You can now find Capital Mom at www.capitalmom.ca

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Me and mine

Did you see us this morning as you walked by Starbucks on your way to work? Yes, that was us.

We had stopped in for a coffee. I went to get in line but she started demanding to get out of the stroller. After extracting a promise from her not to touch anything I freed her from the restraints. She promptly went and claimed a table by the window. I guess we were staying.

I huddled in the wooden chair at the round table by the window. My wet hair pulled back into a pony tail, the bangs pinned to one side. Wearing my uniform under my coat. The bags under my eyes and my pasty skin conveying that it had been another rough night. I watched my kids devour a multi grain bagel with cream cheese (him) and a requested pumpkin scone (her). I greedily drank my coffee.

She shrieked long and loud when I shared some of her scone with her brother. I threatened to leave. She apologized and went back to her scone.

He finished and climbed out of his chair. He wandered around looking at things. Pointing at things. Nothing got broken or spilled. I felt grateful.

I loaded them back into the stroller with promises of a trip past the dog park. Still clutching my coffee we left.

Chocolate

Mmm, chocolate.

I never used to like chocolate. I could seriously take it or leave it. If it was a choice between a bowl of chips and a chocolate bar, I would choose the chips every time. Except ketchup chips. Gross.

Then I got pregnant with the girl and a developed a taste for the sweetness that is chocolate. Mmm, chocolate. I have even come to love the 70% dark chocolate that the husband favours. I will occasionally find myself raiding his stash in the cupboard by the stove. A stash that will have to be moved because I have seen the girl looking calculatingly at the cupboard.

Lynn from Turtlehead kindly sent me a lovely virtual Easter basket. She thought that even though it wasn't a cupcake, I might still like it. And the timing is perfect. After the weekend of sick I could use some chocolate.



By mentioning this Easter Basket on my blog, I’m helping get Hershey’s to contribute a total of $5000 — $10 per blog post — to the Children’s Miracle Network.


If you’re interested in sending a virtual Easter Basket, here are the rules: 
  • Copy and paste these rules to your blog post.
  • Create a blog post giving a virtual Easter Basket to another blogger – you can give as many Virtual Baskets as you want.
  • Link back to person who gave you an Easter Basket.
  • Let each person you are giving a Virtual Easter Basket know you have given them a Basket.
  • Leave your link at BetterBasket.info/BlogHop comment section. You can also find the official rules of this #betterbasket blog hop, and more information about Better Basket with Hershey’s there.
  • Hershey’s is donating $10 per each blog participating to the Better Basket Blog Hop to Children’s Miracle Network (up to total of $5,000 by blog posts written by April 4th, 2010).
  • Please note that only one blog post by each blog url will count towards the donation.
 I am passing on this basket to my dear friend at Careless Campers because she is back at work now and I have the feeling she could use a stash of chocolate in her desk drawer.

Mmm, chocolate.

Monday, March 29, 2010

This is parenting

The fever started on Friday.

On Saturday she slept. Waking occasionally to eat or watch a video, she spent the day napping in our bed.

Sunday morning she woke for the day at 1:30am. The next few hours were spent comforting her as she threw up. Three times. Sunday was a long day.

She woke up again this morning at 1:30am and wouldn't go back to sleep. I tried to be thankful that she wasn't throwing up. I tried to get her back to sleep.

I was exhausted but comforted myself with the fact that the husband was sleeping and I could pass her off to him at 5am. At 5am I learnt that he had been up for an hour and a half with the boy. He was as tired as I was.

I had a hysterical sleep-deprivation-induced breakdown in the living room. The husband sent me back to bed. I slept for three hours. When I woke up the husband went back to bed.

I am struggling to find my balance. My patience.

This my friends, is parenting.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Passing it on

I thought that the first day into my second year of blogging would be a good time to stop and thank some people for passing on some kind awards to me. I am embarrassed to say that I have taken my sweet time with some of these. I blame it on my disinclination to do anything that I feel like I should do, even if I want to do it. Yup, that is just one of the wonderful personality traits that I that makes me me.

First to thank are two fellow bloggers from Ontario who kindly passed on A Bloggy award to me. I tried to upload the image, but well, for some reason I couldn't. Something else that makes me me is my lack of technological skills.

Mary Lynn from Riding in a Handbasket gave me a great wee perk-me-up with this award. There is nothing like knowing someone enjoys reading you to make you smile.

Momshell from The Momshelter provided me with what might be the most interesting description of Capital Mom ever. She said that "reading her blog is like sleeping on clean white sheets and ignoring the fact your child left a booger on your pant leg." It's always interesting to find out what others think of you, isn't it.

From the other side of the world, Lifeslightlyused's Blog bestowed upon me the Honest Scrap award. Somehow I managed to upload that picture. I was a surprised as you are.




The Honest Scrap Award Rules say that I must:

1. Brag about the award.
2. Include the name of the blogger who gave you the award and link back to that blogger.
3. Choose a selection of blogs that you find brilliant in honest content
4. Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with this award.
5. List at least ten honest things about yourself.

………then pass it on with the instructions!

Here are my ten honest things about myself. Consider it the book club edition:

- I don't like the book we are currently reading for book club.
- I didn't finish the book and I don't plan too.
- I am going to honestly tell everyone at the book club that I didn't like it and why.
- If I don't like a book I skip to the last chapter and read that so I know what happens in the end. - I was too bored to read the last chapter of the book club book.
- I read Twilight. Well, most of it because I didn't like it and skipped to the end.
- My favorite book is Pride and Prejudice.
- I first read it for high school English class and love it.
- I am going to pick it as my next book choice for book club because some of the members hadn't read it yet.
- I love book club.

I am passing this award onto some of the awesome Ottawa bloggers that I have already started working with on the new parenting blog we are starting. They are all going to bring great voices to the project! And hopefully we will have more awesome bloggers joining them!

If you don't know them already, please go check out:

- Lara at Gilding through Motherhood

- Vicky at Some kind of Wondermom

- Lynn at Turtlehead

- Shannon at A Crafty Mom

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A year

A lot has happened in the last year. My baby became a toddler. My toddler became a girl. We settled in our life as a foursome.

I started blogging.

At first I had no idea what I was doing. Sometimes I still don't. But I did it anyway and here we are. A year later.

I wish now I had started sooner because blogging has changed my life.

Blogging has helped me to find my voice. It has prompted me to overcome my fear of writing and to discover that it is both something that I love and that I am good at. I am proud of what I write. I am eager to learn how I can improve.

Blogging has given me confidence in my parenting. Writing about the daily challenges and struggles have allowed me to take a step back and view my experiences with new eyes. To find the humour where I might not otherwise see it. To realize that I am doing a good job with these kids of mine, despite how I might feel sometimes.

Blogging has reminded me that that we are all our stories. I have been excited to find bloggers with similar stories to mine and been glad to share their journey. I have been amazed and awed by the stories of others. Reading these real-life stories has made me reflect on my own in ways that reading fiction never has.

Blogging has introduced me to bloggers whose "in real-life" friendships I have come to value and count on. Friends that I may not have met otherwise but whose company I adore.

Three hundred and sixty five days. Almost as many posts.

The next year will bring as many changes. The kids will keep growing. I will head back to work. The husband will take over as the primary caregiver. I hope that I will continue to blog once I am back sitting in front of a desk all day. I don't want to lose what I have started here.

Let's see shall we? Let's see what the next year brings.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ma!

While it sounds like he is calling me Ma Ingalls style, he is really using his new favorite word. He mispronounces it, but the meaning is pretty clear.

Mine!

The favorite word of toddlers everywhere, it is usually accompanied by grabbing, pushing or pointing. He grabs the boot I am trying to help him put on with one hand while pushing me away with the other. He yanks the cracker from my hand and runs screaming from the room in case I try to take it back. He points at the baking on the counter while looking at me and shrieking.

Mine!

I think that he likes saying mine more then he likes whatever it is that he feels is his. He likes to stake his claim. Exert his independence. Establish his domain.

Mine!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Maple syrup

Like a bindi, a drop of maple syrup sat on his forehead above his eyes. He didn't seem to mind the sticky substance. I didn't notice how it got there, but I did watch him devour a treat of maple toffee on a stick that had been poured and rolled in the snow as we watched.

The four of us visited the sugar shack yesterday. It was a field trip with the girl's preschool. I was going to go with her and the boy and the then the husband wanted to come too. So we all went.

The boy loved the sweet candy on a stick he licked at until it disappeared. He did not like the school bus. He did not like the wagon ride. In fact, I don't know if he liked much except the toffee.

The girl liked the school bus. The girl liked the wagon ride. The girl liked dragging her friend behind her by his hand through the maple trees. Needles to say she liked the maple toffee on a stick.

I liked my maple toffee too. At least what I was able to eat of it until it was dropped in the dirt. I don't want to point fingers but, really, someone should know how to be more careful after thirty-seven years.

After an exciting (for the kids) and tiring (for us) morning we headed back into the bus for the ride back to school. The boy cuddled on my lap. The girl looked out the window. Just in case the kids hadn't had enough sugar the teachers handed out maple cookies to all the kids as they headed home.

If it didn't feel like such an Ottawa tradition it might feel strange watching my eighteen month old lick sticky maple syrup off of a stick, but that is all part of life in this town.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another blog

Some wonderful friends and I are working on a new parenting blog. The idea is to share things we do with our familes (activites, attractions, events, crafts, cooking, etc.) in Ottawa with other parents. We are all very excited and hope to lauch it soon, but....

We don't have a name. We need a name. Can you help us with a name?

We decided to host a Twitter contest. This is what we tweeted:

New Ottawa family blog needs name. Best idea wins $25 Starbucks card and 12 cupcakes! Tweet idea by end day March 25. #Ottawafamilyblog

I will be making the cupcakes. I promise they will be good.

If you are on Twitter can you help us out and tweet your idea with the hash tag #Ottawafamilyblog. If you aren't on Twitter but have an idea, please leave it in the comments.

Can't wait to share the blog with you all.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Enough

Will I ever be good enough?
Probably not.
Will they ever be good enough?
They already are.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monkeys

I live with two monkeys. My monkeys like to jump and climb. Screech suddenly. Eat bananas.

One of the monkeys has decided to adopt the monkey see, monkey do saying as his life's motto. He watches my other monkey and has to do exactly everything that she does. Everything.

She bangs her spoon on the table. Before you can ask her to please stop, he bangs his spoon on the table.

She asks for a bowl of yogurt and berries. No point ever asking him if he wants some because he will just yell if you come out of the kitchen with just one bowl.

She hits me in frustration. He walks across the room and hits me. Twice.

She heads for the swings. He is right behind her trying to climb into the one beside to her.

She grabs a shirt from her cupboard. He grabs one too and tries persistently to put it on.

She stands up on her chair and before you can say please sit on your bum he has gotten up off his bum to stand on his chair.

She starts to jump off a step as we go down the stairs. Looking directly at the boy I say to her no jumping on the stairs please, it isn't safe. Then I rush to catch him as he jumps off the top step.

I love that he loves her. I love it. Really! I just wish that the mimicking would end. But I have a feeling it is only going to get worse.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Toes

Over the monitor I hear the rustling sounds that let me know he is awake. I hold my breath, waiting to see if he will put himself back to sleep. When I hear him start to yell I pull myself up off the couch and head upstairs, leaving the girl to finish watching a video on her own.

Just as I reach the top step and am about to open the baby gate, I catch a glimpse into his room through the space between the bottom on his door and the floor. Peaking back at me are ten little toes. He had pulled his socks off before his nap and now stands barefooted on the other side of the door. The sound of a rattling door knob is accompanied by yells for me to come and get him already.

I laugh and hurry to his room, amazed and also trepidatious about the fact that he has figured out how to crawl out of his toddler bed and around the bed rail in only three weeks. His sister slept in that bed for almost two years, mostly without a bed rail, and only in the last few weeks sleeping in the bed did she discover that she could get out of it on her own. She preferred to stay in bed and holler for us until one of us came to her.

I don't think I am going to teach him how to turn a doorknob. Hollering really isn't that bad.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Value

I have been reflecting on the value other people seem to place on blogging, particularly women bloggers. After reading that bloggers are mostly men (well, the interesting ones anyway) and that women that blog are either building their brand or complaining about their kids I have been questioning the value that others might place not only on my blog, but on me.

I write about my life. Right now my life just happens to involve being the primary caregiver for two kids under four. So that is what I write about.

I could write about other things: books I read, my opinions on politics or my distrust of drivers in this city. I could tell you the letters I have behind my name. I could talk as an expert about the paid work I used to do and will soon do again.

But I don't want to.

All of those things are valuable. All of those topics would make for interesting blog posts and could spawn interesting comments threads. There is someone out there blogging about all of those things already. I choose not to add my voice to theirs.

Instead I use this space to explore my own experiences as a mother and the journey I am on with my family. To me that is just as valuable as discussing current events.

Obviously not everyone feels the same. That makes me question not only the value they might place on my blog, but the value they place on parenting and children. Is anything I have done in my life as valuable as raising these kids to be decent and kind and loving? Is there anything as valuable our society can do than raise our kids? I really don't think so.

Politics, the economy, current events and all those other issues clamoring for the front page of the newspaper are important. I just don't value them as much as I do parenting. So that is what I write about.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Head tilt

He looks at me and tilts his head to his right. Aaangh! he says lowering his ear down to touch his shoulder. In case I wasn't listening he raises his head and then tilts it again. Do you want to nurse? I ask him from where I am sitting on the couch. Ye-ah! he yells.

Somehow tilting his head has become the boy's way of indicating that he wants to breastfeed. Most likely it is an evolution from when he would crawl into my lap and then flop sideways in my arms to get into the optimum position. The sideways motion has remained, but now it is his head tilting sideways that lets me know what he wants. I could probably teach him a sign, or even a word, for breastfeeding but I have never got around to it. I never thought I'd need to.

I told myself I would breastfeed the boy until he was the same age as the girl when I weaned her. When the girl was a year old I headed back to work. Shortly after that I found myself feeling tired and irritated when it came time to breastfeed, so I decided to stop offering unless she asked. She didn't ask and that was that. She was weaned at thirteen months.

The boy is now eighteen months old. I am still home with him and I wonder if that makes a difference. Breastfeeding is an easy and comforting thing he likes to do before his nap and bedtime so we do it. He asks and I don't say no. Sometimes he asks at other time during the day. I usually say yes if we are at home.

I think about weaning him. Then I think about how much he will hate that and how much I will hate fighting him about it. I told myself I would do it when we moved him to a toddler bed. I tell myself that I will do it when his last two teeth come in. I tell myself many things.

Until then he keeps looking at me and tilting his head.

Tulips

Six tall tulips growing in a pot. Dark pink flowers, their petals are closed to the overcast sky. They sit by the sink to get the most sun. I look at them often.

Yesterday they brought me moments of joy. I was exhausted after a long night with a girl who decided that midnight is a better time for talking than sleeping. The flowers, my favorite, made me smile.

Today I don't need them as much. I can smile without needing a glimpse of the vibrant pink flowers against the green leaves.

Still, I look at them often.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The barber

We were early. The kids peaked though the doors, pressing their faces against the glass. They pointed to the colourful seats and the horse ride. We killed some time by stopping for a snack from the food court and tying to prevent the boy from launching himself down the escalator.

The doors finally opened and we headed inside. The boy was bold and rushed ahead. The girl was cautious, reluctant to finally meet the "barber" and have her first real haircut. A haircut that didn't involve me quickly snipping her bangs while she wiggled in front of me on the dinning room table.

She needed a haircut. Her bangs had been cut, she had even cut some of her hair herself, but the hair reaching down to the middle of her back were her white blond baby locks. It needed to be snipped and tidied.

He boy needed a haircut too. His face was becoming obstructed by wispy pieces of his white hair that would fall forward to cover his eyes. The back was too long. He looked shaggy.

The girl went first. She sat in a chair shaped like a car. She could have pretended to drive the car but she was too mesmerized by the video playing on the wall across the room. That kept her riveted enough that she didn't notice the inches being removed from the back of her hair until it reached her shoulder. She did managed to tear her eyes away from the screen long enough to look at the hairdresser while her bangs were trimmed. The girl grimaced and squeezed her eyes shut when I made the hairdresser go back and make them even shorter.

When she was done the girl had her photo taken by the hairdresser. She had some sparkles added to her hair. I have sparkles in my hair she said to her grandma later, like a big, huge donut!

The girl had been nervous about the "barber". I had been nervous too. In the end she cautiously enjoyed it. I didn't cry she said to me. Unlike her brother.

The boy patiently wandered around and played while his sister had her hair cut. Once she was done and I told him it was his turn he started to sob. Big wet tears rolled down his face during his haircut. He sat red faced in an orange airplane chair while the hairdresser cut and cut. In the end more of his hair lay around him than had been cut off of his sister.

How do you want it cut? the hairdresser had asked me. Um, shorter? I had said. Okay, a boy cut she said back. I guess I replied, but not a, a... A brush cut, my mother-in-law had supplied. Yes, not that I had said.

The hairdresser trimmed and shaped until I could see the boy's ears and the back of his neck. His fine features emerged from behind the layers of hair. I watched the face of a boy appear and the last vestiges of his baby face disappear.

Bits of his blond hair fell and got stuck in the cherry lollipop he sucked on. The lollipop and the hand mirror I held in front of him were the only things that would temporarily steam his tears. When the haircut was finally done the hairdresser took the picture of a tear-streaked boy with a red sticky face.

We cleaned him off. The girl and boy took turns riding on the mechanical horse. We paid and thanked the hairdresser.

I took home two kids that looked older than when we had arrived.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The gang

"It's like the gang is all here" she said watching the kids play at the park. Her kids. My kids. Neighbors' kids. A group of ten or so youngsters five and under tearing around the play structure, running in the wading pool and chasing each other across the basketball court.

Some parents I hadn't seen since fall. Some parents I had seen in passing as we pushed our strollers down the street in opposite directions. Some parents I see every week, as much as I can.

Our kids had all grown. They all look different. Older.

The snow has melted. The puddles are gone. Park season has begun.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Discovering my passion

This post was written as my entry to the Mabel’s Labels BlogHer ‘10 Contest. What would I write as my last blog post if electrical storms were going to wipe out the Internet, possibility forever? This.

Thank you.

Thank you for listening to me rant about my children, bemoan the lack of sleep I get and worry about my parenting skills. Thank you for leaving me kind comments that make me feel better and remind me I am not alone. Thank you for sharing with me your own lives and thoughts.

I am going to miss you all.

To those that I won't be able to keep in touch with anymore, those of you that live across the country and on the other side of the world, be well and know that I will be thinking of you. To those that have become my friends in person, those of you that have seen my messy house and my messy children, know that I will be calling you. The phones are still working. I plan to use them frequently.

I hope that this electrical storm or whatever it is will pass and when I go to turn on my computer tomorrow the red light will illuminate and the funny computer sounds will start. I hope that because what I am most thankful for about the Internet is the passion I have discovered for writing.

This blog has been my lifeline, my therapy, my place to find humour in the everyday. The words I have written here on this blog have helped me understand myself better. I will miss coming and writing these stories for myself, for my kids, for you.

I need these words. They are my memories. They are mine and I love them. I plan to copy and paste them into a file on my computer and print them out. They will be a reminder of my online adventure and my adventure in parenting. Without you all to motivate me to keep writing I can't promise that I will add to these pages.

But I will try.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Twins

I was waiting for someone to ask. Since pulling our two double strollers up to the museum entrance we had been getting looks. Looking at us, looking at the four blond heads we were trailing behind. There were some smiles. Some puzzled looks.

The question finally came in the elevator between the first and second floors.

Do you have two sets of twins? the mother asked holding onto the handle of her single stroller.

No I laughed. Two of these are ours and two of them are brothers.

But they do kind of look alike admitted the husband.

Yes they do said the mother. I was impressed that you were out and about she said.

Oh, I said, I think if we had two sets of twins we would never leave the house!

I thought briefly about the woman last month who stopped me at a restaurant I was lunching at with the kids and friends to ask me about my bag. We got talking and she mentioned that she has two sets of twins. I marvelled but didn't have a chance to ask her how on earth she managed.

I though about the friends I know with twins. I am in awe of them.

And then I gave up thinking again for the next fifty minutes as the husband and I took turns trading off following the older kids and the younger kids in pairs around the museum. The girl was happy to drag her buddy W along behind her, and for the most part he humoured her. The boy was happy to walk along side me, except when he wanted to be the one holding W's hand. And T, the youngest, seem to take it all in that relaxed way of his.

Two sets of they-look-like-twins. It was an adventure. It went great. If only there had been no one else at the museum it would have been easy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Uniform

The morning sunlight filters through the window. I listen to the sounds of the husband corralling the kids into their coats and boots downstairs. I enjoy my moment alone.

I pick up my black yoga pants from their spot on the floor near the bed. I ignore the yogurt and porridge stains from the day before. I put them on, along with a pair of clean underwear. I pick up yesterday's t-shirt and throw it in the overflowing laundry basket. I grab a clean t-shirt from the drawer. I pull on the pink hooded sweatshirt I have worn everyday this week. I rifle through the black socks lying on the floor until I find two of mine without stickers stuck to them. I don't bother checking to see if they match.

I glance in the mirror. I contemplate brushing the hair I washed yesterday. Instead I pull it back into a ponytail and pin my bangs back with a bobby pin.

The husband has started herding the kids out the door and into the stroller parked on the porch. That's okay. I'm ready.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wonderwall

I was nineteen. He was twenty-three. It played all the time on the radio in London.

I was in love.

I pushed the shopping cart. The boy sat in the front seat. The girl sat in the back among the eggs, milk and bread. It played over the speakers.

The song made me smile. I started to sing. The boy shook his head at me, telling me to stop. The girl started to sing a song about wormans that turned into a song about her brother pooing on the potty. The boy started to sing his favorite song. I kept singing. The boy kept shaking his head at me. I turned the cart down aisle five in search of baked beans for the husband.

I don't believe that anybody
Feels the way I do
About you now

And all the roads that lead to you were winding
And all the lights that light the way are blinding
There are many things that I would like to say to you
I don't know how


I'm still in love. Times three.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mud

Her friend was climbing up a hill and she was behind him. He fell backwards and she fell too. From across the playground I heard her cries. With one eye still on the boy making his way towards the off limits play structure, I swooped down upon her and pulled her up. She was covered in mud. Her boots were muddy, her rain pants were muddy and her coat was muddy.

I suggested she lie down in the snow and try to rub some of the mud off. As she and I discussed the virtues of such an idea, I turned around and found the boy lying happily on his back in a pile of snow. His red snow suit a sharp contrast against the white below him. Finally she agreed. I grabbed her arms and dragged her back and forth, back and forth across the school yard. She laughed.

She cried when she stood up and realized that her bum was now wet. Dissatisfied, she started to take her pants off. I quickly found a spare pair in her school bag and she changed out in the open air. I chased the boy down and, ignoring his pleas for freedom, shoved him in the stroller. The girl tore off her jacket, declaring that she was too hot for it. Instead, she sat on it in the stroller on the way home. She cuddled beside her brother and wrapped herself in the fleece blanket.

Spring is here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Doctor

The girl was weighed and measured. The doctor listened to her heart and checked her reflexes. He asked her a few questions. All was well. Except for the fact that the boy wouldn't stop crying.

Why is he crying? asked the nurse. Why is he crying? asked the doctor. I could have told them it was because I had to wake him up from his ten minute nap in the stroller to come into the office. I didn't. It is because he thinks it is his turn to get a checkup I said.

I would cry too if I were him.

*

The boy and I were at the doctor's office only a few weeks ago for his year and a half shots. He was calm until the nurse told me to strip him down to his diaper and then left us alone in the exam room. He understood what she had said and he started to wail. He cried while I took off his clothes. He cried while he was weighted and measured. He cried while the doctor listened to his heart. He cried when he got his shots. He stopped crying as soon as we left the doctor's office.

The girl used to cry too whenever we would take her to the doctor. It is only recently that she has been scared and nervous, but not hysterical. I wonder if she is forgetting. It has been years since she had last had any needles, although her four year boosters are coming up soon.

*

I like to think that they cried not because of the memories of the shots but because of the memories of their first visits there. They cry because I cried so much on those days.

*

The husband took the boy to his first doctor's appointment. I couldn't face it. I was still too tired from the labour and the pregnancy to gather the strength and steel myself for a visit to the doctor.

We tried to get out of it. The husband called the doctor's office to say that we were under the care of a midwife for the first six weeks and asked if we really needed to come in. We are all tired, the husband said, is an appointment really necessary. Yes, they said.

We were told that if we didn't bring the baby in within the first forty-eight hours of leaving the hospital the pediatrician wouldn't take him as a patient. They had had problems in the past, the husband was told, with babies under the care of midwives not getting the medical care they needed and so the doctor wanted to examine him personally.

I hid in bed crying, trying not to think of the husband and my day old baby driving off without me. But staying in bed was preferable to visiting the office and facing a repeat of last time.

*

With a newborn tucked in her car seat we arrived at the doctor's office, tired but still riding the high of new parenthood. As I started to undress the girl in the examination room, the nurse, the same nurse we saw today, asked me how the feeding was going.

It's going great! I said, thrilled to be able to share my success. I am breastfeeding her whenever she wants for as long as she wants.


Oh no! said the nurse. No. Just ten minutes on each side and then if she is still hungry after that you can top up with formula.

I stared at her in shock. I looked at the husband. He was in shock. I found myself fighting back tears and unable to talk. Did she just tell me that what I was doing was wrong? Was I doing the wrong thing? Was I making a mistake, failing already on my second day as a mother?

The girl had her check up and I made it through the rest of the appointment. I didn't ask the doctor about what the nurse had said, too afraid that he would confirm her opinion. Too worried that I would be told not to breastfeed. Too tired to deal with a confrontation. Too afraid that maybe I was actually doing something wrong.

I started crying in the car on the way home and continued for most of the afternoon. When my midwife called later that day I was lying in bed being comforted by the husband while my mother-in-law watched the girl downstairs. I repeated the conversation I had had with the nurse. I looked to my midwife for guidance, and she gave it to me. Along with some strong words of anger directed at the nurse. Words I needed to hear.

Eventually I calmed down. I decided to ignore the criticism I had been given on my second day of motherhood and started learning how to trust myself. I kept feeding the girl the way I believed I should. I let it go.

*

Until I see her again. Every time I see that nurse I think about that first meeting in the exam room. Me with my new baby. So scared of making a mistake and so desperate to do the right thing. The best thing.

We have looked for another doctor. For months after each baby was born the husband would call doctors in the neighborhood. Doctors that were supposed to be taking new patients. We had no luck. So we stay. I take the kids for their annual checkups and their shots. I bite my tongue while we are there.

I also take a small bit of pleasure when one of the kids cries during our visits. I like to think that they, in their own small way, are providing a source of irritation to the nurse. Just like she did for me.

Maybe

Once

Maybe he wasn't tired. Maybe the twenty minute nap he had in the stroller was enough. Maybe it was the sound of the girl wandering the hallway and knocking on his door.

Twice

Maybe he still wasn't tired yet. Maybe it was the change of sleeping in his new (the girl's old) bed instead of the crib. Maybe it was the girl quietly creeping the hallways and playing with the gate at the top of the stairs.

Three times

Maybe he was overtired. Maybe my tiptoeing out of his room sounded like stomping elephant feet to his ears and woke him from his slumber. Maybe he hates me.

Yesterday I felt like they both hated me. He never napped. She would not listen. I was exhausted from them both being awake the night before. I managed to finally get us all outside but the walk was cut short when the girl refused to get in the stroller and then refused to walk in the same direction as me. I went to a friends house and she let us stay there until the husband picked up the kids. He took them home and fed them dinner while I went somewhere else.

That was a day. A long, hard day.

I wish I could say that today has started better but it seems we have picked up where we left off yesterday. Add in a doctor's appointment for the girl and I don't have much hope for today.

Please send cupcakes.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Private bathroom

We have one bathroom in our house. When we bought the house I didn't care. I grew up with one bathroom and while I figure our future children would likely have the typical teenage fights about whose turn it was in the bathroom, I felt no sympathy for them. They would figure it out.

Now I have much sympathy for me.

Our one bathroom is on the second floor. It is up a steepish set of stairs that are too high and too numerous for a toddler to manage on his or her own. It is also too high and too numerous for a tired mother to run up when her potty training child needs to, well, use the potty.

The solution to this potty problem has been to scatter four white potties all over the first floor. This was critical when the girl was was first transitioning out of her diapers. And then they stayed. Mostly because it was easy. It was easier to have four white potties all over the first floor than to get her to go upstairs by herself or to go with her and drag the boy (then a baby) with me.

The girl loves it. She loves that she doesn't have to stop whatever it is she is doing for too long and traipse upstairs. In fact, I would say that she prefers it to using the toilet. She particularly likes her private bathroom.

I can't remember how the private bathroom started. I think it was the husband's attempt to give her some privacy in a private moment. It has stuck. Now she calls out for her private bathroom and waits patiently on her potty until one of us gets out the pink Disney princess tent a friends of my mother-in-law bought the girl after the boy was born. The tent is slowly lowed over her and it is as if a coronation has taken place. The queen is on her throne.

I have grown tired of the four white potties. I would like to retire them permanently but I'm not sure I have the strength for the fights that will ensue. I also don't know how practical that would be since I plan to start potty training the boy soon.

What I would really like is a proper, hooked up to the pluming porcelain toilet on the first floor. That would make me feel like a Queen. I am sure that by the time we can afford to squeeze one into our small first floor it will be no longer needed. By then the kids will be walking up and down the stairs like champs and I will instead be longing to finishing the basement so that I can hide down there. Or hide them down there. One or the other.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Run-in

It had been years since I'd last seen her. She heard my friend call my name across the room and so she called it too.

How are you? she asked.

Good, I said. How are you?

Good, she said. I heard you had another baby.

Yes, I said and told her about the girl and the boy. How are your kids? I asked.

Good, she said and told me about her two girls.

Are you back at work? she asked.

No, I said. I am still on leave. Are you back at work? I asked.

No, she said. I am still on leave.

We talked some more and then said goodbye.

She looked the same. Older, but the same. I look the same too. Older, but the same.

I remember when she told me she was pregnant. I was so happy for her. She seems happy now.

I was happy being her friend. I wish she had been happy being mine. I wish I could have been the kind of friend she wanted. She decided I wasn't. In the end, she turned out not to be the kind of friend I wanted either.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The two of them

They look like each other. Like brother and sister. They look more like each other than like either of us. You can tell they are related people say to me. Yes I say and smile.

They love each other. Hugs are given. Sometimes wanted, sometimes not.

They fight with each other. Over toys, over spoons, over my lap.

They will always have each other. The two of them.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

High chair

The boy now sits at the table with the rest of us. Perched on his knees on a kitchen chair pulled up close to the table, he picks at his food just like his sister does. He pushes away his plate when he doesn't like what is on offer. He gobbles his eggs every morning and eats bowlful after bowlful of yogurt when it is put in front of him.

Just don't try to seat him in a high chair.

The high chair we bought when the girl was only a few months old has been dismantled and passed onto friends. She sat in it when it was reclined as far back as it would go and sat in it when it was transformed into a booster seat. She would probably still be using it if I hadn't transitioned her out of it in order for the boy to have somewhere to sit.

He used it happily for the longest time. The white tray clicked in place, he would sit and eat or play or watch me from across the room. Shortly after he hit seventeen months the struggle started. He would protest being put into the chair. He graduated to back arching and passive resistance. Then he adding screaming.

I gave up. For a few weeks the high chair sat beside the table while the boy sat on a kitchen chair. Five chairs around the table. We moved it away from the table to a spot against the wall, where it sat for another few weeks. Finally, we took it apart.

He sits at the table with the rest of us. Happy that he is where he wants to be.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Baby

I walked down the stairs carrying him in my arms. A baby only five months old, and yet almost the same weight as the boy. He was heavy in that floppy way a baby is before he is able to sit up. His neck was strong but his back still wasn't straight.

The boy stood at the bottom of the stairs, pointing at me from the other side of the baby gate. Do you see a baby? I asked him. Ye-ah! he said. Do you want to hold the baby? I asked him. Ye-ah! he said.

The last time I held a baby the boy cried and cried. I imagined he was thinking Mom, what are you doing? I am your baby! This time he was fine with me holding this baby on my lap. But he was happier when he was holding the baby.

I placed the baby on the boy's lap and he wrapped his arms around him. He gave him a hug. That lasted for half a minute before the girl was demanding her turn. I placed the baby on the girl's lap and she wrapped her arms around him. She rocked him from side to side and started to sing. Until her brother demanded another turn.

Back and forth the baby went from lap to lap. He was hugged and kissed and rocked. The whole time he smiled. The kids were thrilled to have a real live baby to play with.

I kept wondering where my babies went.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Help

I don't like asking for help.
It makes me feel weak.
Like I can't do it all myself.

I can't.
I needed help.
I wanted help.

Two kind offers caught me by surprise.
Friends who gave of their time so freely
so that we could have time away.

That was a gift.