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New Month

January 31st, 2013 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on New Month)

Not exactly New Year’s, but it’s something…

In the spirit of 2013 I’m trying to challenge myself, take on new projects, build a business, et cetera, et cetera. I am trying to read more again this year and am once again keeping a list of the books I read on this site. I want to read more books this year than last, and since the reading I did last year reminded me what a wonderful thing it is to read, it shouldn’t be a problem. I also want the kid to see me reading more. She loves books and I want her to keep loving books. I’ve got a good starter pile here and a long wish list on amazon.ca…

Since I’ve been at home with the kid I’ve been struggling to come up with activities and keep her entertained, especially since the winter started. I also haven’t been knitting as much as I would like or learning to sew like I said I would. All of these things happen to be the subject of many, many of my pins on Pinterest. Rather than let those pins just sit there, I’ve decided to try and do at least one thing from Pinterest every week. I’ve tried a lot of the recipes I’ve found there, but my Did It board focuses on crafts and do-it-yourself types of things. (Today we made play dough and it was easy and awesome).

Of course this year I am once again trying to get healthy. I have set a goal to lose two pounds a week from mid-January through to my annual physical in May. This will involve diet changes, and trying a lot of new things. We’ve got a three month membership to our city’s rec centres and I’m going to throw myself in to a bunch of classes and see what I like. Maybe I’m a Zumba girl, who knows? (My lack of coordination would imply otherwise, but I’ll have a go).

 

So, 2013? All out self improvement. Health, Learn and Open.

Also? Smart. Money smart, food smart, book smart.

Do it up.

CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning did a short segment on January 30 about being a woman in politics, but the conversation on Twitter turned quickly to a discussion about the lack of mothers in the discussion.

The fact is there is a lack of mothers in the discussion stems from the fact that there just aren’t a lot of young mothers in the House of Commons right now. When I thought about it I could name three: Sana Hassainia, NDP MP and mother to Skander Jack, who made a bit of news with his appearance in the House last year, Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt has two sons and Ruth Ellen Brosseau is a single mother to a young son. A friend noted correctly that Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq is also mother to a son. Hassainia is currently pregnant with her second child, and her colleague Rosane Doré Lefebvre is expecting her first.

It seems most women who make it into parliament are older women with older children, or younger women with no children. The fact is that it takes a lot of effort to campaign and then work in politics.

Being a woman in a campaign has proven to open you up all sorts of personal attacks and criticism. Women in campaigns are about how they dress, their hair, their past, whether they’re a ditz or a bitch, because you can’t be smart and powerful without being a bitch. It’s easy for me to see, as the mother of a young daughter, why you would not want to expose your children to that.

And once the campaign is done and you start work in the House of Commons it must be ever harder. You’re still scrutinized, and you have totally unpredictable hours and you live in two different cities. There is no parental leave, no sick leave. Constituents will always have questions and issues, no matter when your daughter’s recital is.

Why does it matter? Mothers can provide no unified voice, every woman is different, mother or not. There are no issues that are only important to mothers.

But without mothers, who deal with the day-to-day trials and tribulations of the next generation it would seem that there is something missing in the debate. Our government would do well to have constant reminders that there is an entire generation that needs us to make the right decisions for their future.

 

Mothers in politics

January 30th, 2013 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues - (Comments Off on Mothers in politics)

Today CBC Radio had two discussions about women in politics (First on Ottawa Morning, then on Ontario Today). As I watched commentary on Twitter about these discussions I noted several people asking why the panel of three female politicians on the Ottawa Morning panel (Katherine Hobbs from Ottawa’s city council, Madeleine Meilleur, an Ontario MPP, and Megan Leslie a federal MP) didn’t include a mother.

I wrote a post on Absolute Equality about the lack of young mothers in federal politics, but the whole discussion has me thinking – Has being a mother changed my perspective or opinions?

All my life I have believe in social programming. I believe in state funding for equal access to health care and education. I believe that those who have should contribute to provide for those who have not. I believe that daycare and early childhood education should be priorities. I was pro-choice before I got pregnant and I still am.

I was a social democrat before I ever thought of really being a mother, I’m a social democrat today.

My daughter reminds me every day why I think we need to focus on the future, but I felt that way long before she was born because I read about the studies that showed early intervention can change society, reduce crime rates, lower teen pregnancy rates, all the good stuff. My daughter makes me think twice about my decisions and drives me to be more vocal about those things I believe.

The same way my kid is being raised to be a proud Canadian, a Sens fan and a lover of all that is Muppet, I hope she will be a social democratic, I hope that she will take an active interest in our politics and the world around her.

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I will continue to support women entering politics, I will continue to root for gender parity and greater diversity in our parliament, but I’m wondering if motherhood needs to enter the equation.

Mother vs. Member

January 30th, 2013 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Work - (Comments Off on Mother vs. Member)

CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning did a short segment on January 30 about being a woman in politics, but the conversation on Twitter turned quickly to a discussion about the lack of mothers in the discussion.

The fact is there is a lack of mothers in the discussion stems from the fact that there just aren’t a lot of young mothers in the House of Commons right now. When I thought about it I could name three: Sana Hassainia, NDP MP and mother to Skander Jack, who made a bit of news with his appearance in the House last year, Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt has two sons and Ruth Ellen Brosseau is a single mother to a young son. A friend noted correctly that Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq is also mother to a son. Hassainia is currently pregnant with her second child, and her colleague Rosane Doré Lefebvre is expecting her first.

It seems most women who make it into parliament are older women with older children, or younger women with no children. The fact is that it takes a lot of effort to campaign and then work in politics.

Being a woman in a campaign has proven to open you up all sorts of personal attacks and criticism. Women in campaigns are about how they dress, their hair, their past, whether they’re a ditz or a bitch, because you can’t be smart and powerful without being a bitch. It’s easy for me to see, as the mother of a young daughter, why you would not want to expose your children to that.

And once the campaign is done and you start work in the House of Commons it must be ever harder. You’re still scrutinized, and you have totally unpredictable hours and you live in two different cities. There is no parental leave, no sick leave. Constituents will always have questions and issues, no matter when your daughter’s recital is.

Why does it matter? Mothers can provide no unified voice, every woman is different, mother or not. There are no issues that are only important to mothers.

But without mothers, who deal with the day-to-day trials and tribulations of the next generation it would seem that there is something missing in the debate. Our government would do well to have constant reminders that there is an entire generation that needs us to make the right decisions for their future.

The Little Things

January 29th, 2013 | Posted by Amy Boughner in #ToddlerLife - (Comments Off on The Little Things)

I love watching my 3-year-old eat grapes.

I love watching her in her gymnastics class where she just goes full out with whatever she’s doing. All her movements, following the instructor, have an enthusiasm about them.

Her little arms give the most wonderful hugs.

She talks and talks and tells great stories filled with wonderful imagination.

She is totally adorable, even – maybe especially – when Mommy puts her in pigtails that are slightly askew.

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We’ve been having some hard times this kid and me. She always wants Mommy, nothing else will do. Last night at 3 o’clock in the morning she exploded in tears because Daddy brought her the banana she asked for instead of Mommy bringing it. She always wants to be with Mommy. She’s been waking in the night, even just dreaming and crying out for me – always me – and I’ve been losing sleep. She’s been forgetting to say please and issuing orders instead of requests. She wants to be carried – by Mommy – all 35 lbs of her. She’s refusing to use the potty, sometimes sitting in a soiled diaper just because she’s as stubborn as I am.

When I look at her lying on the floor of the grocery store, whining and crying because she wants to go back to the aisle where they sell a few toys that I had already told her we would not be buying, it’s this strange, brutal mix of anger and love, this exhaustion that makes me want it all to be easier.

I want her to have absolutely everything that she wants and dreams of, but I also know how dangerous it can be to just give in. I’ve been giving in to myself for years and now I have to fight back against all that to fix things.

This morning she ran in to her gymnastics class and the tears came. The overwhelming stress combined with the overwhelming love just blew up and I sat there in the little plastic chair wishing for answers. Wishing for a break from her and feeling guilty about it all.

Call of the Wild

January 26th, 2013 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting | Personal - (Comments Off on Call of the Wild)

Books have always been a huge part of my life. I’ve always been surrounded by them. Shelves upon shelves. I was desperately to learn how to read and I haven’t stopped reading and writing since I managed it.

For Christmas my mother used to get my sister and me gift certificates to our favourite local bookstore. I would walk around and around, exploring the shelves and waiting for something to call me over. I grew from my Nancy Drew’s and Babysitter’s Clubs to Michael Chrichton and John Grisham. (I remember being totally absorbed in The Client, I couldn’t put it down).

I love walking around bookstores, looking at all the shelves and stacks and featured books. I love the feeling that a book has found you. I still remember the moment that I was in the Chapters in Belleville, where I was going to college, and this book with a turquoise and pink cover caught my eye. I read the description, got thoroughly confused and promptly bought it and the second book in the series. Jasper Fforde is now seven books in to the Thursday Next series and I have read and re-read them all.

Yesterday, after being cooped up in the house for days and days with a sick kid, I went out to pick up her prescription and took the opportunity to head to Chapters for a few minutes to be by myself and out for a while.

While I was there I had the pleasure of not one but two books choosing me. One for the kid, and one for me.

I really truly love getting deep into a book and not wanting to stop, slowing down at the end because you don’t want it to be over.

I went a few years when I wasn’t reading very much. Other things took over. Last year I re-discovered reading as an enjoyable pastime. I want the kid to see us reading. Right now she loves surrounding herself with books and I love watching her flip through them, making up stories from her memory and the pictures.

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I picture us down the road, Mommy, Daddy and Kid, hanging out with our books around the fireplace. That’s a good image.

Right now the kid is sicker than she has ever been. It’s the flu, or we’re pretty sure anyway, I talked to the nurse at our doctor’s office.

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She was sick when she was really little once. I was a new mother and totally unprepared. Our thermometer didn’t work and we didn’t have any pedialyte in the house. I called Telehealth Ontario and I felt like a tool for not being ready for the worst. Now that she’s three and has come down with the flu, we have Children’s Tylenol, we have a working thermometer.

We’ve been very lucky to get to three without anything more serious than a cold, but this flu has hit her hard. Her whole body is hot to the touch and she’s obviously achy. Just changing her diaper yesterday resulted in inconsolable crying from having to move around so much. Sometimes she starts crying about something that doesn’t make any sense (like the fact that she wants to go to space but she doesn’t know how to get there).

It’s hard to explain to her that she’s sick and she will get better, and it’s very hard to keep her still and resting and hydrated.The nurse told us that she is extremely contagious, which means that she can’t go to daycare this week or her sports class on Saturday, or her skating lesson. I also need to figure out how to disinfect the entire house.

This flu we have to be very careful with. The nurse told me we have to pay very close attention because it could turn to pneumonia. A lot of kids have been ending up in the hospital, at least one near Toronto has died. I will do my part by keeping my kid inside and trying to keep her entertained for the seven days the nurse suggested.

I was sitting watching the kid in her gymnastics class – a class I enjoy even more now that I don’t also have to take part. I was sitting in front of the great big windows they have so parents can see into the gym and there were other parents all around, one was a dad with a little boy and a little girl both waiting to go in for their class. The little girl pointed out some garbage on the floor. Someone had dropped a snack wrapper of some sort. The dad looked down to see what she was talking about and said: “That’s okay, don’t worry about it, it’s not our garbage.”

Would it have hurt him to suggest to his daughter that since she had noticed the garbage she could pick it up and put it in the garbage can that was right behind him?

I could not believe it… but then again I could. It explains a lot about people that I meet around the city if parents are teaching their children that something like that is someone else’s problem.

It brought up so many things in my mind – People who don’t try to be courteous any more, opening doors for each other or giving up the right of way, because we should only be taking care of ourselves. People who don’t try to understand each other any more because if you don’t believe what I believe then you’re just wrong. Bullies who get away with brutal behaviour because kids are being taught that it’s always someone else’s job to speak up.

The world is turning into a place of ‘Don’t care, not my problem’ and it stinks.

My daughter will learn empathy. She will hold doors open for others or say thank you when the door is held open for her. She will ask ‘how can I help?’ in a given situation.

How do you teach your kids to think about others in their day to day lives?

As Joe has written, we don’t shy away from being naked in front of our daughter… for now. As her mother it is not unusual for me to say ‘I have to go to the bathroom,’ and for her to say ‘okay’ and follow me in. Not long ago she looked up at me and said ‘what are those?’ to which I got to reply ‘my breasts.’

This led to her asking if she would be getting breasts. I told her yes, in a few years she will, and the conversation ended there… for now.

Meanwhile I watched the episode of Parenthood from last week, with Christina and Adam trying to explain to their son Max that puberty has started and he needs to take more frequent showers.

When I think back to popular culture when my hormones started throwing their weight around, I remember a lot of girls dreaming about their periods and upset because other girls were “developing” and they were not. I remember Amanda on the series Ready or Not, who was so excited to get her first bra and even show the straps off.

I was the first girl in my class to wear a bra. It was not my choice, it was by necessity. I actually got an anonymous note in my locker telling me I needed one – I note I never told anyone about because I was so embarrassed. After receiving that note I allowed my mother to take me to take me to shop for a bra – one bra. I wore it. I hated it, but I wore it.

As I have aged I have changed a bit. I am now much more comfortable with a bra than without, and I have learned the importance of a properly fitted bra. I’m glad of this change, primarily because I’m more comfortable now with these appendages, and also because I can walk my daughter through her development with that knowledge.

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Now that I’m settling into the idea of puberty, in my usual forward-thinking way, I need to continue to encourage her use of the potty.

So the kid turned 3. We had a successful party, she was happy with her gifts – and even happier with the balloons that are still floating around the living room. I tell her all the time that I love her more now than I did when she was a baby and that I’m excited to see her growing and I love watching all the things she can do now. Most of the time she’s okay.

But sometimes she wants to be a baby. She won’t leave diapers behind, she goos and gaas often and asked to be carried. It’s normal, I know, but then sometimes… Sometimes she tells me that she’s afraid to grow up, that she doesn’t want to be big.

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My heart cries out to her. If I could be honest with her I would tell her that I don’t want her to be big sometimes. That things keep happening in the world that I’m happy she’s completely oblivious to still. When I watch the news unfold in Newtown, she was asking me why I was crying and I didn’t have to tell her that children, little children had been massacred for no reason at all. This morning, as our neighbours try to come to grips with something truly terrible, I don’t have to tell her. I don’t have to send her to school where there will be counselors on hand.

When she looked up into my face yesterday and told me she didn’t want to get bigger, she wanted to be little, she had no idea the fears that I keep in my head about the world she’s going to have to deal with.

Already she’s had scraped knees and I’ve failed to protect her from more than one kid who told her she couldn’t play with this or that, she’s learning to deal with those things with some practice and some coaching.

How do I teach her to deal with the things that I can’t cope with?

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