Horsing around

Two years ago, we were here at the farm celebrating this May long weekend. The horses had arrived back in our pasture after spending the winter at their owner’s farm. I wrote about my envy of the horses and their babies, feeling sad that I had been trying to conceive and had recently miscarried. 

Two years later, I’m here again with my two boys. The horses have returned and, this time, it’s them who don’t have their babies. Of the three mares that arrived at our farm the other night, one recently suffered a still birth and another had two miscarriages this year.  One is currently pregnant and on some medication to help sustain her pregnancy. 

I was so surprised when I heard that. And sad. I wonder what an animal feels when they lose a baby. I know horses have a really long gestational period (something like 11 months!) and I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t be aware of the loss after all that time. 

I’m not an animal person. In fact, I’m actually quite terrified of most animals (including these horses) and usually stay as far away as I can. But I do find them interesting and I’ve been amazed by what I’ve seen as I observed these creatures (from a safe distance!) I watched as the babies were separated from the moms one summer when it was time for them to be weaned and I heard their cries.  I saw the grandmother put the babies in their place when they wouldn’t obey their owners. I watched them mourn when one of their sisters died. 

Two years ago, I knew that I was being irrational when I felt a bit of anger towards the horses for having something I wanted.  Nonetheless, I still felt what I felt. 

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this except that perhaps I can learn a little lesson from these horses. If nothing else, I think this is a good reminder for me that I don’t always know the full story behind someone else’s journey. When I’m jealous that someone has something that I want, I need to take a moment to realize there may be something there that I don’t want…something they won’t or can’t tell me about.  Of course, this is something I’m going to need to work on. Just this morning, I received an email pregnancy announcement from a friend and, as happy as I am for her, I also felt a little twinge of jealousy. I guess I’m a work in progress.  

 

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Stretched thin

A colleague of mine (single female with no children, I must point out) asked me why women are so bad at staying in touch with their girlfriends once they have kids. I realize she was making a generalization based on the fact that she was frustrated with one friend who hadn’t returned her calls, but I still felt the need to defend the friend a bit. 

As I thought about my own life and my relationships with my girlfriends since becoming a mom, I realized how tough it can be. 

Right now, I’m still trying to get settled into some sort of a routine as a working mom of two. In doing so, I’ve come to realize how many roles I have and how many different (and sometimes conflicting) expectations people have of me and, quite frankly, that I have of myself.  When I examine those roles and expectations, I discover that I’m doing a whole lot of things, but not really doing any of them terribly well. 

I’m trying the best I can to be a good mom to my kids, but often I feel like I’m rushing around and getting impatient with them. I’m trying to be a good employee and manager, but it feels like I’m always playing catch-up as my to-do list grows. I’m trying to be a good wife, but it feels like my husband and I barely get to say hello to each other, let alone have a real conversation or spend any meaningful time together. 

So, where does that leave girlfriends?  My two closest girlfriends are my best friend from high school and my roommate from university. They are both single. On the one hand, their schedules are a little more flexible and they are always willing to come to me for a visit. But I’m sure they’d prefer to spend time with me in a non-kid setting (and I would like that too!)

And then there are all the other people in my life that I wish I had more time for: extended family, family friends, work friends…

I feel like I’m being pulled in all different directions and getting stretched out of shape.  In an attempt to do everything, I feel like I manage to do nothing. 

I know the advice I would give someone else in my shoes: “go easy on yourself.”  “It will get better.” And, “you are doing a much better job than you think.”  So I’m trying to remind myself of that. 

Monday is a holiday here in Canada and I’m taking tomorrow off work to give myself an extra-long weekend. I know this will cause me some extra stress on the work front, but some family time is something I really need right now. Then, maybe, I can tackle the girlfriends!

Dirt and grime: it’s outside time!

I live in a neighborhood that is filled with young families. On our block alone, there are five kids born in Littleman’s year (2011) and five born in Bo’s year (2014). Not included in those counts are four sets of twins and tons of other kids of various ages. Just this week, another baby was born. 

Now that the weather is nicer and we can be outside, I’m really starting to appreciate how awesome it is to have so many people close by whose families are similar to ours. There is nothing better than hanging out in the backyard, chatting with neighbours and drinking wine while watching the kids play together. 

With all this outdoor time, however, comes dirt. Lots and lots of dirt. For Littleman, who is four, the biggest offender is grass. Every pair of jeans he owns sports lovely green grass stains on both knees. Bo, on the other hand, favours soil. He’s not walking yet but hates being confined to a stroller or wagon for very long, so we’ve given up on cleanliness and just let him crawl. Unfortunately, he tends to go straight for the gardens, where he sits happily and throws handfuls of dirt all over himself. He ends up looking like Pigpen when we’re finished playing. 

I’m learning to get over the dirtiness. I suspect this is going to be part of my life for quite some time, being the mom of two boys. Stained clothes, dirty fingernails and sweaty little heads are well worth it when I see how happy they are to just be outside. 

And, let’s face it, I’m pretty happy to be outside too. Especially if I have a glass of wine in my hand and some adult company! 

   

Daycare drama

Figuring out who would take care of our children while we worked was one of the toughest parenting choices we’ve had to make. Having me be a stay at home mom was never a viable option for us financially, so as soon as I got pregnant with our first child, we started looking into childcare options.

We live in a city where finding daycare spaces can be very, very tough. Not only is daycare ridiculously expensive, there are also long waiting lists for many daycare centres, starting from before the babies are even born. We did some research and found a daycare centre that would meet our needs: good reputation, good facilities and convenient location. We got ourselves on the waiting list when I was three months pregnant, knowing that we would require care for our child starting at age one.

Fast forward to summer 2011. Our son, Littleman, was about six months old and we decided to ask to for another tour of the daycare we had chosen. Now that we were parents, we had a better sense of what we wanted to know/ask about so we set up a time to visit. As we took the tour, we spoke to the supervisor about the chances of space being available when we needed it in January 2012. This is when we learned that Littleman was unlikely to get a spot.

Right away, we started looking around for other options. While we preferred the idea of a daycare centre rather than a home daycare, options were limited because we needed something in walking distance from our home and there weren’t many places that accepted babies under 18 months. We ended up choosing a home daycare where Littleman would be one of five children. We had to start paying for the spot two months before we needed it because someone else would have snatched it up if we didn’t.

We expected the transition from being at home with me to being in daycare all day to be tough for Littleman. We had heard that it often takes a couple of weeks for kids to settle into the new routine. What we didn’t expect is that he would NEVER settle in.

After two and a half months of constant crying, emails and phone calls to pick him up early, we finally had to admit defeat and accept that this daycare just wasn’t right for us. We made the decision to pull him out. I checked in with our first choice – the daycare centre – to see if there was a chance he could get a spot there. At the same time, I arranged to see a few other home daycares in the neighbourhood.

In the end, we chose to keep him at home for a couple of months until a space opened up at the daycare centre in the summer. We were lucky enough to find a nanny who was available part time to cover the days that D had to work. When she wasn’t available, I would take some time off of work or my mom would help out. When Littleman finally started at the daycare in July, he was 17 months old and the transition went extremely well. He was very happy there and remains happy there now. His little brother, Bo, joined him at the same daycare in February of this year.

Now that Littleman is four and will be starting Junior Kindergarten in September, we had to start over with the whole child care application process. Where we live, Kindergarten is now full day. Our public school offers a before and after school child care program. As it turns out, getting a spot in that program is just as cutthroat as regular daycare and we (almost) waited too long to get ourselves on the waiting list. After a couple of stressful weeks, we found out that Littleman got the last spot in the child care program.

We were super-relieved when we found out. But, seriously, what are people supposed to do if they don’t get a space for their child?   After the bad experience we had when Littleman was a baby, I hate the idea of having to settle for childcare that isn’t my first (or even second or third!) choice. Ugh

Learning from past mistakes, we have already put Bo on the waiting list for a before and after school child care space for when he starts Kindergarten (in 2018!). I know I will always worry a little bit about my kids when they are in the care of someone else, but hopefully I no longer have to worry about whether they have a daycare space at all.

Briefly…

It appears that I actually have a brief moment to myself today.  I had a meeting away from the office and it didn’t make sense to head back into the downtown core afterwards so I came directly home.  D is at work and the boys are at daycare so I AM ALONE!

Before I go and do something productive like prep for dinner or put some laundry away, I decided that it’s only fair that I take a moment to write.  I miss it here!

Life is chugging along (or, more accurately, zooming along).  Spring seems to be finally arriving and the boys are enjoying spending more time outside again.  Littleman started t-ball recently, which is cute/chaotic.  I’m still struggling to figure out how to balance work with the children’s activities and keeping the house in order (somewhat).  So far, we’re managing ok but I find we’re all pretty burned out by the end of the week.

Poor Bo is in that awkward stage where he still can’t walk but doesn’t want to be held or strapped in all the time.  He’s a super-speedy crawler and heads straight for the stairs or other dangerous obstacles whenever we put him down.  He gets frustrated when we stop him from approaching said obstacles, so he ends up whining a lot.  We’re told he’s eating well at daycare, which is a good thing because he’s usually pretty tired/grumpy at dinner time and doesn’t end up eating much (unless it’s dipped in or spread with baba ganoush – go figure.)

Speaking of awkward stages, I’m in one myself right now.  I’m still breastfeeding Bo first thing in the morning and right before bed.  My body has adjusted to the two-feeds-a-day schedule quite nicely but I’m in a tough spot when it comes to bras these days.  I’m still wearing my nursing bras (which fit well by the end of the day when I’m getting fuller but are pretty loose and gapey right after the morning feed.)  I was kind of hoping that we could wean completely sometime soon but Bo still seems to really enjoy it and there’s no real reason for us to stop.

Littleman is the one who is really thriving these days.  All of a sudden, he seems really mature.  He looks like such a big kid and is really great at helping make sure his little brother doesn’t get into too much trouble.  I’m so proud of the cool kid he’s becoming.

Anyway, my alone time will be coming to and end soon and duty calls.  Happy Friday, everyone!