{FAMILY} Daylight Savings Is All About The Feelings

While daylight savings time may provide us with an added hour of evening sun in the Summer months, it certainly doesn’t save my sanity.

For as long as I can remember, the twice-a-year tradition has sparked the same old controversial conversation: do we get to sleep in, or do we have to wake up earlier once the clocks have changed? And this question has usually led to a long-winded tongue twister about feelings.

“OK, so if we set the clocks forward, then it feels like it’s 6am, but really it’s 7am.”

“No, no, no, it’s feels like we’re getting up earlier, not sleeping in…”

“Wait, ok so the one in October, feels like we’re sleeping in?”

daylight savings

I just want more sleep.

The queries drive my husband nuts, and make my head spin. I just want to know if I’m going to get an extra hour of sleep!

When you’re a parent, earning an extra hour of sleep is more of a win than actually winning the lottery. Sleep is sacred – and seldom.

So when the universe doles us a bad hand, and our calculations conclude that not only are we “losing an hour of sleep”, but our children are going to lose their minds trying to make sense of the extra daylight at bedtime – responding like a wild pack of blood-hungry zombies, of course we’re going to experience all sorts of feelings.

When it comes to the bi-annual tradition of time change, I know I’m not the only mama who changes the clocks with her fingers crossed, hoping that this is the one that will save my sanity and grant me that extra 60 minutes of sleep.

Unfortunately, this is not the blessed time. Because when my kids wake me up bright and early at 6:30am tomorrow morning, it will feel like 5:30am.

I’m off to “Spring forward” to a week’s worth of sleepless nights and my sanity will not be spared.

{FAMILY} What Makes A Mom

This year I had the opportunity to work on the fourth annual Leading Moms event – a day full of inspiring talks from extraordinary moms. As always, the speaker lineup was filled with an array of  diverse women, all invited to share their stories and experiences with an engaged audience. Every year, whether I’ve attended as a guest or as a member of the event organizing team, I’ve always left the event feeling connected and inspired, and I’m sure this year’s event did not disappoint.

While I was unable to attend the actual event this year, there were some negative comments shared on the event’s site that left a bad taste in my mouth, so I wanted to share my thoughts.

One of this year’s speakers was Morgane Oger, a transgender activist, leader in social change, and mom of two young children. Some commenters questioned her validity as a “mom” and challenged the Leading Moms event team on the choice to include a trans mom on the panel of speakers. And everyone is entitled to their own opinion – if they don’t like the choice of speakers, they are not obliged to attend the event.

Haters gonna hate.

When the speaker lineup was first revealed, the thought that Morgane was a trans mom didn’t even cross my mind. My only thought was that I was excited to hear her story, to learn more about her perspective as a mom and the experiences, struggles and successes she had faced on her journey towards motherhood.

I can understand the fear of the unknown. I know that not everyone is inclusive, and that some people feel the need to express themselves when they are strongly opposed to another person’s opinions and perspectives. But what I will never understand, is the need to attack another person’s personal choices – choices that in no way affect their own lives – in a way that is so hurtful, and on a platform that is so public.

Many poisonous words were slung on the topic of trans moms, but what bothered me most about the backlash was the argument that the only thing that makes a person a mother is the ability to physically give birth to a child. As an adoptee, this comment hit me on a personal level.

In my eyes, it is not only the hours that it took to push a baby into the world that makes a person a mother, but the hours – days – years – lifetime – afterwards that earns the title of ‘mom’.

There are so many babies who are brought into this world by women who did not intend to become mothers. And if those children were as fortunate as I was, they were connected with people who devoted their lives – their hearts to those children. People who committed to nurturing those children, loving those children, and providing for those children unconditionally. And those people are equally as deserving of the title of ‘mom’, or ‘dad’, or ‘parent’.

Not everyone can have babies naturally. And not all people can love and care for a child naturally either.

A person can become a mom biologically, or emotionally – how that mom came to be is not what matters. What matters most is that the child who calls that person “mom” knows that they are loved.

A lifetime commitment to loving a child unconditionally – that is what truly makes a mom.

 

 

 

{FAMILY} Mother’s Day Aftermath

Based on the flood of sunshine-drenched family photos and toothy-grin-flashing mom/kid selfies that graced my social media feeds this weekend, I think it’s safe to assume that Mother’s Day was a success for all. But like the famous proverb proclaims, all good things must come to an end.

My Mother’s Day went down as it usually does – I woke up to a pile of beautifully handcrafted cards and pictures, and creatively curated homemade gifts from my kids. This year, my son made me a candy pot (who doesn’t love a dish whose sole purpose is to hold treats!?), and my daughter made me a lovely candle holder and a book about what she loves about her mommy. And my youngest? She slept through the night for the first time in 4 months. Best. Gift. Ever.

And as always, my mom stole the show with an extravagant bee-themed cake and teapot, because the best moms make sure the day is extra special for their kids, am I right?

Mother's Day gifts IMG_9189

 

After a delicious pancake breakfast made by the hubby, I cleaned the house, went grocery shopping, and made a bbq dinner for my parents and family. We hung out by the river, soaked up the sun, and enjoyed each other’s company.

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I went to bed with a full heart (and belly) and felt so thankful for the three little monkeys I had created.

And then it was Monday morning. I woke to my baby’s screams at 5am, and paced around the house trying not to drop her flailing body. My son woke in a sweat, screaming ‘mommy’ as if it were a synonym for ‘scary spider’ so I rushed in to calm him. My oldest daughter slept in, and when I woke her to get ready for school, she whined and grimaced, proclaiming that she couldn’t move because he body was achy. After a quick checkover by Dr. Mom (aka yours truly), it was apparent that she had caught her sister’s throat infection. Sick day confirmed.

And now as I sit at my dirty dining room table, scrambling to meet work deadlines while hushing my fussy baby, and pushing back mom guilt over the fact that my other two are on their fourth episode of Full House and it’s not even 10am, I’m realizing that this mom life is real, and that next Mother’s Day, I deserve more than cards and pancakes. I deserve a day off. Can I get an Amen?

{FAMILY} Working Moms: Why The Labelling Needs To Stop

I recently came across this article proclaiming that “being a stay-at-home mother is not a job” and it caught my attention. Underneath the link, the Facebook feed was flooded with angry words from moms of all backgrounds, disgusted by the message behind the post, and horrified by comparisons such as this one:

“No, Stay-at-Home-Mothers, choosing to create your own little person upon whom you’ll spend all your time and energy is a hobby. It is a time-consuming, sanity-deteriorating, life-altering hobby — a lot like a heroin addiction, but with more Thirty-One bags.” Source

And I get it, maybe comparing the choice to stay at home with your children to that of a heroin addiction is a little over the top, but I don’t think that was the point of the article.

I’ve stayed at home with my children, I’ve worked at a full-time in-office career, and I’m now working for my own business as a work-at-home mom. I’ve had hands-on experience as a mom who falls into each of these lifestyle choices, and I can honestly say that no “working mom” life is easier or more challenging than the others.

The truth is: being a mom is hard. Leaving your children in childcare to spend the day at a gruelling office job is a difficult decision and comes with many daily challenges. Deciding to stay at home with your little ones full time is a trying lifestyle and a true test of patience and stamina, and attempting to make a living by running a business at home with little ones at your feet is exhausting and challenging as well.

working mom

For some reason, society -and especially moms, get caught up in the terminology. Moms are categorized as SAHM (stay-at-home mom), WAHM (work-at-home mom), or career mom, as though having a specific “mom label” denotes a certain level of superiority or accomplishment. Statements are constantly made implying that one lifestyle is harder than another, and feelings get hurt when a mom who works outside of the home is referred to as a “working mom” (because being a SAHM mom is work too!).

But you guys, this is not a competition. This is life. We have all made our own decisions as to how to navigate through the journey of motherhood, and there are no right or wrong decisions. We are all doing the best that we can with what we’ve got and we need to stop being over-sensitive, competitive, and insecure about our decisions.

I don’t think that the author of the aforementioned article is trying to poke fun at the stay-at-home parenting lifestyle, I think she is just trying to dissolve the feelings of invalidation that many of the moms in her circle are experiencing – with perhaps a touch of sass. I think it’s ok to share our own perspectives because we are each having our own unique experience as ‘mom’. We should embrace each other’s perspectives, learn from each other’s stories, and support each other’s decisions. Because in the end, regardless of our employment status, we are all moms.

Stop the mom wars and start opening your minds to the possibility that we are all winners. Be happy in your own skin and don’t worry so much about the words of others – stop focusing on the labels.

 

{FAMILY} Don’t Judge A Dalmatian By Its Spots

I was walking my Dalmatian at my favourite dog park the other day, when I overheard the same hushed commentary hiss through the tight lips of passersby. “Ohh Dalmatians, they’re cute but they’re SO hyper….” they sneered. And I get it – for some reason Dalmatians have gained a bad rap – likely due to the surge of poorly-treated and poorly-bred pups that were mass produced after the popularity of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. 

“Ohh Dalmatians, they’re cute but they’re SO hyper….”

But isn’t assuming that all puppies born of the same breed have the same temperament, almost as presumptuous as assuming that all people of a certain race have the same personality traits? Ok dogs and people aren’t quite the same, but I do find that dogs, like people, have their own personalities and temperments – (in my opinion) as a result of the environment in which they were raised (nature vs nurture?).

Dalmatian

I may be a bit biased when it comes to Dalmatians (I’ve had mine for almost 13 years now), but like with people, I don’t think it’s fair to judge a book by its cover. Contrary to popular belief, my pups is calm, friendly, gentle, submissive, and actually quite lazy! She’s great with kids, and terrified of cats.

Yes, when given the opportunity, she can appear to be a little energetic…

Dalmatian

But the majority of the time, she’s sleeping in a sun spot on my living room floor – lazy as can be.

Dalmatian

Many dog owners think of their furry friends as their babies. As silly as it may seem to non-dogowners, canine companions are regarded to many as a legitimate part of the family. Can you image if you were walking past a stranger with your ginger-haired baby and you heard someone sneer, “Ohhh redheads can be so hot-tempered!”

If you don’t have anything nice to say – don’t say it at all. Or at least, don’t say it within earshot of the person you are saying it about.

I’m not a dog expert. I’m sure there are some breed-specific traits and health issues that are genetically linked, but properly bred and raised Dalmatians are usually not “hyper”.

Properly bred and raised Dalmatians are usually not hyper. 

I’ve known several Dalmatian owners, and I can honestly say that they make great pets for families with young children and are the sweetest pets. If you are interested in getting a Dalmatian – do your research (and be sure that the information you are reading comes from reliable sources).

To learn more about Dalmatians, check out the  Dalmatian Club of America website.

Dalmatians

 

 

Do You Look Like A Mom?

Let’s face it, when someone says, “she looks like a mom,” it’s not meant to be a compliment. For some reason, the word “mom” often has negative connotations. But why?

If you were to ask someone to describe the ‘look’ of a mom, they would likely describe someone who looks like this:

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The mom from Meet The Goldbergs

 

Feathered hair, a colourfully tacky sweater, and high-waisted pants with a pleated front (also known as “mom jeans”). Maybe this is because many of the moms of my generation actually did look like this. But now that many of us Gex X kids are moms ourselves, I’m left to wonder: do my fashion choices seem “mom-ish” to the younger generation? Will the way that I look and dress embarrass my kids when they’re teenagers (or even now)?

This week I had some professional head shots done, and as I browsed my closet to pick out an outfit to wear, the first thought that came to my mind was: What can I wear that won’t make me look like a MOM? And then I paused and thought to myself: Why wouldn’t I want to look like a mom? I’ve made three beautiful children and should be proud to wear the honourable title of “mom” – regardless of the jiggly bits and fashion choices that I may make. And if someone wants to judge me based on that, so be it!

Looking “like a mom” should be synonymous with fabulous, fashionable, and confident. If we look like Mrs. Goldberg (above), awesome. Let’s own it. If we want to wear sweats and yoga pants all day. Good. Strut that comfy garb mamas. You go on with your bad selves.

We strive to teach our children that it’s the inside that counts. That self confidence, and a smile on your face are the only accessories that make a woman look beautiful. So let’s own our words, hold our heads high, and look “like moms”. Who’s with me?

mom look

My new head shot by fellow mom and fab photographer Jenn Di Spirito

 

 

 

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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