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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Week 24

Let me persuade you to follow my example and take a turn about the room – I assure you it’s very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude. – Pride and Prejudice

I do not like Mondays. Mondays are my LEAST favourite days. After “relaxing” all weekend (and by relaxing I mean – only leaving the house when I want, not when I have to) you are thrown back into the weekly grind of it all. My kids are no exception. School days take a lot out of them and we all pay for it at the end of the day. As excited as I am to get them off the bus and hear all about their day, they are significantly less so. The short walk from the bus stop to the house is (3 days out of 5) spent mediating an argument or two… or five.

My saving grace? We’ve started a ritual before entering the house after school. When we are having a mood – feeling grumpy, sad, mad – we make a point of leaving that bad attitude outside. Me included. We think up the most elaborate, silly, exaggerated way possible for us to pull that attitude out of us and get rid of it forever. This includes, but is definitely not limited to, shaking it out of our hair, throwing it as far as we can, spitting it out, smashing it or stomping all over it. It’s done wonders (for me too – it’s amazing how much better I feel after jumping around and being silly). Our afternoons have been completely transformed. Does the attitude occasionally slip inside with us? Naturally. What do we do? I send them back out to get rid of it all over again.

Here’s hoping we all have a great week – week going not so great? Try to leave it outside.

Week 23

I have not the pleasure of understanding you. – Pride and Prejudice

As a parent of four children (officially – I’ve counted them several times over. I assure you there is still four of them… as much as I keep pinching myself), you’d think I’d have it all figured out. Right? Maybe? Not really?… Not at all.

The most incredible thing about being a parent, is not in what you teach them, but in what they teach you. It is easy to compare them to each other, to yourself, to your siblings, to your parents… they have so-and-so’s eyes, but with such-and-such’s spirit… and I have no idea WHO he gets that HAIR from… it’s fun even – to guess who they will turn into as they grow old.

The amazing thing about it is that, ultimately, they will be like no one else, they will be them, an individual.. and that makes it so challenging.

Each one of my children needs me in a different way. Yes, yes, fundamentally they all need me the same. But, fundamentally, if every child needed their mother in the same way as another, there wouldn’t be an entire section of the book store devoted to parenting. There would be one book. And it would be easier (note: I did not say easy… I said easier).

As I get to know each of my children, I realize more and more how much I won’t be able to understand them. I have my own scope, vision, point of view that keeps getting in the way. The minute your children are born – heck, the minute your children are conceived – you begin to develop this “understanding” of who you think they are going to be. But it’s not who they are or who they will become… and that’s the hardest.

This week, instead of wishing for the pleasure of understanding, I’m hoping to let go and spend my time ignoring my misconceptions and appreciate the little people I’m getting to know (dare I say, searching for and living in the serendipity of what I am learning). I wish the same for all of you.

Here’s my amazing husband…
…dreaming up the lives of each of our precious ones.