Self Care 101

Self-care.

My doctor once told me I needed to ‘Get my shit together’ if I wanted to stop feeling like a hot mess.  True story. She prescribed self-care. She said ‘If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else’.

It reminded me of Aiden’s Kindergarten teacher telling him that you should love yourself more than you love anyone else. I admitted to Aiden that like most moms, I love him and his brother more than I love myself. It’s the way I’m wired. I’m used to putting others ahead of myself.  I worry about others over myself (when I really shouldn’t) and I put other people’s needs ahead of my own. It’s the reason I know I’d struggle on an airplane in an emergency because I wouldn’t want to put my own safety mask on first. It would seem selfish of me to do that, but it’s not. It’s self-care. I need to learn to better take care of ME.

So that’s my mission. Self-care. Now, how does one do this? I did what most would do and I turned to google for some ideas. Which was terrifying as it turns out what some consider self-care, I would consider torture. I had to come up with some ideas on my own:

Dance. I love to dance. I dance while I straighten my hair, while I cook supper, while I clean my floors. Even when I’m driving, I don’t stop moving. My living room floor becomes my makeshift dance floor daily as me and Camryn shake what our momma’s gave us from one corner to the other. I miss Zumba. For 3.5 years it was a huge stress reliever for me. I could shake my hips in a gym full of strangers like I was drunk on a dance floor on George Street and I didn’t care. I need to go back. No excuses. Find a sitter- go to Zumba once a week and release my inner JLO.

Walk.  It’s honestly free therapy for me. I try to get out for a walk every day but it’s not possible where I always have the kids (and let’s be honest, walking with them is far from therapeutic). So my new goal is to walk alone 4 times a week. Even with my broken toe. I’m not gonna let displaced bones stop me from self-care, now am I?

Exercise. I am one of those weird crazies who loves to exercise. I don’t do it because I have to, I do it because I want to. I enjoy it. Sadly, the last few months kinda messed with my routine but I need to get back at it as I miss it and I actually feel different when I’m not doing it. The one thing I’ve remained committed to are my evening leg lifts (my god, it’s no wonder I have no life). I do 150-200 leg lifts every night before bed (ask my sisters, they can attest to this fact. I really AM the life of the party, bitches). I don’t see any abs but I swear to god I feel something. Maybe it’s my hip bone, I’m not sure. But either way, it’s like me and JLO are the same person.

TV: I realized that for me, other simpler ways to self-care include reading (which I don’t do enough of because apparently I’ve become too lazy) and even though I hate to admit this, watching TV. Judge away, Mama loves her screen time. There’s nothing better than being in my lounge clothes (and no socks, I HATE socks), curling up on the couch with my blanket, remote in one hand and large ass spoon full of peanut butter in the other. My guilty pleasures are dramas that make me cry so hard I want to vomit (sounds like a blast, doesn’t it?), or comedies that make me laugh so hard I snort (better than peeing?!). Nothing beats a good belly laugh.

Writing: I love to write. Writing this blog helps me take care of me. It’s like a journal, only I post it publicly for the world (okay fine, for my 13 followers and my close friends on FB) to read. I wish I did more of it. Scrap that, I WILL do more of it. I used to have a goal to write a book. Maybe I’ll get started on that…….

Friends. Anything that makes me feel like Sonya and not Mommy is a form of self-care. Like hanging with or sometimes just chatting with friends. A movie, supper, a drink, a walk, or even just texting with a friend can build my spirits.  It almost always leads to laughing, which I am all for. I crack myself up too, which helps. That makes me less like JLo and more like Amy Schumer (minus the crude profanity of course).

Bath: I never understood why people would sit in water, just sit, and find it relaxing. What do you do? Where do you put your hands? What do you look at? I hate when my skin starts to shrivel up like prunes. It doesn’t seem enjoyable BUT I thought I’d give it a shot. I either read a book (which always ends up in the water) or listen to music to just drown out the noise (literally, so I can’t hear the kids) and wind up being afraid my phone or headphones will also fall in the water and I’ll get electrocuted. This isn’t self-care. Scrap bath, it’s being removed from my list. LOL

Spa days:  Massages, manicures, pedicures…..I LOVE going to the Spa! I just don’t have the money for it on a regular basis. But its okay, what I do is put on a robe and have my kids brush my hair for 3 minutes, or I pretend I have a scratch on my back and they have to find it and it’s almost the same as being at the Spa. It’s all about improvising peeps, all about improvising.

Wal-Mart: You read that right. Walmart. Sometimes just a trip to Walmart (or Sobeys, or Shoppers Drug Mart) ALONE is self-care. I’m dead serious, if you ever see me standing in Aisle 7 just smiling, please don’t interrupt my moment. I’m soaking it all in because guess what? I don’t get to do that often enough. I’m rarely alone. Sometimes when I’m in line at Walmart I let everyone go ahead of me just to prolong the experience. People think I’m just nice but the truth is I’m not ready to go home 😉

Back in October I did one thing for myself that was very much self-care. I did something that I always wanted to do. I got my nose pierced. It was very empowering. My sister held my hand, looking as proud of me as I think she would have been had I been delivering a baby. I came to find out that I was actually holding her up as she was weak and nauseated at the sight of the needle that was going to be stuck through my nose.  The ring lasted 6 weeks. Turns out I’m also lazy at cleaning it (who has time to soak your nose for 5 mins, twice a day, I mean COME ON!?) so it didn’t heal properly and started looking more like a cold sore on my face than a nose stud so I took it out. I will be honest, I almost cried when it was removed as I felt like the independence I was showing off to the world was stripped away. But that was just in my head. It was just a nose ring. I’m still empowered. I have the scar to prove it.

So, I do know how to self-care, I just have to DO IT. I have to make more of an effort. I have to ask for help or hire a babysitter to make sure I do it. Because Doc was right, if I don’t take of ME, I’m no good to anyone else.

And if I don’t take care of me, then who will?

Sure as hell won’t be JLO.

 

Trailer

Do you ever go to a movie and it winds up being nothing like you thought it’d be? The trailer led you to believe that the story was a comedy but there was nothing funny about it? The characters weren’t relatable and overall it just wasn’t what you expected? In some ways, that’s how I find parenting. I’m the lead actress and, unfortunately, in addition to not looking like Julia Roberts, it feels like the chances of a Golden Globe nomination are slim to none.

I had my parenting style figured out long before I had kids. That’s how naïve I was. For example, I would see a kid in the doctor’s office watching an ipad while waiting to be called in and I’d think ‘not a chance’ will that be my child. In my head, my child would sit patiently waiting, practicing his alphabet. He also wouldn’t consider picking the healthy snack I brought for him off the dirty floor and putting it in his mouth. I’d be well rested (because my kid would sleep through the night, he had no choice), wearing clothes that didn’t have any stains or boogers on it, and I would smile at my child with nothing but admiration and pride. It was the best trailer I’d ever seen.

What I didn’t see in that waiting room was the mother. The woman sitting there trying her best not to either lose patience or cry, all the while hoping the ipad had enough battery to keep her child distracted to get her through a wait time that seemed endless when it was really only 7 minutes. She was wondering if anyone noticed how tired she looked. How she hadn’t been sleeping and was stressed to the max. Her lunch today had been a half-eaten piece of toast so she found herself eyeing a cheesie on the floor, wondering if the 5 second rule really was a thing. More than anything, she was wondering if she was doing a good enough job. Because most days she felt like she was failing. Was she the only mother who felt that way? This was the real movie, and it was nothing like the preview.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m hard on myself. I don’t give myself enough credit in many aspects of my life. When it comes to parenting, I feel like I could be doing better. Or that others do it better than me or would handle the situations I’m dealing with with my kids better than I do. There are some days, the hard days, when I wonder if I was really cut out for this.

Sadly, I’ve said this out loud in front of my kids, “I’m not cut out for this”. When I get overwhelmed and my small home feels like 4 walls of anger, tears and attitude I feel a loss of control. This isn’t how things were supposed to be, I tell myself. When things aren’t going as planned, when one kid is lashing out in anger and the other kid is smacking too hard or saying bad words or not listening, I blame myself. I’m not doing this right. This is my fault. If I was better, they’d be better. I’m not cut out for this.

Deep down, I feel that in many ways I’m not the mom I thought I’d be. Not all the time anyways. I thought it’d be easier, or different. Parenting. My kids. My life. What I hadn’t anticipated was suffering from post-partem depression, which in many ways changed me. What I also hadn’t anticipated was having my life turned upside down. Or suffering from anxiety. Anxiety that presents itself as rage (that sadly only my children get to witness). So when my child is lashing out and hurling insults at me or his brother, it takes everything in me not to do the very thing I’m telling him not to do- lash out and say things he can’t take back. After all, I want to lead by example. Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose. And it’s when I lose, the guilt sets in.

Then there are times when the guilt is replaced by pride. I am reminded that I’m doing a damn good job. For example, when my kids say something I know they learned from me. Aiden told his brother the other day to stop touching him. Camryn wouldn’t, of course, as it’s much more fun to pester than it is to listen. Aiden said ‘When someone asks you to stop, you stop. Learn that early”. It was me, word for word from his mouth. Or when he lost his cool over something ridiculous and finally calmed down and said “I’m not perfect, but I promise you I’m doing the best I can’. Also my words, now his. Or when they see me cry and they stop what they are doing, one strokes my back and the other curls in a ball in my lap, and they tell me they love me.

Or how about at parent teacher interview when I was looking through Camryn’s Kindergarten workbook and there was one page that literally made me drop the book like it was on fire and start crying. It simply said, ‘Peace is My mom’. He had drawn a picture of me (or maybe it was Julia Roberts, I’m not really sure) but I cried so hard because I didn’t see myself as peace. I didn’t feel peace because I was too busy judging myself too harshly for being human.

It was then I realized that maybe I’m not failing. That maybe I should try seeing in myself what other people see.

Because maybe, just maybe, I was cut out for this after all.

peace

Glue

Sometimes I wish my kids would be, for me at home, the kids they are at school. No attitude. Listen well. Play well with others.  At home my two boys can challenge any 16 year old for attitude. They listen so well that I near break a blood vessel in my neck every time I try to get them to brush their teeth. And play well together? Sure, if playing together involves throwing punches and insults. I guess at school they are on their best behavior and once they are at home they unleash the lions. But the truth is, I would rather it that way (than the opposite).

I recently read an article on Facebook about how children are the most misbehaved around their Mother. Because I read it on Facebook, it MUST be true 😉  I do believe it though.  How many times does Nanny say ‘they were excellent, didn’t make a sound!’ Even the lady at the after-school program told me they play so well together. One day she said they cuddled and read a book. I cracked up laughing until I realized she wasn’t joking. She said they are a solid 10/10. 10 out of 10. By 8:34am Saturday morning they are a mere 5/10 for me. So why do I get the shitty end of the stick? Not all the time of course, but some of the time. It simply doesn’t seem fair that other people consistently get my children at their best.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have bad kids. They are good kids, kind, funny and thoughtful. It’s just that they are, well, kids and they are loud and they are temperamental and full of emotion they aren’t sure how to handle. At times, they are so sweet it melts my heart. To me and to others. Aiden told a stranger the other day at a gas station that he really liked what she had done to her hair. She smiled from ear to ear and told him that she made his day (and told me to look out because he’s going to be quite the charmer with the ladies).  He was beaming for making her so happy.  He then proceeded to tell me that I should really try to do my hair like hers. Sorry love, I’ll never be a blonde.

Camryn is full of character. The kid is full of spunk and has no problem twerking in the middle of Walmart. He could make any crotchety old man smile I’m sure. Just the other day when he thought I was asleep he leaned down to kiss my forehead and said “You’re so boo-tiful, mommy’ and walked away. ‘You are L-O-V-E, mommy’, he says 100 times a day.  Aiden told me he’d never be able to live in this world without me. He also told me I had the best singing voice he’s ever heard. And even though I know he must be partially deaf (I sound like a tortured cat), he said it because he wanted me to know that he loves the sound of my voice.

So that’s why it blows my mind how they can flip a switch and within a millisecond go from Jekyll to Hyde. How I love you turns to I hate you. How you’re the best mommy in the world becomes you’re the worst. It’s hard on the head and even worse on the heart when your kids say things they don’t really mean simply because they are so full of emotion they don’t know how to deal. Or they don’t get their own way. I’m trying to teach them early that words have power. That once you say something, you can never truly take it back, no matter how many times you apologize.

I’ve come to figure out……or at least this is what I’ve been told by a professional child counsellor- that my kids lash out at me because I am their safe place. They know that no matter what they do or say to me, I will love them. I won’t ever leave them. So I should be honored, what an accomplishment! Sounds so amazing and honestly brings a tear to my eye…… until one or both children are freaking out because I said no to the ipad, or causing me so much stress I check nightly for grey’s (that have yet to appear).  I’m the one who ends up in tears feeling utterly defeated. It doesn’t feel so warm and fuzzy then.

No matter how much of a safe place I am, I want my kids to respect me. I want them to be nice, kind people both at school AND at home, but if I let them act out and throw tantrums as a way of expressing their emotions and not say a word, I’m doing myself and them a disservice. It’s a fine line. A line that happens to be drawn in chaulk and peed on by the neighborhood dog. It’s hard. And I feel like I’m the only parent in the world struggling with this. Ding ding. Tag, I’m IT.

But I take the good with the bad and just hope that at the end of the day, I am not royally messing them up by yelling too much, or crying too much, or nagging too much or disciplining too much.  Or not enough. For every fight we have, there’s a tickle fight. For every tear, there’s a smile. There are dance competitions and games of charades, just like there are time outs. Because of this, I can’t help but think of something that was said recently on one of my favorite shows, This is Us:

“All you can do, as a parent, is try to pack the days with as much good stuff as possible and hope that it outweighs the bad. You hope that the good stuff sticks”.

I hope that the good stuff is glue.  I hope that I’m the glue.

 

Buzz kill

There are brief moments in time, usually when the kids are asleep, when I feel like I have this parenting thing figured out. It has happened about 4 times now in 7.5 years so I kind of feel like a pro.

If I’m being honest, most days I feel like I have no clue what I’m doing. I’m stuck in survival mode. They are fed, in one piece, happy and their basic needs are met, so I’m doing a dandy job if you ask me 😉  Of course to them, it’s not enough. They want chocolate at 7am, the ipad for 4 hours a day, and can’t seem to understand why it’s inappropriate to sit on the couch with no pants on and pretend their genitals are joysticks. I say no to these things, so to them, I’m no fun. To them, I am a total buzzkill.

When they are chasing one another around the house and I calmly ask them to stop 456 times, it’s when I finally lose my cool and yell that one of them runs head first into the wall. And of course, it’s my fault. Not only am I mean for yelling but I put the wall there just to make sure they couldn’t have fun. Buzz- Kill.

On school mornings, all they want to do is play. But I have to get them out the door for school so I can get to work on time, and they don’t understand why it’s not a good time to paint. Nor do they feel the need to help me out by doing anything I ask the first time. So toast gets cold, milk gets spilled, toothpaste dries up and half the time I forget to comb their hair because I feel like I’m constantly running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

“Aiden, eat your breakfast buddy, come on! Camryn, Camryn stop. Put that away. Don’t touch it. Because I said so. Where are your glasses! Now you have peanut butter all over your glasses….don’t touch your shirt! UGH! Go change!!! Grab your socks while you’re there. Aiden! Aiden put the ipad down. Fine, forget it, I’m leaving. Have fun home alone. Call the police, I don’t care! I’m gone………Camryn PUT ON YOUR SOCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

This is me, every morning. EVERY morning. I give them the same lecture all the time on the ride to school about not wanting to fight to get out the door. They sit and listen (or ignore). Camryn dancing in his seat to the newest pop hit on the radio (he gets that from me) and Aiden promising that tomorrow morning will be better and he really believes it will be (he gets that from me). And I pull up in the kiss and drop lane and I let them out and I give them each a hug and kiss and send them on their way, forgetting that I feel like I just punched a full day before 8:07am. I fight tears every damn time as I watch them walk into the school, side by side with their little book bags on their backs. Just like that, I’m snapped back to reality as someone beeps the horn behind me, reminding me that after you kiss and drop, you keep going. Total buzz kill, Mr. Green Toyota.

It’s like a viscous cycle. One minute they are driving me insane, so much so that I threaten to sell them on Kijiji for 1 dollar each. I tell them that too!! But because they don’t know what Kijiji is I don’t feel I am scarring them too much. Yet. The next minute they do something so sweet or cute that I radiate with pride. One minute I tell them they don’t listen to a word I say, and the next I realize that they listen even when I think they are not.

For example, Aiden was coloring at the kitchen table and I could smell the permanent marker so, being the buzz killer that I am, I went over to remind him that he knows better than to color with permanent marker. When he showed me what he was doing, I shut my mouth. I was speechless. He had colored a rock for my sister, and on it he had written ‘You can do this’ because he knew that she needed the encouragement. He used permanent marker because he said he didn’t want it to fade.  That moment was one of those special moments where I realized that maybe I AM doing something right after all.

Fast forward 5 mins and Camryn is throwing the word butthole around like it’s going out of style. Two minutes after that he’s telling me that I am L-O-V-E.  His bath time always starts off fun and ends when buzz kill Mommy shows rears her ugly head, yelling about water belonging IN THE TUB and not as a puddle on ceramic tile. By bedtime I’m threatening that I’ll be cancelling his birthday party if he doesn’t listen and 5 mins later he is calling me in for one last bedtime hug because he just wants to feel my arms around his neck. The cycle continues.

At the end of the day, as we cuddle on the couch and I feel like maybe the day wasn’t so bad after all, Aiden reminds me that we didn’t do his homework and Camryn says I sent him to school with the wrong lunch. *sigh*

While I may not have this figured out (and if you’ve ever read any of my blog posts you’ll know I’m the first to admit that),  I have to believe that within this cycle there are just as many things that I am doing right as I am wrong. They may not always listen. They may be so loud that you need to carry Advil in your back pocket when they are around, and they may have more attitude than a group of 15 year old teenagers (and the eye roll to boot) but they are good kids. They are kind (not always to one another, or me! Lol) but they have good hearts, fully bellies (except for Camryn, the kid eats nothing) and big smiles.

What more could you ask for as a parent?

Except chocolate at 7am.

Fine lines and Selfies

I’ve never been much into selfies. Since having my kids I find I take more, not of myself but of me and the kids. My sister and I actually invented the selfie years ago, we just didn’t know the name. haha. But on my phone there aren’t many pics of just me. And of those that exist none were taken in a bathroom and I guarantee there are no ‘duck lips’.

Kudos to anyone who loves taking selfies. I wish I had that confidence! But I generally don’t need to see myself that close up. Any time I do take a pic of myself, if I’m having a good hair day or like my new eye makeup, I tend to not like the pic, blame the lighting and delete. Snap. Delete. Snap. Delete. Snap *gasp* DELETE!!!! I recently wanted to update my facebook profile pic and considered a selfie. I took 24 I’d say. 3 were maybe’s. I was so unsure, I sent the one I hated least to a friend to ask her if I looked weird. Then I sent the same pic to my husband and also asked my kids for their honest opinions. Despite getting approval from all of the above, I still haven’t posted it.

What I did post recently on Facebook was a trip down memory lane. I put up 30+ pictures from the last 20 years. I generally don’t like myself in pics so of course I chose the ones that I didn’t hate. In fact, some of them I actually liked and I couldn’t help but wonder if at the time the pic was taken did I like what I saw or did I pick myself apart (like I do now). We are all our own worst critics after all.

There were two things I noticed about these pics. 1) My hair hasn’t changed in two decades (give or take an inch or side bang versus full) and 2) I looked younger. Keep in mind these pics spanned 20 years so in some of them I was in my teens. But even the ones from 10 years ago, I looked like a baby. I was completely carefree, had no real responsibilities, lived at home with my parents, worked full time, had someone cook all my meals (thanks mom!), do my laundry (thanks mom!), and I slept well. Frig, I used to come home from university (okay and work) and take a nap for an hour before supper. So no wonder I looked younger. I also looked relaxed and rested.  Because I was. Why the hell didn’t I take more selfies back then??? Lol

Recently (even months before I had this trip down memory lane) I have become obsessed with something about myself that seems to have changed over the last few years. It was something I noticed in pics. I looked different somehow. My eyes, they looked tired (and not just during the 2 year zombie stage when Camryn refused to sleep at night). From what I could tell, my dark circles were more prominent and I had these little lines that weren’t there before. Hmmm……how did that happen? When did that happen??

In reality, of course I don’t look the same as I did 20 years ago! I’m not the same person. How could I be? I’ve had so much more life experience. From graduating university and getting my first car and job to moving away and starting over, getting married, buying a house, pregnancies, kids, miscarriage, and struggling with post-partem and anxiety. It turns out the everyday stress of life, love and motherhood has a funny way of wearing on your face. I guess in my mind, it was that somehow my eyes were revealing my truths.

And the biggest truth of all was that I’m getting older. It was like I was suddenly announcing to the world that I was not 20 , or even 30 years old anymore. So I started spending way too much money on creams and serums designed to eliminate fine lines and wrinkles. When I bought an Oil of Olay anti-aging cream at the drugstore last summer I was hoping the young perky 20 year old serving me would ask me if I was buying this cream for someone else because SURELY it wasn’t for me! Of course she never, but I was just glad she didn’t ask me if I needed a pack of Depends to go with my eye cream. What I did need was 8 new under-eye concealers. Yes, 8! I bought any concealer (any price) that promised to brighten my eyes and conceal dark circles. You know the ones that give you the instant ‘awake ‘look!  Well, I call bullshit. It turns out if you don’t sleep well and you’re not in your 20’s, no cream or concealer can make you look rested (or younger). It’s a fact of life.  Suck it up and deal with it.

I’ve decided to do just that – to stop worrying about stupid shit like my under eyes (which, when compared to friends my age are no worse than anyone else’s. Sorry ladies, I’ve been Zooming!!) Why? Because the reality is, in this day and age, I’m lucky that I don’t have more serious issues to deal with. There are women my age with breast cancer and other diseases who have to worry about such things as how their kids will manage if something happens to them. This realization makes me feels so foolish and yet so lucky. I work in a job where I’m reminded daily how blessed I am to have the life I do. I have the luxury of getting wrinkles and I hope and pray I get the opportunity to have a face full of them. I want to earn each and every one.

I also have a husband who loves me, and has since I was 17 years old. While he may have contributed to some of my wrinkles (from both laughter and tears), he doesn’t look at pictures of me and suggest we try from another angle because my face looks fat (he’d get a punch if he did!! Lol). My kids don’t look at pictures of me and say ‘wow mom, your dark circles are really noticeable in that shot, can we re-take it?’. They don’t notice if my hair desperately needs to be cut (or washed, depending on the day). They see me as I am and they love what they see. They see ME. And I want to see myself the way they see me.

So from today on I vow to criticize myself less. I plan to take more pics, maybe even selfies, and to be less concerned with my new found ‘fine lines and wrinkles’. I will take more and delete less. While I still find it weird to think that I am closer to 40 than I am 30, I plan to take care of myself (and not in the form of expensive eye creams) so that in 20 years time when I look back at pics the only thing I will think to say is, ‘my goodness, look how happy I look”.

Take care of yourself. From the inside, out.

 

 

 

 

All by myself

This weekend, my husband had to ‘go home’ (to the city we grew up in, which is 2 hours from where we live now) for a sporting event. At first we had all planned to go- me, hubby and the kids.  I usually welcome such weekends away to see family and friends, and shop in a mall that has more than 4 stores.

Then I had a brilliant idea. I’d send the kids in with their dad (to stay at Nana’s) and I’d stay home. Alone. All weekend. I repeat: ALONE. ALL. WEEKEND. 2 nights and 2.5 days all by myself.

And here I am. Aside from the howling of the wind outside and the growling of my stomach (because I’ve been eating nothing but peanut butter and cheerios since yesterday), I’m sitting here in silence. It really is golden.

I’m one of those mothers who spends pretty much 24/7 with her kids (outside of my working hours). If you see me somewhere in town, 9 chances out of 10 my kids are not far behind. I live in a small town with no family support and my hubby works shift work (thus works and sleeps at weird times) and has more extra-curricular activities than me, so it’s just me and the kids a lot. And I’m too cheap to pay a sitter while I run to Sobeys, so we go together or we do without 😉

The idea of having a weekend alone excited me far too much. I was told I was worse than a kid at Christmas. It was true. It’s truly the little things that bring me joy and for me yesterday it was coming home from work to an empty house. I had no one to cook for, no one giving me attitude, no one to referee, no one to bathe, no one to discipline. No legos to step on or toys to help clean up. I was free.

So naturally, I ate a crappy supper, did my exercise videos in peace without almost smacking one of my kids in the head with my dumbbell or having them crawl under my legs as I do my squats or hold plank. I danced around my living room with music on bust, curtains open (sorry neighbors), and I sang along and danced like no one was watching. That’s what they say to do, right? Well, I did it. Then I binge watched my shows and crawled into bed an hour later than usual (party animal, I know!).

This, ladies and gentleman, was the moment I was waiting for. SLEEP. Not broken sleep like I get every damn night, but true sleep. Consecutive hours of uninterrupted sleep. You see, I live on broken sleep and I can’t blame my kids. My husband is loud. So when he’s coming and going at midnight (from hockey) or 4am (from work), I wake up. When he’s making popcorn or nachos or deep frying French fries at midnight or 4am, I wake up. When he gets in bed and says good night and starts snoring, I wake up. Add to this the odd time my youngest wakes for a) his blankie to be placed over him or b) to tell me he loves me, it makes for a lot of broken sleep. Of course my oldest wakes up at 5:15am on the regular so I can’t catch a break. I’d never wear my Fitbit to bed to track my sleep because it would depress the shit out of me.  So last night I got in bed and I slept for 10 solid hours straight. I don’t even know if I woke once. I never rolled out of bed until 8:45am. That may as well be noon for me. I felt rested for the first time in, well, 7 years.

The house was empty. Quiet. It was so weird I had to turn on the radio to drown out the silence. But with my fellow mama’s in mind, I took advantage of it, soaked up every moment……and I cleaned. My sister said ‘fuck cleaning, do whatever you want’. I laughed because that’s what I wanted to do -clean.  I cleaned my house from top to bottom. In peace. Not a rushed job because someone needed me or my attention. You could eat off my floors today, and not because there is dried food stuck to it. I cleaned the bathrooms and 5 minutes later there was no pee on the floor or toilet seat. My house stayed clean. And when I was mopping the floors I didn’t have to be a walking, talking wet floor sign, warning small feet to be careful not to slip. I also didn’t have to curse at big feet for walking right across my freshly mopped floors with dirty ol’ work boots. It was glorious.

I ran errands (alone!!) because tonight I am getting together with a few friends for drinks (something else that doesn’t happen very often, let me tell ya). Because I had a decent sleep, I imagine staying up past 10pm won’t be a problem. And I can stay out late because I won’t have anyone waking me up throughout the night or at 5am. I’m gonna have some drinks, eat too much junk and enjoy myself. Even if I do have to pay for it tomorrow.

The truth is, I do miss my kids, I swear. I’ve called them 3 times since they left. I’ve texted with my mother, mother in law and my hubby to check in on them about 25 times. To make matters worse, to my surprise Aiden cried to break his heart yesterday because he didn’t want to leave me. I honestly felt sick to my stomach as they pulled out of the driveway, regretting my decision to send them in. I felt guilty.  Even though I knew that I need this break, that I deserve this weekend alone, I felt greedy for wanting this time to myself. I shouldn’t, but I did.

I learned the hard way that I need to make time for myself, to do things for myself. While I’ve gotten better at doing that (Zumba, walks (alone or with my buddy) and occasional movie or dinner dates), its weekends like this that help give me the true break I need. Not only do I feel recharged, it’s also a nice reminder of how lucky I am to have my family. To have kids that I get to tuck in at night and tell me they love me. It gives us a chance to miss one another. It also gives my kids a chance to spend time with their grandparents and cousins. So there are pros for all of us, not just me.

Tonight, I’ll put on something other than my yoga pants or work clothes and I’ll do my hair and makeup like I’m 25 again (only this time I’ll have crow’s feet to try to cover up the best I can (haha)). I’ll enjoy my kid free night. Then I’ll come home late and hopefully sleep late tomorrow morning. I’ll need the rest because tomorrow is back to reality.  I know the second I wake I’ll sit and stare at the clock, waiting for my little men to arrive home so I can give them a weekend full of hugs and I’ll kiss their faces until they tell me to stop. And even then I won’t. I’ll go back to being a referee and will likely be back to wanting to pull my hair out 10 mins after they get back. But that’s it! That’s life! That’s motherhood. You take the good with the bad. There’s no way around it.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

P.S. That’s bullshit- I’d totally change Aiden’s 5am wake up time for sure. But that’s it, I swear. I don’t want to be greedy, right? 😉

No more Ketchup

Hi,

I figured it was time to write a blog. It’s been a while and lately it seems I have enough material to work with. Between the kids dropping F-bombs, smacking, and talking non-stop about poop, bums and farts, I could write a book. 

I have 3 siblings, two older sisters and a younger brother.  The only one I remember fighting with is my brother. He’s 5 years younger than me and I remember when he was a baby, I’d sit outside his bedroom door and rock back and forth while he cried, fighting sleep. I also remember being excited to help him print his name. Turns out I had no patience and the first time he didn’t get it right, I deemed him a lost cause and left that task for his teachers. When I was a teenager he drove me nuts. We’d be sitting at the kitchen table and his breathing would bother me. True story (sorry bro if you’re reading this). As I grew older, we fought less and got closer. I’m hoping my kids have the same fate.

My boys started in on the fighting much earlier than my brother and I. They go from one extreme to the other in 10 seconds flat. They could be sitting quietly on the couch side by side, or playing Mario and Luigi, having a blast, and 10 seconds later one of them must turn into Bowzer as the laughs and smiles turn to screams and slaps.   

They will fight over everything, from where they sit at the kitchen table to who pees faster when they play ‘swords’.  They fight over their identical placemats. It doesn’t help that Aiden likes to act like Camryn’s parent and scold him when he thinks he’s doing something wrong. Just recently, I had put Camryn’s ketchup on his plate and he wanted more. Not a big deal (or so I thought) but Aiden didn’t feel Camryn needed more as he hadn’t used what was on his plate. Valid point, but unlike Aiden I have learned to pick my battles so I put my hands on the ketchup bottle, ready to squeeze. Aiden yelled NO, so Camryn started to cry, begging for the ketchup. Aiden yelled “YOU ALREADY HAVE SOME!’. Then he started to cry too. I was dumbfounded. What the F*** was going on? Why in the world did Aiden care that Camryn wanted more ketchup? If I didn’t care, he sure as hell shouldn’t! It’s not like he was paying for it out of his birthday money or something!

Speaking of which, do you know the first thing Aiden bought out of his birthday money? Something for his brother. He bought Camryn a fidget spinner. It didn’t matter that he already had one (apparently you can’t have too many fidget spinners but you can have too much ketchup), it’s what he wanted so it’s what Aiden bought him. I was so proud of him, I almost cried in Walmart (wouldn’t be the first time). Same as when we visit a doctor’s office, Aiden will take a sticker for his brother (and vice versa).  They miss each other when they are apart. Even after a recent screaming match where Aiden told Camryn he needed a break from him, 5 minutes later in the car (just the two of us) he looks over at Camryn’s empty car seat and says “I wish Camryn was here’.  If we see a toy or a movie preview, one will instantly think about the other. So the love, it’s there. I know it.

In addition to trying to parent, Aiden also tattles. Camryn can’t fart and Aiden is telling me. If Camryn says a bad word or is rude (which is common lately since he blossomed early and has the 4 year old attitude at 3), Aiden tells me, most likely just so he can repeat it. One claims the other smacked, the other denies it. It’s never ending. Until they are asleep of course when they look so sweet and innocent that you almost doubt that all the fights from that day even happened.

But I know they happened. I know it’s real. But sometimes I feel like the only mother livin’ the dream of moonlighting as a referee. Is it because I have two boys? Is it because they are close in age? Is it because I’m falling down on the job and have no control? I know it’s not, but sometimes it feels that way.

I know Facebook is not the real world; people post their best on Facebook (except for me apparently seeing as I recently posted a pic of my beautiful smiling boys and warned not to buy into the smiles as I wanted to sell my kids on kijiji for $20 that day). The truth is, you post the smiley pics because it’s easier. It’s easier to show people the happy, and it’s easier to take those pics. Seriously, when my kids are in the midst of a screaming match and fist fight, I can’t ask them to pause while I grab the camera. “Hang on a second Camryn, hit your brother again so I can capture the full effect of the blow to his face’. That may not go over well and let’s be honest, it probably wouldn’t be received well by most people. I also know I’d get a few ‘likes’ (you know who you are. Haha). So we wipe away the tears and when the fight is over, we smile and take a pic because that’s what we want people to see. That’s what we want to remember and take away from the day. That’s what matters most.

The rest, the non-smiles, is like ketchup. You know you’ll have some, you just don’t want too much as it can spoil everything.

Sonya