7

“I’m not a princess, I’m a girl!”

Have you seen the new Always ad that’s been circulating around Facebook? It’s actually quite good. Their #LikeAGirl campaign has gone viral, and I believe it’s for good reason. Here’s a link to the ad:

For too long has “like a girl” been exclaimed with negative connotations. “You run like a girl”, “You throw like a girl”, “Stop crying like a girl” are a few common phrases that have become so natural to say and so ingrained in our culture as just another figure of speech that we don’t often stop to think of the negative consequences they create in the young female mind. Since when is doing something like a girl bad? When Florence Nightingale founded modern nursing as we know it, we didn’t say “pfft…she might be a nurse, but she’s a girl so who cares”. When Annie Oakley showed the world her sharpshooter skills, we didn’t say “Yeah whatever. She shoots like a girl”. When Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic Ocean, I doubt people said “Yeah, but it doesn’t count cause she’s a girl”. When Rosa Parks stood her ground and refused to give up her seat, we didn’t discredit her bravery and tenacity because of her gender. We didn’t say her efforts weren’t as important because “she’s a girl”.

Why is being a girl something to overcome? Why in this day and age, do we still exacerbate these negative gender stereotypes? It isn’t just men who do it. I’ve heard many female friends, co-workers and acquaintances make excuses for their shortcomings based on gender. “Oops I’m having a blonde girl moment”, or “Uggh I don’t want to go to Biology class. What will I ever need that for? Let’s go get our nails done!”. I’ve even heard someone say “Let him look after the math portion of the project. Us girls might be better suited for the social aspect”. When we discredit ourselves, we open up the door for others to discredit us as well. When we downplay our abilities to look “cute”, we are only doing a disservice to ourselves. We unknowingly give permission for others to play up those stereotypes when we give into them ourselves.

Why would we do that? Why is that okay?

I-AM

I’m not usually one to really like advertisements, but this one I loved. It made both men and women themselves realize what they were doing. It makes you realize that there is a distinct shift, right around the age of puberty where women lose confidence in themselves, their abilities, and their worth. It made women realize that doing things “like a girl” isn’t a bad thing. It can be a truly amazing thing. Women in history have accomplished a great deal through strength, perseverance, confidence and faith in their abilities. There’s a huge list of women I could pull from. I hope that my daughter can emulate one of these courageous, intelligent and tenacious women some day.

This is the main reason I try to not only focus on my daughter’s beauty. While she is indeed beautiful, she is so many other wonderful things. She’s smart as a whip, has a memory that baffles both her father and I, she’s musical, imaginative, and curious about how things work. I’m proud to be marrying a man who when my daughter at age 2.5 asked if she could help Daddy re-assemble our computer, said “Sure sweetie, can you turn that piece right there really tight?” rather than “No sweetie, why don’t you go play with your doll”. She loves pressing buttons and taking things apart and putting them back together. She’s hilarious, stubborn and amazing. None of these qualities are gender specific. None of these qualities make her any more or less of a girl.

I often find myself saying things to her like “do you know how smart you are?” or “look how well you did that! Mommy is so proud of you!”. I’ll also tell her that she looks pretty in her new dress, because I don’t want her growing up feeling negative about her looks, but that isn’t our only focus. Why should it be? She’s so much more than her physical appearance.

Which is why the other day when I said “Oh L, you’re Mommy’s little princess” I couldn’t have been more proud that she stood up, planted her feet, lifted her head up high and said with more confidence than I could ever muster:

“Mommy. I’m not a Princess. I’m a girl!!!!”.

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Pimples vs. Age Spots. What will win out on my face?

I was always told that when one ages, they come into their own and start to feel much more confident and comfortable in their own skin. Wouldn’t that be nice. 

My skin didn’t seem to get the message. I recently went to the dermatologist for a regular check up on some moles (nothing to speak of, just precautionary) when I showed her a couple of spots on my face that weren’t there before. Melanoma runs in my family, so I am particularly cautious about any new mark that has shown up. So I showed her my areas of concern and got the following response:

“Oh those? Nothing to worry about there. Those are just your typical age spots”. 

AGE SPOTS? WTF! HOW AM I GETTING AGE SPOTS WHEN I STILL HAVE SKIN THAT LOOKS LIKE A TEENAGE KID DECIDED TO SMEAR FRENCH FRY OIL ALL OVER IT? YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE PIMPLES AND AGE SPOTS AT THE SAME FRIGGIN’ TIME! 

I left the office feeling like this. 

It’s incomprehensible that my body isn’t getting the message that I’m no longer a teenager, and too am still too damn young to be a Golden Girl (though if I have to get old, I hope my life is like theirs – where’s the cheesecake?). Half of my skin still wants to be a teenager, and the other half thinks I’m an old fart. Ironically enough, I never had any acne as a teenager. I guess I’m a late bloomer. Awesome. 

My face is at war, and I’m honestly not sure which army I’d like to win. I might have to drop a few nuclear weapons onto my face and start from scratch. 

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To the Dads with daughters.

Since today is Father’s Day, it feels an appropriate day to bring this post back. It is written to the Dads with daughters, because that is the perspective I know having grown up with a sister, and having had a daughter myself.

It all still applies today, with the difference being that today we celebrate without my Grandfather. He may not be on this plane any longer, but it doesn’t make him any less of an influential person in my life.

To the Dad’s, Grandfathers, Step-Dad’s, Dads-in-law, and all Father figures today – Happy Father’s Day!

How To Ruin A Toddler's Day

To all the Dads of little girls. You know who you are. You may not always be the enforcer, or the rule-maker. You may not always be the one who keeps track of when the kids need a bath, or when their last poop was. You definitely don’t like to change those poopy diapers if you can get away with passing them along (I mean, who can blame you? I try to pass them off on someone else, too!). Yes, sometimes the easiest default answer is, and always will be “go ask your mother”. That’s how it was when I was growing up.

And as those daughters get older, there will always be those topics that you are uncomfortable with. Their first period, (“Dad, can you go buy me some tampons?” – Oh my poor father…) Sex. Boyfriends. Body image issues. The first time they want to wear a bikini…

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9

I’m not dead, I’m just planning a wedding!

Holy crap, has it really been since December since I’ve written a post? You must have all thought I kicked the bucket and left this planet.

I assure you, I’m still alive. I’m actually in the midst of planning our wedding, so it’s kind of taken over my life. Plus, my work just moved to a brand new location, and I was in charge of a few big projects (including our grand opening) so needless to say, my spare time has been next to nil.

You can also rest assured that my toddler is wreaking her usual havoc, in her cutesy charming ways. Her vocabulary and sentence formation ability has sky-rocketed which has made for some very interesting conversations lately. I’ll get to those – I promise – but a few people have contacted me lately and asked me what’s been going on since I’ve basically dropped off the face of the blogosphere. Well, here goes…

1) We’re getting married! April 28th, 2015 in JAMAICA! I am beyond excited. It will be my fiance’s first time leaving the country, and L’s first trip on an airplane, so it should be interesting keeping her occupied for the flight. Mom’s/Dad’s who have been there and done that when it comes to in-flight toddler entertainment, PLEASE comment with any tips you’ve got to share. I’m so open to them. I can just see us being “that family” with “that screamy kid” on the flight, so if I can avoid that by any means (besides drugging her lol) I’m up for it!

I can't wait to have my toes in the sand on this beach!

I can’t wait to have my toes in the sand on this beach!

I’m also trying to do this on a budget. Well, as much of a budget as you can when flying to another country. I’m trying to DIY stuff, and access free stuff (cause who doesn’t like free?) and get it done on a dime. So if you know of any beachy themed, turquoise & tangerine DIY stuff, send ’em on over!

2) Remember the “Hypocritical Health Hurdles” series I was writing? Yeah… I know it’s been a while, but I’ve SUCCEEDED!!! I’ve lost 21 pounds to date (my goal was 20 pounds), including 3.5 inches from my waist. It’s actually reached a point where other people are starting to notice the changes, and I’m feeling pretty great! I may not be at my ideal weight (that’d be another 20 more pounds…uggh), but I’ve lost it and kept it off, so now I know I can do it! Yay! Plus, I still treat myself to a drive-thru fast food meal, or pizza, or something grease-laden and sweet and awful for me every now and then, so I’m not feeling completely deprived and off my rocker. The big bonus for me? I’ve picked up a few nice sundresses and things for when we go to Jamaica, and they’re not plus-sized! I’m back into regular sized clothes now, from regular stores, and can pick it off the rack! I will never be a size small, and I don’t want to be. I’d like to keep my boobs, my butt, and my curves. Though I do like that now I can keep that curvy look, with a decreased health risk. Overall, I’m feeling pretty great about my success!

Finally!

Finally!

 

3) I wish I knew how to cut my own hair. I’m in desperate need for a haircut. I’m talking a minimum of 6 inches cut off, but it just isn’t in the “mommy budget”. Sigh. Not really an exciting thing to report, but it’s on my mind constantly and every time I look in the mirror. I feel like a fresh new cut/look to go with my fresh new weight loss success would lift my spirits pretty high. Time to save the dollars I guess.

 

Alright, well that’s the life update as for now, so on to the stuff that keeps me giggling every day when it comes to my girl. To say she keeps me on my toes is an understatement.

– L loves to shop. If you ever gave her a choice as to where she wants to go, she’ll almost always say Walmart. I’m not sure why she loves Walmart so much, but now my goal as a parent is to make sure she doesn’t grow up to end up on that people of Walmart website. Have you been there? Basically it’s a website dedicated to posting pictures of people who are spotted at Walmart, wearing clothes to…”impress”. If it were up to L, she’d be in Walmart all day, every day so I don’t want her to turn into the Walmart Creature Feature lol. They aren’t the most fashionable to say the least. Check it out! http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/

– The other day, while in Walmart (maybe I do go there too frequently… am I one of those people?!), L was seated in the front of the cart when she started caressing my chest area and trying to pull my shirt down. It was a fight to keep the girls contained. She kept saying “Mommy, boobies under there. Boobies are hiding! Come out, come out wherever you are Mommy’s boobies!”. If you’ve met my L, you’d also know that she doesn’t understand the concept of an indoor voice, so we were drawing some unwelcome attention. This type of thing occurs regularly. Fun.

– On a cuter note, L wished me a Happy Mother’s Day on Mother’s Day, and every single day since. I’ve stopped reminding her that Mother’s day is over, because frankly, I like being celebrated.

– POTTY TRAINING IS HELL!!! We were having success for such a long time, then she was having some bowel issues. It took a few trips to a pediatrician, followed by some elimination diets to determine she has a lactose sensitivity, which explained the control issues she was having. Now that we have it sorted, we went back to the potty. NO FRIGGIN’ LUCK! I’ve tried sticker charts, bribing with candy, getting rid of pull ups completely and letting her wet her underwear to see if that will help her to learn the “I have to go” signal, etc. She’s TOO DAMN STUBBORN! Our conversations go something like this:

Me: “L, are you pooping sweetie? Let’s go to the potty to finish so we can have a treat!”

L: “Ummm, no thank you. You change my bum!” (she then runs and hides. At least she declines politely, right?)

Me: (trying to remind her the potty is nothing to cry about) “L, remember what we say for the potty? What do we say?”

L: “Happy potty, happy candy!” (basically a short version of if she sits happily on the potty she gets a candy – not a big one, I’m talking like one m&m – which she seems excited about till she sees the potty, then crosses her arms, pouts, and takes off running).

This pretty much sums up her attitude...

This pretty much sums up her attitude…

Or this version:
L: “Mommy, my bum hurts! Owie! Rash!”

Me: “L, you have a rash because you’re in pull-ups. If you used the potty, your bum wouldn’t get rashy and hurt!”

L: “NO THANK YOU! NO POTTY! NO UNDERWEAR! YOU CHANGE MY PULLUP!”

Now I know people are going to say that maybe she just isn’t ready, but I don’t think that’s the case. She was using it successfully until the lactose intolerance problem caused a lack of control for her movements and we needed to use the pull up for security purposes for a period of about 4-5 months. She’s reverted backwards, and I can’t pull her out of it. FML. If I never hear the word potty again, it will be too soon.

How are the rest of you doing? It’s been so long, I feel like I’m practically writing for strangers again! I think I need to get someone to start harassing me on a weekly basis so I don’t fall off the bandwagon again. I miss this place.

1

Love takes time…or does it? Bonding with your baby.

The lovely Mummy at Mummy Flying Solo posted a wonderful proposal about putting together the stories of many Mama’s who had trouble bonding with their baby. It is something that people don’t talk about often, either due to shame, embarrassment, or the incumbent “don’t you love your kid?” comments which are incredibly out of line.

I think it’s so brave of her to venture into this project, and am sharing the post for her in the hopes that it will reach more Mama’s who may like to contribute to her project. It isn’t abnormal to go through an initial period of difficulty bonding with your baby. Some people just take more time to get to know.

xoxo

Love takes time…or does it? Bonding with your baby..

17

“Mommy didn’t poop sweetie….”

As you may have read in my last post, this past week has been rough on me. From mourning, to funeral planning, to attending the service, I’ve been kind of wrapped up in all things sad lately.THANKFULLY I have a little one who is determined to see everyone around her be happy. I thought I’d share a few things that happened this week that brightened up my life, made me laugh, embarrassed me, and make me realize that she’s more than just my little L – she’s my world.

– On Friday, when I was all sad and depressed, I had moments where I just sat on the couch and cried. I couldn’t snap out of it. At one point, L looked at me from across the room and said “Mommy?”. She came over, climed up onto my lap, placed her little hands on either side of my face, smiled and said “Mommy, happy please?”. Remember that scene from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” where his heart grew three sizes that day? That’s pretty much what happened to me right then and there. I was bursting with love for this little human being – a little human being that I still look at from time to time and think to myself “I can’t believe she used to be inside me and popped out of my vagina”. How weird is that!?

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– Ok so I don’t know about your kids, but my little L can fart – a lot! Sometimes it is hard to tell if she farted or pooped, so I usually follow up with a phrase that goes something like “Hey L, did you poop or did you fart?”. And she’ll answer me “poop” or “fart”. Well mid week, when the stress of planning things had kind of culminated, I threw my back out – badly! I was fairly crippled, and when I woke up one morning I was lying on the couch on an ice pack with L at the other end watching Pingu (her new obsession!). Well at the sake of embarassing myself fully, I can’t leave this part of the story out. I farted. Rather loudly. It was actually pretty epic. Well L turned to me and giggled. Then I heard it – “Mommmmmy…… Mommy poop?”. I just about died with laughter, but could you blame her? My fart was really big, and if I had to draw it, it would likely resemble the fart in that Robert Munsch book “Good Families Don’t”.

In case you can't tell, the fart is the green guy on the left.

In case you can’t tell, the fart is the green guy on the left.

– L came with me the day of the visitation, service and reception. I was really glad to have her there, because I knew having my little love around would help to stave off some of the sadness and awkwardness of the day. Boy was I right! There were a few key moments that day that I loved. My Dad gave a beautiful eulogy – he really did an amazing job and was stronger than I could have ever been. You know how when people give eulogy’s, they often speak of memories they have? Some of those memories are funny, but nobody laughs really loudly – just an under the breath soft chuckle. Well my Dad had a moment like that. There was a quiet hum of muffled chuckles, when my L stood up in the pew and did a huge belly laugh – “HAHAHAHAHA ohhhhh Pop!”. The place broke out into laughter, my Dad turned to her (at the microphone) and said “Thank you for getting my joke L” with a smile. He later told me she was the reason he was able to get through his speech.

– There was another emotional moment when people around were fighting stifled tears. L again, stood up in the pew (leaning into me), looked at me and whispered “Mommy, happy?”. I told her I was very happy that she was there beside me. So she turned to everyone, put on her big girl voice and proclaimed “Hey! Happy, happy, happy please!!!”. Tears turned to smiles, and sadness turned to giggles. My little L hates seeing a world of sadness, and has proclaimed to everyone in the room that we should all be happy. That is what funerals should be really about anyway – to celebrate a life. A time to look back on happy memories. She reminded me just that.

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Life with a toddler can be hard as hell. It is tiring, emotional, and you can feel like someone has you set on ‘repeat’ every single day because you say the same damn things 75 times in a row before they finally clue in that you’re even speaking. It is challenging, confusing, chaotic and mind-numbing when you have to watch Pingu 37 times in a row.

But weeks like these make you realize they are smarter than you give them credit for. They are intuitive little buggers, and can sense when you need a hug, a smile, or to be asked if you pooped your pants.

I’ve never been happier to say “No, Mommy didn’t poop…she farted”.

I’ve never been happier to be her Mommy.

21

On Mourning and Santa Claus

I apologize in advance if this post seems to have no direction. Actually, it is kind of fitting as it feels as though nothing has any direction right now. I can’t seem to pull myself together, and life (or more appropriately, death) is taking its toll on me.

I am mourning the loss of a very special man. This man was a Veteran of the Merchant Navy. He was proud, stoic, gentle, kind, and giving. He was my Grandfather – the last surviving Grandparent I had.
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He and my Grandmother both treated my sister and I like we were more precious than anything in their lives. Having had two sons, we were quite literally the daughters they never had. I have many fond memories of them from my childhood. My Grandfather was the one who taught me to ice skate. He’d clear the snow off of the pond around the corner, hold my hands, and we’d skate and skate for hours while my Grandmother sat and cheered us on. When we got home, Grandpa took my hands in his to warm them up, while my Grandmother got the hot cocoa ready – with just the right number of marshmallows floating on top.
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One winter he piled the snow into a hill that seemed to reach the top of the trees, carved a ladder onto one side with a shovel, and smoothed the other side out into a slide which landed me on the other side of the yard. I spent hours out there that day, climbing the snow slide, and flying down. He stayed by my side the whole time quietly smiling and chuckling at my screams of laughter.

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We used to have sleep overs at their house, and to this day certain foods and smells remind me of them. My parents never drank coffee, so every morning when I woke up at their house and smelled the coffee pot brewing, I knew where I was. I always had the same breakfast there (shared with my Grandfather) – a bowl of Harvest Crunch cereal and half of a grapefruit eaten with a special grapefruit spoon. We didn’t eat those things at home often either, so I always associate those things with mornings spent with him. Quiet mornings at the table, sharing breakfast. He wasn’t one to talk much, but when he did it was always important – always an observation, or something insightful. I don’t think he ever once raised his voice to me in anger. He was always calm, quiet, and warm. His lap was the best place to sit when he did his crossword puzzles, and his hugs wrapped right around you like a warm blanket.
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He passed away suddenly at 1:45 am Friday morning. I had only been asleep about an hour when my Mother called to tell me. Three days earlier, he was getting a military escort down to a Remembrance Day ceremony at the Veteran’s hospital, and he was fine.

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Now, he’s gone. I can’t seem to wrap my head around it. It was quick, sudden, and it’s tearing me apart. Based on what happened, they suspect it was a GI bleed. As much as I want to know what happened, and why it happened, I mostly want to know that he wasn’t in pain. The last thing he deserved was to be in pain, or to be scared. I am crying at the thought of his last moments in the arms of the nurse who found him. I wish more than anything that he didn’t suffer.
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So needless to say, I’ve been a wreck these past few days. My normal sense of humour is lost, and my eyes haven’t stopped being either bloodshot or glassy since the wee hours of Friday morning. I am crying spontaneously without control – it’s like my eyes are faucets that are stuck in the on position.

Today, during another random cry fest, my little L looked at me from across the room and said “Mommy?”. She came over, climbed up onto my lap, placed her little hand on my cheek and said “Mommy…. happy please?”. Well as if my tears weren’t already uncontrollable, that did me in. It got worse…but then it did get better. She doesn’t understand why I’m sad. She doesn’t understand what death is, and she doesn’t understand why Mommy keeps crying. Her little sentence was enough to slap a bit of sense into me – at least temporarily. As much as I want to just lay around in a pile of sadness and self-pity, I have a job to do. I am a Mother to a sweet little girl who needs her Mommy back. I had to pull myself together.

So I got up, put on my big girl pants and took her out to see Santa Claus. He was in town today, on his big red sleigh and had a little train that the kids could ride. Santa was even nice enough to bring along some elves to hand out cake to everyone and they got to make a Christmas craft. I got to stand outdoors, breathe the slightly chilled air and relax. Yes, I realize it is only November 16th and Santa came by really early, but this Mommy didn’t care. She was glad to have a reason to get out of the house and something festive to focus on with my L and my fiance.
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I needed it. I needed to get out of the house and off of my ass. I needed to breathe the cool air, look forward to Christmas with my little family, and focus on all that I still have in life. I needed to be the Mother to my L that my Grandfather was to my Father and Uncle. I needed to continue to make him proud. I needed to pretend to be cheerful, and in turn, feel a bit of cheer.
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It isn’t feeling any easier. I have a viewing at the funeral home tomorrow afternoon (informal), and a formal viewing/service on Thursday. The weekend of the 30th, we will travel to Prince Edward Island to place him with my Grandmother so they can be reunited once more. My Grandfather was never quite as boisterous as he used to be when she was alive. I think secretly, though he’d never voice it out loud, he was longing to be reunited with her. I was in Korea when she passed and was unable to return for her funeral. The weekend of the 30th will be the first time I will see her grave, since she is buried in a different province. I have a feeling that I will fall apart that weekend. I will in a way be saying goodbye to two people that day – my Grandfather, and my Grandmother.
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I hope that the person I have become today is a person they would be proud of. I hope that my little L can develop as many fond memories with her Grandparents as I have of mine. I hope that I can get through this stronger, and a better Mother at the other end. As much as I am skeptical of the idea of an “afterlife”, I can’t help but secretly hope that they are both up there, sitting in their armchairs side by side, drinking a cup of coffee and watching their Great-Granddaughter grow up.

I promise my next post will be more joyful, but I needed to get this off of my chest. It’s almost therapeutic in a way.

To moving forward. To grieving, but never forgetting. To living as our loved ones would have wanted us to live. To life, death, and the joy that happens in the middle. I’ll miss them always.