Sunday, May 10, 2015

aves says, 'i love moms!'

We had been plodding along the past little while, adjusting to life with 2 kids in school now, no more nanny and just trying to get the daily grind sorted between work, school, kid’s activities and everything in between.  It had been the usual, busy family stuff.

Then, toward the end of January, we had the proverbial perfect storm of events that sort of churned up our lives.  And now, 3.5 months later, I think the clouds are slowly parting, and as I start to see the sky again, I notice that the storm has shifted things in our world a bit.

In January, my work situation left me in a position where Brian and I started talking about whether it was time for me to leave my job.  The work situation coupled with the kids recently transitioning from having a nanny to going to out-of-school care and then dealing with stuff with Josh, led me to believe that it might be time to slow down the pace for awhile and focus on the kids.

I have never been in the position where I was unemployed and not fully looking for work (except for maternity leave, which was, mentally, a different kind of unemployed).  It was a scary idea for me to contemplate that I would be unemployed with my first priority as the kids, and not finding another job.  But Brian and I decided we could manage it financially, so we decided to go for it.

At the beginning of February, I left my job.  It was strangely cathartic.  The day after, I felt mildly exuberant.  I was so relieved to not have to worry about work stresses, but I knew there was a long, unknown road ahead.  It was strange to admit, but I had just made the choice to be a stay-at-home mom for the next little while!  

Here’s the thing though: I’m good at my job.  I’m good at work.  And I like work interactions.  I have previously come to the realization that for me, work is easy.  The things I do at work are intuitive and come natural to me.  For me, it’s the parenting part that’s hard.  I have no clue what I’m doing when it comes to raising my kids.  Not only do I have no clue, but I also can’t hear my intuition when it comes to parenting.  So, I had just given up the thing I know, that comes natural to me and replaced it full time with the thing that daily makes me feel like I’m incompetent and not worthy.  Ha.

For the first month and a bit, all I did was decompress.  It took me this long to get myself to believe that now that I was not juggling my career job with my mom job, I was still just as ‘important’.  I found myself continuing to network, getting in touch with past colleagues and tried to keep my finger on my career pulse.  At the same time, I was figuring out how to deal with Josh’s stuff as well as trying to reconnect with family life (our nanny had just left us at the beginning of January, so reconnecting with family life was on-going).

It was very strange for me.  I felt a bit lost in understanding what I ‘needed’ to be doing.  Remember: even though I was technically a stay-at-home mom, there were 2 distinguishing factors:

1.  The kids were still in out-of-school care.  We didn’t want to lose our spots and we didn’t want there to be too much change to the kid’s routine.  So, I was a stay-at-home mom with child care.  Can you say ‘Real Housewives of New Westminster’?!  Ha.

2. I still had looking for a job hanging over my head.  How could I be unemployed and not be looking for another job?!  I was having trouble accepting this.

I don’t think I ever fully accepted that it was ok for me to be at home and not doing some sort of job search.  I guess the responsibility is so engrained in me.  But I think that one thing that I was able to finally accept, was that there was a place for me as an unemployed person who was spending more time with her family.   And in accepting this, I was able to reaffirm some of the truths I already knew about myself.  Like, I hate house cleaning and even if I have all day to do it, I still won’t.  And I need the different kind of mental stimulation that my work brings.  I need the work challenges that I can solve intuitively and feel confident about my decisions.  And, as selfish as it sounds, I can never get enough “me time”.

So, after the dust settled and I accepted the truths about myself, this is where the real learning began.  This is when I got to see the side of parenting that I never saw before.  The part where I suddenly had some time to enjoy it.  To really get a chance to sit down and look at the gobs of artwork and paper that my kids generate.  To get to see them off to class every morning and watch them interact with their friends.  To volunteer for activities in and around school.  To bring order to our household in a way that allowed my kids to thrive.  To get to go to all their different activities prepared and with purpose, as opposed to feeling like we’re just rushing them from one activity to the next.  I feel like I’m an active participant in my kid’s lives, not just an overseer of it.  I feel closer to my kids than I’ve ever felt before.

Here we are now on Mother’s Day and, ironically, on the eve of me starting a new job (because I just couldn’t stop looking!).  When I go back to work, I will have had almost 4 months to sort out what I’ve needed to with my family.  That person, in February, who had trouble letting go of her career self, is now terrified of what she might be letting go to bring her career self back in.  I don’t honestly know if I’m ready to go back to work.  I don’t know that I’ve accomplished all I set out to accomplish at home when we decided I should leave my job.  And I don’t know if I can keep that connection with the kids when I’m balancing a full time job again.  I found a new level of presence and patience with the kids that I don’t know if I can maintain when I add the burden of work stress.  I know when I go back to work, it will be easy for me to fall back into ‘work’ mode.  And I’m not sure I know how to have that connection to my work and maintain the connection I’ve made with my family life.  It’s making me feel very torn.

But I do know this: for 4 months, I had the opportunity to experience a different way of being in my family.  I got to step outside my normal self and see how else I could be, not just as a mother, but as a person too.  And as torn as I am about going back to work, I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything.  In fact, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

So, as I sit here on Mother’s Day, eating breakfast in bed and contemplate how life-changing it’s been being a mother, I have to thank Brian for all his support as I navigated my version of stay-at-home-mom-dom.  I couldn’t have done it without you and I love you.  And I have to thank all my parental family and friends for their advice and non-judgment.  I think, in the end, its the fear of judgment that can kill us.

But mostly, I have to thank my kids.  Josh and Aves, thank you for showing me pure joy, honesty, unconditional love and resilience that I never knew existed.  You are the most amazing human beings I know.  You make me want to be the best mother I can be each and every day.  I love, love, love you guys like nothing else.

And to all the moms I know, who get to have the best job in the world, Happy Mother’s Day.  


Saturday, January 17, 2015

oftenly versing

Yes, I'm a bit of a self-proclaimed word-nazi (for lack of a better word!).  But in my defense, I know much stricter (and more knowledgeable!) word-nazi's than myself.

I try to gently correct Josh and Aves when they say things incorrectly (e.g. writed), but I quite enjoy the learning process that comes with discovering new words and explaining why words are pronounced the way they are.

Recently, I noticed that my strictness is somewhat selective.  A good example is the word versus.  Josh has turned it into a verb and uses it to say things like 'Today, the red team was versing the blue team.'.  I corrected him once, but then I realized that I smiled each time he said it because it is an interesting derivation from the word versus.  I find that I don't correct him anymore when he says it.

The other day, I heard him say the word oftenly.  ("I do it oftenly because...blah, blah, blah.")  Again, I found that I didn't want to correct him.  I liked the word!  Ha.

So, even though I will continue to cringe when I hear the word 'orientated' instead of 'oriented' (yes, I know it's acceptable!) and 'real' instead of 'really' and 'I says' instead of 'I said', apparently, I'm ok if I hear 'versing' and 'oftenly'.  Now, if he is 18 and still saying either, I wonder if I will be still be ok with it...

Friday, October 31, 2014

tu parles fran├žais!

Knight? Bishop? Heaven forbid a pawn!
I remember a few years back when we were trying to make the decision to put Josh in EFI (early french immersion).  Much like deciding to hold him back a year, it was a very 'heavy' decision to make.  Man, it feels like decision-making goes to a whole new stress level when you are doing it for this little person who can't make the decision themselves and you have to decide what's best for them!  You try to weigh all the pros and cons but mostly, you're just crossing your fingers and praying.

I've seen many outcomes from these decisions.  Mostly good, but some have caused doubt.  Last week, though, we had our most rewarding experience for deciding to commit our kids to EFI.  I'm not sure what has caused Josh to fully embrace french immersion this year, but I'm constantly feeling like I need to hug Mme. D, Josh's Grade 2 teacher.  I can't say enough good things about how amazing a teacher she is!

Between that and having 2 years of french immersion under his belt, Josh's french is flourishing.  So, last week, the kids were having some quiet play time after dinner.  Josh had re-introduced himself to his Star Wars Lego after a brief hiatus.  He had all sorts of ships and mini figs strewn across the floor.  I was sitting at the dinner table nearby, sorting mail or something.  I slowed down momentarily to focus on Josh's play.  When I listened closely to what he had his mini figs saying to each other, that's when I noticed it.  Josh was playing en fran├žais.  Wow.  I was floored.  It took everything I had not to reach down and hug him.

Bravo, mon petit!  C'est formidable!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"babysitting"

Playing on the beach, Deception Pass, June 2014
It's amazing how conversations like this will still catch me off guard:

A: Mommy, what does a babysitter do?
Y: (huh?!) Well, when moms and dads have to go out and the kids can't come, they will get a baby sitter to come and do the things with the kids that Mom & Dad would do.
A: Like feeding them and getting them ready for bed?
Y: Yes :-)
A: Can kids go when people get married? (...and then getting to the point before I can answer...) Did Josh have a babysitter when you and daddy got married so you could have me?
Y: (bwahahaha!) Sweetie, Mom & Dad only got married once and it was before we had you and Josh. You don't get married each time you have a baby, you get married before you have all your babies (yes, I'm giving her the uncomplicated leave-it-to-beaver version!).
A: (not sure why I didn't see this coming) Well then how do you make babies?!

Sigh.  Mom had no answer but to say "I'll explain when you're older"!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

move over, mom, there's a new coconutwoman in town!

The kid's first trip to NYC.  Apparently, making rabbit
ears in photos makes Times Square more fun!
(mostly only my family will get that title)

We've had a blast spending the past couple of weeks in NY and NJ, visiting family and friends (we head home tomorrow).  The last few days, we've been staying with S&B at their new house near Seton Hall University.

Today, the kids and I were walking past the university on our way back from a local park.  Josh asked what a university was and I tried to explain (something about where the big kids go after high school because they want to learn more and try to get "better" jobs; to give him a frame of reference for age, I said his cousin, L, was going to a university in September).

J: Mom, I'm going to go to university so I can open a coconut shop for you! (Josh knows I love coconuts.)
Y: Wow!  That sounds so awesome!  What would you sell?  Just coconuts?
J: No, I'd sell things like coconut cake, coconut cupcakes, coconut ice cream, coconut milk...stuff like that.
Y: Yum! If you open a coconut shop, I'd like to work there.
J: (lots of hesitation) Well, ummm...I'm going to have younger people working there.
Y: Oh, you mean like L's age?
J: (more hesitation) Well, ummm...not really. (pause) Mom, you know when you work in the shop you can't eat the food?
Y: (Now I get it!) If someone works there and pays for their food, can't they eat it?  And would you give them a discount because they work there?
J: (giggles) I guess, and I'd pay them too!

Ha.  It's a relief to know that he plans on paying them and, fwiw, I neglected to mention that he doesn't really need to go to university to open a coconut shop :-P


Friday, May 23, 2014

our own worst critic

Josh called me over while he was on the toilet tonight. I stood at the bathroom door:

J: How come your bathroom and Miss Tess' bathroom have fans but ours doesn't have a fan?
Y: Because our house was built in the 'olden' days. This bathroom was built back then and they didn't put fans in bathrooms. They used that window for ventilation. Daddy built our bathroom and Miss Tess' bathroom, so he put fans in them.
J: So. Our house is old?
Y: Yes, our house is 80 years old.
J: Oh. Our house is from the olden days!
Y: Well, Daddy fixed up a lot of the house, so some of it is new and some of it is old.
(I love it when I can tell the wheels are spinning but I have no idea what's going to come out. At this point, the wheels are definitely spinning!)
J: Mom...(starts to say something but pauses to rephrase) I really like the decisions you made for the inside of the house...(you know there's a but coming)
...but the outside needs a paint job.

Ha. Guess who just volunteered for paint duty this summer?!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

mommy, my birthday party is today!

This is what Aves said to me in the moment she woke up on the day of her 5th birthday party.  She was SO excited for her party this year. (and I forgot to post this!)

A few months ago, when she started planning (!!), she said she wanted a Build-A-Bear party.  Great.  Part of me felt it was a tad indulgent, but part of me felt that Aves deserved it.  She loves to go into the store and look at all the stuffies; she watches them get made for other kids.  She has never asked for one.

So, I was ready to have a Build-A-Bear party.  Then, Aves went to her best friend W's birthday party.  He had it at home.  From that day on, Aves said she wanted her birthday party at home.  Ha.  All of a sudden, the Build-A-Bear party was sounding more and more ideal!

This is the first time that either of the kids asked to have their party at home.  I've been perfectly happy having parties out of the house.  No work, no mess, no planning.  Perfect.  Clearly, Aves likes to keep me challenged.

As chaotic as the party was and as unprepared as I was for it, I think Aves had a blast.  And that's all that really counts.  Usually, Aves is pretty stuck to me.  If she's not always at my side, then she will check back with me about every 5 minutes.  I'm pretty sure she only came up to me a couple of times during the party.  Yup, she had a blast.

Party aside, Aves' 5th birthday has felt like a pretty big deal to me.  One of my girlfriends said that she remembered the day that Aves was born.  It was the first time she held a baby that small.  She spent the night with me in the hospital because I wanted Brian to stay with Josh.  She said she remembers the day like it was yesterday.  Of course, I remember it too.  And I can't believe that it was 5 years ago.

I can't believe that my baby is 5 years old!

Because she is girl, I find that I compare myself to her.  In so many ways, I see how she's just like me.  She is stubborn, cautious when it comes to physical activity and not afraid to say how she feels or show emotion.  She also has a very day-dreamy side to her.  But in so many other ways, I see how she is so much wiser than I was at her age.  I just can't believe her level of comprehension sometimes!  She will take what she has learned in one scenario and apply it to a completely different scenario.

This past school year, Aves did a year of pre-school.  She will be going into Kindergarten in September.  I recall last September feeling like Aves was ready for Kindergarten at that time!  I'm sure this was partly a proud mommy, but it was also based on experiences with Josh and understanding the expectations of Kindergarten.  (Aves just loves to learn.  Her big thing right now is reading.  She loves to read everything - street signs, shop signs, words painted on the road, words on people's clothes.)

Aves' pre-school had a parent-teacher meeting in January to discuss the kids' progress.  I mentioned that I have no concerns about Aves' progress in school and I'm pretty sure she is ready for Kindergarten.  Aves' pre-school teacher replied with "Aves was ready for Kindergarten last September!".  Phew.  It's not just me!

You are amazing, little girl!  We love you SO much.  Happy 5th Birthday, Aves!