The sweetest words I've heard in a year

This week has been rough. 

I was away for part of the weekend at Social Capital Conference and it has thrown Brandon right off. He missed me - a lot. I can’t help but feel bad about that. It dampens my personal excitement over the success of the conference. I know I can’t be with him 24/7/365, but it doesn’t stop the guilt I feel about not being there when he feels he needs me.

Monday, Matt had to take most of the day off to be with Brandon. His daycare tried to accommodate him, but when a single child out of 50 needs one-on-one attention for a significant portion of the day, it can compromise the safety of other children and stress resources too thin and that’s not fair - to the children or the caregivers. 

Tuesday, we met with the Developmental Pediatrician. For the second time Brandon didn’t want to cooperate with completing the assessments. He has it in his head that when he goes to her office he gets to play with Lego. Sigh. 

In the end, she was once again flexible. She gave him the Lego and then observed him. She spent a lot of time talking to us about our concerns and asking questions. It wasn’t productive in the way we’d hoped, but it wasn’t a waste of time. The most important part for us was when she looked me in the eye and said (I’m paraphrasing):

You know this isn’t about your parenting. You’re doing a good job with him. 

I told her that was good to hear because we’d had it implied that we’re not doing a good job as parents. And, of course, we all need as much fuel added to the fire of doubt that comes with parenthood. Yep, we sure do. She responded (paraphrased again):

I figured you had. This isn’t your parenting. It’s definitely something else and we have to figure out what that is.

Sweet relief. Music to my ears. Confidence booster. Tear-inducer.

You see, we do what we have to do to maintain peace. Sometimes that means we spend money on Brandon that we’d rather not spend. Occasionally that means giving him food that isn’t exactly the healthiest. The odd time it means that we don’t go places we really want to go because it’s easier than forcing him.

It never means that we compromise his long-term health, immediate safety or security. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a parent it’s that everything I believed about parenting before I had a child was mostly a load of crap and I’m quite willing to go completely against those things to reduce the stress on all of us. We have enough unavoidable stress that we don’t need to add to it by trying to force a child to do things that he’s absolutely unwilling to do.

If that makes me a bad parent in some people’s eyes, that’s fine. If people think I’m spoiling my son, that’s fine. They’re entitled to their opinion, even if it’s wrong.

Today we had another rough morning. Brandon’s daycare was going on a field trip to the beach and all children are required to wear a tee shirt. He didn’t want to wear one. He only wanted to wear his life jacket, which he can’t safely wear in the car. So, he didn’t get to go on the field trip and that breaks my heart. I know he needs those times to help him learn. He needs those opportunities to develop socially. It won’t happen when he’s at home with Matt or myself. That’s three days in a row this week that he’s stayed home (or been sent home) from daycare.

I don’t know what to do. I’m nearly out of vacation and I have no more sick days and though Matt has more than I do, it’s not realistic that he carry the load alone. It’s especially unfair to him when Brandon really needs me and doesn’t respond positively to Matt’s presence. Sigh.

One day we’ll figure it all out. I hope. 

Truth Day 02 - Something you love about yourself.

Photo Credit: Kym Shumsky (Relishing.ca)Do you find it very difficult to identify something you love about yourself? I do.

When I saw the Day 1 prompt, something you hate about yourself, I knew which of the two would be easier to write. At the same time, I wish I hadn’t had to start on such a negative note. 

It’s taken me a few days to figure out what I love about myself. Well, actually, it just took me that long to figure out an answer less superficial than my hair. You see, I do truly love my hair. It’s the one feature I have that I have no complaints about. I’ve done absolutely nothing to promote good hair - it was simply the luck of the draw in the genes department that I ended up with nice, easy-to-manage hair.

But hair doesn’t make for a particularly challenging subject to post about and I started this to challenge myself to open up a bit more in this space. 

So, what do I love about myself?

I came up with a fairly decent list, but it boils down to patience. Somehow, over the years, I’ve settled into a place of calm and I’ve developed a patience that even I don’t fully understand. I’ve used this patient streak of mine to diffuse potentially volatile situations. I’ve used it to understand different perspectives. I’ve used it to figure out complex formulas I need for Excel spreadsheets - and then the inevitable troubleshooting that follows.

If I evaluate my reactions to stressful situations, I’m proud to see that the older I get, the more my actions reflect the influence of my mother in my life. You couldn’t meet a more down-to-earth, sweeter woman. Ever since I realized that I saw her in that light, I’ve wanted to follow in her footsteps. Perhaps I’m succeeding to a certain degree.

Of course, I have my moments. No one has a limitless supply of patience (and Ottawa drivers test mine on a regular basis). To say that I love my patience feels a little like an ego trip, but it is the one character trait that I’ve worked hardest to cultivate and I feel a certain amount of pride in that.

*****

This post is all about truth - Day 2 of my 30 Days of Truth. I’m not the only one, so here are others if you’re interested in getting to know other bloggers.

Ten Years

I remember it as clearly as if it was yesterday. It was a cold, crisp November day spent driving from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, through New York state, across the border and eventually into Ottawa. It was my first road trip between Canada and Florida, but it wouldn’t be my last. 

The sky had that unique-to-winter look of clear coldness with an element of foreboding - the clear day would bring snow. Driving through upstate New York, we encountered a winter wonderland of lake effect snow. Another first for me. It was magical to see. The dusting of snow on the bare trees. The perfectly smooth mounds on each side of the road. I couldn’t take my eyes off the landscape - it was so incredibly beautiful.

Later, as we approached the border, butterflies began making an appearance in my belly. The documentation was complete. The van was fully packed with everything we could possibly fit. Nothing had been left to chance - I even had a ring on my finger. I couldn’t stop thinking, “What if…?”

The border services stop was shockingly anticlimactic. We parked the van and took all the documentation that I’d carefully prepared into the building. Other than the staff, we were the only ones there. We approached the desk and handed over my documentation. We expected to have the van searched, but all they did was stamp my passport, attach my visa and send us on our way. As we crossed the bridge and drove into Canada, I tried to grasp that I was driving home. To my new home.

It was mid-afternoon when we crossed the border, but already growing dark as is common in Canada in late November. We pulled into Ottawa as snow softly fell from the sky during rush hour traffic. It was another really beautiful sight to see on a day that was very surreal for me.

Ten years ago today I moved to Canada. To spend my life with the man I love.

Inconsolable

I asked if you wanted to come downstairs with mommy and when you immediately got distressed, I knew this day was off to a rough start.

Your daddy took over, holding you close and speaking soft, comforting words in your ears. When it was time to go he carried you down the stairs, despite your cries of protest. As he helped you put on your jacket, you raised the level of objection, making it known that you were not in favor of going out.

I thought this mood would pass. You’ve had bad mornings before. You get over it quickly.

But I was wrong.

With every building and intersection we passed, I wondered when you’d finally relax and settle. Just when I thought it was happening, you noticed it was nearly time for me to leave.

Your greater awareness of surroundings is both a blessing and a curse.

My heart broke as I saw your face contort in grief that Mommy was about to leave.

All you wanted was a day at home with us. All I wanted was to give that to you.

Instead, I let go of your hand, kissed your forehead and walked to the bus, the echo of your cries in my ear.

That’s how I left you.

Inconsolable.

30 Days of Truth

Photo Credit: Kym Shumsky (Relishing.ca)For the past few weeks, the pause button has been depressed on my blog. I’ve been on the cusp of many changes and dealing with other stressful situations so there hasn’t been as much time to spend blogging and I’ve gotten a little out of practice. At first when I started seeing this meme popping up, I didn’t really want to participate, but…

I need a challenge to get my head back into blogging again and this is going to be a pretty good one for me, because I’ll have to think pretty hard about how I want to write about some of these things. I may have a blog, but I still consider myself a private person. There is much that I do not and will not share in this space.

Have no fear - I won’t be posting every day. I’ll probably post other content in between these posts, but one-by-one I’ll write about each of these things until I have bared my soul online. Just kidding - that’s not gonna happen, but you will know me better by the end.

Day 01 - Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 - Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 - Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 - Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 - Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 - Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07 - Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Day 08 - Someone who made your life hell, or treated you badly.
Day 09 - Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 - Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
Day 11 - Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 - Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13 - A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough days. (write a letter.)
Day 14 - A hero that has let you down. (letter)
Day 15 - Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 - Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17 - A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 - Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 - What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 - Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21 - (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 - Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
Day 23 - Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 - Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
Day 25 - The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 - Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 - What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 - What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 - Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 - A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself.