I’m mad as hell…

by , on
June 30, 2011

I have hips.

I like them, actually. I’ve always had them – smaller waist, obvious hips. They’re good for carrying a baby on, that’s for sure.

I’ve never minded my body shape particularly. I’m tall, I have hips, I have a defined waist, I have a nice neckline and, as my grandmother used to tell me, I have great legs. I just need there to be less of me, and I need it to be easier to carry it all around.

With the campaign, and the stress, and sleeping issues and all the excuses I’ve been giving myself my weight has gone back up. I  weighed myself this week – the first time in a while – and it was a number I hadn’t wanted to see again. It sort of brought me crashing down, because I’ve been doing well on the exercise front. I’m on the treadmill, I’m doing an hour instead of half an hour these days.

I’m running for two minutes at a time and I’m surprising myself because I never think I’m going to make it and I always do.

I’ve stopped carrying my debit cards so I can’t run out and buy stupid lunches or bad snacks (these were a very bad addition to my life). But I need to do more than the average person to really get my weight moving because the PCOS wants to keep me where I am.

I need to cold turkey myself off all the sugar I eat – bad white sugar that does terrible, terrible things to my body. I need to ban Coke products from my house. I need to cook instead of bake.

Today I took the first step – literally – I walked from the second floor to the 10th in my office building (you can’t get into the stairwell on the first floor without a key-code that I don’t have). I wanted to quit on the sixth floor, but I didn’t. And it felt so good to get to 10 that I went back in the afternoon and did it again. And I didn’t let that be an excuse not to get on the treadmill at home tonight.

I want my pants to fit, I want to be able to chase my daughter without needing to sit down. I can control myself, dammit. I’m tired of allowing myself to get away with things.

I will see the end of you, 210 lbs. I will reach my goal to get to 175 and I will keep going until I’m healthy and fit.

I vow that by the time I go to visit my mother in August she will see a change in me. By the time the house sits in September I will be regularly taking the stairs to my office. I will grow accustomed to not giving in when my brain tells me I want something chocolate or ice cream or sugar. I might not go out for roller derby again, but it won’t be because I don’t want to embarrass myself in the fitness tests.

This is not funny any more. How many empty promises have I made to myself? Who else would I allow to treat me this way? I’m 30 years old and I have wasted too much time thinking about food and weight.

I know that there’s a body under all of this fat that can rock some great clothes and I want to see it.

Crying and screaming

by , on
June 29, 2011

When our little one was very little, she was an excellent sleeper. She sleep for four or five hours at night, waking for a bottle and a change and then sleep until morning. She slept on a pretty clear schedule all day. She was easy.

Then she started to get bigger, and suddenly we were down to two naps a day, about two hours at a time, and I had to adjust. The nights she was teething were hard too, but we got through and we moved on.

Then we went down to one nap a day. Still around two hours, but made things harder because when she’s awake she’s always on the go. She started walking at 10 months and now she runs. She plays. She’s constant.

Right now she’s about to hit a year and a half, she’s always going, and she might have one nap a day. Seriously. If we get her at the right time she can sleep anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, but it’s not every day, and definitely not at daycare. This was not great but okay when she was still sleeping from about 7 pm to 6 or 6:30 in the morning.

Now she’s not.

Now she screams when we try to put her to sleep. She yells no. She won’t take her bottle. She works herself into a frenzy when we leave the room. I go back in and her face is red, there’s snot and tears running down her face and she’s sweating. It can take two hours to put the kid to bed and then she either wakes in the night and we got through the same process (like from midnight to 2 am one night this week) or she wakes up early – like at 5 am today. It’s getting so bad that her daycare provider is even at her wits end – and this woman loves this child almost as much as we do and has about two dozen kids more experience.

Right now I don’t know whether to be worried. I’m fairly certain she’s teething, getting those two-year molars I’ve heard about from other moms, and maybe there’s some separation anxiety in there, and maybe she’s having bad dreams that she can’t tell us about. But at what point to we really need to worry that the kid is not getting enough sleep to develop properly?

—-

Amy wrote this a few days before I went in and did my part of the draft. It’s amazing how a couple of nights of good solid sleep can change your perspective. She still puts up a bit of a fight going down but she’s sleeping better-ish. Still waking up earlier than we would like most days and she’s had a few middle-of-the-night freakouts but she’s mostly doing better now.

And it’s amazing what it does for her attitude (not to mention ours). She’s always a fairly pleasant kid but she goes from a mostly pleasant kid who whines quite a bit to an absolute doll who giggles and laughs and gives unexpected hugs and tickles.

Now to figure out how to make HER realize how much better she feels when she gets her rest.

Elmo

by , on
June 29, 2011

I hate Elmo.

He yells and he refers to himself in the third person and he enunciation and grammar are terrible.

Hate him.

Joe feels the same way and we were determined that our daughter would be a Grover lover. She would know the ways of Bert and Ernie. She would be raised on classic Sesame Street. When she was old enough I put her to be with a stuffed Grover, and she also has a stuffed Snuffy. We have the classic DVDs, we have a Bert and Ernie album.

(We may have owned some of this stuff before we knew we were having a baby… Okay all).

There would be no Elmo in our house. There would be Grover and Bert and Ernie, Big Bird, Kermit, Telly and Harry, Oscar the Grouch. No Elmo.

So someone tell me why one of my daughter’s first words was Elmo. Why she gets up on our laps and points to our laptops and says Elmo, asking for videos. Why does my daughter have the ability to see Elmo whenever he’s around her? (We approach the children’s section at Chapters, Elmo, we walk through Zellers, Elmo.

Clearly Elmo was sent here from some sort of other world to draw our children in.

Okay, actually, I read Street Gang, and Elmo was designed because research showed the Children’s Television Network people that their audience was getting younger and needed someone to relate to. Around the same time Kevin Clash picked up this read Muppet that had been around for years (you can see him as a secondary character in Follow That Bird which is the first movie I remember ever seeing when I was a kid) and created this personality that became the centre of the Sesame Street universe.

My daughter loves Elmo, and I might not be able to understand why, but I’m accepting it. She has other influences and she’ll learn that it’s not okay to yell, or refer to yourself in the third person, and she’ll have good grammar. I’m going to try and get Being Elmo from the library to learn a bit more about Kevin Clash and his character in the hopes that I will stop hating that my daughter loves Elmo.

But I will always, always, be on Grover’s side.

Once more with feeling

by , on
June 26, 2011

I was listening to the new Simple Plan album the other day (Joe just cringed). I was in the kitchen, dealing with our buys from the farmer’s market and the kid was playing games on the iPad. Joe was taking a nap or I never would have put on my music like that. (There are a few bands we agree on, but he doesn’t like my taste to put it simply).

There is a song on the new Simple Plan album called This Song Saved My Life which, rather literally, talks about a song saving your life and it made me reminisce a bit. Through various stages of my life music has meant a lot to me, and as hard as it’s been I’ve tended to find one band that speaks to me and helps me through. It’s like the music finds me.

On my recent trip to Vancouver, I was exhausted, working long hours in a time zone that didn’t really give me a chance to talk to my baby girl, but I knew that I would have the opportunity to see Said the Whale play while I was there, and that made things a bit easier. (That link goes to my favourite song of theirs that I haven’t been able to stop listening to since I left Vancouver, by the way)

When I was working the campaign and getting frustrated with everything and everyone during those long hours in close quarters, the discovery of Adele‘s 21 on the shared drive made everything just a bit easier to deal with.

When the baby was brand new and I went to rock her during the night, I would play the Who’s Love Reign O’er Me and it was just right.

When I left Ottawa for Regina and didn’t know when I would be seeing Joe again, as we tried to find our footing, I cries every day. Every day there were hard tears and then Keane came to me. My mother took me to the mall to try and cheer me up and I walked into HMV and there they were on the video screen. I swear the every song on Under the Iron Sea spoke directly to me at that time in my life.

Simple Plan was the band I started listening to when I gave up my job, my own apartment, my own car and moved back in with my mother to start university at 23. I don’t know why Simple Plan, but it was right around that time that Still Not Getting Any came out and there was just something about it that made me want to listen over, and over, and over. (Also led to me being an official Charlatan photographer at Bluesfest that year and getting to see them and take some pretty good pictures)

When I was in love, building towards engagement with Joe, I started listening to Jason Mraz, and years before it was released as a single and started being played everywhere, I walked down the aisle to I’m Yours. (When I played Lucky for Joe for the first time, he said Jason Mraz has to stop writing songs about us). We danced our first dance to Ben Folds’ The Luckiest, a song Joe had told me in the first sparks of our relationship made him think of me. It suited me.

When I was a kid entering high school, it was all about the Beatles. When I think of my best friend, it was us and the juke box at the pool place and Abba’s Dancing Queen – we were the only girls in the place, and the youngest people there and we would take control of that juke box.

There is no thinking of my youth without music – music that somehow makes memories brighter: Our Lady Peace, I Mother Earth, Alanis, Sloan (20 years?!) – the Canadian pride that music in the 90s brings out.

Going even further back, I don’t think I will ever, ever forget the lyrics to Bust a Move – or stop wondering why your best friend’s brother would ask you to be his best man.

Oh, and hey, check out the guy to the far right of the stage here playing bass. Music will definitely always be part of our lives.

Love of all kinds

by , on
June 25, 2011

I’ve been feeling many things lately – tired mostly, but thoughtful, and anxious and quite often teary. Always, seemingly, on the verge of tears but never quite able to express why or get the emotions out.

And then today, quite surprisingly and all of a sudden, the floodgates opened at M’s last swimming lesson, after reading a short email from my father-in-law.

We try to send the family pictures as often as we can, so they can see the baby – now this little girl – growing up from far away. So they can see all the things we do with her and all the things she’s learning. The other day I sent this picture:

Face full of mischief, as always.

The email I got back told me, in simple terms, that my daughter was God’s gift to me for being the person that I am.

Now God and I have no special relationship. I was baptized Anglican when I was a child, but I don’t have a lot of faith in faith. I can’t say I’m atheist because I believe in fate to a certain extent – Joe was my fate. I believe in angels, I believe my grandmother watches over me. I believe in ghosts. But I don’t know about this God and his rules.

That being said, my in-laws are Catholics. They go to church and they follow their faith. They are accepting and wonderful and take strength in their faith and I love them all the more for it. So to have my father-in-law tell me that he believes that his God – no matter my feelings – still loves me, and loves me enough to give me this wonderful girl, that means something truly, truly special.

Things I wish I knew

by , on
June 23, 2011

I watch 16 and Pregnant a lot. I started watching it when I was pregnant, when most people watch A Baby Story or Birth Stories or whatever else makes them feel better about the human being they’re growing.

While I was watching 16 and Pregnant, and watching my own belly grow, I also watched The Business of Being Born – which I recommend to everyone who is having or thinking about having a baby.

(Yes, I know the documentary was made with a specific viewpoint).

Watching the documentary, and taking a prenatal class, and talking to other moms, reading their blogs, and learning through 42 weeks of being pregnant, having to be induced, and going through labour, 16 and Pregnant has changed for me.

(Yes, I know they try to get the most drama out of the mothers they choose).

The thing that bothers me most about the show is that these girls, these poor, young pregnant girls, is that they have no one to hold their hand and tell them that they have choices they are allowed to make.

Today I watched an episode where the girl was 39 weeks and her doctor told her it was time to induce. No one told her that she wasn’t even really full term yet, and that she could still wait to go into labour naturally, and that they were probably only inducing her at 39 weeks because Christmas was coming.

No one seems to talk to these new mothers about breastfeeding. I have seen a handful of them try in three seasons, and one of the mother’s mothers told her that she shouldn’t breastfeed because it would make her boobs sag.

It makes me think about all the things I wish I could tell these girls:

  • Expect to have difficulty breastfeeding, even though you might be one of those lucky women that it just works for, the harder you expect it to be the easier it will be.
  • Listen to the people who tell you to take it easy the day after you give birth. You’ll be running on adrenaline, but the more you do the more it’s going to hurt the next day.
  • The first night, before your milk comes in, the baby is having a whole new weird experience and it’s going to be really freaking hard. You probably won’t speak at all.
  • Tell the father what you expect from them before the baby is born. Don’t let your frustration build up until you start fighting. Tell them you need them to help change the baby, or rock the baby, or give the baby baths. Give them a job, it might actually help them. They’re confused, and you’re the mom and everyone expects you to just be able to do this stuff and no one has told them what they’re supposed to do.
  • Get out of the house. Those first few months the baby can’t do much at all, and you’ll be scared to leave the house with them, but go for walks, sit in the park, go to a coffee shop and just sit with them. Try and find mom communities online or in your city. A support system outside your support system is – spending all day at home alone with a baby doesn’t seem like it should be hard, but it really, really is
  • You don’t realize how easy it is when they’re so small until they get bigger and mobile
  • Know that you are not alone, that no matter how angry or sad you feel you love your child, know that it’s the hardest job in the world – made even harder if you’re struggling with your relationship at the same time. Relish the great moments and just get through the rest.

 

 

 

 

Too much

by , on
June 22, 2011

I worked an election campaign: 37 days of hard work, stress, long days, and always thinking.

When the campaign was over, my mom came to visit and I toured her around the city trying  to keep us all occupied, trying to make up for the time I missed with my daughter during those 37 days, and the time my mother misses with her by living in a different city.

I started back to work and things were busy, very busy, stressful.

I hurt my neck and was forced into bed rest for a week, unable to move much and angry to be missing work, missing quality time with my daughter, unable to do the things I would have like to do.

I went to Convention, worked through my weekend, three days of long hours, good times, stress, seeing old friends.

Last night, still recovering from a three hour time change, from all the 12 hour workdays over the past few months, from not really taking a real break when I had the opportunity, last night my daughter was awake for two hours screaming like there was something terribly wrong. She struggled against me holding her. She cried out for Mommy over and over, she would ask for a bottle and push it away, she would cry and cry harder. I started trying to figure out if she had broken or dislocated something, maybe it was this or maybe it was that.

Maybe she’s getting her molars, maybe she had a bad dream, maybe it’s separation anxiety. Whatever it was, all I could do was sit with her and try to tell her she was going to be okay.

And today?

I am so fucking tired.

I don’t think I’ve recovered fully from the campaign, let alone the convention and the time change. My shoulder and my neck still hurt when I get tired like this and my back is killing me.

Of course, I have a long weekend coming up – because I’m going in to have a root canal. So that will be nice and relaxing. Then next weekend is Canada Day and some of my family is in town.

This motherhood thing? It’s really hard.

Last time I worked a campaign, last time I went to convention, I had time to sleep in, to veg out, to slow down for a bit. But the kid? She wants me. She calls for me. She comes to see me. And I want to give her all of myself. But right now? I’m on the verge of collapse.

Fun Times

by , on
June 21, 2011

We’ve always known that we wanted to involve M in activities – because I didn’t play any sports or take many lessons and Joe did. He has music and sports as an adult where I had to search for things to occupy my hands, mind and time.

So far we’ve had M enrolled in swimming, gymnastics and Monkey Rock , which came highly recommended by other Ottawa parents, and which I will highly recommend to anyone who asks. She loves running, she seems interested in music and she loves being in the water. I like having her in classes that allow us to interact with her, and her to interact with other kids. I also want her to have specific activities, like Monkey Rock, that she and her Daddy can do together.

Now, as she grows up, I want to keep her active, involve her in trying new things, but I also want to be cautious about pushing her too hard in the wrong direction. Where is that balance? 

It’s a weird question for me to consider because sports were always just kind of part of my childhood. The only one I remember quitting was figure skating when I was probably about six. My sister was a skater and my brother spent a year doing it too, as I recall, probably convinced it would help his hockey. I didn’t last a day.

I also remember getting frustrated and embarrassed when I fell the first time at hockey. I probably wanted to quit then and there (I had a wee flair for the dramatic) but I stuck with it and hockey was responsible for some of my best memories as a kid. I dabbled in softball, baseball and basketball here and there too but nothing stuck quite like hockey.

I didn’t always adjust well to change as a kid, especially when we moved from the first home I remembered in Northern Ontario to New Brunswick. I had a lot of trouble adjusting but I don’t remember having any problem at all with hockey. I was terrified going to school, terrified going out for choir (which was new to me) but as I recall, the rink was a safe space.

Obviously I’d love if the kid got into hockey (I’m still involved in the sport as a coach) but mostly I just want her to find something she can do that will be a constant throughout her childhood; something that she can look back upon as fondly as I can hockey.

My girl

by , on
June 21, 2011

This morning the kid woke up at 5:30. I got up with her and we got ready for the morning together – brushed our hair, brushed our teeth, got dressed and woke Daddy up. When I put her down on the change table and started changing her diaper and getting her dressed she kicked her foot up and pointed and said ‘toes.’ We’ve been learning head and shoulders, knees and toes. She likes her toes. She loves knowing the words for things.

By the time the whole family was ready for the day ahead, it was barely 6:30 – about an hour before we usually leave. And there wasn’t much in the way of breakfast in the house. So I suggested the three of us go out for breakfast – one of Joe’s favourite things. And we came downtown and went to Dunn’s for the the $3.99 breakfast.

I like eating out with my kid, even though she can sometimes be loud and sometimes obnoxious. She’ll spill on herself and demand to get out of her high chair. She’s started demanding to drink out of a straw, even when her sippy cup is much easier for everyone. She’ll be picky about what she will and won’t eat – this morning she refused the toast and eggs for a breakfast of sausage and has browns alone. She can be so frustrating.

We three walked to the car together. I had no idea that she would be so young and be able to just hold my hand and walk down the sidewalk with me. She’s funny when she walks – she runs and hops and looks around her. She likes going over manholes and speedbumps. I think she can see that they look different and she wants to know if they feel different.

When we got back to the car I kissed her cheeks. I love her cheeks. And I told her I love her. She and Daddy dropped me off at my building and went off to daycare where she will spend the day with her caregiver who also loves her, dotes on her. Three little boys that she’s learning to share with and be nice to.

When I came back to work I was excited and I felt as though I should feel guilty about being excited. Today I felt love, just absolute love for her, and when she and Joe drove off and I walked into my office building, I felt like I should feel guilt, but all I feel is happiness. Total, unexpected happiness.

She is the most unexpected thing.

There was nothing like the way she greeted me at the airport when I got back from my working trip to Vancouver. First I saw them, she saw me at the top of the escalator, she pointed and started shouting Mommy, Joe put her on the ground and held on to her so she wouldn’t up the escalator, but her legs were moving and jumping and ready to run, I got to the bottom and she ran to me while I ran to her and gave her a big hug.

I missed her while I was gone. I worried she would be angry with me. There’s still love.

She loves me enough to let me be happy doing what I love to do, and still come home and have beautiful moments.

Can’t Buy Me Love

by , on
June 14, 2011

After I decided to start this little blog feature about the money each week that I don’t spend, I went on a little book binge. I bought a few new books for the kid and a couple for me. It has been painful for me that my reaction to dealing with my debt level, or the reminder that I have to control myself if I want to get this monkey off my back, generally leads to me going out and having a ‘fuck it’ shopping trip.

It’s always the last time, it’s always stupid and I always regret it.

And so, after the Twitter party with Gail, after sitting down with Joe to talk through our budget, and after talking to my grandfather – who is the person I love and respect most in the world, and who has been helping me all my life – we have come up with some solutions.

A proper budget, variable expenses covered by cash in jars so everything is visual and when the money is gone it’s gone – and me leaving my cards at home.

I have two debit cards and one credit card. I have had a credit card since I was 19 and it’s always been dangerous for me. Whenever I have a little wiggle room, when I’m having a bad day, I go out, I buy something we don’t need, or something I don’t need to eat, and I feel good for a short time – and then I feel stupid. So, I’m taking away my quick access to money for a little while. No more emotional spending. Everything has to get thought through.

This should also help with my weight loss goals. No quick access to money, no fulfilling my sudden craving, no junk food throughout the day. No emotional spending, getting on the treadmill to pound out my frustations.

I still have to take small steps and work through issues that I’ve had for too long – but I mean it this time.

The credit card must die.

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