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Posts Tagged ‘children’

When we found out last year that our cat was sick my kids, after their initial shock and sadness, asked if we could get another pet.  They have an amazing way of turning lemons into lemonade, or at least trying.  I informed them that we would not be getting another cat.  Hubby is allergic, and has always been allergic, he just put up with it the first time around.  We wouldn’t ask him to do it again.  They already knew we would never be getting a dog.  There’s the whole allergy thing, on top of the fact that I am definitely not a dog person, so that was strike two.

They sat there looking at me with those big eyes, begging me to give them some kind of hope, something.  I caved.

Maybe a fish, I said.  Sure, yeah, I could do a fish.

We have had them in the past and other than cleaning out the bowl once a week or so, they’re really about as low-maintenance as you can get.  Okay, we could do that.

We said goodbye to our cat in July and I managed to hold off on the fish until September.  It was kind of a back to school kind of thing, together with the fact that my parents were in town so they could go with us to the pet store, the kind of thing grandparents love to do.  So we went to the store and left half an hour later with $50 worth of supplies and two little fish in two little plastic bags.

My daughter picked an orange fish, and named her Cheddar.  According to my daughter it’s very obvious that Cheddar is a girl.  I’ll have to take her word for it.

Cheddar

Cheddar

My son picked a black fish, and named him Puck.  The name became particularly fitting when, on the ride home, we got the call that he had been selected for the rep hockey team.

Puck

Puck

In the beginning I was really just hoping that they would make it through the week.  I mean you never know with these types of things; and my luck hasn’t been the greatest lately.  But, here we are a couple of months later and Cheddar and Puck are still happily swimming around in a fish bowl on a table in our living room.

When we brought them home my kids made all of the promises that kids make.  Yes Mama, I promise I’ll feed them.  Yes Mama, I promise we’ll help you clean the bowl.  This isn’t my first trip to the rodeo though and I could pretty much predict how long it would take until the novelty wore off.  So now I’m usually the one that feeds them, and I’m always the one that cleans the bowl but to be honest, I don’t mind.  In fact, I kind of like it.

I miss our cat all the time, probably even more than I thought I would.  I miss him when I open the door and he’s not there at my feet, trying to squeeze past me to get outside.  I miss him in the morning when he’s not waiting for me in the kitchen, crying for his treats.  I miss him in the evenings when he’s not curled up on the carpet in the hallway, his head tucked under his arm.

I miss him.

And there’s no way two little fish swimming circles and blowing bubbles around a blue tree in a bowl in my living room are going to make up for the fact that he’s gone.  But, in their own little way, they help.  They give me something to do every morning and every night, and I can talk to them and not have to listen to them talk back!

In their own little way, they need me and, in my own little way, I need them too.

Welcome to the family Cheddar and Puck.  We’re glad you’re here.

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How do I teach you to be careful without causing you to live your life in fear?

How do I teach you to always be aware of what’s going on around you, cognizant of potential danger, without making you scared of things that will probably never happen?

How do show you we live in a world filled with beauty, kindness, love and respect when most of the outward evidence suggests otherwise?

How do I make sure you are aware of the people who may try to harm you without inadvertently teaching you to judge someone by the way they look?

How do I give you the freedom to imagine the outside world as your playground while also keeping you safe from the dangers that exist at the bottom of each quickly moving stream and under every bridge?

How do I ensure you will not blindly trust the stranger who approaches you without making you unable to accept kindness from people you do not know?

How do I implore you to protect your heart fiercely, only giving it to someone who has proven themselves worthy, while also helping you realize that no one gets it right on the first try?

How do I teach you that it’s okay to make mistakes while educating you that unfortunately you’re growing up in a time where your mistakes may live on forever on the Internet?

How do I make sure that my worries and fears do not rob you of your innocence and wonder?

How do I teach you all of these things when I don’t even understand them myself?

How I wish I had the answers.

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baby

Image credit: happytag.blogspot.ca

I see you there with your new baby wrapped in your arms, your eyes full of tears and your mind full of all the hopes and dreams you have for them.

As I see you wishing a hundred different wishes for them, I have a few of my own for you – the new mother.

I wish you the strength to trust your own instincts because although you may doubt that you have any, you do. You just need to quiet the hundreds of voices offering a thousand pieces of advice long enough to hear them. No one knows your baby better than you. Trust that, and trust yourself.

I wish you the vision to not lose sight of yourself and the needs you have as a person, separate from the needs of your baby. Your opinions matter, your feelings matter, your wants and needs matter. Yes your baby is important, but so are you.

I wish you a circle of mothers to surround you; women who love you enough to tell it like it is. Not to scare or depress you but so that in your darkest hour, when you sit on the floor of your baby’s room, tears streaming down your face wondering if you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life, you will not feel alone. We have all felt that way. Wrongly thinking you are the only one makes it a hundred times worse.

I wish you the knowledge that every moment, good or bad, is fleeting. This too shall pass, whether you want it to or not. Accept that the minutes and hours will seem endless but the months and years will go by in an instant. There are many moments you will wish to forget, but also so many you wish you could hold onto forever.

I wish you the ability to cut yourself some slack. You can’t do it all; some of the balls you are juggling will fall to the ground and that’s okay. Maybe you’ll pick them up, maybe you won’t. Life will go on whether you finish the baby book or not.

I wish you a group of true friends who knew you before you became a mother and stick with you after. Friends who realize it may take you a few days to answer an email and accept without question why you have to bring your breast pump to dinner. People who know visiting the baby is one thing, but coming over with a home-cooked meal and a genuine desire to fold the laundry is a thousand times better.

I wish you the understanding that happiness exists in moments, but true contentment lasts much longer. There will be moments of bliss so pure that you will literally feel your heart breaking, but they cannot and will not last. If you expect them to, you will live your life in disappointment. Strive for contentment, acceptance, and the ability to wait in peaceful anticipation of the next moment of bliss, whenever it may come.

I wish you the patience to deal with people who criticize and judge. You can’t control how much their words will hurt, but you can control how long you let them sting.

I wish you the wisdom to accept help when it is offered. If someone wants to cook you dinner or do the dishes or change a diaper, let them. Doing everything yourself does not make you a better mother, and at the end of the day, you’ll be the only one keeping score.

And most of all I wish that one day you will gain the confidence to realize that you are doing a great job at this motherhood thing; no matter how loudly the voices in your head try to tell you otherwise.

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I was running behind schedule. I stood in the kitchen glancing sideways at the clock while moving furiously between the fridge and the counter, moving things, cutting things, organizing things, putting things away.

I was (not so) silently cursing myself…again. Why didn’t I make lunches the night before?? Usually I do, but I was too tired this time. I had errands to run while waiting for my daughter to finish her guitar lesson. Then I had to wash and blow dry my hair, always a longer process than I think it’s going to be. When that was finally done I just wanted to sit on the couch and decompress. I knew I would regret it in the morning, pay the price for my decision to relax but in that moment I didn’t care.

Now I cared.

Another glance at the clock told me that I had two more minutes to finish everything before it was time to go wake up the kids. No breakfast for me, I would need to grab something later. Sigh. I had been up for less than an hour and already I felt hopelessly behind.

Then something caught my attention from the corner of my eye. I turned to see my son slowly walking into the kitchen, eyes squinting from the light.

“Good morning, Mama.”

My mouth hung open in shock. Here was the kid who I have to pry out of bed every day, the one who insists he can’t take off his pajamas, or put on his shirt, or even walk down the stairs by himself in the morning; now here he was, fully dressed, standing in front of me.

“You got up and got dressed all by yourself?!?” I was so surprised I could hardly form words. I knew in my head that this was a direct result of the time change on the weekend but I wasn’t complaining.

Suddenly I saw a blissful change in my morning routine. If he could/would do this every morning then maybe I could have breakfast – a real breakfast that didn’t come in a package and have the word “bar” in its name.

This could be life changing.

I reached over, gave him a huge hug and told him how proud I was of him. He explained that he had gotten dressed very fast because he didn’t want me to come upstairs before he was done and ruin the surprise.

“I even brushed my teeth Mama, see?” He said, opening his mouth wide so I could inspect. I gave him another hug and a kiss. Then I decided to see how far this could go.

“Hey Buddy, do you want to go wake up your sister for me?”

He was off like a rocket, so fast I had to yell “do it nicely” after him for fear he would decide that jumping on her bed was an appropriate wake up call.

I turned back to the kitchen and managed to get five extra minutes to finish my chores and eat a piece of toast.

Bliss.

I began to envision a whole new life, not unlike the feeling I had when the kids (finally) started sleeping through the night. I could exhale. I saw my mornings stretched out ahead of me, relaxed and unhurried. It’s amazing what a difference a few extra minutes can make.

That was yesterday.

This morning my bedroom door opened at 5:47am and my son proclaimed (loudly), “Mama, I got dressed by myself again!”

Groan.

This would be what is meant by being careful what you wish for.

I get it now.

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Today is our cat’s birthday. Well, it’s the day we designate as his birthday – it’s actually the anniversary of the day 13 years ago when we brought him home.

This morning I reminded the kids to wish him a happy birthday when they saw him. An hour later he slowly crept up from his sleeping spot in the basement and was met with cheers and well wishes.

Including my son who greeted him with, “Happy birthday Tango – you look so much taller today!”

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I’m done having kids.

I think.

I have two healthy, happy kids that make every day interesting (to say the least). Two is enough.

I think.

I have a girl and a boy, which is apparently what everyone dreams of having. I get to experience the ins and outs of a little girl and a little boy, like two sides of the same coin. One of each; it’s balanced. Having another one would upset the balance.

I think.

The world is made for families of three or four. You can fit in one hotel room, one regular size car, a standard size house. All those contests I try (and fail) to win are for “a trip for four to (insert incredible destination here).” Four is the perfect size for our family.

I think.

My kids sleep now. After years of stumbling through life in a haze of fatigue and exhaustion I can now get a solid seven hours of sleep every night. Seven consecutive hours. And it’s not just the sleepless nights. We’re also done with diapers, astronomical day care bills, strollers, and diaper bags that weigh more than I do. There’s no way I could go back to all of that again.

I think.

We had made the decision. Hubby and I had talked through the issue time and time again, months and months of whispered conversations, forced deadlines, and finally a decision. We’re done.

I think.

But what if the decision wasn’t made? What would I think if I could re-think what I thought originally?

I think I need to think about this a bit more.

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wise words

The other day we were on the way to the park and my son suddenly ditched his bike and went running into a nearby field.  It took me a moment to figure out what he was doing; and then I turned and saw about a hundred wishing flowers.

Just a week earlier it had been a field full of ugly yellow dandelions but in the span of a few short days it had turned into a child’s dream.

My son spent a few minutes looking over the flowers – you really don’t want to waste a good wish on a so-so wishing flower after all!  Once he finally selected the perfect one, he closed his eyes, screwed up his face and wished.  Then he started to blow.  After about 10 seconds of hard blowing, a few little tufts remained on the flower, and everyone knows your wish isn’t going to come true unless you blow the whole flower!

So he paused, thought for a minute and started shaking the flower, forcing the last few tufts off.

“What are you doing bud?” I asked him.

He looked at me like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Sometimes wishes need a little bit of help Mama.”

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