Eleven…and all that comes with it

Eleven years ago I became a mama. It was a crazy time – a total whirlwind that felt like a blur at the time and even more of one looking back on it now.

I had always wanted kids – dreamed of being a mother – and in all of those dreams I had a little girl. So when my first little girl arrived in her dramatic and unexpected way – I was so relieved. This was my literal dream come true.

And having one little girl (and then two!) has been a joy. It has lived up in so many ways to my lofty ideals. It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses of course…but for the goods have far, FAR outweighed the bad.

Now that little girl of mine – the one that first made me a mother – is officially a tween and well on her way to full teenager-hood. And I find myself unprepared.

Not so much for the fact that puberty is on the horizon but for the fact that she is no longer a child. It feels like it happened in an instant.

She gets things now that she didn’t use to. She understands nuances and subtleties in conversation that oh so recently went right over her lovely little blonde head.

Our conversations are much more profound and complex. Her friendships are evolving and changing and emotions are running high.

Boys factor in.

She feels things so deeply and wounds so easily. Her ego is growing faster than I am able to try to temper it.

She is making decisions now that could affect the rest of her life. She is making choices that have much longer reaching implications.

I remember turning eleven. I can remember my school and my house and my friends and my interests. What I don’t remember is feeling any more mature or grown up. I don’t think I even realized that it was a time of great change and evolution for me.

But it was of course. Just like it is for my girl.

And while I am loving the woman that I can see her becoming and feel great pride in the fact that I have helped to mold and shape her…I can’t help but feel like stopping time.

To go back to when she was just a little girl, climbing into my lap with a book, snuggling into me with her lamby and blankie in hand and saying “read to me mummy.”

For now I will just enjoy the fact that she still holds my hand out in public and says “I Love You” in front of her friends at school.

Eight.

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Today my baby girl turned 8. I can’t believe how fast time has flown.

Raising kids is scary. It’s so easy to mess them up. So easy to let them down.

So far everything about her tells me that I must be doing something right because she is without a doubt the sweetest, kindest, gentlest soul in my world.

Her joy and laughter is infectious and her love of life is inspiring. She is fierce and strong and I can’t wait to see where she goes in life. And what she will teach the world.

I will always be here to stand behind and walk beside you. And I promise to never, ever hold you back.

Dear Youngest Daughter…

To my little T,

Today you turn 7. I can’t quite believe it. Just like when your older sister hit this age I feel the significance. It feels so much older than 6 and you have changed so much since this time last year.

You are older and wiser. I see your confidence and independence growing leaps and bounds. Your sense of humour has matured – you get things now that you never did before.  Your emotions are more unpredictable.

And yet – through all those changes – you still remain very much my baby. You still climb into my lap and ask to cuddle. You still squish my cheeks together and tell me how much you love me. You still slip your hand into mine as we walk to school.

Every one of those moments makes my heart feel more full and complete. Because there was a time that I wasn’t sure I had enough room in my heart to love you as I loved your sister. I couldn’t imagine being able to love two children that fully and completely. The thought was overwhelming.

I worried about this the whole time I felt you growing inside my tummy. Every day we got closer to your due date my concerns grew. And then you arrived – this healthy, beautiful baby girl – and I looked in your eyes and I knew I had worried for nothing. Because I loved you so fully and completely from that first moment.  And for every moment since then.

You were such a happy, content baby. So quick with your smiles and to show your love. So sweet and always ready to cuddle.

I always said you were a brand new soul – one that had never been here before and was experiencing everything for the first time. You found wonder and joy in the smallest of things and your laughter was infectious.

And then you became a toddler and your curiosity turned you into a trouble-maker. You became a rule breaker. You put yourself in time out before I could even say the words – and you enjoyed sitting there, paying your penance. Because it was totally worth it to have done whatever mis-deed earned you your place there.

But through all your changes you have never lost your smile. Your love for life. And I hope you never do.

You are such a unique little soul. Without you in my life I know I would always feel that something was missing…even if I never knew it was you.

True, you test my limits, you push my buttons, you drive me a little crazy. And there are many a time when I get angry and yell. But the other moments – the moments of love and tenderness and sweetness – are far more plentiful. And they are the ones I remember.

Happy Birthday little T. Your arrival completed our family and proved that my heart did indeed have the capacity to  grow. I will forever be grateful for that lesson and the other  lessons you continue to teach me every day.

I love you.

Love, Mummy xoxo

 

Reflecting on Valentine’s Day

Last night – lying in bed, about to turn out the light – I asked my husband “Do you remember where we were 20 years ago tonight?” 

I didn’t see the look of panic on his face but I’m sure it was there. As it is for any man when his wife starts a sentence with “Do you remember when…”

We had spent most of this Valentine’s Day apart – him working on a construction project and me handling kid duties – we had dinner as a family and got the kids into bed and then settled down to watch The Walking Dead.

So…not really a romantic evening. I wasn’t disappointed but it got me thinking about the past and what Valentine’s Day used to mean.

Because 20 years ago – on our first Valentine’s Day together – it was all about romance. We were 18 years old – oh my god! – and I was so excited that he was taking me out for a fancy dinner at the Sutton Place Hotel. (Hubby remembered by the way…phew.)

I got all dressed up, he got all dressed up, he brought me roses, he opened my car door, he held my hand as we walked into the fancy restaurant and were seated at our little corner table. It was so god damned high brow that I couldn’t quite believe we were even allowed to be there.

It was a great night. I loved every minute of it. I felt loved and happy and spoiled.

We celebrated in similar style – dinners out, roses, occasionally booking a night a swanky hotel – for many more years. And then – as they tend to do – our Valentine’s Day plans changed with the arrival of kids.

And when that happened I remember thinking that our love as a couple – and an “us” – didn’t need to be celebrated anymore. We were beyond that. Above it actually…as though with the arrival of our first born our love status was now elevated above those that were just “couples”.

I even wrote this post about the evolution of Valentine’s Day in 2013 that included this line: “Now before you feel sad for me and think the spark has gone out of my marriage…don’t worry it hasn’t. We just don’t need a specific day to say I Love You.”

Oh how wrong I was. Just a few months later I would be faced with that exact reality. That the love had gone out of my marriage and in actual fact we needed more than one specific day to say I Love You. We needed to say it just once and really mean it. Really feel it.

Luckily we made it through that dark time and are working our way back to love. And that experience has given me a new outlook on Valentine’s Day. While I still think there is a commercial aspect of the holiday that warrants disdain…the basic premise behind the day is an important one.

It is essentially all about celebrating love. And I know now that love not only should be celebrated but it should also never be taken for granted. Love should never be assumed in any relationship no matter how long you have been together.

Love might not take work but it takes nurturing and attention. And days like this provide a perfect opportunity for that to happen.

So next Valentine’s Day I think I just might be dropping some not so subtle hints that I like roses and getting dressed up. Sacrifices must be made…

My little bookworm

I remember when I was a kid I always had my nose stuck in a book.

My reward for being good while we were grocery shopping was an Archie comic not a chocolate bar.

And my desk always had the biggest stack of books on it when the scholastic book order came in.

I love to read. And I am so happy that I have passed on that love of reading to my girls.  Both of them love books but I see so much more of myself in my oldest.

This is a pretty regular view of her these days…

the other day I bought myself a book on how to write and publish your first novel. It went missing off my desk and I couldn’t find it anywhere.

I should have checked her room first…

Clearly if I don’t get serious about my own writing soon…she’s going to get published first!

Maybe I should see if she wants to do it together…

Sisterly Love – Part 2

I am absolutely loving the relationship between my girls right now. They have a genuine love for each other and every once there is a moment that really highlights that bond.

They recently decided to share a bed and I was worried it would be a mistake. But so far they have really enjoyed it and so have I.

Every morning I look forward to going in their to wake them up. But this morning I wasn’t ready for what I saw.

As I ran to get my camera to capture the moment I just prayed they wouldn’t wake up. Pretty sure I took about a hundred pictures before finally waking them up.

They were both sound asleep and neither remembers making a move to hold hands.

oh my heart…

One on One Time: Sushi & Baseball

Tonight I got to spend some quality one-on-one time with my oldest daughter.

I love one-on-one time. And I know that as she gets older it’s going to become more and more important to set this kind of quality time aside.

Last year we went to a couple of Vancouver Canadians baseball games and at each one M expressed an interest in attending one without her little sister…the queen of distractions.

And so that’s what we did – with a little sushi and conversation to start us of.

We talked her excitement and fear about starting grade 4 and getting letter grades. We talked about boys and ear piercing. And we talked about her feelings about our family…and the separation.

That was tough. Because she was looking for reassurance from me. Confirmation that now that Daddy was home it meant he would never leave again.

And I had to do the dance. Because I don’t want to lie but I also don’t want her to live in fear or worry. it’s a fine line to navigate because she’s a smart kid.

Real talk over it was time to watch some baseball…

and to eat:

It was a beautiful night for a ballgame.

And I had a great time with my beautiful first born.