home and went right to my bed. So, why all of the sudden am I this hysterical woman, crying in my bed over grocery shopping? I guess it was just the final straw. I hit my max stress level and I cracked.

I make so many jokes about how I’m good at isolation because I don’t like people anyway. How I prefer to be at home. How amazing it is that I haven’t worn a bra in God knows how long. But it’s been getting to me. Not just the isolation. It’s not that, so much as not being able to do simple things that I used to enjoy. Eating in restaurants, shopping for books, buying groceries without having to be masked and queued in a line outside. I was driving by the road where my Mom lives today and I thought, I can’t even go there. I can’t go and knock on her door. I’m all alone. In and out of a grocery store and back to my house. That’s it. That’s what I’ve got now. It made me so sad and SO FUCKING MAD!!

I miss work, but not the work that I’m doing now. I never ever would’ve applied to a job where I had to do video meetings everyday (3 this week) that give me so much anxiety I feel like I’m going to throw up on my laptop. The job that requires that now I have to teach myself  a whole new technology based way of doing things. I get it, times are different. We all have to adapt, and I will. But it’s a lot. ESPECIALLY when you throw that on top of now having to teach my kids as well. I open my email every morning with a panicky feeling in my throat. I know that it will be loaded with things I need to help my kids with, ideas of how I should be doing things for my own job, and sometimes it feels like a mountain I have no idea how to climb.

The homeschooling thing is too much. I’m just going to put that out there. It’s too much. I hear that it’s supposed to take 1 hour a day. To that, I call bullshit. 3 Google Classrooms filled with work and not only work, but links to learning sites and games and online reading materials. It’s not just teachers who are sending the work. Now we have the school library techs sending stuff and EAs and everyone who works in the damn building sending ideas. It’s in the newspapers. A never-ending barrage of work. I don’t find it helpful. I find it stressful as fuck. With all of these ideas and information comes a whole lot of pressure. Every single day since this started, I’ve felt overwhelmed. Every. Single. Day. I’m not a stupid woman. I’m not lazy in the least. But this is too much. Our internet wasn’t working one day this week and I filled with hulk like rage because it means I have extra work the next day. I am up at night crying about my kids’ schooling. Failing my kids is an actual fear I have in my heart. I start to think that when the kids go back to school, (if that ever fucking happens) they’ll be behind and It will be because of me. Trying to get the kids to sit and do these things or organizing things like experiments with rocks we find outside… ALL OF THAT TAKES TIME! I must also find time to do my own work, and take care of everyone’s needs as well. Oh and I’m also supposed to use this time to create memories while I’m at it. Don’t forget about the memory-making/bonding time. Add that to the list of shit to get done everyday. I don’t know how everyone else is pulling this off. How are you working and teaching your kids and keeping your house clean and waiting in line for milk and bread? It feels like everyone on social media has their shit together… Everyone can’t possibly be lying about this. The only conclusion that I can come to is that everyone is just way better at this than me.

This is a stressful time, and until today, I didn’t realize how much of a crisis I’m really in. I’ve been working out constantly just to keep myself from crawling out of my own skin. I get so overwhelmed all I can think about is running away. Literally. I can barely sit in the same room as my husband because he’s so stressed out over his business that listening to him makes me shake with anxiety. While the reality of it does freak me out and worry me to no end, that’s not what I struggle with. I struggle with the raised voices and stress that radiates off of him. The stress of feeling so helpless. To top it all off, I’m home every single day with 3 kids who are going stir-crazy. I have to keep them sane when clearly I’m going insane myself.

This all sounds so pouty, doesn’t it? So woe is me. But fuck it. We’re all struggling, and if me having a breakdown in a grocery store makes me weak, then so be it.

Today I am weak. Here’s hoping tomorrow is better.

 

 

 

 

Blah Birthdays & Mom Jeans

When I woke up this morning I had two thoughts: 1. I really hope I’m not out of dry shampoo because I’m never going to have time to shower. 2. It’s my birthday week! This means I get to do all of the things I want to do, slack off as much as I want and eat and drink myself into oblivion. It’s about. to. go. DOWN.

I really wanted to have a clever list to post this week, in honor of me inching another year closer to dementia, but I just can’t think of anything witty to say about turning 37. It’s just meh or blah… A big fat whatever birthday, if you will. 37 just feels whatever. It feels the same as last year, except this year I have more grey hair to pluck (honestly dark hair is a curse), and I’m spending more money on anti aging skin care routines that don’t work. I look the same, except my skin is bright red and feels like it’s on fire from overpriced peels and serums. Hooray for 37!

Since I’ve been doing a lot of my Christmas shopping online, I’ve also been sneaking purchases in for myself. You know…because it’s my birthday month and all.  A week or so ago, I was online buying my daughter the jeans she wants for Christmas. She’s showed me a million times…We go to the mall, I let her show me how trendy she thinks she is, and then I make a bunch of really obnoxious old mom jokes about how it seems ridiculous to buy a pair of jeans from the Edward Scissorhands collection. I mean honestly, what’s with the tattered, holey and shredded jean look? Is this in style? But that’s not the point. The point is, that I ordered her the perfect pair as a Christmas surprise. Then I was looking at all of the other jeans, thinking… hmm…maybe I need new jeans. Every single pair on this website just blew me away. The ugliest jeans I’ve ever seen in my life. I was mesmerized by their hideousness. I just couldn’t stop looking… Acid wash… shredded zombie-like jeans… MOM JEANS! So, obviously I bought a pair of the highest waisted mom jeans I could find. Because screw it, I’m turning 37 and I feel old and this will make me look young and hip. My daughter told me so.

Holy cannoli, I was dead wrong. When they were finally pulled ALL THE WAY UP and on, that is when I knew…without a doubt…mom jeans were the best birthday gift I’ve ever given myself. Tears STREAMED from my face as I looked at the longest zipper ever. Just the crotch of these jeans… It was front bum city. I couldn’t help but proclaim, “LOOK AT THAT FUPA!” Let’s not even mention what they did to my ass. Hint: flat as a dinner plate and as long as a Canadian winter. It was a total disaster. The pant equivalent of granny panties. I have never in my life laughed that hard at myself. One look in the mirror and I was dancing around like Rod Stewart singing…. If you want my body…and you think I’m sexy… I would’ve worn them longer, but the squishing and bruising to my internal organs was crippling. I took them off, put them into my drawer (because you don’t ever return something that entertains you that much), and pulled on a nice old lady nightgown. Because THAT is how I roll.

Also this… My favourite meme right now. I cannot explain why and I’m aware that it is completely irrelevant to this post. I love it though. It makes me laugh almost as much as the jeans.

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Keep on Truckin’ 2020 LOOK OUT!

25 days left in this decade. Thank you social media, for reminding me over and over and over that it’s the end of a decade, and that’s kind of a big deal. The past 10 years have been filled with ups and downs. I’m sure everyone can say that. I don’t know many people who spend 10 years doing absolutely nothing new or different, scary or exciting. But alas, here is my post reflecting on what 2010-2020 did to me. Ha! I think the only reason I’m really writing about it is because it was 10 years of raising kids, and that sounds both dreadful and heroic at the same time. 10 years of raising kids may seem boring, and let me tell you, a lot of the time it really was. I don’t care what anyone says, there is nothing mentally stimulating about cleaning up bodily functions. It’s exhausting and mind-numbing and yet, completely necessary in parenthood. Regardless, I feel like the past 10 years are an accomplishment for me. I made it. I’m still standing, mind and body intact. All of my kids can now do most basic things for themselves. But I’m rambling, which is something I’m prone to. The point of this is to reflect on how far I’ve come in 10 years.

It’s been a long tour…

TEN YEARS AGO:

This is the first picture I posted in 2010. It was taken on February 11, 2010. The morning after I gave birth to my son, Jack.

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Things I’d like to note about this: 1. I was barely into social media 10 years ago. My posts were sporadic and I am SO GRATEFUL as those years were horribly difficult. 2. I clearly didn’t care about my greasy hair or what I looked like in an over-sized Sears housecoat. Pictured here is a 27 year old woman, her 20 month old daughter and the baby boy she just pushed out of her vagina hours before, at home, in her bedroom. She is basically a superhero.

And from here things go way downhill…

Here is a picture of me looking like I love my life, and yet I was in the depths of depression/eating disorder hell. This was the summer of 2010. TEN years ago!! NOT a glamorous time in my life.  IMG_3614

10 years later…

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Just kidding. That’s not me. I feel this though… Right in my soul.

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This is me. Approaching my 37th birthday with my son, the sweet babe you saw in the first picture. In the past ten years I’ve felt the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I’ve accomplished great feats (ahem a marathon) and crashed and burned through some pretty monumental failures (the list is long). But I’m still here, an ever-changing, ever-evolving human on a mission. I’m still working towards some pretty lofty goals, and making mistakes as I go. The past 10 years has taught me that I’m far from perfect, and I don’t ever want to be. That sometimes I’m a little too much for some people, and that’s OK, because they’re not my people anyway. Ten years ago I cared far too much about things that didn’t matter. I cared what people thought of me. I wasted a lot of time and effort on people who didn’t deserve it. I also made many many mistakes. But that’s life, right? You live, you learn. I’m pretty stoked to start 2020, mainly because it feels like a clean slate, and I DO enjoy clean.

So here’s to the next decade. May it be filled with all good things, for all good humans.

Let’s do this!

 

 

Ugly Selfies, Memes & F-Bombs

I don’t know how to start this.
What I DO know is that I am so happy, perhaps happiest, when my friends send me selfies. Not the normal kind. Not the ones with the fake eyelash filter or the fake makeup. I want the opposite. I want the NO filter, look at how ugly I am right now pictures. I scroll through photo-shopped pictures nonstop. Isn’t that what Instagram actually is? A collection of filtered, beautiful people and scenery? Pretty sure that’s a yes. Sometimes I’m in the mood for something different. Something not so….boring!  I want to see the people I love, keeping it real… and do they ever! My friends aim to please!
I was sitting at my desk this morning, explaining to my friend via messaging that I felt dusty (classic dry-shampoo overuse) and looked ashy (very Miss Havisham), and she sent me a series of her freshly waking up selfies, complete with exaggerated “ugh” looks on her face. I started laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my face. It’s something I’m noticing as we are getting older. We are not the girls who post a million selfies of ourselves looking sun-kissed and beautiful. Instead, we send each other “I’M A MONSTER, LOOK AT THIS TRAIN WRECK!” pictures.
I send the most hideous pictures to my friends ALL THE TIME! In return, my friends send me pictures of them waking up…pictures with baby barf on their shirts… pictures of the random food stains on their pants that go unnoticed until they arrive in their offices. Why, just a few minutes ago I was sent a picture of perfect “martian hair” complete with foils and a funny facial expression. If you’re not sending selfies to your friends while you’re having your hair coloured you aren’t living. Guaranteed you aren’t laughing enough either. It doesn’t stop with pictures. It’s our conversations too. They are real and honest and I actually can’t imagine my life without this form of truth. This form of friendship. This form of connection.
There are so many negative things you can say about our use of technology these days. People are actually attached to their phones and it can be a little too much. But it’s also amazing. I can’t imagine how lonely life would be without my different group chats. In my spare moments I want to connect with my friends and let me tell you, a moment is really all we have. We plan our girls weekend MONTHS in advance. Our schedules are busy (this is a whole other ranty post that I could write). It’s hard to find the time to balance work, our families and our social lives. What we do have time for is ugly selfies, memes to make each other laugh and a place to write out a quick rant, knowing that if there are multiple women in the group chat, at least someone will have time to hear you out. Sometimes it’s 4:30 a.m. and your phone dings with a message from your friend who is in breakdown mode over her lawn furniture blowing away in a windstorm. So, you do what comes naturally to you. You drop some f-bombs with her and make her laugh with a stupid meme. That’s what friends are for.

So, if we are in a group chat together, if we text, or write each other long emails about nothing… THANK YOU! Thank you for being part of the train wreck that is my life. You make me laugh, you make me cry, you make me, ME!

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Lists, lists, lists & other things that make me go hmmmm…

These days I am all about writing lists. I have journals filled with them. I have to-do lists, grocery lists and lists about other random things. Things that are REALLY random.

Example: A list of things I’d rather be doing. 

1. Sitting in a shady bar, drinking a warm and flat beer with a bunch of dirty construction workers with alcohol dependencies.

OR…

2. Snorkeling in the middle of the ocean where I could possibly be attacked by a shark.

As you can see, my day is going well….

Another on-going list I have is:

Things I wish I could say to you. 

1. To the man who slowly walks his dog around the neighborhood: I used to think you were super weird for your slow snail-speed walking, and your creepy backpack. I used to imagine it filled with explosives or other creepy-creeperton things like doll heads and roadkill. Then one day I saw you take a bottle of water and a dish out of your creepy-pack and give your dog, (who looked rather senior when I looked closely) a drink. After that, I didn’t see you as a potential creep-a-zoid. I saw you as a loving and caring dog dad. I’m sorry for thinking you were a homicidal maniac and also… thank you for loving your dog so much. He/she is so lucky to have you.

2. To the man who asked me to help him find rapini in No Frills: What part of NO FRILLS do you not understand?

Anyway… Here is my most recent list.

Things I know for sure:
1. Neon orange food always tastes good. Cheetos, Cheez Whiz, Kraft Dinner, creamsicles, the orange drink McDonald’s used to serve when you were a kid. It may not be healthy, but if it’s neon orange, it probably tastes like heaven.
2. There is a proper way to assemble a burger. If you don’t do it properly, it doesn’t matter what kind of meat/cheese/toppings you use. It won’t be as good as it could be.
3. A public toilet must always be flushed using your foot. Everyone knows this.
4. Almost everything can be fixed with a hot bath. Foot hurts? Have a bath. Feel murderous rage towards the man who took the last bag of Cheetos at the grocery store? Have a bath. Add a glass of wine for complete pain relief.
5. Vodka is a really good cleaner. It dissolves soap scum and cleans glass. However, it is better to have soap scum and streaky glass than to be without vodka. Caesars.
6. That reminds me. Caesars. You can add a million and one things to your Caesar, but it will never beat a traditional one. Skip all the frill and just put a little pickle juice in it. Nobody wants to drink horseradish or BBQ sauce so STOP IT already! Also, the celery is overrated. Skip the shrubbery. See below.
7. Skip the lime or lemon on the side of the glass when you are out in a restaurant. The bacteria on those things. Hello e coli! This goes for all the garnishes you might find on the side of your glass. Just skip it. No one likes shit lemons.
8. If you spend a lot of time on your hair, you know it will be windy AF outside and all of your hard work will be for nothing. Doesn’t matter how far you have to walk. Two steps is two too many. Your hair will be ruined and you will look like Kurt Cobain. Plan ahead. Bring a hair elastic. Alternately, wear one of those plastic hood hats that old ladies wear. I really wish they were a thing. I’d brush my hair EVERYDAY if I could wear one of those.
9. Always carry headphones with you so that random strangers think you’re busy and won’t talk to you about the impending apocalypse or their ongoing problems with law enforcement. It’s good practice to put headphones in your ears upon waking. Wear them everywhere. If you work with the public, you are screwed. After work, see #4.
10. Always talk to the craziest friend you have when you’re feeling down. They will most likely have a weirder or more insane thing happening to them in their life. The distraction will be good for you. Also, recognize when YOU are the craziest friend. Then you are shit out of luck and you should probably skip the headphones, and find a crazy person to talk to. Public transportation or a public library is always a good bet.
Just imagine the things I’d accomplish if I spent half as much time doing productive things instead of writing random blog posts about nothing.
Next list: Productive things I should be doing to keep my life on track and NOT lose my job.

Jimmy-Jammed Up

I heard someone use the phrase “jimmy-jammed up” last week, and since then I’ve been obsessed with finding a way to use that in a sentence. On my walk this evening, I found it.

Here it is: Sometimes, I get jimmy-jammed up.

Jimmy-jammed up is the perfect way to describe how I feel a lot of the time.  I feel like I just don’t know. I don’t know ANYTHING. I am absolutely paralyzed with fear over the idea of making a decision or choice, no matter the size or severity. I can’t tell you what I feel like eating at any given time, because well…I just don’t trust myself. I don’t trust that I know what I want or what is good for me. I have a history of making wrong decisions, or misreading everything and making bad choices. This is me right now.  I’m TOTALLY “Jimmy-Jammed up.” When I’m asked for my opinion now, it’s basically a solid, “Not sure.” Commitment to any plan? No thank you. I just can’t right now, and it feels so foreign to me. I am, and have been for most of my life, an extremely opinionated person. I’ve been black or white. No grey areas. I’ve been right or wrong. No negotiations. Now, I’m just like….meh, or blah or I don’t know. Don’t ask me. It’s gotten so bad that now I’m relying on strangers to tell me what I should do. Honestly, I asked a Starbucks barista what she thought I should order. I’m completely disturbed by this.

I usually get relief from my “jimmy jammers” on long runs in the morning, and long walks with my dog in the evening. I get to escape the anxiety that life choices, big and small bring, by taking video of a woodpecker pecking a tree (Guys, I swear this is basically #1 indicator that you are getting older. Bird watching/videoing.) Tonight’s walk/meditation/ritual nature therapy was short. I stopped to talk to a stranger, and ended up hearing about the loss of her husband, her struggle with living on her own and her love of trees. It’s been like that lately though. The dog and I, out on walks, meeting people who tell us the stories of their lives. I can’t help but think of why. Why is it that I’m continually stopping (much to my chagrine), to listen to complete strangers tell me random stories? Yesterday, I met another woman on the trail, who shared her stories with me and really, all I could think was why? Why are there so many people out there, wandering around in basically the middle of nowhere? Why are they talking to me? Why is there so much talking and yet, no one is giving me any answers to the questions I have? Seriously? How DO I like my coffee? What kind of boots should I be buying and for god sakes… What IS my interior design style? Someone please, tell me what I want!

How do I get rid of these jimmy-jammers? I mean, really? Because I just can’t be so wishy-washy anymore. It feels so foreign. I need to be de-jimmy-jammered. Where’s the manual on that?

Please try to use the phrase “jimmy jammed” in a sentence this week. You won’t be disappointed. Until then, here’s a picture of my girl Josie on one of our walks. I take video of her walking, because honestly, her ears bouncing and her tail wiggling as she walks is basically proof that happiness exists. No one is as happy as she is. No one. I just adore her. She came into my life at EXACTLY the right time. If only she could talk. I know she’d give me all of the answers.

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My Feral Summer

Guys, is summer over yet? Really… I don’t think I can take anymore of it. The kids have me boiling over with rage daily now. I can’t even anymore. They make huge messes, they fight CONSTANTLY, they are ALWAYS with me. Right now, my son is sitting beside me slurping cereal in my ear. The clang of his spoon on the bowl, followed by the long obnoxious SLURP! NO MORE!! Why must he sit right beside me? I feel like I cannot escape. Also, is it normal for a kid to eat a WHOLE box of cereal everyday? I mean really, the only thing he eats is cereal. The milk consumption is out of control!!

I’ve literally had 1 day off without kids this summer. I should’ve spent the day cleaning the mountains of dirty clothes and/or packing them for their friend’s house/camp etc etc. But no. HELL NO.  I spent it with a friend, without kids, doing whatever the hell I wanted to do. Eating and buying books. I actually shouldn’t even be sitting here right now. I should be cleaning and packing again… but I’m so tired of it. I did plan on running this morning, but slept in because I was up for 3 hours in the middle of the night debating whether or not I like sandwiches or tacos better. Answer: Sandwiches. So, when my alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. it wasn’t happening. When I finally rolled myself out of bed, I got dressed in my work out clothing thinking that after I dropped Natalie off at her friends’ that I’d come home and run on the treadmill (can’t leave the other 2 kids alone without Natalie). Well, here I am. Not working out. I look like I might though. My outfit is great. Running shoes on. The thing is, I went downstairs and got on the treadmill and lasted…wait for it….46 seconds. 46 seconds before I said, nah…I’m not into this. Then I thought maybe I’d play around on the Bowflex. Ha ha! Instead, I sat on the seat thingy and scrolled through Instagram. Not today Satan. But honestly, this is basically what summer has been like for me. Completely worn out from constantly driving the kids places, living out of laundry baskets, cleaning, eating complete garbage food. I’m so tired. I need structure and a schedule. I need school so bad. I can’t handle another day of cleaning slime out of the carpets and being the referee in debates on whether or not a cottage needs to be on a lake or not to be considered a cottage. HONESTLY!! This is what my kids are fighting about now. It’s just enough already.

My friend gave me these socks just yesterday at lunch. I almost died laughing. She said that when she saw them, it was literally RIGHT after I said the exact same thing to her. She knew I had to have them.

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The socks say it all.

I’m ready guys. It’s time. The countdown is on.

 

You Should Go & Love Yourself

 

A few months ago, I tucked my 11 year old daughter into bed for the night. She was crying and when I asked her why, she said, “I don’t like the way I look.” It caught me off guard I guess, because I could feel myself tearing up. Being the ever so brave mom that I am (not so much), I told her that she was being silly and that actually quite stupid since she looks exactly like me, and well….like duh! I was kidding of course. I make jokes when I don’t know what else to say. It’s my way of buying time I guess. Anyway, I reassured her that she was beautiful and smart and amazing and that she shouldn’t doubt that, even if somedays it feels really hard not to. I went to my own bed and cried myself to sleep. I felt like the worst parent on earth. I’ve spent so much of my time telling her she’s so smart and beautiful and praising her every step of the way. Why didn’t she just believe me? As it turns out, it has nothing to do with what I’m telling her she is or isn’t. It has everything to do with what she’s seeing me think and say about myself. I realized that all the negative self-talk I had about yammering on about myself may be leaking into her brain and making her think that kind of insanity was normal.  She was watching me dieting and working out non-stop. Talking about calories and how much more weight I had to lose. I spent the entire winter behaving that way, and to be honest, that’s not the first time I’ve been an idiot like that. Of course behaving like an exercise addicted, food restricted asshole did have it’s pay offs. I had abs for all of 7 days… Until I went on vacation and had a beer and enjoyed my life like a normal person. It TOTALLY wasn’t worth it either, because in the end, I’ll always be me, and I kinda like me just the way I am. Flabby, holding a beer, big smile and horrendously loud laugh, as I plow my way through a big plate of fish tacos. Whatever, I’m over it. I understand a lot more than my daughter. I know reality and I’m comfortable with knowing that yes, I can have a beach body, but only if I want to spend my life caring about it. It turns out, I don’t care. I don’t care in the least. Nice abs don’t make you interesting or fun to be around. They sure as hell don’t make you any friends worth spending time with. So, I want her to know that. But I also want her to know that she should exercise and try to eat properly (unless you get invited out for tacos and beer. Then you must skip the gym and hit the fiesta. Life lessons girl, life lessons).

For months now, I’ve watched her be conscious of her body and of what other people are thinking about her. I see her looking down at herself when she’s in a bathing suit, grabbing things to cover herself. I don’t know what to say when I see it. Everything I say to her these days is wrong or hurtful. It’s actually heartbreaking when you feel like you can’t get through to a person you love so much. So, instead of over-explaining or lecturing her about body image, I’m just trying to be positive about my own body. When she pulls her arm across her stomach to cover herself while we’re lounging on the boat, I take my shirt off and sit there in my bikini top without flinching. We all have rolls when we sit down, Natalie!!! Let me show you. This isn’t at all easy for me to do, but I’ll do it for her. I don’t want her to spend her life hating her body the way I did. She’s got more important things to spend her time on….like making herself happy.

Right now I want to tell her that she’s just at that awkward pre-pubescent stage right before her growth spurt, and that she will soon blossom into a beautiful swan (gag), but that’s not right either. I don’t know what to say to her anymore. I don’t think it will be words that help her, but my actions and the actions of the women she sees in her life. I will continue running everyday, unless I’m tired. I will do sit-ups and weights when I feel like it (which is never because I’d rather be outside). I’ll eat properly, until someone says poutine. I will wear the clothes I want to wear regardless of trend (graphic tees on a grown woman are cool, right?), and I will hang out with women who love and accept themselves for who they are. Most of all though, I will be genuinely happy with the person I am, flaws and all.  Here’s hoping that rubs off on my girl.

 

I took this picture of her the other night. I’d caption it: When did she turn into a pre-teen? Man, I’m old.

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Maybe I’ll just let the Sims teach my kids about life…

So, last night I got a lot of feedback on the situation with Natalie and boys that I wrote about earlier that day. Some thought it was funny, others agreed that open trust parenting was good and one person who shall remain nameless, told me I was promoting dating to my ten year old.

To be clear, I’m not telling my daughter that she should be interested in boys. I’m just listening to what she has to say about what is happening in her life and instead of trying to control the situation myself, I’m letting her explore how SHE feels about it. Instead of giving her answers on what she should think and do, I’m ASKING her what she thinks she should do and how she feels. I want her to control her own life. I don’t want her to ever rely on anyone else to tell her what she should think, say or do. I’d be doing her a major disservice to let her think that someone else is going to know what is right for her. Only she knows that and teaching her from birth to be confident in her decisions is what I have and always will do. Sure, she’s young and doesn’t actually know very much about life, but she won’t learn unless she is trained to examine how she feels and thinks about things. I give my opinions. I tell her that she’s too young for certain things and I’m quick to say no to her when I know that she needs that. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In fact, I feel like it’s the best thing to do, and here’s why.

I grew up in a family in which my parents controlled everything we did. That’s not to say this is the beginning of my rant about how horrible my childhood was. It wasn’t bad. It was just different. My father is extremely old-school and as such, I wasn’t allowed to talk to boys. I wasn’t allowed to go on sleepovers. I wasn’t allowed to colour my hair, or wear make-up. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t do all of those things. I did. I just learned how to lie about them all. My father believed that if I liked boys, I would end up pregnant and my life would be over instantly. If I went to parties, I’d end up dead in a ditch. He was fearful of everything bad that could happen to me, and in his head, all of those things would happen because that’s just how it went. But that’s not true. I lied and did all of those things and I didn’t die. I didn’t get pregnant as a teenager or end up in jail. I was raised to be fearful of everything and to be aware that there is only one way to find success in life. Just go to school, get good grades, work hard, get married, have kids. The end. Except, I don’t think that’s the only way to do things. In fact, I know it isn’t. This way of thinking, of being fearful of life didn’t actually help me at all. It only made me do what I was supposed to do, only to find myself questioning whether it was what I deemed as success and happiness or not way later. Yes, I’m glad my parents cared about where I was and what I was doing. Parents should do that. I just think they don’t need to use such an iron fist in the process. A little bit of trust (until it’s broken, of course) and a lot of openness goes a long way in raising kids to be more aware of themselves and what they want out of their lives.

Up until Christmas I was adamantly against Natalie having a phone. I said she’d never have social media of any kind until she was 18. The thing is, she needs a phone. We don’t have a land-line in our house, and if she’s going to be staying at home alone, she needs one in case of emergency. A couple of weeks ago she broke me down on the social media thing. I’ve been thinking about it since I hesitantly agreed to let her have Instagram. I thought I had everything under control because she has an account that is for her cat. She’s not allowed to post any pictures of herself. She’s not to be posting pictures of anything but her cat. That is it. The thing is, I didn’t realize that even if I watch everything she posts, and I know who she follows and who follows her, I still don’t have any control over the other things she’s looking at. She can search anything and find pictures. I can tell her over and over that she’s not to do that, but come on, she’ll do it anyway. So, instead I had a conversation with her about social media. If my main concern was that she would be looking at pictures of other people and then she’d feel bad about herself and her life, then I’d just explain that to her. I sat her down and we played with filters. I made her bring the camera up and look at our reflection. I pointed out all of the things that a camera picks up without a filter. Then we played with the filters and I asked her which one looked better. Obviously she said the one where our eyes were big and our skin clear and beautiful made us look WAY better. So I explained to her, that all of social media is basically filtered. Everything is. Not just the images. All the faces and bodies are filtered yes, but also the subject matter as well. I brought up a picture on my Facebook from awhile back. I told her to look at the picture and tell me what she thought people would think about it. She said that people would think we are happy and that we are. I told her that after that picture was taken her father and I got into a huge fight and we were not happy at all. I explained how people would never know that because I didn’t post a picture of THAT. So, we had a conversation about what people post, and why and she rolled her eyes a lot and in the end she said she understood. I hope she did. I’ll probably remind her a few dozen more times over the next little while anyway, but I have to trust that she is at least a little bit more aware now.

I actually have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to parenting my kids. I’m basically just winging it and hoping that I’m doing something right. I just know that the most important thing to me is that my kids are confident in themselves. I know that doesn’t come naturally either. It comes from having parents who trust us and teach us to trust ourselves in the process. It comes from parents who teach us to explore the way we think and feel about the things in our lives. I don’t want to tell them that if they don’t follow a certain plan, they will end up miserable. I want them to choose what is best for them and know that they will make mistakes along the way, and that’s OK. That’s life.

I’m afraid of all the awkward conversations I’ll have to have with my kids. They come up everyday. Just yesterday Jack explained to me how in the Sims he is in a “budding romance.” When I asked him what the hell he was talking about, he told me all about how the boy sim invites the girl sim over and then he showers and gets himself smelling good (he acted it out btw which was ridiculously cute). Then he makes her espressos and they are romantic. When I asked Jack what romantic meant he said, “You know…you make them espresso and then you hug and kiss them. Then you get down on one knee… You know….romance.” I was dying laughing until he told me that eventually you go to the bed and it goes blurry for the “woo-hoo.” When I asked what that meant he said, “It’s so you can have baby sims, but don’t worry because a crib is like $2000 and I’m not spending that kinda money on a baby!”

So when I get tired, I guess I can just take a break and let the Sims teach my kids about life. Right?

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“He’s a total disaster!” and other things my 10 year old says about boys…

So, my daughter is almost 11 now and she’s filled with lots of pre-teen angst. I know, right…already? In an attempt to connect with her instead of constantly fighting with her over her messy room and the slime in her carpet, I’ve been trying to initiate lots of conversation about what’s happening in her life. She mostly talks about our cat (because he’s really the highlight of all of our lives), and what her sims are eating for breakfast (eggs, tomato and cheese, if you’re wondering). Just recently she’s been talking more and more about a boy at school. Instead of going with my instincts, which would be to tell her all boys are stupid and horrible and she should just forget all about them, I’ve decided to be that calm and supportive mother who listens without being negative and preachy. It’s actually been really easy, mostly because what she has to say makes me laugh.

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When I was 10, I don’t think I even considered boys as anything other than an annoyance. I think Natalie feels the same way now, and it warms my heart. She tells me stories about how this boy in her class likes her. This started awhile ago, and slowly the plot is changing. First it started with her being super annoyed by him. She told me she couldn’t stand him and that he’s basically the stupidest person she knows (aside from her brother). She has a funny nickname for him, and we all call him that now too. She’d tell me about how he wants to be her boyfriend and how she just can’t be bothered with him because he’s sloppy and annoying. I think things are changing though…or at least they are getting more hilarious. The other night she told me that she heard him strategizing with his friend. She said she overheard him saying, “I’m not going to ask Natalie to be my girlfriend for FIVE DAYS and after that, she will like me. I just know it.” We laughed about that. Then it got even better when she told me that he makes up songs to sing to her.  He sings to her?!! WHATTTTT?? “I cleaned my desk, Natalie. Do you like me now?” I almost died laughing at this. I told her that in all honesty, the singing would win me over. I mean really, if that isn’t the cutest damn thing you’ve ever heard, we just can’t relate. I also told her that most boys put zero effort into things, so this is amazing. I mean really, how many memes are there about guys who basically do nothing and expect girls to like them? A LOT.

I’m not a fan of the boyfriend at 10 thing. I was raised by parents who didn’t let me date (I did behind their back) until I was 18. When I was a kid, I’d ask my parents if I could go to school dances and my mother would say, and I quote: “Dances are mating rituals. You are not going to be involved in that until you are out of my house.” My father chased a boy (the one I later married), out of our driveway once in his underwear (santa claus patterned), because he knocked on the door. He then yelled at me, “You’re turning this place into some sort of brothel or something.” I was 17 and it was 10 am in the morning. So, that’s basically where I’m at too in regards to my children. I get it. But…I know that I lied and did what I wanted anyway so, I realize that my kids will also do the same. Instead of being crazy wardens like my own parents, I’m going to be open and remind them that I love them and trust the choices they make. I feel like I was smart enough to make pretty good (most of the time) choices, and I consider my kids to be just as wise.

But back to the 10 year old drama… So, I feel like this boy is wearing her down now. She’s talking about him more now, and the tone has changed. It’s like she’s being won over by his songs and his refusal to give up. It makes me laugh. At 10 years old, this is harmless and so I’m OK with it. I actually love asking her how she reacts to him and what she says. She claims she’s mean and heartless. She says she makes fun of him and treats him badly. So, I feel like this is where I need to tell her that she can’t be horrible to someone who is being so kind to her. She doesn’t have to like him, but she can’t be hurtful towards him. I know that she DOES like him, or why else would she be talking so much about some kid in her class? Maybe she just likes the attention. Don’t we all? Regardless, I feel like I’ve now entered a whole different arena in parenting. One where my kids are actually growing up and living lives I know nothing about. That kinda scares me, but I also know that I’ve put a lot of work into them and I have so much faith that they will be just fine. At 10, I’m not concerned about boys liking her. Not at all. I still have all the control in her life. But soon…much sooner than I think, she’ll be pushing the boundaries and I’ll have to remain calm and not chase boys off in my old lady pjs. Trust me, I’ll want to… But I’m not going to do that to her or my other kids. Maybe Amelia, because I actually am lacking faith in her ability to make good choices. She’s my wild child and I’m afraid in a way I can’t even explain yet.

We have open conversations about this boy at night, when we’re making dinner together. I ask Jack what he thinks. In my head, I feel like Jack will be the defender of his sisters. That he will be the voice of reason. He will stick up for them, advise them and protect them always. Right now, that’s not the case. When I asked Jack what he thinks of this kid, he said, “Oh that guy? I don’t know. He’s really good at drawing so…I guess he’s pretty good. Maybe he can join with my friends and we can make the best comic book ever!! YES! Natalie, you should totally like him.” So…clearly Jack just doesn’t give a shit. It will come with time, I hope.

So, I guess this is the time in my life where I just pray for a freeze-frame. Just stop their growing up RIGHT NOW! They are pretty self-sufficient, entertaining to me, and for the most part still love cuddling with their mama. That’s enough. They can just stop where they are and stay this way forever. Sadly, I know that’s not an option. But a mom can dream, right?

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