Category Archives: Motherly Love

Time In

Yesterday I had the same conversation with two different, remarkable and brilliant women. The topic was how to juggle workload and kids and life in general. Both of these ladies are committed to their work,  have important positions within their respective organizations and have it all together. So, the fact they were both feeling the same way I do most of the time was comforting and made me think there must be lots of women out there who struggle daily with the push and pull of how to cope and leave work at the office.  The sound bytes went something like,

“Why did women want this anyway?”

“Wouldn’t it have been easier in the old days.”

“I don’t think I’d feel needed enough if I didn’t have a job outside the home.”

“My kids complain I’m always working.”

“Why can’t I stop thinking about work?”

“Men have it so easy.”  (Ok, I made that one up.)

While I was scooping kitty litter this morning, something came to me from my parenting classes last year. The concept is simple. Spend 5-10 minutes a day with your child, just observing them. Not directing or correcting them in any way, just being with them, describing what they are doing.

We call it Time In. When I first started we set the timer and I shared 5 minutes with each of them. Now, I try to grab these moments as they happen. If my son is drawing a picture, I’ll say, “I like that colour…oooh you’re making that circle so big…I love when the sun is purple.” You get the drift, just give them your undivided attention.

They LOVE it and it makes a big difference in their mood, ability to focus, self-esteem and your relationship with them and yourself.

Five minutes isn’t a long time, but children have short attention spans, so the fact that you have spent “time” with them, means so much. It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality and these days we need that more than ever.

Have any coping tips to share?

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In full colour

My Mother turns 80 this month and we are planning a surprise party for her in a week or so. I’m going through all our old photos to make a photobook and my life is literally flashing before my eyes.

Heather and her bunnyI found this one of me with my favourite stuffed bunny rabbit. It was my calm reassurance that allowed me to drift off to sleep each night.  My mean, ugly sisters played monkey-in-the-middle with it and tug-of-war. Mom washed it so often it literally broke in two and she left one half at the country house and the other at home. I remember one day it got caught in the pulley at the end of the clothesline and with tender patience Mom tried to convince me that a substitute would do the trick.  No go.  My Dad climbed the tree, in the dark, to retrieve it for me. I still feel the relief that washed over me that night.

Fascinated by the old photos, Korey asked why they were in black and white.  I told him there was no colour back then. His response was angelic. “But the world was in colour, wasn’t it?”


It’s 1 am

And I’m still up. Spent more than 2 hours pouring through discussion boards about the Manulifebank One account vs. other mortgage options. My banking is such a mess right now and so complicated. I actually bounced a couple payments last month which put me in a tailspin. But, 15 minutes of Qigong and a very funny call from my boyfriend wacked me back to center.

Anyway, point is:  I love money, I collect it actually,  and want to be really good at having lots of my own some day. It’s not a measure of success for me, it’s a measure of freedom.

I turned 44 in New York City last month. Probably a highlight of my year so far. That and my kids still wanting me to lay down with them so they can go to sleep easier…now that’s true success.


Socially acceptable

Qigong is going well. I just returned from week three and have to say, it’s changing me (for the better). I can see it will take a long time and some deep practice to experience the enlightenment that’s possible. Funny thing is, I always thought I was pretty enlightened. 

My family and friends often comment that I’m a little “out there”. I recognize those blank stares and glazings that usually follow some long drawn-out story about how our energy is all connected and how we create our lives as we intend. But, this is different. This is all that plus ultimate acceptance of what is, in this moment.

This morning, in a moment, I said, “get dressed,” very loudly to Korey. Then I made him a checklist of everything he needed to do if he wanted to “play” before school. He left the checklist on the counter for me, absolutely complete. He’s very process-oriented.

I recognize in myself the things he does that bother me. I can be running way late, but will still stop to check my email, facebook, gmail and twitter accounts, quite often sitting down to comment or “like” something. I’m careful about my “likes” though, because all these subsequent notifications that someone else has “liked” or commented on a post tend to drive me crazy, especially if I have no idea who the people are. But, we are all connected, right? So, I guess their “stuff” is my stuff, how I choose to process it is up to me. (That probably didn’t make sense.) It’s all about the karma and that’s why Qigong is so fascinating to me.

What I need is a checklist to get me out the door and to bed before 2 am.

Tomorrow, I think I’m going to buy a new vehicle. Stay tuned!


Anticipation

Tonight I did my homework and researched Qigong. Wow, I’m really excited now.  Watching the videos, it’s coming back to me just how much I loved tasting the sampler back in 2000.  I know I have a VHS tape here somewhere, but it does me no good because who still owns a VCR anyway?

I didn’t realize there are so many benefits to Qigong, what with the exercise and healing powers it brings. It’s been effective for acute and chronic illness and I’m psyched…can you tell? Maybe my cold will be gone this time tomorrow night.

Korey got the Stanley Cup tonight for a week. We are planning a parade for Saturday or Sunday. Stay tuned, I’ll post a video. His hockey tryouts are Sunday as well. And, he has his second 1 to 1 hockey school session on Saturday, so he should be good and ready. I hope he makes one of the more competitive Novice teams so he will remain keen. Last year his hockey desire was waning a bit from no action. I’m biased, but I think he’s a great goalie with lots of potential.  A natural. I’d post a video, but Youtube is not accepting my upload right now…it must be full of Kanye West/Taylor Swift/Patrick Swayze uploads tonight.


Launching off the board

My kids are all of 6 and 8 now and I keep reminding myself that their memories are all keepers. What happens matters, not subconsciously but in their permanent file. I’m taking a parenting class through our local children’s hospital Mental Health division and it’s helping me be the kind of parent I want my children to remember. None of it is rocket science, except for ignoring bad behaviour. You need a PhD in neurology to re-wire your brain not to react to constant pleading, begging and whining.

We practiced at the drugstore. Justin asked for a toy while we were parking. I said, “Money is tight these days, so the answer is no tonight.” I try not to say no actually because thems are fightin’ words. But, tonight I meant it. No will-sees, maybes or if-you’re-goods. Just, plain, NO.

He started begging. I ignored him. He threatened to not get out of the car unless I said yes. I ignored him. He pleaded his case over and over, I walked on. He stopped. I encouraged him to look at all the neat stuff in the store while I checked my blood pressure. He did.

He started again. I ignored him. I needed food and chose a bag of bbq chips. He didn’t like that kind. I offered him any other kind on the shelf.  He decided he wanted candy instead. He chose gummy candy. I said they were not ok. He chose chocolate. I said he had to share with his brother. He wanted a drink. I said one or the other. He stuck with the candy.

We listened to every talking card on the rack. He picked out one for Father’s Day. We sat and waited for my prescription. He started again. I ignored him. He said, “You’re eating those chips and you didn’t even pay!” I ignored him. The Pharmacist snickered. We paid for everything and left.

It would have been easier and cheaper to let him pick a toy from the dollar bin, but it’s the principle. I did it! We went to the store and his whining didn’t net him a toy that would be discarded in the backseat and, I didn’t lose my temper.

Guess what? He still loves me and shared his candy with his brother.

He better remember that…it was a tough night for me.


I think I want an alligator

After  the kids lost their Nanny, they re-started asking for a kitten. I love cats, but not wet food nor kitty litter, so I clung to the excuse that we couldn’t have one with Mandy because there was no place to hide the food or the litter. But, over the past little while I started to soften and became a little attached to the idea myself. 

Early in April, I took a trip west to see a friend. I promised the boys when I got back we would think about getting a kitty. First phone call home, Justin asked if I had given it any more thought.  

I arrived home on Thursday and Saturday we found Caramel. The cutest little blonde. I call him Mel, goes better with Mandy. He’s relieving the top of my dishwater of papers and pens as I type this, oh and now clawing my back. I just love him and he and Mandy have bonded quickly. When Mandy gets yelled at, he runs to her side. When Mel falls off the window ledge, Mandy tries to pick him up. They even lick each other. I’m amazed. We didn’t try to keep them apart, just let them adjust.

Mel has his own room, a basement closet, with a kitty door, where his food and debris are safe. However, cleaning out the closet started the perfect storm of spring cleaning.

Justin and Korey decided they wanted separate rooms. Justin chose the playroom, which meant 8 years of toys needed removal. The whole thing went something like:  first, clean up the toyspot in the rec-room (1 day). Then, go through the toys in the playroom and sort for keeper, garbage or yardsale (3 days). Then, move dressers, beds, bookshelves, lego tables and replant toys to rec-room (2 nights till 1:30 am). 

They are both very pleased with their own space and after a few timid moments last night and three books, Justin fell fast asleep in the bed my Daddy made me. Korey crawled in with me after his midnight trip to the washroom.

Outside, the anti-garden is complete in the front. Last weekend, I tore out the overgrown mess of shrubs in the front of the house and bought 4 nice little Alberta spruce trees. I then graded the bed, layed down the fabric to stop the weeds, edged it with plastic edging and filled it in with peastone. The side of the house received the same treatment and next week, the entire perimetre of the backyard fence will look the same. I like it and it turns out I like gardening and landscaping.  

The hardest part was getting the staples out of the coil of edging and keeping Justin entertained. Seriously, in the span of 2 hours he drove his bike, got the mail twice, played basketball, helped me dig, didn’t help, watered everything, rollerbladed, bounced on the trampoline and told me story, after story, after story.

I’m tracking a certain flight from western Canada tonight. Tomorrow is my reward. Breakfast in bed from the kids and then they are off with Dad a little bit earlier than usual.


Until there’s no one to remember you

Korey and Justin lost their Nanny last week and I lost someone who, thinking back, was a great, generous gift to me. 

Brian called me on a Friday night to let me know she was gone. The kids were asleep by then and we decided to tell them together in the morning. Morning came, and with my secret bulging from my heart, I tried to keep them calm and relaxed, knowing what they were in for. Justin, for some reason, wanted to pull out all of the Hallowe’en stuff, especially this motion-sensored tombstone with hands that crawl up and down while exclaiming, “I’m not dead yet, let me out of here.” He said he wanted to scare Daddy. I encouraged him that it probably wasn’t the best day to do this. “Oh,  because Nanny is sick and going to die?” he asked. I just nodded.

The night before, at dinner, Justin said that Nanny had to go into this thing called a coma and she wasn’t going to wake up. Korey was defiant, “Yes she will, you stupid idiot. She’ll wake up again. What are you talking about?” And then he turned away, very angry at his little brother for suggesting such a thing. With his heart breaking, he asked me if that was true. I told him that she might not but she might, we don’t really know. She did actually wake up briefly just before she passed away.

We sat them down Saturday morning and Brian explained what had happened. Justin started to cry immediately. Korey remained quiet and then said he wanted to get on the computer and asked if he could change his password to Nanny. That broke the floodgates and he sobbed uncontrollably for about 10 minutes. But, they both said they still wanted to go to the funeral, which we had talked about in preparing them.

After assessing the clothes required for the service, I was on duty to get new shoes for Korey and a tie for Justin. He wasn’t sure if he wanted a bow tie or a long tie, nor did he really comprehend the difference. But, he felt a long tie would be better. “Just about down to here,” he said, motioning to his belly button.

On Sunday night, I stopped in to see my nephew and his wife who were expecting a baby. She was so ready to deliver and with her due date on Tuesday, I wanted to see if I could help with a massage or some therapeutic touch. She had spent the day roaming the RV show trying to get things going and well, the combination worked. At midnight her water broke and she called me at 7:30 in the morning to say she was 4cm dilated. At 8:49 Nora was born. A healthy baby girl, one day early.

I picked up the boys after work and we went to meet her. Justin decided to wear his new tie for Nora. He also chose one of his favourite toys to give her, a Sesame Street Fisher Price camper. In the hospital he said that he was sad that his Nanny died but the baby helped. During his bathroom time he explained that, “Laurie’s in the hospital but she’ll be going home, cause she isn’t sick. My Nanny was sick, but she didn’t get to go home.” I nodded that he was right.

He then said to my sister, “Did you see my name in the news? Do you know why it was there? Cause my Nanny died. When you die they always put your name in the news.” He was talking about the obituary which Brian had cut out of the paper the day before.

The day of the funeral, I got them all dressed up to go and their Dad picked them up. Little troopers. I didn’t sit with the family but from 4 rows back I could hear Korey sobbing and choking on his tears. It broke my heart. Afterward, Korey wanted to leave straight away. He was too upset to attend the reception. I loaded them into the car and asked if there was anything that would help. Lego was the medicine. They picked out some LegoRacers at the local drug store and we were on our way. I strapped Justin in and closed the door. As I walked around the back of the car, I could hear him screaming and looked to see his hand jammed solidly in the top of the door. He was ok though, nothing broken nor bruised. 

The boys changed their minds about going to the committal service with their Dad and we joined them later at the family gathering. Brian thanked me for being there, saying it would have meant a lot to his mother. She was devastated when we separated, worried so much about the kids and how they would fare. But Brian and I always put them first. We have a good relationship and the ability to work together to ensure they are safe and secure. Brian always tells them that even though we don’t live together, we are still a family and we take care of each other.

I had the rest of the week off for March Break and Korey had a hockey tournament. We got an extra game on Thursday morning and he scored his very first goal— on defence, from the blueline. We watched the video last night and you can hear the coach yelling, “Put it in deep Korey.” And then you can see the puck going toward the net, but the camera didn’t actually catch the goal, nor Korey’s reaction. He said he fell as soon as he shot it. His teammates were all excited, “Korey scored. Way to go Korey. Great shot!”  What a proud moment. His friend Josh also got his first goal in the same game.  It is very true that any hockey is good hockey as long as it’s evenly matched. Watching these 7 year olds live or on video is just as exciting as an NHL game, in my opinion.

After the game, we went to the canteen and there were lots of people sitting around waiting for games to begin. My BlackBerry pinged and I chose to respond to a message from work. The kids were running around. I told them to stop running.  A few minutes later a gaggle of kids had joined them in their running game. I got up to tell them to stop and when I went to take a step, I tripped over my feet, or the chair or something and landed on my knees on the tile floor— the rest of me landing face first with my arms stretched out overhead. I could hear myself saying as I was going down, “I told you to stop running.” I’ll never forget the look on this little girl’s face before they all scurried off.  My demon BlackBerry slid across the floor, almost going under a vending machine. I lay there in pain for a few seconds, unable to get up and then trying my best not to cry, I limped back to my seat, feigned the “f” word and resumed my message. I apologized to the parents sitting there (who didn’t even try to help me, by the way, mighty neighbourly) and held back my tears. The kids resumed their running elsewhere. I then wobbled outside full of pain and embarrassment. My sister had a good laugh when she got back to the canteen and the kids told her what happened. One guy who witnessed it couldn’t contain himself and laughed right along with them.

That was the same day,  in the middle of a happy moment, when Justin stopped short, turned to me and with a very perplexing look, said “You know Mommy when someone dies, it’s like it really didn’t happen. Like the person who told you was lying. But then you know it’s true.” I told him that was a very good way to explain it.

I also told them that it is normal to cry when they think about their Nanny being gone, but as time passes, there will be less tears and more smiles when they remember her.

My kids will never forget their Nanny. They loved her so much. “I still have two Nannies. One is in real life and one is in my heart,” says Justin.  I think his Dad told him that.

I’m learning a lot from my kids. I enjoy their honesty and let them talk, cry, get angry and just be quiet. Whatever they need at the moment. But one thing I won’t let them do is forget how important she was and how she’ll always be part of them.

What a busy week. Today is my reward. I’m still in my jammies and it’s almost time for bed again. I think I deserve it and a trip away in a couple weeks to visit a friend.


The accidental goalie

Last year Korey got a taste of the pipes and has since wanted to be in there full time. We asked if we could register him as a goalie this year and were told not to; that the goalies would be chosen from those who expressed interest the following year. Stupid, earnest parents that we are, we didn’t. At the beginning of this season, there were a few kids dressed in goalie gear. I asked the parents how that happened and was told they just signed their kid up as a goalie.

So, Korey’s been waiting all year, only getting a taste of the net every second Sunday, and never starting a game. Needless to say his enthusiasm was waning.

Last Saturday, Justin had his regular 8:30 am practice and Korey had a game at 10:30. Korey was dressed early so Justin and I went for hot chocolate. We entered the rink just after the game started and Justin said, “Mommy, Korey’s team has two goalies.”

“Why are both goalies wearing the same jerseys,” I asked my friend.

“Because, that is YOUR son,” she responded. I thought he looked familiar.

Apparently, the other team’s goalie didn’t show and there was gear available so Korey pinch hit in net. The gear was a complete season too big and it slowed him down a lot, but he only let in four shots from his own teammates and most were from their star player who has mastered the Gretzky wrap-around at the tender age of 7. “I tried to stay with him Mom, but I couldn’t get back quick enough,” he explained very matter-of-fact as if he were being interviewed by the CBC.

I teared up, without embarrassment, at the end of the game when his adopted team crowded around him and made him their star.

On the way home, we told him to either draw a picture or write down exactly how he felt on the date of this big event. He took his journal upstairs and when he came back  he said he had written most of it. My request to read it received a flat “NO.”  I haven’t, I really haven’t. I’m dying to, but I haven’t.

Sunday at 7:00 am Korey was on the ice with this own, better fitting goalie gear and took practice with his and his adopted team who conveniently share the ice. But it didn’t end there. He then took practice with Justin’s team. You should have seen the look on those 5 year old faces when they walked in the dressing room and saw a real, live goalie dressed for them. Korey had a great time.  Justin felt so special to have his “Biggie” on the ice with him and Korey was proud to help out his “Button”. It was a moment of brotherly love and affection.

 

Next year we are registering him as a goalie.


Go Vipers

Korey’s hockey team won today, 4 zip. They were so excited and my Mom was in the audience, which made it that much sweeter. The last couple of weeks we’ve seen some big changes in their team. It’s so gratifying as a parent, and payer of the money, to watch them slow down until the puck goes over the blueline and actually shoot the puck against the boards on purpose to clear the zone. Korey played defence today and he made a few key plays, almost got a goal from his end. It was a proud moment.

I feel like we are winning here too. After my first session with “the sanity angel” I was syked to begin taking charge. It didn’t go so well. Korey had a meltdown because I wouldn’t let him eat dinner in the living room, which resulted in his teeth marks on my leg. So out of character for him. I ended up yelling at him and he ate dinner at the table. No one won.

But, I began again. This time with rewards for doing little things, like getting dressed on time in the morning without having to be asked repeatedly. It works! They love the rewards (coupons for small things, like 10 extra minutes on the computer). 

I’m also starting to ignore their bad behaviour and noticing their good behaviour. What a difference. I know, this seems like parenting 101, but so often we get caught up in what they are not doing, we forget to tell them they are awesome when they are. I guess since there are more than a dozen books on the subject, I’m not the only parent who needs to learn. Kind of would put the publisher out of business, you know.

This weekend they accompanied me to my hair appointment. I’m sure my hairdresser cringes when she sees us coming. When I arrive solo, she always seems so happy. But, they didn’t make a sound the whole time I was there. Korey played Nintendo and Justin sat in the chair next to me and silently watched my hair fall to the floor.

After that we went grocery shopping and the rules were:

no further than beyond my reach;
no running around;
no climbing in and out of the cart;
no fighting;
no whining for anything.

Every rule was followed. Rewards included a small, inexpensive toy. They were thrilled.

Now, these rewards are achieved in levels, I’m not stupid. Once they master doing something well, then they move on to another activity, just like a video game. They came upstairs for bed the minute I called them last night and once settled Justin said they should get a reward for coming so quickly. I gave him a big hug and kiss and told him sometimes rewards are hugs and kisses. He beemed and said they were good rewards too.

My reward, a great weekend with the kids and on our way home this morning from hockey practice they said they wanted to come to my house instead of Dad’s. They went to Dad’s any way, but the mere fact that they wanted to come here made me beam.