Where I live, we entered into another lockdown which included a 2week extension. Schools have been closed for weeks, and businesses including restaurants have either temporarily closed, permanently closed or have become delivery/pickup only. There is no question that this is a hard time. We are all tired, exhausted and very frustrated. We all want this to end.
This is a trying time for so many parents and families. We are faced with sacrifices we never knew would exist, and there is so much added pressure trying to maintain work and home life. While we are feeling upset and stressed out, there are some things to be grateful for. These will never take away the many struggles we faced, but I wanted to show you that not everything was crap!
I have formed a special bond with my daughter.
Being at home, and my daughter’s preschool was closed the beginning half of the pandemic, she was home with me full-time. At first, this was the hardest parenting lesson I experienced. How would I teach, and entertain my daughter for a full day, while being house bound? I felt panicked, and knew I was not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. I have had to pull up my sleeves and get creative. We walked, ALOT! We spent a lot of time outdoors in our backyard. We made friends with our local garbage & recycling truck men. I would be lying if I told you we didn’t watch more TV than planned. Sometimes we all need a break. Spending one on one time with my daughter, allowed us to form a better relationship we otherwise wouldn’t have. We created a routine that allowed us to dance, be silly, snuggle and just hangout, just the two of us. We created memories.
Our family worked as a team.
During the majority of the pandemic I was pregnant with my second daughter. While I got bigger and further along in my pregnancy, I had to rely on my daughter and my husband for more patience and help. Although, my husband was forced to work from home due to the pandemic closures, this was a blessing. Having him close by allowed me to lean on him a bit more for help. If he was at the office I wouldn’t have had the same level of help. This was certainly an adjustment, but overtime we were able to develop a groove that worked. I was able to develop a routine with my daughter that allowed me the necessary rest I required while she got to do activities she wanted.
I learned to let go, and pick battles.
Not everyday was a walk in the park. Some days we watched Frozen 1 & 2 in a day, while other days we spent more time outdoors. Excessive TV watching and tablet play, I was picking my battles. In normal circumstances I would have been more mindful. However, being house bound and with limits to what you can do for fun, I learned to let go, a lot! Wrestling a toddler to wear shoes, playing with sticks and using them as wands, while making sure she wore her hat on sunny days, didn’t always end up happening. I learned to pick my battles because not wearing shoes, playing with sticks, and not wearing a hat was not going destroy my day, it would have ruined my daughter’s day. We learned to let go when it came to meal time and meal prep by ordering take out more often than before. Our house looks “lived in”, with a side of chaos. We have learned to accept that things aren’t perfect and it’s ok to let go, sometimes.
We have slowed down.
Scheduling playdates, and activities have been canceled. This free time was hard to get used too at first. Now, it has been nice. Not having something scheduled a couple times a week, has been a blessing. As a family, we have adapted to more quality time, and planning more family activities around the house. Everything we do as a family has been thought out and slowed down. We have enjoyed taking a more “relaxed” approach, and we no longer feel that we have to cram so many activities in our day.
Even though a lot of days have felt hard and super stressful, I have learned so much. I have practiced patience, gained strength, and learned to love in many ways I didn’t know was possible. I felt so angry when I would see others not following the rules. It would make me so mad while others would travel to visit loved ones while I was waiting until it was safe. All of these feelings were so raw, honest and consuming. There is no doubt I felt pissed off!
It took me months before I accepted that this pandemic was out of my control. I’m still working on not allowing this pandemic to consume myself and my family, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with my girls and husband. This has been a blessing in disguise. Our kids are only kids for such a small amount of time. The time we have with them, are the times they will remember the most. Sometimes we have to experience the hardships, and stress before we can truly appreciate, and see the little moments that are meaningful. I find myself less mad and upset with this pandemic, and more excited for all of the new things we can do as a family, and the memories will continue to make.
I am a failure. My body failed me. I’m not worthy to be a mother. I’m not strong enough. I gave up. I feel defeated. I suck at this. What have I done? Have any of these thoughts crossed your mind? I have let these thoughts come too close to my heart while I was in the delivery room, delivering my first baby girl, and I let them consume me afterwards. I have let myself continually replay these moments leading up to my surgery.
I delivered my first baby girl via c-section. Was this my plan, Hell No! But, this plan was deemed necessary for a safe and healthy delivery. I was induced 10 days after my expected due date with no signs of active labour. I experienced prodromal labour for a couple of weeks with no delivery in sight. We had to round up our troops a.k.a my midwives to come up with a back up plan. After induction, and several hours waiting, It was GO time. My baby’s heart rate was dropping with each contraction. This decision was necessary, but it defeated me. I felt crushed. I wanted more than anything to deliver my baby the same way thousands of other women do, a vaginal delivery.
Being a first time mom, 2nd time or 3rd time mom, doesn’t make this journey any less complicating or stressful. Being a mom is stressful. We all want to do what the other mom is doing. We are always comparing notes, talking and discussing the comparisons. We are simply judging the F out of each other. We can become each other’s worst enemy, and why? If we are all doing the same job, with the same end goal in mind: raising happy and healthy little humans, why are we constantly judging what the other one has, or doesn’t have? If all moms want the same the same thing, why aren’t we supporting each other?
If you shared with another mom that you had a c-section, you have a 50/50 chance that you will get a supportive response. If you shared with another mom your feeding regimen, formula or breastmilk, you will get either a 60/40 response. 60% support for breastfeeding, and only 40% support for formula. Why is that? Why can’t we just support each other no matter what? Once we become moms, we seem to know what’s best for not only for our self, but everyone else and their child. We instantly become the expert. We seem to have all of the greatest and latest sources of information about what’s better to raising our children and being a better mom. Well, let me tell you, you will never be the perfect mom, or have perfect children. I have learned very quickly that what works best for one mom and child, doesn’t work best for all moms. What works for one child in your family does not work for the other the child. I have also realized that what worked well in the 80’s or 90’s when our parents had us, becomes almost irrelevant, and outdated. So, why are we putting all of this pressure on ourselves?
Before I had my first daughter, I had enrolled myself and my husband to a prenatal class set up and hosted by our midwife clinic. There, I had met 4 other moms to be and their spouses. This was an 8 week program. From completion date, we all had remained friends. These girls quickly became great friends and positive supportive women I cherish each day. Our group is what helped me tremendously to get through my constant thoughts of failure and uncertainties of being a new mom. Even though they all had very different deliveries, they acknowledge that we are all strong mom warriors. When the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a family,” they are my village.
I was holding my baby girl, when all I could think about was “how did I fail at this?” I had one job to do and so far I have failed. I reminded myself of my “mom” group. They were the ones who uplifted me, and reminded me that it’s not the delivery that defines who we are. The delivery is “just” the exit. Yes, some moms get to accomplish their dream birth plan. Yes, some moms walk out of the hospital as the stunningly hot milf that looks like she hasn’t carried a baby in her lifetime, but, if you’re the one who walks out looking like a garbage truck drove over you 3 times, and your belly still looks likes you’re still pregnant, that’s ok too. You know why? Because you just had a BABY! Looking the part of a mom, a mom who just delivered their baby deserves the Hi Fives and credit too. How you dress and what you look like does not define your strength. Your strength is the part where you screamed for a bloody epidural because you were managing hardcore contractions for so long, you needed a break. Or when you found yourself pushing for so long that you had to make the difficult choice to come up with a new plan of action. Your strength was when you gripped your husbands hand so tight you left prints for days because you had to sit still during the worst contraction while being prepped for surgery. Your strength was when you found the courage to walk into the hospital and say “I’m having my baby, today, or tomorrow.” No matter the “type” of delivery, you delivered, and that in itself is strength.
The delivery of our baby does not, and should never define who we are as a mother. Each delivery is unique, and not one delivery is the same, ever! If any moms experienced a c-section, remind yourself to be patient. Be patient with your healing, be patient with your mind, body and soul. Be patient with the process. You delivered a little human, and that’s the outcome you should be rewarding yourself with, not just the exit. The exit is such a small piece of the whole picture. Your delivery, is no less greater than someone who vaginally delivered their baby. You can never compare apples to oranges, so why the F should we be doing the same with deliveries? One c-section is not the same as the other. One vaginal delivery is not the same than the other. We need to normalize, appreciate and support ALL births.
We need to be each other’s village and support system. We are women of strength, courage and a heck of alot of love. We all are warriors, fighting for the same outcome We are leaders leading the same journey. We are survivors, surviving the same chaos of mom life. Praise each other for the hard days we all experience. We have hard days, good days and days where we want to hide out in the bathroom from all of our frustrations. We all share the same goal. We are capable! We are strong! We are courageous! We are a mom! Let’s do this together!
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.
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!
Sometimes I need to be heard. Sometimes I need to feel that my feelings matter and by feeling this way, it’s OK. Often times when I express various emotions to someone, my feelings often get lost along the way. Either the person I am expressing them to is perhaps going through something of their own. Perhaps the other person isn’t able to connect with me emotionally because they simply don’t understand it for themself. No matter the reason, I find myself going down a very dark and grim path. It comes with no surprise that last year, 2020 hit most of us hard with a worldwide pandemic. This really wasn’t something we were eased into. This came in full force, providing us with very little information and a lack of understanding. While it was expected to be a short term effect, it became over a long term effect. This is where I found myself struggling. Struggling to find balance. Struggling with change. I was feeling as though my strength to keeping it all together was being tested to its full limit.
I have learned a lot about myself. This pandemic has taught me so much. Even though I am feeling the struggles of finding peace with this year long change, I have gained STRENGTH, and WEAKNESS, and I’m proud of that. I know what you’re thinking, how could I have gained both and feel proud of that? Well, let me explain! I have, with all of you, had to adjust my routines and my lifestyle right down to the basics. This was something that felt incredibly foreign to me. What do you mean I am no longer able to see my family? What do you mean I can’t just hop in my car and browse a store? Wait, you’re telling me I have to wear a mask when I go out? No, you can’t possibly expect me to keep my preschooler home with me all day, everyday while we are also not able to go places. I had to learn the basics of teaching my preschooler and adjusting our daily routines while school was closed. This came with so many uncertainties while I was trying cope emotionally, struggling and waiting until I can see my family again. When can my daughter see her grandparents. Let me assure you, we did eventually adjust. I won’t sugar coat it, my days felt long, and my nights felt short, but I was able to get to know my daughter so much more than I did before. We took long walks each day. We played in our backyard daily, read endless amounts of books, made blanket forts, played games. I would be lying if I told you we didn’t watch Peppa Pig so many times that now I find myself questioning why Peppa and her family always seem to roll on to their backs when they laugh. I would be lying if I told you I haven’t seen Disney Frozen 1 & 2 600,000 times and no matter how hard I try, I still find myself humming “Let It Go.” Despite our abundance of TV watching, we did also learn so much. My daughter knows that birds eat worms, and whales eat fish. My daughter has also learned that she should never eat sticks, as our bodies cannot digest wood the same way beavers do.
As we approach the second year of this pandemic, I have realized that my strength comes from overcoming my own unknowns and fears. It wasn’t until June, 2020 where I finally felt comfortable with mine and my daughters daily routine. For once, I felt comfortable and confident with how I was managing with minimal reliance of my daughters school. I was able to force myself outside my own comfort zone for the sake of co- existing in this pandemic. That is where I have gained my STRENGTH. Strength, comes in all forms, and it varies for each person. Some of you might be balancing work and having a child home. Some of you might be adjusting school and work life balance or changing career paths, or adjusting to working from home, instead of in an office. Some of you might be homeschooling, while attending Zoom call meetings, all while trying to stop your toddler from putting their fingers in your office printer, pulling endless amounts of paper off your desk, or running around pantless in the background because today was the day they decided it was a no pants day. Whatever it is you might be facing, remember that even completing the day took STRENGTH.
Now, you might be wondering why I mentioned WEAKNESS? I will openly admit where I have fallen short is my patience. No matter how hard I try to always keep a positive composure, and my emotions in check, I have and still have a hard time with patience. My patience is running thin on how long it is taking for our family, for you, for society to get back to where we were at in 2019. My patience is running thin on having to explain to my preschooler the importance of using the toilet 100 times a day, so she doesn’t have an accident. My patience is running thin to watch Frozen 1 & 2 because its Tuesday, and I have yet to have “Let It Go” stuck in my head, today. I know I will get there. The process takes time. I have to remind myself that my daughter is happy, and, I am doing the best I can, with the STRENGTH I’ve got.
So for all of you all of you experiencing the heightened struggles that this pandemic has given you, please know that when you are faced with a negative impact or your emotions are feeling strong, know that there is something positive waiting for you. You can have STRENGTH while still figuring out your WEAKNESS. Use the power and energy from what is making you feel good, to move forward in baby steps. It’s ok to take that personal day from work. It’s ok to order take out because you know you can’t bare to cook another meal. You know your limits better than anyone else and you certainly don’t need to defend them to anyone. Parents; it’s ok that your child has watched enormous amounts of TV so you can take a break, or finish that work meeting. It’s ok that lunch meals have moved to the couch because a toddler meltdown is not what you’re capable of handling today. Accept the little changes that get you through your day because at the end of the day, you completed the day in one piece. Always find time to reward yourself. Adjusting your lifestyle is not an easy task, and you need to credit yourself for getting through it!
As long as I can remember, I knew I always wanted to be a mom. Perhaps, partially my fascination has stemmed from being an only child. I didn’t have siblings to annoy and then watch my parents get all “red faced” holding in all of their frustrations because we all couldn’t get along. Whatever the initial reasons were, it was in my DNA. I was meant to take on this lifetime role.
When I was blessed with becoming a mom, this was the greatest gift I was given. Although, I must admit, I was incredibly naive what this role truly meant. There is so much that isn’t talked about. There is so many “fictional” notations about being a mom, where you lose a sense of reality. I remember having an encounter with another mom at a store. We began talking and I asked her what she does for work, and she says to me “I’m JUST a mom!” I told her she couldn’t possibly be “JUST” a mom. I shared with her that being a mom requires us to wear multiple hats simultaneously. What I have learned thus far, is that
you’re not JUST a mom!
I know what you are thinking, how is that possible? Even though most of my time, day and night is spent caring for and loving my daughter, it doesn’t mean that this is all I am. This has taken me 2 years to realize this, and I am still learning this. When you’re a mom, you are wearing several hats in one day. For me, I am constantly wearing these hats stacked on top of eachother in every moment of each day.
I am a wife.
I am a wife first. This might seem incredibly crazy to you, in fact, probably insane, but let me explain. Before the idea or concept of starting a family became a real life goal, I was seeking the man who would be my life long team mate, my partner, my best friend. Creating this fundamental foundation for our life together, it is imperative that it is strong and secure for our family. This foundation expands and contracts as we go through life and life’s challenges together. While my husband of 6 years (together 11 years) continues to grow, and strengthens our foundation, our love for eachother continues to grow. This love is what grows a family. It’s not wrong to love and be a wife or partner first, its fact, it’s truth. As our love strengthens, and carries us through life, it’s so important to remember where this love started, our journey, because without this love, ultimately, I wouldn’t be a mother, today. This doesn’t mean that I love my daughter any less, or my husband any less, it means that I respect, and appreciate my love and partnership with my husband so much, that he will always be my #1, and my daughter who I love beyond this universe #2. My husband and I are leaders in our family. We know our daughter is watching intently to our gestures, communication, how we treat each other and how we love . Our focus is to constantly show this love, respect and appreciation throughout her life. Who are the two most important people to show her this? WE ARE! The two most important people in her world. We are her world.
I am the cook.
So many of your days is often spent in the kitchen between snack times, and meal times. This might be one of my least favourite jobs, but I do find benefit and accomplishment showing my daughter nutritious meals and snacks.The more I show her nutritious meals, she will learn positive eating habits. It’s a HUGE accomplishment when she eats it.
I am the nurse.
Whether I’m sucking the snot out of my daughters nose, or attending to her fever in the middle of the night, I’m on call 24/7. I’m the one running the bath, steaming the bathroom to help her congestion, chasing her around the house to give her medicine, but most importantly. I’m the one sitting on the couch, with her curdled up on my lap, with her toesies covered in the blankies while she fights off the illness she picked up. The best medicine for our little girl is nurse Mommy.
I am a teacher.
Whether your strengths are in math or english, we will eventually have to help teach subjects we once hated. Luckily for me, my daughter isn’t quite there yet. I still have time to freshin’ up. I am my daughter’s teacher. I’m the one covered in glue, playdough, and paint teaching my daughter arts, crafts, numbers and shapes. I am the drama teacher, playing creative play, dressing up as princesses and fairies. Even though this role is often a joint effort with my husband, I am the one who is home with my daughter the most. In no time, I will be helping with science projects, bake fairs, and creating flash cards in preparation for tests. Lets face it, learning and school does not end when the bell rings.
I am the chauffeur.
Whether I am doing errands, or taking my daughter from one appointment to the other, I am the driver. This role has 14 more years to go, before this role slowly disappears. Until then, pack a snack, or even a light meal, because our days are often spent in the car.
I am the maid.
I thought living with a man was messy, wait until you come over to my house, and see what a toddler can do. In 0-60 seconds, each room of my house has something out of place. All of my life, I have underestimated how fast, and the distance a toddler can travel in a short amount of time. This job can feel long and endless. In the beginning for me, I knew this would be the hardest job for myself, to let go. Letting go of the constant need that our house has to be “guest” worthy. Its ok that the laundry only makes it to the basket, and it might take a day or two to for the laundry to make it to the dresser. Its’ ok that it has been a couple weeks between washing your floors… afterall, if you have a dog, that’s what they’re for? Haha! We do what we can, with the hours we are given. Just because you let housework slide today, or tomorrow, doesn’t mean that in a few days from now, or next week it will be the same. Do what you can, when you can do it. Kids are messy, and that is a fact of life!
Let’s face it, as a mom, we wear multiple hats. Our job description is longer than the average roll of toilet paper. That’s ALOT!! We have to give ourselves way more credit for all of the things we do. We are not “JUST” a mom. Wear the “MOM” title proudly. Own it. Being a mom is 1000 times more than the jobs I’ve listed, above. The next time you hear a mom say ” I am JUST a mom,” remind them that’s not all they are. Remind them that they are EVERYTHING & MORE. Through all of the bodily fluids you might find yourself wearing, own your MOM title and wear it proud! Next time when someone asks you what your job is, tell them
Becoming a mother is the most rewarding life change that I have experienced. It completely consumes my attention, and emotional well-being. Undoubtedly so, how could it not? I’ve planned for this time and carried my daughter for 9 months. I was home with her for 1 year, and I will now spend the next lifetime being there for her, being her mom. On the flip side, I find being a mom, and being a working mom in today’s society extraordinary hard. There is incredible peer & social pressure towards moms about what your next parenting step is. Have you started your baby on solid foods? Do you breastfeed, pump, formula feed? Will you be a stay-at-home mom? Will you go back to work and will it be full time or part time? All of these discussions are part of interacting with people, and some of it is advise seeking or advice giving. Whether these discussions can be primarily positive, there is still a level of “social acceptance” and “social norms” that we as mothers get sucked in.
When I decided to go back to work, my role as a mom changed. I can’t count how many comments and advice was given about going back to work full time. However, the worst feeling was the social pressure. The pressure from society that has evolved within the last few decades. It’s been deemed socially acceptable and almost demanding for moms to go back to work without considering all of the facts, and to place our children in a caregivers hand. While there is still a small percentage of mothers staying at home, this percentage has declined significantly. For example: 69% of Canadian families with at least one child under 16 were dual-earner families in 2014 (up from 36% in 1976) – Three-quarters had two parents working full time in 2014. Only 27% of Canadian families with children were single-earner families (down from 59% in 1976) – Among the 27% ONLY 16% had a stay-at-home mother. Lastly, ONLY 9% had a parent that was either unemployed, attending school or permanently unable to work.
For me, the decision of staying home was not financially feasible at the time. When I became a working mom, I was naive on the difficulties I would be faced with. As a lot of moms would know, you morph into that “everything mom:” the family administrator, the taxi driver, the maid, the cook, the nurse, and teacher. I wear a lot of hats being a mother. When I was back at work, I wore all of these hats, among the several I wore at my “daytime” job. Shuffling all of these hats came at the expense of my mental health. Stress is one of the leading causes of emotional and physical health decline in moms, today. The amount of stress working moms experience jumped 40% compared to full- time women who do not have children. As a working mom, we continue to move forward, because it’s expected of us. At some point, somewhere, it has been increasingly clear that once your maternity leave is over, we go back to work.
I remember, everyday driving to work, I would be mentally checking off my to-do list. I was setting reminders on my phone, appointments, playdates, family events, and not to mention all of the reminders at work for important follow-ups and deadlines. By the time your work day ends, I’m scrambling to get to daycare on time, all while remembering if I pulled out something for dinner. There is no doubt I was constantly looking at the clock, counting down the minutes to bedtime. Finally, bedtime comes, my daughter is peacefully sleeping, and I start feeling guilty. Guilty that I ran myself so thin, and that I lost sight of the meaningful moments with my daughter and my husband. My husband certainly receives the short end of the stick, most days. Not because I don’t value his love and appreciation, but because my time has run short.
As a working mom, once I have created a routine that works, you now have to factor in your sick child. The social demand of moms going back to work, now translates into your child going to daycare. While our children are attending daycare, it is to be expected that they are exposed to an unlimited amount of germs. The average amount of cold viruses your child might be exposed too are between 8-12 per year (as per Statistic Canada). The list of illnesses that they might be exposed too (not including colds) can vary, but they can happen at any time. The average cold virus can require stay-at home care between 2-4 days; longer duration depending on the daycare provider and illness. A working mom, like myself I am only entitled to 2-3 paid sick days per year. This hardly covers me for only 1 illness, if I’m lucky. If you require more days, or your child is sick often, you are often left using your vacation days, asking family, friends, or neighbours. For myself , I don’t get the luxury to have family come in and help us when our children are sick, we don’t have family who live locally. I would be using unpaid days off.
Additionally, what happens when we get sick. So using your 2-3 sick days for the year on your child, plus any additional time you have used, you now have to be off for even longer, when you fall ill. However, using unpaid days doesn’t always get you an understanding golden ticket with your employer. So many moms, you get the opposite treatment. Mandatory requests to make up each day you have been absent, working overtime, or attending countless meetings to review the reasons “WHY” you have been absent. Not to mention the ridicule you face among your colleagues and/or manager because they were likely accommodating absences. This is a vicious cycle that is never ending. Do you go to work sick, and get everyone else sick. Do you stay home and use what availability you have. In the end, your biggest uphill battle is your need of accommodation and support from your employer.
With several studies and conclusive research, it has been proven that working moms multitask exceeding more than 10 hours per week. While feeling the demand to go back to work, there is no escape from public scrutiny “How can you leave your child?” ” Don’t you feel guilty?” “Have you properly researched your caregiver?’ On the flip side, if you choose to be a stay-at home mom you also hear “How do you contribute to paying bills?” “How are you able to save for retirement?” “It must be so nice to not have to work.” No matter the decision you choose, you are constantly judged for your choices. None of these choices get you a “free pass” from judgement.
My husband is a full time advisor. His career commitment is something I have been the most supportive of. He will spend breakfast with my daughter and I, and then off to work he goes. Most days he is gone until dinner time, 6-6:30PM, and other times he is not home until after dinner time, 8:30PM. While he is working full time into most evenings, no one ever questions him about his time spent away from his family. No one questions his active parental role, and wonders if he feels guilty about being away. If a dad chooses to stay home with their child, do you think he will experience the same judgement and expectations as mothers? Will he be questioned by society’s standards about all of his parenting decisions, or will be praised with gratitude for “trying?” If your husband stays home consistently with your sick child, will be pulled into meetings regarding his several absences, or will he be given understanding during this difficult time through this adjustment period? Time has changed. Dad’s are not staying at home full time or even part time. They certainly are not expected to work full time and manage the household duties to the same extent as mothers. Women are expected to do it all. Women are expected to withhold their full time job, while managing the house, without question. If husbands are not expected to withhold the same level of expectations, why are we? Somewhere, and somehow the status quo is that mothers must do it all while facing criticism, while fathers go to work, come home and participate when they can, and receive no judgement.
Mothers are the most stressed. Mothers need the most support, understanding and patience today, than ever before. A study from University of Manchester and the University of Essex which was published by The Globe & Mail https://globalnews.ca/news/4896926/working-mothers-more-stressed-study/ discovered that accommodaions, such as, “working from home and flexible office hours did not improve stress levels” Mothers are, and will always be the primary caregivers in most family settings. This is not to say that fathers do not care, this is just a “natural” fact of life.
Pushing through all of these demands that were thrown at me has led me to develop PTSD taruma, anxiety as well as clinical depression in addition to additional emotional hardship. It has become so vividly clear that there is a very clear divide between what society & employers expect of you, as a working mom, and what is realistic. Realistic expectations do not exist in most employment settings. To be told that “we can’t find the means to accommodate you” , suggesting a “career change” or “maybe you should apply for STD” are not realistic approaches and will never solve this stigma that exist. These were all the approaches thrown at me while severely struggling mentally.
I was struggling the most while trying to return to work and factoring in my need to breastfeed/pump, I was clearly denied. Denied the space and denied the time. This not only forced me to abruptly stop, but mentally and emotionally this was a forced decision that not affected myself, but affected my daughter. To make matters worse, I was later told months after I had forcibly quit breastfeeding, that space would now be available. This is what escalated a mental breakdown. This is what triggered traumatic stress.
We have come along way with recognizing women’s equality, and equality in the workplace, but when I look at all of my efforts and how much I have given it all, it never seems to be enough or seldom recognized. We have still failed as a society. We have allowed working mothers to feel so much burden, and stress from the pressures of work at the expense of our mental health without any support from their employer and with a severe lack of empathy. We have ignored as a society that this is a fundamental women’s rights issue that isn’t talked about. It needs to be talked about. Mothers are the foundation in most families. Mothers play some of the most important roles in our child’s life, so why aren’t we embracing that as a society? As a society, if we can’t create an equal parental ground between fathers and mothers, then how can it be socially acceptable to judge and criticise a mother for needing to catch their breath, or take a break?
There are so many things a “working mom” relies on in order to make transitioning back to work a positive experience, and that comes with a certain level of understanding and support from their employer. Support of a feasible schedule. A schedule that isn’t given on a Friday so we know what we are expected to work for the Monday. We need proper notice. We have a family, and we rely on adequate timing of our schedule, not 2 days notice.
For all of my moms near and far, I am sending you love, and support!
My daughter is almost two years old, and I never for a second thought that the hardest part of being a mom is balancing being a mom and a working mom. When deciding to go to back to work, at the initial time, it seemed like an easy decision. My decision to return to work was purely a financial decision in my household. The time of my return, and coordinating the household with my husband, we knew we wouldn’t be able to maintain our family’s lifestyle if I stayed at home. Knowing that, becoming a stay-at-home mom wasn’t a thought. I had mentally prepared myself (at least I thought I had) to return to work. I felt strongly that I would go back to work, carry on with my regular job, and motherly duties: pick up my daughter from daycare, go home & make dinner and everyone would be happy; all would be well. At least, that is what I envisioned would happen. A part of me was excited about the time away from my daughter and homelife. I would interact with adults, and engage in adult conversations instead of my days discussing The Wiggles, Peppa Pig & Sesame Street.
Leading up to and returning to work, I started doubting my decision. The excitement mixed with fear, mixed with anxiety and nervousness became so surreal. Don’t get me wrong, all of these feelings are to be expected. As any new mom would do, and with the realization that there isn’t another option, I put one foot in front of the other and carried on for days, weeks & months. I’ll be honest, some days were easier than others. Finding the right balance was, and still is the most challenging thing I have ever experienced.
So many moms to be, and new moms often receive an outpour of advice solicited and unsolicited from family, friends and strangers about what you should, or shouldn’t be doing as a parent. However, I have yet to receive insight about what to expect or what you should know about deciding to return to work. I wish someone would have told me that your exhaustion level goes from 0-100 by 9:00 AM and you still have to find a way to manage the next 8 hours of your work day on top of the next 4-5 hours work you have at home in the evening as a mom. So, when you think you have 1 fulltime job, times that by 2. You’re now working full time, and you are a mother full time.
I wish I had known that the feeling of failing: failing as a mom, and failing at work was to be expected, and was likely to happen. There are no words to describe what it truly feels like to “fail.” While I would hug my daughter each morning in the doorway of her daycare, letting her go was incredibly hard. I would take that extra moment to soak up her cuddle, and her smell, before letting her go. She cried, and then I would cry driving myself to work. This process took months, before it got just a little bit easy. This wasn’t an easy transition for me, and the one advice that WAS given to me, was that this transition is normal, and your child will eventually stop crying. I kept reminding myself that she will stop crying… eventually.
As mothers, what we struggle with the most is admitting when something is hard. We are wired to take on challenges daily, from getting the right colour cup and spoon each morning for breakfast, lunch, dinner, while coordinating multiple tasks simultaneously: pretending to be princesses and fairies reading a book to a group of teddies while the floor is lava (yes, this is a real game). We are warriors! We are STRONG! But where we fall short, and what we don’t talk about is how we try to keep the glue stuck, while dividing our self from what we know best, being a mom and our workplace. What some of us are born to do, is to raise our babies. Our constant need to be the “perfect” mom foreshadows our ability to admit when we are struggling. When we admit we are struggling, we are no longer seen as “perfect,” we are now seen as “weak”. Being seen as “weak” now translates to the feeling of “failed” which is something no mom wants to feel or admit too.
All I wanted to hear was that this transition in your life will be hard! This process isn’t always an easy one. The feelings you are feeling are normal. There is no timeline on your feelings. Your feelings will come and go. You will have good days & bad days. You will constantly feel like you can’t do it all. When you can’t, you feel like you have let someone down and that someone is YOU. You have let yourself down, your child down, your husband/partner down, and that’s a hard pill to swallow. I wish I was told that the whole “work life balance,” is completely, and utterly, full of crap! Repeat after me, CRAP!! There is no balance. We are all trying to keep ourselves from sinking, and drifting away at sea. What is true is that some moms are just better at hiding it than others.
Lastly, I wish as a working mom there was better support, for us. Better resources helping moms cope with their decision to go back to work. This decision is not easy. In fact, it is the absolute, most challenging decision you might face. For some mothers, this means weaning from breastfeeding, pumping and/ or bottle feeding routines and implementing new routines and structure. These changes affect not only you , but your little one. This is a difficult time for both you and your little one. Changes like these cause incredible hormonal changes that affect you physically and mentally (scientifically proven). Gearing up to go back to work is overwhelming, sad, happy, frustrating, exhausting, angry and all feelings in between and the most important thing we need, is patience and support!
From a mother to a mother, I understand you! I commend your strength! A mother who claims they have figured it all out, I am all ears … but until then, I will continue to send to my fellow moms, support & love during this difficult time ❤️ .
As a new parent, you might have received parenting books or someone might have recommended a good book that will navigate each month of your baby’s milestones. While this can be good information, and provide perspective to the parenting world, what makes these books just like the others, they only show you the cute and adorable milestones that your baby will experience. You know…the ones where they will suck their thumb for the first time, babble, say their first word, or roll over. The list goes on. These are all super cute and fun, but let’s face it, the REAL milestones are what you won’t find in books … Let me tell you what you have to look forward to!
The first time baby pukes in your mouth.
Yep! This happened to me. Actually, more than once. My daughter was about 3 months old or so. We were playing on the floor, and she was sitting on my tummy while I was singing “row your boat” and she definitely rowed her boat of puke right into my mouth. You might think this may never happen to you, but lets face it, it most likely will, and it’s absolutely disgusting. But, if anyone ever asks you if you know what sour milk tastes like, you can tell them 😉
The first time you get pooped on.
I know what you’re thinking, this won’t happen to me. You wait, and you will thank me later when it does, because you will be watching for it. I remember this like it happened yesterday. My daughter was laying on the change table while I was changing her wet diaper, when shots fired, and poop sprays outward, covering my hand, the change table, the wall, and behind her dresser. Poop sprayed everywhere. You know when you watch someone at Dairy Queen prepping your blizzard and you think, “Wonder what would happen if the machine malfunctioned and ice-cream would spray everywhere?” Just picture soft serve ice cream everywhere. She was notorious for poop blowouts, and pooping while being changed. Poop will come when you least expect it. And the next time you get a blizzard …. you’re welcome!
When your baby cries, you cry.
There is no tougher moment than listening to your baby cry. My daughter is 11 months old, and I STILL cry, when she does. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. There is something to be said about a mothers bond with their children. This can happen during your midnight feeding, during your bedtime routine, or perhaps in the backseat of the car. No matter when or where this happens, you will feel personally responsible for your baby’s tears. Your lack of sleep and/or hormones will get the best of you, and you will find yourself shedding those tears alongside your baby. I remember the first time I cried while my daughter was crying when she needed to see an ophthalmologist. She was only a couple of days old. As the doctor examined her, and administered eye drops, she cried, and I cried listening to her. Another time, when my daughter was only about a week old and my husband and I were ready to take my daughter with us to do some errands, and there was my daughter crying in her car seat before we got her in the car. Tears were running down my face, while I was singing “you are my sunshine.” Every parent will tell you that you will you cry when your children cry, and I remember saying “nah, I’m not that emotional..” You think you aren’t, now… but you wait!!
The day you feel like the other moms seem to know what they’re doing better than you.
It’s very easy to think that someone else might be handling, or doing something better than you are. Women seem to compare themselves with other women. In some cases, its hard not too. You show up to a baby group, and you see other moms wearing makeup, and wearing their pre pregnancy clothes, and looking so fresh, while you’re still rubbing out ‘sleep crusties’ from your eyes from the night before. Your hair is tied back, because you are on your third day using dry shampoo. That’s when you think to yourself, “man, what am I doing wrong?” or “whats the secret?” The truth is, whether another mom has managed to squeeze in a shower, or put on makeup, or is able to wear their skinny jeans, at the end of the day, we are all figuring out this mom thing, and we are all winging it as we go. There will always be a mom who appears refreshed, who seems to know what she is doing, one that seems to have all the answers, and one that stays calm during stressful times. But on the inside, they could be stressing about the things you are rocking. The truth is, we are all figuring this whole mom thing out together, and as much as you think some moms are doing a better job, remember that no one has all the answers. Take time to pat yourself on the back for a job well done!!
First time everyone and everything is covered in food.
It comes with great pleasure to introduce you and your baby to solids. You may think that you will just throw down some garbage bags and clean up will be that easy. This idea seems to make sense but those garbage bags don’t help protect your walls. While your baby explores the joys of their food in all forms, in a split moment, there isn’t enough preparation that stops a spoon full of puree or a handful of pasta thrown across the room, covering your walls and floor. Your baby decides to squish their food in their fingers, and then they mash it through their hair, their legs and feet. It’s like an art class gone wrong. Just when you think you’ve cleaned up the mess in your kitchen, and your onto cleaning up your baby, you find remnants of their meal inside their diaper, arms and leg rolls.
Actual toddler tantrums can start around the age of 18 months, but infants can have outbursts too. The difference though, is that infants can’t speak. The best part is that you get a full ear of hysterical crying, and not knowing what’s wrong because they’re obviously unable to tell you, and everyone has stopped what they’re doing to stare at you.
Just when you think you’ve figured it out.
As you might already know, babies have a mind of their own. They aren’t textbook. So, no matter what you might google online, read, and think it will apply to your baby, it doesn’t always work. Or, better yet, you might have figured out the perfect thing, and it works for a month, and BAM! Game over! What seems to work today, no longer works. And what didn’t work last month, might work today! Babies don’t keep us on our toes for nothing.
Always remember to praise yourself for the good work you are doing. Being a mom isn’t always a picnic in the park. Its hard work, its full-time, always. No mater the challenges the day brings, or the held back tears you’re fighting, or the difficulties you are facing, remember to remind yourself you are doing a great job. You are an amazing mom!
A lot of us know how difficult it is being a mom. I’m not just referring to motherhood in the sense of preparing lunches, and picking up your children after school and juggling schedules. I mean at the very beginning from the time your body is creating this tiny human inside your belly.
I was looking back at my maternity pictures and remembered how amazing I felt being pregnant. I can honestly say, I felt my best (most of the time) but I know this isn’t the case for everyone. This got me thinking about all the tremendous changes we go through. Changes that aren’t always talked about. Not only does the media glorify some of the most difficult, painful and heartfelt moments, but often times so much of it is untrue. They focus solely on the small percentage of people who don’t experience difficulties that most women go through and expect the rest of us to follow suit.
I have spent these past months and days figuring out how to maintain a clean house, making dinner while entertaining my busy, sometimes fussy 5 month old, and realized it is harder than it looks. Most of the time, I can’t. I felt like I was a failure, and I can’t get it together. You research and try to find a way to make it all work, and if you tweak this, or change that, you can do it all…its a lie! It’s a lie that we can do lots of things well, all at the same time. Yes, most women are multi-taskers. However, while most of us can balance so many tasks at once, we end up dropping the ball somewhere.
So lets break the silence, and take a look at the hard truths, and real talks about motherhood:
Labour: The fear most woman have when they are pregnant. The topic most previous mothers will either share their horror story, or paint you the perfect picture. Yes, we’ve seen it in the movies, but is it actually like that? As much as I would love to say yes, the real truth is no. For most women, myself included, labour is nothing like the movies. It’s long, tiring, and painful. After talking with some moms, here’s what they have to say about it:
“Fast and furious!”
“I feel like time lost all meaning at the end. I was pushing for 45 minutes but I had no conception of time. Could have been 45 seconds or 45 hours”
“No matter how many people tell you about their experience, yours is completely different. You can think about all the different possibilities beforehand but chances are you will forget every one and you just have to be in the moment.”
“Excruciatingly painful, but resulted in the greatest reward, and you forget about the pain immediately!”
“I could have done without the whole ‘doctor’s hand scraping my uterus from the inside’ part!”
No matter what you read or hear, the truth is, it’s tiring, can be painful, can be fast, but one thing that remains the truth for all of us, is the reward!
Sleep: I remember while I was pregnant the amount of unsolicited comments and advice about how little sleep I will get once our baby arrives. It seems to be the first thing people are itching to warn you about. While I find myself scrolling through social media threads, I often wonder how so many celebrities looked refreshed immediately after having their babies. How did they do it? What’s the hidden secret? The truth is, there isn’t. It’s called air brush, dry shampoo, and a 1 day makeover. For some, they might even have a nanny, or home nurse come and assist. But, lets hear it from other moms:
“It’s amazing how little sleep you can survive on!”
“Our first night home I was so sleep deprived that I was hallucinating carnival music in the sound of the bathroom fan, the creepiest possible music.”
“Amazed at how my body could actually function on 3 hours total sleep.”
“Life exists in 2 or 3 hour increments, it didn’t feel like days or nights.”
“A bad night can be fixed by a quick shower and accepting you won’t get anymore sleep right now.”
“I thought I knew what tired was before a baby, but felt it wasn’t super difficult to function on almost no sleep.”
“Still exhausted, but nothing coffee can’t fix.”
“I just take it one day at a time, and give myself permission to nap instead of cleaning the house.”
Somewhere along the way, we are told that women are born to be mothers. We are the ones who can get it all done. We are great wives, great homemakers, great moms, great friends, and no matter what, we can do it all. And then…we have kids. And the truth is, kids limit us. For the first few years or longer, our babies require all of our help to learn and develop, and to grow into young adults. But in the beginning, this means that the primary objective is to meet the physical and emotional needs for our little humans. This is where time is limited. The amount of sleep I get is limited by my daughters bad dream, lost soother, or teething pain.
Feeding: There is so much pressure towards women on how we feed our babies. There’s pressure in the media, through our families and friends on whether we formula feed or breastfeed our babies. Not only is this strictly a personal choice, but no matter our choice, women shouldn’t be scrutinized for the decision they choose. Articles we read, and even in the media, make breastfeeding “easy”. Even though it might be easy for some, the truth is, it’s very hard for most women. But, lets hear it from other moms:
“Without lactation consultants we wouldn’t be happily breastfeeding at 6 months.”
“So much more difficult than everyone makes it out to be; would have been impossible for me without my lactation consultant.”
“Challenging, complicated and very emotional, but I’m so grateful to experience it.”
The choice you make is completely a personal choice. And for most women, it’s not easy in the beginning, but leads to a rewarding bonding experience in the end. For some women, including myself, breastfeeding was not in the cards. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, some things are not meant to happen, and that’s ok. Women should never be faulted for their choices or their inability to breastfeed their baby. Every woman and their circumstances are unique, just like every baby is unique. ♥
Being a mom comes with its ups and downs. By the end of the week, you might be feeling like you are at the end of your rope. You might feel cranky, stressed, angry or even find youself shouting at your family. Sometimes you need to take a step back and remind yourself how far you have come. Remind yourself that its ok if you have no energy to cook a gourmet dinner, or that your house isn’t company ready. Remind yourself that this is a sign of the greatest accomplishment life has given you, a baby. A baby who has filled your life thus far with giggles, snuggles, drool covered kisses and endless smiles. These moments don’t last forever, so embrace them while you can!
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.
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.
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.