Category Archives: parenting
How does one get so much pleasure from something so simple? The daily awesome is not so much in the technical definition of “awesome” of expressing awe in the remarkable or outstanding but more in the informal sense, that sometimes you have to slow down and appreciate some of the common, everyday things we take for granted.
Today is Day 3 of the Halton Hills Blue Fins hosted Gord Bassett Invitational long course swim meet in Hamilton. Our team of parent volunteers is AMAZING! Despite long hours, minor setbacks and even fire alarms this group of wonderful, dedicated coaches and parent volunteers work hard for YOUR kids. A BIG thank you today to coaches and parents!!! You are AWESOME!
It was 15 years ago today I felt the twinges of contractions. They say you’ll know the difference and you do or at least I did. It was the middle of the night. I thought I would let the Evil Genius sleep a little longer so I just penned down the times I felt the contractions. The night is a strange time, so dark and full of solitude. I woke him. I couldn’t do it – didn’t want to do it on my own any longer. Of course he was calm but alarmed after he looked over the times I’d written down and realized I was already at 5 minutes between contractions.
No, it was not an easy introduction to my first born. It was kind of scary and surreal. I knew something wasn’t right. Still, I laboured dutifully but ultimately had to have surgery to see my daughter. Like in a movie I was wheeled down the hall, watching the ceiling lights go by as I made my way to the operating room. She was born at 10:07am and except for a quick glance that was the last time I saw her until the afternoon. I didn’t feel anything.
Frozen halfway down I was immobilized. Had I been emotionally drained as well? All I wanted to know was the size of her head, convinced it was a cranium of such magnitude that it prevented her from emerging the “normal” way from me. She wasn’t nearly as big as they predicted in the last ultrasound. She was fine. She was perfect. She had 10 fingers and 10 toes and I had yet to meet her. I was in recovery. She was in the nursery for her special needs after delivery. I sat there waiting.
I was finally allowed to move to my room even though I still couldn’t feel my legs or move my toes. The epidural was taking an exceptional long time to wear off. Then my family and friends arrived. People came to see me. They came to see her. I asked how she was. They all said she was fine. I was jealous. They all got to see my baby before me. They got to describe her nose or her blonde hair with the shock of white patch. What was she really like I wondered? I was anxious. I wanted to see for myself. Finally a nurse brought me a polaroid of her. She was crying. This red faced wrinkled thing attached to tubes was mine? I worried that I was already an unfit mother, no maternal instincts, someone who couldn’t love their child. I felt nothing.
It wasn’t until after 4:00pm, some 6 hours after I gave birth to her that they allow me to see her. Still not moving very well I was wheeled down the hall in a wheel chair anticipating the first true meeting of my daughter. Why was I feeling nothing? I was scared of my own lack of emotion and then I hit the entrance way to the nursery. I didn’t see any of the other babies but I heard one. I’m pretty sure it was mine. I just knew. The flood gates opened. I was wheeled right up beside my tiny child, naked except for a diaper, under lights and tubes and tears rolling down my face. I touched her hand. I soothed her. I asked the nurse if I could hold her. As this wee thing was placed in my care just like that I knew. I knew she was mine, I knew I loved her and I knew I would do anything for her. I’m pretty sure I said something like, “Hello Aurora. It’s Mommy.”
It’s been 15 years since that meeting. Happy birthday to my amazing Aurora, a beautiful, smart and engaging young woman. It is her day but quietly I also mark today, more than in other years as my own celebration. Something that I can’t quite believe as I replay the movie in my mind, that this is the day I became a mother.
I agree with this article by Kathy Buckworth about how we as parents today, wrongly “prop our kids up with false praise.” We never want to let them fail or go home empty handed, without a trophy or prize. My husband, the evil genius and I have never overly subscribed to this kind of parenting. We are self-professed “tough” parents, “mean” parents or “hard asses” as I liked to say when it comes to our kids because we just don’t seem to parent like every one else.
Our big girlie was in the Intro level when she started swim club. By the end of the year she had progressed enough to be moved into another level, Intro Comp. At the year end banquet all Intro kids were given trophies. I guess because she had been moved they “forgot about her” or it was an oversight etc… she didn’t get a trophy. She was visibly disappointed, so was I and we did…nothing. We didn’t ask for a trophy. We didn’t talk to anyone that she didn’t get a trophy. We were not offended that she was forgotten. Was it upsetting? Of course. Did she “need” it? No. Did I really need to make it a big deal and tell someone or write a strongly worded letter? Nope! My child is not a special snowflake in need of protecting from every bump along the way. There are battles to fight for my children. This was far from one of them. Just because there was not a lot of coddling doesn’t mean there were not lots of snuggles and hugs and kisses along the way. Like most parents we only ever want the best for our children but for us that also included prepping them for the bad as well as the good. We have always taught them that life isn’t fair, they can’t always get what they want, people make mistakes and sometimes they are simply not awesome at everything they do.
Both our girls are in competitive swimming so they can swim, in circles, upside down and then some…but when our youngest first started competing she thought she was awesome! She was too cute with that get up and go attitude and was happy with any performance. We loved it. Her enthusiasm even after she finished dead last in her heat was fun and infectious. But then she started mentioning how awesome she was after every swim. Not in a hey-mom-I-just-finished-my-first-race-ever-wasn’t-I-awesome? kind of way but she was thinking her efforts really were awesome worthy. They weren’t. Finally after a few times of too many “awesome” moments the evil genius had to take her aside and tell her that she was actually less than awesome and that others around her in her group were doing better than her.
Usually at this point in retelling this story I can see other parents start to get uncomfortable and give me funny looks. They are thinking “how on earth can you tell your kid they are not awesome?” He said it because it was true and in order to be really awesome she needed to kick it up a notch. To be honest, she took this info in stride with nary a shrug. It wasn’t for several weeks before we noticed a change, something was different. Her swim performances were actually getting better. She stopped talking about being awesome and started to remark on specifics; like her great turn or her dive was getting better or she kept up in practice with so-and-so. Something clicked. It seemed she was no longer awesome but she was indeed a much better swimmer.
Fast forward to last weekend’s Central Region Championships. It was our swimmer girl’s first meet at this level. She had worked hard to get there as you needed to qualify in order to be at this competition. In the end she didn’t have a great weekend. I was wondering how she would react to her less stellar performances and we had the following conversation:
Me: So what did you think?
SG: It was good.
Me: It was good?
SG: Well, it was okay.
Me: Yes it was okay. Not great but not bad either. What do you want to eat?
Doing the hard stuff when they are young is HARD. I won’t lie but we do it now so we don’t have to do it later. I suffer and sympathize for my children in lots of ways yet sometimes “not awesome” is just fine. We still get to eat!
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day (gag!). I don’t go crazy for this holiday. The evil genius and I try to do things for each other at other times during the year. What did I get? Nothing. I’m ok with that. Really I am. This day is not a big priority for us and he works hard. Like really hard, at his own business, as a volunteer for the swim club, as a present father. I can cut him some slack.
What I didn’t feel like doing was dinner. My youngest had a late swim schedule last night and I knew we could all have dinner together so I thought I’ll ask my girlies to make it. They are 14 and 11 and we have tried since the beginning to prepare them for life without us. I firmly believe we are raising adults, not children. We want them to be responsible, confident and independent women. This doesn’t happen over night and you can’t teach it to them in a weekend or the summer before they leave for university. So to put my money where my mouth was I thought they were ready for a challenge.
I was at work and texted my oldest “I want you and your sister to make dinner tonight.” The response, “Okay.” That was it. I guided them to a meal I wanted them to prepare. They were on their way. After some questions like, “how many potatoes do I use?” and “how do I cook them?” (insert face palm here) I gave them some options then said I would be driving so I couldn’t text. They were on their own. They needed to figure it out.
I came home to a meal cooking and the dining room table set. The ham had not been started. They googled “How to cook a ham” and only came up with tips not temp and time (note: need to work on their google skills). So I made them get the package out of the garbage and calculate the weight and convert the time for cooking.
They continued to prepare the meal and set out the appetizers I brought home, some cheese and fresh bread. The evil genius came home from work and we were getting close to go time. They put everything in bowls and placed it on the table. We enjoyed a lovely meal and then the evil genius cleaned up. It was absolutely wonderful. We toasted to our family. They truly are the reason for my full heart on Valentine’s Day and everyday.
When are you most proud of your kids? We all want what’s best for our kids. We all want them safe and secure and we want success for them. I am certainly no different but I think sometimes I am just as proud during the moments when they are not necessarily doing things well or being as successful as they want.
Truthfully I think this is something we are missing in our current society of not wanting any harm, physical or mental to come to our children. The ability to let them fail, falter, mess up and not come to their rescue is building essential life skills. I try very hard to incorporate this into my children’s lives. I don’t get them up in the morning any more or make their breakfast and if they forget their homework, oops! Oh well. Earlier this week, my swimmer girl did not have a great weekend at the pool. She still amazed me though with her ability to overcome the upsets and disappointments that unrealized expectations can have to finish the weekend on a positive note with a final, strong race. I was a proud mama.
During this same weekend my oldest daughter, my big girlie had her own set of disappointments. She decided to audition for the youth company of our local musical theatre group. She has had some experience in theatre through local camps and activities and loves to sing and dance. She practised a song she had done before and even though suffering a cold she decided to go ahead with the audition. In front of people. Singing! I don’t know about you but this is not something I would expose myself to. Big girlie knows she’s not the strongest singer and after the auditions she thought her chances were pretty slim. Still she was hopeful and upbeat. We were to hear back the next day if there were any call backs… *crickets* So the next day big girlie asked if I had heard anything? The phone didn’t ring and there had been no email when we heard my niece, her cousin got a call back (yay!). By the end of the weekend knowing callbacks had been scheduled and completed she was resigned to the fact that she didn’t make it. Was she disappointed? Of course. And pretty much that was it.
While I have always supported and encouraged them in things they try, I think I was prouder in those moments knowing that my girlies survived the pitfalls and trials of life and that they did it all on their own. I did nothing to “save” them. Sure I offered some “maybe next time” talk but mostly they recovered on their own, knowing it wasn’t the end of the world. Yes, this makes me a pretty proud mama.