Thursday, 19 June 2014

Lesson 17: Breaking up is hard to do.

It's the end of the school year.  The weather is warm, book bags are empty, and students are itching for that last bell to ring.  Parents everywhere are scrambling to write thank-you notes and deliver gifts to the teachers who worked tirelessly all year.  

I am no exception.  This time of year is like the Christmas rush for me.  With so many teachers to thank, I end up spending a week each June shopping for presents, craft supplies and gift cards. This year I made five DIY gifts – one for each of the special ladies teaching the first grade.  I stayed up all night yesterday snipping, gluing, assembling and wrapping personalized goodies. 

I groggily packed them into my car this morning, and delivered them all to school along with some floral arrangements.  My heart ached with each gift and each goodbye hug I gave out.  I left the school heavy-hearted, empty-handed and alone.  It felt like I had just been through a bad break-up. It always does.  The start of summer vacation is bittersweet for me.  

How can you just walk away from a relationship with someone who has been responsible for your child for 10 months?  Given my son's special needs, I rely on his teachers to be my eyes and ears in the classroom.  They shape him, guide him, advocate for him and help him overcome his challenges when I can’t.  They become my partner, working with me daily through phone calls, notes and meetings to make sure his needs are met in order for him to succeed.  Then summer arrives, and it's suddenly over.  

The weeks until September are long.  Worries swirl through my head.  Will his next teacher be as supportive as the last?  How easily will my son adapt to him/her?  Will he/she be willing to communicate openly with me regarding his progress and needs?

And when autumn finally rolls around, a new relationship begins.  Bonds are steadily formed.  And the pain from the last breakup slowly fades.  Yet the memories of those wonderful teachers are never forgotten.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Lesson 15: Don't be ashamed to talk about your post-baby body.

According to most celebrity magazines, I was supposed to bounce back to my "sexy" self only months after giving birth.   I mean, Heidi Klum had four kids and she was able to strut the runway just six weeks after giving birth!  The truth is, many celebrity moms have probably had some sort of medical intervention to get back their beach-ready bodies.  Of course, most of them won't admit it.   But who'd want to watch celebrity gossip shows or read tabloid magazines if the women in them were just like the rest of us ordinary folk?

A few months into motherhood, I realized I hated my post-pregnancy body.  I couldn't get used to the way my stomach looked.  Sure, I'd lost the weight, but that didn't help my ripped abdominal wall or floppy belly.  My midsection was as deflated and as puckered as a day-old birthday balloon.  All that loose skin was not going to miraculously retract.  I'd come to the depressing conclusion that my pooch was permanent.  Even my doctor admitted no amount of exercise could ever get rid of it.  

Until recently, I'd hide my naked body from my husband, finding clever ways to drape sheets and PJ's over my midsection during intimate moments.

Getting dressed in the morning was draining.  Even in the crippling summer heat, I 'd layer a gut-sucking camisole under all my tops to avoid revealing the bulge.  Pants were always baggy at the butt because I'd buy a larger size to accommodate the extra skin uncomfortably tucked into my waistband.

After my showers, I'd longingly poke at the skin and pull it back tight enough to give me a flat stomach, even if only for a few seconds.  I wish someone had told me I'd never see my belly button again after 2007.  I would have paid more attention to it while it was around.

I am proud of my body and grateful it gave me two energetic, sweet boys.  There are rare moments when I feel beautiful because of all my body has accomplished.  Yet the battle scars bruised my self esteem, and I wanted them gone!  I've already put my career on hold, sacrificed part of my sanity and given up my full nights' sleep for my family.  But I wasn't ready to surrender my body!   So, after two years of planning and scrimping, I had a tummy tuck.

It's been three weeks and I'm still sore and swollen.  Nonetheless, even this look is better than my pre-op pizza dough belly.  Am I shallow and vain?  Some may think so.  Yet for the first time in nearly a decade, I feel like my old self again.  Goodbye elastic waistband pants and granny panties! Hello jeans, and bathing suits and slim-fit tees.  My confidence is growing, and I know I can resume my mommy role with more self-assurance.  A happier mommy makes for happier kids.  Everyone wins.

Here I am on my honeymoon... with a belly button.   

 Fast forward six years.  That same stomach is holding a nine pound baby.

Before surgery.  Where did you go, belly button?

After surgery.  There's a flat tummy under that T-shirt!


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Lesson 14: I have more celebrity crushes now than at 13.

This post is dedicated to my husband, my real-life hunk, who didn't think my last post was snarky enough.  

Joel McHale.  Joel Kinnaman.  Ryan Gosling.  Channing Tatum.  What do these men all have in common?  They're hot.  They're rich.  They're unattainable.   Best of all, I'll never have to raise their children or cook and clean for them.

You see, lately I've been binge watching a lot of TV shows and movies on Netflix while falling in love with the leading men. Why?  My theory is simple.  The guys on the screen don't ask anything from me.  They are simply there to entertain me, to serve as eye candy, and to help me escape to a world where I am their sexy, carefree, childless costar.  I'm not alone. The thousands of hunky celebrity meme's on Pinterest prove it. (My favourite is the Gosling "Hey Girl" series).

Last night, I dreamed I met RoboCop (played by Kinnaman) at Walmart after purchasing milk, toast and Lucky Charms for my kids.  He told me he was surprised to run into me.  He was worried about me beacuse I hadn't been attending the Spanish class were both enrolled in at a local school.  I told him I was busy with mom stuff and couldn't make the class often.  

He then went on to say he was he interested in applying for a job at L'Oreal Canada.  He wanted to try a safer line of work.  Fighting crime in heavy armour was getting too risky. I admitted I had applied there about 10 years ago, and that it seemed like a great company to work for.  RoboCop seemed shocked.

"You applied ten years ago?" He asked in disbelief.  "You were like what then, 13?"  

I giggled and blushed like a little school girl.  RoboCop thought I was only 23!  Extra brownie points for him!

But what was supposed to turn into an R-rated dream suddenly fizzled out into a G-rated Disney movie, minus all the singing.   After RoboCop and I exchanged pleasantries at Walmart, he took me back to his place.  We were only hugging in the bedroom when I began to feel guilty about cheating on my husband and destroying our family.  Not only that, I also felt sorry for RoboCop's real life sweetie, Olivia Munn.  I didn't want her to feel jealous of us romping in his fancy apartment.  

And then I woke up to reality.  Before I could even get to the bathroom for my morning pee, I heard my kids fighting in the kitchen over who drank their milk the fastest as my husband coaxed my eldest out the door for school.  I closed my eyes, trying to conjure up sexy RoboCop again but all I could think of  was the pile the laundry and dirty dishes waiting for me downstairs.  Ah motherhood.   You can never truly escape it.  

Monday, 24 February 2014

Lesson 13: How to make a no-sew knight costume

I'm taking a beginner sewing class.  It's on Sunday afternoons with the talented quilter and owner of Deux Petites Souris.  My original motivation for enrolling was a desire to escape my family once a week.  Learning to operate a sewing machine was an added bonus.  

But after just two classes, I have to say that I'm enjoying sewing more than I thought I would.  It is strangely satisfying and addictive to be able to create something with my own two hands.  

Armed with my amateur skills, I set out to make my youngest a simple knight costume this morning. His daycare is hosting a medieval ball on Friday and the children will be dressed as knights, lords and princesses. I have to admit, I did not actually use any needles and thread for this project, but my newly acquired measuring and cutting techniques did come in handy.  (In my defence, I don't own a sewing machine yet, nor did I feel confident enough to attempt sewing something without my teacher's supervision!)

With a little patience, scissors, felt and adhesive, anyone can make this easy tunic and shield.  

I started with a piece of black felt I purchased at the fabric store.  My son is tiny, so I cut a 24 by 40 inch rectangle to make the tunic.  (It's enough to cover his torso and his bum when finished.)  Then I folded the felt in half and cut out a circle to slip his head through.  Easy!

Next I cut a small crest shape onto a grey piece of felt. I used iron-on hem tape to fasten the crest onto the front of the tunic.  My son wanted a fierce, yet sparkly lion on his crest.  I found a lion image on the web and traced it onto some red glitter felt.  Then, I carefully cut it out and used hot glue to attach it to the crest.  Why didn't I just iron it on with the hem tape?  Well, apparently sparkly felt immediately burns upon contact with high heat.  I learned this the hard way when I tried to iron on my lion and melted it to a shriveled clump instead.  Wanting to avoid a potential fire, I chose the glue gun on my second attempt.  Although, a needle and thread could have worked for this step as well.

I used foam board for the shield.  I cut out the shape I wanted and covered it with silver glitter foam (Yes, my little one is obsessed with glitter.)  I cut out red foam strips to make the decorative cross.  Last, I added foam letters to spell out his name.  Did I mention they had glitter on them?  My lord is now ready for his ball...

Monday, 6 January 2014

Lesson 10: Keep up with the times!

My updated outfit for a girls' night.  Simple, but still current.  Goodbye yoga gear!

Happy New Year!  What are we up to now?  Ah yes,  2014.  It takes a while for my brain to register the numerical change.  The first few months of the year are the trickiest.   I end up goofing the dates on my checks and letters until at least Valentine's Day.  (Yes, I still write checks and letters.  I'm old school that way.)

It's been hard keeping track of real time ever since my eldest was born.  Sure, I can count the number of seconds it takes to zap leftovers for dinner, calculate the few minutes of alone time I get in a day, or the hours I don't sleep each night.  But when it comes to actually realizing what decade I'm in, I'm sometimes clueless.  Lately, I feel like I've just woken up from a seven-year bender  and I can't/don't want to remember most of what has happened.  As is the case with any hangover,  I need copious amounts of coffee, Advil and a good friend to piece together the events leading to my demise.    

Being a mom has meant living in an isolated bubble where time is irrelevant.   Your life is put on hold while you take care of other mini humans.  My life got crazy-busy but time kept ticking.  Before I knew it, seven years of my life had disappeared.  Here's what I've managed to recall using scrapbooks, iPhone photos and stories from friends:

January 16, 2007:  Snowstorm.  Contractions.  Lost mucus plug.  Hospital.  Baby in arms, not womb.  That's my last vivid memory of my pre-mom self.  That's when the clock stopped, and my life, my hobbies, my job, my thoughts took a backseat.

January 2007 to June 2007:  No sleep.  Baby crying.  Mom crying.  Baby eating.  Mom not eating.

June 2007 to October 2009:  New house.  No sleeping for anyone.  Baby turns into toddler. Toddler takes eight months to potty train.  Mom forgets how hard having a baby is.  Mom gets pregnant again.

November 2009 to January 2010:  Mom has baby number two.  C-section gone wrong.  Infection. Long recovery.  Toddler not sleeping.  Baby not sleeping.  Mom and dad definitely not sleeping.

February 2010 to Present:  Several birthday parties involving Lego and superheroes.  Some road trips.  A family vacation.   First day of pre-school.  First day of school.  Some recitals. Swimming, karate and hockey lessons.  Husband lost hair.  Mom's hair went from brown to blonde to red to brown.  Mom lost weight, but it seems to be finding its way back.  Life gets a little quieter with kids being older now.  Mom feels lost.

Now that the kids are school-aged and less dependent, I have emerged from the bubble and feel a little passé.  I am left wearing the same old sweats, following the same old routine, eating the same old foods, thinking the same old thoughts.  The real world has moved on. It's fast paced and I've missed a lot.  People are talking differently, dressing differently and using awesome technology, among other things. 

Trying to keep up with all these changes after being oblivious to them for so long can be a challenge.  I think I've got the fashion thing down.  I Pinterest fashion ideas and then try to recreate them via the magic of Internet shopping.  I'm no Kim Kardashian but at least I've moved on from yoga pants and sweats.  I've learned to binge watch TV series.  It's actually helped save my marriage.  You can't argue about money and chores while your crapping your pants watching Daryl Dixon beheading zombies.  (Thanks Netflix!)  I've been trying to tweet but still don't have the hang of it.  Maybe I should take more selfies?  My head says "yes" but my double chin says "no".

My point is, there's a whole new world I need to discover.  I don't want to become a frumpy, old fashioned mom.   I don't ever want my boys to be embarrassed to be seen with me.  If nothing else, I want them to feel they can confide in me and ask me for advice.  I think they'll be more comfortable talking to me if I can understand how things work in the modern world.

So, no more sheltered life for me.  I'm going to embrace all that's out there from now on.  I vow to wear the right cut of jeans.  I will join at least three forms of social media.  I will learn the urban dictionary, or at least refer to it occasionally.  It will be epic or exhausting. I can't decide. Perhaps I should just start with getting the date right.