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.

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.

Week 26

Nobody minds having what is too good for them. – Mansfield Park.

Today is my husbands birthday – so in honour of that, I’ve decided to embarrass him with a terrible display of affection, and reveal 10 of the most intimate reasons as to what makes him so special.

Why I Love My Husband:

1. He’s my voice of reason.

No matter what, I can talk to him about anything and expect an honest answer in return. He doesn’t have the capacity to be a phony. He will always tell it like it is… which occasionally drives me crazy, but I can appreciate it most days (if not in the moment, I’m always thanking him after the fact)!

2. He works so hard.

A dedicated husband, father and an amazing friend, he busts his bottom for the people he loves. He is constantly putting his needs/wants on the back burner. This year has been a big one with the arrival of our baby boys, and I can’t imagine the challenge of having to balance his time between his work and his family.

3. He knows me and still loves me.

I am not perfect and he knows it. He loves me for my imperfections. He knows the ins and outs of me more than anyone else on this planet. From my worst habits to my best features; my hopes, dreams and worries. He accepts me for everything that I am, which is more than I can even say for myself.

4. He takes out the garbage.

Which is not something I enjoy. One of my most favourite sights to behold, is my husband getting rid of the garbage. That, and him washing the dishes. And he washes a MEAN dish.

5. He’s passionate about our family.

We are his everything, and he lets it show. A beaming, proud father and a doting husband. After a hard day where I’m left questioning both my purpose and my sanity, he will walk into the door and embrace our chaos with a huge smile and open arms. Instantly, I’m refocused. His passion is contagious.

6. He’s neat.

This is a big one – I don’t know if we would survive as a family without this one. And I don’t mean neat in the 1950’s way of saying he’s a “neat” guy. He’s neat and tidy. He likes things a certain way and definitely has a standard. Although, four children and a very messy wife is messing with that standard and blurring the lines of what is acceptable. I am the exact opposite of neat, borderline unbearable, so I am thankful everyday for his neatness.

7. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty.

This one kind of goes along with #4 and taking out the trash, but whatever it is, he’s game. Diapers, dishes, laundry, putting babies to sleep, changing sheets, cleaning up vomit — you name it, he’s done it. And I love watching him do it. He is an amazing hands-on dad. He leaves me wondering on a daily basis, HOW DOES HE DO IT?!

8. He’s a human jungle gym. 

Yes my husband is a big kid. As much as that CAN send me off  the deep-end… I am thankful for it. Being silly with him is the funnest part of having him around. Hanging out as a family, it doesn’t keep much to be entertained. He’ll throw our kids in the air, twirl them upside down or chase them up and down the street… and he’ll make it look easy.

9. He’s darn cute.

What can I say… we all know where babies come from. We have had this undeniable chemistry since we met… and it doesn’t seem to be going away (4 kids later). He still gives me butterflies in my tummy.

10. He wants me to be happy – whatever that means. 

He is more in tune with what I need than I even am. He encourages me to live passionately and to seek out my interests. He wants me to be “me” first… whether that be an extra long shower, an annoying blog I spend way too much time writing on, or a day trip in Banff with a girlfriend to “let off steam”. He lets me pick what TV show we watch after the kids are in bed, he gives me the good pillow to sleep with, he makes me coffee, he lets me hide in our bedroom to read my novel on a Saturday afternoon… He never questions me whenever I go a little overboard at the mall and never buys himself anything… He loves me. He doesn’t expect anything – which is so much more than I will ever deserve.

…did I mention he’s darn cute? 

Thanks for being you, my dear husband – this thing we call life would be so dull without you by my side…

Happy Birthday!

Week 25

Our scars make us know that our past was for real. – Pride and Prejudice.

One year ago, today – February 13th, my water broke. I was 28 weeks pregnant with my boys. Which, in the world of pProm and high-risk pregnancy, is actually a pretty good number…

Today is a day I will never forget – one that plays on repeat in my head.

If you’d like to relive this day with me – reread about it here: pProm with Twins.

Thinking back, there’s so much more I’m wishing I would have taken note of, in the fog that was trying to stay pregnant with my babies…

I wish I could remember names.

The name of my favourite nurse who would sit with me and tell me her stories about non-stress tests gone wrong, and her theories about chinooks and ruptured membranes…

The name of the nurse who was working non-stop to get me home to Calgary from Regina as soon as she could… And sought me out in labour and delivery just so she could put a face to my name…

The names of the 3 other ladies flown out of province on Feb. 14th, out of which I was the only one who stayed pregnant and returned to Calgary pregnant… We could have totally started a support group for ourselves – I picture us getting together once a year for coffee to reminisce on our experience – something that will never really happen… But I will dream about every year.

The names of my roommates – I had two during my stay… And both for less than 24 hours each:

The first, when I was admitted on Feb. 13, a mom from 2 hours south of Calgary, flown out of her home with preeclampsia… She had two little girls at home missing her. I was lucky enough to reunite with her in the NICU. She delivered her boy 4 days after I flew to Regina. She was 24 weeks pregnant.

The second, when I had returned to Calgary from Regina, a first-time mom from 2 hours north of Calgary. I know so much less about her… She had our room full of family for a few hours that day. It seemed only moments after they left that she was buzzing the nurse… practically delivering her baby boy as they tried to transport her to labour and delivery… She was only 22 weeks. They had admitted her this time after sending her home a week earlier… What I wouldn’t give to know her baby was ok… I held my belly for a long time after she left. What I wouldn’t give to hold my belly one more time…

I wish I could let all of these women know what they meant to me, how they’ve unknowingly changed me, shaped me as a mother and a woman.

Instead, I’ll settle for carrying them with me as scars on my heart.

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