Sanctimommy and Breastfeeding

 

MjAxMy1mZjA2NDIzYmY2ODczMjBh

I recently encountered a sanctimommy. I could sense she was a sanctimommy right from the get-go but decided to give her the benefit of the doubt because the conversation started off innocently enough. She had asked the question “Why don’t some women breastfeed? It’s the best choice for your baby and I have no idea why someone wouldn’t do it if they were capable.” I rolled my eyes hard at the computer screen Keep on reading!

I will not baptize my daughter

indifference

 

I was raised in a pretty small town. Most families were either Catholic or Protestant and nearly everyone was a regular church-goer back in the late 80s and early 90s. I was baptized in the Catholic Church and grew up going to Sunday school and in later years, religion classes to make first communion and confirmation. I was pretty much forced by my parents to be confirmed into the Catholic Church when I was in my early teens and I really resented them for it. I felt like someone was forcing their beliefs on me, and it was frustrating because the beliefs were not necessarily ones I completely agreed with.  It is because of this experience and through personal choices that I have decided that my daughter will not be baptized, or raised with any kind of formal religion. Keep on reading!

Single Parenting Struggles

Single-Mom-Quotes-4

Single Parenting is hard, really really hard. When I became a single mom, I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. I joined support groups and reached out to friends who were also single parents and tried to learn as much information as I could so that I would be prepared.

But even with all of this new knowledge, I still feel like there were things that no one told me.  Keep on reading!

Why I need wine

sippy

 

I don’t think it comes as a big surprise to anyone reading my blog that I like….okay, I mean love, wine. It has a way of making me feel relaxed and at ease and tastes like hopes and dreams and all kinds of wonderful things.

One of my (many) New Year’s Resolutions this year is too live a more healthy lifestyle. This means that wine has suddenly plummeted to the bottom of my priority list. I can’t drink my calories anymore. I want to but I’d also rather eat food instead of having a liquid diet all day! I tried a bottle of Skinny Girl wine, and in my opinion, it tasted like Tuesday mornings and sadness. I did not enjoy it at all and would actually rather not drink than have to drink that.

So, this got me thinking, where else can I find the small pleasures in life? What makes me happy and can bring me to a level of enjoyment and relaxation and can help take off the edge without costing me major calories.

Some people find yoga a great way to meditate and relax. Those people are nuts. Yoga is hard as shit and makes me like an ungraceful elephant attempting to do water ballet. I have no idea why anyone finds it relaxing. You sweat, your muscles quiver and you manipulate your body like a contortionist. Great workout, yes.  Relaxing,  um..that’s a hard no.

I have noticed lately that a lot of my friends run. It seems like a great workout and I am sure that they enjoy it, but nothing about running sounds relaxing to me. My boobs would be flying everywhere and I am really uncoordinated so I know I’d probably end up tripping over a crack in the sidewalk. Plus, really if you ever see me running you should run with me because it means something is drastically wrong and someone (or something) is chasing me.

I’ve always found that reading a book is super relaxing. But the problem with that is that I can’t just read a book. I like to read a book and eat chocolate or snack on chips or have cheese and crackers. A book without all of that is just boring. And if I’m bored, how exactly am I supposed to be relaxed? Maybe boredom and relaxation are the same thing? I have no idea but mama wants her snacks when she’s reading.

One of my most favorite ways to relax is to have a bath. I love the hot water and the bubbles. Sometimes I even take it a step or two further and use bath bombs and light a few candles. You know what the problem with that is though? A glass (or 2) of wine goes great with it.

So maybe I can’t give up wine. I think the key here is moderation.  A couple of glasses a week really isn’t that bad of a thing.  Wine makes me happy. And while you may judge me for that I really don’t care! Because if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

Why I sometimes love Monday and going to work

workingmom

I love weekends. Spending time at home with my daughter and doing things at a leisurely pace is really nice. I love lazy days where I stay in my pajamas till mid-afternoon and drink lattes and wine and have chocolate for lunch and enjoy random silliness with my girl.

But sometimes, weekends need to come to an end. As much as I love the quality time I get to spend with my child on the weekend, it can be exhausting. Especially when you have a toddler who is just finding her voice and is learning how to throw a temper tantrum. There are some Sunday evenings when I think to myself “I am so glad tomorrow is Monday.” I know that sounds crazy because who would actually rather be at work than be at home? Well, sometimes me. Why, you ask? Because of the following 22 reasons.

  1. Because I can pee in private at work.
  2. If I want to check my email or do a quick internet search, no one is crawling up on my lap and pounding on the keyboard while I am at the computer.
  3. No one at work throws a temper tantrum when I tell them to stop licking my feet.
  4. My coworkers don’t take off their shirts and run around half naked and slap me in the face when I tell them to put their shirts back on.
  5. I don’t have to chase anyone around at work to get them to eat.
  6. If I am talking on the phone, no one is pulling on the cord and begging to talk to the person on the other end.
  7. Did I mention because I can pee in private?
  8. People at work don’t squish their lunch into every crack and corner of the couches and chairs.
  9. I don’t have to deal with anyone else’s bodily functions at work. Enough said.
  10. Because I don’t have to explain to anyone why I am allowed to use sharpie markers and they can’t.
  11. And because no one at work doodles on the walls or the floor with sharpie markers.
  12. If I leave some papers on my desk, they aren’t shredded after I get back from a bathroom break.
  13. Nobody at work needs me to remind them that it’s not nice to spit on the floor.
  14. My boss doesn’t scream and cry because she can’t watch YouTube.
  15. I can eat my lunch and cruise Pinterest without anyone pulling at my arm because they want my phone or sandwich.
  16. No one hides my shoes or coat or purse when I am at work.
  17. Peeing alone. It really is the best.
  18. If someone at work doesn’t like what they are drinking, the just get themselves a new drink. They don’t pry their sippy cup apart and spill said drink all over the floor.
  19. If someone at work does make a mess, they clean it up themselves.
  20. I can open a bag of chips without having someone come running from another room and yelling “me me me!”
  21. No one at work cares if I don’t share my cupcake.
  22. I might have already mentioned it, but I can use the washroom alone. It really is such a treat.

But then Friday rolls around and I get excited for the weekend and the thought of sleeping in, having lazy days in bed with my daughter, watching cartoons, running around the park and not having to wear a bra or get dressed or be on time for anything is also really appealing.

Weekends really are wonderful. Spending quality time with my daughter is always the best, even if it means she’s licking my feet and throwing goldfish crackers at the TV. And just when she’s throwing her 57th tantrum, is screaming that it’s bedtime or is trying to steal my snacks, I realize it’s Sunday and that tomorrow we’ll be back to the grind. I’ll love it, till about Friday morning, and then I’ll be ready for the weekend again!

 

The sad truth about single parent families

I recently read a statistic that broke my heart. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to read and hit so close to home for me. 50% of single parent families in Canada earn less than 17k a year. There are nearly 6 million children in Canada. 19% of those children belong to a single parent family. That means nearly 1 million children are being raised by single parents. And half of those children, approximately 500 000, are living in poverty.

I started to wonder what it would be like to have to try and raise a child on such a small income. What would that mean? For me, it would mean a lot of things. It would mean that I would not be able to save for a house. It would mean that I would not be able to make contributions to my daughter’s RESP. It means I wouldn’t be able to save for retirement. It means my daughter probably would never get a chance to go to swimming lessons. It means we probably would never be able to take a trip. It means we would live in less than adequate housing. And it means we would often go hungry.

I am beyond lucky. I do not fall into that category. I make a pretty good living and am able to provide for my daughter without stressing over things like how am I going to pay the rent or where is our next meal going to come from. I cannot imagine having to worry over such huge issues. As a parent, it must be awful to have to worry about food and shelter. And that made me think further, how do we fix this?

How does our society make sure that children (and not just children from single parent families; all children) in our country are safe, warm and full? How do we make sure that parents don’t have to choose between turning on the heat in the winter and buying groceries? How do we make sure that parents have what that need to adequately provide?

I don’t know the entire answer. But I do know that something needs to change. Children who live in poverty have devastating long term effects. They have higher rates of illiteracy, less of a chance of graduating high school, a higher chance of needing community based assistance programs as adults, lower levels of self-esteem, higher percentages of drug and alcohol abuse as adults and more of a chance of continuing the cycle and living and raising their own children in poverty.

This hurts my heart. Where did Canada go wrong? Why are we not handling this issue more aggressively? Why is it that Statistics Canada produces this information over and over but it never seems to get better? How do we fix this?

It starts at home. If you see a family living in poverty, you can help. You don’t have to write them a cheque for a thousand dollars but little things can make a difference. Invite them over for dinner once a week. Can you imagine what a huge relief that would be for a family who has a strict grocery budget? It could free up money for them so that their kids can have snacks with their school lunches. It may not seem like much, but it could mean the world to a struggling parent. You can also help by giving school supplies when school starts back up. If you’re worried about embarrassing someone you can always leave it on their doorstep or donate to a family centre that can help distribute to families in need within the community. Little things can have a big impact.

And I’m also calling on our government. Mr. Trudeau, I am looking at you. You promised us real change, so please; make some real changes for these families. No parent should ever have to make those kinds of heartbreaking decisions. I also think that our government needs to crack down on those who are thousands of dollars in arrears with child support. Deadbeat parents in Canada owe more than 3.7 BILLION dollars across the country in support orders. These parents have been court ordered to pay support and help with childcare costs and extraordinary expenses, but simply choose not to. What is the punishment? Based on what I can tell, it’s nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Sure they can have their license revoked or their pay cheque garnished, but some deadbeat parents purposely work under the table to avoid helping with child support. How sad is that? Purposely making sure your biological child can’t receive support that (in a lot of cases) is desperately needed. We need stricter enforcement in regards to this so that children don’t have to suffer the devastating consequences.

Our Canadian children are worth so much more than 17k a year. They need more than just the bare minimum to succeed in life and break the cycle. But without some form of help, without some form of government crackdowns and without someone advocating for them, they’ll continue to be a statistic. And that’s just heartbreaking.

Things they don’t tell you in books

preg

 

When I was pregnant I did a lot of reading. I really wanted to be prepared for having a baby and made sure to read lots of books about pregnancy, giving birth and newborns. I felt like the books left me feeling really prepared and I was confident that I could take on the world.

Then reality hit. The books gave lots of helpful information, but didn’t give the crucial stuff. The stuff that I really wish I knew.

Currently, a lot of my girlfriends are pregnant with their first. I am so excited for them because I know how they feel. Time almost seems to slow down when you’re pregnant. I want to pass on some advice and tips to these friends. These are the things I wish I knew about pregnancy, giving birth and adapting to a newborn. I promise they aren’t scary, just honest. 🙂

Sleep as MUCH as you can. I know when you are pregnant it’s hard to get comfy. And just when you get comfy you have to get up to pee. But seriously, if this is your first pregnancy, sleep as much as humanly possible. If it’s your second baby you probably don’t get that luxury because you likely have another child to care for. But if it’s your first, SLEEP. Sleep all day, sleep all night. Sleep when you aren’t tired. Sleep when you are tired. Sleep like you’ve never slept before. Because once your little bundle of joy arrives, sleep is a distant memory. I know that sounds really brutal and to be honest, it is in the beginning. But after a few months you become used to a lack of sleep. Pre-child I needed at least eight hours of sleep every night. Post-child, I could take over the world on a solid four hours. It’s hard in the beginning but I promise it does get better, and eventually (at some point) your child WILL sleep through the night.

Don’t stress over the little things. When I was pregnant, I got obsessed with making sure everything I bought my daughter followed a purple theme. I’m not sure why, but it was very important to me. I can guarantee that if your nursery is all pink, or blue, or yellow or whatever color, there will be days when it’s mismatched. Why? Because your little darling will poop, piss and puke all over their bedding and you’ll be forced to use the spare bedding you got at your baby shower. Eventually you probably won’t even remember what color your nursery theme is and honestly, your baby won’t care what color it is either. You have bigger things to worry about. You may not see it now but you will once your babe has arrived.

Take lots of pictures. This is the one time in your life when you are supposed to gain weight. So enjoy your growing belly. I loved mine. One of my girlfriends who owns a photography business (shout out to Krystle Cleary Photography!) did a maternity photo shoot for me and I am SO glad I got it done. I love looking back at my pregnancy pictures. They are really so special. And speaking of pictures, take as many as you want to and can of your baby. They grow fast and before you know it you’ll be looking back at pictures of your three month old wondering how time moved so quickly.

Labour really isn’t that bad. Everyone LOVES telling a first time mom all of their labour horror stories. Don’t listen to them. I’ve learned that women grossly exaggerate their labour horror stories for first time moms. Why? Why is that necessary? These women are already terrified, so STFU! In all seriousness, every labour is different. Some women are only in labour a few hours, some are a few days. I was a little over 12 hours. It wasn’t exactly a walk in the park but it wasn’t the worst thing in the world either. And yes, I had the epidural. Do not feel like you are any less of a woman or mother for needing help managing the pain. There are so many people who preach natural births and there’s nothing wrong with that. A natural birth is a beautiful process and I take my hat off to anyone who can do it. But don’t beat yourself up if you need the epidural or if you end up needing a c-section. All that matters is that your baby arrives safely.  And P.S – you don’t need to do your hair, nails or makeup before you go to the hospital. I promise no one will give a single shit if your toenails are painted. (I’m guilty of all of these.)

Your newborn is SO easy to take places. Go out as much as you can with your newborn. Take a trip, visit friends, go to a restaurant or see a movie (most theaters do a showing specifically geared for parents with babies). Going places with a newborn is ridiculously easy, so get out as much as you can. Travelling or going places with a toddler is 100 times harder. So take advantage because once you have a 17 month old (like I do) you’ll probably be ordering pizza a lot more frequently than going to restaurants.

Who cares if you (or your house) are a mess. After I had my daughter, I didn’t recognize myself. I was a hot mess all day, every day. I wanted to do my hair and makeup and look like a functional adult, but I was just too tired and overwhelmed to care. No one expects you or your house to look perfect after you have a baby. It’s practically a free-pass to be as messy as you want and no one will judge you, I promise.

It’s okay to ask for help. Those first few weeks after having a baby are really rough. You’re exhausted, your body is still recovering from giving birth or having a c-section and you are adjusting to becoming a mom. Your life is very different now. There’s a little person in your care who depends on you for everything. It’s overwhelming. Don’t feel bad for asking for help. Lean on your family and friends. Ask someone to babysit so you can take a shower or a nap or go get a haircut. And please, don’t feel guilty about it. You need time to yourself now and then and your baby will survive without you for a few hours. It’s okay mama, you aren’t a failure for needing a break.

I hope that this information hasn’t left any of my pregnant friends feeling overwhelmed or freaked out. I promise, it isn’t as hard as people make it sound. And when all else fails, trust your instincts. You know what is best for you and your baby. Just remember to breathe, you got this!

 

Motherhood and Resolutions

 

2016

 

There is something about a new year that feels energizing and refreshing. The thought of having an entire year to get things figured out and to meet new goals is always exciting. I have never been big on making resolutions for the New Year, but that was before I became a mom.

My typical resolutions pre-child included things like saving for a trip or losing weight or eating healthier. And while all of those things are still a priority, they are not at the top of my list of things that I want to accomplish.

So, what do I want to accomplish? Well, it’s really simple. I want to be the best possible mother and person that I can be. It sounds easy, right? But it’s not. It’s going to take a lot of self-discipline and a lot of reminders to keep myself on track. But I know that I can do all of these things, and making my goals public will certainly hold me more accountable.

Be kinder to myself. I am not perfect and I never will be. There will be days when I yell or order pizza for supper or have a messy house or forget to run an errand. This is okay. Being perfect is impossible and it’s also setting an unattainable standard. I need to remember that it is okay to make mistakes and it doesn’t make me a failure or a bad mother because of it.

Treat others how you want to be treated. Raising a daughter who is kind and considerate is very important to me. And she can only become that way through example. I have (and I hate admitting this) gossiped and said not-so-nice things about other people in the past and it needs to stop. Because I don’t want my daughter doing that and I definitely don’t want anyone else doing it to her. It is so easy to get caught up in the web of drama and gossip but I am refusing to go there anymore. If it isn’t kind, loving or compassionate then it doesn’t need to be said.

Stop with the mommy guilt. Mommy guilt creeps up on me when I least expect it. I could be out having a great evening with friends and out of nowhere I get hit hard with mommy guilt. I think single parents feel mommy/daddy guilt a little harder than parents in relationships because after working or going to school all day, we feel the need to spend every possible second with our children. I love spending time with my daughter, but I also need a break now and then. And as if the guilt from being away from my child isn’t enough, there’s also the guilt of spending money. I am the only income for our family and I budget carefully to make sure we have everything we need. However, I always leave enough room in the budget to treat myself, so the guilt over this needs to stop.  I am allowed to go out for an evening with friends or get a pedicure or go for a massage or get my hair highlighted. I don’t indulge in those things often and when I do, I need to remember to enjoy them. I work really hard to provide a good living for me and my daughter and I am allowed to treat myself now and then.

Patience (it really is a virtue). Remembering to be patient is something I need to remind myself of every single day. I love my daughter fiercely but when she crunches up goldfish crackers and then spits them in my shoes, I have to take a deep breath. Children are always testing boundaries and trying to challenge the rules. I know I was not the easiest child in the world and my parents had plenty of patience with me and both of my sisters. This is probably why they drank at night. It’s why I’ll continue to drink too. Love my wine!

Less screen time. This is for both me and my daughter. It is so easy to get consumed with TV, smart phones, Facebook, tablets and all other forms of technology. I want to be more present in the moment and that is going to mean putting away my phone and turning off the TV and focusing on enjoying whatever the moment brings. One of my favorite things to do with my daughter is jump on the bed. There is something so sweet and innocent about it. It doesn’t cost anything and we don’t need any kind of fancy technology to do it. The way she squeals with delight and jumps into my arms as she falls on top of me is something that can never be replaced with any form of technology.

More quality time. Do you know what my best childhood memories are? It’s got nothing to do with extravagant gifts or trips or being given materialistic things. My most favorite childhood memories are the ones when I was spending time with my parents. Sometimes it was a drive or a late evening at the beach or a bonfire in the backyard. Those are the things I remember and they still bring a smile (and sometimes a tear) to my face. My daughter doesn’t need things. She needs me. Thirty years from now she won’t care if she had the latest piece of technology as a child; all she’ll remember is how often I was present. I plan on taking her on as many silly, fun and random adventures as possible. A trip to Disneyworld? Yeah, that is something I want to do with her. But I also want to make sure we build sandcastles and catch snowflakes with our tongues and drink hot chocolate on a cool night as we look up at the stars and the sky. Those are the things she’ll remember most and they cost absolutely nothing.

Remember that happiness comes from within. Being a single mom means I always hear this line, “oh you’ll meet the perfect guy someday.” While this is a nice thing to daydream about, there’s always the possibility that I won’t meet someone. And that is okay. I don’t need a man to be happy. My happiness is not dependant on a relationship. My happiness comes from within. It comes from being a good person, a good mother, a good daughter, a good sister and a good friend. A friend of mine once told me that I need to stop measuring life by what everyone else is doing. I don’t have to follow a certain timeline or path to be happy. I can stray away from societal norms (long term relationships or marriage) and still find joy and happiness with my life. And to be perfectly honest; I am truly happy. I have an amazing family, the best friends, a job that I love and have everything I could ever need or want. I may not have it all, but I have enough. Anything above and beyond what I currently have would be a bonus. I am perfectly okay to continue on the path that I am on and see what life holds in store for me. And I’ll do it smiling because I love where I am at. I wouldn’t change a thing.

2016 is still very young. There is so much time ahead of us. There’s time to make resolutions, mess them up, make mistakes and try again. I know there will be days when I don’t stay true to all of my resolutions, and that is okay. As long as I keep trying and move forward then I’ll consider it a total success.