GDMFSOB

Are you ready for some sap?

My little girl turned six years old earlier this Spring.  But to me, perhaps because she’s my last baby, she’s still oh-so-little.  When my son was six, I remember thinking he was such a big boy and was capable of so much, and yet when she, my second child, is six I have tended to underestimate her and “baby” her along the way.  I’ve noticed this pattern in my parenting over the past couple of years and have really tried to change it.  After all,  if I’m raising a strong, confident daughter, then coddling her will do her no favours.

When she’s the first one up in our household, she’s taken to going into the living room, getting herself some cereal and turning on SportsCentre on TV.  We have a no-TV-before-school rule, but c’mon, sports highlights don’t count.

Last weekend was a particularly early wakeup for her, so after her breakfast and TSN fix, she got out her paper and markers and made this creation:

Casey drawing May 2018

It says “My family is the most important thing to me in my life!”

I sobbed when she showed it to me.  And then she cried because I was crying.  You can see how sensitive souls tend to raise other sensitive souls, can’t you?

Deep within my tears was a feeling of tremendous pride mixed with a touch of GDMFSOB (look it up) we are DOING THIS RIGHT.

Mic drop.

 


“You are the joy of my life”

I was snuggling with my five-year-old daughter before she went to bed the other night, as is our normal routine.  She’s got a chiropractic-approved mattress in her bedroom, but for the last couple of months, she’s insisted on sleeping on a double air mattress on her floor.  This came about after my brother and his family visited at Thanksgiving; we set up the air mattress for additional sleeping space while they were here and, well, she’s staked her claim and insisted that the air mattress is her preferred sleeping spot.  So, there we have it, an expensive mattress sits unused while a cheap air mattress is favoured and cherished.  Kids are weird.

But, back to my story.  After we read bedtime books, we shut out the lights, and I lay beside her for a snuggle.  This is one of my favourite parts of the day; the part where she tells me her thoughts and asks me lots of questions.  This is uninterrupted, one-on-one time, the stuff parenting dreams are made of.

“Mom,” she whispered, her sleepy face snug up against mine, “you are the joy of my life.” joy

My heart filled and my tears welled up.  She said it just like that: “you are the joy of my life.”  Could there be a more perfect statement?  In just seven tiny words, she articulated the feelings I’ve had for years.  Joy, yes.  Joy of my life, definitely yes.

My eight-year-old son is also still in the snuggle-with-mama stage of life.  Last week we walked to school hand in hand, and I marvelled at the little boy who is growing up right before my eyes.  “When do you think you’ll be old enough that you don’t want to hold my hand anymore?” I asked him.  “Mom,” he said confidently, “I will never be too old to hold your hand.”  Oh, my sweet boy, how I hope that’s true.

My husband and I have been talking recently about how we’ve found ourselves in the “sweet spot” of parenting as of late.  We no longer have the physical challenges of babies and toddlers and we’re not yet into the emotional challenges of tweens and teens.  We can take our kids anywhere without worrying about naps and strollers and baby food, and yet they still want to be with us, with the full, unbridled enthusiasm of youth and naivety.

This is very likely our final Christmas with two Santa-believers still intact, and you can be sure I’m going to soak it all in, just like I’ve tried to do throughout their childhood.  I’ve heard that “the days are long but the years are short,” and I’ve found that to be true as this parenting train has rolled along, picking up speed as it goes.

Oh yes, you are the joy of my life.

the days are long

 

 

 


Roots and Wings.

I was thinking long and hard about what to write about this week, and the only thought that came into my brain was back-to-school. I tend to write about the happenings of my life, and the return to September, and now October, routines have been at the forefront lately, as I’m sure they have been for many of you.

This year was a bit different for us, as it was the first year of “nothing new.” We didn’t move, or switch schools, or have my work schedule change. The logistics of our life look essentially the same as they did last school year, so we knew what to expect from a timing perspective. My son entered grade three, and my daughter started into Senior Kindergarten. In Ontario, the Kindergarten program is two years long, and starts the year that a child turns four years of age. Back in 2014, the Provincial government rolled out full-day Kindergarten to replace half-day and alternate-day programs, so my daughter began full-time school last year, at age four. It was rocky.

Not having been a daycare kid (my husband and I have managed to work opposite hours so that one of us could always be home with our kids), she did two years in a three-mornings-per-week Preschool, to get her prepared for Kindergarten and used to the idea of being away from home, and most notably, away from me. Her and I have a special bond and she’s a mama’s girl through and through. Last year, all year long, even into June, she would be teary at school dropoff. “Mom, I don’t want to go to school, I just want to be home with you.” Oh, how she broke my heart.

We tried everything- special necklaces, “kissing hands,” pictures from home, notes in her backpack, meetings with the teachers. We were always told that her days at school were happy and settled, and she was always all smiles at pickup time; but more often than not, she would cry at dropoff. I would pull myself away from the school gate each morning and stand out of sight, watching her cry and wipe the fog from her little glasses, and I would cry too. I would walk back home alone and feel like a monster for the better part of the morning. “How was your day, sweetheart?” I would ask at pickup, “Great!” She would exclaim, oblivious to the torment that she’d put her mother through yet again. The daily text thread to my husband read something like this:

Me: Tears again. I’m dying. This is THE WORST.

Him: She’s okay hon, she’ll get through it.

Me: Why are we doing this to her? She’s only four! Four year-olds should be with their mamas. It’s nature!!!

Him: Her days are good, it’s just the first few minutes. She’ll be okay.

Me: I am the worst mother. My HEART IS BREAKING.  Sob…..

Okay, so I have a touch of drama up my sleeve. But honestly, watching your child cry while knowing that you can’t help them, is quite possibly the world’s worst feeling. If you’ve never been through this with your children, you may not understand what I’m talking about, and you probably don’t think this is quite the big deal I’m making it out to be. But when you’re in it, let me tell you that it’s a very big deal. I’m a bit of an attachment-parent, kind of on the hippie side of the scale- my kids regularly sleep in our bed, I nursed them both into toddlerhood, and I was a regular baby-wearer, so this child-away-from-me stage of life does not feel natural or normal to me. We have very carefully constructed our life to have me closer to our kids. This school-aged-transition was as hard on me as it was on her.

Fast forward to this year, and I was expecting more of the same from her. Through the Summer she spoke about how she was going to miss me when she started school and flashbacks of dropoff haunted me. And we have had more than a few tears over the past few weeks, but I’m happy to report, we’re on a streak of six consecutive cry-free dropoffs. She’s grown and matured, she’s gained independence, she’s built confidence, and I can see a different kid when I send her into the playground in the mornings. She wants to be there. The reluctance to let go of my hand is lessening, the quivering lip is all but gone, and the vulnerability of her foggy glasses has disappeared. Maybe she’s ready. Maybe I’m ready. I’m not sure how it happened, but we’ve turned the page, and my baby grew up.

roots and wings