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Father’s Day is always bittersweet for me. Bitter because I no longer have a father  or grandfather of my own to honour, sweet because I have the most amazing husband who is the best father ever to our two children, and a father-in-law who I love with all my heart. It is a time to reflect on the lessons learned from the fathers in my life.

Here are the top 5 things I learned from my Dad:

1. I’m beautiful and worthy of love. I mean that in the broadest sense of the word: “inside and out,” as my dad used to say. Every little girl wants their dad to comment on how pretty she looks in her tiara and dancing shoes, and my dad fulfilled that for me. When I was older and dressed to go out with friends as a teenager, he would tease me that I was “looking too good to leave the house.” We’d laugh, and I always felt pretty. He always talked about how I was better than the boys who had broken my heart, that I could and would do better. That I was a good person and deserved to enjoy life. I felt smart, strong and beautiful because of Dad.

2. Be smart with your money and your financial decisions. (Be cheap). My dad was cheap. Though near the end of his life he was starting to change the severity of his cheapness, my memories of him involve him finding ways to save money, not spending while on vacation, encouraging us to find ways to make our own money if there was something we wanted to do. (One story is when I was younger and we were on vacation at West Edmonton Mall. I was getting headaches from the sun and needed a sunhat, and the only one my dad would agree to get me was the 49 cent beanie that came with the A&W meal we had for lunch! It was so not cool but I wore it anyway!)

I don’t recommend being this cheap. I think Dad should have spent all of his money fulfilling his dreams, travelling and buying motorcycles, instead of always saving for the future that he never ended reaching. But I think he has ingrained some good money sense in my head. Lessons like: if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Simple enough. But instead of high interest payment plans, credit card balances etc, if I can’t afford something, it waits until I can. Or saving money for a rainy day. These lessons have been very valuable as we raise a family and pay for a Master’s degree.

3. When I need him, my daddy is always there. My dad told me when I was pregnant that, though he loved me, he wanted to be nowhere near the delivery room until my baby was born. Then he would take a phone call and would come when I was ready for visitors, and there was no rush. He valued personal space too, and wanted to give it to me. However, when my husband was out of town and I went into preterm labour, there was no stopping my dad. He kept calling me “Can I come help? Can I come bring something?” He thought he could stay away, but when his daughter was in trouble, he was there. I practically had to beat him away from the delivery room door! I always felt like he would help me whenever needed.

4. Fulfil your responsibilities and work hard. Dad always focussed on the importance of fulfilling your commitments – whether a newspaper route or a first job at Burger King. (Yes, these were my first jobs!) He didn’t want me switching Burger King shifts so I could go to a party. It seems today that many people think job priorities come last – after fun, personal recreation etc. Things definitely have changed since my dad was younger. Now people balance family and work lives where before work was the only commitment, and others followed. Family will always be my first priority, but after that, work commitments are next. You don’t get ahead if you aren’t willing to put in the hard work and be reliable.

Most importantly…

5. Enjoy food. And beer. And food. My dad LOVED food, and he could cook a mean meal and bake a perfect banana bread or foccacia. Our weekends at dad’s always included big Sunday morning breakfasts of sausages and thick french toast, and big barbecued meals in the backyard with homemade BBQ sauce, greasy french fries and grilled vegetables. And he loved beer. When I worked at a brew pub in Nanaimo, he would come enjoy a frosty pint of extra extra bitter beer on the patio, and I’d look over to see him smiling, with beer foam still in his moustache. This lesson has stuck with me in several ways. Though I agree with healthy eating, I think treats are great in moderation. And I think life is about “tasting” and experiencing as much as you can. When Mike and I travelled to Australia with our son a year after Dad had died, we bought a cold beer in a pub in Sydney, and sat overlooking the Sydney Harbour, with our son asleep in the backpack. We sat there in silence, enjoying the cold beer, the view, the sunshine, the moment. I thought of my dad and how he had really given me this ability to enjoy all the tastes of life.

With time spent on recognizing the loss and sadness over losing my dad, there are dads I would like to honour in my life.

 My father-in-law.

Dave has made me feel like part of the family since I first was introduced. (As my mother-in-law has too!) There will never be a replacement for my dad, but Dave is my second dad. When something goes wrong with the toilet or the car, he is the first person I want to talk to. He gets heated in some discussions and feels very passionate about several subjects, but he doesn’t fool me for a second. Inside he is the softest man I’ve met. He loves his kids, his wife, his grandkids, his daughters-in-law, and he would do absolutely anything to help us. And he has. He has driven down to Burnaby to bring back all my things when I was pregnant and on bedrest. He dances, sings, plays with the kids, and does their every bidding. He loves his grandkids. And I can’t forget that I love his flannel, tobacco-smelling hugs that remind me of hugging my dad.

When Mike and I first married, we eloped and planned a reception to include the rest of the family. At Mike’s brother’s wedding, I was dancing with my father-in-law and he told me how happy they were to welcome me into the family. It was so nice! But the truth is, I already felt welcomed and part of the family, without him even saying so.

I am so lucky to have Dave. He loves us without any judgment on our choices, our parenting, our lives.  Dave has taught me pure, unconditional love and I hope to be able to be that ever-loving, supportive mother-in-law to my kids’ partners some day.

My husband, Dad of the Year! 

Last and not least, my husband is the dad I would have picked for my children if I had a catalogue of fathers.

He is devoted to his kids and me, and loves us with an intensity I have never seen before. In a nutshell, these are the things Mike does that makes him such an incredible Dad:

He really plays with the kids: Mike plays on the playground with the kids, lets Jordyn put pretty barettes in his hair, gets dirty on the ground wrestling with Braeden, throws baseballs, and bathes dolls. At the playground one time, a little girl mentioned how her dad wouldn’t play on the playground like Braeden’s dad did. The kids know they are lucky, and have so much fun playing with Daddy.

He answers the kids questions honestly. Braeden asks some hard questions. Where do babies come from? What if a tornado comes here? Why did my Pop die when other kids have two grandpas? Will you and mom die before me? Mike always answers the questions honestly (though age appropriately) and Braeden knows if he has a question that he will get a fair answer.

He treats the kids with respect. When talking to the kids, Mike treats them with respect. He considers their feelings, and he asks their opinions. He can admit when he’s wrong. Watching Mike talk to Braeden always makes my heart happy. He gets down to his level, he hugs him, he explains his expectations and sometimes how he could have reacted better. It takes a great parent to be able to admit that they are learning too.

He hugs them, kisses them, cuddles them. The kids see that a big strong man can still be loving. They feel loved. And they are.

My favourite reason is summed up in this quote:

“The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”  John Wooden

Mike is teaching our son how to be a great husband, partner, person. Jordyn is learning how she deserves to be treated. My husband dances with me in the kitchen, compliments dinner every night, always gives massages when asked, and has his own special ways of making me feel loved. When I walk into a room, he lights up and makes me feel like he is so thankful to have me there. And I know my kids notice that love, that respect. I am a lucky girl.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads who are, or have been in my life. I am so thankful for you all. ❤

My poor husband.

I tend to get a normal amount of things done most days, and then something randomly possesses me and I go crazy, doing an insane amount of work in a short amount of time. Sometimes it is cleaning – I will decide I have had enough, and clean my house from top to bottom, even using a toothbrush to get in the corners, alphabetizing my cookbooks and colour-coding the closets. I won’t eat or stop for 12 hours until the work is done.

Last month I decided our house was cluttered, and went through our house in a 48 hour period, throwing things away and selling them in an online garage sale. We got rid of three truck loads worth of things. Truck loads. When my husband came home and I was throwing things out, there were bags at the curb of all the things I had decided to toss. His drawers were emptier, and he asked, “What did you throw away from there?” (Which, I might add, I agree is perfectly understandable that he know.) “Nothing you’ll even notice is missing!” I snapped. Perhaps having stopped to take a break and eat during the day may put me in a better mood. Then he was nervous for a few days. “What else did you sell or throw away today?” he’d ask, trying to make it sound casual.

So yes, I’ll admit I’m a bit crazy. When I am on one of these… well let’s call them “rampages,” I do feel bad for my husband. There’s no warning that it’s coming – usually it hits me that I am annoyed about something, and then I require a full day where I cannot talk or function until I get whatever done I am working on. Something little sets me off, like not being able to get into a closet, or noticing some dirty blinds.

This last time, my husband came home and I had four boxes of chicken breasts out, and and 20 packages of ground moose, ready to cook. There were pots and pans everywhere, I had an apron on and hadn’t sat down since before 5 am that morning, thirteen hours previous. I saw the look on his face. What the hell is she doing? Dare I ask? She might be in one of her moods… “So, how was your day?” he asked, with a concerned smile on his face. “It was fine. ” I said, continuing to race around the kitchen, measuring spices into the four frying pans I had going, and chopping stacks of bell peppers. What had happened was that I had been thinking about how if I did most of my monthly shopping on the first Tuesday of the month (10% off groceries at Sobey’s) then I would save us a lot of money, and save me time to work on my schoolwork in the evening, instead of preparing meals. I thought it that morning. Then did 2 massive shops (it wouldn’t fit in the cart) before coming home to cook like hell.

At the end of the night, when I sat down to have a drink with my husband, I had completed 56 meals. 56 meals are now in my freezer! (I used The Big Cook cookbook – what an amazing concept for crazy busy moms like me! I don’t have to cook for months if I don’t want to!)

Then it’s done, my goal is achieved, and Mike is left thankful to have his pleasant wife back, but worried for what tomorrow will bring. I did notice things were a bit crowded in the garage, so I may have to tackle that…

“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.”
Phyllis Diller

I have made it through my Financial and Managerial Accounting course for my MBA. For me, it was a doozy! Let’s just say that numbers don’t come naturally to me! Now that it is completed, I have another week off before I start my next course. Time to catch up on all the things I haven’t done while I was studying instead.

I had grand ideas of cleaning my house top to bottom, cleaning and organizing closets, preparing for upcoming garage sales, filling my freezer with healthy meals, planting the garden and doing yard work.

(Typical of me, my to-do list was too long, and did not allow for any real life, like sick kids, calls from the school, volunteering, chairing meetings, soccer and ball games etc.)

How did it go? I did the basics: bathrooms, laundry, vacuuming… but the major overhaul? A pipe dream.

My son actually said to me the other day “Well, we know our house won’t be clean!” Really? I always thought of myself as someone with a fairly clean house. I will admit I am not one of those people who don’t care if it’s clean or not. I really admire that way of thinking, and wish I could care less. I believe most guests are more comfortable in a house that is not perfect, but I still rush to clean before guests arrive. I think it is more important to play with the kids than to have a sparkling home, but I still feel more relaxed when things are clean.

I was at a friend’s perfect (and spotless) house for lunch this week, and she asked me: “How do you manage kids and working on your MBA and work?” This was my realization: I can’t do it all! I manage it by focussing on things other than keeping my house spotless. I could definitely keep my house cleaner, but then something else would have to give. So I choose to play with my kids, and do well in school rather than have a perfect house. Though when I’m done my Master’s, I do look forward to a cleaner home…

There is just not enough time in the day!

A goal I have yet to work on? Relaxation. Might be time to give that one a try….!

My mom and I when I was a baby.

My mom has always been a great friend to me. We have shared great camping trips, heart-to-heart chats, dances and hugs. Now as I see her with my kids and that special relationship they have, I love her even more.

She doesn’t mind getting dirty in the backyard with Braeden while planning their latest “clubhouse,” they spend time painting pictures and telling stories about messenger pigeons that could send messages back and forth between them, and it’s great when she spends the night at our house and eagerly waits for him to wake up so he can see the note she left in front of his door that tells him “Come wake me up!” so they can share some special quiet time before the rest of the house wakes.

Jordyn and mom spend time chatting on the phone, watching movies and having special “paw-corns” (popcorn) and getting messy with paints and yes, even makeup. They play dolls and tea parties, and make-believe.

My kids think my mom is amazing. And they’re right.

Of course, this love and admiration I feel for my mom went through several stages.

My earliest memories of my mom are of times when she made me feel better: bandaids and kisses after falling off my bike and hitting my head yet again, peanut butter on saltine crackers while laying on the couch when home sick from school. My mom made me feel safe.

I remember being so proud when my mom came into school to bring a forgotten lunch or permission slip. She would always look so put together: matching purse, suit and nailpolish, her makeup perfect, smelling like perfume. She is so beautiful! She would walk away, her heels clicking down the hallway, and I’d think: someday, that will be me. I want to be just like her.

Then of course, there were the stages that switched daily (or hourly) from positive to negative: having deep heart-to-heart discussions over a drink and hugs for a heartbreak, then regular teenage arguments and thoughts that now ashame me of how I could do better when I was a mom.

Well I’ve learned that I cannot do better. My mom had three kids, was a professional, and there was no husband at home to support her. Sometimes our house was messy, but there was NEVER a moment when I felt unloved. How did you manage it Mom?! I have the most supportive marriage, more income and only two kids, yet there are days when I feel life is out of control. I can only hope that when my kids are grown they have as much love and admiration for me as I feel for you.

My mom and I have had our ups and downs (mostly ups!) and I know we all have our struggles, but nobody could replace my mom. Thanks for loving me, even during the times when I wasn’t all that lovable. And thanks for now being a best friend, a wonderful grandma and still my mom.

As a mom, I get it now. I know the intense love and fear you have for your children. I understand the moments when you struggle to find the right words to answer difficult questions and give good advice. I get that there are moments as parents where we lose control and things don’t always go as we had hoped. I get it now, and all I can say about the job my mom has done is “wow.” Wow, and of course, thank you.

I love you mom.

Mom and I after my marriage reception.

Do you ever have that realization that you are now Mommy, instead of a professional? Spilled on and stained, rather than pulled together? I am all for doing it all, but sometimes your disguise as someone who has their shit together is rudely removed!

All the moms out there – you know what I’m talking about. The dried spit up on your suit jacket that you notice after a meeting. The moment when your work phone call is interrupted by screaming kids. The mornings after nights of no sleep, where no amount of coffee is going to bring you back to your witty, composed self for your important work meeting.

This week has been a little reminder of this for me. My house: a disaster of tea sets, babies and empty sippy cups. My laundry: piles of clothes with spills of juice, food, times when we didn’t make the potty in time. And during my meeting? I reached into my purse and pulled out a teddy bear, a bag of goldfish crackers, and a red Crayola. Can you repeat that? I’ll just use my crayon to take note. Yes, it’s been very obvious this week that I am a Mommy first, and professional when it fits with my first and most important role.

But let me tell you what this role of Mommy has done for me: I can handle a crisis better than anyone. Multitasking: watch me do laundry, fill out agendas, clean up from dinner, bath kids and answer work emails at once! Doctor (nothing fixes owies like Mom’s kiss), cleaner (I can make our house presentable for company as they walk up the driveway. Trust me, in this house, that’s amazing!), Haircutter, teacher and more. My experiences with my crazy kids have made me strong and able to handle any boardroom situation! And if I am ever in a meeting where people play one of those games where you have to find something in your purse starting with each letter of the alphabet, I would so totally win! So what if I stumble over words before the caffeine kicks in, and have stickmen drawn on my guidelines at the meeting?!

For the record: I am happy being the mom that gets hugged before going out the door, even at the risk of being covered in crumbs. And the mom that gets fingerpaint and dirt stains on things because I play with my kids.

Yup, I’m mommy. Don’t make me use my Mom voice, because I will. 🙂

So they have come and gone: my 20s that is. The decade that included all the major changes in my life: earning my degree (and university partying), meeting and marrying my husband, giving birth to my two children, moving to Alberta, buying my first (and second) home, starting my career… all those moments that everyone says are the best in their life. Over, done. But I have to say, I am really looking forward to the next decade. Seeing my kids grow up, completing my Master’s, and that element of surprise… I have less plans for the next 10 years than I did for the last, which is nice. Where will I be at 40? I don’t know! Which is great! I do have a few goals however.

Goal #1: Graduate with my MBA. Three courses in, it appears that I am on the track, though with nearly 2 years left, it still feels far away. (Especially during this current Financial and Managerial Accounting course. Blech.) But I can, and will, do it. I want to show my kids that you can pick a goal that seems unobtainable (like full time school with work and kids etc.) and do it!

Goal #2: Travel with my family. We have always travelled, but my goals are to continue to do it. Next on the list? Across Canada road trip and Europe backpacking trip. May have to wait until goal #1 is completed and I start to make money again!!

Goal #3: Learn to ride a motorcycle. My dad would have loved to teach me this, but I will learn on my own in his honour. Then one day Mike and I can take a long bike trip. I think it would feel ‘tough’ to ride a motorcycle in leather, pull of my helmet and shake out my hair like they do in the movies. Less sexy and less coordinated though! And for Dad, my bike will be bright red, of course.

Goal #4: Improve as a mother. I am a good mom, I know. I love my kids with my entire being, but sometimes I forget what really matters. I clean the house for company instead of playing hard in the backyard. I make things easy for them instead of allowing them to be challenged. I want to challenge my kids to find their own dreams, and play with them while they do. Braeden told me once while we were playing a game we had invented: Smack Ball, with a beach ball in the backyard, and laughing hysterically, that this was the best moment in his entire life. He does tend to be dramatic, but that hit home. All he wants is to play hard with me. The painstakingly planned craft and science experiment activities are unnecessary to be a good mom, but living in the moment is.

Finally, the most important goal:

Goal #5: Get ID’d. Okay, so the other ones are more serious. But I WILL get ID’d again, someday, someway, somehow. If I have to wear pigtails to the bar, I will. It’s been about 5 years since I have been carded, and I have a goal to have it happen, at least once more. 🙂

How has life changed? I have always had a full schedule, have always been in school, have always had a goal, a plan. Life with kids has taught me that plans change. The other day on my way to bed, Mike asked me what was on the calendar for the next day. I checked. “The mortgage comes out, and we’re having chicken for dinner!” I called out. Then we both started laughing hysterically as we realized what our life has become: mortgages, planned meals and grocery lists, schedules for our kids instead of us. Yes, life has changed, but so far, 30 is great.

Jordyn blows out the birthday candle on her 2nd birthday.

Dear Jordyn,

Happy 2nd birthday my beautiful little girl. It is hard to imagine what life was like without you here – like your brother, you have filled it with such love, excitement, and meaning. It’s crazy to think that it has been two years since we held you in our arms at Misericordia Hospital, and your brother Braeden came in to meet you. You squeezed his finger with your little hand right away, and you won him over instantly.

You are a girly girl. You love tea sets and fancy dresses, beads and toenail polish. Of course, when you’re all dressed up, you love to pull that dress right over your head! You prefer kittens and babies to cars and balls, in spite of the fact we only had boy toys for you at first.

You and your brother have the sweetest, strongest relationship. If you’re upset, nobody can take Mom’s place, other than Braeden. You love to sit in his lap, follow him around, and laugh at his every joke. He would do anything for you – giving you toys he was playing with or hurrying to your side when you are upset. The other day, as you two cuddled and watched Lady and the Tramp, you looked up at Braeden and said “Braeden, I love you forever, ever ever.” Your dad and I nearly cried! You call him “my Braeden” and he treats you like a princess.

All dressed up for her birthday celebrations.

You are so easy in some ways! You slept through the night right away, and potty trained yourself at 17 months. So yes, on one side you are a sweet little blond girl, with innocent blue eyes and the ability to melt people’s hearts. You love cuddles and songs, and are a little angel, but… you are also a firecracker! (Your dad called you that one day, and it fits!) You have passion that is so intense – shown in an ecstatic laugh or an angry shout. You tell people what you think. Today at the grocery store, a man said “It’s your birthday, you must have turned 2!” You said: “Did not! Liar, liar, pants on fire!” For the record, I did NOT teach you that!
You have spunk – rocking out while singing Honky Tonk man is a regular occurence for you, and you sing all day long: in bed, when you wake, in the night… and life is never dull when you are around. You make messes so quickly, you climb counters and bookshelves, and you dump things out of cupboards. When I tell you “no” you not only question me, but try harder the next time. You have strong willpower and amazing strength and confidence that I see in you already.
I can’t believe it’s come already, but happy happy birthday to my spunky little 2 year old, who loves singing and dancing, usually has a dress over her head, and already knows how to get the men in her life: Daddy and Braeden, to do her bidding with a cuddle and a kiss. You are trouble my dear, but in the very best way. 🙂
 xoxo Love Mom