Kindergarten Orientation (Round 2)

Karma bit me in the ass when I took my son (my second born) to his Kindergarten orientation today.

In a haze of mom-ster arrogance, I had muttered to a friend that I hoped that my son wouldn’t be placed in a class full of first-time moms to school-aged kids. I poked fun at how hard it is the first time around for the children (and the moms) – how tears would be shed, and how I wanted to be grouped together with other “seasoned” parents who would opt to drop-and-go on day one of school.

Karma’s a bitch (and so was I).

I showed up with my coffee in hand (and baby in stroller), and strolled into the library with my head held high. I observed the new families in the room and reminisced about how nervous I had been when it was my first time. But I felt confident that this year would be easy breezy – I was just going through the motions. You know, for my son.

When the time came for the children to leave us in the library while they toured the Kindergarten classroom, disaster struck with a vengeance.

My son suddenly grasped onto my leg with a deathgrip and wailed “I don’t want to goooo” while my littlest simultaneously decided to wriggle and squeal in my arms. All of the other children – all newbies to the school scene, pleasantly obliged and walked hand-in-hand in pairs down the hallway. After several failed attempts at negotiations with my boy (including but not limited to: acts of bribery, stern commands, minor threats, loving coaxes and many many deep breaths), I followed the line of children – stroller, and wailing boy in tow.

As I stood by the door of the Kindergarten classroom, holding my distraught son in one arm and my overtired, cranky one-year-old in the other, I looked on as the other children sang along to songs, coloured pictures and enjoyed circle time.

I side-glanced to the outer perimeter of the classroom, where I noticed two teachers scribbling notes – observing each child and their reactions to this new environment. One of the teachers glanced in my direction, flashed a crooked, sympathetic smile at me, and scribbled some notes on her pad – presumably documenting my son’s behaviour.

I was officially that parent.

After about 20 minutes, I managed to sneak out of the room, leaving my son to his own devices. And of course, when they were finished (and the teacher observers had left), he met me with a glimmer of excitement in his eyes – grabbing me by the hand, eager to show me what he had done.

Today I learned that having three kids doesn’t make me more experienced as a parent. It doesn’t make mothering any harder (or easier) because each child and each experience is new and completely different.

When school officially starts in September, I will not judge the new moms. Instead, I hope to be just like them.

Kindergarten Orientation

The Truth About How I Broke My Toe

I’d like to preface this post by saying that I get very little sleep. I’d also like to make it known that sleepiness causes accidents. It’s a fact. So when I tell you this story – when I confess the truth about how I really broke my toe, be nice.

Alright, you can laugh out loud at me – I did. Because when something this ridiculous happens, you might as well laugh it off and tell your friends about it, right? So here it goes…

I had been working on a few work-related projects on my computer, when I realized that it was almost time for my mom to come over and watch my kids (a rare parents night out was on the horizon – distraction #1). I quickly plopped my baby into her exersaucer (because, baby #3), and pulled out the beast that is my built-in vacuum cleaner, ready to power-clean like I do when expecting guests in my home.

Baby was screeching like a pterodactyl so I was rushing to get the job done. Barefoot, hungry, and overtired, I glanced sideways at my squawking child while thrusting the vacuum with all of my force.

To and fro, side glance, to and fro.

I forcefully pulled the vacuum back towards me while my eyes were focused on the baby, and as I heard the crunching sound of my toes getting mangled into the suctioning vortex of the vacuum head, my life flashed before my eyes. I immediately fell to the floor like Will Ferrell when he gets hit in the jugular with a tranquilizer gun in the movie Old School, cursing and gagging from the painful impact of what had just happened.

It sounded exactly like I had vacuumed up small pieces of Lego. The mangling, crunching sound of my toes snap crackle pop-ing as I fell. I was sure I had broken each and every toe, and that I would never walk again.

As as I rocked in agony, the first thought that came to my head was – “I am such an IDIOT! Who DOES that!?”

I paused as my eyes welled up, and then I burst out laughing. As tears streamed down my face, I cackled like a wicked witch. After a few minutes of hysteria had passed, I cocked my head to the side to see my judging child, staring blankly at me with disappointment in her eyes.

I survived (physically anyways). But the problem with having a broken toe is that it is an injury that is hard to hide. As I hobbled up to my daughter’s school the next day, a fellow mom called out my name. “Hey Bianca!” she called out from across the school grounds, “What did you do to your foot!?” I waited for her to get closer, flashed an awkward smile, and replied, “The other guy did it.”

She looked at me, puzzled.

As always, I had failed at the delivery of a common saying (I had meant to say, “You should see the other guy!”).

I’m a terrible liar, so I told her the truth – that I had sucked up my toe while vacuuming, and that my pinky toe was blackened and broken.

I watched as she burst with laughter, and then covered her mouth, and then frowned sympathetically, and then returned to laughing again.

“I know,” I replied. “It’s ok to laugh, I did.”

So there you have it. The truth hurts sometimes – but nothing like the sting of a broken toe, or the bruise of my ego whenever I have to explain what really happened to my toe.

how i broke my toe

 

 

The BC Teachers’ Labour Dispute: Why I’m Accepting The Money

I’m not a teacher, and I’m not a politician. But I am a parent, and therefore am affected by the ongoing labour dispute that is happening in BC. Unlike many of the media outlets who are calling this a “BC Teachers’ Strike”, I think it’s important to acknowledge the fact that there are two sides to this dispute, that this is a feud between the teachers union and the government of BC. I think it is also important to acknowledge that it affects more than just the two sides involved, it also affects the students, parents, and taxpayers of our province.

Until now I’ve been quiet about the dispute. I’ve watched as my Facebook feed has been flooded with backlash against teachers, against the government, and against our Premier. I’ve refrained from commenting on posts about who should receive the $40-a-day ‘childcare support’ that will be provided to families during the labour disruption, and I’ve bitten my tongue as people have raged about the government’s attempt to drag out the dispute in order to make the teachers look like the bad guys.

Tomorrow is supposed to be my daughter’s first day of Grade 2. And as I sit back and read the comments, articles, discussions, and rants from teachers, government officials, union representatives, school board administration staff, parents, friends and strangers, I’m left with some thoughts.

Accepting the $40-a-day childcare allowance from the government for my school-aged child does not make me an idiot, nor should I be excluded from receiving it based on my employment status.

I’ve seen some comments on social media about who should receive the $40-a-day childcare allowance during the school closures, who think that work-from-home and stay-at-home moms and dads should not receive this benefit because they will not require childcare services during the delays. These people are missing the point (and ignorant if they don’t realize that everyone with children, regardless of employment status will need additional support).

I am a taxpaying home owner. And like everyone else in BC who pays property taxes, I am paying school taxes that are used to pay for public education in BC. With schools not in session, doesn’t it make sense for everyone who has paid their hard-earned dollars towards provincial school taxes to receive a refund when that money is not being spent on what it was intended for? While the money is being presented as child care subsidy for parents who are left with children at home as a result of the dispute, what it should be presented as is a refund on taxes that have already been paid.

The money does not dissolve my feelings of frustration towards the dispute and how it will hinder the educational needs of the children in my province. The money does not sway my support for BC teachers, and does not blind me from the challenges that they face every day in over-packed classrooms with limited resources for children with special needs and lower-than-average wage increases.

What the money does do is provide support for parents like myself who will attempt to educate their children during their extended time outside of the classroom, through educational outings, tutors and related resources. This has nothing to do with parents who are working, who work from home, or who take care of their children full time. It is about the children who are missing out on classroom time and the valuable education they deserve.

I feel for the children who are experiencing delays in their final year of high school, and for the children who are entering school for the first time in Kindergarten. I feel for all of my fellow parents who fear for their children and their educational future. But I also understand the issues and am willing to wait patiently for them to be resolved properly. I know a resolution won’t happen overnight, and would rather support our teachers as they fight for what’s best for our children’s futures than to settle for a short-term solution that is not in the best interest of our children.

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Dear Mastitis: Don’t.

Mast-effing-itis.

When you’re pregnant for the first time, no one tells you about it. Perhaps on purpose. It could be because women who have had it before are so haunted by the experience that even uttering the word “mastitis” brings on dark and disturbing flashbacks. Because even the thought of it elicits feelings of fear, anxiety, and toe-curling pain.

Full-fledged mastitis is no laughing matter. It can be worse than a bad flu, and in severe cases like actress Jaime Pressly’s experience, it can even lead to a 7.5 hour surgery to remove abscesses and breast tissue that have formed as a result of an extreme case of untreated mastitis.

mastitis

What is it? Mastitis is what happens when milk builds up in your breast (often referred to as a “blocked duct”, but isn’t actually a physical blockage) causing inflammation, and even infection. It amazes me that something that sounds so simple, could be so physically torturous.

Side Note: do NOT Google “mastitis images”. You can’t unsee some of the images that come up. I’m serious, JUST. DON’T.

It is said that one in ten breastfeeding moms experience mastitis. Based on those odds, you probably think you’re safe, right? Not necessarily. I’ve had it three times – once with each child (so far), and not just the mild version.

A few weeks ago, we went on a little out-of-town jaunt to visit family. On our first night away, while I was nursing, I noticed a little tender spot on my breast. I knew immediately what was coming, and I lost sleep over it that night.

The thing about mastitis is that it starts slowly, and then progresses at the speed of light. You flirt with a little tenderness, and then it slaps you in the face. All of a sudden it hurts to have your t-shirt graze the agonizingly painful spot. You feel light-headed, and start to shiver uncontrollably. A fever comes on, and nausea creeps up your throat. This may not always be the case, but this is how it has always been for me.

Thankfully, there are ways to get rid of the torturous infection. And while mastitis is worse than any of the other things I hate about nursing, it too shall pass.

 

 

 

5 Things I Hate About Breastfeeding

Nursing is a way to connect and bond with your baby – to nurture her and to provide her with the nutrients she needs while instilling in her a sense of comfort and security. Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing, I get it.

But I’m going to be honest with you, it’s not all shits and giggles (not for me anyways). In fact, there are some things that I loathe about my lovely lady lumps becoming milking teats for my ravenous baby.

1) Becoming “The Hunchback of Nursing Dame”.

I used to have the dainty posture of a ballerina. Yes, my many years of hunching over a computer keyboard may have contributed to my slightly-curved stature, but breastfeeding has advanced my stance to a full-on hunchback. It is simply impossible for me to bring breast to mouth without curving my back into the shape of a semicircle.

2) Hearing “Mommy Cloey’s crying, she needs you to milk her!” from my kids – on an hourly basis.

For some reason people who are holding, in close proximity to, or even aware of the presence of a nursing baby, feel the need to educate the mother on when that baby is hungry.

With the first squawk or crank of the neck it’s “ohhh she’s hungry..” or in the case of my kids, “she needs mommy to milk her.” Well guess what world: mommy cows always know when their calves need to be milked. The reality is, we either: a) have just fed baby and know it’s more likely a soiled diaper or a desire to be held in a new position, b) we are avoiding nursing because we don’t feel comfortable doing so in public (see #3 below), or c) we are trying to set a feeding schedule for our cluster-feeding offspring.

breastfeeding

3) Fear of showing my breast-ginas to the world.

I’m not an exhibitionist. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. I still change in the private stalls at public pools, I feel awkward in tops with plunging necklines, and I even keep my bikini top on at topless beaches. Prude? No. Modest? Maybe.

I’m almost as uncomfortable with flashing my nips as I would be if I were flashing my va-jay-jay in a public place. I will go out of my way to hide my areolas from the world my friends.

4) Wearing a wardrobe based on boob accessibility.

I’ve finally pumped out that little life that has occupied my body for 9 months, I’ve lost most of the baby weight, and I’m finally ready to leave the confines of my home. Too bad I can’t wear anything because I’m nursing!

Maternity clothes no longer fit – the chest and belly fabric has been stretched thin, deforming every top and dress in my closet. I can’t wear my pre-baby clothes either because most of them don’t provide access to the boob. So I’m restricted to t-shirts and stretch pants. Sexy.

5) Wishing for an epic latch.

I don’t care what anyone else says, nursing hurts. I’m on my third baby and this fact has not changed. In the beginning, when baby has first arrived and is ravenously searching for her first sip of mommy’s nectar, it effing HURTS. Like curl-your-toes, squish-your-eyes-tightly-shut, clench-your-fists hurts. And while that initial pain eventually subsides, the fear of a bad latch will haunt you.  For me, the feeling of having a baby feed off my sensitive lady bits never feels soothing or enjoyable. I wince every time she opens her mouth and eagerly approaches my milk bag.

But despite all of the discomfort, I can say this: breastfeeding is worth it when your baby releases her suction, relaxes her clenched fists, and falls into a lovely milk coma like this:

breastfeeding