This time around I will also give my children names to make writing about our family easier; we will call my oldest son Napoleon and my youngest son Coyote. Napoleon is now in 5th Grade and loves to build complex structures, swimming and collects all things unusual, Coyote has entered Kindergarten and loves Taekwondo, skateboarding and cracking the most hilarious jokes.
Since I last wrote, so much has happened…far too much to contain in the words of a single blog post. Life has ranged from absolutely amazing to incredibly dark and uncomfortable. The Coles Notes version sounds like this though: I finished my social work degree and started working for an awesome non-profit organization. I survived something very wicked that caused me PTSD and left me damaged but stable. I lost one of my best friends to a difficult parting of ways. My husband and I celebrated 10 years of enjoying the calms and surviving the storms of life and marriage together. I have gotten to know some of the most amazing moms that I am happy to count as friends. I celebrated 18 years of friendship with two women I call sisters. I have embraced the chaos our family brings to the world and celebrate our differences. I have had to suck up my desire to avoid conflict and fight for my children to have their educational needs met. We officially went from poor to not poor. You can trust me when I say I have spared you many details, but you get the gist of what you missed.
I am so glad to be back writing here. Our life is not perfect but it is never really dull and I enjoy sharing stories and thoughts about what goes on in our family. I will not sell you lollipops and rainbows here. I won’t pretend that we have our lives all sorted out or that we are the best example of how things are done. Our life is chaotic, fantastic and still less than perfect but I look forward to sharing it with you.
Labels are sometimes the most detrimental ways we can stunt a child from flourishing. How easy is it when we see a child misbehaving in the mall, to turn to a friend or partner and call those children bad or to look at the parents and criticize the way they parent their children. I have been guilty of this many times until I got to know my oldest son.
My eldest son is four years old and just completed preschool. If I was to paint a picture of my son with words I would say he is a curious, creative, goofy, easily excitable, and loud little boy with a love for all things green, floral, robotic or on wheels. He is a free spirit that loves to move from activity to activity on his own time and takes many moments to pause and observe EVERYTHING. He learns when no one is looking, he climbs to highest peaks that will hold him, with very little fear, and challenges most everything.
On the flip side of this larger than life personality is the challenges that come with parenting him. He is easily frustrated, he has big anger, love, hate, sadness and he has no issue with throwing temper tantrums anywhere. One of the biggest challenges we face is trying to get and keep his attention. Unfortunately it is this challenge that has overwhelmed his preschool teacher this year. We recently sat through a meeting with the resource teacher and his homeroom teacher and listened to her express her frustration for spending so much time on our son all year while 26 other students suffered. The guilt you feel as a parent realizing that your child is indeed beyond your control is immense. We set boundaries for our son, we expect him to listen when we give him instruction, there are always consequences for his actions. But how does a child wear out the use of his name and the class time-out spot without some blame given to the parents? We could try to beat our son into submission, but I fear the cost to his person-hood would be too great.
Fortunately for us as his parents, we hold enough creativity to try to work with our son, unfortunately for his teacher she did not hold the creativity needed to work with him. It breaks my heart that he has been labelled as a bad kid this year, and that he spent three quarters of most days on time outs at school. I am not blind to my son’s challenges, nor do I blame his behaviour on his teacher. The truth is that even with three Educational Assistants in the classroom 27 preschool students is a lot to work with and help flourish. I merely think we all could have done better.
It’s amazing to think that our son who had so much trouble in school still managed to learn all his letters and their sounds, how to read and spell many three and four letter words, count to 20+ and backwards from 10, the words to Oh Canada, how to write his name, to almost colour in the lines, spell all the basic colours, draw pictures that are fairly recognizable, recite countless poems from memory, and how to zip up his coat. For a bad boy he did pretty well this year, and I will not lose sight of his successes because of someone’s judgements. Onward and forward into kindergarten he goes, I will swallow my shame and exchange it for pride.
P.S Never judge a book by it’s cover.
Any given day our emotions can range from joy to sadness and appreciation to anger. If you want to see how easy it is to go from crying to laughing you need only to look to those tiny beings in your household to see just how quick the transformation can be.
Yesterday was rough, my 4 year old is one of those children that experiences big emotions; Big happiness, big frustration, big love, big anger and big sadness. In his moments of big anger he says many things that if I didn’t have a thick skin, I’d be crying all the time. Some of the most common words spoken in his anger and frustration are “You’re not my dad/mom anymore,” “I’m not a part of this family anymore” or “I will never be your friend.” Yesterday was no exception.
What started out as a normal temper tantrum of not wanting to eat digressed into an intense anger that left him out of control. “I don’t need a mom anymore!” I wasn’t really phased by his words as I have been accustom to hearing them before, but this time I decided to entertain the idea with him. Once he had calmed down a little bit I began asking him questions.
“Do you know what it would mean to not have a mom anymore?”
No comment from my son, he just sat on our bed staring at the wall.
“You wouldn’t have me around to read you books or make your snacks for school.”
Silence from my son.
“I wouldn’t be around to cheer you on when you ride your bike or play video games.”
Still more silence.
“I wouldn’t be there to play with you, give you hugs or kisses before bed or listen to your stories.”
I really didn’t think he was getting it until his eyes began to well up with tears.
“Is that what you would really want, no mom to give you hugs and kisses and be around to love you no matter what?”
At this point the silence was broken by a cry so deeply filled with sadness, I was shocked. I was so shocked that I found my own tears streaming down my face. We just looked at each other crying, it was like a cheesy scene from a movie. A couple minutes later he got up and left our room emerging with his stuffed polar bear and my lazy floating birthday balloon. He climbed up onto my bed and without speaking any words handed me his polar bear and my balloon. I looked at him and told him I loved him, and his tears started up again. I pulled him over and gave him a bear hug and we both sobbed in unison. I have never seen him so impacted by an idea, for such a “live in the moment child” he really seemed to be grappling with the idea of loosing mom.
I am incredibly grateful for moments like these that remind me that my son is more than just a child who has troubles listening or gets so angry he leaves a tornado of destruction behind him. I am his mom, no one else can take my place. No grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend will love him the way I do. He may never know or understand how much I love him, but yesterday he got a
glimpse of it.
I am not a perfect parent, but I do have big love for my family.
So I was going through pictures today and I realized that I really like making funny food. For special occasions I’ve been in the habit of challenging myself. Whether it’s making candy sushi, a robot out of cupcakes, a cake with skating rink or bikini cookies I always seem to make things more complicated for myself.
My husband’s last birthday was my crowning feat with the 6 hr Power-Up birthday cake.
What started out as a stress relieving project left my hands shaking, my eyes squinting and my heart palpitating. I felt like I needed a holiday after devoting all that time to something that was destroyed in less than a minute. I won’t deny I felt a little bit of glutinous pride upon it’s presentation, but thanks to the world wide web you don’t have to search far to find a nicer looking cake than mine.
I am definitely no Cake Boss.
Perhaps the reason I like to devote so much time to these projects is that I feel the need for external affirmation. I’d like to fancy myself a confident person, but when I really look at why I would spend 6 hours on a cake that I would never make if it was just my family, I have to wonder. To my credit, it’s not like I spent 6 hours on a birthday cake for myself, and the reality is that whether my intentions are noble or not I’m going to continue to make my funny food.
P.S. Never put icing on a hot cake.
Parenthood has changed me. When I first envisioned being a mom, I had this picture in my head of what I would be like and how I would parent. I would share my love for creating things with my children in a light filled studio while listing to Nine Inch Nails or Johnny Cash. I would have the patience of a Kindergarten teacher and my children and I would have an amazing relationship free from discipline. HA! I neglected to take into account that once my first son was born I would loose myself in a sea of anxiety, worried every night that someone was breaking into our house to kidnap my son. I neglected to take into account that I would be the mom of a child who less than perfect, or factor in that I was less than perfect.
In the beginning, I was naive and idealistic, but life happened and I changed.
When most people become parents there is a natural adjustment to taking care of a little life, and as they become more independent we continue to adjust. For every milestone we celebrate, we pack five more into our mental archives until ages one, two and three become distant memories. I have begun this blog to chart some of our family’s moments, excitements, discoveries, struggles, and milestones that I feel are worth sharing. So here is where I begin.