Sunday, March 31, 2013

Not getting younger, but can still learn new tricks

Today is my last official day of maternity leave, which doesn't mean I go back to work tomorrow, just that it is the last day the government will continue to pay me not to.

What's that? Did some of you read that and think I meant I was planning to be a stay at home mum?

Hahahahahaha!

No.

I'm not laughing because I don't value SAHMs - I admire them! They do a job that requires patience and creativity that I can only dream of! And some of them have kick ass blogs and websites that have saved me from death-by-bored-preschooler over the past year (Play At Home Mom LLC has fabulous activity ideas, Productive Parenting is a site I, unfortunately, just learned about a few weeks ago, and Is There Any Mommy Out There? has been my go-to for wisdom and laughs since Sam was born!). No, I'm much better at being a nurse. And working outside of the house helps me be a better mother to my kids (and better partner to my husband) than being at home. That's just me. No disrespect.

It just happens that the next shift in my rotation isn't until Sunday, so I'm kind of off an extra week - albeit unpaid. Having said that, I have been working up to 12 hours a week since October, but only picking up when I want to and mostly taking hours when David is home and/or the kids are in bed so that it doesn't interfere with family time or cost me anything in child care. That is worlds different from the scheduled 12 hour shifts I'm plunging back into next week. So, nevertheless, like most mothers returning to work, my feelings are a "mixed bag".

Before anyone scoffs at me for complaining, I wholeheartedly acknowledge that many women here and abroad don't get much time off, let alone paid, after having a baby. Even my best friend, whose lovely second daughter was born the same day as mine (how cool is that right?) didn't get a full year because her daughter is adopted and, in the GoC's eyes, that makes her somehow less deserving of having her mother home with her as long as babies whose mothers physically delivered them. Totally unfair right? If you agree, read this. So what I'm saying is, I appreciate the time that I have had - 52 weeks, four of which David used to stay home with us as well, therefore bringing my time down to 48 weeks (but man, I needed his help in those early days so it was worth it).

Still. It sucks.

The full truth, though, is that it only partly sucks because of the leaving-the-kids-behind-thing. Don't get me wrong! A twelve hour day shift means that I'm out the door just as my kids are getting up in the morning and I'm home about an hour after bedtime. Even thinking about that makes my heart hurt. Crazy, right? That I should feel sad to miss the battles over brushing teeth, arguments over whose toy that is, or bargaining to watch another episode of Backyardigans. But I do. Because, as every mother knows, between all the whining and diapers and fighting, are moments like these . . .





 ~ Sigh ~ I fucking love my kids : )

The rest of it is that I'm feeling anxious about the work I'm going back to. A lot has changed on the unit in the past year. Some of the paperwork, certain policies, new gadgets, probably a bunch of other stuff I don't even know yet. And the unit itself has been under renovations that I had foolishly hoped would be completed before I returned. Ha. Silly me. I'm not concerned about the actual work of helping women birth their babies. I love that shit! But it doesn't happen in a vacuum and it's difficult to focus on the awesome part of your job when surrounded by so much upheaval.

So I'm working on a list (lover of lists that I am) of things I need to learn, re-learn, brush up on, get a crash course in, etc. during my first few sets back. I won't bore you with it : ) But it's a good tool for me. It will help me feel more in control of an overwhelming situation. And may also help those first painful shifts crawl by slightly faster.

Longer term coping will involve focusing on the positive moments, both at home and at work, and accepting the offerings and teachings of each day.




Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Family

I will celebrate my return to the blog after a Parliamentary-length holiday break by sharing with you how we celebrated BC's first Family Day. 

What is Family Day? Does it commemorate a Canadian hero or celebrate the political liberal-ness that we have embraced in legalizing gay marriage? Nope. It's just a new arbitrary stat holiday to help us get through the long wet months between New Year and Easter. Oh well, I'll take it. 

We had planned to visit a local honeybee center with another family with whom we have been close for a long time, but haven't seen much of lately. They struggle with the same 'divide and conquer' survival strategy that we do - one parent stays home with the younger, napping child (and usually does housework) while the other parent goes out with the older child to complete necessary but mundane tasks like grocery shopping. Occasionally one parent takes the older child out to do something fun, but rarely do the four go out together because of food and nap restrictions. As a result, we hadn't spent time with this couple in doubles for I'm not sure how long. Since the summer? 

Unfortunately, both our young families have been struck with fevers (of probably different origins). So with disregard for our own children's weary immune systems, but the sense to not infect innocent strangers, we decided to forgo the bees in favour of a play date at a local park instead. Despite chilly temperatures, overcast skies, and a bit of rain, the kids had fun and the adults kept warm with Sbux in hands. They stayed for lunch and naps - an exercise in creativity when there are three crib-aged children and only one crib. But it worked (thanks to a play pen, our uber-flexible daughter who will sleep anywhere - even the floor in our room, and WALL-E to keep Sam occupied) and the grown ups got to have some quality face time. 

Before they left, we asked J to help us out with a tradition we thought would be cool to start given this new Family Day holiday. 





See! Proof that the four of us can exist in the same space at the same time. Thanks, J : )

Later in the day, while our sick and cranky Lucy napped yet again, Sam and I played some road hockey out front while the neighbours' kids played soccer. It was very Family, indeed. 

So I say, "Haha February! Your clouds and cold can't scare us inside! Germs won't keep us apart! We are hardy BC families!! Go f*** yourself " : )

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Yet another epiphany!!

You may recall a certain post I wrote about Valentine's Day at daycare roughly two years back : ) Well, I've done it again! Come to a realization about holidays and children. They are stressful!!

When you're young - and celebrate Christmas - it is all so magical and exciting and wrought with agonizing delay. Oh the waiting!! Will Christmas never arrive?!? Can it still be two weeks away?!?!

As a parent of a child old enough to "get it", I lay awake in bed asking "Is Christmas seriously ONLY two weeks away!?!?" There is so much to do, bake, buy, wrap, craft, plan!! And I'm on mat leave - I don't even have full time work thrown into the mix! Nor do I have the budget to do all the things I fantasize about. How do families do it? The pressure to make the season special and memorable and fun is overwhelming. And don't even go on Pinterest! That will just make you feel lazy and inadequate on a whole new level.

Out of sheer necessity I have gone into Christmas survival mode. I have concluded that with two small kids at home, preschool and nap schedules, very little spending money, and a real desire to enjoy the holidays rather than stress through them . . . I can get one thing done per day. Some are small things, like today Sam and I built and decorated a pre-fab gingerbread house (which was actually super fun and not as messy as I had feared); and others are epic, for example I am knitting Lucy's first Christmas stocking and I have never before knit anything that wasn't square or rectangular (I am in total denial about the heal and toe parts that I inevitably have to complete - they'll be easy, right?).

Last weekend we went - for the second year in a row - to the Cloverdale Christmas parade, which is unique and BADASS, in that it is made up of big rigs and cement trucks, etc. all decked out in Christmas lights. Sam Capitol-L loved it and even Lucy was mesmerized. This past Sunday, we picked out and cut down our tree. Then in the evening, we all cuddled on the couch in our jammies, watched The Polar Express and ate popcorn. Yesterday, I got the lights up. The tree will now mellow for a few days, in all it's glowing beauty, cat curled beneath it, until we get around to hanging ornaments. Tomorrow, I really should get the rest of my Christmas cards done and into the mail. Oh yeah, and finally get our tree-hunting-muddy pants into the laundry. See? Just one thing per day. To keep it all within reach. Manageable.

I'm not even going to obsess about writing fabulous blog posts. They don't all have to be hilarious or profound . . . sometimes I just want to capture the moments . . . like these . . .

Story time on the floor


Sam's first letter to Santa (broke my heart to actually mail it)
Could be a Christmas card - drool string and all!

Serious gingerbread architecture happening here

The final, beautifully asymmetrical product : )









Saturday, November 24, 2012

Moving on

I broke my engagement with NaBloPoMo. You noticed? Yes, well, let me tell you, I stand by my decision. This was not a blogging fail but rather a very deliberate refusal to blog daily. It was fun for the first few days, but it was a huge time and energy suck. I ran out of things to talk about, and was always rushing against the clock so I didn't even feel like I was saying things well. I guess people who successfully complete a BloPoMo have an arsenal of topics or even pre-written posts they can draw from. I didn't have that. So I let it go. And it was awesome. I had time to read, catch up on Dexter and the Walking Dead, go out and have a life and not have to blog before bed. Done.

Now I can get back to regaling you with hijinx that result in conversations you don't want repeated at preschool. Like this one.

The setting: Sam and I in the bathtub together the other night. He is staring at my boobs because, well, they are at his eye level. He is washing his chest. 

Sam: Can we go nipples to nipples?

Me: . . . No, thank you.

Sam: Why?

Me: Well, nipples are very personal and I don't really like mine being touched.

Sam: . . . (thinking) . . . Why are my nipples not long?

Me: (stifling laughter) Well, you're a little boy and I'm a Mummy, and I have fed two babies with my nipples. Feeding babies makes nipples long.

Sam: . . . (thinking. and now touching his nipples) . . . maybe when I`m older I can feed a baby with my nipples.

Me: (what can I say . . . ?) Maybe. But usually only women can feed babies from their nipples.

Sam: Maybe I can be a woman when I get older.

Oh, Sam : ) I love your simple conclusions. You can be whatever you want when you get older, whatever makes your heart happy.






Friday, November 9, 2012

NaBloPoBreak

Not blogging tonight. Not doing anything - gonna veg out and watch crap on Netflix : ) Will make for better quality blogging tomorrow.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Unplug

Sam and I had a really good day yesterday. It was a perfect Autumn day with sunshine and crisp air and about a bazillion leaves on the ground to play in. 



We probably spent 50% of his waking hours outside playing, taking pictures, chatting about every thought that popped into his head (that squirrel in the tree, that car over there, Mummy, did you hear that train??).  We walked. Did we ever walk! In the morning we went to the Y and back while Lu napped at home before David went to work. In the afternoon (with Lucy bundled up in the stroller this time) our destination was the park, then that same park again to meet friends, then over to get sushi for dinner - sometimes we treat ourselves when Daddy is on "nights". By 5 pm the cold air and Sam's tired little legs were conspiring in my favour to persuade him to come inside without protest. 

Our indoor hours were spent mostly reading. This kid can't get enough of books these days - he didn't ask to watch Cars or Chuggington or Sesame Street even once all day! Instead he brought me books on the couch while I nursed Lucy and we took turns reading them; some of them he has committed to memory and others he makes up based on the pictures. 

Even bedtime went smoothly. I threw both kids in the bath together, had jammies on and teeth brushed without any fuss, read even more books while Lucy took her bedtime feed, then sang them both off for the night.

There were no tantrums, no time outs. It was lovely. All of it. 

Obviously, I want to recreate this experience, so I've been reflecting on just what made the day so pleasant. Blue skies and sunshine are scarce this time of year, and as the weather is entirely outside my realm of my control, I have to hope there was something deeper at play here. 

The best I can come up with is Presence.  

With David home in the morning, I was able to leave Lucy to nap inside and play with Sam beyond earshot of the baby monitor. Sam and Mummy time is important and I try to carve out a little for us every day, but it's more than that. Lucy is a very easy baby - not fussy, not high needs - and Sam Capitol-L-loooooves her, so her absence from our playtime wasn't the key factor. Besides, we had just as much fun on our afternoon outing when she came along in the stroller. 

Maybe it helped that we didn't really have an agenda for the day. No real plans, no outings, no schedule to keep other than meals and Lucy's nap. But, in all honesty, I think I know what it was . . . I'm beating around the bush because I know what I want to say and am embarrassed to do so . . . 

We had such a good day yesterday because I didn't check my email. I didn't go on Facebook. We didn't watch any TV or YouTube videos. I barely texted anyone. He had my uncorrupted attention, and our fragile mum-and-three-year-old relationship thrived because of it. 

Too many times I have answered Sam's questions (for the 80th time, but that's not the point) with my nose stuck in my phone or laptop rather than making eye contact with him. I've even been annoyed with him for interrupting me while texting (yikes! I can't believe I just wrote that). David and I are both guilty of using our phones too much during family time. We use them to text, check the time, the weather, read our email, take pictures, etc. etc. etc. And because we don't have a land line we always have our phones on us. It's very easy, very distracting, and not at all cool

So from now on . . . no texting, email checking, Pinteresting - whatever - during family time. That means not even when I'm bored to tears of playing trains or watching him ride his bike over the makeshift ramp that David made for the neighbourhood littles in the summer. I want to have more good days, and while unplugging isn't a perfect recipe for that, I know it can't hurt. I want to be more present for my kids and model the kind of respect I hope they will show to me as they grow up. 

Put the phone down, make eye contact, and be Present.  After all, my kids aren't mine, I am theirs. So I should act like it. 

It's late and I'm tired (and tired of blogging every day), but I am going to write more about this topic another time. I have more to say. Maybe start a movement. We'll see.