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A Letter To My Daughter,

Dearest Lil Miss,

We have been on some rocky road lately, you seem to try out everything in your power to make my brain try to escape my skull. You have listened to my direction and done everything but. We have shared screaming matches, anger fits, and heartfelt tears. Yes, it’s been a rough road. Dreadful, actually. It was until yesterday, that we finally connected the way we used too. I want to document this moment to you, so we both don’t forget.

I was on the phone with a friend, we were discussing about the TIME cover and how her, not being a nursing mother, took it as they were mocking us mothers who nurse  an older child. I explained to my friend, while I was actually nursing you, that I loved the picture. To me, every picture tells a story, and I have yet to find a nursing picture that I have not liked. It reminded me of the nursing acrobats that toddlers do. I just try really hard to not look past the picture, because the wording takes a cut to every mother, nursing or not. And how unnatural the poise was, but moving on.

Flashes of memories came back in my mind. So many that brings a smile to my face.  Remembering them again, as you sat contentedly on my lap, soaking in every word – remembering too, as I retell the stories. The way you used to curl your legs around my neck so you upside down, times I woke up in the morning with you nursing the other way. That one priceless time when I was typing up a Daycare recipe and you snuck a chair behind mine, leaned over, pulled up my shirt and latched. All good memories.

After I hung up the phone you said to me, “Momma, I want to be a baby again”. It broke my heart, because now I heard what you meant. I have heard you many times in the past year on how you want to go back to being a baby, and I just thought that you just ‘wanted to go back to being a baby’ to do baby things. I never knew you felt what I was feeling.

With me being so stressed out and drained from life experiences and trying to get me back. I have lost so much of what my goal is with being a mother. I am constantly tied with feeling that I should not be mad at a child I was lucky to have, to teaching this child the basics to becoming better than me in adulthood. I pass through life with so much thought on what not to do, that I forget that you are the only person that just wants me. That in of itself is taxing, but it’s what I signed up for.

I usually replied to your statement with, “Well, babies don’t do this or that”. But yesterday I guess I was on the ball a bit more. I heard that you want us back, just like I do. That you feel lost, and that you miss how we connected and even though I try so hard everyday to give you and teach you that where we were a year ago is not normal, I lost my humor and my affection. I’ve put my attention to all the things you might have seen and heard and trying to undo them, that stopped what I started when you were born. Lil Miss, I heard you last night. And I feel the same way.

We both stared at the TIME cover and smiled as “Are you Mom enough?” glared at me on the side. I answered the question with, no I wasn’t. This time not out of guilt, but out of reality. I have not been Mom enough. By being Mom enough is not being the mom that everyone else thinks you should be, it’s about being enough Mom for your child. And I have not been.

I want you to know that I will always love your baby, toddler and preschooler days, but I will also love your school days too. They are not finished yet and sometimes I am grateful for it. I will reflect on our yesterdays, because back then I have all the answers now, today – not so much. I don’t want to do anything wrong emotionally to you, and I want to keep my promise to you. I will not intentionally make you feel the way I have felt growing up.

Just because I look back and sometimes I wish to rewind time. It’s not because today is a drag and I don’t want to continue, it’s because there are moments I should have lingered longer and I didn’t. Other times those moments also make me understand today and appreciate it more.

We continued to look at this cover, I think and feel the same as I always have. Nursing is the only way we could have bonded and maintained that bond for as long as we do. Nursing always makes us come back, whether it’s the act, memory, or looking at a picture and talking about it. We will always have that to remind us that its us in this world together, and I have your back. Nursing, even when we are not, will be our door to put down any hurt form the day and tie another rope around our hearts, just in case the last rope frayed a little bit.

I went into mothering remembering my first memory – of me and my cowgirl boots at 2. I don’t remember being happy, I just remember it. Nothing of the memory brings any feelings and the rest of my childhood, brings a lot of anxiety and rage. I wanted to give you something more. I knew in the NICU, nursing was the ONLY way to hold you, so it become important to me. When you arrived home nursing became the only thing that would make you stop crying, which became important to me. As you entered toddlerhood, it was a time where we would learn things together, new words or just be – together, so it became important  to me. As you entered preschool it became the only time that you stop your fits, and that became important to me.

And now, you’re going to school. You are five. You can tell me stories of different times we nursed and where. You remember us sitting together on a park bench, counting the birds that flew by. You would see babies being nursed at the mall and smile. You will happily tell the nursing mom that you are nursed and you remember. You remembering being nursed, has always been important to me. You will be more “Mom Enough” than I would because you will remember nursing as you are nursing your own. The cycle will be fully complete than. The way that nature intended. And you will come to days and moments where you want to pull out your hair, then see something on a cover to ask you if you are “Mom enough” and you will get mad, because silently you will answer no.

But except for being alone, like me, you will have me to tell you that only you can define what is enough. You just have to be that, and if it’s guilt you feel, find out why and change what you can. What you can’t change in your life, support someone else who comes after you. Most importantly, always raise your children to be better than you ever were. Because that is the only feeling of ‘enough’ we will ever have.

And never forget, you are the best at everything you do, because only you can do it the way you do. Underneath all my worries and deep dark fears, I hope you will see I had and will always have the best of intentions.

Gramms

The strongest woman I know passed away nearly 17 years ago. She had her faults, but through a granddaughters eyes she was nothing short from perfect. A woman who had 8 children, suffered from a loss of a 2-year-old, a neglectful husband and through it all put herself through nursing school. Although her husband left her and her children while probably kicking the dog on his way out. She survived, and became stronger.

She had 22 great-grandchildren and knew each of them by full name, which is hard because family tradition is to have titles rather than names. She knew each individual child’s interests, eye colour, real hair colour and their clothing sizes. It might not mean much to others but it made all of us feel valued, and wanted. It was a feeling of hope and love entering in her arms. It did not matter who or what we’ve become, she loved us anyway.

Gramms taught me the value of people and of family. She enforced the right for every person to know each individual person in their family. Family was roots, and roots were important. Although, you might not like some members in this small society called family, you had to respect their position and their title. You don’t have to visit them everyday, but once a year to get together to see how everyone is doing.

It was her belief that the adults can be angry with each other but she would only step in when they brought the children involved. Tolerance, lots of tolerance, was practiced growing up. It was not that bad though. I grew up with cousins I may not have otherwise and the feeling that I can be free to get to know someone even if my mother or father did not personally like them much.

Gramms was the glue of my father’s side and when she passed away so did most of the family structure. Gramms’ motto lives in me, family is the foundation in which you were built. That foundation does not result who you are going to be, just how hard you need to build and repair. You need to know what it’s made of before you can fix, mend and construct the walls.

I have lived my life by this, and have always felt that I can’t turn my back on any members of family because my daughter has a right to know who they are. Of course that does not mean I can’t set boundaries over the dysfunction. I have that right. I just do not have the right to make a  permanent choice to those who are supposed to be close. She can have a general relationship with some people, but I as her mother, can make sure the emotional and physical safety of doing so.

This belief has been the major reason I still have my mother in my life. I may be ticked off with her, she my have failed me, but my daughter has the right to know her and know who she is. My daughter has the right to want or not want people in her life. She has the right to know the background of people and where she fits into it all. It’s been really hard to have my mother in my daughter’s life, because I can see that my belief may cause more damage then what it’s all worth.

Because I put stipulations on where my mother can see my daughter, my mother retaliates and only comes on an average of 3 times a year. It was fine with me, up until K2 asked me why her Nan does not come to play with her. I can see the thought process and where this is going to go. I don’t want K2 to internalize things, but I don’t want to tell her the full truth of who her Nan really is, but I wont lie either.

Since my Gramms is gone I can’t confide in her. I can’t tell her that this one time I can not follow the belief I have been raised to know. I can’t watch this happen to my daughter, I can’t allow her to feel that it’s something wrong with her and that is why Nan does not come to visit. What advice would she give me? I have reflected back on the years of when she was alive, I don’t know how everyone made it work, but it did. I guess it worked, because they also grew up with this teaching.

The best thing I could do was to sit down and speak to my father. I told him how conflicted I am, how this belief is still burning strong, yet of course the need to protect my young was even stronger. It’s important that K2 have the teachings from my Gramms, the stories and the love I had from her. It’s important that K2 knows that her being is important and treasured and most of all respected.

Sitting down with my father and telling him the bind I feel about this all, I was made clear of three things:

  1. You can only welcome someone into the child’s life, if they want to be apart of it;
  2. You can only allow a person to be in your child’s life, if they are deserving of it; and
  3. This belief will only work if you have two adults who are willing to set aside their dysfunctions for the greater good of getting to know the child.

I have had this believe all wrong. It was not about the children respecting the adults and knowing your relatives, although that came with the territory. It was the right of the child to have others learn and know about them. That was the feeling growing up, I just could not put my finger on it, nor had the words to describe it other than love.

We were important enough to get to know and in that feeling we felt loved.

A ‘Pat’ On The Head

We went to my cousin’s house last night. DH and my cousin is trying to open their own reptile business. We arrive there in time for dinner, and as I was making the caesar and toss salads. I am talking with my cousin then I hear DH yelling my name from outside.

As I turn I see he is having a cigarette, but the strangest thing is he is standing with a pigeon on his head! I stop the conversation to say “why is there a bird on your head?” I head my way to the front door, stand outside to see this bird.

This pigeon’s name is Pat, and she is a rescued animal who fell from her nest in the home owner’s backyard. Her mother never came looking for her so the home owner decided to nurse the tiny bird back to health and then give the freedom of the outdoors.

So as Pat sat on my husband’s head, the children came outside to see this funny sight. I do have to say it was the highlight of the year. We’ve had some pretty rocky lows, but this bird, was the one who created a moment of forgetting about our stress, and a deep love of life.

I don’t think Pat knew how welcoming and how needed her visit was. What a different sight to see from city life. What a great and funny memory to share, for the years to come. Pat can come and sit on DH’s head anytime.

Our Art Project(s)

Sunday, we had plans to go to my cousin’s house to help with a room in the basement that my cousin and DH are using for their new reptile business. Well, we had a bit of drama and K1 wanted to go home early, which made K2 FREAK right out. So I thought maybe we could do some girl shopping, get a few things, just her and I.

So as she was finishing her breakfast I logged on to Facebook and noticed Michael’s was doing a baby craft. Well, I as I saw it, I thought this would be a cute and unique way to get K2’s name on something. Since her name is so unique, I can never find something on the shelf, I have to order and custom make it. All the better if you ask me.

So I wanted to go to Michael’s, but the bus driver drove right on past, so I knew by the time we waited an hour for the next bus, everything would be gone. So on to my next idea, my best friend – Dollar Rama! So K2 and I walked to the plaza behind our apartment and went through all the scrapbooking items. Riddling with so many ideas, I had to stop at the  Terracotta Pot Name and her River Rock Letters, that a Group Teach Preschool shared on Facebook.

Unfortunately, I could not find simple letter stencils for the River Rock Letters. I could have just done the scripture fonts, but for children who are learning the characters, that was not something I was going to throw into the loop. So I just bought two bundles of the River Rocks and used a Sharpie to write the letters on. Sweet $2.00! Done in five minutes and now K2 uses it to pretend cook.

On to our Terracotta Pots. There are 6 letters in K2’s name so bonus they were selling the smalls pots for 3 for a dollar. Then I had to figure out how I was going to get the blocks. They used to sell square foam blocks, that I could easily paint and be done with it. They were nowhere to be found, and the women who worked their looked at me like an idiot when I asked. So I decided I would use cork disks, to me I would have called them cork coasters, so that is what I will refer to them as.

The coasters came is three different shapes, two flower shapes and an octagon. K2 wanted the flower shaped one, so we went with that. Then we looked for the rub-on stencils, which took a while to find, but again they did not have the font that I was excited about, but they did have scripted fonts in pinks and purples.

Then on to paints, I bought white, two browns, green, pink and a purple. I had some skewers at home so that I did not need to look for. We picked of the ‘flower foam’ for flower arrangements, and a tasselled thin robe (which we did not use). Then for embellishments K2 found some brown pearls, so we threw that in the cart.

All together I spent close to $30 for two art projects, that at Michael’s I would be paying that for one (if you include the $6 for the bus). I think it turned out pretty great! Oh yes, I forgot K2 wanted this purple Unicorn on a stick, she road that around the store saying “Yeeehawww, matey” (thank you 4 Square and Zigby, my daughter does not know if she is a cowgirl or a pirate).

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How Do Things Get Done?

It’s me time at my house – it’s 11:57pm. I am surfing around through Facebook shares and I came across this. It got me thinking.

An early 20th century candlestick phone being ...

Image via Wikipedia

If you ask DH what I do all day, he would say I am on the computer or on the telephone. I would assume he does not think much about my stay-at-home/work-at-home day. It frustrates me to no end that he would say these things to people. As well as use this as a tactic when we are arguing about his lack of home involvement.

So since I don’t do anything all day, besides sit here at my computer, or talk on the phone. It’s got me thinking how do things get done?

How does my daughter have a change of clothes for the day, when she can’t fully dress herself? How are the floors and tables not as dirty as they should be? How does the garbage never pile in a gross amount and stink the house? How does the laundry get washed, folded, and put away? How does the toilet stay stain-free and the tiles scrubbed white? How do tummies get filled with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks?

How does another child, whom I am getting paid to watch, leave with a clean and rash-free bum? How do the children know the song of the alphabet and the colours of the world? Who picks up the baby until there is pain in the hands? Who cleans up after painting play? How do all those toys get put away? Who does all the Daycare paperwork and keeps track of records, plans and crafts?

How do the beds get made, and the dishes get done? How does the house stay smelling like that lavender all-purpose soap I bought the last month? How does our three-year-old tie her hair in pretty ponies, and who really reminds K2 to feed the cat? Speaking of the cat – who takes care of her? Who brushes her Turkish Angora/Persian hair, and wash it to keep allergies at bay? And who puts water out for her?

How does the children’s shoes get filled with sand, and the cuppies go unempty? Who wipes the bums and lights the ever so needed match? Who puts these children to bed for naps, and ensures they leave with what they came with, including body parts? Who reads to them, and talks with them, and who listens to their quiet stories? And really, who nurses our daughter at least 20 times a day? Who is up with these children early in the morning and still awake when everyone is asleep?

Who is around to notice that feet are growing, and hugs or kisses are needed? Who wipes the tears caused by their pain? Who organized the dresser drawers and puts away grown-out of clothes, and who knows what these children are interested in? Who knows word for word of every educational child video we own and who sits with them while the children watches it? Who answers questions about why things are, the way they are? Wait a minute, how did these children learn to talk?

Since I am on here, on the computer or talking on the phone, I would assume our children, daycare or not, know how to tidy-up through osmosis? Because it could not have been from me! No, they could not, would not be imitating me. But seriously? How does this house keep managed?

It has to be someone doing these things, to be truthful, I need to find this person, give them a big thank you, and maybe kiss their feet. They have made my life so mush easier and I would hate the day they leave. Because I know soon enough, when the children grow up and are ready for school, this person will be working outside the home. BUT, I hope they understand, when their work day is done, they will arrive back here with all the above to do. Meanwhile, I will be waiting here, at this computer, and talking on the phone.