Empathy over Evaluation

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”.jpg

 

Jiddu Krishnamurti said

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”

As complicated humans this takes more practice than you would think. We’re a species with a broad range of emotions and thoughts that tends to see the world in black and white, good and bad, right and wrong. How can we be so complex but think that there is only one right way to do anything? Why do we end up thinking the “right way” is whatever we do?

I am so tired of seeing people self-validate their life choices by holding them up to another person’s choice and proclaiming them wrong. I’ve done this. You’ve done this. We’re all guilty of passing judgement on a situation we’ve never had to personally be involved in.

We are ALL just a couple of steps away from falling. We are  ALL a situation away from walking in the shoes that we looked at with contempt.

A lay-off away from welfare.
An illness away from bottle feeding.
An addiction away from having a wayward teen.
A death away from grief.

And on and on and on.

We can change. We can consciously decide that when presented with a situation that we’ve never been through instead of saying “That’s not what I would do!” we instead feel thankfulness we haven’t had to make that decision.

Yet.

 

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More Than ‘Mom’

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Being a Mom is simultaneously the best and most heartbreaking thing
I’ve ever done. The best because I have loved harder in the last five
years than I have my entire life. Heartbreaking because it makes me
more vulnerable than I’ve ever been (and because I’ve touched more
poop than I ever had). Before kids I thought breakups, and friend
fights, and losing a job was hard. After having a child I saw the
bigger picture. From the little things like schooling and if they were
hitting their milestones soon enough to the bigger worries and
heartbreaks like SIDS and childhood cancer, one thing was clear. I
wasn’t fully prepared for the love and anxiety that came with having
kids and I had no idea how absolutely consuming parenthood actually
was.

I realized, of course, that becoming a Mom would be life changing. I
knew that my life would be different. I had no idea, however, that
once one has children, ones life can seem to fall into a prewritten
supporting actress category. I didn’t realize that as a Mom I would be
bombarded with media telling me what I should like now (for the record
that’s wine, yoga pants, and weird wraps that supposedly suck your fat
out). I didn’t hear what the wise women were saying when they talked
about how as Mom’s we still had to take time for ourselves. It’s not
about getting a break from the kids, its about staying in touch with
who we are. When my kids were newborn I was, as we all are, consumed
with simply keeping them dry and fed. As they grow there are small
moments of down time appearing that could be used for whatever I like.
But who am I if I’m not being a Mom? Isn’t it selfish of me to want to
do things just for me when I can’t even seem to do all the things I
want to with them?

The most common anxiety for a mother is probably that she’s not enough
for her kids. Doesn’t spend enough time with them. Doesn’t play enough
with them. Doesn’t do enough crafts with them. Doesn’t tell them
enough how special they are. We spend so much time trying to stifle
this anxiety that at the end of the day we sit exhausted on the couch
thinking of all the things we could be doing.  Things like reading
that book you picked up 3 years ago, making food that isn’t cut into
bite sizes, maybe spending some time in bed with your spouse NOT
sleeping (wink-wink). Instead we take a pass and go to sleep because
we know we need the energy to do it all again tomorrow.

I’m not sure when all this mom guilt started. Probably around the time
we collectively started overthinking everything. We have a ton of
information available now giving us studies and stats on everything
from the best colors to expose newborns to how messed up kids will be
if they don’t have family dinners. There is absolutely no way to do
everything “they” say is good for your child. At some point we have to
decide that love and instinct count for something and that we ARE
doing a good job because we’re doing the best we can. That needs to
include doing the best we can for ourselves. Between work and taking
care of a home and kids we forget to take care of the person that is
holding it all together.

I am  writing today to renounce the idea that self love and
preservation as a mother is somehow selfish. Everyone will benefit
from you putting yourself first. Your kids will see that your time and
interests are as important as theirs. Your spouse will see you do the
things that drew you together in the first place. Your parenting will
be complimented by the happiness that all the things you love brings
to it. So start that garage rock band, join a political campaign, do
that art project you’ve been putting off. Take a night course. Go on a
solo vacation. Say “Yes!” to that thing in the back of your mind
whispering “I wish I could…” instead of answering with a “I can’t
because I have kids.”

It’s time to get rid of the notion that we don’t deserve “me time”
because we haven’t lived up to the expectations of some make believe
Good Parenting Checklist. It’s time to make yourself a priority
because everyone around you already thinks that you are. You are a
great Mom because you are a great person. Not the other way around.

The Night He Said ‘No’ For Me

The Night I Wasn't.jpg

I woke up this morning with J on my mind. Probably a reaction to all of the articles I’ve been seeing in my newsfeed about Brock Turner and his father. Probably because it’s been about 8 or 9 years ago and is proving to be a night I’ll never forget. We’ve lost touch many years ago but I feel its a pertinent time to tell you about the night I wasn’t raped.

I’ve had a lot of wild nights. I’m sure there are some people out there that even called me promiscuous. I know I’ve drank too much because the universe is punishing me for that now and I can barely have one drink at times without feeling gross. The night I drank with J wasn’t an exception. We worked together, we were out with a group. He introduced me to Jägermeister (pause for the inaudible “Ooooh” of people now realizing my state that night) and I think I might have sang Karaoke. I knew this guy, I liked him, and I’m willing to bet that I made that very clear that evening while drinking what I kind of remember as being akin to legally served cough syrup. Fast forward to the end, and I have to because I don’t remember most of it, and he was bringing me back to my apartment. It was all going swimmingly for me, you see. I was fine with this. I was young, single, had close to zero responsibilities and felt that a woman had as much right to sex as the men who bragged about it with their buddies.

We get to my apartment. I have him in. I think I kissed him. I’m sure I was the poster child for what some people would refer to as “asking for it”. And then I passed out. I woke up a little bit later tucked in, probably still drunk. I was alone. And fine. But alone! He wasn’t waiting for me to wake up, or trying to wake me up, or worse not caring that I was passed out because I clearly “wanted it”. He drank, I drank and yet what could have happened wasn’t “inevitable” in his mind.  Even though he knew I liked him and had invited him into my bedroom and practically wrote Y-E-S on my forehead before passing out he was aware, in his drunken state, that I was in no condition to make that call. He knew that I was drunk and instead of excusing his bad behavior with that fact, he excused himself.

You want to know why this incident stuck so hard in my mind? Why I’m still thinking about it almost a decade later? It’s because most of my nights drinking with men didn’t end this way. I’ve had people put their hands on me, expect things from me,  take things from me. Most of us women have. It’s just a fact. We’re used to it. We don’t walk dark allies alone, we go to the bathroom in packs, we hold on to our glasses on the dance floor instead of sitting them on a table because we want the drink we ordered without an added surprise.

The next time someone tries to convince you rape culture isn’t real or that we are all making a big deal out of nothing,  remember J. When someone points to youth or drunkeness or how “bad” the women wanted it as an excuse for a rapist’s actions, remember J. Not just because he didn’t, but because so many did that I remember this one man with more shock and awe than I do the men who treated me wrong.

 

 

 

 

How Chrissy Teigen’s Cleavage Got Me Woke

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Urban Dictionary describes the term “woke” (as it is now alternatively used) as being aware. As knowing what’s going on in the community. Today I saw a picture and link to an article about Chrissy Teigen’s breasts that got me kinda “woke”. Along with annoyed and angry.

Don’t get me wrong, Chrissy Teigen seems like a cool lady. You know, from the internet. I’m sure she’s a lot more than the (literally MILLIONS of) articles and posts you can find on the internet written about the small bits of her life she chooses to share on social media. I’m pretty confident that she has more depth than what is shown from the various “media” outlets that follow her around like she might start shitting out diamonds and throwing them into the crowd.

But this post isn’t about what some celebrity wore last night, or even about how ridiculous I find it that normal human activities preformed by celebrities are lauded in the media to a point of embarrassment for the current state of our idea of “news”. (Ok it’s a little about that.)

Today I saw an article talking about Teigen’s breastfeeding boobs. Seriously. An article devoted to the sexualization of a new mother’s breastfeeding experience. (I’m not going to link to the article because A. I’m lazy and B. they’re not getting any of the few clicks I perhaps could provide from my humble blog.) I could write about the fact that new Mom’s have a hard enough time finding their comfort spot with breastfeeding  without their breasts being analyzed and splashed on the internet but what struck me was this is our news now. We get a lot of it from Facebook and A LOT of it is ridiculous click bait instead of informative articles that actually have some bearing on the health and well being of us and the world. You have to actually search out real issues and weed through countless articles that among other things, reduce us to a race that is concerned with how “fire our brow game is” and “how quick Ms Random Celebrity’s body bounced back after giving birth”.  I have seen maybe a couple articles about the recent Shell oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  You know, that one that leaked 90, 000 gallons of oil into the ocean about 100 miles away from a Native American community that relies on the water and land to live.

I don’t write this to say I don’t like to be entertained by the internet. I browse Facebook throughout the day. I even follow celebrities on Instagram.

The problem isn’t that we’re connected to a source of constant news, it’s not that we occasionally like to get a peek into the worlds of people that live life on a scale that we normal folks probably never will. The problem is for a while there I forgot that there were bigger issues going on until someone snapped a picture of Chrissy Teigen’s cleavage and I felt like burning my computer and becoming a recluse because obviously if this is news I don’t want to be a part of society anymore. The problem is that if you search “Chrissy Teigen baby” you’ll get around 18,100,000 results while “Shell oil spill” will glean you about 1,050,000 results. The problem is that like me, there are a lot of people out there that see the news as what is filtered through their Facebook feed unless they actively search it out for themselves. The days of watching the evening news with the family because Dad wouldn’t let you change the channel are mostly over. People buy magazines on their Kindle and newspaper sales are on the decline.

So let this be your reminder to follow your local and national news stations on Facebook. Share articles that have an impact on your life. Share articles that have an impact on someone else’s life. Teach your kids to check out a credible news source once a day before TMZ. Subscribe to a newspaper!

Yes the world can be a scary place. Sure, it’s easier to focus on the fluff. Yeah, it’s true that what you don’t know can’t keep you up at night. Just remember, however, that the solution to the worlds biggest problems may lie within a child that was exposed to actual issues rather than stories that can be consolidated into a hashtag ending with #goals.

Supermom Is Dead

Supermom

Remember when you had it all together? You know, that righteous moment of clarity before you actually had a child when you knew exactly how you were going to parent. You probably saw some screaming child in the aisle of the grocery store and sighed to yourself “If only they had someone to talk to them about their feelings or had more structure at home they would feel safe to voice their emotions without yelling.” You probably vowed to never raise your voice to your child, to always listen to them, and to never lose your cool.

Cut to 10 years later in the same grocery store and child one is pulling stuff off the shelves and throwing it into the cart on top of the bread you said you’d never buy because homemade was better for them. Child 2 is laying on the floor clutching some random overpriced supermarket toy you’d already said they couldn’t have, crying mournfully. You look to your left and someone is looking at the scene with a little horror and a lot of judgement. You feel a sting of shame until a woman with 2 kids fighting inside a cart full of diapers and a couple bottles of wine passes you with that nodding half-smile and raised eyebrows that says “I feel you!”

The day you realize that the Great Superhero Mom doesn’t exist is one of the most freeing days ever. Everyone loses their shit somewhere. At first we try to do it in private, after the kids go to bed, in the form of a bottle of wine or a cry in the shower. Then one day you meet a new friend, or happen upon an old one at the right time and they say something like “I am losing it today. This kid is driving me crazy!” and you say “I know exactly how you feel.” instead of “Have you tried this/read this book/watched this Youtube video?”

We are all losing it at times. I promise you. I had such great ideals. Then I realized that kids are individuals. Parenting “experts” don’t actually know MY children. I realized in order to reach those bigger goals like homeschooling I was going to have to give up some of the smaller less significant ones like “always keeping a clean house”. I noticed that when my kids had a day away at their grandparents I didn’t implode at not being in control, instead I was actually looking forward to seeing them when they came back. I understood that some of my stress was beyond my control and talked to my doctor about it and took appropriate actions to feel better mentally. We all need support and help and to embrace the imperfect mess that we are.

Nobody is helping anyone by pretending we all have it together. I am glad that I have a group of friends who share the bad parts of parenting with me. Not because we’re all messes, but because we’ve all realized that perfect is an illusion and Supermom is something we thought we needed to strive for before we realized it couldn’t actually be obtained.

I killed Supermom. And I regret nothing.

Neighbours

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I usually don’t talk about politics too much. I’m not as well versed in this area as some of my friends. I don’t know all the correct terms or statistics. I do know however that when it comes to Canada and the USA we have concerns. We’re aware of who is in office and who…probably shouldn’t be.

Why does Canada even care about US politics?

Why do they care about Trump? It doesn’t affect them!

American friends, it’s time to address the elephant in the room since it won’t stop “Trump-eting”.

Yes, Canadians care about your presidential candidates. Yes, we care that a very angry rich guy with extremely unsettling and ignorant views is actually being supported by some people for the 2016 Presidential Election.

Picture moving into your dream house. Everything is perfect and idyllic. There’s a garden and fairies and little toadstools made of frozen maple syrup. Sometimes a bald eagle flies overhead and we faintly hear its wings whisper “Freeedoooooom” and we know that you, our longtime friend and neighbor, are there.

Then a new neighbor moves next door into the largest and most well-known house on the street. You have hopes that they will be a good neighbor. Thoughts of shared events, interests and the bettering of both families because of this new friendship fill your head.

The u-haul opens and all that changes.

They are loud and obnoxious. They’re bigoted and racist. They’re constantly fighting with anyone who will listen. They’re involved in quarrels with other neighbors that finally come to a head. There are drive-bys and turf wars and the destruction of your perfectly manicured flower beds. You used to share so much with the old neighbor. You were there for each other when help was needed. Our commodities and interests were intermingled. No more. Finally someone lights their house on fire. That fire jumps to your house because of how close and related they are to each other. Without the support we once had with the old neighbors we’re unable to put the fire out and we both burn.

Canada cares because we’re neighbors. We don’t share the leader of our countries but we do share a border and so much more. If you need a cup of sugar (or a couple feet of snow) we’re here. We’re hoping it stays that way.

#Motherhood Series: Child Of 30

I’m over at My Mama Journey talking about being 30 and never growing up! Check it out & have a great day! xo

My Mama Journey

Child OfI am launching a bi-weekly Monday #Motherhood series. A time for us to share our stories, challenges and desires as we experience the journey of motherhood. For the launch of this series, I have the real pleasure to welcome to My Mama Journey a long time childhood friend of mine, Caffeinated Canuck.

Welcome Sarah, and thanks for sharing your story.


I am 30.

To some that doesn’t mean a lot. 30 seems young or old to other people depending on which side of the age they’re on.

To me, it’s the birthday milestone I’ve had the most trouble coming to grips with thus far. It is the age I can remember my parents at when I first thought they were “grown ups” and old (sorry Mom!).  So when I turned 30 I had a bit of a hard time wrapping my head around some things. Thoughts of mortality and…

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How to Be A Keyboard Warrior in the Mom Wars

How To Be A

There’s a dark side to the internet. Articles, commentaries and memes with smoke filled comment sections booming with the battle cries of the fiercest warriors on earth. Moms. You’ve tried so hard to avoid this, vowed you would never yield to picking up a weapon and mowing down someone’s personal thoughts with your own. Till that one fateful day someone makes an off-hand comment about being anti-vax or breastfeeding vs formula feeding and BAM! You lift your head an hour later and realize you’re smack dab in the middle of the Mom Wars.

So here you are. You’ve had the kid, you possess the unwavering opinions on subjects you may or may not have personal experience with…but how do you “win”? You feel so unprepared. It’s ok honey, I’m here. Put the baby down for a nap, stretch deep into your yoga pants and sip that latte. I’m here to tell you how to be an effective Keyboard Warrior.

Never Give Up: Like literally never, ever. No matter how knowledgeable your opponent is on the subject. No matter how many people have pointed out that you haven’t been IN their situation so you can’t possibly know what it’s like. You keep stating your point over and over until people start posting that eye roll emoji and blocking you from their page. That’s how you know you’ve really gotten through to them.

Google is Your Friend: Google will never let you down. It will always side with you. Not just anyone can google you know, and you can’t just put whatever you want on the internet so you can trust that it’s true. Say you’re trying to prove that vaccines are harmful. You just scroll right on down past all those studies of thousands of kids done by so-called “scientists” and find the ones done by tinfoil wearing conspiracy theorists. It doesn’t matter if the entire study is done based on their 4 children and the 2 neighbor kids. The truth will prevail!

Bring in the Reinforcements: That friend you had from grade school that gave her kid Tylenol for a 103 degree fever and he threw up immediately after? You tag her in this shit. That childless guy your husband’s cousin went to school with that believes doctors are all buying yachts with their Big Pharma money they receive for prescribing antibiotics? Add him to the local Mommy Group. It doesn’t matter who it is, if they believe what you do they’re 100% correct.

Never Check Your Facts: God gave you that Mommy Intuition for a reason. If you feel like someone is doing something wrong because you do it differently than for the love of self-righteousness you have an obligation to inform them their choice is wrong. Even if their way isn’t hurting anyone or detrimental to the immediate health and happiness of the child. Someday, someway, it will come back to them in therapy and prove to have been the causation of all their downfalls.

Employ Operation Compliment Sandwich: Little Timmy is looking a bit robust for his age in your cousin’s latest Facebook photo. You don’t’ want to step on any toes so you bust out the best tasting sandwich you can muster. The Compliment Sandwich. “Timmy looks soooooo cute in his little romper. Just so you know, it could be a sign of childhood obesity for him to be in 9 month clothes at 6 months. My lil guy was in average range at EVERY SINGLE WELL-BABY CHECKUP but obviously I do all organic and that helps. He’s really cute though with all those rolls!”

And there you have it. You’ve armed yourself with all the grace and tact of a Wi-Fi wielding dictator while still having the good sense to never say these things to someone’s face. I can’t say you’ll win every battle but as long as you feel confident that you’ve got your point across even when it wasn’t asked for well, that’s winning the war. Godspeed my friend.