“My heart is just filling up”

I never envisioned myself as a mother.

As a teenager imagining my future, children were never a part of it.  As an early twenty-something I even told people that “I’m never having kids.”  I’m not a caregiver by nature, and children were never on my dreams list.  I saw myself with a husband and a career I loved, living a wonderfully happy life and spending all of my free time and money on travel.  But times change and priorities shift, and I found myself in my late twenties, married, with a husband who wanted children sooner than later.  My biological clock was tick-tocking along, and for the first time in my life, I felt the pull of motherhood.

I had my first baby in January 2009 and my life suddenly all clicked together.  So this is what all the fuss about, I thought, as I held my son and redefined my life’s purpose.  My daughter was born in March of 2012, and our family was complete.  “You surprise me,” my own mother told me once, “how much you love being a mom,” and she reminded me of that never-having-children statement I’d made less than ten years earlier.  But to raise my children has become my biggest source of joy and my single greatest accomplishment.

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So, when I tell you stories about parenting and share my child-rearing experiences, please know that they come straight from the heart, unfiltered and vulnerable, likely accompanied by tears on the other side of this keyboard.

That’s where today’s story comes from.  Let me set the scene, so you can see what I saw on Sunday morning.  It was a busy day, full of birthday parties and family get-togethers and flag-football finales; our divide-and-conquer parenting strategy was in full effect, and I was spending the morning with my daughter at a classmate’s birthday party.  On our way to the party, my little five-year-old gem smiled in the backseat.  “Mommy,” she said, “it’s a girl’s morning and my heart is just filling up.”  She phrased it just like that:

Her heart was filling up.

What a perfect description for a perfect morning, and she couldn’t be more right.  My heart was filling up too.

This Summer, we’ve got a list of places we’d like to visit, a list of day trips we’d like to take, and two special Day Dates carved into the calendar.  One day for my daughter and I, while my son and husband do their thing, and one day with the opposite pairings.  The only rule of Day Dates is that it’s child-planned; we’ve talked about it a lot already, and the kids are excitedly plotting these special days, full of activities entirely of their choosing.  And when looking at our upcoming Summer, these Day Dates just might be the highlight of the whole season.

In fact, my heart is filling up just thinking about it.


My Cup Runneth Over

“So, what did you do this weekend?” I often ask my patients on a Monday.  As I’ve mentioned before, I love to hear about what people are up to and what makes them tick; the “people part” is the most enjoyable part of my job.

When patients returned the question back to me, I found myself saying that I had a “low-key weekend.”  “It was quiet,” I’d say, “we didn’t get up to much,” or “there was lots of downtime.”  And yet, when I replay my weekend it was anything but quiet:

  • I ran 18km with one of my best friends at 6:00am on Saturday morning.
  • I worked until 1:00pm on Saturday afternoon.
  • I snuggled with my kids and watched a movie on the couch.
  • We went to our dear friend’s for dinner on Saturday night.
  • We went to church on Sunday morning.
  • We went apple and pumpkin picking on Sunday afternoon.
  • I sorted and purged both kid’s closets, dressers, and bookshelves.
  • We did some Fall planting and yard cleanup.
  • We watched all three Jays games on the edge of our seats.

Throw in some laundry, some food prep, and some housecleaning, and it was a full, busy weekend.  So how is it that I feel so refreshed and rejuvenated?  I think it’s because I love to do all of these things (minus the housecleaning).  Find what you love to do.  Do it.  That’s the trick.  A happy life is built upon time well spent.

My daughter’s Kindergarten class has been talking lately about the concept of “bucket filling” and “bucket dumping.”  Bucket fillers are people (and things) that make you feel good and content, while bucket dumpers are people (and things) that make you feel bad.  She excitedly tells us about the bucket filling tickets she earns at school by cleaning up, helping a friend, and sharing.  She’s proud of those tickets, and she’s learning to be a bucket filler herself and hang around with others who fill her bucket.

My bucket was filled up this weekend.  “My cup runneth over,” I texted my friend after our early Saturday run, and it’s true.  I’m full of gratitude for the life I have, contentment for the life I’ve built, and happiness for the life I live.  I’ve had this image saved on my phone for weeks, and I finally get to use it today:

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I hope you get to fill your bucket this Thanksgiving weekend.

***And I hope that Marcus Stroman is a bucket filler for Jays fans when he pitches tonight.