Monthly Archives: October 2014

My Kid Made Me Say It

Sometimes we hear ourselves saying things to our children that we cannot believe. We think, what the hoover just came out of my mouth? But it’s not our fault. Our kids made us say it.

Here are just a few examples of things our kids have made us say:

“Get out of the dishwasher.”

“Sometimes mommies need to be far, far away and by themselves for a little while so they can be the best mommies they can be. So you stay here; I’m going to go bury my face in some blankets.”

“Put your penis back in your pants!”

“Are you eating hair off the ground? Stop eating hair!”

“No, fifty is less than seventy. Yes, I’m sure. We don’t have to argue about it … Okay fine. Fifty is more than seventy. Sure.”

“A piece of ham is not a HAT!”

“Don’t push your bums together in the bath!”

“Don’t suck on your sister! Or the cushion! Don’t suck on ANYTHING.”

“No, you don’t pee from your bum, and you don’t EVER barf blood from your face. Can we stop talking about this, please?”

“Are you licking juice off the driveway?”

“Stop dumping that on her head.”

“When you grow up you can’t marry your mommy and daddy, because we are already married. And … that is the only reason.”

“Please don’t hug that diaper.”

 

 Did this list make you laugh out loud? Yes? Well, here are some more! Also, if you’ve got your own hilarious “My Kid Made Me Say It,” share it in the comments!

When Kids do the Gratitude Challenge

A few weeks ago, Baby N did the gratitude challenge. I read it to my older daughters, and they thought it was very funny, so we decided that I would interview them for their own gratitude challenge. What follows is that interview. I’ve edited my part out if it because it was mostly just, “And what else are you thankful for?” and, “Stop jumping on the couch, please, and talk to me,” and “Yes, I’m typing all the words!” I think you blog readers can do without those three phrases being repeated over and over, right?

IMG_2516And so, without further ado, I present G (age 6) and E (age 5) and their gratitude challenge.*

G: I am thankful for television. Actually, all screen time! I love television.

E: I got one. Is it my turn? I’m thankful for my house. Because otherwise I won’t have any food to eat and just live outside.

G: I am thankful for fires. I love fires. Cause they keep us warm. Outside fires, inside fires, every kind of fire. Except forest fires. Because those are TOO BIG, even bigger than our HOUSE.

E: I am thankful for flowers. Because I can smell them and pick them, and have a whole bouquet—that means a bunch of flowers. A BOUQUET. I like dandelions and buttercups and I LOVE … what are those kinds again?

G: That are swirly?

E: What kinds?

G: (Runs away, for no explicable reason)

E: What are you getting? Where did you go?

G: This picture of these roses. Do you mean this kind?

E: My favourite kinds are roses. And one time I got you flowers, Mommy, because I love you and I love making special surprises for you. Maybe next time I can ask Daddy to make a surprise for you and get you flowers for a surprise. Remember that one time when I got you prickly roses?

G: My turn. Um, I am thankful for crafts. Every kinds of crafts. Especially origami, that I did in kindergarten. When you fold things out of paper. I’ve made a boat, a hat, a wallet, and a heart. Actually I just made a heart; I didn’t make a wallet or a boat. Ms. O from Japan taught me how to make origami.

E, very, very sadly: Mommy, I want to do a craft. I really, really want to do the craft I’m thinking of and I won’t have time tomorrow! I’m thinking of it and I really want to do it, Mommy. It’s drawing a heart and then cutting out the heart—that’s the craft. And I won’t have time mommy, okay? (Sad sigh)

G: You’re supposed to say what you’re thankful for.

E: I’m thankful for clothes. I like dresses! And tights! And dress-up clothes!

G: Now it’s my turn.

E: And I’m thankful for heads! Otherwise we couldn’t see or hear or talk and … we would look really weird.

G: No, our ears could be on our shoulders, our eyes could be on our neck …

E: No, we wouldn’t have a neck.

G: On our chest, then.

E: We wouldn’t have a neck. We wouldn’t have a neck.

G: I am thankful for being silly. Because being silly is weird and I like being weird, sort of.

E: Weird means silly for me.

G: Being weird means sticking your butt in someone’s face.

(Maniacal laughter from both children for five minutes while they repeated this phrase over and over.)

Finally …

E: You’re weird! (And then, looking at me and whispering because she knows she’s not allowed to call her sister that) Weird means silly.

G: I’m thankful for E because we can be silly together and pretend we have two heads.

E: I’m thankful for G because she hugs me so tight and we both play and we really do a good time.

G: You mean HAVE a good time.

E: Right. A good time.

And then they started to hug each other while spinning around as fast as they could, with no coordination or planning, and then G knocked her teeth on E’s forehead and started to cry, and then I comforted her and sent them off to brush their teeth before bed, feeling grateful myself for these two silly sisters, and also for the fact that it was finally bedtime.

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*Please note that I know how these kids of mine like to give the “right” answer, even if that answer is a bit boring to read about. So I told them that they were not allowed to say that they are grateful for family or friends or God or love, because I KNOW they are grateful for those things and I wanted to be surprised by their answers. Which I certainly was, in the end.

Dear Kids: I Will Never Give Up On You

Dear A & S,

However old you are when you read this, I want you to read it, or at least listen as I read it to you. Maybe you are 4, maybe you are 54, but it really doesn’t matter. I need to tell you something, because I need to make sure you know this—REALLY know it, before I don’t have the time to say it anymore (or you stop listening).

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Here it is: I will never give up on you.

When you poke me in the eye in the middle of Safeway and it hurts A LOT and my eye is red and watering like crazy, and then someone I know, but not that well, comes up and says “Hi, how are you?” and this puts me in the awkward position of looking like I’ve just been holding my baby and sobbing in the middle of the store. Even though it hurt and I’m embarrassed, it doesn’t change how I feel about you. I will never give up on you.

If you get lost in Target because you are running around and hiding behind clothes racks and looking for toys, and I can’t find you and I age a hundred years in that moment, and then you appear, happy as a clam and I get VERY angry at you, please understand that underneath that anger is me being very scared, and needing you to never do that again. But even if you do it again, I will never give up on you.

When you tell me you love me and that I’m the best mother in the world, it will feel great, but I won’t let it interfere with the fact that you still can’t have candy before dinner. Because I will never give up on you.

When you hurt yourself doing something I TOLD you not to do, and then get angry at me because you are hurt, I will brace myself and kiss away your owie, even though I hate being blamed for things that are not my fault. Because I will never give up on you.

When you use your little fists to hit me because you don’t know how else to express how angry you are in that moment, I will be mad and sad, but that is not me giving up on you. I might take away your dessert, though.

When I throw up my hands in utter frustration and say “I give up!!” because the two of you are arguing about who gets to get in the car first, please understand—I’m frustrated. This is me giving up on your behaviour on this particular occasion—but I will NEVER give up on you.

When you throw a fit in the middle of Canadian Tire because you want the display booster seat, and NOT the one in the box, and you lie crying in the aisle refusing to move so I have to pick you up and carry you, kicking and screaming, to the elevator, where you collapse on the floor in a fit because you “wanted to walk by yourself,” and then you continue screaming while we ride up to the next floor with a very uncomfortable-looking, childless couple, who promptly decide that they will never have children and high-tail it out of there as soon as the doors open, a part of me will want to say to them, “Take me with you!” But I won’t. Because I will never give up on you.

When you are unkind to another kid at school, even if they were also being mean, I will make sure you get in trouble. Because I will never give up on you.

When you, as an angst-ridden teen, tell me you hate me and wish I was dead, I will give you some space, then offer you a hug and cry tears with you, because you are feeling really frustrated with me right now. Even though your words really hurt my feelings, I will never give up on you.

When I hurt your feelings, even though I didn’t mean to, I will tell you, “I’m sorry,” because I am. And I also want you to learn that even people in charge need to be able to say that they are sorry, because I will never give up on you.

When you come to me and tell me that you are running away from home, because nobody understands you, I will tell you about the time that nobody understood ME and I ran away from home and sat under a bush for what felt like hours and hours, until I decided to go home and see how devastated everyone was and it turned out that nobody had noticed that I was gone, plus I was only really gone for about 45 minutes. I will tell you that I would notice if you were gone, even if it was only 45 minutes, and that I would scour all the bushes in the area looking for you. Because I will never give up on you.

When you tell me I’m a horrible mother because I took away your “laser phone” (when I actually let you have a phone, technology will have advanced to the point that they will be laser phones), I will still take it away because I will have a good reason for doing it, one that probably involves protecting you. You can go ahead and be mad about that, but please understand, this is me never giving up on you.

If ever drugs or alcohol darken your doorway, and the power of addiction sweeps you in, and I feel like I can’t even recognize you anymore, it may feel like I’m giving up on you because I can’t support something that hurts you so much. But I won’t ever give up on you, not ever.

photo credit: Lisa Gelley

photo credit: Lisa Martin

I wish I could tell you that all families stick it out and weather storms together until everything gets better, and that everyone wants to get better so they can all be together. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Love and commitment isn’t something that happens automatically for ANYONE; love is a choice that a person has to make, day in and day out. I know what it’s like to have had people give up on me, and it is hard. And it’s scary not knowing what someone else is thinking or feeling toward you, or if they love you or are committed to you. And sometimes you won’t even feel very much love or commitment to yourself—I have been there, too.

So, let me take just this one thing off of your worry plate. I want you to always know, REALLY know, what I am thinking and feeling toward you. Here it is: I choose to love you, forever and always, no matter what. And I will NEVER give up on you.

Love,

Mommy

Aunt-mazing

My children, like many lucky kids, have an amazing Auntie. She’s the kind of aunt who comes along on road trips, takes my kids for the weekend, buys countless thoughtful gifts, and organizes living-room dance parties whenever she’s over, and not just for the adults. My children love their Auntie Katy, and my husband (her brother) and I need her.

Auntie Katy is special to us, but when I peruse my Facebook and Instagram feeds, I can’t help but notice that the world is full of Auntie Katys. I’ve thought about this a lot, and concluded that there are many reasons why the adult, child-free Aunties of the world are particularly wonderful.

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So, Aunties, here’s why you are Aunt-mazing:

First of all, there is your competence. You are an adult. You have a job, a home, a life. If there is an emergency when you are in charge, you’re just as likely to be able to cope with it as I am. I can trust you to be responsible for more than a few hours, for more than an evening, or even for a whole weekend if you’re willing, and I don’t even have to leave a long list of specific instructions. And we both know it’s easier for you to maintain both the “fun” and the control, because you can go home afterward. To your home, where it is (I assume) quieter and toyless and Dora-free.

Secondly, there’s your time and energy. While parents are forced to adjust to the schedules of their children, you are in charge of your own timeline. Obviously you have work, and relationships, and a life, but you also probably have free time that you, alone, control. So if you love my kids, which you do, you can choose to spend time with them. And then, while you’re here, you play hide-and-seek, teach cartwheels in the backyard, and pull a toddler around on the wagon. You’ve made time to see the kids, and you want to play with the kids! Everyone wins, especially me, and my hot, fresh coffee. And this magazine. And the first nap on the couch I’ve had in weeks.

Bonus: when you buy the shirt, you can choose what it says.

Bonus: when you buy the shirt, you can choose what it says.

Next, there are the PRESENTS. Oh, the presents. As an adult, you can spend money on whatever you wish—and you of course don’t need to spend any money on your nieces and nephews; your very presence in their lives is enough. However, if you choose to buy the world’s most fun board game or a huge glitter-covered princess-themed art supply kit, we will take it!

And most importantly, there is the LOVE. You genuinely, completely love my children. You’re invested in them. You’re interested in their little lives. You think they are adorable and awesome and hilarious, and really are delighted if they call and leave a funny message on your voicemail or send you a piece of scribbled-on construction paper in the mail. These children are your family, and you love them; it’s as simple as that. I don’t think that changes, for the most part, when an Auntie has her own children—I know I love my incredible nieces and nephews as much as I ever have. And this? The love? It’s the best part.

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I’m obviously talking about a specific kind of Aunt here, but please don’t feel excluded if you or someone you know is just like this in helpfulness and affection, but not exactly in other ways. This person doesn’t even have to be an aunt; it could also be a good friend, or a great-Aunt, or perhaps someone with slightly older children. My children are lucky enough to also have the World’s Most Patient Uncle, so I have personally experienced how awesome uncles can be, too.

I guess that, like any parent, I am just immensely grateful to have someone, anyone, who will arrive at my house and immediately get down on her knees for kiddie hugs and kisses and tickles and squeezes; who texts to say, “Are you guys around to Skype?” but really only wants me to say yes if the kids are awake; who remembers all of my kids’ ages and birthdays and what they said they want for Christmas; and who will listen with obvious love and amusement to a long, rambling, confusing, nonsensical story from a four-year-old.

Aunties, we love you dearly, and we genuinely want you to be as wonderfully happy as you deserve to be, so we truly hope you’ll be a mother yourself someday, if that’s what would make you happy. We have seen, firsthand, how great you would be at it. But, secretly and selfishly, we kind of hope it’s not for a while.

Finally, I wanted to add a quick note of apology. Sometimes we moms may hurt your feelings, aunts. We have been known to say, or to accidentally imply, “You don’t understand; you’re not a mother.” This can be very insensitive and ungrateful, I know. But here’s the thing: being the mother of small children can be so all-consuming for us, we sometimes feel like we are nothing else. So we look at you, with your job and your free time, your unstained dress clothes and your perky boobs, your trip to Europe and your cool hiking adventure, and we might just feel a teeny bit jealous. We feel the need to be better than you at parenting, for pete’s sake, because sometimes it seems like that’s all we have. Please just give us this one, dear Aunties; forgive us for our insensitivity, and keep coming over to babysit anyway. If nothing else, come for the kids. They love you just as much as you love them.

Tricky Treats

Last week I went on our family’s bi-monthly Costco trip by myself, which, if you’ve ever been to Costco with children, you will realize is the lesser of two evils. As I’m racing around getting food, I happen upon the piles and piles of Halloween Candy. At this point Halloween is still two weeks away, but because I am smart I think to myself: well, if I don’t buy Halloween candy now, by Halloween it will be all sold out … so perhaps I had better get some right now. I am good at talking myself into things, and so, of course, I buy the candy. I get one jumbo box and one jumbo bag, because we get a lot of kids in our neighbourhood, and because I like to be well prepared. So I paid my bill of approximately a million dollars at Costco and drove home, where my helpful husband put away all of the groceries. All of them except the candy bag and the candy box, which I, with purpose, put on the TOP of the cupboard where they would be out of sight and out of mind, and wouldn’t tempt me, my children, or anyone else with their deliciousness. And, again, I patted myself on the back for my great work, and went to sit down after a long day of kids and work and Costco.

But wait, I said to my couch-sitting self, it HAS been a long day … And I am tired … And I would REALLY benefit from just one “fun size” bag of Skittles right now. And so, because that is just good logic right there, and because I am good at talking myself into things, I stood up and pulled down the big bag of candy. As I held the bag, I contemplated what to do exactly, because I knew that once this bag was opened, it would be like Pandora’s Box, unleashing a whole host of delicious and tempting evils onto our entire family. So I had the brilliant idea to just cut the tiniest corner off of the bag, because, of course, THIS would keep me from sticking two fingers in and desperately prying out other pieces of candy in the weeks to come.

But a factor I hadn’t counted on is how impossible it is to sneak candy that you are stealing from the Halloween bag into your mouth, and not be caught by your children or husband. As it happens, my children are candy bloodhounds. I will try to sneak candy—I will often even have it all the way into my mouth—and then the smallest crinkle of the wrapper or the tiniest chewing noise will cause their little blond heads to pop around the corner. And then their big brown eyes will just blink at me, while I freeze … holding that candy in my mouth and trying to act casual, even as a single drop of sweat rolls down the side of my face. Gently, they approach, never taking their eyes off my mouth for a second.

“Mommy? … What are you eating?”

“Mmnufing!” I will say, but by then it’s all over, because they’ve already caught the scent of the cherry Laffy Taffy on my breath. Needless to say, after this the tiny hole in the corner of the bag soon became a gaping hole, from whence candy could easily be obtained and consumed.

And so all the members of the family have partaken of the Halloween candy, before Halloween has even begun. Every year I tell myself that if I buy candy early, the candy will be safe on the top of the cupboard for a few weeks, and every year I am forced to realize that this is never going to happen. But, as I am the sort of person who sees the glass as half full, and as I am good at talking myself into things, I choose to focus on the fact that, though the bag is compromised, the box of candy is still intact and on the top shelf. However, I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that that box of Halloween candy is the closest thing I will ever have to an arch-nemesis, with it’s smug, brightly coloured pictures of candy and it’s taunting, easily torn cardboard flaps. Alas … I’ve got ten days to go before Halloween. Maybe this year I’ll be able to talk myself into having some self-control.

Maybe.

The candy … she calls to me …

How to Celebrate a One-Year-Old’s Birthday

A ten-month-old Baby N celebrates her big sister's birthday with a hat and a grin.

A ten-month-old Baby N celebrates her big sister’s birthday with a hat and a grin.

It’s my youngest daughter’s first birthday today. Our sweet little baby nugget is turning into a hilarious and strong-willed child before our very eyes, and this great occasion deserves to be celebrated. But how? Obviously the expected answer would be to have a birthday party, but what are the requirements of such a party for a person who is basically still a baby? Having had three previous first birthdays to deal with, I’m a certified expert on such things, so I’ve compiled a list of all the things I’m pretty sure my one-year-old needs.

Requirements for a first birthday:
1) Photographic evidence that the birthday girl was given a special dessert treat (some cake, or a cupcake, or a gluten-free chocolate muffin, or even piece of sushi with a candle in it) to enjoy and rub all over her face and into her hair.

That’s it. That’s the whole list. Because, as you know, the kid is not going to remember it. She is a BABY. From now on, at every birthday for the rest of her life, she will have expectations: she will expect PRESENTS and CAKE and GOODY BAGS and ALL HER FRIENDS and ATTENTION. But just this once, anything that happens will be a delighful surprise, even if that “anything” is just a few extra tickles and—prize of all prizes—a single balloon. So this year, all I need is proof for the future that her first birthday was celebrated, and that she was adorable.

However, I understand that there may be good reasons to not basically ignore your child’s important birthday milestone. Because, while the baby requires very little, there may be others who require more. In our case, it’s the big sisters. It’s baby N’s birthday, so everyone wants pancakes for breakfast, and to give her a present they did not pay for themselves along with a card they scribbled just that morning. For some people, there are extended families who want to come over for a full dinner and present-giving extravaganza. Hopefully, they are the ones bringing the dinner and the presents.

Finally, there’s you, the baby’s parent. What do you want? If it’s easier for you to enjoy this milestone without any fanfare, just put a candle into a cupcake, take a picture, and call it a great day. I did this with two of my four children, and they seem fine with it, really. But if you want to embrace the party planning so you can gratefully share the day with your friends and family, do that! Either way, your baby’s birthday is happening. She is no longer a baby, and you probably have mixed feelings about this. You are getting closer to sleeping through the night again, but you also know that you can’t go backward and experience this child as a tiny, helpless, squeaking, dependent newborn again.

How did it go so quickly when it felt like it would never end?

Look at her now! She’s a PERSON. She wants things, and then she crawls or walks toward them; when she sees you, she recognizes your face and squeals with happiness; she remembers the game you played yesterday, and wants you to play it over and over again (it’s peekaboo, by the way. They ALWAYS want peekaboo). This amazing “growing up” thing she’s doing is going to continue, and you are going to be there for it, making it happen.

So that’s why I’m having a (small, haphazardly planned) first birthday party for my fourth baby. She doesn’t care, but I do. Happy birthday, baby N. That whole baby thing—with the crying and the nursing and the not sleeping and the all-encompassing dependence—we did it, you and I. We did it. Now let’s eat cake.

Thanksgiving Serious

At Thanksgiving time, in my opinion, it is important to take a moment to be “serious thankful,” and so I shall. These children, that I take great pleasure in complaining about for solidarity’s sake on this blog, are in fact very precious to me, and this fact was revealed to me yet again, recently, as I watched my little boy in his Thanksgiving assembly this year. He and the rest of the kids in his very small school performed a few songs for the benefit of all of the iPhones in the audience. Behind one such iPhone was me, my heart bursting as I watched and took a video of my boy singing Raffi’s “Thanks a Lot,” complete with actions.

They were all adorable, this eclectic group of off-key, earnest singers, but my favourite one was MY one, the shortest boy in the back row with the big brown eyes, striped purple shirt, and tousled blonde hair. He was singing along with his classmates, while stealing a few serious glances at his dad and me and trying to hide his pleasure at this rapt attention he was receiving from his parents. And I found myself becoming numb-in-the-face, like when you are smiling so much, and there are tears too that want to come out, but you are just like, “not now, you!” And so I held it in until a few hours later when we were all home and A began to give us a private performance of the same song, complete with actions and everything. And he is NOT the one of my children who is the most inclined towards the dramatic, so his father and I sat with rapt attention as he sang and motioned about all of the things he is thankful for. And then my tears from before began to well, and then they began to spill, until my face was as wet as the rain-beaten windows on that soggy October afternoon. Because all of a sudden I was thinking about how this little boy was the same little baby whom the doctor had referred to as the child he “didn’t think would make it.”

This little boy’s story began with the pizza pop that had been my lunch that day, almost seven years ago, a fact I will never forget, because I WOULD see that pizza pop again, just under less enjoyable circumstances. I was only 36 weeks pregnant and not prepared AT ALL to go have a baby. Because, come on! I had four more weeks—maybe even more, because first babies always come late, you see. And then, after the pizza pop, my huge pregnant stomach started to hurt. Like, REALLY hurt. This was my placenta abrupting, I would learn later, which is a fancy way of saying that your uterus is prematurely trying the “slow peel off” of its placenta rather than the “rip it off” that happens during labour, speaking in bandaid terms. And yes, it feels like your insides are ripping apart, because they kind of are.

So after emergency surgery that same night, during which the ill-fated pizza pop was barfed into one of those unfortunately shallow cardboard trays, my listless, blue boy was born. And it was a rough start, for all of us. Quick, surgical hands began their work on him right away, and he pulled through, but then spent his first two weeks in the Hospital’s “Special Care Nursery” getting fatter, gram by gram, so we could finally take him home. Those two weeks were a time of total hollowness for me, because there is something so completely unnatural about leaving one’s just-birthed baby behind in a hospital. I felt like the Tin Man—this weird sensation of walking around without a heart. Because, you see, I had to leave my heart in the hospital in an incubator.

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And then the day we took him home was such a day of joy and gratitude, that my memories of the whole experience are a jumbled mass of mixed emotions.

And now I look at him, and there are these moments that happen where I can suddenly see my tiny incubator baby all over again, but now he’s standing in front of me, singing Raffi to me. And it’s like he’s all the ages he’s ever been at the same time, and I’m feeling it all at the same time—the memories, the fear, the gratitude, the grief, the joy. And it does end in joy, because here he is, singing his thanks for the world and the sun and the “whispering wind,” and “all he’s got,” and “the way he feels.” Gifted with life and the ability to enjoy the sun and the wind, and to have things—things that he can taste and hold and see, and things he can feel—that he can wonder and laugh at, or cry and be angry at. He can sing and breathe and live and love. That almost didn’t happen, and yet here he is; he has happened, and he is thankful. And I’m thankful, too. A lot. For every moment of it.

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And I finally “get” that aspect of being a parent, I think—because I am quite sure that people with children in their 20s, 30s, or 40s must also look at their grown-up kid and get a glimpse of the child whose small nose they used to wipe, whose tiny hand they used to hold, whose dirty, scratched up knees they used to kiss. Such a crazy, transporting, time-travelling, multi-faceted, multi-emotion thing it is to be a parent. And for every bit of it, in my little corner of parenthood, I am indeed, “serious thankful.”

How to get to the gym when you have four children and a bad attitude

Step 1: Wake up in the morning and put on work-out clothes instead of regular clothes. This just means wearing a sports bra with your yoga pants and t-shirt this time. Also, running shoes instead of whatever flip-flops or rain boots you usually wear.

Step 2: Get ready for school as usual. Commence van-filling procedure, including seatbelts and shoes and backpacks and coats and the toddler-toy-of-the-day and CHILDREN. Double check to make sure the toddler and baby are both wearing pants and clean diapers, because we are not coming straight home as usual.

Step 3: Drive to school and say goodbye to older children, as well as their backpacks, coats, library books, and show-and-tell items. Don’t forget to send the children straight to the office for a late slip, if necessary (it’s necessary). Wave goodbye and take a deep breath of relief. Commence your drive to the gym.

Step 4: Suddenly remember you didn’t feed the littles any breakfast. Pull over to the side of the road and root around the floor of your van for a granola bar, a small package of goldfish crackers, and half a cookie. Divide the food between your children, and drive to the gym.

Step 5: Arrive at Fitwells for Women with plenty of time to get to the 9am step class. As you drag your children out of the van, do NOT think about where you are and what you are doing. If you think about it, you will put your kids back in the car and find a drive-through instead. Channel Dory and “just keep swimming.” Or in this case, just keep dragging your children through the parking lot.

Step 6: Go inside. Congratulations! At this point, you are basically done. Steps 1-5 were the most likely to trip you up, but now you are IN THE DOOR. If you’ve made it this far, you are not going to give yourself any more excuses. So THIS should be your goal next time. Don’t think about anything else. Just literally get to the gym and the rest will follow.

Step 7: Say goodbye to your children in the childcare room. This will take anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes, depending on the mood of your children and how soon they are willing to be distracted by a funny train toy and a kind stranger while you sneak out.

Step 8: Go to the change room. Slowly fill your water bottle. Fix your messy bun in the mirror. Go to the bathroom. Then, sit on the comfy leather bench and chat with a friend on your phone.

Step 9: Notice that it’s almost 9:00am. Heave a big sigh, and walk out the door. Go to the exercise class floor and set up your step. Place yourself strategically, so that someone else is directly between you and your reflection in the mirror.

Step 10: Do the step class. You will not want to, but everyone else is and you won’t want to be embarrassed. You will decide that you don’t have to do a good job; you will just do the minimum. But soon you will find yourself paying attention so you get the steps right. And then you are keeping up with the instructor. And then you start to think that this is pretty easy, actually, and maybe you should put a little extra bounce to your step. Then a super awesome song comes on (a Taylor Swift Dance remix, if you’re lucky) and you start to think you are probably in the wrong career because you should have been a dancer! Catch a glance of yourself in the mirror and reconsider. Finish the entire class, even the awesome, easy stretching part at the end.

Step 11: Because you feel so proud of yourself for being the sweaty, uncoordinated, exercising mess you are, decide that today is a great day for WEIGHTS as well as cardio! Start to do the circuit system, where the red and green lights tell you what to do. Like the step class, it requires very little internal motivation; you just have to follow along. This is your exercise niche.

Green: "Change! Change! Change!" Red: "Not yet, not yet..."

Green: “Change! Change!” Red: “Not yet, not yet…”

Step 12: Get interrupted halfway through by an apologetic daycare staff member because one of your children won’t stop crying (hungry?) and the other needs a diaper change. Abandon your workout knowing that some exercise is better than no exercise, and maybe you’ll be able to do the whole thing next time.

Step 13: Buy a coffee for yourself and a muffin for the kids from the shop next door on your way out. But skip the cream and sugar this time. You know, because you just exercised and you may as well eat better to go with it.

Step 14: Eat most of the muffin, too.

IMG_2134

Yep, that’s me at the gym. That selfie is PROOF that I was there. In the change room.

If you’re looking for a gym, Fitwells for Women (in Maple Ridge, Coquitlam, or Tsawwassen) is a really good option. They gave me a month’s membership in exchange for writing about them, and I very much enjoyed the great atmosphere and all the classes. Plus, all the cardio machines have televisions, and that means you can control the remote for once! No Bubble Guppies!

Now they want to give away a THREE MONTH MEMBERSHIP! FOR FREE! Fill out the rafflecopter below to be entered to win. To earn all 48 entries, leave a comment on their website, and click “I Commented!” and then all the other choices will open up. You’ll see; it’s pretty easy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Smartphones and Friendship: Making Difficult Things Easier Since 2007

If you’re someone who wonders why people like to be on their smartphones all the time, everywhere they are, such as the dressing room at the gym or the waiting room at a doctor’s office, you may learn something from today’s momversation. Perhaps those people are chatting with a friend, making their day’s monotony a little more interesting.

***********************

Jac: I’m sitting in the change room at the gym, tapping on my phone while my kids are in the childcare room … How long can I hide in here before I have to exercise??

Juli:
smiletongue

 

 

 

 

Jac: Okay, well here I go. I guess.

Juli: Good luck?

Jac:
tongue

 

 

 


(Later…)

Jac: Question: I want to get business cards for twofunmoms. Also, by the way, I’ve been sitting in the car for 10 minutes with a baby and a toddler, and it’s raining. I’m waiting for our last day of half-day kindergarten to end.

Juli: Ooh, can we have a “who has it worse” contest? I’m currently waiting for my Pap Test to begin. Colour me excited! And your question?

Jac: Oh no!! Paps are the worstest ever. Ever ever.

Juli: Yes. So, so bad. Just kidding about the contest, though, because I would win.

Jac: You do WIN and your prize is top-notch cervical and vaginal health.

Juli: Ha ha—true. I’m just going to leave my body while it happens … So, what’s the question about the business cards? I’m happy to go halfies!

Jac: The question is, I want it to have our header picture on it, but that will take me ages to figure out on my computer and then it will look only okay (not great) when I’m done.

Juli: Okay … And your question?

Jac: I’m seeing how long I can say I have a question without asking a question.

Juli: Apparently.

Jac: Okay. The question. Would my BFF Spence* be faster at that an g

(pause)

D be willing t

o help? dasfguihjk

(pause)

Jac: Sorry, dealing with this now:
10711294_10154704135950294_1581232183_n

 

 

 

 

Jac: She really really wants her phone back.

Juli: Yes, your BFF will help. And YES. Paps are AWFUL.                                              And that picture—so cute! Here’s what I’m dealing with:

10699057_10154621556980596_1730623308_n

 

 

 

 

Jac: Yuck. Ugh. The stirrups are up and waiting. #solidaritypoundit

Juli: Thanks.

Jac: Ok, I’llfmnmkl

Juli: Hello! R? Is that you?

Jac: Yes, that was from her.

Juli:
tears2

 

 

 

 

Jac: Okay, I better put the phone away. Things are going very badly here in the van. Because also, N is on my lap in the driver’s seat playing with all the buttons and knobs.

Juli: Oh no.

Jac: And, besides, you have to take off your pants and put on the little paper gown/blanket.

Juli:
barebear

 

 

 

 

Can’t wait.

Jac: Good luck.

Thumbsup2

 

 

 

 ***********************

*Spence is Juli’s husband, whom Jac has never even met, and whom Jac likes to ask for favours. BFF means “Best Friend Forever,” but if you didn’t know that you probably stopped reading a long time ago.

Judge, Jury and Stuffie Executioner

One of the things I have been observing in my children, especially recently, is a strong sense of Justice, especially about things that really don’t matter. For example, if one of them does something to the other one, such as taking a toy, the “injured” party will immediately determine that the toy stealer DESERVES some type of retribution. You know, like having a beloved toy of THEIRS thrown across the room, something like that. And then the original toy stealer will squawk in protest, leading to a return squawk from the other, leading to just a whole lot of squawking back and forth.

And then I, the innocent third party who has JUST sat down for five minutes’ peace with my coffee and the new IKEA catalogue, must drag myself out of my comfortable seat and go inquire as to what the HECK is going on, lest the argument descend into a “Lord of the Flies”-esque situation. So I ask them what the matter is, and the answer is inevitably a recounting of the most recent offence (the tossing of the favourite stuffie), to which I turn to the offender and ask why they would do such a thing, to which the reply is almost ALWAYS: “But SHE did it to ME!”

My children are small vigilantes, you see, eager to dispense their own warped brand of justice. “You have been found guilty! I sentence thee to having your Merida doll’s head dunked in the toilet, not once, not twice, but THRICE!” Gavel slam!

This poor orangutan has seen better days.

This poor orangutan has seen better days.

I can appreciate their desire for justice, as it is also a passion of mine. Perhaps growing up with five siblings impressed the importance of this upon me at an early age. If something was not fair (in my mind), I would protest the heck out of it, and often still do. However, as an adult I have learned the harsh, cold reality that sometimes life just isn’t fair. Sometimes you will spill a tiny drop of your Starbucks hot cocoa on the counter, and yes, this means that you will get a MILLILITRE less hot cocoa than your sister. This does not give you the right to try to spill some of your sister’s hot cocoa. Sadly, these are the harsh, cold facts of life. And it gets worse, kid, even though I know you can’t imagine anything worse than that right now. It gets SO MUCH WORSE.

But the heat of the moment, I have realized, is a bad time to tell them that things will get worse, or tell them that “life just ISN’T fair,” or that reciprocating bad with bad NEVER equals good or fair or just. They are upset, and SO IN NEED of things to be perfectly, absolutely fair, lest they determine that they are getting a raw deal, which will DESTROY THE BALANCE OF THE UNIVERSE. Or, their little universe, at least.

But also with adulthood has come the realization that caring for people is more important than caring about fairness. And I want my kids to understand this, too. So during these moments I try to focus them on having empathy, on putting themselves in the others’ shoes.

“A,” I will say to him, “you know what it’s like to have your toy taken from you. And I know you love your sister, even though she hurt your feelings. So how could you have handled your frustration and sadness towards her in a different way?” And I watch the angst on his face as he tosses and turns with the question, because he knows the answer I’m looking for (“choose to be kind,” or “go and get mom to help you sort it out,” something like that), but a part of him really believes that she deserves what she got. And this is sort of an epidemic among us adults, too. How do you teach your child to “turn the other cheek”, when so few adults seek to do that themselves? Revenge and justice and watching “bad” people get their comeuppance is a popular theme in movies, TV shows, and even kids’ books these days (and one we all enjoy, if we’re honest—it’s quite satisfying when the bad guy gets kicked in the ‘nads). But mercy, grace, and forgiveness do not promise an ending to a conflict that is quite so immediate or satisfying, especially from one’s annoying little sister. And yet, that’s what I want my kids to learn, it’s how I want them to be in the world—to care less about what’s fair, and care more about other people. But it’s an uphill battle, for sure.

Eventually my little boy’s angst subsided and we worked it out, and I returned to enjoy my cold coffee while he played with his sister. In a perfectly fair world, perhaps I would have had a steaming cup of coffee to return to. Perhaps it would also be easier to teach these concepts to my children. Perhaps instead of talking to them about it, I would be able to make a cool rap video about it for them, and throw in some stuff about staying in school and not doing drugs, and it would be VERY well received. In a perfectly fair world, that is.

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