YouTubers

The kid has taken a shining to watching YouTube videos about blind bags and doll reviews, and basically anything else Gracie and Mommy offer. She used to have a lot more variety in her video watching, but Gracie and Mommy have taken control now, with their doll reviews, shopping trips. I don’t know what it is she loves about them so much, but I like them too and don’t mind her watching them – especially when she starts laughing hysterically.

IMG_1249I know that she’s getting addicted to this because I bought her Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine the other day and she asked if she could un-box it when we got home.

Now she’s asking me to make videos like Gracie and Mommy make.

Now this child has always been a performer. She loves being the centre of attention. Whenever we have guests in the house she wants to put on shows. She’s asked me to invite her friends over specifically so she can put on a performance for them. When she was 2 we visited my mom and my Gramps at their retirement residence. There was a lady who would play the piano after lunch and my kid took great pleasure in dancing for the crowd.

Me, on the other hand… I don’t like being in front of everyone. I don’t speak loudly. There are specific situations in which I am comfortable, and generally being on camera is not one of those.

But this kid, she’s my heart, and she has been making fake videos since she saw her first one.  I feel almost like it’s inevitable that she’ll do something like a YouTube channel eventually, but the question is when and how do we let her?

Number One

Being a student means having a lot of priorities – I have readings I have to do, I have assignments I have to research for and write, I have classes to attend and presentations to prepare.

Being a mom means having a lot of priorities – I have a kid to take care of, mind, body and soul. She has a lot to say and I want to be listening. She needs back rubs and baths, she needs meals and sleep, and I’m the mommy.

Being a student mom means that my priorities are always in flux. I want my daughter to get everything she needs from me, but there is a pile of work that I have to get done. And I’m also still working on my own business, trying to earn a bit of an income at least. So the student and mom portions fight for the top spot.

I also need to feed myself, sleep and try to get some exercise and figure out where I fall on my priorities list.

And lastly I’m a wife. We’re celebrating 7 years next week, except we won’t actually be celebrating because I’ll be in class all day. We don’t get our evenings together because I’m in class or I have work that has to get done.

It’s almost impossible to get readings done while the kid is present, so I spent most of Sunday with my head down at my desk trying to make sense of things.

The levels of guilt piling on – not seeing the kid, not being there when she needs me, not getting my exercise in, not getting my readings done, not getting to office hours to ask the questions I need answered.

And the guilt is accompanied by fear – the fear of screwing up my assignments and all of this being for nothing, the fear of losing the connection that I have with my kid now that it seems like I barely see her, the fear of a total disconnect with my husband now that we’re back in two different worlds, and the fear of spending this year growing fatter and more unhealthy because it’s all just too much.

All of this together leads to panic and tears. Overflowing tears. Nights spent restless because I’m wondering what I’m forgetting about this time.

And I don’t know how to make it all make sense, or maybe I just have to live like this, teetering constantly, to get through this year. And then decide if I actually do have it left in me to do the next one.

A day

I’m having a day. I wasn’t quite sure what was wrong. I’m tired, school is taking a lot out of me. I have a headache from this sinus infection that just keeps hanging on.

But when I started getting teary I figured out what the problem is – I’m in mourning.

This is hard. It’s exhausting. Going to class, getting my readings done, working on assignments – all the professors forget you’re taking more than just their class. Or don’t care.

My nights

My nights

I’m at school all day on Mondays. I leave the house at 7 and get home after 10. That is an entire day when I don’t get to see my kid or really talk to her at all. On Tuesday I get to drop her at the bus, and then I don’t see her again until Wednesday morning.

I’m mourning the time we used to get together. The time we used to hang out in the morning. The days we got to choose whatever we wanted. I’m mourning the time I used to have. The days when she would fall asleep and I would be here to hang out with my husband instead of on campus on in my office. My life has completely changed in the past three weeks – as I knew it would – but today I’m having a day when I’m being forced to recognize that. And it hurts.

 

Missing out

Tonight I am in class. In fact I’ve been here since 8 am. Monday is the day that I’m on campus for 14 hours. It means that I get three of five classes out of the way in one day, which makes the rest of the week easier, but it also means that there is one day when I don’t get to do bus drop off OR pick up. It means the kid might not even be awake when I have to leave the house.

We’re very lucky. Joe’s boss has agreed to let him work from home on Mondays so he’s there for drop off and pick up, and this week he has an added Monday responsibility.

 

This week the kid starts dance class.

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It’s a class I signed her up for after getting a recommendation from one of the other pre-school moms. It’s not like ballet, which she seemed to find too slow to hold her attention. It’s acro-dance, which fits in nicely with her gymnastics. There’s cartwheels and flipping. She’s going to love it.

And I don’t get to watch her loving it. At least not for the next three months.

It sucks.

Since she was born I have almost always been the one signing her up for these activities, participating in some with her, seeing how much she enjoys them – or the times she didn’t so much.

Now I’m not there. Not only am I not there to see her in her little leotard dancing away, I’m not at the dinner table getting the chance to hear all about it either. And it hurts my heart.

I know this was part of the deal when I came back to school. I was going to be away from home for 15 hours a week, plus travel time, plus time between classes when it just doesn’t make sense to go home. And I have time at home stuck at my desk, writing assignments and papers. Who knows what my exam schedule will bring.

I know in my head that her daddy is there, and I know that she’s having so much fun she’s probably not even thinking about me not being there, but in my heart I worry. I probably won’t even stop.

Bored? Board

We are a board game family. Before the kid was born Joe and I were on a trivia team, we hosted and attended game nights. No one can beat team Boughner at Trivial Pursuit. Because of this I was very excited when I realized that the kid was finally aging into board games. She likes Candyland, loves Guess Who? and Yahtzee. For a little while Uno was a nightly activity. While Grandma and Grandpa were here there were a couple of rousing games of Monopoly Junior.

Since she seems to like games, and it’s something we can enjoy doing together, I started looking for games that would help her in her quest to read. I picked one out of the Scholastic flyer that we’ve played a few times, but the real winner is one I happened upon at a local store.

I will mention here that this is NOT a sponsored post, I just have become a big fan of ThinkFun’s Zingo Word Builder game.

You get a card with pieces of three letter words, and then you get tiles and you have to use your tiles to try to fill in the spaces on your card. One side of the card has three letter words missing just one letter, the other side has words with just one letter to make it a bit harder. You have to get two letters at once.

Sounding it out

Sounding it out

While the kid has not so far had a lot of patience to sit with me and really sound out words, she does has the patience to do that with me in the context of the game. It’s awesome.

Dear Kid

I know you have been having bad days lately. These past two weeks have been very hard for me too. I miss you. It’s been a very quick change between lots of time together and a lot less.

You’re my baby girl and sometimes I get a feeling in my heart, knowing that things are changing so quickly, you’re changing. You used to never leave my side and now it seems you’re almost never there any more.

My favourite thing when you were a baby was sitting down with you at the dining room table, me on my laptop and you in your high chair, and I could watch you and talk to you and drink my coffee. It was our morning routine.

This morning you got very upset with me because you didn’t have enough time to do anything. You wanted to play, but we had to catch the bus. I want you to understand that I know it’s not fair, it’s not easy and I don’t like it either, but you and I are doing what we have to do.

My baby girl, my poor little girl. You’re such a sensitive kid and you get hurt when other kids might not mean to hurt you. As you grow up hopefully you will better understand what other people mean and how they are feeling. You’re so smart and sensitive, I know you will always struggle with controlling your emotions, just like me. It can be an asset, but it can make things hard.

I like to believe that when you come home and tell me you had a bad day it’s because of one bad thing that sticks in your mind. That’s how my brain works. I know that when I talk to you about your days you do have good things to say. You’re learning, you’re singing songs and playing and speaking French.

I’m learning too, and it’s exciting and I like to think that even though it’s taking me away from you right now, sometimes, we will both benefit in the end.

I still love you more than I can even believe, and I hope you still know that.

We go together

We go together

Passion is

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If there is one question I have most definitely answered in my return to a university campus it is that yes, I picked the right degree.

You see, when I left high school I had a plan. I spent my Grade 13 year working two coops that were supposed to help my on my route to becoming an athletic therapist. I wanted to work for professional sports teams. I was going to get my degree, and then go to college for three years, and then take professional testing, and have a career. I applied to three universities for kinesiology and got into one. That should have been a clue. But I made my plans and off I went… And back I came.

Before classes had even started.

You know when it strikes you, all of a sudden, that you’re making a mistake?

And the fact was everyone around me knew I was making a mistake. I called my dad to tell him I was not, in fact, a student at York University, and all he said was “well that was fast.”

So I found a job and I took a year off – something I’m going to encourage my daughter to do – and I changed my mind. I applied to three colleges, I chose my program and off I went to print journalism. And it was awesome. I loved all my classes, my professors, the friends I made. We worked hard, I excelled. After I graduated I applied for job after job after job and I finally landed one. The first job was not right for me. I found another job in journalism.

Four months in I quit and applied to university.

This time I looked through the course calendar and I picked out the degree program that had the most courses that seemed interesting to me. Hello Political Science.

The marriage I have made of journalism and political science is where I was supposed to end up. There is no doubt in my mind. And now I even get the chance to specialize. All of my professors are encouraging us to focus ourselves and I’m jumping at the chance.

I’m ready now.

In two years I will have my B.A. (Hons) and my Masters in Political Management and I will have spent those years focussed on political advocacy, and particularly on women’s issues and Aboriginal issues. And nothing can stop me now.

Survival of the fittest

I think the key to surviving this year of university is to remind myself that I am now 33, unfit and a mother.

The last time I did this I was 23. I didn’t have anyone but me to worry about, not in first year anyway. I had an on-campus job, for which I missed a lot of classes. Now I have a whole house full of people to talk care of, I have a little seedling of a business. And I have my health to worry about.

In order to get through this push through school I need to switch things up. I can’t live the way I did when I was a student in my 20s, and I can’t live the way I did when I was a work at home mom, taking contracts where could find them. I have multiple top priorities now – school, work and parenting – and I need to make sure I have what it takes to stay on top of at least those three things. I’d also like to stay on top of housework, exercise and my marriage, but I think three top priorities is what I can start with.

So I need to remember:

1) Sleep

I’m used to late nights. I have always been better at working at night, my brain seems to switch on later in the day. But I now have a little girl who likes to be up and going early, as well as two 8:30 am seminars. Thinking all day is exhausting.

Late at night I often manage to forget how horrible it feels to be trying to get through the day without enough sleep. I suck at putting myself to bed. I’m almost as bad at getting myself to sleep as my daughter is… maybe worse.

2)  Fuel

I’m terrible at eating too. I’m the kind of person who is bad at eating breakfast, and I am also the kind of person who will forget to eat lunch. It’s especially hard when eating involves packing food and carrying it with me. I stumbled. often. When I do remember to eat, it’s not always the best fuel. I need fruit and vegetables, I need protein for my brain. And I definitely need less bread and less sugar. The sugar crash is the known enemy of the 12-hour day.

3) Fun

I have 15 hours of lecture a week. I have travel time to and from campus. There will be studying and assignments to do. I have at least two and a half hours of work every day. I have this child that demands attention.

It’s easiest to cut out reading a novel or going to a movie, especially when I feel guilty already for the time I’m spending outside the house, but if I don’t do some things just for me I’m going to go crazy, and that won’t be good for my studies or my family.

4) Exercise

I have time. There are parts of the week when I don’t have to be in class, when the kid is in school. I have time to get to the gym or go downstairs to my treadmill. I know how much better I feel when I do. It relieves stress, it helps me think, and it makes me feel better about myself. My first week, last week, I spent this down time napping, which I needed, because holy build up of stress, but there I time when I sat at my computer playing a game and trying to think of what I could write my essays about. You know what? Inspiration will probably come quicker on the Spinning bike.

That’s not too complicated, right? I mean, if I’m going to be a B.A. Hons, I can probably handle those four things.

Higher education

Disclosure: I am part of the RBC RESP blogger program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Before going back to university this year I graduated college with a 2-year diploma and a 3-year degree. In 2007 I owed almost $40,000 for my education. My tuition for my last year of university was about $4,600. My tuition for this year of university is almost $7,000. That increase happened in 7 years. 

Back in the classroom

Back in the classroom

When our daughter was born Joe and I knew that we wanted to start saving for her education. Neither of us wants to force her into university, but we want her options to be open. When she finishes high school she can take some time off, she can go to college or she can choose university. The money will be there for her because we opened an RESP and we’ve been putting money into that account every month. The contributions fit into our budget now, and they’ll add up nicely since we started so early. And, of course, we can increase contributions as our income allows.

The RESP is also a great place for monetary gifts from family to go.

The great news is that if she gets scholarships or chooses a different path, that money can go right into our RRSP for our retirement. Even better? The government will help out too – The Canada Education Savings Grant will match up to 20% on the first $2,500 contributed annually. It’s a win-win. You can learn more about all aspect of RESPs from RBC. RBC understands that your child’s future is one of the most important things to you and is offering resources to help you make the best decisions.

RBC is hosting a Twitter party on October 1 and you can join in with the hashtag #RESPwithRBC and have the chance to win one of 6 $100 gift cards. RBC is also having a contest, Grow Your RESP with RBC, and you could win $500 towards your child’s future. You can enter here.

One of the most important things for me is that my daughter has all her options open when she’s done high school, without debt factoring in to her decisions.

Off she goes, wherever she wants

Off she goes, wherever she wants

Disclosure: I am part of the RBC RESP blogger program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own. 

One week down

It’s 8 am and I am early for a class for which I have no completed the readings. It’s been a very busy week and I’ve been doing okay until last night I remembered that this class already started last week and probably was actually starting, you know, the work part of things.

I missed the first class because it was the kid’s first day of school and I had to put her on the bus and then spend some time freaking out about how quiet the house is.

And then on Monday I snuck into her room to kiss her goodbye before I left for my full day of classes. I don’t think she knew that she wasn’t going to see me at all that day. After two years of being a team, Daddy was going to put her on her bus, get her off the bus, get her dinner and then to bed, and I wouldn’t see her or play with her or really interact with her for a full day.

And when I put her on the bus on Tuesday morning there were lots of tears and some begging. She was desperate to not get on the bus. She missed me, she said. “Mommy” she cried. And I had to get her on the bus and walk away.

Last night the thoughts creeped into my mind – this is stupid, what am I doing, I should just quit. I need to be there for her, my brain said. I’m being selfish, and I’m wearing myself down and she’s going to hate me forever.

But you know what? She’s learning French. She’s making friends. She’s a big fan of her teacher. My classes are interesting and I have goals in mind. I’ve got assignments that are going to be awesome and at the end of the year my kid will come to watch me walk across the stage.

Because do you know what she told the other parents at the bus stop on Monday morning when Daddy was the one dropping her off?

“It’s my mommy’s first day of school.”

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