Week 29 – Either You’re Perfect or You’ve Failed

“Pictures of perfection make me sick and wicked.” – Jane Austen through personal correspondence 

…This post was meant to be about allowing ourselves to fail, and how important that is – how there is reason in our failures – as much or more than in our successes. Thomas Edison “failed” creating the light bulb 10 000 times before finding success.

What this post has become… a glimpse into my day-to-day “failures”. As much as they irk me today, I realize now, they’re almost meaningless tomorrow… It’s just. real. life… 

We need to see more of the “real”. 

I do it to myself. Hold myself to this impossible standard. No one is perfect. We cannot be perfect. Or can we? No. Why do we think we can?

I feel the need to apologize for sweatpants, untidy hair and unwashed dishes in the sink… I’m perfect at apologizing.

I’m at the park and someone comes over to meet the babies. I feel the need to explain why there are remnants of strawberries all over their faces… I’m perfect at explaining.

I lay in bed at night tossing and turning, kicking myself for not cleaning the bathroom like I said I would. I realize I left a load of wash in the washing machine. I roll my eyes and tell myself I’ll wash it again tomorrow. Always tomorrow… I’m perfect at procrastinating.

I’m complimented on my  perfect family. Looked at with awe and respect – or maybe I’m mistaking those looks for pity/sympathy. They ask me how I do it. How do I accomplish so much?
Well my to-do lists tell me I’ve accomplished nothing. And that birthday party I forgot to RSVP to happened yesterday… I’m just hoping Zach forgets. I’m perfect at forgetting.

I love my kids. I love my husband. I love our family. I love my life. I think I’m doing “my best” – at least that’s what they deserve. Is my best good enough? I’d like to think so… But there is this tiny voice inside of me telling me that it’s not perfect. And because it’s not perfect, the voice tells me I am failing.

Thank goodness I have 16 other little voices inside of me talking all at once — makes it easier to ignore that 1.

Let’s stop striving for “perfect” and settle for “real” (I’m telling this to all 18 of the voices inside my head) or we will indeed drive ourselves “sick and wicked”.

Week 28 – Happy Birthday Mom.

“A mother would have been always present. A mother would have been a constant friend; her influence would have been beyond all other.” – Northanger Abbey.

Mom

This is my mom. Isn’t she beautiful? A candid moment captured at my wedding. She has her granddaughter in her arms and her own mother looking across the table at the two of them. I’m so thankful for this picture. (Thank you Justina Phippen Photography)! It also makes me realize how few pictures I have of my mother. That needs to change.

Today’s my mom’s birthday. Happy Birthday Mom! In honour of that, it would be my pleasure to share 5 of the most important life lessons I have learned from her. Of course, I have learned so much, I could be making a list of 100 things… but I’ve narrowed it down to the 5 that have shaped me and stuck with me the most as I’ve entered into my own journey through motherhood.

1. Follow Your Dreams.

My mother has shown me that being a mother is all about helping your children find their own path, and supporting them in it no matter how it makes us feel. Over and over again she has proven this to me, as I know I have made a lot of choices she wouldn’t necessarily have agreed with, except she knew — these were my choices; my dreams. She has been my biggest supporter through everything – having Hailey, my relationship with Caleb, finishing school, moving to Calgary… I know she had strong opinions about it all (and that’s only an assumption, she was so careful never to share them with me). Instead of casting a shadow on my choices, she chose to lift me up in each of them, bringing out the best of me and giving me the strength to pursue each one, even when it meant her grandchildren moving across the country.

2. Be Positive.

We are all dealt challenges throughout our lives. Only now, as a mother myself, am I finally getting a glimpse into the challenges my mother has had to face and the ones she is facing now. I would never have known otherwise, but I am now blessed to be able to call her one of my closest friends, switching the gears from a strictly mother/daughter relationship to one of friends. I am thankful for her honesty, and that, as friends, she is able to share with me in her trials, as I’ve always shared with her in mine. Because of this, I am able to see how she exudes positivity. I understand how important it is not to let our challenges dictate our worldview. This doesn’t mean we have to live our lives pretending to be perfect, but be upfront about the difficult hands we’re being dealt, and show how we refuse to let them get us down. I only hope my children see this in me someday, where they can sit back and say, “you went through that? But you were always so happy… I never would have known.”

3. Listen, Really listen.

This could be my favourite. By listen, I mean with your ears, as well as with your eyes and your heart. That’s how she listens. She’s very careful to really hear me. She takes into account my feelings before giving her opinion. She has this uncanny ability to know when to say something, and when not to. I think she gets this from HER mother. I desperately hope I’ve inherited this.

4. Work Hard to Play Hard.

This is the one I have trouble living in. I think my generation is guilty of getting a lot of things EASILY, and not having to work for much. My mother shows me how rewarding it can be to work hard. She rarely stops, even when I tell her to. She can’t. She doesn’t know how. But she knows what’s important. And she knows how to enjoy life. She seems to live in these little moments that sit within hard work. Sunny days, a lake-side breeze, her grandchildren’s smiles… all of her hard work makes these moments worth it. Boy, do I want to live like that.

5. Take Care of Yourself.

My mom wants to be around for us for as long as she is able. I am in awe of how proactive she is about it all. She really takes care of herself, and I can only dream of being like her. Exercising, eating right, testing for this, that and the other thing… I can’t keep track. But I know she is doing it to be on top of her health. She takes care of herself so she can keep taking care of us, and I can’t think of a better reason than that.

Happy Birthday mom. Thank you for being you, everyday. I love you.

I’ll have the cupcakes ready to eat by 6:00.
The kids will be thrilled to blow out the candles for you over Skype… and even more thrilled to eat a cupcake in your honour. 

Wish you were here everyday. Oh wait, you are. In me.

The Evolution of the Date Night

Last night our big kids were both out having a sleepover. What did that mean for Caleb and I? Date night! 

Thinking back, it occurred to me how much the definition of “date night” has changed over time. Life sure is funny that way. 

Date Night Before Kids:

Anytime you get dressed up and get out of the house – dinner, movie, party…

Date Night After Baby:

Anytime you drop baby off with Grandma and Grandpa to get dressed up and go out – dinner, movie, party…

Date Night With Two Kids:

Anytime you drop the kids off with Grandma and Grandpa. Now, the date includes things like – getting groceries and running errands. You may start arranging a paid babysitter for those “special events” – the movies, dinners and parties (as they are all now planned well in advance). 

Date Night With Two Kids and Twins:

Anytime the big kids are out of the house. 

This was us last night. What did we do? Went for a walk with the babies, stopped at Subway for dinner (because why would we cook for just the two of us?), came home. We put the twins to bed, poured a glass of wine, queued up Netflix (more specifically, House of Cards), and cuddled on the couch with a blanket, leaving our phones upstairs. 



We still have amazing people around us who will take all four of our kids (no paid sitters yet), so don’t get me wrong, we still have our specially “planned-ahead-of-time” dates; those special events – usually revolving around a birthday, anniversary, or something work-related. But it’s just… different.

I know date nights will continue to change as our children inevitably grow – into adolescents… and then teenagers (yikes). 

*Envisioned Date Nights with Teenagers:

I’m reminded of the television sitcom, “The Middle.” If you haven’t watched it, you should. I can’t help but relate to the mom’s character. It’s great comic relief, poking fun of the not-so-fun parts of being a middle-class parent. 

In one episode, it’s Valentines Day and the parents decide to go out for dinner (their kids all have plans of their own). In one way or another, each of their kids need them for something and by the end of the episode they’re sitting in the restaurant along with their 3 children – date night turned family night. And they realize – they wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Funny, life is. Looking back on how our date nights have changed, I only wish I could have had the perspective I have now, in those moments back then. I suppose I feel this way about everything. 

If only I could have the perspective on life that I will have when I’ve reached my 80s, granted I get to see them. If only I could have that perspective NOW. How differently I’m sure I would be living my life… my everyday. I’ll never be able to say it enough: Life is funny. 

We Made It.

A year ago today, I was laying in a hospital bed with my arms wrapped around my belly. The contractions were coming every 10 minutes and I knew today would be the day. I was unusually calm. I had seen enough moms roll through the Antepartum Unit, and I remember that feeling of panic that would overtake the room as their babies would come too soon. I had spoken to the neonatologists – the experts, who went through with me all that it would mean for my babies to be born at this time – all that they would need to survive. No expectations were given, only odds, as these babies all have a mind of their own. A lot of unknown. But, here I was, calm. As I hugged my belly, I leaned down and told them, “if you’re ready to meet me… I’m all in.” I knew my body was no longer the place for them. They needed more, something I couldn’t give.

Fast forward to today, and here we are, a family of 6. As I write this, my babies are tucked up in their beds, having their morning naps. Completely content and asleep, they are telling me they are happy, and have everything they need. There is nothing more comforting in this world. It has been a wild ride to say the least, but as I look back, I know how blessed we have been through the whole thing.

The missing pieces of our family’s puzzle have arrived, and they’ve let us know it.

Our Henry – born at 1:35pm on this day last year, weighing only 2 lbs. 15 oz.

Henry

Our Henry – now, weighing 15 lbs. 4 oz.

Henry

Henry is a firecracker. With piercing blue eyes and 4 adorable teeth, he’s a heart-melter. Although, the last thing he feels the need to be, is a heart-melter. Our busiest baby, Henry is much too busy to snuggle up and flirt – he’d much rather flash you a toothy-smile from across the room. He’s always on a mission, places to go people to climb. Our explorer, Hailey calls him, out to conquer the world. He has been meeting his milestones all ahead of schedule, and before his brother – something we weren’t sure would happen after his PVL diagnosis (see article here: Periventricular Leukomalacia). This is still something “on the table”, to see how or if it will affect him, and he will be followed closely until about age 3. But, there’s no arguing, he’s perfect.

Our Ethan – born at 1:45 pm on this day last year, weighing 3 lbs. 7 oz.

Ethan

Our Ethan – now, weighing 14 lbs. 12 oz.

Ethan

Ethan is our soft-hearted soul. Taken along for the ride after Henry’s water broke, we maintain that Ethan would have been much happier staying inside my belly for as long as he could. “The serious one”, Ethan has heart-wrenching hazel eyes, and the same 4 teeth as his brother (although, his smiles are still “gummier” than his brothers… gotta love them gummy smiles). He is mama’s boy – and I’m so thankful for that. Our resident “ham”, he will stare at you – waiting for eye contact, and then proceed to either play peekaboo or tilt his head to the side in an attempt to “look cute”… anything he can do to get you to smile. The bulk of his first year has been spent by my side, perfectly content to be within my line of sight, with a hand on my knee or an arms length away. It’s been just recently he’s started venturing out with his brother, the two of them becoming quite the pair – if Ethan’s not with me, he’s with Henry.

My boys

Today, I’m a mom of 1 year old twin boys… a mom of 4 beautiful children. Wow. How lucky am I?

Parenting is the strangest phenomenon. To feel THIS much love for something … it’s overwhelming… and to feel THIS much love for 4 somethings – it’s unreal. I have to pinch myself everyday. Being a mom has been the biggest challenge of my life. But I can’t think of a challenge more  rewarding than this. If I’m going to sacrifice anything in this life, let it be for them, my kids. Then I know it will be worth it.

I am so thankful to have been chosen to be the mother of these two amazing boys. They have taught me so much about strength, perseverance, sacrifice and love in SUCH a short year. I am anxious and excited to see what’s in store for them next, hopeful to be along for the ride for as long as I am able.

Here’s a song that I heard on the radio the other day, and basically burst into tears as I instantly pinned it to my love for my kids… It sums up everything that I feel about them. As a mama, we choose to put our kids first, whether we realize it or not, it’s actually a choice. A choice I would make any day of the week. I’m NOT perfect and my kids will know this. But I’m here, looking to learn from my mistakes. I know I’m unprepared for what the future holds, but I’m willing to take it as it comes in the best way that I can. When my children think of me when they’re all grown up with children of their own – whether I’m around or not – I want them to think of love. Above all else, I want to leave a “lifelong love letter” to my kids.. and not just the hug/kiss, tell them I love them kind of love… the hard kind – the doing what’s best for them as much as it hurts me kind of love.

Happy birthday my smart boys!

I love you more than you or I will EVER be able to understand!

Want to read our story from the beginning? Start here: pProm with Twins

Week 27 – Living Without Expectation

To wish was to hope and to hope was to expect. – Sense and Sensibility

This is one thing I am most guilty of – having expectations. It’s easily done, unconsciously done, but boy is it dangerous. Expectations unknowingly creep up on you where you don’t even realize you have them until you are disappointed by them. I refuse to be disappointed by expectations anymore.

In an age of Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram – expectations are the worst. We are constantly “looking” into the lives of not only our neighbours but of perfect strangers. We see what they have – children, clothes, vacations, homes, cars, careers… and we are reminded of what we are missing.

If we maintain our focus on what we see them having… we unintentionally begin to wish for things, hope for things, and develop expectations for these things. Unhappiness is quickly invited into our hearts, wishing for the life we see others enjoying and think we deserve.

This is easily prevented – first, avoid social media. Okay, okay – that’s a tricky one… I’ll be the first to say how much I love social media. Then, we must keep in mind that the “life” we present on social media, isn’t always an accurate reflection of our lives at all. We are knowingly presenting ourselves in a very specific/purposeful way. It’s not that we want people to look at our lives and say – I want what they have… perpetuating that cycle of unfulfilled expectations (well, maybe someone out there does…). We just naturally  want to showcase the BEST parts of us.

Once we can stop attaching “wishes, hopes, and expectations” onto the social representations of our friends and followers, we can start looking inward – where we should be maintaining our focus anyway.

Spend your time looking at the things you already have, and being thankful for them.

My closest friend showed me an app, stop me if you’ve heard it: Gratitude 365.
Everyday, you are given free reign to jot down a little note to yourself about the things you are thankful for – even add a photo. My favourite part? Swipe to the right and you’ll get to see all of the things you’ve been thankful for set up in a nice (hopefully long) list. I’ve just started using this app. Each day in the month of February, I’ve been writing down one thing I’m thankful for and it’s really getting me to think “outside of the box”, as I’m trying not to repeat a “gratitude”.

Don’t get me wrong here, we are constantly and automatically creating expectations for ourselves, and will continue to do so. But, IF we can make ourselves aware of these expectations, we’ll be able to see them coming… and the disappointment that comes with not meeting those expectations, will hopefully become more of a… whoops! what was I thinking? I can’t run before I walk — or my favourite analogy, which probably exists and if not I made it up: I’m JUST keeping my head above water, how in the WORLD do I expect myself to WALK on it!? There’s only one guy I know that can do that! (That’s been doing the trick for me).

Hope you all have a great week – and that’s a week without expectations.