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.

 

Advertisements

More Than ‘Mom’

More Than-Mom-.jpg

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.

How Chrissy Teigen’s Cleavage Got Me Woke

How Chrissy Teigen's Cleavage Got Me Woke (1).jpg

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.

Neighbours

Neighbours.jpg

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.

Finding My Neverland

Finding My Neverland

Do you remember what it was like to be free?
A child’s freedom is tangible, infectious, and enviable.
A child’s joy is not confined by social boundaries or expectations. It runs on happiness and curiosity and slows only to give way to wonder.

image

When did we lose that exuberance for life? Why did we listen when the unspoken voice of society told us to “sit down, shut up and act our age?

Somewhere along the journey from our wide-eyed childhood, someone taught us what fat meant. Said no one too many times. Broke our hearts.
We learned about violence and prejudice. About expectations and acceptable behavior.
We became cynical and cautious in order to protect the spark of joy we still had deep inside.

My hope is that we learn to get it back. That we will play with our children and see the world through their eyes. That we will put aside caution and social expectations and instead find that  spark and fan it till it’s a wildfire burning away the boundaries we’ve set for ourselves.

Life is too short not to find the magical. Too hard not to strive to find as much happiness as possible. Too precious to walk a path made for us, instead of carving out our own.

Too wonderful not to enjoy.

I don’t want to grow up any more. I want to grow down. I want to see the world through the undiluted eyes of a child. I want to be happy.

I want to be free.

5 Situations That Make a Socially Awkward Mom Cringe

5 Situations That Make A (2)

Do you shudder at the thought of large crowds? Come home after events and analyze every meaningful conversation that you had till you’re convinced people think you’re crazy? Do you identify with the Socially Awkward Penguin meme so much that you’re convinced you should just move to Antarctica? If so, you might be socially awkward and being at these 5 places probably drives you batty.

1. Doctor’s Appointments: From the time you find out you’re pregnant to all the well-baby checkups that first year, the doctor’s office is your new home away from home. It’s not bad enough that they pack you into a tiny waiting room like a bunch of hugely pregnant sardines. No, people also have to chat. Polite chitchat is not your friend. It starts out fine but then your mouth starts talking faster than your brain can complete thoughts. It’s hard to get your foot in your mouth with the huge belly but you manage it every time.

2. Playdates: If they’re coming to your house you’ll clean for days before hand in preparation for tiny hands to mess things up. If you’re going to theirs you’ll worry about having to make conversation and if the other Mom’s will think you’re weird. Your child will inevitably recruit other kids and start a small riot and you’re left wondering if she’s the “bad kid” or “gang leader” in the other parent’s minds. After mulling it over for months you chalk it up to youthful curiosity and fun and hope you get invited back again. Not because you want to go, but because that would mean you haven’t been blacklisted.

3. Waiting in Line: There’s someone behind you. There’s someone in front of you. Do you stare off into the distance? Should you mention how nice the weather is? Oh God, my child just asked that woman what the mole on her face is. Maybe I can just go on my phone…oh great I just realized I’ve been standing here laughing at stupid Facebook messages. I look like a wingnut! I’ll just talk to my kids like a really attentive Mom. Nobody can find fault in that surely. I’m just here to do some banking, this is too much!

4. Birthday Parties: I’m not sure what age you’re supposed to just drop them off and leave but someone needs to establish a number quick! Should I socialize with the other Mom’s? I don’t wanna. Follow my kid around to make sure he doesn’t break anything? Awkward. Just give me a freaking hotdog and some cake so I have something to do with my hands and people will leave me alone. If you’re lucky that one Mom you get along with is also there and you can follow her around like a lost puppy piggybacking on her good manners. Why don’t they serve wine at these things?

5. School Committees: If you’re on one of these babies it’s probably because you’ve been “volun-told”. Someone volunteered you for the job. You now hate them with a passion equaled to the burning fire of a 1000 suns. (You’ll get yours Cindy. The zoo trip is coming up and I feel your arachnophobia makes you well suited to take the kids through the spider exhibit.) You can sit around meetings quietly listening and risk the group thinking you’re not helping. Or you can throw out some ideas and risk being the “bossy” one. Dear God these need to come with a manual. Or be done via text because it’s easier to cringe and hate myself after I speak without anyone seeing me.

The Big Box Mom’s Club

The

We all love a good big box store. Be it Walmart, Target or Costco you have those aisles memorized and know exactly where to go to get what you want. You can find pretty much anything you need in one store, and even more stuff that you don’t. These shopping giants are highly appreciated and frequented by Moms who know the appeal of not having to usher kids in and out of multiple stores. On any given visit you’re sure to find:

The Solo Mom: She did it. She broke free for the highly coveted sacred hour of shopping sans kids.  You can tell she’s a Mom by the look of pure exhilaration on her face and and the way she keeps turning her head suddenly as if looking for a missing kid. Her cart is filled with necessities she forgets on most other trips because of whining to visit the toy aisles and a couple guilt-gifts for the kids to make up for being left at home.

The Birthday Party Mom: It’s 15 minutes before a birthday party for which she found a crumpled invite an hour ago in her kids backpack. Standing in the toy aisle with a frantic look in her eyes she scans the birthday boy’s Mom’s Facebook for any hints of toy obsessions the kid might have. A look of “screw it” flashes across her face as she grabs playdough and a a coloring book and beelines it to the gift wrapping aisle. Her child marches complacently beside her with a look of fear in his eyes and “If you make one wrong move in here you’re not going” and “I can’t believe you knew about this for 2 weeks” ringing in his ears.

The Social Butterfly Mom: This mom came for toilet paper but stayed for the party. She knows someone in every aisle and stops to talk to each and every one of them. This is her only adult interaction for the week and she’s going to make the most of it. The kids graze on food samples and play with toys she’ll later put back on the shelf while Mom tells the story about her sisters-husband’s-cousins divorce for the 4th time to the lady that works at the post office.  4 hours later at home, she realizes they’re still out of toilet paper and there’s $50 of small items the kids stashed in the diaper bag that she accidentally stole.

The Ultimate Sale Shopper Mom: She hits the discount racks HARD. There’s no way she’s fitting herself and 2 kids into that tiny-ass fitting room. If that medium doesn’t fit her 5 year old it’ll fit the baby in 4 years. When she finds something for herself she tries it on over her clothes standing in the aisle while giving side-eye to anyone who glances her way. There is a palatable “This one is MINE” vibe in the air. This mom is the one who holds up the line while the cashier has to price check half her stuff because “The Sign Said…”. Your aggravation gives way to awe when she walks out of the store with $400 worth of stuff for $75.

The Essentials Mom: She has the best intentions of a quick one-stop-shop. She marches through the aisles with determination and fresh-out-of-school children on short legs struggling to keep up behind her. Her list includes dinner ingredients and Popsicle sticks for a school project due tomorrow that she just heard about. “I just came in for 3 things!” you can hear her whisper in bewilderment, as she wheels an overflowing cart out the door.

The Unicorn To-Do List

The Unicorn To-Do List

There is a list of things, floating aimlessly in my head, that are just never going to happen. This list of “to-do” is about as mythical as a unicorn in the fact that it seems plausible, possible, but will never exist except in my imagination.  I’d need a fairy god-mother to accomplish all of this and they tell me those are mythical too. So is it not destined to be? Or should I keep on my magical quest to…

Do ALL The Laundry: Every single piece, folded and sorted into each person respective drawer.

Not. Gonna. Happen. By the time I give up for the day there’s still that weird stuff on the bottom of the laundry room floor like Elsa Costumes and baby bathing suits and then there’s the off season stuff that wasn’t as high on the priority list as underwear. Plus if you do get close to that shiny golden last load, your child will then decide to play dress up AND Spaghetti Restaurant at the same time. Boom! You’re back up to 3 loads.

Have the Whole House Clean & Tidy: All rooms, including the Laundry room. (You can see how this is failing already.)

This is probably possible if you do not have children. Or a husband. If you do, than you probably know no matter how clean and tidy it looks to guests, there’s one room upstairs with the door shut that you delegated the “clutter” room soon before every one arrived. You had the best intentions but by the time you got the kitchen cleaned the living room had took on all the new toys the kids found when you cleaned their rooms…and so you just scoop that shit into a laundry basket and hope nobody opens your bedroom door when they go to the bathroom. (Sidenote: Why do we worry about this? Who are we inviting over that snoops behind closed doors? Medicine cabinet maaaybee…but opening doors?)

Finishing My Book: I really want to read this trilogy before the movies become classics.

Yeah.freaking.right. Look, I have 2 kids and I KNOW they reach an age where they are a bit more independent and don’t rely on your for every single thing. For me, 0-2 has never been that age. There is so much crap going on in my head just trying to keep Kid 1 from maiming Kid 2 and Kid 2 from maiming herself (we’ve hit the biting and climbing stages at the same time, how’s that for fun?) that I’m lucky to read a few blog posts over the span of a day. They do finally go to bed but I’m so exhausted from Maim-Watch 2015 that I don’t want to use my brain for anything other than eating something without sharing or watching Netflix on my phone while lying in bed.

Freezer Meals: Life would be so much easier if I could just grab something and throw it in the crockpot every afternoon.

Wouldn’t it though?! This would require the chopping and preparing of many things, bagging it, labeling, and placing them all in the freezer. It all seems easy enough in a Pinterest Pin but I can’t tell you the last time I didn’t forget something at the store. I’d get started and need another ingredient (or 10). Plus the kids would surely need to eat at the exact moment they see/smell I’m making these meals and wouldn’t get that they’re not for today. “Really Mom? You’re cooking food and we can’t have any of it? We’re hungry today, not tomorrow.” So then I’d be making a regular meal along with the freezer meal. Also I’d eat half of everything before it even reached the bag.

So many Unicorns, so little time. What is on your Unicorn To-Do list?

To The BCW On His Birthday

HOUSE

It’s the Bearded Computer Wizard’s Birthday!  (Aka my husband person)

So listen up, hubs.

I thought I’d take a minute to tell you Happy Birthday and I hope you have a great day.  I still enjoy spending time with you after multiple birthdays together which blows my mind. The only other person I’ve tolerated this long is my Mother and that’s partly because she will chase.me.down. (I’m kidding, Mom. I love you. BFF’s forever and all that.)

I also wanted to let you know the following things will happen/not happen today because its YOUR day.

-I’m sure you noticed you did not have to get up in the night with the baby.

-I will cook all the meals today.

-I will commission my mother to make you that Cappuccino Cheesecake you like so much.

-When you’re eating your dinner I will be the one to get up and get the kids drinks.

-No cleaning for you! I will do the housework today.

-I will give you pre-approved nerdy gifts that I ordered online.

…I just realized something.

It’s your birthday a LOT! Like, a good 360 days a year.

That’s just how special you are I guess!

Seriously though. I am grateful for all you do, and that you have allowed me to choose my role in the family. (Yes, I just thanked my husband for letting me be a SAHM. It’s a choice I wanted, we  made, and he supported so I am appreciative of his work to make that happen.)  I’m proud of how you support women’s choices and know you will help raise awesome girls.  I’m proud of you for shaping your life into something you wanted. It makes me happy that you support my “writing” and make sure I always have the best tools to do so.
There’s nobody else’s crap that I would want to put up with in the WHOLE WORLD. (Except maybe Thor or Khal Drogo or that guy from Mad Max: Fury Road, but I think you’re safe from their competition. Plus that would be like a “Brother Husband” situation cause I STILL couldn’t give you up.)

So Happy Birthday, and try not to exert yourself too much today. Its hard work growing that beard being so awesome.
The girls and I love you!