I Come First Too!

Have you ever wondered how some families seem to have it all figured out? They have somehow found their balance. Someone once said to me while I was shopping with my kids ” oh wow! I don’t know how you balance having a toddler and baby. You look great!” When that was said I couldn’t find the words to reply back, I was too busy thinking about the word “balance.” I mean, what is balance? I almost wanted to spurt out a chuckle, but instead I smiled and thanked her. Don’t get me wrong, I sincerely appreciate any complement that comes my way. But, what this woman didn’t see several minutes before was that my 3 year old threw herself onto the floor when I told her I wasn’t buying the Paw Patrol yogurt drinks, my youngest crying because her sister was crying, and I had spilled my $6.00 coffee down the side of my pants. I’m already too tired to curl up and watch a movie with my husband when my girls are in bed, so how on earth do I balance his needs, my needs… all of our needs? I’ve always wanted to find the moms I see on my Instagram feeds who appear to have figured it all out. Showing that their balance is a solid 10/10.

I have been married almost 8 years and yet figuring out the intricacies of marriage remains constant. Along the way I have been given so much advice on various subjects around marriage and parenting, but no one really talks about both parenting and marriage together, and what that actually looks like. Does it even exist? It must if my Instagram moms are doing it, right? How do you balance both? We all want to be that great wife or that great mom, but how do we fit both of them together? There is no proven textbook on how to balance parenting and marriage. There are tons of books suggesting ways to improve things, but what works well for others will not always work for you. So how do you balance being an equal wife and an equal parent?

Along time ago I stumbled on articles that discussed putting your husband and yourself first, children second. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “how could anyone do that?” or ” I would die for and do anything for my kids.” So before you get your pants twisted, let me explain. These articles made some valid points. It discussed that we wouldn’t be parents without our partners. We were married & together first, so why would we make that less of a priority. As we navigate parenthood, we often put ourselves and our husband last. We are so caught up with our children’s needs, that we forget about our own needs. When we put ourselves and husband’s needs last, we lose a part of our identity. The identity that we worked hard on developing before kids became part of the equation.

Photo by JoEllen Moths on Pexels.com

When the parental team breaks down, this not only impacts your marriage, but it also impacts your children. It’s so easy as parents to put ourselves and partner last while you figure out raising your children. When we do this, you not only lose a sense of yourself, but you lose those moments and much needed connections with your husband. Having a positive secure family are the building blocks for your children’s security. If you are focussing equal efforts on your relationship, this helps your children see that marriage is an important relationship to have. Just because we shift our focus to our needs or our husbands needs first, this is doesn’t mean that I care for my children any less. Infact, it means I care for children so much more, that I recognize times where my husband or I come first in the equation. How do I find this balance?

While I’m knee deep in various bodily fluids between, scattered toys, and lack of sleep for the foreseeable future, I ask myself, “how on earth do I have spare time?” I haven’t seen spare time since before I had kids. I remember hanging out with some of my friends who are also a mom, and it was said that they plan “couple” time and “me” time. “Couple” time? “Me” Time? They pre-schedule alone time with their husband and alone time for themself, without their kids. This might include time spent once the kids are in bed, or calling a family member, or babysitter so they can take the afternoon to reconnect with their husband over coffee, a meal, or just a walk in the park. This sparked some good ideas. I’ve only read about couples pre-scheduling, but I never knew for a second this would be me. My husband and I pre-schedule our kids appointments, and family events, why not add “couple” time? and “me” time. I’m not suggesting that this becomes frequent as weekly; this could be monthly. If I’m already using my phone, what’s another appointment?

For a happy and balanced marriage, scheduling time together and apart is so crucial. Whether it’s a round of golf, or a few hours spent getting your hair done, or meeting up with a friend, plan this time. This is balance! This is not you being selfish, this is you, recognizing that your marriage comes first, sometimes. In order to raise positive, happy children, you also have to be living a happy and positive life. Find time for yourself and your husband, you will thank me later!

I Can Do It

While I watch my 3 year old get ready for preschool, I’m watching her struggle putting on her boots. I offer to help her, when she interrupts me saying “no mommy, I can do it myself.” As I grit my teeth, anxiously waiting for her to get it right, I realize this is typical behaviour for any preschooler. Preschoolers are learning how to do so many new tasks, and as a parent I often forget that we should let them figure it out. As I watch my daughter figuring out how to do most tasks, and insisting on doing it herself, all of this has me thinking. I’ve come to the realization that I rely on doing so many tasks independently. All most, too independently.

For years, I have been overly independent. Dating back to when I was in my late teens, I made it a priority to move out on my own without help. I would work two jobs to make sure I was able to pay rent comfortably, and figuring out my post secondary school courses. When I was 19 years old, I spontaneously responded to a job ad in a local newspaper, to apply as an AuPair in the United States. Within a few months I was on a flight to New Jersey to move in with a family I had only met over the phone, coordinated by an organization I had only read about through a newspaper ad, ready to take on this year long adventure. When my time in New jersey was finished, I moved back home temporarily before moving again, working a few more jobs and relocating out of city to settle down and attend college.

It wasn’t until I was watching my daughter learn new tasks or go about her daily routine before I started realizing that not only does she have some very similar character traits as I do, it really had me thinking about myself, and why did I move around alot? Why was I so persistent to do things by myself? Why would I turn down help when circumstances would be so tough for me to manage by myself? Was it because I was too proud? Or was it because I didn’t want to burden a friend or loved one?

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on Pexels.com

To ask for help felt too gut wrenching. I had a hard time finding the courage or finding comfort asking. I remember when I was in college and my college money was delayed and I couldn’t pay my rent on time. Even under these circumstances I reached out to no one. I found myself skipping 3 days of college classes to work enough hours to cover my rent. When I had a college roommate who decided to move out while I wasn’t home and wrote me a faulty cheque for his last months rent, I reached out for no one. Whether it was money, help moving, or balancing various work and home life responsibilities, I find myself in various circumstances where I would tackle these tasks, and run myself so thin that I begin to feel like I’m a 10 year old laptop riddled with viruses trying to run windows. For some reason, I still find enough bandwidth to push through, no matter what it took to get there. Why was I doing this to myself? Why would I endure all of this pressure? It goes beyond a sense of pride. It was a way to hide that I was different from others. A way to hide that I carry a past.

What I was really doing was running myself too thin. I would refuse help, but internally stress myself out for taking on too much. I remember sitting down with an old therapist, when it was discussed that I suffered from Hyper-Independence. I know what you must be thinking, “is this a real thing?” It is. Hyper-Indepence is a real condition. It is a condition that develops when someone has experienced a form of severe trauma or chronic illness. For years, I have created this false notion that I had to prove I was capable, and to prove my value and self worth through all that I was capable of doing independently, instead of who I am as a person. This would caused me so much harm, than it was good for me. I would over do myself on many tasks, I refused to ask for help when times felt impossible, and when I would find the courage to ask for help, I would feel even worse about it. I would begin to feel worthless.

The road to recovery is slow, but constantly moving. My self worth is not measured by the amount of tasks I take on alone. I am learning to not fall into the mind trap that when I do eventually ask for help, it may not be accomplished in the same manner I have set out in my head, but rather it was done differently, and that’s ok! I was reminded to give others the opportunity to help me. I don’t have to do everything myself, and that it’s ok to rest. To be strong goes beyond how much you do. If you ask for help it doesn’t mean that you’re weak. In fact, this is far from the truth. Recognizing when I need help shows incredible strength. Strength and courage to ask. I would be lying if I said I followed these suggestions perfectly. What I can say, is that each day is a new day. The more I practise, and allow myself to accept help, with time I will be able to find a healthy balance of independence.

For anyone who is struggling whether its with Hyper-Independence, or various forms of anxiety, remember that you aren’t alone. Find someone you trust. Someone that you can lean on to ask for help. Let them know how they can help. Remind yourself that this journey is slow. It will take time for your trust, strength and courage to come. Give yourself patience. Once you get there, you will find that this will be the most mentally and emotional thing you have done.

My wish for you

Before you were born I always dreamt of what you would be like, who you would become and how your life would be once you were here. Now that you are here,  I find myself wishing for so many things for you. Things that I never knew I would ever have to wish for. zoey sleeping

I wish that when you start going to school, you not only make a lot of friends but you are respected and treated fairly.  I wish that you don’t have to worry about your classmates bullying you over the internet, at school, on the playground or on your way home from school. I wish that schools enforced a more strict  “no policy” against bullying. I wish that if you see someone being bullied you feel safe helping them.

I wish that when you decide to date, whether male or female you are treated with the utmost respect from your partner and the community around you.  I wish that one day, everyone will be treated as equal, and you can freely express romantically that you have found the love of your life without being criticized by the choices you have made.

I wish that one day when you decide to explore the world around you, and travel abroad, you can do it safely without feeling scared. I wish that as you explore this world we live in, you always feel safe. I wish one day when you attend concerts, sporting events or any kind of entertainment you are always safe having fun.

I wish that as you enter into the work force, one day, you are treated equally and you are respected and supported by your achievements. I wish that as you strive to be the best that you can be, you are treated fairly, and you work hard reaching for the top.

I wish one day we all got along. That no matter what race, or ethnic background you are, we all got along.  No matter our physical, or religious differences we treat each other with respect and love, and ultimately how we want to be treated, because at the end of the day, we are all the same. We are all human beings. We all have feelings, and we all come from a place that deserves happiness and love. I wish that if someone you are acquainted with is treated unfairly or disrespected, you also feel safe helping them.

I wish that weapons become a thing of the past. I wish that where ever you are living or travelling too, you are always feeling safe. I wish that when you visit new places, or attend outings with your friends, you don’t have to worry about feeling safe. I wish that proper security measures are in place where weapons are seized and the government has placed a more strict weapon control in our community.  family

My ultimate wish for you, as you grow up and become the best young lady you can be, is that you stay true to your self. No matter the difficulties life and adulthood hands you, you over come it with grace, love and respect and that you are always happy. You stay true to yourself and you don’t let anyone try to change that. As you get older and times become challenging, as they often do, you know you are so well-loved, and you remind your self each day that you are. Just know that some people don’t come from the same place of love, but if we always treat everyone with happiness and love, you are doing your part. One day I hope my wishes for you come true, but if not, maybe one day you will make some of these wishes come true for yourself and for those important around you.

With so much love,

Mom & Dad

What I don’t say often

Being a mom comes with a whirlwind of emotions, challenges, and a new definition of who are and who you’ve become. You are no longer thinking about your self and your husband, you are constantly thinking about your child. From

the moment your baby is cradled in your arms, your life instantly changes. You naturally adjust the time you once had all to yourself or with your husband, you are now spent caring for and loving the child you both have created. As we go through the motions of waking up several times a night, and operating on far too little of sleep, and finding yourself eating cold dinners, and skipping lunch or eating stale granola bars you find at the bottom of your purse, you still manage to love your child unconditionally and that love you have for your child is so profound. You adapt, and make the best of these moments. You turn these moments into memories. These memories that we will look back one day and congratulate ourselves for making it past what we thought were the best, the worst, and the hardest times of our life.

As we continue to grow and love as a family, our marriage changes. All the attention we found ourselves giving to one another shifts and makes room for our children or in my case our baby girl. We put ourself in the backseat while our daughter rides shotgun. Our attention shifts to her and her needs, and it’s no longer all about us. Our date nights, happy hour and our weekends spent binge watching Netflix have been replaced with copious amounts of laundry, nailing down naps during the day, bedtime routines and mom and tot groups. The place where the topic of our conversations is about our daughters bodily fluids, or the new skill she has learned.

So even though our marriage has changed, ultimately it has changed for the better in many ways. And we are ok with that. We’re good with where we are. We want to be **here**. But being **here** takes a different kind of “being married” than being **there** — without a child. There are so many moments where I get so tired and so distracted, we have limited face time. I don’t always remember to say the things I want, to make sure my husband knows how I feel. I am so preoccupied with being a mother that I forget to be his wife.

There are so many things I think the father of my child needs to hear and deserves to hear.

I am beyond thankful for the partnership we have together in this life that we share together. I love having you alongside me as we raise our daughter together. I am very certain I don’t always say the words “I appreciate you!”because we have such a small window of real conversation time each day.

My husband is not a mind reader. Although I wish he could, he definitely can’t. Nor does he pickup on my passive aggressive hints I put down. I do know he wants to be a fixer. When there is an issue, he wants to fix it. I have to remind myself that I have to communicate in words when I need help, or a break. When I do that, it becomes easier for him to reciprocate the gesture back, so it becomes a win/win.

Not only do I love you but our daughter also loves you and needs you. The role you play in her life is so great and she will thank you her whole life. She is too young to say it now ,and depending on her mood will she show it, but once she calls you “dadda” which then turns to “daddy” you wait. Your heart will fill up.

There is no doubt that my husband sees a lot of the worst parts of me. I can be the most cranky, the most tired, and that’s what happens when your best friend, you’re life partner is with you and around the most. I often forget to say the simple things like “thank you!” Thank you for picking up my socks, making the bed, getting up to get me a drink, even though I could have done it, to name a few. Thank you for being the best dad to our baby girl. Thank you for being my best friend, my partner in crime, my husband. It’s so easy to treat the people you love, the worst.

Lastly, I think you’re totally “hot!” I definitely don’t tell my husband enough how much I am attracted to him. That he’s stunning in so many ways. I have to remember that I was his wife first, and then we became parents. Without being his wife first, I wouldn’t have been a mom. The mother of our beautiful baby girl. I feel like he needs to know that he still knocks my socks off.

However you choose to tell your husband you love him, remember to to acknowledge him both as his wife and as the mother of his child. It’s very hard to forget through the tiredness but it will make him feel good.

To my dearest husband, my best friend, I’m completely crazy about you, I love you, and I think you’re hot!

Don’t say the M word

There comes that time in your marriage when you feel ready to start a family. You spend endless days and nights talking about it, planning about it, and finding the exact right moment.  No matter how much planning and preparing for the special time, no one ever prepares you for the “What If’s.” What if it takes longer to get pregnant? What if you miscarry?  There are so many “What If’s,” and yet, so many people only talk about being pregnant, and everything else except the really upsetting stuff.

Well, I’m here to break the silence. Part of going through the motions of trying and getting pregnant comes as a “package”, and this includes the good, and the BAD.  When the time was right for my husband and I, we both couldn’t be happier. What I did know going into this, was that it can take time, and that patience will be your strongest strength. It wasn’t because of my age, but in general, for most woman, conceiving doesn’t always happen right away.

After a few months trying, we got a positive. For me, the signs were very early on. What does this mean? What I mean is I take a test. One of the moments during this whole process, and all part of this “package” I learn quickly I don’t enjoy, and despise peeing on a stick. I wait my 3-5 minutes, and look for a line, positive sign or a smiley face. My line was faint. It was there, but not vivid.  So, like any couple would, my husband and I were excited.  Now, most people at this stage would wait to share with family, and immediate friends. Anyone who know my husband and I, we were not that kind of people. I knew ahead of time, anything can happen during this time.  What I didn’t know, nor was ever discussed with me, was that most first pregnancies result in miscarriage, or chemical pregnancies (early miscarriage). Such as, 10-25 % of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, and up to 70% of first-trimester miscarriages end in chromosomal anomalies.

The following morning, after spending the previous day excited and nervous, I knew instantly something wasn’t right. Symptoms of stomach cramping, spotting etc which lead me to take an immediate doctors appointment. The next two weeks persisted of multiple blood tests checking my HCG levels, which lead to an early ultrasound, which confirmed the worst possible news, there was no baby.

I knew going into these tests, that this was most likely the case of a “chemical” pregnancy. How does this differ from a miscarriage? The difference is “timing” A chemical pregnancy is the most early time of a pregnancy, often mistaken for a missed period. Miscarriage takes place between first-trimester up to 20 weeks, once there is further progression of development.  If it wasn’t for my extensive research, talking and sharing this disappointment with other woman, I wouldn’t have been as level-headed, and motivated to try this journey again.

We tried a few weeks after, and I experienced very different body changes. After a couple of weeks of discomfort and not feeling myself, I went back to my doctor.  She had me do a urine test, and the nurse asked me ” any chance you could be pregnant?” I looked at her and without hesitation I say “No, well I guess there could be, but it would be very minimal given 2.5-3 weeks ago I miscarried.” The nurse prompted me to take my test. I sit back down in the doctor’s office, giving my doctor a list of my symptoms, when the nurse interrupts me, with a huge smile on her face. She looks at me and says “So, what do you think?” All I remember was sitting there super puzzled, and super nervous, and the nurse says “The test is positive! But not just a line, but the bluest of bright blue positive lines.”

So in light of all the ups and downs,  disappointment and sadness, for all the Moms, moms to be, and woman out there, to never be afraid to talk about and share your journey, no matter the good & BAD. Sometimes we need the reassurance that we are not alone, and there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

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Our baby girl at 18wks

 

 

 

Love & Friendship

When I look back three years ago, it never occurred to me that my friendships with my girlfriends would change. Some of my friendships have gotten much closer, while others have become more distant. Dwelling on what has happened, I think about the times I would pick up the phone and have long talks with my girlfriends about our love lives, our favorite gossip stories, or planning a movie night. Planning a girls night seemed effortless, in fact there was no planning required…it just happened.

friends

Marriage is learning to live with a guy, and at times can come with full of surprises when you least expect it. Mind you, I will never trade the blessing of marriage, and being married to my husband for the world, but marriage brings with it a lot of “stuff”. You are no longer grocery shopping, doing laundry or cooking for one person. You are no longer thinking about yourself, you are thinking of all the considerations for you and your husband while making decisions. At times, this can be overwhelming.

I look back at the friendships I had before I was married, single and sometimes dating, the common denominator was more time. I had less priorities, and more time to visit friends,  whom I would call my best friends. Now that I’m older, and now that I’m married, my circle of friends have become smaller, and my best friend became my husband. This is not because I don’t value my friendships the same way I did before, but because my husband became my number one priority.  As I reflect on my past memories, I feel guilty for not being there for my friends, and that I’ve created the feeling of “I don’t care,” But trust me, I do care!  As much as some of my friends might think that I have moved on with my life, or they no longer matter to me, I feel the same way about them.

I have come to realize that just like marriage, friendships take a heck of a lot of patience and effort. My phone calls might consist of more of texts as I try to balance my work life with my personal life, and my visits might have to be marked on my calendar, but this doesn’t mean I don’t care, it means that I am trying, and you are worth my effort!

8 Success Tips for Marriage

From dating, to marriage, no one really prepares us for the next stage in our life. We are given advice from family & friends, we refer to books, and online resources, but not all advice applies to our own relationship. If there is one thing that is true, from books, advice, or online, is that  no marriage is easy or  perfect,  but that’s what makes it real.

Along the way, we figure it out, and sometimes make mistakes. Some mistakes can affect our marriage.  I want to discuss some important points to make your marriage better.

1. Be Patient

Photo by David Castillo Dominici-Image ID: 100122416

Photo by David Castillo Dominici -Image ID: 100122416

It is so important to be patient with your spouse. This doesn’t come easy, and some will say, “I am patient.” My question to you is, are you always? Men and women, react, reflect, interpret and communicate differently. While most women find it easy to express how they feel, happy, sad or angry, for men, this isn’t always easy. Let’s take a look at chores. We all have them, they need to be done, and we expect our husband or partner to help. Women, you ask your husband or partner to “tidy” the living room.  You have given the task, while you clean another room. You and your husband or partner are finished, and you come to find a stack of papers, or books left on the coffee table,  and blankets piled at the end of the couch.  At this point, you ask “why didn’t you tidy the living room?”  The response from your husband  or partner , “it is tidy?” When communicating, understand that your husband or partner’s interpretation might be different. Even though the room doesn’t look “tidy” to you, it looks tidy to him.

2. Communicate

Photo by photostock- Image ID: 10034198

Photo by photostock- ImageID: 10034198

It’s important to be clear when communicating with your spouse. It’s true what they say, men are not mind readers. Men and women process information differently. If you say you are “fine,” or “you should know why I’m mad”  this is very insensitive and unfair to your husband. Men are not “wired” the same as women. Men don’t always know when they have hurt your feelings.  Communicate with your husband or partner on how you feel.

I’m still learning to do this, but when you have mastered this, it will make a positive difference.

3. Respect your partner

One of the most important things a man needs is, respect and to be respected. He desires it most from his wife or partner. The saying, “you have to earn respect to gain respect,” is true, but you have to remember he is human. We all make mistakes, and no one is perfect. To lead a healthy and happy family, both partners need to be respected, even if you feel your husband or partner didn’t deserve it.  If you continue to respect your husband or partner, it will help motivate him to earn it. This doesn’t mean you ignore his bad decisions, pretend they don’t exist, these will still need to be communicated. It means, you need to discuss your differences with respect.

4.  Forgiveness

Photo by stockimages -Image ID: 100108461

Photo by stockimages -Image ID: 100108461

At some point in our lives, we all make mistakes. There comes a point in our life where we need to choose to make forgiveness a life long habit. This includes big ones, small ones, or even annoyances – ( most mornings I have to forgive my husband for leaving breakfast crumbs on the counter or the window open in the bathroom during the winter). No one says forgiveness is easy, but the more you forgive, the less room there is for resentment.

5. Date Night

Photo by nuttakit-  Image ID: 10036113

Photo by Nuttakit- ImageID: 10036113

This one has been around a long time, and there are so many articles supporting scheduled date nights. This is something my husband and I make a habit of doing each week.  You can never stop dating your spouse.  It’s a funny thought, “we are married, we are done dating,” but its true. You need to set time aside for just you and your spouse, and talk about each other. Don’t talk about your kids, bills or work. Just each other. Scheduled date nights, don’t have to be costly. Some inexpensive ideas:

  • Take a walk
  • Eat in, but catch a movie out
  • Go to a cafe
  • Movie in, with popcorn or your favourite snack( Plan a babysitter, play date ) Or wait until your kids are asleep.
  • Cook together, eat together

Spending one-on-one time allows you to connect emotionally and  learn something new about each other.

6. Never threaten

Sometimes we find ourselves in an angry spot. Never threaten, unless you mean it, and you plan to follow through. Sometimes couples will often threat separation or divorce when they are angry. This tactic is cruel and unfair to your spouse. Threatening is a TEMPORARY way out, that can lead to more harm than good. There are other ways to get past this method.

  • Take a breather
  • Communication Talk when ready, and calm.
  • Seek advice from an outside, reputable source if communication doesn’t work.
7. Don’t criticize

Criticizing your spouse is hurtful and embarrassing, even if it’s done with friends. Making this a habit will damage the respect you have with each other, and makes it uncomfortable for others around you.

8. Love

Photo by Sharron Goodyear- Image ID: 1003633

Photo by Sharron Goodyear- Image ID: 1003633

No one said marriage is  easy. What we see on television, or read about in books, is not always true. Marriage takes work, and commitment. There might be times you might question the love you have for each other, or the attraction you have towards your spouse, but always choose to love each other. The day you walked down the aisle and read your  vows are so sacred. You made a commitment to each other. To have , and to hold, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. They don’t say “to have to hold anyone you please” or “in good times only.”  They say to have, AND to hold, implying, holding each other. In sickness AND in health. Good times AND in bad times. There will be bad times, along the way. Remember to love in the good parts AND in the bad. Good times, will always out way the bad times!