Tag Archives: moms

You know you have a larger than “normal” family when…..

large families

 

 

 

 

I hate the word “normal.”  Unless it is being used to describe temperature, rainfall, or a setting on your appliances, it can be a very frustrating and sometimes insulting way to describe a person or a situation.  Who gets to decide what’s “normal” in society?  There was a time when it was considered “normal” to have a large family.  Years ago it wasn’t unusual at all to have six or more children in a family and in fact it was considered a blessing and at times a status symbol.  In fact it was considered strange if you didn’t have lots of children.  Fast forward to today…..by the third child you start to get raised eyebrows and unwanted remarks.  My personal favorite is the always popular, “You do know how this keeps happening don’t you?”  Hilarious…..just once I’d like to respond with a perfectly straight face, “No, but could you please tell me because I’d sure like to figure this mystery out.” If you have more than three children the assumptions are usually as follows:

1.)  You own a farm.

2.) You are having lots of children for religious reasons.

3.)  You are trying for a specific gender.

4.)  You are trying to get your own reality tv show…..

Here’s the thing, there are some people, apparently not the “normal” ones, who actually want a large family.  Some of us love the chaos and insanity that comes with having extra little people running around our homes like amazing little maniacs.  We love the fact that dinner will be a crowded table with lots of voices either sharing bits and pieces of their days, telling fart jokes or fighting over the last roll.  We love that there will never be a clean towel left, the laundry will never be done, someone will always be missing a shoe or a homework assignment because someone else put it somewhere “safe” and that when anything gets broken, it will collectively be no one’s fault because there really is safety in numbers.  We love that our many children will always have each other in this life, and even though they regularly try to kill each other off at home, heaven help the kid on the playground who dares to mess with one of them.  We love that the bathroom will never be free, we won’t sleep for years, and those moments when we peek into a room unseen and witness our older child helping a younger sibling learn to read, or simply giving them comfort after a hard day.  It is truly magical.  So call us crazy, but we love it.  Will we complain about it, blog about it and sometimes lose our minds over it?  Of course.  But we would not have it any other way.  So, for those of you wondering if you are one of us crazy ones who have a larger than “normal” family here is a checklist:

1.)  When grocery shopping, if a product is marked as “Family Sized” it means that you need two, possibly three of them.  Also, at some point in time you have had a cashier look at your cart and ask if you work in a group home…..

2.) Your grocery bill is often more than your mortgage payment.

3.)  You feel like you run a 24 hour diner, with rude guests who refuse to tip and often complain about the service.

4.)  You own a mini van and you still need one of those storage things for the roof, and your spouse drives a second vehicle if you all go away on a family vacation.  This is because of a lack of space and not because your spouse doesn’t want to drive with all of you….although I would suggest you make him take the one who gets motion sick….just saying….

5.)  If, like myself you do not live in a mansion, your bathroom will require the use of a finely tuned and closely monitored schedule to keep everyone clean and avoid world war three.  You also wash at least two loads of towels a day, constantly question if anyone uses any of the toothbrushes in the pile on the sink, and keep the folks at Lysol in business dealing with toilets….

6.)  You are always playing referee to such arguments as, “That’s my spot!”  “That’s my cup!” “That’s my shirt!”  “Those are my snow pants!”  Etc…..

7.)  You live with what feels like a small village of people and yet no one ever knows how anything got broken or who put the empty carton of milk back in the fridge.

8.)  There is always an empty carton of milk in your fridge.

9.)  You never sleep because someone is ALWAYS awake.  I am pretty sure they take shifts.

10.) Keeping track of everyone’s doctor’s appointments, after school activities and homework assignments is like some sort of marathon in your house.  This should really be considered for an Olympic sport and the time management gurus come to you for help.

11.)  Getting everyone to school on time fully clothed, with their lunches and both shoes should also be considered an Olympic sport in your home.  I’m deadly serious about this.  I’ve written letters to the folks at the Olympics….they think I’m joking….I’m not.

12.)  You haven’t spoken to your husband since the fourth child came along, but you are pretty sure he’s the guy with the beard that shows up around dinnertime to eat at your 24 hour diner…he also doesn’t tip.

13.)  And last but not least, even though your life is utter chaos,  your house is a disaster, you don’t eat, sleep or shower and your account balance regularly hits 0, you know that one day they will all move on and have their own lives.  Suddenly, as quickly as it all began it will be over.  Your house will fall silent.  And that very thought breaks your heart into a thousand pieces.  So you will take a breath, pour some wine, and savor every last minute of it all.  Because you simply wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.

 

 

Exercise and raising small children….also known as “Mission Impossible”

exercise

 

 

 

 

 

If you have small children, you likely spend a great deal of your day outside, which is wonderful.  Unless of course, it is Winter and you are experiencing some of the coldest temperatures on record since the last ice age.  For so much of this Winter I simply have not been able to get outside with the littlest members of our crew.  This has led to me question why we did not have a wine cellar built in the basement instead of a laundry room, and also desperately feeling in need of some exercise.  Now, exercise and small children seem like they should go hand in hand….but they don’t.  Not actual, real exercise.  Have you ever gone for a “walk” with a toddler?  Earlier this week the temperature finally crept high enough that with the sun shining away I was able to bundle up the two and a half year old, pile blankets on the one year old in the stroller and GO OUTSIDE!!!! Oh glorious day!!!! I would finally be able to stretch my legs and save my sanity.  I suggested to my little man that we go for a walk….we made it to the neighbor’s driveway….at that point he made a lovely snow angel for the neighbors on their front lawn, returned their recycling bin to their garage (even though ours are apparently just fine to leave in our ditch until next recycling day) and then the garbage truck came.  Oh, and a plane flew over.  This all took nearly an hour, at which point we needed to make the strenuous hike back home, one driveway over, to go inside and warm up.  Sigh…..

Rather than suggesting to a toddler that you should go for a walk, some more appropriate suggestions would be the following:

1.) Let’s go sit on the side of the road and look at a rock you find fascinating.

2.)  Let’s go draw masterpieces in the dirt with sticks and then spend an hour arguing with me over why I won’t let you run with those sticks.

3.)  Let’s go sit on the side of the road and wave at cars.

4.)  Let’s go outside and point at birds.

5.)  Let’s go outside, walk about five doors down thus giving mommy false hope, and then throw yourself on the ground having a massive tantrum because I won’t let you put a caterpillar in your pocket.

And there are always those folks that will very helpfully suggest that you simply make junior ride in the stroller…..um ya, thanks.  I hadn’t thought of that.  That may work occasionally, but once your little darling finds their feet and realizes they can use those amazing things to “gasp” RUN, good luck convincing them to sit, and ride in something resembling their car seat….which they also hate.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love seeing the world through the eyes of my children.  Having the opportunity to experience nature as magical and awe inspiring again, is truly beautiful.  However, sometimes mama wants to work on her muffin top!!!!!!

So, I devised a plan.  My wonderful mother in law gave me her elliptical machine and my wonderful husband hauled it into our basement.  I was on a mission.  I would hop on it and work out for about four minutes at least three times a day.  Four minutes was the amount of time I felt I could safely leave the munchkins to play.  Sounds doable right?  At first I used the dryer timer….since there is usually laundry in it that needs to be fluffed, it made sense.  But staring at the heat ducts and listening to the dryer going was really boring so I upgraded my fancy home gym to allow for the use of my cell phone and whichever song I could find on You Tube that I felt would rev me up…Unfortunately, if listening to music, it is hard to discern which sounds from the floor above are bad sounds or good sounds…are the kids playing or staging a coup?  Is it fun, sing along time or Lord of the Flies? Also, have you ever tried to leave the room to do ANYTHING for longer than 30 seconds without disaster striking?  Or this lovely chorus following you?  “Mommy!!! MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!! Mom? Mommy where are you?  I come?  Mommy I come?  I help? Mommy I come help?  Mommy I come help you? MOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYY!!!!!! I hungry.”  Put this little ditty on repeat and I don’t care what song you are trying to listen to, it is not going to drown it out, and after less than two minutes your increased stress level is doing battle with whatever health benefits you might be achieving from your increased heart rate.

So, I have decided to cut myself some slack….running up and down the basement stairs to retrieve laundry is technically cardio, driving dinky cars around the floor is basically yoga, and bathing multiple children in a day is now classified as water aerobics….the muffin top will have to be dealt with when they are all in University.

Pregnancy Dos and Don’ts….for the non-pregnant

pregnant

 

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy. Unless you are an adult film star, never in your life will your body belong to so many people other than yourself. Doctors, midwives, family, friends, co-workers, cashiers in the check out line at the grocery store, your hairdresser, that woman on the subway….everyone will have an opinion or a piece of advice about every single thing you do. You will spend more time naked, with your legs in the air then you ever thought possible, and every single bowel movement, burp, outbreak of acne and passing of gas will be up for discussion and on display. Suddenly your body belongs to the world. Books, magazines and of course Google will tell you what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat it. Your doctor or midwife will tell you a cup of coffee a day is ok, but the raised eyebrows of the woman in the next cubicle will make you doubt that decision. People, often strangers, will tell you exactly what you should do with that body of yours. Food, exercise, clothing and even hair and make up. After all, it isn’t your body anymore. The second you announced you were growing another person, everyone around you suddenly bought stocks in the investment that is a baby. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have been blessed enough to have four healthy pregnancies and each one of them was an amazing miracle from start to finish. But every one of those pregnancies was a bit different. And even miracles can be ridden with anxiety and a little messy. Growing a person is mind blowing, and the pressure we put on ourselves while pregnant to make sure we give our baby the best and healthiest start in life is enormous. So guess what world? We are already worried enough for everyone, so unless you are handing out donuts with that advice, or we actually asked to hear it, kindly back off. Having been pregnant four times, I have compiled a little dos and don’ts list for the world surrounding pregnant women, both in and out of the delivery room. It’s time we reclaim our bodies….at least a little bit.

1.) Don’t ask her when she is due. If she wants you to know she will tell you. Out of four pregnancies, three of mine went more than ten days past my “due date”. I am usually a very mild mannered mama, but by day five I was not a woman to be messed with. In fact, I am pretty sure that the poor girl in the drive through at Tim Horton’s that made the mistake of asking when I was due may still be off on stress leave….Trust me, she is more obsessed with her due date than anyone, and once that date has come and gone the last thing in the world she wants to is constantly explain that to strangers. And, unless she is your best friend from birth or you are her doctor, do not ask about her mucus plug….I mean seriously.

2.) Do not EVER guess how far along she is in the pregnancy. This is the equivalent of that game where the carny guesses your age at the county fair. Every pregnancy is different, every woman is different and everyone gains and carries their baby weight differently. Asking this question almost always leads to responses such as, “Oh wow, you are still so small.” This response leads to the poor pregnant soul immediately worrying that she is somehow starving her baby, not eating enough, not eating the right things, putting her baby at risk for low birth weight etc, etc. Or, my personal favorite, “Really? You are already so big! Wow. That must be a big baby.” Why? What on earth makes anyone say those things to a pregnant woman? First of all, you are making her paranoid in our already weight obsessed society at a time when she really shouldn’t be thinking about weight, and second of all, and most importantly, are YOU pushing that baby you just called huge out of your lady parts in a few short months? No? Well then shut the hell up.

3.) Don’t touch her….please don’t touch her. This single act reminds pregnant ladies again and again that their bodies became time share properties the second they started to show. Unless she invites you to feel those amazing, miraculous kicks, hands off. She is spending far too much time being groped by doctors inside and out, has an actual person taking up real estate in her womb and even her partner hasn’t been allowed to touch her in weeks, so why complete strangers feel that what she really wants is a good belly rub is beyond me. Pregnant bellies are an invite only event.

4.) Don’t tell her what to eat. Eating during pregnancy is extremely stressful. Things that you once ate without thinking about it are now dangerous, and things you may have never eaten may be touted as a miracle food for your developing baby. Pregnant women read every scrap of information they can find about pregnancy including nutrition. They know donuts are not vegetables, they know coffee is bad and they also know that their bedtime burrito habit is causing their heartburn. Here’s the thing, when they are gaining weight, dealing with sleepless nights and losing control of their bodily functions, that bedtime burrito habit may be the only thing helping them maintain their sanity. So, unless you see her enjoying a bag of dishwasher tabs, back off. She already knows….

5.) Do not ever underestimate food cravings. This “don’t” may actually save the lives of a few partners out there, so pay attention. If a pregnant woman is craving something, that and ONLY THAT thing will do. Do not ever, ever substitute, regardless of how closely related you may feel the two items are. If your spouse asks you to pick up an apple pie from her favorite bakery on your way home from work, it means she really, really wants apple pie. If, for some reason you feel inspired to instead purchase a gluten free, sugar free, mini apple pie, don’t go home. Just keep on driving….a life on the run will be far easier than what is waiting for you at home when you present her with that sorry excuse for a craving substitution. Trust me on this. Also, do not ever question the cravings. In her logical mind she knows that waking up at 2 a.m. to fry bacon and dip it in spicy mustard isn’t really a good thing….especially when she is usually a vegetarian. But those cravings simply cannot be ignored and you pointing it out to her just makes her feel bad. So, grab some dipping mustard and a piece of bacon and call it a night.

6.) Don’t tell her how busy she is going to be. This is one for those mom’s that already have a little one, or two, or three at home and usually have them in tow while waddling with a very pregnant belly through town running errands. I got this one all the time. “Oh wow, you sure are going to have your hands full.” Really? I hadn’t thought of that. Aren’t babies usually born with nannies and maids as part of a package? Don’t you just select the self feeding, self changing and self washing babies when you are growing them in the womb? Isn’t there a button for that? Oh, and thanks for mentioning that this next child will suddenly make me “busy”, because right now I spend all my time lounging on the couch in my pajamas eating chips, so good to know that my life will suddenly change. We know we will be busy!!! We are already busy!!! So, unless you are going to join us while we run errands and keep one of those other children from running off or knocking over a store mannequin please respond with “what a beautiful family you have.” Because that is what we are actually trying to accomplish.

7.) Don’t tell her she’s glowing…unless she actually is. Pregnancy has a different effect on everyone. With one of my pregnancies I had beautiful, glowing skin and gorgeous hair. I felt beautiful. With the others I had acne, pregnancy mask, dull hair and gas….with those pregnancies I hated it when people gushed that I was glowing. I knew it was a load of crap and they just didn’t know what else to say. Becoming pregnant doesn’t mean that we suddenly remove all mirrors from our homes. We know if we are “glowing” or not. It’s ok, if we don’t look like pregnant supermodels. Just tell her she looks healthy, or better yet, don’t mention her appearance at all. Just ask her what she’s craving….

8.) Do not tell her stories about terrifying deliveries. What the heck is wrong with people?? I don’t know why, the minute a woman announces her pregnancy everyone from her sister in law to her dry cleaner feel the need to traumatize her with horror stories from the delivery room. Stop it stop it stop it!!!! She is already obsessing night and day about doing everything in her power to ensure a healthy baby and a healthy delivery. Why add to that worry with stories about your neighbor’s cousin’s hairdresser who was in labor for three days with a fifteen pound baby that was born sideways? Vaginas are tender areas on a good day, so the idea of pushing a baby out of there is scary enough without your tales of terror. Instead, talk about that insanely magical moment when your baby was placed on your chest for the first time. Or the sound of your baby’s first cry. Keep it positive people.

9.) Do no question her in the delivery room. For all those partners out there, whatever she wants in the delivery room goes. You may sit down ahead of time, especially if this is your first, and develop a detailed and beautifully organized birth plan. This will fly right out the window when active labor kicks in. Do not stand over her, frantically waving the birth plan around, demanding to know why she suddenly prefers silence over the soothing ocean sounds you selected together, or why she hurled your wedding photo across the room when you held it in front of her to focus on during a contraction. Just roll with it. Simply be grateful that her new, on the fly birth plan still allows for you to be in the room, and do whatever she says.

10.) Do not mention her pooping on the delivery table. I cannot stress enough how important this is. It may be the most important point of all. After nine or more months of weight gain, morning sickness, heartburn, hair growth, hair loss, acne, gas and loss of bladder control, if you feel the need to ever, ever mention that she lost control of her bowels while giving birth, you are on your own. You will likely be sleeping on the couch indefinitely, and that couch will likely be in the garage. Some things simply do not ever need to be spoken of. This, is one of those things.

 

 

Parenting induced insanity the sequel….

 

bathroom

 

 

 

 

 

9.) Bathrooms:

This is an area that I thought I was prepared for….the trouble with bathrooms is that the level of issues simply change with the changing ages of the children in the home. So, there are always any number of things to push you over the brink. Wet towels are a constant. Mountains of wet towels. I don’t know why one preteen needs four towels for every shower, but apparently they do. I also wonder if my big kids are running a secret dog grooming service that I am unaware of. The amount of hair left behind when they finish in there is terrifying. For some reason, whenever hands are washed (if hands are washed) some sort of flood happens and the area surrounding the sink looks like something out of natural disaster footage on the 6 o’clock news. Oh, and someone will always place a full roll of toilet paper directly in the flood waters. This means that the next time you reach for some, you will be met with a lovely pile of mush. Potions will be made out of half full bottles of shampoo, sculptures will be carved out of bars of soap and no matter how much you beg, plead and threaten, things that should be in the toilet will be found on the outside of the toilet and things that should not be in the toilet will regularily be a cause for some emergency amateur plumbing. And it won’t matter how often you clean that bathroom. Within two minutes of you leaving triumphantly with your cleaning supplies in hand, that room will look like the nasty truck stop bathrooms you once refused to use.

 

cartrip

 

 

 

10.) Car trips:

This may be the only other area of parenting that can rival the family portrait for causing a typically mild mannered parent to completely and absolutely lose their mind. Family trips always seem like such a wonderful idea. Until you actually set foot in the car. If you already have children, and those children travel well, you are my hero. My children do not….at all…even a little. There is a brief window of time when your infant sleeps peacefully in a car seat while you embark on a six hour road trip with the occasional nursing stop. When this period ends, so does life as you know it in a car. There are an assortment of travel types. The barfer, the crier, the “are we there yet?” and the kid who is always sooooooooooooo bored. Someone will always be hungry, thirsty, nauseous, or need to pee. No amount of pre-planning, snack packing, gravol dosing or activity providing, will prevent any of this. At some point in the trip a fight will break out in the back of the mini-van that will rival that of a professional cage match, someone will spill something that won’t be found until it starts to smell, and a diaper blow-out will leave you on the side of the highway trying desperately to clean up and air out. By the hundreth “are we there yet?” your husband will ask that you book the van in to have privacy glass installed behind the front seats. The memories made once you arrive at your destination will make this hell on wheels all worth it, but when heading out, maybe dose yourself with some gravol, and perhaps invest in some ear plugs.

 

gumvintage

 

 

 

 

 

 

11.) Gum:

Kids LOVE gum!!!!! In our house it has always been a rite of passage.  A sign that one has now matured enough to be trusted with not swallowing this mouthful of chewy joy.  But not swallowing gum is merely the tip of the ice berg in gum induced insanity. Somehow the gum rarely stays in the child’s mouth.  I don’t know how but they seem to manage to leave chewed gum everywhere.  Under the couch in the rec room, by the bathtub,  on nightstands, beside the garbage can but not actually in the garbage, in hair, on clothes and on the floor of the minivan…..My husband outlawed gum in the van after this discovery in what we now refer to as “The Great Gum Prohibition of 2014”.  However the ban was lifted when he recalled the few minutes of silence that could be purchased when offering gum on those fateful road trips.  Parents are shameless back trackers and hypocrites when it comes to trying not to lose their minds.

 

Homework

 

 

 

 

12.) Homework:

Have you done any grade four math lately? Open some wine and brace yourself when that time rolls around.   How about a family tree when every single person in the tree has been divorced and remarried more than once? Did I mention you are also required to give this project pizazz and it’s grade two, so you need to find a way to explain why there are so many folks on the tree without paying for a lifetime of therapy?   Or, my personal favorite, the research project on the Canadian Beaver?  When your turn comes I have two of those Beaver projects in my basement.  Just let me know….it will cost you a bottle of wine.

Mommy Groups

images

 

 

 

 

Ah mommy groups……I can’t stand them.  It’s not because I don’t enjoy being with other moms.  In fact, we all need to be with other moms.  It’s extremely important to our sanity and I am blessed to have found a small group of fellow moms who also like to keep it real.  The trouble with most mommy groups is that they are supposed to be a safe place.  A place where you can vent, share and feel like you really are doing ok, and you aren’t alone on this crazy journey.  It should be a judgement free zone.  Instead, when you express how worried you are about how little junior is barely speaking at the age of two, there is always some “helpful” member of the group who chooses that moment to announce that their precious angel was fluent in three languages at ten months of age.  Or, the other member of the group who will tell you it’s because you haven’t enrolled junior in a high priced nursery school program where they teach Mandarin and Spanish.  We need to stop this nonsense already.  In my opinion mommy groups should be run more like AA meetings. Everyone sits down and one at a time each mom would stand up and make her declaration:

“Hello, my name is Mary, and I’m a mom.  Last week I used jelly beans to bribe my toddler into silence during a dance recital for her sister.  That’s right, sugary, filled with artificial colour and flavor, jelly beans. I’m not sorry and I’d do it again!”

“Hello, my name is Dana, and I’m a mom.  I let my children watch television.  TELEVISION. There is simply only so much finger painting a woman can stomach in a day.”

“Hello, my name is Anne, and I’m a mom. I bought cupcakes from the store and put them in a container from home to donate to the school bake sale.  I said it, STORE BOUGHT CUPCAKES.  In order to bake I would have to put my six month old down long enough to wash the dishes piled in my kitchen.  It’s just not happening. ”

“Hello, my name is Ellen, and I’m a mom.  I am pretty sure I hit Mary’s mini van in the parking lot before I came in. ”

“Hello, my name is Jamie, and I bed share.  I got tired of nearly dropping my breastfeeding infant on the floor when I fell asleep watching The Late Show.  Now, I take her to bed and we sleep.  We SLEEP. It’s glorious. ”

“Hello, my name is Adrian, and I fed my toddler chicken nuggets and macaroni for dinner every night last week.  Every damn night…..”

And instead of collective gasping , widened eyes, and terribly misguided and judgemental advice, everyone would simply be offered a hug, reassurance that their child or children will be just fine, and then they would serve cookies.  Now THAT is a mommy group that even I would join.