Saying Goodbye to Our Village

“Tomorrow’s your last day of daycare, bud.”

I was washing Gavin’s hands after our Pizza Thursday dinner last night. His little hands and face where covered in tomato sauce.

“I want more,” he said. He wasn’t talking about the pizza.

“More daycare?”

“Yeah.”

“But you’ll get to start being home with Mommy soon! Isn’t that great?”

“Yes!… No…”

His hands were clean. His mind wasn’t quite made up yet.

I can’t believe we’re here. I hate these kind of transitions for my kids. It is the reason Dan could never convince me to transition the kids out of our old daycare (that and the cost of finding anything better). And now, my children are thriving and I’m about to shake things up completely… again.

Four months ago my children’s lives were rocked when it was discovered that our old daycare was operating illegally and potentially dangerously and was shut down. My life was rocked too. The person I had trusted my children to no longer seemed to care about their welfare. The kids were kicked out by the department of community services one morning with no warning (although apparently there was a two week period where we were supposed to be warned). I would not wish the stress of those days on my worst enemy. My heart broken in a million pieces to watch my children experience such a traumatic and confusing event.

And we only had four months to go until I’d be on maternity leave. I knew that in four months, we’d be shifting their lives once again. That felt completely unfair.

But we found a place. A good place. A licensed place. A place with a natural playground and a focus on education. A place where my eldest started to learn French. A place where, blessedly, my youngest’s best friend from his old daycare was also placed. A place where the teachers were loving and kind and genuine and I had no complaints or concerns about the location or the management. After going through such a tumultuous previous daycare experience, my husband and I felt completely confident that we had found the perfect place for our children, especially after they were welcomed so warmly with literal open arms (Gavin needs his snuggles).

At one point in my motherhood journey, I was worried about putting my kids in daycare. I actually went so far to think (if not to say) that I didn’t want someone else raising my children – as if Dan and I alone were all these kids required to thrive. I failed to remember that it takes a village. It takes grandparents and friends and, yes, even early childhood educators. Why would I want to limit the amount of adults who love and want what’s best for my children?

In these last, blessed four months, Cameron has learned to count to 10 in French and can identify colours too. Gavin has gone from being difficult to decipher to speaking non-stop in long paragraphs.

When Cameron and I spoke at the beginning of the week about how this would be his last week of daycare, I explained that it meant he would get to be at home with Mommy and that the new baby would be joining us soon. He’s often mentioned that he looked forward to being home with me, but this time when I asked how he felt about leaving daycare, his answer was “Um, not so good.”

I’ve been looking forward to this Friday for so many reasons. Finishing work is an important milestone on my journey to a baby. I need a few days at home to really feel prepared for this new life phase. Today was an ending day, a transition day, and for the most part, that’s a really good thing.

Except I’m crying about it too. I’m really incredibly sad over it.

I’m not sad that my kids have mixed feelings about being home with me. I have mixed feelings over being home with them! How will I come anywhere close to providing the kind of activity and learning and attention that they were getting at daycare? How can I feel happy about taking them away from teachers they love and friends they can socialize with daily? I want them to have the best day to day experience, and I’ve come to learn that they get an incredible one from their daycare.

I’m grateful for the experience that we’ve had these last four months. I’m worried I won’t compare. I’m heartbroken to say goodbye.

Tonight, after cupcakes at work and saying goodbye to daycare, after a busy evening of dryland hockey, during a quick (and celebratory?) fast food dinner, Cameron asked if he could go to daycare next Friday.

“What’s going on at daycare on Friday?” I asked him.

“PJ DAY!” he told me excitedly.

And there I was. Sitting in the middle of this restaurant trying to hold back the tears that were rushing to my eyes. Because let’s be truthful – every day could be pj day at home next week if we want. In fact, it is highly likely that every day will be pj day. But they won’t come close to exciting my little four year old as much as pj day at daycare.

I know we’ll have a good year together. We’ll find our way into a beautiful routine that will include down time and play dates and scheduled activities. Cameron will even start school in September and Gavin and the baby and I will take him every morning and pick him up every afternoon, and we’ll listen to all the amazing things that happened at school – just like I’ve been hearing all about the amazing things that have been happening at daycare for these last four months.

I’m saying goodbye to my village. We’ll find a new one. Maybe we’ll even be back to lean on this village a time or two in the coming year. But right now, I’m grieving. And I think my kids might be too, in their own ways.

Last Day of Daycare | Mommy Miracles

My boys this morning, before heading into their very last day of daycare.

(And PS: If anyone is local to the Cole Harbour area and wants to know the name of this fabulous daycare, please reach out. I would be happy to provide a glowing recommendation).

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Contractions

Time | Contractions | Mommy Miracles

Photo by Sonja Langford courtesy of unsplash.com

Every year when January rolls around, I realize how much I love this month. It is so fresh and full of new resolve. I spent the first day of 2015 cleaning out a terribly disastrous email inbox and knocking a few of those long standing items off my to-do list. Some wondered if I was nesting that day, but I think the first week of January consistently provides me with a new rush of energy and drive, year after year. I can’t help but want to start the new year off right.

Everywhere around me, people are vocalizing their resolutions. Or, they’re claiming that they don’t make “resolutions” but “goals” instead, which seems like semantics to me, but whatever. Blog posts are written about how to get organized. We’re encouraged to start scheduling our lives better and to stick to it, waste no more time, live better lives.

I’m over here doing none of that.

I tend to roll my eyes when suggestions for how to live a better life get too prescriptive. I wonder if those people making the suggestions understand that we all live different lives with different schedules and with different expectations on us. Our priorities are different. I suspect this is especially true when it comes to women. I take every suggestion to “wake up early and take some time to yourself before the children wake up” or “clean your sink before going to sleep every night” with a grain of salt. Those nuggets of advice have worked for me at different parts of my life, but no matter how hard I try, sometimes they just don’t fit.

I remember reading a novel in a woman’s literature course in university that dealt with childbirth. At that point, I hadn’t experienced anything like childbirth in my own life. I saw my life progressing steadily in a very linear timeline. One foot in front of the other. One milestone leading to the next. Goals helped keep my focus straight and hard work was the key to keep things going in a linear progression. When things failed, when I slowed down on that straight and narrow or veered off on a new course, it felt like failing.

Straight Path | Contractions | Mommy Miracles

 Photo by Sander Weeteling, courtesy of unsplash.com

But then I read this book. The novel was about women and childbirth and it was the furthest thing from linear. It was circular. It was rhythmic. We had an interesting discussion about how women’s lives are often experienced in waves. Menstruation and contractions and childbirth are the most obvious examples. Like so much of our in-class discussions in university, I was interested but skeptical. I still experienced life in a very linear way. I was in university. I was going to get married. I would get a job. One thing to the next and the next. Linear.

Waves | Contractions | Mommy Miracles

Photo by Angelina Odemchuk courtesy of unsplash.com

Motherhood changed me. I don’t think motherhood is needed for this paradigm shift, but it was the catalyst that caused the shift in me. And really, I am only starting to understand the beauty of embracing this non-linear life now that I am well into my motherhood journey.

For the last few years, I’ve progressed through cycles. Phases. A 9-5 Job to Pregnancy to Contractions to Maternity Leave to Push And Breathe And Push to Breastfeeding to Sleepless Nights to Sleeping Nights to Running to Weight Loss to Working Again to Pregnancy…

I wonder if some might look at my life and see very little “progression”. I haven’t made much progress in my “career”. I let writing application deadlines pass month after month. I seem stuck in a cycle that I’m not getting out of. One that takes me in and out of the workforce, has me speeding up and slowing down, and gives me a constantly changing body.

But I’m starting to see how beautiful it is to go with this flow.

Contractions | Mommy Miracles

I’ve been experiencing contractions for months now – since my second trimester. Just so you don’t get worried, these are Braxton Hicks contractions. Practice contractions, if you will. When I was pregnant with Cameron, I didn’t know if I would know what a contraction was. I worried about it, concerned I would miss knowing if I was in labour all together (ha!). Now, as I am about to give birth to my third baby, I know contractions intimately. They are waves of tightening and loosening. They move my baby and prepare my body. They come and they go, ever so slowly getting stronger and more frequent as the months progress. Soon each contraction will come with its own pain, and each break with will provide relief and deserved rest. These waves coursing through my body are a very natural and tangible progression. It may take months, but each contraction brings me one step closer to having this baby in my arms; one contraction closer to fulfilling my goal.

Our society isn’t used to working this way. There is no “path to success” that includes starting and stopping, going forwards and back. We celebrate the pushes. We don’t see the value in the breaks.

I get it now. I understand the theme of that women’s literature novel. There’s a difference, a beauty, to living within these rhythms.

And it isn’t just my body. It isn’t just the menstrual cycles that lead to pregnancies. It isn’t just the tightening and the loosening of my abdomen. It isn’t only the pushing and the resting that will come in a few days when this baby is ready to enter the world. It isn’t the flow of breastmilk.

It is my life. It is the stages and the chapters that I keep revisiting and how they all require different things from me. Until I find myself once again on a forward facing, single directional path, I will always need to consider where in the cycle I am before I can commit to resolutions and goals. I need to ease into each new stage, understanding what is required from me first.

Giving myself permission to do this is so freeing.

So here I am, in the first month of 2015, sitting on the cusp of something new. It is bigger than a new year. It is a new baby. It is a new stage of life. It is mothering three children. It is maternity leave. It is sustaining a life with the milk that I make. It is sleepless nights. It is a house to care for. It is a growing family. It is big brothers (two of them this time). It is a busy, working husband.

And I don’t know what I’ll have to give yet or what space I’ll be able to make in my life.

So this year, there will be no resolutions for me. I won’t make goals meant to last through the whole year. I know there are things I want to do more of: take photos, write, read more novels, read my bible daily, be patient with my children, run again…

But I’m not committing to anything. Right now is one of those breaks between the pushes. I’m waiting and watching and finding out what will happen next. I’m resting. And soon, I’ll ease into this new life. Soon, I’ll make rooms for goals and commitments again.

But not today.

Today I’m pushing to complete my last week of work. Today I’m waiting for a little one to make an appearance. I’m riding out these contractions, and watching my body work and move in cyclical, rhythmic ways. In and out. Tight and loose. Push and rest.

Waves | Contractions | Mommy Miracles

Photo by Kundan Ramisetti courtesy of unsplash.com

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Coming Back… Briefly: On My Last Week as a Working Mom

I didn’t realize how hard it has been.

I was (am) determined to work until the end. My job isn’t that demanding. I wake up in the morning, get myself and the kids ready and out the door for our day. We park at the bus stop and the bus drops me off a block away from my work. I work in an office where I have my own desk that I sit at for most of the day. When it is time to go home I do the whole commute in reverse, get the kids fed and into bed with the help of my husband, and then I usually crash myself.

It doesn’t sound like it should be hard.

I worked right up until my due date when I was pregnant with Cameron. With Gavin, I went on sick leave a couple of months early. Gavin’s pregnancy was hard. I was hit with low iron and low blood pressure and found myself getting dizzy often. I had to drive to work and wasn’t getting much rest and the combination was scary, especially after an incident at the end of my first trimester when I fainted and gave myself a concussion. But going on sick leave early was stressful enough as it was. I didn’t want to do that again if I could help it.

My husband questioned whether I should still be working during this current pregnancy. He even suggested that I might ask my doctor to put me on sick leave. The low iron and low blood pressure came back with a vengeance, and probably the only reason I haven’t fainted is because I’ve paid attention to the signs very carefully and I stop what I’m doing when I feel lightheaded. But I have to do that often.

I explained to my husband that while being off work might sound like a good solution, we would also have to take the kids out of daycare which would make me their sole caregiver during the day. I’d be required to walk up and down the stairs multiple times a day (something that makes me quite dizzy), bend over often, and sometimes even pick them up. It wouldn’t be restful and likely wouldn’t solve any of the issues I’ve been struggling with during the past few months. Working at a desk in an office just sounded better to me.

But then Christmas came.

I was able to take a week and a half off around Christmas and New Year. I spent my 37th and 38th pregnancy week at home with my kids and my husband. And I felt better.

Remarkably better.

I was shocked at how much better I felt.

I stopped taking my iron daily because I didn’t feel the need for it anymore. My kids started sleeping in so I was able to sleep in. I rested when I felt tired. If I needed to stop doing something, I stopped doing something. I took breaks. Taking the stairs stopped bothering me nearly as much. I even found that “nesting” surge of energy that I’ve been expecting for weeks but had not yet seen. And on top of that, I didn’t have to fend off obnoxious comments about my body all day long.

When I went to my doctor midway through the time off, she commented on how well I was looking. I no longer looked pale. “I think you were pushing yourself too much” she said.

Was I?

I thought I could do it all. Wake up early, get to work, do my job, be a pregnant Mom… but it has been hard. Very very hard. I’ve been exhausted and uncomfortable and lightheaded and sick and out of sorts. I thought it was just how this pregnancy was progressing. But then I stopped working for a short while and I felt so much better.

My vacation is over now. And I’m not on maternity leave yet.

39 Weeks Pregnant and Working | Mommy Miracles

Me, today. At 39 weeks pregnant, on my last Monday before maternity leave. In the elevator.

One more week. It seems so short in the grand scheme of things. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and then I am done this chapter of my life for at least a year.

And yet, like everything in pregnancy, I know this week will creep by until I realize that I sped through it.

It is really hard to go back to work at 39 weeks pregnant after nearly two glorious weeks off. It is really extra hard to go back to the way I’ve been feeling for the last few months. These five days could feel like an eternity through my exhausted, lightheaded state.

I know it will be over soon. I know I’m in the home stretch. I know this baby could be here any day now (or any week now). I know that Friday will be here before I know it.

But I want to nap now. Please, just let me nap.

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