when dad stays home

As a couple, we view parenthood as a joint adventure. We are both in the game in every way. For the first year of our daughter’s life, I stayed home on mat leave (Canada rocks!). Now I’m the one working full-time while dad stays home.

At this time, Dad has been the stay-at-home parent for two months now.  Over the last several weeks, the following has been said to him:

How are you liking retirement?

You can’t be staying home, you’ll go crazy!

There are things said to stay-at-home dads that don’t seem to be said to stay-at-home moms. Being a stay-at-home parent is a real, full-time job (I don’t think it’s quite like retirement??). While you DO feel like you’ll go crazy at times (teething, tantrums, etc) it’s also filled with moments of fun and laughter. Some days are tough. Some days are great.

While the day-to-day is similar whether mom or dad stays home, misunderstandings for dad abound. Even after Derek explains that his full-time job right now is providing care for our toddler, some are still shocked that he’s actually alone with her for 5 days a week (M-F). And he’s the main one up with our daughter during the night (on week nights). He’s a real stay-at-home parent in every way.

How long will he be the stay-at-home parent for? We don’t know. What we do know is this: it’s important to embrace whatever season of life you find yourself in. And we try to remember that our daughter won’t be like this for long…and we are going to miss this.

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child spacing for 2nd child

The other day at work, I bought hard-boiled eggs from the cafeteria as per usual. This time, the eggs didn’t taste right so after a couple bites, I couldn’t eat anymore. A co-worker asked me about the eggs and then proclaimed, “maybe your pregnant!” I laughed and assured her that I’m not.

And so it begins. I have a 1 year old and I’m back to work after a year long maternity leave. Both of these = people wondering and asking if I’m pregnant with child #2.

While we think that we’d like a 2nd child (maybe?), I don’t feel ready for another pregnancy at this time. Is it even possible to feel ready for another pregnancy while you have a young child to take care of? And to feel ready for another round of newborn sleep deprivation?

I’ve done a little google searching on the topic of child spacing. Seems that many try to space their children close together in the hope that their children will be lifelong friends (while close spacing is no guarantee of this). There are others who intentionally wait until their child is older (3 or more years) so that they can have more 1:1 time with each child. In the different cases, I’ve noticed the following:

  1. almost everyone is happy with their child spacing (very few say they’d do things differently).
  2. there’s pros and cons to every age gap between siblings

I must acknowledge that we don’t always have a choice in child spacing. With that said, what are your thoughts re: ideal child spacing? For those with two or more children, what are the pros and cons of the age gap between your kids? Would you do things differently if there was a next time?

And if there’s any, “one and done” families reading this, please comment. What do you like about it? I’m loving our family of 3. I think it has many positives.

When Mother’s Day gives Mixed Emotions

I didn’t always want to be a mom. In fact, I thought that I’d live happily childfree for all of my days. Around 5 years of marriage, I started to wonder if I’d regret not having a child. I thought of and pursued the possibility of building our family through adoption. That door closed. Then we tried for a baby and had a miscarriage. Mother’s Day 2014 was dark and sad. I didn’t know if we’d ever have a child.

Here I am now in 2016 with a 13-month old on Mother’s Day. Becoming a mother has changed me in a way that I didn’t imagine. I now feel certain things so deeply in my heart. In particular, my heart aches for all sorts of mothers on Mother’s Day. Especially today, I think of:

The woman who wants to be a mother

The one who has lost a child

The lady struggling with the demands of motherhood

The mother who has an estranged child

Those living without their mom

And this week, I think of all the mothers affected by the Fort McMurray fires. There have been women who’ve given birth during this past week while fleeing from their home.

I am glad to be a mom. It is seriously hard work. Challenging. Tiring. And the lovey-dovey stuff too. But one thing I’m grateful for is the way in which my journey of motherhood has given me a deep love for any struggling momma. I’m feeling both sad and glad this Mother’s Day, and I think that’s okay.

Isabel lately…

Yesterday, Isabel clapped her hands together for the first time. She loved our reaction so much that she did this a couple of times. For months now, people have been asking me if Isabel can do “pat-a-cake”. My reply was “no” but then went home and googled the song. Of course I was “failing” my daughter because I wasn’t teaching her pat-a-cake! 🙂

Recently, Isabel has been sitting in the top part of a shopping cart. Boy does this make a huge difference when out shopping! She now loves to shop. And she especially loves the shopping carts where she gets to pretend that she’s driving (Home Hardware, Lowes, etc).

Our house has been in a construction zone for months now (due to a tree falling on our house in late October). While our upstairs has been in repair, the only safe/clean spot for her to hang out is in a play pen. She cries when we put her in the play pen! Maybe a couple times a day she’ll play in there happily by herself, but most of the time she hates it. I’ve been so eager to get our house back in order so that we can set this girl free! Well, today was that day. We’ve mostly baby proofed the upstairs (still some fine tuning to do) and Isabel had the best day. No crying. No tears. She had the best time crawling around, playing and exploring (she was happy playing with or without us).  Turns out, we are all happier with her being able to crawl all over the place (i.e. living room and kitchen).

Isabel’s sleep has been all over the place. She slept through the night one day last week AND had a night where she slept for  ONLY 4 hours in the past week. We don’t get it. She’s almost a year old. I’ve been suspicious that she may be getting more teeth. She already has all 8 teeth that a baby can get by 12 months. Her next teeth shouldn’t arrive until 12+ months (her bottom molars) but I suspect that she’s cranking those teeth out now. Today I felt around and I think I feel something on the bottom left side.  This girl doesn’t like to be on time but early (i.e. she came a week before her due date).

Spring is my favourite time of year. We are getting a very early spring right now in Canada (robins and other birds have been back since the first week in March). I love watching new life begin again. As Isabel nears one year old, I can’t help but feel that this is a “spring” season for us. There are significant elements of stress that are no longer part of our lives (i.e. one example is no longer living in a construction zone while on mat leave. that was so hard. I was losing my mind). Lately, I’m observing a new stage of mother-daughter time beginning and it looks a lot like spring. While I’ve always loved my baby girl, I am enjoying her turning into a toddler much more than I thought I would (I have been dreading it!). I am grateful that a new season is upon us, and it reminds me of spring.

On raising my daughter to be a feminist

It’s a shame that many cringe when they hear the word feminist. People are often confused by what a person means when they say, “I’m a feminist”. The dictionary definition is such:

Feminist: advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

You don’t have to be a female to be a feminist. I love this clip where our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau identifies as a feminist and speaks about raising his sons to be feminists. It’s a one minute clip and worth the watch: Justin Trudeau Urges Men to be Feminists

How exactly do I plan to raise my daughter to be a feminist? The question gives me pause. It certainly won’t be a one time event but an on-going process. The following are a couple examples that come to mind. It’s not an exhaustive list but its a start.

  1. I plan to always raise her in a church that supports women in leadership and ministry. Thankfully, the Free Methodist Church is such a place. (p.s. Jesus was a radical feminist, I look forward to pointing this out to her!)
  2. I hope to instill in her the ability to ask, “why?” Example: why are baby showers only for the mothers and not also for the fathers? Where does that come from? And what do I think about that for today?
  3. I plan to instill in her a voice and knowledge re: finances. If she marries one day and decides to have her husband do the finances, that’s OK. That will be out of choice rather than inability to have an opinion on financial matters.
  4. Whether she decides to work or stay home with the kids, that will be her choice. I’ll remind her that the ability to choose is empowerment. (I’d also support dad being a stay-at-home dad if that’s what they want!).
  5. I’d want her to be aware of the inequality between males and females. The unspoken & spoken expectations that are rooted in sexism. But I’d want to do so in such a way that she is informed but not bitter. Passionate about justice but not poisoned by injustice. There’s a fine line — we must do what we can, when we can. But we will also face great disappointments in how others think & operate. This discouragement can cause us to not act at all. I hope that our daughter will be a feminist who will do what she can, when she can and will also remember the wise words of Mother Teresa:

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.

 

One month til 1 years old!

Isabel is 11 months old as of march forth (March 4th). Less than a month now til her 1st birthday! Wow. This year has both crawled forward and flown by. It’s been hard and heart warming. Adding a human being to your family rocks your world and it takes some time to adjust to your new normal. With each month that passes by, it’s less of “this is so new” and more, “this is our family”.

In the last month, Isabel has started to and gotten stronger at standing unassisted. She’s so proud of herself when she does this and gives us a big smile (she stands unassisted for 5-30 seconds at a time). While she mostly has purees, she’s started to feed herself with mum-mum rice crackers. She LOVES them. She will offer a bite or two of her cracker to me and smiles when I take her up on the offer.

In the last couple of weeks, she’s started to be a bit more cuddly. She’s never been super snuggly. This girl wants to be on the move! But recently, she’ll lay her head on our shoulder when we are carrying her and stay put for a minute or two at a time (occasionally, like, once or twice a day, ha!). We soak up those snuggles. She’s also learned how to give kisses! Just last night when Derek went to pick her up out of the crib at 3am she gave him a kiss without him asking for one. Adorable.

She continues to wave “hi” and “bye, bye” but its a backwards wave (waving to herself). She sometimes sees our neighbour walking their dog in the mornings and she’ll stop what she’s doing and wave to them.  The only thing that she’s afraid of is the vacuum. She shows zero fear of dogs or cats (even the ones that aren’t hers). She says “mum mum” when upset and “da da” occasionally but both don’t seem to be directed towards us yet. She also says, “ba ba”at times (offering her a rice cracker, giving her a stuffed toy).

We started to leave her in the last month to go on dates.  She’s been watched by my cousin and two sisters (all together) for a couple of hours. She’s loved it both times. No tears. We still call her Isabel all the time and that’s what she responds to (when others call her Izzy she doesn’t look their way). When introducing her, we often get compliments that Isabel is such a nice name. We love you, Isabel Mary. So glad to celebrate 11 months with you!

In need of a Mom Makeover

It’s been a year since I’ve had a haircut. Our daughter is over 10 months old. My hair is LONG. I don’t really have time to blow dry it anymore (something my fine/thin hair needs to not look totally limp). I often do the “messy bun” high on my head or pull it back in a ponytail. I know that short hair would likely suit me better, but every time I cut my hair short my immediate next goal is to grow it long again. Doesn’t that saying something? I like long hair and find it rather convenient. When I have short hair, I get tired of not being able to “put my hair away”(in a bun or ponytail).

But I’m looking rather drab these days. I think its time to call the hair dresser. I think about dying my hair darker (it’s a dirty blonde) but I know that means frequent trips to the hair dresser to keep the colour looking decent. I don’t have the time or money for that. Maybe I’ll go a shade or two darker or a shade or two lighter (as that’s been recommended for those who want low maintenance or are on a budget). But if its not very much of a  hair colour change…what’s the point? Maybe I should just stick with my natural dirty blonde. Hmm.

Okay, so now I’m concluding that I’ll keep my hair longish and not dye my hair. What a fabulous mom makeover! Aren’t you so glad that you read this post? Haha. What I really need for a mom makeover is to lose weight…. Gosh, that is hard, hard, hard work. But I would love more than anything to start shedding some pounds.

What’s your go-to for a mom makeover? Hair? Something else? Do you find that you’ve simplified your hair maintenance now that you’re a mom or do you still hit up the salon and aren’t afraid to change things up?

P.S. I’ve thought of asking for this hair cut (I don’t have bangs). My fear is that bangs would be a lot of work. OR make me look 10 years old? (I already look young for my age which is not so favourable now in my profession). Any mommas out there rocking bangs?

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