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Dear Daughter, You are almost 2.

I want to capture this moment for myself to remember how you were when you were almost 2.

You are a spectacular creature. You are determined, strong willed, loving, generous, smart, clever and sweet.

You are determined. You are currently pushing all the boundaries you can find. This week we fought with you about whether you could sit on the seat in the canoe or if you had to sit on the floor. You can’t sit on the seat of the canoe until you are big enough to understand the movement of the canoe and that you could fall into the water if you reach too far. You fought with us about how close you can walk to the side of the road and if you could walk in the road. “No cars coming, Mommy.” I hope one day you understand that that was not the point.

You are strong willed and independent. We haven’t done up your car seat buckles in months because it’s honestly not worth the fight. I will gladly wait 10-20 minutes for you to do it yourself if I can avoid you crying all the way home. You’ve been walking up and down the stairs from the moment you realized you were physically capable. It’s been a terrifying 6 months.

You are loving and sweet. The way you hug the dog and say very sweetly “my Alice” will never get old. I will never forget the first time you ran up to me when I picked you up at daycare and yelled “my mommy is here!” I also love the way you say “Hello handsome daddy” when we pick him up from work.

You are generous and expect others to be so. We will never eat a meal where you haven’t offered your milk or food to us. I have never finished all of my meal because you ask “Mommy, may I have a bite?” and I have no will power to say no. You make sure bear has some play food for breakfast before you sit down. You offer me “mom bear” every morning when I enter your room.

You are smart and clever. You know how to unlock the front door. You have figured out games and puzzles so much faster than I could have expected. You told me last week that “Old MacDonald is my favourite song, mommy”. You can count to 10 (let’s ignore the fact that you skip 5 and 6 regularly) and have been singing your ABCs for months and recognize letters in the world. You think all Canadian flags deserve the exclamation of “Go, Canada, go!” You can put on your bath robe and tie up the strings by “self”.

I love you, my darling. I love your soft kisses, your tight hugs, your desire to be your own person, your love of others, your concern for others, your tiny little naked butt, your long toddler summer legs, your gorgeous hair with the soft curls you inherited from my dad. I love your smile, your giggle, your silliness, your Grover voice, your one-octave-too-high singing voice.

I love you. Never stop being you, my sweet nearly two year old.

 

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Who Am I?

I’ve been wrestling consistently since I was conscious with wondering who I am. I must be a hundred different people stuck in this one very crowded body.

Today the prominent person is longing to have time and drive to learn my dusty ukelele and write music and perform in front of a crowd. She wants to release the turmoil of emotion that has accumulated this year in a creative way. She wants to be given her chance to demonstrate herself. To show everyone. She wants to sit on a stool, play her uke and sing to a crowd with passion in her voice.

The second person fighting for escape in there is an androgynous woman who hates that I chose this frilly fucking collar this morning. Why did I put this stupid shirt on? Every time I wear it I hate it. This shirt is not me. This shirt is for someone who I thought I should be.

Another regular in this emotional rom-com is someone who is rock solid and needs no one. Who wears amazing outfits and walks her dog with confidence while listening to upbeat music. She’s the coolest part of me because she actually exists a lot of the time. I fucking love when I feel like this. I am confident, happy, musical, and social.

That little girl in the corner of the room is my mild social anxiety. She tends to sit in the centre of the stage, cross-legged, watching the audience interact while remaining alone in the spot light, trying to simultaneously disappear and draw attention to herself. She doesn’t quite know what to say in a crowd of people and always second guesses what she has said, if she says anything. If she says nothing she second guesses that too. She doesn’t feel remarkable but wants to be desperately.

There’s an incredibly strong woman working out in the other corner of the room who is trying very hard to be able to do a chin up. She can fit into her skinny jeans, has no muffin top and feels strong all the time. She’s not self-conscious of her body. She’s sitting there waiting to be pushed. She wants to get off her ass. She’s waiting for the excuses to run out.

There’s an early 20s woman who shows up far less often lately who wants to go out dancing and drinking and release her tension that way. She is easily talked down. She knows full well that being drunk sucks and there’s nowhere good to go dancing anyway.

Off to the side there, do you see her? The woman with the hair down to her ass, wearing my favourite flowy skirt, smoking a joint and telling anyone who will listen that love is the only religion we need. We just need to love each other, man.

A newer, more prominent character is the business woman. She’s confident, eager to learn, and excited about what the next step is. She’s the only one who is actively working to discover who she is. She doesn’t want to be the middle aged woman in a pencil skirt and blazer. She wants to re-define what it means for millennials to be professionals. While all the other characters are constant, this one is new so she has no history. She has no baggage. She can still be anyone. She wants to be all the above people at once. She is strongest when everyone is working in unison for the same goals. I am at my best when everyone in this crazy body is in agreement about what we look like, our core values, our musical taste, our preferred company. This career seeker is slowly taking over as the band leader. All of these women in my body are almost in time with each other. We are almost making beautiful music.

Today the music is stunning, energetic, full of drive and passion. Tomorrow the music will change. The next day we may or may not be talking to each other. Poor little social anxiety may just yell at everyone else to “shut the fuck up” and we will probably stay in that night. But after we’ve all become ok with that idea, miss hippie may take over and we will all relax a little and play board games and enjoy our husband’s company.

I am a hundred different people. I am variations of my emotions. I am I.

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Stop Fucking Copying Me

If you are like me, when you sit down in your car you become a slightly different person. You follow the rules are little more carefully and get a bit upset when other people do not.

Driving a car a privilege, not a right. At least, I think so. You are operating a 4,000 lb piece of machinery that can end someone’s life if used incorrectly. I happen to operate that machine with a small child in the backseat while listening to that sweet child skip all the middle letters of her ABCs. You must operate this machine while following the rules of the road in order for all of us to drive efficiently and safely.

I could list all the ways that other driver’s bother me, but it would be simpler to just say that all other drivers bother me.

It should really come as no surprise to you that I have a teensy bit of verbal road rage. I won’t cut anyone off, or follow to closely but you better believe you are getting a tongue lashing from the personal space of my driver’s seat, regardless of whether my windows are rolled up. You may get honked at, but I tend to reserve that for people who potentially put me in danger. I’m looking at you, no-signal/no-shoulder check merger. That’s how I will let you know that you are a dummy.

I wish I could explain this to my 21 month old daughter. I wish I could tell her not to listen to me while I’m driving. The problem is that it is crazy funny to hear a sweet toddler voice say “Go, you fucking dummy!” or “Damnit” over and over again.

I will admit that I have gotten better about my language in the car but sometimes there’s just that one fucking moron who thinks he can drive like no one else is on the road. I guess I should be glad that I’m teaching my kid the importance of road rules.

Image result for toddler swearing

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My new Friends are all Parents too

How do I write about this without hurting feelings? How do I address this issue without possibly making someone feel bad? Maybe by just being honest and non judgemental?

I had a baby 16 months ago. In the last 16 months I can name less than 10 of my former friends that have expressed interest in spending time with her. I say former, because, in reality I haven’t seen most of these people in probably 20 months. Most of them have never met my kid.

Last summer I was hugely pregnant and had a baby. I couldn’t drink, couldn’t party, and, probably without surprise, most of my friends disappeared. I don’t blame them.

When I was in my early 20’s, my friends were getting married and having babies and I didn’t fit into that world. I lost contact with them because we were in totally different places. I kept up with their lives (still do) on facebook, liking their kid pictures and enjoying seeing their family’s milestones, but I didn’t reach out. I didn’t try to get to know their kids.

Now I’m the one who has the kid and I get it. We have totally different day to day lives.

I eat breakfast hoping that my daughter won’t smear her yogurt hands on my nice work pants before I get a chance to clean her up. I pack four bags every night – my purse, my lunch, her backpack, her diapers – before I go to bed. I sing the ABC’s, Ba Ba Black Sheep and Old MacDonald every single morning. My plans for the weekend include trying to find ways to tire out my kid and entertain her while also somehow finally cleaning the bathroom and doing our mountain of laundry (how do three people create so much laundry?!).

Before I had a kid I hit the snooze button more times than I’d like to admit. I ate breakfast in the car on the way to work, blaring the radio. We only had to worry about two adult lunches. My house was clean. My house was clean. My weekend plans included sleeping in, binge watching MASH on the couch after making an elaborate hangover breakfast, and figuring out what we were going to do that night.

I’d like to apologise to my early 20’s friends (I think you know who you are) and I hope you don’t hold any ill will against me. I wasn’t ready for your life steps so I stepped away. I am so sorry if that felt like betrayal. It was fear on my side, not loathing.

I’ve been feeling abandoned? disowned? self-pitying? for, well, 16 months. It’s time for me to cut that shit out. I’m a god damned adult, for fuck’s sake. And besides, my closest friends are still putting in the effort. They are skyping with my kid and sending sweet little postcards and presents and these things make me happy cry.

And what’s more? I made some new friends this year. Friends that light up when they see my kid. That reach out to see how she’s doing when she’s been sick. To see if I’ve been sleeping. How I’m doing. Am I getting enough self-care (the answer is usually ‘no’)? Am I going to come to gymnastics this Friday?

Can we set up some play dates, please? I know you guys are just as busy as I. Maybe we can tire out our kids together?

It’s time for me to stop having FOMO for my former life. I never wanted to lose any friends but I’ve had a hard time figuring out how I fit into your lives with my new funny sidekick. I’m leaving the door open for friends, old and new, to come on into our messy living room and have a drink. You are always welcome…. as long as you don’t mind my kid climbing on you and insisting you colour with us.

 

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Fuck the Working Mom Guilt

I’ve been at work for a month now. An entire month where I’m not the primary one spending time with Beans during the week. I drop her off at daycare, or Grandma comes and spends the day with her or Adam takes her for the afternoon. There are significant portions of every weekday where I’m not the one in charge of my daughter.

And holy christ, is that ever nice.

That’s bad to say, right?

But you know what’s great about it? I’m not fucking burnt out at the end of the day. I’m not babied out. When I pick her up at the end of the day I can actually sit down and enjoy playing with her because I haven’t been playing with her all day. I miss her during the day. By the time I get home from work I want to engage with her. I want to watch her and see what developments she has hit today. I am so fucking amped for when she can talk and tell me about her day.

I want my kid to know that I have a life. That not everything I do involves her. I want my daughter to see me as the responsible adult I accidentally became worked really hard to become. I want her to see that I am striving so god damn hard to make our budget work, to advance my career, to keep my body healthy, to nurture friendships.

When I was little I thought I would be a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t really know there was another choice. No one told me. I didn’t ask. I know now that I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. It’s not fun for me. Sure, it makes life easier. I can clean the house and do the groceries during the day and then Adam and I would get to relax more at night. BUT I don’t want to. I don’t want to spend my days trying to figure out how to entertain a one year old while emptying the dishwasher. I do not enjoy that. So much praise for those that do but I do not. I want to sit at my nice desk, wearing my nice clothes, my jewellery, my pretty shoes and use my brain for solving complex situations.

My kid likes daycare and Grandma days. This morning she gave me a kiss and waved me away when I dropped her off. Yesterday I got a picture of her trying to kiss the other kid at daycare. She likes it there. The fact that she likes it helps alleviate the ridiculously unfounded guilt I have about leaving her there.

I’ve always been told that I’m the best caregiver for her. That’s pretty fucking true, but you know what? I’m an even better caregiver when I take care of myself first.

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I Didn’t Know I Would Feel Like This

I knew the day was coming. For some stupid reason I decided to let it sneak up on me and now it has sneaked up on me and I am not ready.

I’m not ready to be done mat leave.

I didn’t expect that. In the very early days I was looking forward to going to work, to talking to adults, to using my brain for adult problems, for adult responsibilities. I didn’t want to spend my days playing on the floor. I didn’t want to keep cleaning her tray three times a day. I didn’t want to tidy the house every day at noon. I didn’t want to wear only casual clothes. No, wait. I always want to wear only casual clothes.

But, today was my last day at my favourite play group and it was one the hardest mornings of my year. I got to sit down and watch my baby kid try to climb up to sit in a chair, wander around the room looking for books, get too much stamp ink on her hands, and then give me a huge smile when she spotted me from across the room. We had a nice time. They even sang her Happy Birthday because she turned one on Monday.

I made friends this year. I like them and I like their kids. Which is huge and surprising. I’ve never really liked kids I wasn’t related to but now I’m going to miss them.

I’m not ready for this to not be my day to day. I’m not ready for a new routine. I’m not ready to not be her immediate source of comfort when she falls too hard. I’m not ready for someone else to be the one tickling her and making her laugh during the day.

I’m not sure I can drop her off that first day week without crying. Not because I think she won’t be ok – she will be great – but because I want to hang out with her. I want to get her her lunch and tickle her toes when she’s done eating. I want to play hide and seek with her. I want to help her chase the dog around the house.

Instead I go back to work and someone else gets to do all those things while I… do my job.

The worst part is that I like my job. I like my job. I think that’s what’s hardest about this. Even if we could afford for me to stay home I would then miss my job.

It’s not quite fair that I have to go back to work right when she is getting to be the most fun she’s ever been and I can only assume she’s going to get more fun as she gets older – I mean, look at who is raising her. Is it going to get harder to leave her with someone else as she gets to be more fun? Will I feel like I can be more present with her when I am home because I’m home less? Will I ever be ok with someone else being the first to note when she accomplishes milestones? Will my heart ever not break when I drop her off at daycare?

I don’t know. And maybe that’s just my new motto when it comes to parenting. Who the fuck knows?

 

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Anger was a Surprise

“You are mean to that dog”, my brother said hesitantly.

And, holy shit, I’m so happy he did. Those words made me think hard about how I was acting. I was yelling at my dog. I was short with my husband. I was struggling to maintain my patience with my baby. The smallest things were making me angry. So fucking angry. Adam didn’t do all the chores even though he was at work all day. Traffic was bad so he was 10 minutes late coming home. My pizza was reheated too hot in the middle and too cold on the edges. The dog was asking for too much love. The dog was being a dog. Beans was being a baby. Beans was sleeping too long on me and I really had to pee.

I had this seething anger sitting in my belly, glowing red hot and trying to escape. It was exhausting trying to keep it down and be patient. It was heartbreaking to see myself blow up and snap when all I wanted to do was laugh and hug. I was faking my happiness and I couldn’t keep up with it.

So, I called my doctor. And I cried in her office and told her honestly how I didn’t know how to feel happy anymore. How I was angry at every one except Beans. I only had patience for Beans and that didn’t feel like me. How I missed smiling without feeling that sadness behind my eyes. How I wanted to make her laugh but didn’t have the energy because all my energy was going towards staying calm.

She listened calmly and talked openly with me about what help I might be able to find. She gave me a prescription for hormonal birth control and, best of all, she gave me a referral for a counselor and made me an appointment to come back and check in with her.

I filled that prescription. I have always struggled with a balance in my hormones which cause me to be extremely emotional so it was no surprise when after only a month I was able to laugh without feeling like it was forced. Within two months I was smiling regularly and making my baby laugh again. I was loving my dog instead of just dealing with her.

I also saw a counselor but that was a fucking bust. She was not well equipped to deal with post-partum or baby issues. She actually suggested I give my 9 month old baby a time out and punch pillows to get my anger out.

It’s been four months now and I finally feel like myself again. I re-gained my energy, lost the last 20 pounds of cake I gained while pregnant (that’s another story all together), and when I looked in the mirror I saw myself again. I saw the joy in my eyes, the love for my husband, the happiness that sits in our home, the beautiful chaos that is our life.

I was looking out for sadness, depression, exhaustion, dark days. I did not know to look for anger. I didn’t know I could even feel as angry I did. I’ve never felt that angry before. I’ve never treated my loved ones like that before. Thank god for my doctor. I’m so happy to be me again.