1st Day of Kindergarten for SAHMs (Stay At Home Moms)

Can we just freeze time? Just for a little while? At this very moment?

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Yesterday, as my boy played for hours at his happiest place, I watched with such a heavy heart… this is it. This is his last day on the beach before he takes his first steps into independence, before he lets go of my hand for the first time in his life… on Tuesday he starts kindergarten.

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I already did this once. His big sister starts 7th grade next week, but 8 years ago when she started it just wasn’t the same. It didn’t hurt so much. It didn’t fill me with so many “what if’s”, it didn’t make me question everything I have done for the last 4.5 years.

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You see, this time, I’m a stay at home mom. With this little guy I stopped working to give birth to him and I have never been back. For 4 years we have spent all our days together; we frequent all the local Mommy&Me groups, indoor playgrounds, the mall, the fire station. For 4 years we have been partners on a full time adventure.

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Tomorrow, our adventure ends. Tomorrow I won’t constantly be beside him anymore, and I never will be again. Tomorrow he starts his education adventure. For the next 20 years I will only get him during the evenings & weekends, and once those 20 years are up – he’ll be a grown man. He’ll be nearly the age I am now.

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And maybe I’m crazy, but I feel that as a stay at home mom, the day your child goes to school for the first time- is the biggest milestone of all. It’s the biggest life change we will encounter as a team. From this day there’s no going back- he will enter his own life, as an individual. And all I can do is pray that I have prepared him. Pray that he is ready. Pray that he will be happy, caring, compassionate, empathetic… Pray that the other kids (and teachers) will love him and see what I see. Pray that he doesn’t feel lonely. That he fits in, and is simultaneously proud to stand out. Pray that he comes to me still; for comfort, for fun, for love…

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Tomorrow is the biggest day in his little life so far. He is ready & he will excel. I just hope that I can do the same.

Hey Judgy-Moms; A Note About my Wild Child

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My boy.

I know very well that he is a handful. I know that he’s too loud, I know that he’s rambunctious, I know that he has the loudest never ending temper tantrums, I know that I usually have to tell him the same thing 64 times before he will listen, I know that he’s a boundary pusher, and a limit tester, I know that he is hyperactive, whiney and bossy.

And you’ve made it clear that you know these things too…

But you know what you don’t know? You don’t know that he just turned 4- that impulse control for some 4 year olds is developmentally impossible in certain moments. You don’t know that he is the most sensitive and emotionally connected boy I have ever known. You don’t know that he fiercely protects his sisters, and that being close with his family and friends is his most treasured moments in life. You don’t know that he is the most caring and kind boy; that he will take the shirt off his back for another child who is being left out. You don’t know that he tends to be left out, that he is naive and gets taken advantage of by other children. You don’t know that he’s anxious and timid. You don’t know that cuddling is his favourite thing to do, and that he wouldn’t hurt a fly. You don’t know that he’s an awesome athlete, and that when it comes to sports he’s a team player, and often the only kid on the field listening to the coaches instructions. You don’t know that his memory is absolutely incredible, that he is an artist, and that if he is given the right tools he plays quietly and independently for hours on end. You don’t know that he is surrounded by only girls in every aspect of his life. You don’t know that his perseverance, his stubbornness, his ability to recognize his strengths are exactly what will one day make him very successful.

As a Child Development Specialist, I can confidently confirm that children become what they are told they are. If you tell a child over and over that he is bad, weak, crazy… he will certainly grow to be all of those things.

You also don’t seem to know that his mama is trying. That I work tirelessly day and night to keep him on his best behaviour. That I am desperate to understand all of his big emotions… that I never let him get off with anything of importance, but that I absolutely have to choose my battles. You don’t seem to recognize that I can’t handle being constantly flooded with the negatives about someone I love so much, and something I work so hard on… I so desperately need positivity, just like he does.

This boy is my “karma child”. He’s the middle child, just like me… and he’s the one who came along when I was the judgy-mom, just like you.

And you know what else? Above all, he’s the owner of my heart.

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Tell Me it Gets Easier… Even if you Have to Lie.

On My Instagram Account , I recently made a post that briefly spoke about children being mean to their Moms:

…As expected, as a public blogger, I got some interesting feedback. However, there was one comment that stood out:

“Just wait until they get older! 😂

I cannot comprehend this response. This is the favourite response of so many women, when another woman is feeling defeated.

“I’m so pregnant I can’t sleep”

“Oh just wait until the baby is here, then you’ll know ‘no sleep'”

“I’m pregnant with baby #2 and I’m starting to wonder how I will juggle it all”

“Two kids, and two hands! Three kids is when it gets hard!”

“Oh no, my baby can crawl- I seriously need to baby proof everything!”

“You think he gets into everything now, just wait until he can walk!”

“The ‘terrible twos’ are completely draining me”

“Twos are nothing- wait until he’s three!”

“It’s like she turned 8 and got this serious attitude problem, I don’t know what to do with her anymore”

“Oh trust me, just wait until she’s a teenager, that’s when she’ll get a real attitude!”

Are you seeing the trend here?

Why on earth is it so natural to women to hear another woman’s struggle and tell them it will only get worse?

It’s time for women to be more aware of this. When a fellow Mom is complaining/explaining/commenting on her current struggle, PLEASE for the love of God recognize her struggle. Acknowledge her struggle. Relate to her struggle. And do not do not do NOT defeat her, one-up her, by telling her that she hasn’t even began the hard stuff yet.

I have wracked my brain and thought about this from every angle… and I have compiled a small list of truly the only reasons for women to reply to other women like this:

1) They are miserable. They hear that someone else is having a hard time and jump for joy, and rub it in that they are not alone.

2) They are determined to push the struggling woman over the edge. They hear her upset, see her struggle and think “hmm, how could I make this just a little worse for her?… oh right! I can tell her that things will never get better, infact they’ll get worse!”

3) They are rude, mean people and just want to laugh at and hurt someone.

4) They are actually completely clueless that they are doing this, are going to read this article and become a lot more aware of it, and learn to support fellow moms, instead of bringing them down.

Here’s the thing, sometimes it’s true! Sometimes when you hear someone complaining about a current situation, you truly know that it is going to get worse for them. But you know what else is true? That motherhood can be totally different for each woman. That somethings that are easy for you, are difficult for someone else… that every mother and every child is completely different, and truly it’s impossible to compare!

… please, next time a Mom confides in you that she is having a hard time, Tell her it will be okay, tell her you understand, tell her it will get easier … even if you have to lie.

8 Must Know Tips for Family Camping

I can’t tell you how many people question our sanity when I tell them that all three of our children started camping in the first 3 months of their lives; our youngest went on her first trip at just 3 weeks old!

For us, camping is an absolute getaway. We work all winter to camp all summer! But over the 15 years of avid camping (13 of which have been with babies and children), we have learned a lot about what makes camping enjoyable for the family as a whole.

Listed below are 8 tips to take with you on your next camping trip.

1) Privacy

Make sure you have your own space; for us this means as many trees/coverage as possible… Provincial parks (for those of you in Canada) are a great place to start. Make sure you know a little bit about the park, and especially the sites within the park. Don’t get caught up in privately owned parks (not all private parks are bad- but many are) that leave you and hundreds of fellow campers in a field with no trees and no individual boundaries. Not only will this potentially leave you camping with a pile of drunken teenagers, but you will also never get a chance to sit down and relax while your children play on your own site.

2) Give yourself lots of time.

This is something that took us way too many years to figure out. It’s so easy to get overexcited and want to start your camping adventure as soon as possible- but if leaving today means you won’t arrive until it’s dark, wait until the morning! The best camping trips start out on a great note- and arriving in the darkness, and trying to set up site while your children cry and you can’t see what’s going on or where anything is, is certainly not the best start. Not to mention that blowing up air mattresses, or yelling while you try to guide your husband and the trailer into the site at midnight, is not appreciated by camping neighbours who have arrived before you.

3) Meal Plan

Make it fun, but keep it simple!

You don’t need to decide exactly what you are eating on each day, but instead, count how many dinners, lunches and breakfasts you will have on the trip. Determine what you will have for each meal, and don’t over shop (especially if you are tent camping!) – Once you are on site you can decide which days you are eating which meals- for us this often depends on weather; i.e. if it’s a cold or wet morning we will make a big breakfast, but if it’s sunny and beautiful we will eat quick in the morning and hit the beach!

We also plan 75% of our lunch meals to be eaten on the go (for us that usually means on the beach) – we don’t want to have to stop all the fun in the middle of the day to return to site and cook.

Don’t forget your favourite snacks, lots of water, and your favourite cocktail ingredients!

TIP: even with perfectly planned out meals we always end up with random leftovers. Because of this I do not plan a meal for one lunch – it’s leftover lunch!

4)Don’t rough it too much.

We started our camping journeys with a very small tent, an air mattress, and a baby bassinet. Over the years we have stepped up our camping game quite significantly, upgrading to a huge tent, then a pop up camper, and now a travel trailer/RV. We have also grown from one teenage couple into a 30-something husband and wife with three children. We have definitely learned that the easier we can make it, the more relaxing and enjoyable it is for us… but that doesn’t change the fact that our first 10+ years of tent camping were AMAZING. Just make sure you have basic essentials, a comfortable place to sleep, a decent place to shower, and a drive-up campsite!

5) Don’t look at the Clock.

Put away the rigid scheduling. Being outdoors all day long is so good for you and the kids; generally speaking the kids will fall into a pretty great schedule due to being exhausted from being active and in the fresh air all day long… But don’t stress yourself out about bed or nap times. Let the little ones nap in the stroller on the a bike or the beach, let the bigger tots skip a nap if it’s going to stop them from having fun… Let them go to bed earlier than usual, or stay up late roasting marshmallows. Camping is ALL ABOUT going with the flow!

6) Be prepared for all Weather

Regardless of the forecast, be ready for whatever Mother Nature may throw your way. Have rainsuits, extra tarps, warm hats, and of course the obvious sunglasses, sunscreen, BUG SPRAY etc. Don’t let a rainy day spoil your fun. If you show the kids how much fun it is to play in the rain, they will learn to love it… but don’t be scared to use a rainy day to explore the closest town, or get lunch at a local restaurant.

Also make sure you are prepared to keep your bed and clothing DRY! Make sure your tent is waterproof, your trailer has no leaks, bring extra tarps, and if rain is expected, setup for it before it comes.

*tip: The year we finally got a waterproof dining shelter was a game changer. It is more than worth the investment. (Trailers- awnings are key!)

7)Pack & Plan activities.

As your children grow, and get used to the camping life, keeping busy and having fun in the wilderness will come naturally to them… but to start, make sure you have fun stuff to help them fall in love with camping, and help them keep busy so that you can kick back and relax. At the start of every camp season we make a dollar store trip. We don’t skimp- we buy lots of random outdoor toys like bug catchers and water toys, and I always create what we have come to call “The Rainy Day Box” – filled with crayons, colouring and reading books and small toys- the kids are so excited for this box that rainy days turn into a good thing!

We also make sure to have glue on hand for nature crafts, a scavenger hunt prepared ahead of time, and lots of fun stuff for night; glow sticks, sparklers, lanterns etc.

8) Set Up Your Site.

Have fun, and get specific when setting up your campsite. Have different areas; i.e. cooking, washing, eating, playing etc. Make sure to have a clothesline for wet towels and clothes, and Decorate your site with lanterns, a flag, table clothes, and beautiful items your children have collected in the forest (we always have lovely children- made centre pieces on our picnic tables!).

Being well organized, and having items you need consistently readily available will make day-to-day much easier for everyone!

Don’t forget that food related items will have to be cleaned, and stored in your vehicle, trailer or high in a tree while you are not on site, or sleeping. Nothing is worse than critters (or bears!) finding your site!

*tip: if it’s in the budget to have a second smaller tent for storage, do it! Makes all the difference!

Camping is truly the best activity for people of all ages. Our children range from 12 years to 1 year old, and so far camping is truly the one activity we have discovered that is perfect for everyone.

If you are considering your first camp trip- don’t be scared! Start with these tips, and feel free to send me any more questions! I love spreading our passion for camping!!

A Story of Loss; The Reality of Early Miscarriage

Trigger warning: Miscarriage.

When I went through miscarriage I remember one thing very clearly; I remember that discussing the true details of miscarriage was taboo. I remember that I could not find any real life stories online. I remember that not until I opened up about my experience did I learn that many people I knew had endured miscarriage as well. I remember having so many questions and no answers.

As I began to recover from my loss I decided that one day I would openly write about it. I promised that I would attempt to make it easier, and more “normal” for atleast one woman in the future by being raw and honest about what really happens when you lose a baby in early pregnancy.

What I didn’t anticipate was that it would take me a full five years before I was ready to allow myself to be this vulnerable. I also didn’t realize just how therapeutic it would be for me to tell my story.

Yesterday, was April 17th.

As I curled up on the couch late last night with my husband after another busy day, he asked what the date was. I glanced down at my phone, and got choked up.

“It’s April 17th” I said.

He hugged me close.

“How did I forget? It’s the first April 17th that I missed in five years… it’s officially been FIVE years!”

But I can tell you why I “forgot”. Forgot is not the right word- because as soon as I noticed the calendar I did remember… but it didn’t weigh on my heart all day long.. I didn’t stay in bed most of the day in tears… Because I have recovered. I am okay now. Five years later and I am finally able to look back without hurting so much. It will always be a part of my journey, my heart will always feel a little heavier on April 17th. I will never be the same person I once was, But I have finally come out the other side and I’m okay.

5 years ago, I woke up 10 weeks pregnant.

But that night, I went to sleep knowing that the baby we had waited years for, would never make it to birth. His little heartbeat had stopped, and “early miscarriage” was the only diagnosis I was given.

People have this simple idea that a woman who is in her first trimester and loses a baby, wakes up one morning, learns she has miscarried her baby, and resumes previously normal life… This is simply not the case. Not mentally, but also not physically.

In recent years I am enlightened to see the recognition and understanding that some women are finally starting to receive for miscarriage. Slowly, the world is starting to realize that miscarriage is heartbreaking. That some women are affected by miscarriage for the rest of their lives. That miscarriage happens far too often, and that every person grieves this loss differently, and is entitled to do so in their own way.

You see, on April 17th I woke up and immediately felt like something was not right. I proceeded with my day, and went to work… about two hours into my day I used the washroom… and that’s when, (I’ll spare the gory details) I immediately knew that I wasn’t going to give birth to my baby that following December anymore … But this was only the beginning.

For the next 3 months I had to endure the physical loss of my baby all while trying to understand and recognize the emotional pain I thought I would never recover from.

I went to the hospital. While I was there for about 6 hours I had blood work, ultrasound etc… I was inconsiderately placed and travelled through the hospital with two other women, who also believed they were miscarrying their babies.

After some tests and a few hours, both other women were sent home. Their babies had heart beats. It was just a scare. Finally the Dr came to me and said “don’t worry! It’s very likely you just have your dates mixed up! There is no heartbeat, but we do see something; we believe that your baby is only at about 5 weeks gestation”. My mom was with me. My husband was on route to us. She grabbed my hand and smiled. But they were wrong. I knew 100% they were wrong.

I went to the bathroom again, and sure enough, there he was. He looked just like the pregnancy apps on my phone showed me. I emerged from the bathroom in a emotional state that scared hospital staff. Weak in the knees I collapsed and screamed out for my mother “please take me home!”

... I will never forgive myself for leaving him there. I will forever wish I brought him home, buried him, and planted a beautiful tree to grow forever in his memory…

The next part is a little blurry, though I do remember the hospital chaplain was sent to me- I told her I didn’t want to see her.. The Dr came to me again in an attempt to reassure me- my blood work looked normal for that of a 4-5week fetus. I knew that meant I had lost my baby 5+ weeks earlier.

The hospital sent me home. They told me time would tell, but because I was so certain I would get a call from the early miscarriage clinic within the next week. It’s been 5 years now and I’ve still never been called.

I went home and slept. In the pitch black, for what felt like an eternity. I cried so hard that I ran out of tears. My head started hurting so badly that I thought I was dying; Sudden massive hormone drops will do that. The next evening, my husband came home to realize I hadn’t gotten out of bed, it had been more than 24hours, he held me, he cried with me, and he took the next day off work with me…

The following day I was dizzy and not well. We went back to the hospital where they determined I was losing too much blood. They hooked me up to an IV and brought a Dr in. The Dr told me it was time to prep for a D&C.

Confusion is an understatement. It was less than 48hours earlier the same hospital insisted I was still pregnant. Today they didn’t do any tests to check the status of the pregnancy and instead insist I proceed with an invasive surgical procedure to remove anything remaining in my uterus. Suddenly I didn’t feel so confident in my beliefs that my baby was for sure gone.

What if they were right two days earlier? What if I was only 5 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby?

I begged them to give me another ultrasound, and they told me over and over again that instead I needed to just move forward with the D&C.

I explained to them that even with 100% reassurance that my baby was gone I did not want to risk a D&C. Sometimes this can cause scaring on your uterus and make pregnancy in the future next to impossible. They told me of another option: a pill that would essentially put me into labour. I opted for the pill.

I left the hospital and called my Dr. As requested he sent me for an ultrasound to confirm my heartbreak. The next day, under constant supervision of my sister and husband I would start the pill process, which would progress over the course of two days.

Those two days were challenging, painful emotionally and physically, but somewhat healing. I knew I was allowing my body to work more naturally this way, surrounded by people who loved me.

Following the two days I was sent for another ultrasound, at which time I was told I needed to do another round of the pills.

Two more days of forced “labour/delivery” and a fourth ultrasound confirmed that my miscarriage was almost complete. I could now go home for two weeks before I returned for what would be my last ultrasound confirming a completely vacant uterus.

I don’t know how to end this story, because although I am in a much better place today, for some women Miscarriage is not something they are able to fully move on from. It’s not always a story that has an ending.

For me I did move on to get pregnant the following July. My son, my rainbow baby and my second earthside baby was born 3 months later than the baby I lost was meant to be born. I feared the entire pregnancy that when he was born I would struggle all over again with the loss, but instead it brought me quickly to the realization that without the loss I never would have met my Rainbow-Boy. And I need this boy in my life more than anything I can explain.

Stay strong Mamas. If you are or have experienced a miscarriage remember that you are not alone.

And please, if you are supporting a mother who is dealing with loss, don’t say the overused line “everything happens for a reason”, because sometimes it takes a lifetime to find the reason, and sometimes we never know the reason.

Once Upon a Time… I was a Teen Mom

Once upon a time… I was a teen mom.

And not the MTV kind of teen mom. There were no cameras… in fact, I didn’t even have enough money to buy a camera before my baby was born.

I was 18 years young when, after 36hours of labour (and brutal ageist discrimination by medical personnel- something I will discuss in a later post), I delivered my baby girl… That was over 12 years ago now.

I once had a college professor who proclaimed “there is no such thing as a teen mom. Once a woman becomes a mother she is no longer a teenager.” I believed this wholeheartedly.

At age 20 I entered college as a mature student. I never got the chance to finish highschool, but managed to excel and graduate at the top of my class from my diploma program, giving me entrance to a bachelors degree program, which I also completed at the top of my class.

I spent almost 5 years in college and university – I graduated with an early childhoood education diploma, and a bachelors degree in child development. I fought for 5 years for teen mothers. I stood up to every professor who included “teenage parents” in the list of red flags for children. And I was convincing. More than once I had professors who had been teaching the same thing for 20years change their mind, and decide that being born to a teenage parent was not a risk factor; I personally convinced them that age was no factor. That a woman at 18, and a woman at 38 both are equally unaware of what motherhood truly is, what it takes to be a good mother, until she gives birth to her first child.

You see, as far as teen parents are concerned, I was as good as they come. I got pregnant by my highschool boyfriend. He didn’t leave. We got our own apartment, we supported ourselves and our baby independently with hard work a perseverance. We did not use the welfare system or any other government assistance, except for help with childcare costs. Something that I only received because I personally wrote a letter to our local government explaining who we were – and explaining that my only hope in the world was to do better for our daughter- I wanted to work full time until I was old enough to go to post secondary as a mature student. And I did just that.

When our daughter was 3, we were married, and when our daughter was 5 we had moved up enough in the world that we we no longer qualified for student loans, or childcare subsidy, and we had enough savings to purchase our first home.

I stood by my beliefs that age was no matter when it came to being decent parents. Rather, it was the choice of the individuals… and then, at age 27 I gave birth to our second child.

That’s when my thought process completely changed.

In raising our next two children I started recognizing the massive differences in being a mother in my late twenties/thirties and being a mother as a teenager.

What it comes down to, is that no matter how great a teen mother is doing, there is no denying the fact that she missed a massive part of her life. Her brain skipped an entire portion of development. She missed learning lessons. She missed taking risks.I learned more from my daughter in those early years than I think she will ever learn from me.

A woman who becomes a mother before she became an adult missed determining who she is as an Individual, and what her personal goals, desires and future prospects would be. This is fine for the first few years of motherhood, but eventually this will cause a mother to go one of two ways: 1) to get stuck in a job/town/relationship which she can do much better than, or, 2) she will get a several years into motherhood and become so determined to figure out what she needs as a person that she is overwhelmed, lost, and feels so far behind that it hurts.

A good teen mother dives into motherhood with every ounce of her being, and becomes “mom” before she ever gets the chance to become anything else. Without realizing it, she raises a child who views mothers as only mothers.

I was judged so harshly. Both by people who knew me, and by complete strangers who had the nerve to question me and my abilities as a mother. I refused to leave the house unless my daughter was dressed impeccably well… and always ensured that I was not dressed as well as her, because I wanted to make sure that all those staring and gawking full grown adults would be able to tell that I always put her needs above mine. Without even realizing it, I was teaching my child that appearance is everything. That we cared a lot about what everyone else thought about us. I taught her to be anxious and worried about other people’s opinions.

Being a teen mom meant that I was constantly on a mission to do one thing: figure out how to give my child the best life. This is an obvious thing for any parent to do, but when you’re a teen parent, you are being told by individuals, and society as a whole, that you can’t do a good job, and so it turns into a mission to prove to everyone else that not only can you do it, but that you can do it better than anyone could imagine. This meant that no matter what we had, I always needed more. No matter what I accomplished, it wasn’t enough. Without realizing it I taught my daughter to be unappreciative of what we had. I taught her that more was never enough, and I taught her that everything was a competition.

Being on such a constant kick to prove that I could do better also caused me to begin to develop extreme anxiety. Which became a normal emotion, a normal presence to my daughter, who also now has anxiety.

I was obsessed with ensuring that my child would not go without. And I couldn’t find a perfect medium, instead I worked my butt off to ensure that I could give her anything she asked for. I spoiled her with material things. Creating a child who thinks she is entitled, and should be able to have whatever she wants regardless of surrounding circumstances.

When you welcome your first child into your life before you are established in your life, you are constantly on the go to further yourself. You are rarely relaxing or taking in those precious moments. You are also so young that you don’t truly realize yet how fast life goes, and how precious those moments truly are. Forgetting to teach the child the value of treasuring the little things and moments, and failing to teach the child the true importance of relaxation, and being calm.

… and I was a “good teen mom”… I was that teen mom who beat all the teen mom statistics…

No matter how great of a teen mom a child has… there are definitely “risk factors”, simply because of the age of the mother. It’s truly hard to say who is at more risk in some regards; the mother, or the child…

At 12 years my child is doing incredibly well. She has a bright future undeterred by some personal setbacks, as well as the setbacks that came from me being her teen mother.

In reality though, she is doing so well despite what I have done for and provided her with thus far into life … but then again, maybe that’s the case with all children, regardless of the age of their mothers…?…

📸: Maranda Daubert