Tag Archives: Mom

7 Things I Never Thought I’d Say Before I Became a Parent

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a city far, far away (well a 45 minute commute anyway) I had a life. It was civilized, and people spoke politely to each other (with the exception of road rage) and we never spoke of body parts unless we were drunk or laughing at some celebrity who forgot she wasn’t wearing underpants. It was peaceful there. And drinks at noon were cool.

Then I became a parent.

black mini van parked in my driveway

black mini van parked in my driveway

And I found myself saying all manner of strange things. Things that once repulsed me were now topics of everyday conversation. In fact, I often find myself desperately seeking some adult conversation. A mere sentence or two that has nothing to do with the contents of one’s diaper or where the damn permission form has gotten to now.

When I stop to think about it, some of the things I’ve said are pretty horrifying. So, just to brighten your day a bit (as you revel in not having to say those things, or that you managed to escape them), I thought I’d share with you some of the most awful things I’ve found myself saying:

7.  A mini-van? Really?

6.  Yes, someone needs to be sober in the house at all times.

5.  No the baby doesn’t count.

4.  Oh, that diaper smells delightful! Think we can make it home without causing another rash? That mom over there is about to ram us for our spot.

3.  Seriously? You’re picking your nose and eating it? At the table? Instead of this dinner I slaved over?

2.  I know it’s fashionable to wear tight shorts, but honey, do you know what camel toe is?

1.  Sure I can take three more kids in the van. Pile them in!




Start a Conversation

Social media is an interesting phenomena. Lots of bickering, mommy wars, and one of the best ways to keep posted on what’s happening in the world. And when that’s all overwhelming and too much, there are always the feel good stories. They pop up, get circulated around and everyone shares them to further spread the warm and fuzzies.

The latest one to get circulated is about a boy with challenges similar to autism who asked his mother not to have a birthday party for him because he doesn’t have any friends. Mom set up a Facebook page and the media picked it up and now he’s being inundated with birthday cards.

How heartbreaking that his mom needed to do something like that. I get it, I truly do as I share in her despair every day. Kids with autism face so many challenges that it just doesn’t feel fair to add a lack of friends on top of it all.

So many people got on board for this, that it seems like one of those heartwarming do-good, feel-good stories. Teachers were even getting their entire classes to create and send cards. Mom was even getting notices from the postal service that there was too much mail!

But…after a friendless card-opening party with his mom, that boy will go back to his lonely existence. Neither your life nor his will be any better.

So I’m sending a big ‘ol shame on you to all of you who shared the story and/or sent a card. Yes I said shame on you. Because you all saw a feel-good story. Some of you even spent the $5 to buy a card and a stamp. And you all patted yourselves on the backs for a job well done and went on with your lives.

Nothing has actually changed. Tomorrow that boy will wake up and still face the prospect of going to school and not exchanging a single word with his classmates. If he’s really lucky a teacher might ask him about what he did last night, but more likely he or she will only direct him about his schoolwork.

Whether you are a teacher or a parent, you should be using this as an opportunity to talk to your kids about exclusion and loneliness. How inviting everyone but “that” kid to your party or giving out a valentine to everyone but “that” kid is causing very real harm. Kids with special needs can’t help their behaviour, and if it seems odd to you then you need to learn to get over it.

If you don’t know how then ask. As a parent, I would much rather be asked by a child or a parent about how to interact with my son than for him to be ignored and ostracized. If you are too uncomfortable to ask me, then ask a teacher. If you’re the teacher and you don’t know, ask your SERT, or me, or call the special education expert at the board.

Please notice that I said “interact.” I did not say “fake friendship with.” Pretending to be someone’s friend when you really aren’t only causes harm to both people and frankly they don’t need you in their life. I’m talking about basic human interaction. A conversation. Try starting one. You might be surprised at what you discover.

In fact, as parents and teachers, you should be modeling this for your children. What’s stopping you from having a conversation with a lonely person? You all know someone. Whether they are a freak, a geek, a loser, a senior, someone with physical, developmental, or mental disability; you all know at least one lonely person.

To really, truly make a difference in the world, you need to speak to these people.

And saying “Hi” only barely qualifies for good manners. I mean truly have a conversation. If you’re Canadian then complain about the weather with them. If you’re not, then comment on something in the news. Ask them how they’re doing. And wait for an answer. Be patient. If they are truly a lonely person then they aren’t used to being spoken to like that. They might be caught off guard or need to formulate an answer. Whatever it is, it’s not likely to be what you were expecting. And it will be worth it.

Your conversation doesn’t have to be an hour long marathon to count. Just a few minutes while waiting in line for coffee or while waiting for the bus or while waiting to go inside after the recess bell. Just long enough to connect with someone who is desperate for that connection.

Do it daily. It doesn’t even have to be the same person. And you never know, you might actually like someone you didn’t speak to before.

And when you are doing that regularly, and only then, can you pat yourself on the back for a job well done, a difference made in someone’s life.

Let’s see how many people you can engage in conversation:
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It gets less painful

This past week our eldest needed some blood drawn for the first time. Not sure what to expect with him, I explained why the blood was needed and how they were going to do it. As is typical of him, he asked about several details which I answered to the best of my knowledge.

We sat for a long time in the waiting room, and when it was finally his turn he got a look in his eyes, the one where he looks like a deer caught in headlights, panic just under the surface. I calmly took his hand and talked him through the whole procedure.

Afterwards I bought him a sympathy muffin at Tim’s and took him back to school. As he exited the van and walked inside, I realized that I had gotten through the procedure without one stray flicker of dramatic emotion.

What a long way we’ve come from the awful time that our littlest one had in the hospital last year as a newborn. They’d had to poke him every two days for blood and again every time he blew an IV. Even though he rarely fussed about it, I hated it so much I had to leave the room each time. Seeing him being poked like that made me feel sick, a visceral punch to the gut that made me want to throw myself over him to protect him from those necessary procedures. I would anxiously wait in the hall, and then dash back in, pick him up and cradle him for hours in my arms.

But this week with Mr. Twelve Year Old, I didn’t feel that at all. Not an inkling.

The difference in feelings has nothing to do with how much I love them–my kids are all amazing and special and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I love each of them for who they are.

Thinking about it, our little guy was a newborn, helpless to speak to us and suffering from a very deadly infection. Add a hospital setting and I was way beyond my comfort zone. Of course my instinct was to throw myself over him to protect him at all costs. My older guy though is rather like me in that it’s hard to get him to stop talking. He is capable of telling us when it’s too much and he wasn’t at risk. Almost a teen, it’s my job to point him in the right direction, hold his hand if he needs it, and let him experience life without me throwing myself bodily in the way.

While I know there will be other things to come that are emotional red flags, I’ve realized that as they grow up, the pain will be more about nostalgia than a need to protect. It will diminish as they grow.

For now, I can comfort myself in knowing that I can parent without panic or pain, and all my kids know is love.

Seriously? Me driving a mini-van?

A mini-van. I swore I’d never, ever drive one.

Be careful what you swear you will never do. (Wonder how many times I’ll have to learn *that* lesson before it sinks in?)

I LOVED my Xterra. Sure it was tall and everyone joked about me needed a rope ladder to climb in. Height is not a blessing that I can count. But it was fun to drive and none of my friends or family had anything similar.

It was a wee bit tight with the two older kids, B and K, before H came along. It was tighter still when Chelsea the Portuguese Water Dog joined our family, or when we were car pooling for dance.

It was an absolute sardine can when we went camping and had tent, food, rooftop bubble, canoe and bicycles plus four people in it.

I loved the stick shift (yes it *is* way more fun to drive than an automatic), and putting it into four wheel drive meant I wasn’t sliding around unploughed corners in winter.

But then we were expecting our third child, H.  And we had The Talk. It was so awkward, because neither of us thought we’d ever have to say the words  “Time to drive a mini-van”.

We were about halfway through the pregnancy when the decision was made for us when an idiot driving behind me hadn’t noticed that traffic was completely stopped. She hit me doing about 60 km/hr. After much freaking out (did I mention that I was pregnant?!) and a circus at the hospital, H and I were pronounced fine. Whew! The Xterra actually sustained much less damage than we had expected due to it’s rigid frame and steel bumper. But, neither of us felt comfortable with our family in it anymore.

So, the next week I found myself test driving a van. A few days after that, we picked it up. And you know what? It drives beautifully, everyone fits comfortably, and the sound system is miles ahead of the old one, plus I have hands-free cell and GPS. So, I can’t complain. I certainly fit in at the school yard and at the dance studio.

Though if you see me staring at your Xterra at a stop light, I’m not staring at you, I’m just remembering the most fun vehicle I’ve ever owned.