Weekends Are For …

wintertrees

  • Catching up on laundry
  • Skating lessons at the Ice Palace
  • Art projects
  • Sleepovers at Grandma & Grandpa’s
  • Hot dates
  • Creating menus (and a multipage grocery list!)
  • Shopping for a big girl bed
  • Playdates
  • Late bedtimes
  • Blankets, cuddles, and the Gilmore Girls

What were you up to this weekend?  

A Sad Good-Bye

target

Today Ellie  and I said good-bye to Target.

Ellie was unusually solemn as she walked past empty shelves, carefully stepping over items carelessly tossed to the floor by crazed shoppers looking for a better deal.  “Bye-bye Tahg!” she said, waving as we passed each empty row.  “Bye-bye Tahg!”

I’ve read the articles, I’ve heard the complaints, and I know few people are surprised or saddened by the fact that Target is closing its stores in Canada, but my heart hurts.

As someone who spent at least an hour a week, every week, at Target since it opened just a few weeks after Ellie was born, the 17 000+ “walking unemployed” aren’t faceless people.

They are Amy in the toy department and Shauna in returns and Elise who works the early shift so she can pick her kids up from school.

They are Miranda in fitting, Kelsey at the self check-out by the downstairs mall entrance, and Mark who makes sure the shopping carts are put away properly, who greets my kids by name.

Mona taught Topher how to ride down an escalator.  We were running late for his skating lesson and I had my arms full of Ellie without a hand for him to hold and Mona stepped in and offered hers instead.  Topher has spent so much time at Target over the past two years that I’m sure he considers anyone wearing a red shirt and a Target name tag as trustworthy as a police officer!

He cries when he overhears anyone talking about Target closing.

Real tears.

Your prices might not have been low and your selection might not have been great, but clearly you – your staff – still had an impact on our little family.   

Good-bye, Target.  You will be missed.

Love, Me

 

I know I’m a few weeks late on this, but at this point in my life that seems to be just how I roll!  This week I’m joining Susan’s Art Therapy Lesson 5:  Write a love letter to yourself.

dishes

Hey, you.

Yes, you.  The bleary-eyed mama in the reindeer leggings you just can’t put away because they’re so darn comfortable, with your hood pulled over your head.

I know how you’re feeling.

You’ve only been awake (if you want to call your current state “awake”) for ten minutes, and you’re already feeling it:

GUILTY.

I shouldn’t be on the computer, you’re telling yourself.  I should be eating breakfast with the kids.  

Hush.

They’re happy.  They’re quiet.  It’s okay to take a few minutes for yourself.

Breakfast?  Hrmph.  I should have gotten up earlier to make them a real breakfast.  Pancakes or french toast or eggs or something.  This is the third day this week they’ve had cereal. 

They like cereal.   You know as well as I do that if they didn’t like it they would throw it on the floor.  Or the wall.  Or at each other.

Yeah, okay, maybe you’re right …  

You glance at the kids to make sure they’re still enjoying their breakfast:  Topher, slurping milk out of the bowl with a straw, and Ellie, fishing each piece of cereal out of her bowl with her fingers and shovelling it into her mouth, waving her spoon in the air like a flag.

Then your eyes fall on the pile of dirty dishes still in the sink from last night’s supper, and you feel it again:

GUILTY.

I should have done those before I went to bed, you tell yourself.

You worked until 11:30 last night.  It’s okay to leave dishes in the sink.  They’ll get done when they get done – nobody cares except you.

But I should be able to get them.  I’m home all day!

With two kids.  I’m telling you, it’s okay to leave dishes in the sink.  Nobody cares except you.

STOP FEELING SO GUILTY.

I don’t know why you think you have to do it all, because you don’t – and it really is that simple.

You’re not perfect. Trying to pretend that you are is a waste of time. Nobody has it all together all the time.

Let me rephrase that: Nobody expects you to have it together all the time.

But …

No buts.  You need realize that it’s okay to take time for yourself.  It’s okay to send the kids to Grandma and Grandpa’s for an afternoon, an entire day, or even a weekend, if you need it. That doesn’t make you a bad mother.

Spoil yourself every now and then.  Make a hot chocolate, grab some tim tams, and hide behind a cereal box so the kids don’t see you enjoying your treat.

I saw that smile!

Have fun today.  Enjoy yourself – and enjoy your kids.  One day you’ll miss all of this, so soak it in while you can.

And for heaven’s sake, forget about the dishes in the sink!

Dear Ellie …

princessellie_edited-1

I love your smile.  I love the way you scrunch up your nose and squeeze your eyes shut and stretch your mouth as wide as it can go.

I love your laughs.  You have many, but my favourites are your belly laugh and your Sheldon Cooper chortle.  You may not have any idea what the people around you are talking about, but you have the best comedic timing!

I love your compassionate heart.  I love the way you are always looking for ways to help others and make them feel better.

I love that you’re always the first one to notice Chloe when she’s trying to blend into the background when we’re getting ready to leave, hoping we’ll forget to put her in her kennel.  You pat her so gently, so tenderly, and say “Good girl, Co-ee.  Good girl!” followed by a kiss on her furry head.

I love that you’re potty training yourself.  I wasn’t planning to start any time soon (I can’t find underwear small enough to fit you!) but you want to be just like Topher, so you carefully observe him while he does his business – rubbing his back or his knees, saying “PUSH, Brudder!  PUSH!”  When he’s finished you clap and cheer and say “Good girl, Brudder!”  You almost always go poo on the potty now – with “Brudder” at your side, cheering you on.  And I didn’t have to do a thing!

I love your independence.  I’m sure it’s going to cause problems for us in the next few years, but right now I love the fact that you’re confident enough in yourself to explore things on your own.  Thank goodness you never stray too far!

I love that you like to pick out your own clothes and try to put them on.  It makes for some pretty interesting combinations – this morning you were wearing a blue polka dot swimsuit over rainbow striped pyjama pants, with Oilers socks pulled up to your knees!

I love that you don’t let anyone – not even the big brother that you so adore – push you around.

I love that you have a deep affection for books, just like I do.  I wish you weren’t quite so vigorous with turning the pages and lifting the flaps, especially in library books, but you love to read so I won’t complain!

I love that you exclaim “Oh …” before just about every word you say.  “Oh, Brudder!”  “Oh, cars!”  “Oh, snow!”  Last week I taught you “Old McDonald Had a Farm” and you finished it with “E I E I O – Oh, Corn!”  You still sing it like that, but I think you’re just doing it for the laughs.

I love the way you hold a step stool in front of your tummy and strum it like a guitar, belting out nonsense words at the top of your lungs.  Daddy has a sneaking suspicion that you’re going to be musical …

And I especially love your hugs (“SQUEEZE, Mama!”) and your kisses (“KEES!”) and the fact that you still think my lips are magic, able to heal each and every bump and bruise you get.  I wish they would always possess that magic.

I find it hard to believe that in just a few weeks we will be celebrating your second birthday.  Where did the time go, sweet girl?

I love you now & forever,

Mama

 

Hey, thanks …

2012, All rights reserved.

Ellie was three weeks old.

Sitting was still painful, breastfeeding still resulted in tears for both of us, and I was an exhausted hormonal mess – but for Topher’s sake, I decided that it was time.

I nursed Ellie, praying a full tummy would help her sleep, strapped her into her car seat under her cozy blankets and cover, and loaded both kids into the stroller for the short walk to the library.

It was our first outing as a trio – and I was terrified.

What if I couldn’t handle two kids?

It was colder outside than I thought it was.  I let Topher wear his fireman jacket and rain boots when he should have been in a snowsuit.

He didn’t have a hat or mittens in the diaper bag so I gave him mine to wear.  April, in Edmonton?  What was I thinking?  

Ellie was toasty warm but she hated being in the car seat so she screamed the entire way, and of course I had forgotten to bring the only soother she actually liked.

The snow had thawed earlier in the week, then frozen again so the sidewalks were a mess of icy ruts that I couldn’t navigate the stroller through, so I had to ask Topher to get out and help me push.

By the time we got to the library, I was ready to turn around and head back home – but Topher was so excited to be out in the Real World that I just didn’t have the heart.  Ellie calmed down once she was in my arms so I figured we could stay for story time.  Topher had a fantastic time, singing silly songs and heckling the librarian from the back row (he is so his father’s son!), and Ellie finally fell asleep, so I wandered around, picking out books one-handed and depositing them in the stroller.

Then it was time to go and all hell broke loose.

Topher – usually a cheery, helpful little boy – threw his first ever lying-down-on-the-floor-kicking-and-screaming-tantrum when I asked him to put his coat on.

Of course that woke up Miss Ellie, who realized she was no longer in my arms but in the Demon Car Seat, and she started to scream.

I had no idea what to do.

Take Ellie out of the stroller and calm her down while ignoring Topher?  Deal with Topher and ignore Ellie?  Start screaming myself?

I took a deep breath, then squatted down on Topher’s level and told him in no uncertain terms that whether or not he put his jacket on, we were going home.   Without his jacket he would turn into a popsicle, but if that’s what he wanted to be, it was fine with me.

I stood up and started rocking the stroller back and forth, waiting for him to collect himself, avoiding eye contact with the dozen or so other moms who were leaving story time with their calm, quiet, obedient children.

But then I felt a hand on my shoulder.  “How old?” she asked, gesturing to Ellie.  “”Three weeks,” I mumbled.  “Gosh, you’re brave!” she said with a smile.  “I didn’t venture out with my second until he was at least six months old, and that was just for a walk around the block!”  I tried to smile, blinking back the tears in my eyes.  “You’re doing a good job, Mama,” she said softly.  “I remember what it was like.  You’re doing a good job.

And with that, she was gone.

The presence of another adult seemed to bring Topher to his senses because he immediately stood up and started to pull his coat on.  We checked out our books and headed home for naps all around.

* * *

I still look for that other mom every time we go to the library because I want to say thank you.

Thank you for being there.  Thank you for stopping.  Thank you for smiling.  Thank you for understanding.  You spoke give simple words that day, but those five simple words went straight to my heart and gave me the courage and the confidence I needed to make it through those early months as a mother of two. 

I haven’t seen her since that day.

It used to frustrate me – she had a huge impact, I want to tell her, goshdarnit! – but now I’ve given up looking for her.

Instead, I smile at other moms.  I ask them about their children.  I listen.  And I offer simple words encouragement.

This motherhood gig?  It’s hard.  We need each other.

And every now and then, we need to hear the words:

You’re doing a good job, Mama.  

Because you are.