parenting

I miss the forest

Posted by on Sep 12, 2016 in family, Life in Writing, parenting, reflection | 1 comment

I was worried that I was starting to grow resentful of my daughter. My beautiful, intelligent, affectionate little 20-month old daughter. The thought was abhorrent to me! I love her so much. How could I resent her? For starters, I felt the pressure of being unable to sit down and write. To quietly read a book for an hour at a time. To do something other than cook, tidy up, or sit there staring at Facebook comments for 5 minutes in between all that. But it’s funny how a change of scenery, even for an afternoon, can alter perspective drastically. I was feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and physically run down. My back was out. I was tired of spending week after week just recovering from work. I asked Mom if she could take me and Amelia down home–to Alma, where I grew up–and she took us on a Tuesday afternoon. We had a late lunch when we got there, and then went up to Fundy Park for a walk in the woods. The difference in my mental state was almost instantaneous, and it was staggering. The smell of the trees. The silence–all sound beyond us was absorbed by the forest. Watching my daughter interact with nature without worrying about colliding with strangers or her running into traffic. Having both of my parents nearby, while I’m there–not giving me a break, babysitting, or helping me with chores, but the four of us interacting all together. Then I realized that I don’t resent my daughter at all: I resent the fact that I have to spend my time with her recovering, healing, and preparing for the inevitable return back to work later in the week and the repetition of the cycle. I resent throwing out my back and having to work all weekend, then spending the whole week conserving and recharging my energy so I can work again with my back still out because there’s my recovery time is short, and I can’t afford time off unless I’m, you know, dying.  I resent having to micromanage every single day to feel like I’m getting enough enjoyment from my stay-at-home mom moments. This is the life I’ve chosen–the life I want. I get to be home with my daughter 4 days of the week while working the other 3. We don’t have to sink money into daycare and I get to be as much of a stay at home mom as we can afford. On the flip side, Brad also gets a lot of quality time with Amelia on the weekends, when our roles essentially reverse. It’s a good choice, even if it means that time with my husband is limited. Last year when I was on mat leave, though, I was home every evening and weekend could slow down at the end of the day. I could go for a walk or go write at a cafe. I could spend time with my husband and daughter together as a family on weekends, and the whole day was ahead of us. I didn’t have to worry about cramming as many chores as possible into the evenings–and still wake up to a messy house–or the laundry tower on top of the dryer. At least it’s clean. It’s about ten PM, and I’m walking alone outside. The post rainfall has collected in the tall grass and it catches the streetlights, winking at me like fireflies. This is home, even still–all leaf smell and damp, cool air. I learned lessons here. I was bullied here. I also had my first kiss with the boy who would grow to be the man I married here. And, for some reason, here is just where I need to be tonight. I don’t resent her. I miss the forest the most–the freedom to spend more than a day or two breaking from the norm and escaping outside, enveloped by the perfect silence of nature. I have chosen this life, so there’s no point in lamenting. This is what I want. But my priorities and focus can change. Being a toddler-parent is a weird time, so I’ve heard, and I believe it....

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Unsolicited Advice for Parents-to-be

Posted by on Feb 2, 2015 in Life in Writing, parenting | 3 comments

Unsolicited Advice for Parents-to-be

Alternative title: things I wish people had told me about becoming a parent. 1. Don’t sweat the messy stuff I wasn’t sure how cleaning up vomit, poop, dealing with the rotting-off cord, etc., would be. Four weeks in, I have had so many different bodily fluids on me that I have generally stopped caring. The biggest one was the huge blowout diaper that filled the diaper, got all through the onesie and went onto my pants. I was surprised at how little I cared. In fact, I was happy, because it meant the baby was getting enough to eat. If you’ve never changed a diaper, you will learn almost immediately after the child is born, and before long, you’ll be fine with any level of gross. You will likely be coated in vomit at some point. It’s cool. 2. Breastfeeding, for the first little while, really sucks There, I said it. Don’t go into breastfeeding with any expectation that it’s going to be easy or even feel worth it for the first few weeks. It will be worth it, and you are amazing for doing it. Also, you’re amazing for NOT doing it, because parenting is hard enough without having to learn and simultaneously teach how breastfeeding works. It is natural, but it doesn’t come naturally, for either of you. I’m glad I’m doing it, and I will continue to do it, but I can completely understand why some women choose not to do it, and especially why so many decide to stop in the first few weeks. It’s okay to be frustrated and it’s okay to cry. It will get better. The advice that my doula Elise gave me was to get through the first day, then the first week, then the first month. Taking it day by day is the easiest way to do it. I’ve gotten through a month of it, and it has definitely gotten much easier. Also, your baby may gain birth weight back at a slower rate than formula-fed babies at first. Do not see it as a failing if your baby hasn’t gained birth weight back in the first two weeks. All babies are different. You’re doing a great job. 3. Forget sleep–enjoy SHOWERS while you can Enjoy long, hot showers. Enjoy hot meals and hot coffee. Enjoy the feeling of being clean, because it will likely become a distant memory. If you’re at home alone with the baby to any degree, prepare to forfeit mealtimes, or to graze sporadically over several hours. Have a nice dinner out together before the baby arrives, and maybe even create a fond memory in the process. Do something you’ll remember, because chances are you won’t be wishing you got more sleep before the baby arrived when you’re sleep deprived. You can’t bank sleep. You can bank memories, and you’ll be happy you did. Brad and I had a really nice dinner together at the Schnitzel Parlour for our anniversary in October, when I was about seven months pregnant, and we’ll remember that for the rest of our lives. You won’t remember that one really great night of sleep you got. (A note that I’m not saying you shouldn’t get a good night’s sleep! Continue to sleep as you normally would before the baby arrives. Just, you know, don’t make a point of getting extra sleep.) 4. Find something fun, but low-key, to do together Days with a newborn go by very quickly, and are filled with, mainly, taking care of said newborn. A great way to unwind during a nap or a feeding is to watch a movie or a series together, or read a book to each other. Brad and I normally would play video games together, but lately that’s been impossible. Instead, we’ve been watching Community together, and it’s been awesome. Added bonus: read a long book to each other, and to your baby. We plan on doing this when Amelia’s more consistently alert. 5. It’s okay if you don’t sleep when the baby sleeps Honestly, you may find it exceedingly difficult to do so. The first...

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