Posts Tagged "parenting"

Combining past and present selves

Posted by on Nov 29, 2016 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

“If we think of Baudrillard’s division of collectors into the young and the old, we might account for the seriousness of the older collector by noting that often the nostalgia involved in a hobby is to do with the wish to reanimate an earlier incarnation of the hobbyist.” – In Defense of Hobbies I’ve been thinking about this article–and, in particular, this quote–a lot lately. It seems that my hobby is walking, and watching any animals I find. It doesn’t have to be anywhere in particular, and there doesn’t have to be a destination. If I’m outdoors, I’m happy. I especially love hikes in the woods. I always say that I wouldn’t go back to my younger days because I love the life I live now, and some aspects of my childhood were challenging. But, there are little pockets in my memory that are calm and happy. There was one fall, somewhere between 1996-2000–Dad and I can’t seem to agree on the year–that the two of us were out for a little drive through the Laverty Lake auto trail. We got out of the car when we reached the lake and we took a little look around. I heard a rustling nearby, and I turned around to see a small baby raccoon lying on its back and tossing a leaf around with its little paws. It continued to play, mostly unaware of or unconcerned with our presence, until we drove off. I named the little raccoon Meeko–Disney’s Pochahontas film had been released around this time–and we occasionally drove back, hoping to see it again. We never did. I thought about it for a long time. Recently, I took my daughter down to Alma again for a brief visit with my parents in the middle of the week, just after Halloween. Mom, Amelia, and I decided to go to McLaren Pond in Fundy Park together and walk around the little trail loop that encircled it. We got a little way in and saw a large beaver dam, and watched as four beavers started swimming and working around it. After a few minutes, a little way down the path, a massive beaver–one of the adults, we later learned–wandered into our line of sight. She grabbed a stick in her jaws and tossed it in the air until it got the correct balance, then went back into the water to continue working. We continued down the path, and the second adult walked out of the water further ahead. He turned his head to observe us, and my daughter pointed at him and said “hug!”–she wanted to go over and give the beaver a hug. Something about this entire experience brought back the long-forgotten feelings of that day by the lake, with the baby raccoon tossing leaves in the air nearby. Suddenly, I was a much younger version of myself, standing there and watching the creatures swimming around us and standing before us. The lost feelings of humanity intermingling with nature and the desire to embrace it fully bubbled back to the surface. This feeling of nostalgia that I felt that day was a visitation by my past self. It’s amazing how parenthood forces so many of us to relive our past in a new way: with heightened awareness and appreciation for experiences we may have taken for granted earlier on in our lives. Our children invoke often unexpected memories. November is a strangely nostalgic month for me. It’s the stillness between Halloween and Christmas, and that’s why I like to wait until December first to even start thinking about holiday preparation. This time of year, I’m obsessed with the smell of smoke, and anything that tastes smokey. I love woodsmoke smells and the tastes of smoky coffee, beer, cheese, and Lapsang Souchong tea. It’s a comforting smell during the colder months, but I think a big part of it is the nostalgic reflection I subconsciously feel when I smell it. At our home in Alma, we had a wood stove that Dad would light to keep us warm in the winter. Smelling wood smoke brings me back to cold days at home as a...

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The real problem with today’s parents

Posted by on Jun 9, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 1 comment

You know, I was going to take a break from the parenting posts to let them space out a bit. Parenting is all I’ve been writing about for the last 5 months, so, I thought, let’s withdraw from the subject a bit. But, after reading a couple of articles about what’s wrong with “today’s parents”, I decided I needed to throw my two cents into the pot. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: today’s parents coddle their children. Today’s parents spend too much time on their cell phones, and not enough time playing with their kids. Today’s parents let their kids watch too much TV. Back in my day, we did X, Y, Z, and we were fine. Today’s parents don’t let their kids play outdoors anymore. Today’s parents don’t teach their children to be respectful, kind, generous. Today’s parents suck, essentially, and the generation before was better for 939573 reasons. The list goes on forever. Everyone seems to have an opinion about the state of our children and the way they’re being parented. A two-minute walk from my house is a playground with a sign listing all the rules a child must follow in order to play there. One of those rules is that children under 12 years of age must be accompanied by an adult, and at the bottom of the sign, the phone number for the RCMP is listed.  What this is saying to me is that, when my daughter is ten years old, I could have the police called on me for trusting her to go to the park, which is just 5 houses down, by herself. I could be prosecuted. Worst case scenario, they take my child away from me, or try to. When I was a child, I would walk down the road to the store by myself on the daily. I imagine this started somewhere between the age of 8-10. What I’m getting at is that parenting has become everyone’s business, and people who disagree with your methods will have no trouble telling you, telling on you, or finding ways to undermine you. Helping? Nah–that’s for people whose methods we agree with. We live in a time that parents are constantly vilified. No parent can do anything right–everyone is watching. Passing judgment is as simple as looking at a picture on Facebook. The worst part is: we do it to each other! On Tumblr, I caught myself looking at a note a parent left their child and scoffing “I hate when people refer to things like this as a parenting win”. The truth is, I didn’t know the circumstances. And yet, I, like so many others, was quick to assume the parent was in the wrong based on a simple photograph. We judge parents for letting their kids play with tablets. We judge parents who choose to look at their cell phones while their kids are at the playground. We judge parents for choosing, for whatever reason, not to breastfeed, or how long they breastfeed. We judge parents on their decision whether or not to cloth diaper, how to get their babies to sleep at night, the forms of discipline they use, whether or not to give allowance, gift-giving over the holidays, attachment parenting, co-sleeping. Every single thing has become a discussion on why one method is better than the other and how one method will make your child entitled, dependent, unhealthy, depressed, socially awkward, withdrawn… the list goes on. There is no magical perfect formula for parenting. Your child will not be perfect, no matter what. Every parent chooses the method that works bet for him or her–that’s so important, because parenting is hard enough without having to fit into someone else’s idea of what you should do. We’re obsessed with trying to be the parents who love their kids more than the next person, but I don’t think it’s entirely our fault. Our society currently revolves around that. If you look, you will find something wrong with parenting in every era. Every single one. I know that may be hard to...

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Even more unsolicited advice for parents-to-be

Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 0 comments

1. Don’t Google anything–ESPECIALLY related to baby sleep patterns Here is what my life was like for the first two and a half months: The baby wakes up every hour for a two-week period. Why is she doing this? TO GOOGLE! “8 week old wakes hourly”. Read. Oh my God, my baby isn’t normal. Oh no. Wait. What do you MEAN I’m supposed to be putting her down awake but drowsy?! Google “when should I be putting my baby down awake but drowsy?”. Use a swing?! My baby hates her swing. Google “how to help baby like swing”. Lather, rinse, repeat. I say “don’t do this” knowing full well you’re going to. I told myself daily that I wasn’t going to Google anything else. Five minutes later, I’d typed “wonder week leap 2” and “9 week growth spurt?” into the search engine. The truth is this: you’re going to Google things, but at the end of the day, you know your baby. Yes your baby is normal. Every baby is different. There is no magical reason or solution to a lot of things newborns do–often they simply do them. Newborns are new to the world–they have literally no context for anything that happens to them. In the first three months, try (and I know it’s hard!) not to think you’re doing anything wrong. You’re probably not. You’re probably doing amazingly. 2. Don’t ever go into any night expecting you’re going to sleep well I know this one may seem like a no-brainer. No new parent goes into this thing thinking “I’m gonna get so much sleep!”. But, man, you’ll find yourself hopeful. “Maybe this night will be different”, you’ll say. And yes, it likely will be different, but probably not for the reason you want it to be. Maybe your newborn will wake up hourly. Maybe he won’t sleep between the hours of 1:30 – 4:30 AM one night (or several). Maybe he’ll sleep for five hours straight one night, only to be followed by a night that he wants to party with you at 2 AM. Maybe he’ll sleep through the night one night, then two days later wake up every two hours. Don’t be hopeful. Prepare for the worst. You’ll be less disappointed this way, and if your baby sleeps a longer stretch, it will feel like Christmas. 3. Keep your phone well charged for the night shift The nights can be very, very long, unless you happen to have a unicorn baby who sleeps through the night at 6 weeks (you’re welcome, Mom and Dad). Nights are also lonely, especially if one of you is exclusively taking the night shift. I’ve whiled away the deep sleep waits on Reddit and playing Puzzle and Dragons, mainly, but I’ve also managed to do some work on creative projects and, let’s face it, talk to my Mom. Thank goodness she’s a night owl. 4. For the love of God, hold that baby You can’t spoil a newborn. You can’t spoil a newborn. YOU CAN’T. SPOIL. A NEWBORN. Keep in mind that your little one was being held in a cozy, warm environment for nine whole months, and she just got into the harsh, loud, freezing cold world where suddenly hunger is a thing and she isn’t being constantly rocked or swayed to sleep. You can’t expect her to just adapt immediately. There’s a reason the first 3 months of a baby’s life are often referred to as the fourth trimester. If someone says that you’re spoiling your baby by holding her too much, politely inform them that they’re incorrect. If they argue with you, remind them that this is your baby and they’re welcome to have their own if they feel so strongly about it. Also, if anyone says “why don’t you sleep while the baby sleeps?”, punch them in the face. Okay, don’t actually punch them. It’s really good advice, and the people who say it mean well. But if your baby wants needs to be held all day, you may find that you can’t sleep while the child is sleeping. Sleep deprivation is very real...

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Adventures in Breastfeeding

Posted by on Apr 27, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Disclaimer: I am about to talk about my boobs. I’m not really the type of person who ever thought she’d be sharing this online, but breastfeeding is hard and I want to share my experiences, especially with those who might be struggling in their own way. Please feel free to share your stories, too. I think it’s really important to talk about struggles, because often people try to silence mothers who dare to express any frustration or difficulty.  Difficult experiences are still as valid as the happy, positive ones, and getting support is important.  I hope it goes without saying that I have been incredibly grateful to be able to breastfeed at all. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I’d want to breastfeed. There are health benefits for both mother and baby, and that was and remains my number one reason, but on top of that, it’s also free. For some reason, despite being told by several people how difficult breastfeeding was, I expected the biggest hurdle to be establishing a good milk supply. I had no idea that a good supply would actually be the least of my problems. I had so many friends and acquaintances that weren’t able to breastfeed due to supply issues, so the concern was at the forefront of my mind–I didn’t understand the variety of problems that could come with breastfeeding and really thought, for some reason, that it wouldn’t be difficult. As you’ve likely guessed by this point, I was very wrong. Here’s where the boob-talk comes in. I’ve had an inverted nipple for as long as I can remember. This was a slight concern when I was pregnant, but for some reason, I thought the issue would magically correct itself when Amelia was born. I was a little too optimistic, because… yeah, it didn’t. Moments after Amelia was born, I tried getting her to latch to no avail. I was whisked into my room in the obstetrics unit of the Moncton Hospital, and before I knew it, a nurse was in the room trying to get her to latch. I was both physically and mentally exhausted from labour, but I knew my baby had to eat, so we tried–but my inverted nipple had other plans. The nurse left the room and came back a few minutes later carrying a nipple shield. And, with that tool in hand, Amelia successfully latched, and our nursing relationship began. If I any illusions of simplicity remained at this point, they were shattered pretty quickly. The shield and I developed a love-hate relationship pretty quickly–and I understood when fellow nursing mothers looked on with sympathetic familiarity when I brought the shield out for a feed. It seems it’s a common tool, and while it’s useful, it’s easy for the baby to form a dependency on it, and can cause problems of its own. I had follow-up appointments at the breastfeeding clinic–twice in the first week–and discovered that Amelia wasn’t gaining any weight, at first. When my milk came in, I had a huge oversupply, to the point that I was informed I could likely feed twins with what I had, but Amelia just wasn’t getting to it. So, we tried a few things. I had been trying to wean off the shield, but because my oversupply had been filling it up, Amelia had just been sipping on the excess. Thus, when I tried to nurse her without the shield, she wasn’t trying hard enough to extract the milk, and, because of that, she ended up losing weight. We were back on the shield, and until she gained again, we were checked in at the clinic every two days. After a month, she got back to her birth weight, at last, and we only had to visit every two weeks. I kept with the shield, because it was working well, even though I had to pump daily to maintain my supply. She gained reasonably well for a couple of months–about the minimum of what would be expected, but still steadily gaining. One day, one of the lactation consultants told me that, given my supply,...

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6 ways that being a new parent will give you a workout

Posted by on Apr 5, 2015 in Life in Writing | 2 comments

Dropping baby weight has been shockingly simple, mainly because I have been chasing after a little one (who isn’t even mobile yet) all day. Here are my workouts of choice that have helped me rebuild some of the muscle I lost while sitting and napping the third trimester away. 1. Go-to-sleep squats Naptime involves about 100 of these. They have to be pretty deep, too. Something about the up-and-down movement helps get Amelia to sleep like nothing else. 2. Please-stop-crying stair climbing During fussy evening periods, a sure-fire way to calm the crying is to go up and down the stairs. This will often soothe her to sleep, too. Sometimes it can take as many as six (or more!) “sets” of going up and down the stairs to calm her and get her to sleep. Fantastic workout. I’m often somewhat sweaty and puffing by the time I get back upstairs after about the fifth set. It complements the fact that I haven’t had a shower in days perfectly. 3. The grinning baby lift To tone those arm and shoulder muscles, grab your baby and lift high up by the armpits. Hopefully your baby will reward your efforts with a huge, adorable smile. Be warned, though, that you may get a faceful of spit-up instead. 4. The all day 10(+) pound weight carry I don’t know about you, but my baby really hates being put down during the day. So, if I’m not wearing her in the Ergo Baby, I’m carrying her around. This is the equivalent of carrying around a ten+ pound (currently 12 lb.) weight all day. 5. The baby-is-asleep-time-to-do-chores marathon I used to take all day to do a couple of chores. Even if it was a day off from work, I’d spread them out between periods of reading articles on the internet and other various time wasters. Now, I can cram chores that would take me a cumulative 2-3 hours to do into a solid 45-minute straight multi-tasking chore extravaganza. 6. Two words: bucket seats So a car seat with a baby in it is pretty much the HEAVIEST THING EVER. The end. What new moves have you had to master as a new parent? Please follow and like...

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