Just like that.

There are seasons of parenthood where you can see childhood stages coming to an end.  Diapers lead into potty-training, cribs lead into beds, and nursing/bottles eventually wean.  In my experience, these stages have had a build-up, a preparatory phase, a time of transition whereby I could mull things over in my analytical brain and get a handle on my emotional brain.  As a parent, of course each new childhood stage brings excitement and the chance to watch my kids grow and prosper, but another part of me mourns the passing of the previous stage.

When I was younger, being a mother was never on my radar.  I didn’t play with dolls and dream about having children like some little girls do; in fact, I used to wonder if I had any maternal instinct in me at all.  But when my son was born in 2009, my new role turned into my life’s greatest joy.  As I’ve been along for the ride of watching these little people grow, my joy has also grown.

But with each passing stage, there’s a tiny bit of me that wonders if I soaked it up enough while it was happening right in front of me.  Did I cherish their curled-up newborn bodies?  Their haphazard crawling styles?  Their oh-so-sweet toddler-speak?  Their unsteady gait?  I can’t recall their baby coos or three-word sentences unless I see them on old videos, and the clear memories of their first steps and their first words are already waning.  They say that the days are long but the years are short.  They’re right.

So, when we ended a parenting stage abruptly this weekend, I didn’t even see it coming.

You see, my daughter, who just turned seven last week, has been crawling into our bed halfway through the night for nearly four years.  Some of you may be shocked by that, but it’s never been a big deal to us.  Our house has a main-floor Master with kid’s bedrooms upstairs, and when we moved in 2015, her three-year-old self found comfort by wandering down the stairs, usually between midnight and 2am, and sleeping snuggled in between my husband and I.  At first, we attributed it to the move and all the changes in her life, and then it just became a habit we didn’t care to change.  Yes, some nights we got kicked by little feet and elbows, but most of the time she was a welcomed addition who whispered to me a “mom, snuggle” request that became our pattern.  I knew it wouldn’t last forever, and I wanted to soak it up for as long as I could.

This past Friday night, we returned from a March-break vacation in Arizona, with a three-hour time change to manage.  As I tucked her in much later than usual, I mentioned that she needed to stay in her room that night, rather than coming downstairs with us.  I had to be at work early on Saturday morning, and my 7:30am alarm would feel like 4:30am in Phoenix; she needed to sleep in and get her body rested instead of waking up with me.  And she did stay in her bed all night, likely exhausted from travel and a busy trip.  The next morning she proudly announced: “I don’t need to sleep in your bed anymore.  I’m going to stay in my bed all night from now on.”

Just like that.

And she did.  For three nights there were no pitter-patter of little feet on the stairs, no drinks from the sippy cup on my nightstand, no tip-toeing out of my bedroom in the morning to allow a sleeping child to slumber.  Done.  Onto the next stage, and I didn’t even see it coming.  And then last night, I awoke to find her beside me once again.

So although this stage is ending, it’s not finished quite yet.  Have I soaked it up enough?  Without a doubt.

But I’ll still miss it.

ash casey toque photo

My baby is not such a baby anymore.


Real talk.

Real talk.

I’ve had a rough month.  There’s been a few hurdles thrown at me lately, and I want to share those with you, in keeping with my “this is me” philosophy of transparency and honesty.

If you’ve read this blog over the years, you’ve certainly heard me talk about my love of running.  Being a “runner” is a big part of my identity, and it’s something I’ve loved to do since I was a little girl.  As a 12-year-old, I used to get up early on Spring mornings and run down to the end of my small-town street and back before anyone else was awake.  Other times, I would ride my bike over to the school track and run laps just for the peaceful bliss that I knew it would bring.

I didn’t have the vocabulary for it back then, but I do now:

running helps to keep me feeling like me.

I tend to worry about things, and running helps me to worry less.  It helps my mind to stay calm and my energy to stay high.  I’m a happy person at my core, but running simply makes me a happier person; a runner’s high is no joke.

And I think this is the reason that February has felt like such a tough one.  I had a week of a chest cold that wouldn’t let loose, four epic snow/ice/freezing rain storms that made for very tricky conditions, and a stubborn Achilles injury that just won’t cooperate.  My mileage was really low, meaning less fresh air, less group run support, less peace in my brain.  Crossfit helps, yoga helps, workouts in my basement help, but for me, there’s just nothing quite like the run.

Bring on Spring.  Bring on blue skies and clear roads and sunshine on our faces.  Bring on movement and sweat and feel-good hormones.  Bring on friendships and smiles and goals to be chased.

We’ve got this.  Happy March!

march


Shoot the puck

My daughter is six years old, and for the past two Winters my husband has been her hockey coach.  She plays for a local girls hockey league, and this year she’s got one hour of practice and one hour of a half-ice game per week.  If there’s anything cuter than a pack of ponytailed Grade 1-ers chasing a puck, well then I’ve never seen it.  She’s been on skates since she could walk, like a true Canadian kid, and she’s well-versed in Hockey Night in Canada and the Leaf’s Stanley Cup drought.  With sport-obsessed parents, she’s come by it honestly.

The improvement in her skills from the start of the season, at only two hours of ice-time per week, are incredible.  She’s gone from wobbly and timid to confident and sure-footed.  She can put her gear on entirely by herself, except for skate laces and helmet snaps.  She can pull her hockey bag, carry her stick, and she can last the full hour of ice-time.  She’s a dependable, capable competitor.  And yet, we’re teaching her to pass the puck….

Let me explain.

In a recent hockey meeting that my husband attended, it was pointed out that as our girls are growing into hockey players, they are often taught to pass the puck to their teammates.  In amongst the skill-building, they’re being told to give everyone a turn, to share the puck around, to not leave anyone out.  All good things, yes.  However, this has led to older players scoring less, favouring the pass over the shot.  Now, I have a son in hockey too, and I attend most of his practices and games; I see that he too, is told to pass the puck.  But not as often.  And not in the same situations.

You see, these instructions are heard differently through the ears of a young girl.  These words are spoken within a society that teaches girls to be polite and kind and teaches boys to be forthright and determined.  And while I’m not going to delve deep into the gender equality conversation on this chilly Tuesday morning, this post is a snapshot of what’s been on my mind.  I’ve got Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” and Kirstine Stewart’s “Our Turn” on my bedside table and I’m fresh off a Mexican vacation where women in the workforce was a big topic of conversation.

So I hope that my words make you think.

This small example, using the metaphor of hockey as life, shows me that there’s still work to be done.

Let’s teach our girls to shoot the puck.

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Three years ago, learning to skate.