Lesson from our tiny teacher: water, prayer, gratitude

This afternoon, in the midst of playing, our 23 month old stopped and asked me to pray before she drank her water.

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As a result of this simple request, so many thoughts flooded my mind.

I thought of what a gift it is to know that the water she’s about to drink won’t make her sick.

The fact that her “dirty” bath water from last night is much cleaner than what most of the kids in the world will drink today.

And I thought about the reality that we’d all die much sooner without water than food…yet, we bow our heads in thanks for food much more often than for a simple glass of water. Hmm.

Thankful for our tiny teacher. ❤

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.

Health risks of using baby powder

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Did you hear? A court ruled that Johnson & Johnson must pay a family 72 million in damages. A woman’s death (ovarian cancer) was linked to using baby powder & shower to shower for decades.

While pregnant, I remember being told that baby powder is no longer recommended because of the risk of respiratory problems.

Baby powder can cause breathing trouble and serious lung damage if a baby inhales the particles. And the particles are small enough that it’s hard to keep them out of the air during use. – Jennifer Lowry (Pediatrician).

I wasn’t aware that it can also cause health problems in adults (cancer).

Here’s more on the story: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/cancer/court-orders-johnson-johnson-payoff-talcum-powder-ovarian-cancer-case-n524456

The real reason why having a child is both the hardest & the best thing

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Prior to having a child, I enjoyed hearing from others what having a child is like. I wanted  insight into the biggest decision a person can make (that will rock their world as they know it). The most common answer that I received was, “It’s the hardest thing that you will ever do but it’s also the best thing that you will ever do.” Hmm. This response was so vague. It left me confused. Why exactly is it the hardest thing? And why is it also the best thing? I didn’t receive specific answers from anyone.  It was like there was a code amongst parents to remain vague and not go into detail re:  why it’s so hard.  I did have one person say, “If people knew just how hard it is they would never have kids!” Again, wasn’t helpful.

Now that I’m 10 months into mothering, I’m trying to give an answer as to why being a parent is both the hardest and the best thing. At first, I’d tell you that it’s the hardest thing because you just can’t fully understand how painful the extreme lack of sleep is or how annoying your child’s cry can be (and how they cry for a million reasons you’ll never fully understand). Also, no breaks. Did I mention no breaks? I just sat down to write this post and now I hear her crying…she’s awake from her nap. Parenting never ends. With everything else, you can turn it off/walk away/take a break. Being a mom is 24/7.

But the more I ponder the question “Why is it the hardest and also the best?” I’m forced to dig deeper than just the day-to-day of childcare. For me, I think raising a child is the hardest thing that a person can do because it requires you to model by example what you want your child to do, who you want them to be.

“It was clear from the data that we cannot give our children what we don’t have. Where we are in our journey of living and loving with our whole hearts is a much stronger indicator of parenting success than anything we can learn from how-to books.” – Brene Brown

Truth is, pregnancy and childbirth are hard. Sleep deprivation is hard. Being on 24/7 is hard. But that’s just the hard stuff. The hard AND the best is this: your child gives you the opportunity to be the best version of yourself. An authentic and vulnerable person. A person who sets appropriate & healthy boundaries. A person who loves others with actions and not just words. A person who loves self.  A person who lives with their whole heart.

“How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something that is even more essential to living a Wholehearted life: loving ourselves.” – Brene Brown

Here’s the truth behind “having a child is both the hardest and the best”…a child gives you a choice: continue living on autopilot, doing the same old, or stop and consider if who you are is exactly who you’d want your child to be. Raising a child is not, “Do as I say, not as I do.”  Raising a child is, “monkey see – monkey do.” That, my friends, is hard. But this also can be the best thing that you ever do.

How I spend my time

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

Time. Time has taken on new meaning now that I’m a mom. Oh how I value my down time. I don’t seem to have very much of that anymore! The introvert in me could spend all day reading and writing. I love solitude. A cup of coffee. A walk alone. Driving in the car with the radio off and having my thoughts keep me company. Yes, I’m one of those people!

As a mom to a baby, I struggle finding the balance between 1) getting things done and 2) recharging my batteries. And to be honest, I can waste too much time on facebook when I could have spent that time reading or writing (even blogging!).

I’m challenged by the following thought, “how will I decide to spend my time so that when the day is done I’m left feeling proud instead of discouraged?” It’s not so much a question of, “do I have enough time today to get things done” but rather, “how will I spend the time that I do have in front of me?” I’m on a journey to be better at how I spend my time (whatever I decide is the goal re: how to spend my time for that particular day). To be intentional instead of on autopilot (i.e I’ll just scroll through facebook….and 30 minutes goes by).

Time. We all have limited amounts of it. But we all get to start over each day and decide anew how we will use it.