It’s been a while since I last had the opportunity to “blog”, but since my mat leave came to an end in February, I quickly fell back into the ever-so busy and demanding responsibilities of work, leaving me very little personal time. I have caught up with my grading and corrections and now have some time to myself! Wow – what to do with a whole hour? I should probably be cooking or doing laundry, but instead I have chosen to write about something that has been on my mind for some time. My almost 14-month old will probably wake up from her nap shortly, but in the meantime, I am relishing in the quiet and listening to contemporary jazz as I collect my thoughts.

FullSizeRender-1Growing up, I didn’t always get a lot of positive reinforcement. When I was young, I longed to be acknowledged; to be praised and told that I was great or smart or funny. Despite this lack of affirmation, I still somehow managed to develop confidence and a strong sense of self. I learned to become my own cheerleader and to find validation from within.  I’m not exactly sure where this self-assurance came from, but I realized that being strong and fearless were my survival skills.

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a single parent? When I was married, I often wondered how single parents coped and managed on their own with no back-up. And then, with no warning or time to plan, I myself became that single parent. I never expected that I would become a single mom, and frankly when I did, I took it on full-speed ahead and never looked back. I embraced the role and decided that I would put on a brave face and go with it.

hockey-mom When I was pregnant with my first child I was terrified. Once I got over the shock and the excitement began to settle in, I knew I wanted to find out the sex of my new baby. As much as I had hopes and dreams of tutus and ribbons (as many women do), I knew inside that I was going to be blessed with a boy. After all signs pointed to a healthy baby, this was of course confirmed. Okay, I thought, so it won’t be pretty in pink. Maybe next time.

The other day I was out for lunch with a friend who was wearing a great shade of lipstick. When she handed me the tube so I could check out the name, I couldn’t see it. I held it at arm’s length and squinted, the letters barely coming into focus. “Look at you”, she giggled. “You can’t see!”

I bat my eyelids and suddenly my daughter turned 7 months old. The rate at which time is marching is really quite mind-boggling, and when people tell me, “enjoy, it goes so fast”, they weren’t kidding! As I despondently packed up all her 3-6 month summer dresses and pink frills, I found myself thinking into the future… what will she be when she grows up? What will she be passionate about? How will she impact the world?

My daughter is my first-born, and as with all mothers of firstborns, I didn't know any differently. I knew she was a hard baby, that was evident-- she was the type of baby to make a fool out of sleep training, a baby who learned to fake cough at 12 weeks for attention-- but I had no idea what I was up against until her emergence into toddlerhood coincided with the birth of my easygoing son. Not only did it strike me that not all babies are that exhausting, but I also came to understand what it meant to have not just a toddler, not just a hard toddler, but to be the parent of a strong-willed child.

IMG_5355In life, there comes a defining moment in our lives when we are hit by “The Parent Bug". I remember it like yesterday. Many years ago, a close friend had just had a baby, and I was completely enamoured by the love around her. Her joy, her elation, her sense of completeness and protectiveness at this time of her life.

[caption id="attachment_21148" align="alignleft" width="300"]Glowing computer screen CC license timsnell[/caption] It’s 1 a.m. when I look up from my screen. I’d only meant to sit down for a few minutes and catch up on my email. That was two hours ago. I try to trace where I lost track of time - was it the link in an email that led me over to Facebook? The interesting article that led to another interesting article that led me to my Twitter feed or LinkedIn profile and back again?

I was never one to preoccupy myself with finding a husband and having babies, not setting deadlines for these life events.
It had always been something that would “happen when or if it was meant to happen”. I was turning 30 and my career in Human Resources was starting to take shape and I wanted to continue to focus on developing that, all the while having a nagging feeling that if I didn’t pay attention to dating someone seriously I may find myself childless at 40. I knew that I wanted a family of my own it just really wasn’t a huge focus like many of my peers. Fast forward a couple of years and I met my now Husband and within 2 years of meeting we got married and bought a new home. The following year we had our daughter and two years later we had our son.

Currently, my family is in full-on potty training mode and I have come to terms with the fact that for now, our lives must inevitably revolve around my son’s unpredictable peeing and pooping schedule.  I have been patiently waiting for this time to come, dreaming of a day where I would no longer have to add diapers to my shopping list.  But now that it’s here, I am realizing that helping him achieve this momentous milestone is a TON of work involving patience, creativity, perseverance and many pairs of underwear.

Teens on the bike pathLast week my husband and I got all three girls to go biking with us. This is a much more difficult undertaking than it used to be, when their social lives were completely under our oversight. I didn't appreciate it at the time, but it's been a while, and our twin almost 15-year-olds are constantly busy with friends, school and extra-curricular commitments. And while I like to think they do still enjoy hanging out with mom and dad and their younger sister, it's probably not as high on their list as it used to be.

social media workshop flyerOften at my parenting workshops I will ask for a show of hands from parents who feel their kids' technical skills online have outpaced their own. I'm no longer shocked by the number of hands that go up. With them come guilty confessions from parents who need their six-year-old to turn on the Apple TV, their eight-year-olds to figure out why the printer isn't working, or the ten-year-olds who help them download and set up apps on their smartphones.

  rainbowThere are moments in motherhood that take our breath away.  There are the lovely moments, like when we hear our children giggle, when we feel the warmth of a hug and a wet sloppy kiss or just the everyday mother-child banter. There are also more difficult moments that can leave a mom feeling breathless, like willing a child’s fever to break or watching them struggle with a painful social situation.

It's funny how your start to reflect on your personal experiences through the stories your children share with you.

classroom

They come home and talk about their daily struggles in grade school, and while seemingly trivial, they are all consuming at this age.
How frustrated they felt when the math teacher did not call on them for the answer, although they "really knew it!".  How angry they were for having a recess taken away because they forgot to bring home a note.  How sad they felt when another child called them a name.

taking risksThis is one of my favourite pictures. My then 11-year-old daughter is showing off how well she rides without hands on the handlebars. You can't see her face but if you did, it would be the kind of pure exhilaration you only see in children. The absolute pleasure in the skill, the sensation, the slight frisson of danger. She is totally in the moment, in a way adults rarely are.

One of my very best friends is having her first baby in a few months and I cannot be more thrilled for her.
She is a wonderful person who is patient, kind and loving....all the components necessary for becoming an amazing mama.  Soon, she will have the honor of wearing her well-deserved motherhood badge and will plunge into the ever-so-glamorous world of poop, spit-up, mommy-guilt and exhaustion.

When my husband and I entered into this crazy world of parenthood together, I had no doubt in my mind that he was going to be an excellent father.  I vividly remember him changing my son’s first diaper as I helplessly recuperated from my C-section and anxiously watched over his shoulder.  He was calm and gentle and he handled my son’s little bum with such ease and confidence.