Singing Instead of Shouting…

I will admit that somedays I do a lot of yelling. Days spent with 3 kids can be very stressful, and I’ve been known to lose my cool when things take a turn for the worse. Last week as I was browsing through blogs, I found something that made me laugh. I’m new to this, so I have no clue how I actually ended up where I did, but I was inspired by the words of another mother. I found a blog by a woman who is on a mission to stop yelling. I was intrigued. She has decided to sing instead of yell. That’s right. When things get crazy, and she wants to yell at her kids, she busts out in song. “The Hillllllllls are alive with the sound of muuusssic…” This cracked me up, and made me want to jump on this singing bandwagon. You can read her blog here. It’s a pretty neat idea.

Yesterday was a day that brought me to the brink of insanity. My kids were on top of their “drive mom bat-shit crazy” game. I believe they wanted to see if they could break me. They came close. By the end of the day my throat was so raw from yelling that it sounded as if I had been drinking whiskey and chain-smoking all day long. It was rough. This will not happen today. Today, when they hit, fight, break or destroy something, I will not lose my cool. I will not spend the day yelling at them. Today, I WILL SING!! 

Tonight we’re being joined by their 2 friends for a sleep-over. 5 kids, 1 mom, no yelling. A test of wills… Bring it on!!

 

 

 

Taking Care of Me

I’m a runner. I run after my kids, I run after the dog, and I run after our recycling that blows all over the road. I also run for a hobby. When I started I could barely walk on the treadmill without feeling like I’d pass out. Eventually I got better.

I remember training and running my first 10 km. I worked really hard, and I was slow as hell, but I did it and I was proud. I remember catching my first glimpse of the elite athletes who had ventured to that race, to compete against each other to win. They took my breath away. The man who won the 10 km that year had one leg. I’m not sure what his story was, but I was instantly inspired by him. I knew I’d never win a race like that, or any race ever, but I still wanted to compete.

After that race I went on to compete in a couple half marathons and finally, I got up enough courage to stand at the start line of a full marathon. It took me 5 years to get there, but I did it. I spent years prior to that day running to prove something to others, to prove to myself that I could, to punish myself at times, to work out my crazies, to escape anxiety. I ran for a million reasons, and none of them were the right ones.

On my 30th birthday my younger sister forwarded me an email that scared the living shit out of me. She had signed me up for a marathon. She did it because she heard me talk about how much I wanted to complete one. She also did it, I think, because she believed I could. She was the only one at the time. I know I sure didn’t think it was a very realistic goal. I had 3 little kids. I had a job. I had major responsibilities at home. I was just bouncing back from the birth of my third child, and years of struggling with depression. I had a zillion excuses why I couldn’t do it. My sister didn’t care. She said I would, and I started to believe she was right.

I printed out my plan of action. I posted it on the fridge. Every day for 6 months I crossed numbers off a chart. I spent my Sundays away from my family. While they were enjoying a leisurely morning, I was out running. I ran for hours. I dedicated a lot of time to my goal.  A lot of people asked me if I was running to raise money for something. I wasn’t. I read a lot of stories about people who dedicated their races to past or present loved ones. That wasn’t the case for me either. I was running that race for me, and only me. I started to feel bad about it. I started to feel like maybe it was a very selfish thing to do. I was spending countless hours focused solely on myself. It was all about me. I felt like I was wrong for making it so. I believed that because I was a mom, I couldn’t possibly take this much time for myself. I had 3 kids and a husband. It was supposed to be all about them right? Wrong.

Get your crackers folks, it’s about to get super cheesy.

I ran my first marathon for the little girl inside me. When other runners were dedicating their race to their sick or passed loved ones, I was dedicating my race to the little me. Throughout my long journey through the depths of hell (a.k.a. depression), I learned that a lot of my issues were a result of my childhood. Now, I’m not getting all blame-game on my parents. I don’t need to re-hash my childhood, explore my “daddy issues” here, or anything like that. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with me, the little girl that didn’t ever feel like she was good enough. The little girl who felt left out, unloved, unworthy. In therapy (oh god, please say I’m not one of those “my therapist says..” people), I spent a great deal of time remembering the little me. Talking about her, and about the girl and young woman I was before I ended up in that office. It was pretty horrible work. I hated it. I resisted it with everything I had. I can’t tell you how many times I rolled my eyes at my therapist. I fought her almost every step of the way, but somehow she got through to me. At the beginning of it all, she told me to find a picture of myself when I was a little girl. I laughed at her (maybe even to her face, I don’t remember), but I did it. I was in a very desperate position. I was willing to try anything. As we worked on all those shitty, horrible feelings that surfaced I was reminded over and over again to take care of that little girl. To remember her and keep remembering her. The picture that I found of little me was on my mirror for 10 months straight. It stayed there until the day I travelled to run my race. I’ve never, ever told anyone this. I didn’t tell my sister, my mother, my husband. No one. In fact, I’ve never ever discussed the things that I went through in those 10 months of therapy. I don’t think I ever will.  I told no one, but I took that picture with me, and put it in the belt I was wearing on race day. I had decided that I was running that race for the little me in the picture. I was running to prove to myself that I could do anything I set my mind and heart to. I ran that race to prove that I was in fact, good enough, kind enough, pretty enough, smart enough. To prove once and for all that I was enough. I carried the picture of little me 42.2 km across that finish line. When I reached the end I said in a whisper (because I was tired as hell), “You always were, and always will be. You are enough.” And then I scarfed down 2 cheese strings and chugged as much water as I could before finding my way to my family.

As parents we are told that we shouldn’t take time for ourselves. That our whole life should be about our kids. I don’t believe that is so. I learned through running (among other things) that I need to take time for me. We all need to take care of ourselves, because sometimes no one else will. When I’m up and running at the crack of dawn each morning, I’m taking time to do something I love. It makes me a happier, healthier person. I’m taking care of me because I know that if I can’t take care of myself, there’s no way I’ll ever be able to take care of my kids.

I’ve found the right reason to run. I run because I love it. It makes me feel happy and proud to be me. It’s how I work through things, how I re-charge and relax. It’s how I take care of me.

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iPhone, iPod, iPad. I give up!

I’m not very technologically advanced. My kids are though. They know their way around all the devices their father and I often curse. I remember a time when these things didn’t exist. I also remember when they slowly started making their way into our lives, taking over almost every aspect of our daily routine. Now I wouldn’t be without my iPhone, my iPad, or my iPod. These things make my life easier and give me a source of entertainment. They also make me a tad bit crazy.

My kids are all addicts. They love to play games, watch Netflix and snap countless “selfies.” I do try to limit their exposure. I make them play with each other and with toys that don’t talk back to them. They play hide and seek, house, classroom (Natalie’s favourite) and use their imaginations quite a bit. Just last night I watched Jack whiz by me wearing my bra, with Natalie holding onto the straps yelling “Giddy up Horsey!” That’s normal kid stuff right? So, my kids aren’t total techno-zombies…Yet. However, they do wait patiently for their turn with the screen. When they get the chance, they will always choose to play Nose Doctor on the iPad (a game in which you pull boogers out of a cartoon nose), or create dancing elves with their pictures.

Since I love lists, here is my list of reasons why I hate my iPad, iPhone and iPod.

1. The games the kids download and play on my iPad have annoying sound effects that make me crazy. Seriously, have you ever listened to Angry Birds? It makes my ears bleed. My son LOVES playing this game, which I don’t understand because it is completely ridiculous. Using a sling-shot to fling ball-shaped birds at ball-shaped green pigs? I’m lost. But he (along with my husband) thinks it is great entertainment. He refuses to turn the sound down, so I’m stuck cooking dinner while listening to birds squawking and screaming. It makes me mental. After 10 minutes of it, I feel like stabbing the iPad with a kitchen knife.

2. I believe that the games my kids download are actually made to annoy parents. In fact, I am sure of this. There is no other reason on earth that anyone would create a “game” that actually talks back at parents. My daughter found a delightful game where she talks into the iPad and a cute little kitty repeats back what she says, in the most ANNOYINGLY high-pitched voice in the world. At first she would say silly things, and then she moved on to making farting noises. Ha ha, really funny. Now, when I ask my daughter a question, she gives her snide reply back via this obnoxious kitten. You don’t know hulk-like rage until you ask your kid to clean her room, only to turn around and face a screen with an animated cat squealing “I don’t want to!” Let me tell you, there have been days that I’ve wanted to punch that cat. I have plotted that furry bastard’s demise for months now! I have also deleted this game over and over and over and you know what? That damn cat always comes back.

3. These games keep me up at night. Thanks to iCloud (something I use personally), all of the games that my kids download end up on my phone. I have a phone filled with kiddie games. Now, in the middle of the night my phone will ding with an alert that one of their games needs attention. For instance, last night *ding* an alert to let me know that a patient is ready to have his nose picked. What in the hell? Are you kidding me?

4. The kids fill every device in the house with “selfies.” If they can get a hold of it, they will take a picture with it. My phone is filled with really bad “selfies” taken by all three of my kids. Funny faces, ugly faces, happy faces, close-ups of their mouths, their noses, and just recently their butts. They will take a picture once, and then make sure to hit the button 35 times more. Now I have not only 1 picture of their snot crusted nose, but 35. Awesome.

5. They will fight cage-match style over time with these devices. I’ve seen Natalie drag her brother by his head across the living room after a spat involving the iPad. They fight on a regular basis, but when you bring in an iPad, THERE WILL BE BLOOD!!

6. Eventually they learn to use these devices for evil. Natalie has been particularly interested in photography and capturing nice pictures of things she loves. Her dolls, the dog, her sister and brother. This is a great form of self-expression. See, I’m a good mom. Look how artistic my daughter is. Wait, now she’s following me around taking pictures of me. I’m getting annoyed. Yesterday, she busted into the bathroom and took a picture of me on the toilet, and ran out yelling, “ha ha! I’m going to post that on Facebook!” I worry about the day when she can actually follow through with that threat.

I know the logical solution is to take the itoys away. It would have been better if we never let them have access in the first place. Or, maybe I could sit and regulate everything they are doing with these things. I could turn them into proper learning devices like all those good parents out there. But I’m probably never going to do that. Sometimes we all need a little peace, and if I can get 20 minutes without someone screaming, crying or asking me for something, I’ll take it. Even if it means that I may see my bare ass on Facebook one day.

One of over 500 pictures I found on my laptop. Note to self: Don’t leave your laptop sitting around. EVER.

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After the Storm

I’ve had a lot of time to think recently. I spend the majority of my days driving (we won’t get into that), and when I’m not belting out songs along with the radio, I’m usually thinking “How the hell did I get here? Why am I driving a laundry van around, concerned about what I’m going to feed my kids for dinner and when I’ll have time to get to the bank?” I wonder how in 9 years I went from a lost girl, to a lost-again and then found wife, mom and woman.

I got married when I was 21. I’m not going to lie about it, I regretted that decision for a few years. I spent a great deal of time in the early stages of our marriage totally hating it. I hated it so much, I found a way to get out of it as soon as I could.  I was not ready to get married. I had no concept of what marriage was. In fact, the night before I got married, I laid on the bathroom floor of my hotel room crying. I had no idea why. I didn’t know that I was afraid. I didn’t know what to do. When DH and and I got married, I had absolutely no idea how hard it would be. I was a kid. How could I? I left months after we got married, moved away to go back to school, and lived with one of my friends from university. I totally bailed on my husband. I felt guilty, but I also felt normal again. All of my friends were either still in school, or were just starting out on their own. They didn’t have mortgages, husbands or real responsibilities. I was jealous. I felt like I had made a mistake. After a year away, I missed my best friend. Although I had gone away, we still talked and he was still very much my husband. We did have to keep up appearances, prove that we were fine, and all was well with the newlyweds. I’m pretty sure we weren’t fooling anyone though. I actually can’t believe how great he was during this time. I will say, that if he had done the same to me, I don’t know if I would have stuck around. I’m thankful he did. I’m very grateful that somehow we found our way to “happily married.” It took us almost 3 years. We were both too young and totally different people than we are today. We grew into our marriage. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. Through all of that, and then years of struggling with depression, it’s a wonder that we’re still standing. I’m sure there are many people who are totally shocked that we’re still married. I’m so proud of us though. We pushed through, when a lot of others wouldn’t have. I have come to terms with a lot of the hurts we inflicted on each other. They’ve made us stronger as people, and as a couple. I’m happy and proud to say that I married the right person, at the wrong time. I don’t regret it anymore. In fact, I’m so damn happy that it happened. It was worth it, and I’ll always fight to protect it.

That said, I feel like we are two survivors after a tornado has ripped through our trailer park. We’ve made it through the storm that comes with getting married young, having 3 babies in 4 years, and building a business to sustain us. But now what? Where do we go from here? How do we pick up the pieces, and move into the next stage of our life? I don’t think there is an answer. We look around us, and see the people who stuck by us, and we celebrate them. We celebrate our kids, because they gave us a reason to keep pushing through. We celebrate the life that we have created together. Maybe we’re going to leave those pieces for awhile, and just enjoy the rainbow that comes after the storm.

You look like a lobster, but I still love you. 

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Let’s Ask Santa for Liquor.

This year, we’re skipping Christmas. Yeah, that’s right. Every year around this time I start to feel the dread of the holiday season. I know, everyone loves Christmas. But for the most part, it makes me feel guilty, bad and at times, fills me with rage. Everyone goes crazy over Christmas, and it freaks me out. This year I’m not going to be panicked about buying the perfect gift for everyone (Is it just me or does it feel like it is mandatory to buy everyone you’ve met in your life something?), freaking out in the long check-out lines or driving around frantically looking for a parking spot.  I will not be stressed out over having the “perfect” Christmas. I’m all about “festive”(especially the Swiss Chalet Festive Special), but come on people. Let’s simmer down here. If we need to start shopping in August to get everything done by December 25th, we know we have a serious problem. It’s all too much. It seems like we’ve all forgotten what we’re supposed to be doing during the Christmas season. We should all be hanging out with the people we love, eating ridiculous amounts of delicious food, drinking wine (or whatever your poison), laughing, playing board games, making jokes, CELEBRATING!! This year, instead of hanging around here, watching our bank accounts drain and our stress levels rise, we’re running away. We’ll be on a plane headed for Orlando. I would like to state for the record, that this was not my choice. I really wanted to go to Mexico but DH wouldn’t agree to that (I’m working on that for next year). It’s a little disappointing (to me anyway) that our big escape is to Orlando; land of Disney World, super-sized Walmarts and any kind of junk food you could ever dream of, but the kids are stoked. I just remind myself that Christmas is about our kids now, not my own selfish desires to be sipping slushy drinks by the pool. Anyway, what’s great about this is that somehow through paying all of our business bills with our visa (and then paying it off obviously), we had more than enough points to get us there, and guess what else? We had enough points to fly our closest friends to join us. Lucky for us, my in-laws are crazy nice enough to let us use their house. Pretty sweet deal, I’d say. Except, here’s the thing. We love our friends, but they have 3 kids too! So, 2 weeks with 6 KIDS!!?? Hardly a vacation in my books. Actually, when I think about it, we are trading stressful Christmas, for stressful vacation. Hmmm… But, at least our kids will have their best friends to play with, we’ll have our friends to drink away the pain with, and surely there will be some pretty crazy stuff for me to write about. The 10 of us will spend 2 weeks together Griswold-style. We’ll eat, drink, play, take our kids to Disney, lose our shit, drink some more, possibly blow up a turkey, and make memories with friends we love like family (maybe even more). What’s even better about the situation? Explaining to the kids that they have to ask Santa for something that fits in a suitcase. SCORE!! This will be our most cost-effective and memorable Christmas yet!

Last night we were talking to Natalie about what she is going to ask Santa for. Her father reminded her that it MUST fit in her suitcase. She paused and thought about it for a second and then proclaims, “I’m going to ask Santa for an iPhone!!” F**K!

 

The Three Amigos. I love these asshats enough to brave Disney AGAIN!!

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Happy Jack vs. Sad Jack

The other day Jack and I were doing laundry together. I was trying to teach him to fold his underwear, and he was enlightening me with his vast knowledge of Lightning McQueen and car racing. I decided it was a good time to ask him a few simple but important questions. Asking Jack anything is usually opening yourself up to being completely confused and eventually becoming very irritated. He jumps from one topic to the next, dances, sings and is even known to throw in some ninja-kicks when you give him the chance to talk. He cracks me up, but sometimes he says really profound things without even trying. We started a discussion on feelings. We listed different feelings and he acted them all out for me. When he was done playing charades I said “OK, now what makes you happy Jack?” Jack listed a ton of things. He named his friends, going to their houses, them visiting our house, going to daycare, his daycare lady, the boat, the beach, ice cream, candy, Batman. I actually had to stop him. He was filled with excitement, talking about all the things he loves. Then I asked him “Ok, now what makes you sad?” He looked at me and had no clue what I was asking. I didn’t want to put words in his mouth, so we went through what sad meant again. Still, he struggled. Then he listed three things. 1. When it rains, because he doesn’t like thunder. 2. When slides at the park are too big for him to go down. 3. Going to the beach and thinking a shark will bite his leg off.  I didn’t know what to say to this kid. As I was thinking of the perfect thing, he quickly jumped up and down a few times and said “Can we get a piggy Mom? Pleeeease??” Obviously Jack had moved on from our conversation. He ran out of the room. Our time was up. Jack is a busy kid. He doesn’t have time to waste on sadness.

I didn’t really put much thought into the conversation for a few days. I laughed, because who lists a possible shark attack as one of the things that make them sad? Just this morning I was replying to an email from one of the people who contacted me after my PPD post, and I was thinking about depression, and sadness in general. I thought back to my conversation with Jack. The things that make my 3 year old sad, are things that he is afraid of. He’s afraid of thunderstorms, getting hurt on a slide, and possibly having his leg eaten by a shark. His fears are of things he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand that thunder isn’t meant to be scary, that he probably won’t get hurt on the slide, and that in fact, there aren’t any leg-eating sharks in Weller’s Bay.

I started to think about my own happy vs. sad list. I can list many things that make me happy. I can also list just as many (and maybe even more) things that make me sad. When I started to think about specific things, I realized that my own sad list was filled with things I fear. I am sad (or mad, which I’ve learned is pretty much the same thing for me) when people treat me badly, because I am afraid that these people do not like me, don’t accept me, and so on. I am sad when innocent children get sick or die, because I do not understand why it happens. There is no way to justify children dying. Now all of this isn’t that profound, I’m aware of that, but I started to think that if I could just understand or accept a few of my fears, maybe my sad list could shrink to be as small as Jack’s. Totally unrealistic, I know. He’s 3. He doesn’t have anything to worry about. He doesn’t deal with any of the adult stresses in life. If he’s at the playground and someone pushes him down, he lets out a scream and then gets on with it. He starts climbing another ladder, and I don’t think he ever thinks about it again. He’s forgotten within minutes, even seconds. That’s why his sad list is so short. He doesn’t ever focus on anything that makes him sad. He believes that he is great. We tell him everyday. He knows that we love him and that he is special. He never questions that. He accepts that what we tell him is fact and it is. I worry about the day when he starts to question those things. When people hurt him and tell him the opposite of what he hears now. I wonder if we will have filled him up with enough confidence to know that he IS all those good things we told him. I worry a lot about my kids and their confidence. I think of how they will deal with bullying and hurtful things that people say and do to them. Sometimes people are real assholes, and although I hate the idea of my kids knowing that, it’s a lesson they’ll have to learn and accept. I’m not going to worry about it now though, because so far my kids all have long happy lists, and short sad ones.

It’s crazy what you can learn in a 10 minute conversation with a 3 year old. Jack reminded me to keep it simple. To stop focusing on the sad, and get excited over my happy list. Maybe I’ll bust out a few ninja-kicks now, Jack-style.

Picture time… Happy Jack and his big sister Natalie (she made his happy list).

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Asshats & Other Seasonal Delights

Last night we ventured out to our first Santa Claus Parade of the season. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “WHAT? It’s the middle of November.” My thoughts exactly. But who am I to dictate when we should start the most wonderful (and crazy expensive) time of the year? I’m not really sure how I feel about parades. I think I like them. I always get excited about the thoughts of taking the kids out to see one, and yet, when I get there, I’m usually ready to leave before Santa rolls by. Back in my day (ha ha ha), Christmas parades were very different. For one, they usually occurred in December, you know, when Christmas actually takes place. Secondly, they usually included a whole bunch of old school floats, done up to the nines with the tackiest Christmas crap people could find. I remember kids dressed as Wise Men, trying not to trip over their 1970’s bathrobes or eat the cheap fake beards they had taped to their faces. I remember Christmas carols and actually feeling like we were celebrating a holiday. I remember participating in parades myself. My first experience was on the back of wagon with my cousins, dressed as a blueberry singing “We wish you a berry christmas!” My Aunt & Uncle owned a berry farm. It wasn’t just cruel and unusual punishment for us being unruly kids all year long. Last night my kids were howling with anticipation. I kid you not. We were in the parking lot of the LCBO and the kids sounded like a pack of coyotes. I let them carry on. It gave an explanation to the passersby as to why we were shopping there. The kids had a great time. They were pelted with candy (old halloween candy, you aren’t kidding me you cheapskates) and they got to see the Grinch and most importantly Santa. There were great floats. The marching bands were there, the seniors band was kickin’ it, and the kids loved the ponies. But, a lot of the parade consisted of people driving their company vehicles through, handing out candy. BORING!! I want to see lights, I want to hear music, I want TACKY CHRISTMAS BACK!! 

While I was at the parade trying not to focus on how let down my inner child felt, I noticed one thing that truly makes my heart sing. Asshats. Everywhere I looked, parents had their kids bundled up in coats and mittens and ASSHATS. You know what I’m talking about. Those hats that we buy for our kids to make them look like the little asses they sometimes are. Don’t deny that you haven’t done this, everyone has. It’s hilarious. I purposely go out every fall to find my kids new asshats. My girls usually get the ones that look like animals. But Jack, my son… Well, that little guy drives me bonkers with his crazy, off the wall behaviour. My only revenge on my unruly son is the asshat I make him wear. I thought I did a good job this year, but I was wrong. Elmer Fudd isn’t that funny anymore. Last night Jack’s little buddy came out the door wearing the ultimate asshat. It was the asshat I’ve always dreamed of. My first reaction was to laugh, and then think to myself, “wow, that kid must have been a real handful this year.” This kid was wearing a moose on his head. Not just a hat that was made to look like a moose, it was like a giant stuffed moose that his mom rammed on his head. This kid pranced around like he didn’t even notice the 10 lb stuffed animal he was wearing. I was dying. I had to take a moment to reflect on all the other asshats I’ve seen. Just the other day I was out and a mom friend of mine was getting her boys ready for school. On with your asshats boys. They were knitted elephant hats with trunks protruding from their foreheads. Who doesn’t want to wear a phallus on their forehead? Seriously? I love this woman. It’s a truth that our kids sometimes drive us insane (always for me). What can we really do about it? We can’t stop talking to them. We can’t give them away. We can’t lock them up in the basement. But we CAN make them wear asshats. I know that in the next year or so, my kid will have caught on, and refuse to wear his asshat, but for now it’s all I have. When your kids act like asshats, make them wear one! 

This is Jack in his current asshat. Obviously my mom friends are beating me, so I’ll have to step up my game. I’m already working on it. 

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This is a replica of the phallus asshat. It’s awesome! 

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And lastly, if you open your christmas presents this year and find this….

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Someone thinks you’re an asshat.

How the hell did we get here, and why are we in this hand basket?

And now the rest of the story…

I had my first daughter at the age of 25. I was married, had a job, a house and a dog. It’s what you do next, right? I read every book on pregnancy, and could tell you everything you ever wanted to know about heart burn, constipation and all the other disgusting things that happen to women when they are making a human. I didn’t once think about reading materials that might prepare me for taking care of the actual baby. When I had Natalie, I was ridiculously unprepared and totally clueless. You’d think that with 40 weeks notice, I would have planned something other than cute bedding and outfits. Little did we know, our life was never ever going to be the same. We left the hospital as parents. People assured me this was a good thing. I wasn’t convinced. After months of crying, puking and piles of disgusting diapers, I was at my wits end. I was filled with sadness, anxiety, and a bit of anger that I had been given the “evil” baby. Surely, it was her. Everyone else loved their babies. Why was I convinced that mine was Rosemary’s Baby? I brushed all these things off of course, because who really talks about this stuff anyway? I had no control over any aspect of my life. My tiny dictator was in control, and I just figured that was what it was like to be a parent. Since I had no clue about emotional health after baby, I didn’t once think that maybe the way I felt wasn’t normal. I didn’t know how to fix the problem, because I wasn’t sure I had one. Instead I focused on the things I knew how to fix. I chose weight loss as my number one priority. I started running and eating real food. I felt great. I figured this meant that I was right, there was nothing wrong, and all the bad days were behind me. Time for baby number two. During the early months of my pregnancy with Jack, things were rapidly changing in my husband’s life. We disagreed on a pretty important decision he was making, and I took it personally, very personally. Things got worse between us, and I got more self-destructive. Instinctively I turned to the things I could control. Eating, running and cleaning my house. I believed that if I could control these things I would feel better. During the final months of my pregnancy with Jack, letters were sent from my midwife to my doctor regarding “suspected eating disorders and OCD.” I had an ultrasound days before Jack arrived to ensure that he was OK, as I hadn’t gained sufficient weight. I was very, very sick, but I wasn’t ready to admit that at the time. After Jack was born (healthy and happy), things went from bad to worse. I suffered severe panic attacks, was unable to think about anything but cleaning my floors and eating as little as possible, while running until I dropped. The morning after Jack was born, I was on my hands and knees polishing my wood floors. I was obsessed with keeping them perfect. Day 5, I was on my treadmill attempting to run. It didn’t work out and I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital afterwards. So obviously, things had spun out of control. I am stubborn as hell, and I don’t care that people are telling me that I’m suffering post-partum depression and need medication. In my head, what I need to do to fix this is exercise more, eat less and continue on. That’s how I fixed everything before. I don’t need help, and I sure as hell don’t need to see a doctor. Looking back, I feel sad for that poor woman. At the time I got nothing but people talking about me, questioning my abilities as a mother and downright being assholes to me. Instead of being helpful, people were being hurtful. So, I kept on, and on and on. I started to become extremely fearful of almost everyone and everything. At night I’d sprint in terror from our bedroom to the kitchen to warm a bottle for Jack, sure that there was someone outside watching me. I had a serious problem, a husband who was sick and tired of it, and basically no one who understood what was going on. Eventually I went and saw a few doctors, a few therapists and even a naturopathic doctor to try to fix the problem. I refused to take medication and refused to admit that I was wrong. I had given up. Months passed and finally I got a referral to see a doctor in Kingston regarding the depression that was destroying my life. Again, this was the wrong place for me. I spoke with a few of the doctors there for less than an hour, and in that time I was given the diagnosis of EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), OCD and possible Bi-Polar.  Now let me tell you this, when a doctor talks to you for an hour and then brings up lithium, you need to run your ass out the door. I am so thankful that no matter how “off” I was, I wasn’t stupid enough to accept that.

Surprise! I’m pregnant again. I’m good with this. I am escaping the symptoms because I’m caught up in trying not to vomit 25 times a day. I’m eating healthy, I’m not feeling sad or bad at all. At this point I’m sure that it has passed. In my mind, I’ve done my time, and now everything is fine.  My little girl is born, and surprisingly I STILL  feel fine. Six weeks later, I can feel it coming again. This time, I don’t hesitate to start my search for help again. I have 3 kids under the age of 5, now is NOT the time to be sick.  I start seeing a therapist in the area, who specializes in Post-Partum Depression. This woman changed my life. In all the years of hell, not one doctor or therapist even came close to doing what this woman did for me. She taught me to save myself. I trusted her, and I followed her directions and somehow after 10 months of work, I made it to the other side.  She told me that I wasn’t insane, but just a woman who had three babies in four years, who had been suffering from PPD the whole entire time.  I wasn’t bad or wrong or anything but a normal woman.  I was in the right place and I was ready to put this to rest.

What does this have to do with my kids? Everything. I am the centre of their world. For a long, long time I was very fragmented. During the first few years of their lives, they lived with someone who could barely take care of herself, let alone them. They saw and heard things that they shouldn’t have. I do feel very bad about those things and I always wonder what kind of repercussions those few years will have on them. But I’m not making room for guilt anymore. It was what it was, and it is what it is now.  Yesterday I had a parent teacher conference with Natalie’s teacher. Aside from the “Natalie is doing great,” one thing stuck out for me.  One sentence. “Natalie is just a good person.” That right there means everything in the world to me. That’s what I want for my kids. I don’t care if they become self-made millionaires, or find the cure for cancer. I care about whether or not they are good humans. Maybe my struggle with depression will not hurt them, but teach them to be better people. I overheard Natalie tell her brother that it is wrong to laugh when someone is crying.  I’m proud that she knows that, and is willing to stand up and say something. I’m also proud to say that she more than likely learned this from me. This glimpse into how it all began, how I had a rough start to this whole motherhood journey, is a very good way to introduce my family. We’re loud, crazy and a bit offensive at times, but we are damn good people, even in our darkest days.

Ok, I promise we’ll move on to lighter, more humorous posts. I just had to get that out there.

The Self Check

Since the title of this blog has wine in the title, perhaps I should explain the test we call the “self check.” With three small children in the house, we obviously enjoy alcoholic beverages. It goes without saying, that when life gets crazy, we stop and have a drink together to make sense of the insanity. That said, we must check our status every once in awhile, to make sure we aren’t going above and beyond social drinking into the land of indulging too much. One night my DH (Dearest Husband, not to be confused with Dumb Husband, Dick Head Husband, Dolt Husband or any other variation. I will gladly let you know when I’ve changed his nickname to any of the above mentioned.)  Anyway, my DH came home to say, I want to check to make sure I have this drinking thing under control so I’m doing the “self check.” Confused, as I often am, I asked for clarification. This check involves not drinking any sort of alcoholic beverage for a designated time. If at such time, one “needs” a drink or can’t be without a drink, then a red flag goes up and a drinking problem could be indicated. After a very long, hard week of relentless work, whining children and an excessive amount of family stress, DH says he’s having a beer. Sure, fine, totally OK with me. He says to me, “It’s OK, I’ve done my self check. I’m good to go.” After his designated non-drinking time he has come to the firm decision that this beer after work is not a problem, but merely a way to unwind and relax from a hard day. OK, I get this. I am a total fan of pre-dinner drinks, social cocktail hours and occasional “we don’t have kids, let’s get loaded” behaviours. I was shocked that he was even concerned about this. I don’t know many parents that don’t indulge (or over-indulge when necessary) when given the opportunity. It didn’t even cross my mind that beer was something he was worried about. OK, I’m going to be dead honest here. I LOVE wine. There isn’t a wine I’ve really ever disliked. I mean, if it’s that bad, add ginger ale. It’s all good. I have never felt that having a glass of wine while making dinner was a bad thing. Call me crazy, but what’s the big deal? I have three kids. I do not get the chance to drink until I can’t function. After that glass of wine (or two) I have to bathe my kids, read them stories, tuck them in. How does one do that while highly intoxicated? I’ve never thought I needed the “self check.” Sure, given the opportunity (away from my kids) I will drink my face off. Hell, I get that chance very few times a year. But, on a day to day basis? Really? Why is this even a topic to discuss? So, after DH has concluded that he isn’t an alcoholic, the conversation turns to me. When was the last time I did a self-check? How do I know I’m in the clear? My answer: “I’m a woman. I just know.”  I’m drinking a glass of wine while I type this. My kids are in bed. CHEERS!!!

Of course I mean no disrespect to people who suffer from alcoholism. It’s in no way a joke or something to take lightly, and I would never diminish the severity of this disease. All I’m saying is, don’t hate on parents who have drinks. 

Day One

People have been telling me that I should write a blog for a long time now. I always thought that the idea was pretty ridiculous. I mean really, why would anyone in this world care to read about my life, my thoughts, or my incessant ramblings about my kids.  But alas, I’ve broken down and started something I said I’d never do. I have my reasons. The first and foremost being my fear of forgetting, of one day looking back and drawing a blank. What if I forget the hilarious things my 3 year old son says to me? What if I forget how sweet and snuggly my youngest daughter is? What if I forget how annoyingly honest my five year old can be? I don’t want to forget these things. I can’t forget these things. I will admit, I tried the scrap booking thing. In five years I have one page complete, and thousands of dollars in scrap booking supplies in a tote. Let’s get serious, I hate arts and crafts. I don’t have the patience to put together themed pages, all colour co-ordinated and perfect. I do envy those women who are capable of these things, but I’ll get over it. Instead, I’ll write here. I’ll post pictures, I’ll tell you the good, the bad and the ugly of my life. That’s the thing about scrapbooks, no one makes a page about the bad stuff that happens. They don’t sell “post-partum depression” stickers at Michaels do they? How about a page for “I wanted to kill you in your sleep last night?” Life is beautiful. That is true. But, it is also very hard sometimes. It is filled with lots of ups and downs and all arounds. The most important thing we can do, is embrace it all. To live it, and to get through the hard times, celebrate the good, be thankful and grateful and all those wonderful things those cheesy quotes tell us. It’s also good to rant, and to get really pissed off, and to be mad as hell. Those are completely normal and sometimes very satisfying feelings. So, here it begins. 

Since I love a good family picture, here is one of my favourites. This is our family last Christmas. I don’t think we’ll torture ourselves with family pictures again this year. 

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