Summer days!

Aah. Summer! ☉

School days, seemingly chaotic in the moment, are actually idyllic compared to the hot, non-routinized, always bumping into each other summer days. Whoever romanticized the summer hols mustn’t have had children! 

Sure there are isolated moments when kids aren’t fighting, and you have enough money to check off the bucket list of fun-time activities, and day camps are blissfully drama-free … but really? Those are the few moments that are social media snap worthy. 

My days revolve around a mix of device/tv time requests, shouting and frustrated kids, sunburns, too much indoor time, and a million freezies wrappers on every surface of the house. *not even exaggerating. 

Pinterest has some amazing “kids-get-device-time-if-all-these-things-are-done” lists that are so inspiring and so improbable that I just gloss over them when they creep across my feed. 

Until I decided to give it a try. I was tired of redirecting kids (ok, I was already tired of all the *imagined* redirecting) so I crafted up a list, and hung it by our whiteboard/listboard. 

There was a little bit of push back, I’m not gonna lie. My oldest also thought it was ridiculous for me to have a “notes and comments” section. 

It’s been a few days and it’s been so well received! Kids are avoiding devices first thing in the morning. They discuss which jobs will get done. We discuss how this helps the whole family. They play outside together. They share books. 

Let’s hope this continues! We may run out of jobs around the house hahaha!
Just kidding. We totally won’t.

Xo Mto3

Back to a little-better-than normal

After our painstaking weekend ended in a pukey kid, today was brighter. Better than, I’d say. 

I’m not quick to apologize when I’m wrong (although I am totally trying), but I will talk about events and situations and get feedback and try to do things differently next time. 

At different times today, I touched in with the kids about the weekend and how I was feeling and how I feel different today. Is that the right approach? Is this the best choice? I don’t know. I felt it was: we all have different motivators that come into play when we react. I guess I wanted trio to know it can shape a behaviour, but doesn’t necessarily define our whole self.

Trio will make choices in their lives where, I’m sure, it will feel that will shape their sense of self. Maybe positively. Maybe negatively. In either way, their next choice needn’t be dependent on that perception of self. Talking about it lets them know that they can be aware of what’s going on inside them, make changes, and make choices next time.

Is it that I’m seeing things differently today? Noticing that my biggest boy is proactively helping and anticipating what might happen next? Acknowledging how helpful it is when lil miss asks what the evening plans are before rushing out to play? Appreciating that my younger boy tells me about upcoming homework needs or things he needs my help with? Whether they’re always like this, and I just missed it over the weekend; or that the weekend helped them make different choices today; or some other unknown variable… I’m grateful.  

Xo 

A little sick and tired…

In many ways I consider myself an ‘experienced’ mum – multiple kids, wrangling on my own, a mix of boys and girls, a chaotic combination of abilities and personalities… In other ways I know that I’m learning every single day – and some days the lesson is harsh.

Last night, Lil Miss didn’t want to eat dinner – her stomach was uncomfortable. She had been at a friends for the bulk of the day on Saturday, played hard outside all morning on Sunday, and trio and I went out in the afternoon. The boys were saying that my homemade ham-and-bean soup was good (better than my typical ham chowder), and the fresh buns I made were so good with the cheese and chive egg-wash. She turned up her nose and said she didn’t like it, and frequently wandered away from the table during dinner.

I’m not going to lie: the day had been rather frustrating. I was feeling short tempered and easily aggravated, and overwhelmed, and that everything is my fault – the messy yard, the cluttered garage, that we didn’t get to take pup to the park again, that I needed to go to the grocery store… *and* the to-do list was full of Spring Cleaning chores. Trio just wanted to play video games, watch The Flash and chat with their friends. But they’re all quick enough to complain that we “ran out” of Nutella. Or that they can’t unearth their skateboard from the garage pile. Or their sweatshirts don’t fit anymore. Or irritated because the van door isn’t opening. I’m the One who has to deal with it all.

Usually riding over these reactions is easy for me. I can understand and sympathize and rally the troops in a way that meets all our goals. This weekend I could not. I was sick and tired of being the One. She who will cook. Clean. Rally. Encourage. Mediate. Remind. Be patient. Coax. Shop. Remember *everything.*

I just didn’t have it in me this weekend.

So when Lil Miss refused my cheap-o Dinner-on-a-Dime, I had little wiggle room in me to cajole or insist or seek to understand. My heart was playing the tape that I’m not good enough to do it all. And is she objecting because our dinner wasn’t the usual roast & potatoes – it’s a close-to-the-poverty-line week for me, and my fear of making a bad career choice echoed in her refusal. I vaguely wondered how this might be better if I had a partner to help in these moments. My mind and heart was full of my own feelings and deficiencies and concerns and fears. I knew I was actively missing an opportunity to connect with her, but… well. I didn’t want to. I felt wrung out.
I managed not to yell (as I had already done that a few times in the last day or two), but just told her she could eat her dinner or leave the table for her room if she was that sick.

Ugh. I know.

She didn’t want to leave the table, she wanted to be around her family, and had no other ways to tell me that she was feeling ill. She reluctantly had a bite of delicious soup and promptly threw up all over the table – looking startled and unsure. My poor middle son nearly followed suit until I managed to encourage her to dash to the bathroom. I divided my time between cleaning up her mess, and comforting her in the bathroom. Pup certainly helped with cleaning the floor (ohmygawsh, it’s so gross when he does it, and yet so helpful too – totally mixed reaction from me!).

In the moments before she was sick, I could see she looked pale. I could see this was unusual behaviour from her. I knew there was another reaction I could choose, and yet I didn’t. She sweetly thanked me for taking care of her, and told me that I was right – that she was sick and should have been in her room.

She remained flat out on the couch, and after the 3rd time dashing up the hall, I gave her a pot to keep beside her. The boys and I tidied, and put out the garbage, and we all chilled on the couch watching The Flash until bedtime. My oldest and I enjoy Sunday Night tv together: typically The Walking Dead, but the season finale was last week. He really wanted to watch another program with me, and shoo his sister upstairs, but she was still so pukey, I couldn’t leave her be. He and I will watch it tonight.

I realized that I might have experience parenting small children, and I’m familiar with what that might feel like inside of me, as a mum and a person. I made space for their emotional development and needs in an easy way that didn’t trip many of my tapes or emotions. It’s harder, I’m finding, to parent teens and tweens – they look and sound like older people, and yet their emotions and insides are more similar to children. They are capable of judgement and derision and haughty stares in a way that is totally expected and normal for their development – and yet, creates strong reactions in me! I know they don’t have the life experience or the emotional maturity to understand how that might impact others. When I choose to connect and strive to understand and try to climb out of my own spiral, I find we navigate these challenges better together.

The tough lesson for me this weekend is to still trust my gut instinct – a blip is just that, and not a harbinger of a New World Order. Hm, and to trust that trio are still the same people as when they were smaller – loving, happy, zany, independent – but are also trying to figure out who else they can be.

We’re all trying to figure things out together.

 

xo

Mto3

The last few weeks have been very … enlightening for me. Maybe because of how I’m interpreting the end of my recent relationship. Maybe because of the things I learned about myself while I was with him. Maybe because of my meditation and yoga practice. Maybe because of the amazing people around me.

Maybe because of all of it and I have my eyes and heart open in a new way.

Usually my paid work is inside my house – coaching, remote administration work, training prep – and I am so grateful for the flexibility to be able to be present for trio, my doggo, and the self-direction. And gawsh, it can be quiet and lonely and I can easily get sidetracked with my long-range projects.

I have the amazing opportunity to work in a temporary position for a little while outside the house. With people! Lots of people! Projects with definitive finish lines! Using excel (I LOVE excel!) and chatting with people in short bursts. I can even wear jeans most days. How perfect is this!

The gratitude I feel is over-fulling.

The shift into new routines has been mostly smooth – trio has to pull up the slack, and they’ve tried to do so amazingly. I’m grateful that they’re resilient, open hearted, and communicative with their needs. I love our after dinner KP time: messing around in the kitchen, tidying up and prepping the next day while listening to music. Any combination of kids usually ends up in the living room – last night they were doing these weird throwing jumps, so funny! They will often absent themselves at different points and snuggle with Loki.

My neighbours and friends have been so supportive – helping bring the kids home from school, and offering up whatever. It’s so uplifting.

Being at a job where I feel competent, successful, capable … where I’m a person first … where I can stretch and gain comfort at being authentically and wholeheartedly me … it’s been so opening for me. I’m sure I’m making mistakes, and I know I’ve said things that I’m embarrassed about – and I’m still standing. People still talk to me. My life hasn’t fallen to ruins. I walk on.

This work experience has given me a rather safe platform to practice my recent learnings:

  • To be grateful
  • To not make assumptions
  • To be compassionate (with myself and others)
  • To lean into uncomfortable feelings
  • To be aware

Working in an temporary environment allows me more freedom than I would have guessed – I like to feel good at whatever job I do, but there is an awareness that I’m not desperate for this work. So while I strive to do my best, and be a considerate colleague, there’s no stress to try and do and be a certain way.

There’s something to be said about embracing impermanence. Extending that sense, that freedom, into other areas of my life might be interesting.

xo Mto3

Raising Men

Many years ago, it was tough to reconcile that my two oldest were these small baby-ish bodies that were going to morph and mature and be molded into Men. And that I was supposed to do it with very (very!) little influence from those humans who had already walked this path.

Whaat!

Well. I’m here. My baby boys are changing in front of my eyes. I’m truly (truly!) not sure when it happened, but my oldest is now the size of his father, and when he hugs me, he has the same heft and presence as another adult. No longer do I need to crouch over a little bit when I check his teeth for cleanliness – in fact, I need to go up on my toes (this happened this morning: not gonna hide it. He was 2 minutes late in catching his morning bus, and said no when I asked whether he had brushed his teeth. The solution? He gave me a toothy grin and asked ‘how do they look?’ and I assessed the fuzziness and gave him a piece of minty gum. Mhm. That is 730am parenting of a teenager at its finest.)

His size, the size of his shoes (it’s the same as his age: 13!!), his deepening voice, his constant hunger, his sleeping in. I can no longer deny it. My baby is growing up. And once I swallow the lump in my throat, I find even though he doesn’t really look like my wee babe anymore, he still is – in some ways. He still needs help clipping the nails on his right hand. I have to remind him to clean his ears. To take a sweatshirt on these autumn days. He accepts my hugs, and *occasionally* seeks them out. I will still do things for him that I know he’s capable of doing: making an evening snack, helping make his bed, getting him a drink while I’m in the kitchen… At some point, he will no longer ask me to do those things.

Without an in-home example of a Man, he has still managed to figure out that complimenting the chef is a wonderful thing to do. He does after-dinner tidy-up with his siblings and I. He mows the lawn. He does laundry. He helps his siblings with homework. He has a paper route and is active in his Scouts community. He texts to let me know when he’s out with his friends to keep me looped in. He sets the table and takes out the garbage. He loves fast, expensive cars. He loves first person shooter games. He interacts and chats with adults with confidence, humour, and respect. He makes an effort to problem solve and chat out issues.

As he matures, I believe it’s becoming less important to have an example of a Man in the house as it is to have learned about being an Adult. And I can do that. I am doing it. We’re doing it together. Figuring it out, and navigating as a team. I’m sure he’s collecting experiences and examples of being a man* from his grandfather, his scout leaders, school staff, and he gets to choose the pieces that he would like to emulate.

If time travel were possible, I wish to tell my 10 year younger-self that it’s ok if I don’t know anything about raising boys! It turns out that kids don’t need gender-fication as they grow up. It’s just raising children into adults.

x Mto3


*An endearing thing happened the other day when we bumped into a friend at the park and we met her husband for the first time. My dear 13 yo commented afterwards about the qualities he saw in the husband (kind to animals, friendly with strangers, polite, funny) and said he wasn’t surprised our friend married him because he seems like a good guy. I love that he was watching the man and picking up traits he admired and find valuable. 

 

 

Happy New Year!

To those who know me, September marks a new year. School has always been a huge part of my life. With the exception of a few years, every September has included a return to school. Whether it’s my university, college, or trio’s formal education, there’s always the fuss and excitement of a new year. 

It’s a return to routine after the summer chaos, heat, and lowered expectations. 

To take a step back and watch the ebb and flow of life helps keep things in perspective. It takes time to remember how short the evenings are, and how much stuff needs to fit into that small window between after school and bedtime. We’ll get there – back into the swing and the rhythm. But it takes time.

Finding space to express gratitude and give to others is an important part for me. When I’m feeling overwhelmed and frazzled, trying to cram so much into the day, becoming more kind to others reminds me how great I actually have it. Practicing random acts of kindness – paying for the coffee behind me, letting others in front of me at the grocery store – fills me up and gives me energy. Writing a heart felt note, visiting family, or reaching out to friends reminds me that there’s more than just me in the world.

And of course, writing lists and checking off items makes my day too. 

Happy New Year! I hope summer was great and your autumn is cool and transformational in some way. 

x Mto3

Screaming Mummy

This knee has been an ongoing challenge and pain for me over the last 20 years or so. Short of turning it into a bionic go-go-gadget leg, it’s kind of a maintenance, make subtle changes, take it easy type of therapy plan. 

Woo.

As a single parent, being out of commission can has disastrous effects on the family. Right now, for instance, trio are downstairs shouting about laundry – one kid doesn’t want to touch another kid’s dirty underwear. The insults and arguments are actually quite hilarious, but it’s kinda grating on my ears and emotions. 

They also seem to think that I’m helpless and powerless to direct and parent them. That I have *no* other tricks up my sleeve than being a “screaming mummy,” and so they can do whatever they want.

Hah! The fact that they don’t even want to push the envelope and find out exactly what I could do suggests to me that they know that I am basically She-Ra, Princess of Power. 

…even with my non-bionic, swollen and icky leg. 

x Mto3