A Snapshot of Motherhood

I was woken up at 3:37 this morning by Topher sobbing in his room. “Mommy? Mommy!” He never wakes up at night anymore so I got up as quickly as I could and made my way to his room. When I opened his door he threw himself at me, wrapping his arms around my legs. Still sniffling, he said “Mommy? Mommy, I want to sleep in your bed!” We don’t let Topher sleep in our bed anymore – well, unless he’s super sick (and even then, he usually wants to be in his bed with all his babies) or unless he wakes up during a particularly loud thunderstorm. I tried to convince him to stay in his own bed for a few minutes but I was too tired to fight when he raced over to his bed, grabbed his blankie, lifted his arms up and demanded “Carry me to your bed, Mommy!”

As you wish, little man …

I try to be patient with Topher on the rare occasions that he’s in the big bed because I know the days when he is going to want to curl up between Nathan and me – and the days when he’s going to be able to fit! – are numbered. But sharing a bed with Topher is no easy feat.

For whatever reason – even if it’s just me and Topher in the bed, and he has an entire side to himself – he likes to snuggle. Last night I set him down in the middle of the bed and within two minutes he had wriggled and rolled his way over to my side. Nathan had his full half of the bed and somehow Topher managed to kick and squirm until I was basically hanging over the edge. Then I felt him trying to tuck his cold little feet under my thigh.

As if that isn’t bad enough, Topher also sucks the index and middle finger of his right hand when he’s trying to fall asleep. And when I say “suck”, I mean aggressively. And loudly.

He likes to be covered up by his Blankie when he’s trying to fall asleep. His right hand is at his mouth and his left hand is stroking Blankie. Well – it starts out as stroking. Then it becomes patting. Once he’s completely reassured that Blankie is, in fact, covering him – he moves on to stroking/patting anything within reach. So last night I essentially got a full pat down on the entire top half of my body by my half asleep two-year-old.

Just when Topher was almost asleep, he jerked awake with the realization that he didn’t have his beloved elephant in bed with him. I wasn’t about to get out of bed again so I loaned him my teddy bear. He cuddled with it for a minute or two before announcing “No, Mommy, I don’t like Gordo!” – and the next thing I know, poor Gordo is flying over the side of the bed.

And that was the end of any attempt to sleep on Topher’s part.

It didn’t help when Chloe randomly let out a huge belch from her kennel.

Nathan had been feigning sleep all this time but when Topher started talking and giggling (“Chloe burped, Mommy! Say excuse me, Chloe!”) Nathan finally sat up and said, “If you say ONE MORE WORD, you’re going back to your bed!”

Ten seconds later Topher pushes his little face to within a millimeter of mine and whispers “HI, MOMMY!”

Cheeky little monkey, isn’t he?

Needless to say, that was the end of Topher sleeping in the big bed.

Maybe we’ll try again another night …

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Fear and Compassion.

Sometimes I think living in the city has ruined me.

I grew up in a small town – the type where everybody knows everybody and if you pass someone you don’t necessarily know but do at least recognize walking along the road – you’re expected to pull over and offer them a ride.

When I moved to the city, I couldn’t walk past a homeless person downtown without stopping. I knew their names, I knew their stories, and I had absolutely no qualms about reaching into my backpack or scrounging through my wallet in search of spare change or bus tickets. The possibility of being mugged (or worse) never crossed my mind.

Then I moved to Edmonton.

The first week I lived here, my roommate gave me a crash course on survival:

Don’t make eye contact.
Don’t talk to strangers.

She gave me a list of “bad areas” to avoid – but also informed me that because of the gang activity in our city, I could be killed just because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I carried a hoof pick in my back pocket at all times.

I followed the rules to a T – but four months after moving to the city I had an opportunity to use that hoof pick – and a steel-toed boot – when I was followed home from the bus stop. He attempted to grab me from behind but I was able to channel my inner Sydney Bristow and get away.

And fear changed me.

Now I’m the girl who walks from the bus stop to my work each morning with my head down, avoiding eye contact, hoping that none of the three homeless men I pass every single day on the way to work will speak to me. I’m the girl who never carries cash because if someone asks if I have any spare change, I don’t want to be lying when I say no. It’s been two years, and I’ve never spoken to the man who lives in our dumpster.

Have I let fear strip me of my compassion?

* I found this sitting in my drafts folder – I wrote it more than two years ago, and still don’t have an answer …

The Working Mom Update

I’ve been back at work full-time for an entire year.

And I’ve struggled.

Growing up, I never pictured myself as a stay at home mom – but as the time to go back to work grew closer and closer, I realized that that was exactly what I wanted to be. I’ve never really felt a calling on my life until I became a mother, but the second I held my ginormous red-headed son in my arms, I knew that that was exactly what I was designed for. Unfortunately, Nathan and I aren’t in a financial position to be a one-income family, so I went back to work part-time in May of 2011 and back to full-time in June of 2011.

And it’s been hard.

We’ve dealt with a bit of separation anxiety on Topher’s part. Some bullying from one of the other kids he spends time with. An irresponsible childcare provider. Lots and lots of sickness.

Now it seems like things are finally working out. Topher spends three days a week with one of our good friends and her three-year-old son and two days a week in a dayhome with five other boys between the ages of one and five.

And he LOVES it.

But I still feel like I’m getting a lot of flack from friends and family. Some days I think it’s just me and my messed up preconceptions of what other people are thinking – but other days I get questions like “A dayhome? Why would you put him in a dayhome?” or “Can’t Nathan get a second job?” (when I barely see him in the evenings as it is?) or I’m subject to the ever-so-annoying “If it was really important to you, you’d make it work on one income.” (as if I don’t have Topher’s best interests at heart?!?)

It drives me nuts. Nathan and I have always had the parenting philosophy “You do the best you can with what you’ve got” – so that’s what we do. If it means full-time childcare outside the home, it means full-time childcare outside the home – and I’m tired of feeling judged. Topher is happy. Flourishing, even. He has the vocabulary of a five-year-old. He knows the entire alphabet and can count to 15 (and can count to 10 in Spanish as well). When I have a day off, if we aren’t going to meet up with one of his friends, he cries.

I’m the only working mom I know, and it’s lonely.