Momfession #53: Control freak

Last night, while playing volleyball, I sprained my ankle. As soon as I landed (on a member of the opposing team’s foot, after a failed attempt to block a shot) I knew I was in trouble. The pain was so overwhelming I could do nothing but lay curled on the floor for a minute. It was the kind of pain that makes you want to throw up; anyone who has broken a limb or gone through labour knows exactly what I mean. My mind immediately started racing: what if it is broken? What if I have a cast? How will I get to work? Do I need crutches? How am I going to drop my daughter off at daycare? There’s no juice for breakfast…how am I going to go grocery shopping if I can’t walk? And on, and on.

My husband says I worry too much. That I should just relax and accept that sometimes, things just happen that I can’t control. And it is true. But when you have people depending on you, it is easier said than done. For one thing, I recently started a new job at a new company. When I say recently, I mean that today was my third day. And I have already had to take a sick day. I don’t think I have taken a sick day in over a year, and here I am, already taking time off. What must my new company think? I wonder. That I am a complete spaz? That I am one of those people who is always getting hurt? That I am a liability? Of course none of those things are true (although my spaziness is up for debate), and my new job and boss are awesome, but I still worry about the impression that this situation makes.

And then there’s the kids. Although they were really great today (K offered me her “comfy blanket” this morning and G helped me hobble around the house), I feel guilty about my state. I wasn’t able to get to the grocery store last night and they had no juice or milk at breakfast. I couldn’t carry K upstairs the way I normally do before bed. And I was extra irritable tonight with them as a result of my pain and discomfort. I felt like I failed them in the mom department today, although I am sure they didn’t notice one bit.

Maybe this is life’s way of telling me that I can’t always be the one in charge. That things will still be OK, even if I need to lean on other people for a change (literally and figuratively).That I can’t control everything, all of the time, and I need to accept that. And that worrying isn’t going to change any of that.

For me, and I think a lot of other moms, it is an extremely difficult challenge to overcome. We are used to being the ones in charge: running the household, booking the appointments, building our careers, nursing the boo-boos, setting the bedtime routines, and generally managing our lives and those of our family’s. So when I lose even a little bit of that control, I tend to panic. But in reality, any amount of control I think I may have over my life is a bit of a sham; there is really no way to control this great, crazy, unpredictable world that we live in. So why try? There are going to be sprained ankles and missed meetings, lost lunch bags and failed tests, natural disasters and financial issues, whether I like it or not. I guess I just need to put my feet up and accept the imperfection of it all.

So if you need me, I’ll be at home tomorrow, resting my ankle. I’ll be the one on the couch watching Netflix, wallowing in self-pity and cupcake crumbs.

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Momfession #52: Married with children

I’ve had several conversations lately with friends, colleagues, and even my husband around marriage. As in, what makes a good marriage? What to look for in a partner? How do you keep the marriage going through all that life has to dump on offer us? After each of these conversations, I realized something that I thought too important not to discuss. Many of us feel less-than-satisfied about our relationships from time to time. Some people suffer only the occasional relationship slump, while others are dealing with major, possibly life-changing relationship issues. But no one (that I’ve talked to, at least) has a perfect relationship situation.

So why, then, don’t we talk about it more? I find that pretending a relationship is “perfect” happens so much more often than the “perfect parenting” that I write about. On the outside, many couples look like they have it all: an amazing relationship, happy kids, a lovely home, great jobs. But no one talks about the fact that behind the closed doors of their fabulous home lie sexless nights, arguments, and feelings of dissatisfaction.

So let me be the first to admit that my relationship isn’t perfect. I love my husband dearly, and I know he loves me, but there are times when we really don’t like each other. I have a tendency to score-keep (I washed the dishes, made dinner, did two loads of laundry, and all he did was POUR THE MILK= 3-1. What an ass.) and am extremely controlling (as in, everything needs to be done the right way, RIGHT NOW). While he isn’t the greatest communicator and tends to hold grudges. Pair those awesome qualities with two children that love to argue, two full-time jobs, finances to manage, a four bedroom house to clean, dance/karate/swimming/therapy appointments, and a cat that lives to piss us off (literally), and you end up with some not so great moments. There are many nights when we sleep in separate rooms, often with one or more children by our side. We often go days without having a real conversation. I sometimes feel like I haven’t really looked at my husband in a very long time. And sex? It comes and goes, mostly depending on how exhausted I am from the day’s activities.

It might sound like a pretty dismal circumstance, to an outsider. But I am pretty sure that these are all things that most married couples with kids could attest to. Marriage isn’t easy, and once you have kids, forget about it. Life is no longer about you as a couple; it is about you as a family. And often times, the couple part gets put on the back burner for a few years. I think the key to surviving the child-rearing years as a couple is to understand that it won’t last forever. I read a quote somewhere a few years ago that has stuck with me. It goes something like, the days are long, but the years are short. And when it comes to marriage and kids, that is absolutely true. I know I am going to turn around one day and my kids will be grown. I am sure I’ll be a bit saggier and my husband perhaps a bit rounder around the midsection, but we’ll be alone again. And we’ll be able to look back at a beautiful, totally fucked up life that we stumbled through together. The journey is anything but pretty, but remembering that life is not about one single bad day/week/month helps to keep me going through the rough times. And to be honest, it also helps knowing that others have dealt with similar challenges.

So that’s where you come in. Tell me I am not alone. Tell me that you and your husband/wife/partner have had similar issues. Comment below and let’s band together in our imperfect relationships. Who’s with me??

Momfession #51: It’s potty time

My daughter is exactly three years, one month, and 24 days old. And until yesterday, we had never seriously attempted to potty train her. Sure, she’s pooed on the potty a few times; which mostly consisted of catching her in the crouching-quietly-behind-the-living-room-curtains act, quickly carrying her to the bathroom, and plopping her down on her Dora potty seat. But that was the extent of it. Whenever we’d mention the word “potty”, she’d scream and writhe on the floor. When we asked her if she had to pee, she would run away shouting, “Nooooo!”. So, I chalked it up to her being extremely stubborn and decided that she would let me know when it was time. While all of my mommy friends talked about their little ones using the potty, I (somewhat shamefully) admitted that we weren’t even close with K. When I would see kids a full year younger than her asking to use the potty, I would point them out and say, “See K? That little girl uses the potty…don’t you want to?” (to which she would cross her arms, scowl and say, “NO! I NOT WANT TO!”). But although I was slightly embarrassed about it in social situations with other moms and kids, I was actually pretty OK with the no potty thing, and I wasn’t sure why.

This weekend, K went cold turkey. We took away the diapers, put on some princess underwear and hoped for the best. And except for a few accidents (she peed on Mike while at the park, and peed on the basement stairs), she was fine. She went from screaming and running away from the bathroom to peeing on command in a short 24 hours. I could see how proud she was of herself; she wouldn’t let me help her with the toilet paper, or her pants, and she even brought her favourite doll into the bathroom to show her how it’s done. And I was proud too; although I knew there were kids much younger mastering the same skill as my three-year-old, I was still absolutely blown away at how quickly she caught on.

Last night, after the kids went to bed, my husband and I were talking about how proud we were of our little girl and the progress she had made. All of a sudden, I burst into tears. Right then and there, it hit me. My baby was no longer a baby. She was becoming a beautiful, independent, smart, awesome little person that needed her mommy just a bit less every day. And as proud as I was of her, it was also heart wrenching. As I blubbered about time moving too fast, and my little girl growing up, my husband calmly said, “but Col, that’s a good thing.” And he’s right; it IS. It is a good, beautiful, amazing experience to see your children flourish before your eyes. But for this mommy, it’s also bittersweet.

So perhaps that’s why I wasn’t too bothered by the lack of potty training success up until this point. Maybe a part of me wanted to keep her diapers, as a last-ditch effort to keep my baby a baby just a little bit longer. A subconscious attempt to grab onto time and slow it down, just a little, until I felt ready to have a “big girl”. Completely unrealistic, and totally selfish, but it’s the truth.

On the bright side, I’m going to save a lot of money not buying diapers. Which will come in handy, as I think I am going to have to step up my weekly wine consumption. This parenting thing is a freaking emotional rollercoaster sometimes!