“Me Too”

There has been a trend popping up in my Facebook feed encouraging women to write “Me Too” in their statuses as a way to shed a light on the very serious issue of sexual harassment or sexual abuse/assault.  When I first saw it showing up I thought to myself that there can’t be that many women that I know that have dealt with some aspect of this in their life, but as the days wore on I started to see more and more women writing the simple line of “Me Too” in their status.  I was really surprised at this.  I don’t know why I was surprised, because I know it’s such a common thing these days and that almost all women have experienced it at some point in their lives.  What made me even more surprised was that, while I was completely engrossed in sympathy for all of these other women, I completely forgot that I have experienced it too.  I am a “Me Too” person as well.

I have been by no means quiet about the two instances.  I know many women feel shame or embarrassment over the situations.  Some of these women probably have much worse stories than mine are, and maybe they feel that their voices weren’t heard when they first experienced it so it’s easiest just to push it under the rug and pretend it never happened.  For me, I have told people about my two moments but it’s not like I’m shouting it from the roof top.  One of the situations anyone who regularly reads what I write in here knows about.  That will follow shortly.

In my early 20s, when I was living in New Zealand and relatively new to the country, I spent a fair amount of time at bars drinking with new friends as it was what 20 year olds do.  Back then you could barely walk through one bar without some drunk guy sticking his hand out as you walked by and he would give your butt a squeeze.  When you’re that young, likely drunk, single and hoping to meet a cute guy, for some reason the butt squeeze wasn’t considered sexual assault, it was considered flirting.  A “hey, I think you’re cute” kind of way to get attention.  I would like to say it’s childish, but it isn’t even that.  Instead of approaching a woman that they thought was cute, they would instead wait for her to walk by and give an appreciative, drunken, squeeze of the butt.  I can’t remember now if I ever stopped to talk to any of these guys, but I’m fairly certain I usually just laughed and kept on walking.  Back then it was a compliment to me.  Fast forward to the me of 34 years old, if that happened to me I would be turning around so fast and I would lose my sh** on them so hard they wouldn’t know what hit them.  It makes me sad to think that back then it was something that was just a normal occurrence and not even worth reporting to someone.  You never saw me standing by the bar and a cute guy walked by and I would reach out to stroke his abs through his shirt or grab his ass.  So why is it that women would basically allow guys to do that?  And it’s these drunk guys at the bar that didn’t learn their lesson in their early 20s so they now continue to spend their later adult years thinking they can get away with it.  But now women are speaking up about it.  This sh** needs to stop.

The first time I realized I was actually sexually assaulted was when I was about 24 years old and out for a run.  It was a good run.  I can remember it well.  I was near home and feeling pumped about my speed and time.  As I was focusing on the final few hundred meters of my run, I felt a slap and quick squeeze on my butt.  At first I thought it was my boyfriend being silly, but as I turned around quickly I saw a face of a man I didn’t recognize.  He was on a bike so the moment went by really fast, but to this day it felt like minutes went by as I looked at his sneering face as he removed his hand and kept riding on.  I stood for a moment shocked and a little shaken.  I walked the rest of the way home and told my brother, who was visiting at the time.  He leapt out of his seat and was putting his shoes on demanding and yelling wanting to know what way the guy went, what he looked like, what he was wearing.  He was going to hunt this guy down and give him a piece of his mind, as protective big brothers do.  For some reason, in my naïve mind, I thought it wasn’t that bad of a situation and I told him not to worry about it.  He still went out and walked around for a bit but nothing ever came from it as clearly the guy had gotten away.  34 year old me now realizes that I should have phoned the police and reported the incident and given a description of the guy.  Maybe what he did he thought was harmless, but maybe he was someone capable of more and was on the police’s radar as someone they were looking for.  Grown up hindsight is a tough thing.

The second incident was one I wrote about a few months ago here at work.  What would be considered a rumour is actually a form of sexual harassment in the work place.  It was the rumour that went around stating that I had an affair with a co-worker simply because we were friends and joked around a lot.  While it isn’t the worst sexual harassment claim out there, it’s still one that was put on me because I am a female and whoever started it could get away with it because, as a female, we typically don’t speak up about things like this.  Instead of getting upset about something that was absolutely untrue, I just rolled my eyes and shrugged my shoulders figuring it would go away with time.  It has gone away.  But that is in part because the person I was allegedly having the affair with was recently “let go” from his job and I don’t speak to him anymore, and the person I believed started the rumour has also been under investigation for other sexual harassment reports against him and he’s been on paid leave while they do their investigation.  When the rumour first came out I reported it to our Union representative.  I then spoke to him on the phone and I told him who I believed started the rumour and said that it was harassment and this kind of stuff needs to be shut down straight away.  After a bit of talking he said to me that unfortunately all he can do is document the information I gave him and nothing else more could be done unless I wanted to launch a big investigation into the start of the rumour.  He said that because I wasn’t 100% certain that it was that particular person, there wasn’t much else to be done.  I accepted this answer and let it go.  When I got told he was on leave while under investigation I thought this would be the end of him.  They would fire him.  But….on Friday I was pulled into a manager’s office and privately told that this person is coming back.  I don’t know how to take this news.  My first reaction is anger.  Anger that they would let someone who has clearly, clearly sexually harassed multiple colleagues right to their faces, to come back and continue work as though nothing happened.  My second reaction is confusion.  How the heck am I supposed to work alongside this guy that I know so much about and who I think should be fired?  I’m frustrated to say the least.  This is another situation of a man doing something to multiple women and getting away with it.  I don’t know if he will come back having learned his lesson or if he will come back cocky because he got away with it.  I really don’t know.  How can someone go sexually harassing his colleagues and get all the support in the world, but when I bring up the allegations against me, I’m basically told there is nothing that can be done without doing an investigation that would have affected my job as well as my relationship with other colleagues.  Ultimately making it so I would have no choice but to find a different job.  Especially if I went through it and they came back and declared there is insufficient evidence to prove he said these things about me.  How awkward would it be for me to be at work after that and after everyone knows about it?  So I did what so many other women in far worse situations do.  I just dropped it and didn’t bother getting deep into it.

Anyway, I have a lot of frustrations around that.  Some personal and some because my co-worker friends will be affected by his return.  Maybe he will do what he does again and this time to the wrong person and there will be sufficient evidence against him to get him gone for good.  I can only hope.

I work in a white collar office and every day I deal with blue collar men.  The bluest of blue collar men.  I have had one man, who is in his late 50’s actually tell me last week that the reason he goes to one of the restaurants he goes to on his lunch break is because one of the waitresses has a good *insert big boob hand motion here*.  I was the only one in the room and he said it to me like I was one of his guy buddies.  This isn’t the first time he’s made inappropriate comments about women in front of me.  Every time I tell him that it’s not appropriate and he should really stop.  But he’s a joker and if he isn’t saying it to me, he’s going to say it to someone else.  I’m not easily offended, and just like him making a boob comment, I will occasionally make a comment about a man’s body to a friend every now and then.  I’m not innocent in that regard.  But I don’t do it in the workplace and never to anyone’s face.  It doesn’t make a difference though.  Either way I’m objectifying a human being and it’s exactly how he’s objectifying a woman he doesn’t even know.  So this is a learning experience for me too.

So, as these posts go around on facebook, I can only hope that it will at least open up some discussion about sexual harassment/abuse/assault on women in the workplace and even outside of the workplace.  It will open the eyes of employers who have chosen to turn a blind eye on the subject because they would rather protect their high income earning men.  It will stop the inequality of women who can be just as powerful in any job as a man can be.  I hope that it will start to make people realize that a woman is not for there for people to make inappropriate comments to or to do things to her to try to make her “earn” a higher up job.  It still amazes me that even in this day and age we still have this battle going on.

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Just Ask

Last night, after what was an incredibly long day, which didn’t go to plan at all, and after a tired outburst from me, my husband said something to me.  Actually, he snapped something at me.  He said to me “stop trying to act like a f**king single mother all the time and just ask me to help with some things.”  This was as he was busily setting up a new tv we bought.  A tv we didn’t need, but he decided he wanted.  A tv I didn’t give two sh*ts about.  My annoyance started because he was sitting there playing with the new tv while I bustled around like a mad woman hand washing a huge stack of dishes at 9:00 at night and still had to make lunches for me and Hunter, which is time consuming these days now that I can’t just toss whatever into a container and call it a meal for myself.  I knew it was going to be a late night for me and there would be no relaxing after a long, sort of fun, but tiring day.

The comment about acting like a single mother didn’t get a response from me.  I just turned my back and went back to the dishes.  There were so many things I could say because…let’s face it…probably 6 of the 7 days of the week I actually do feel like a single mother.  Now, let me follow that by saying that when Eddie is around, if I ask him to take Hunter off my hands for awhile or tell him I need something from the grocery store, he will always do it.  I know my days aren’t anything near what a single mother actually goes through.  But my workload and the amount of child care I do vs. the amount he does is significantly higher.  Every night the dinner and bedtime routine are always my thing to do.  I can’t remember the last time my husband gave Hunter a bath.   The last time he put him to bed was when I injured my back in August.  And he only did it because I couldn’t lift Hunter.  He never makes Hunter’s lunch for daycare.  Never puts Hunter’s clothes away…heck…he doesn’t put his own clothes away either!  Weekends lately have been him trying to get things done around the house in preparation for the winter which means less fun time with his son.  Although yesterday we had a full day of family time, which is rare.  But usually it’s me taking Hunter to the playground or the pool so he can be out of his dad’s hair while he tries to get things done.  He’s also deep in the throes of launching his first major project for his company that he just started so on weekends he’s often having to run off for an hour here and there to deal with things.  I know that this time will be only a blip on the radar and, hopefully, forgotten once he’s able to start hiring some employees in the next few months.  He will be able to be more involved.  To attempt to help make up for his busy-ness during the day on weekends, he lets me sleep in and he gets up with Hunter so they can have some alone time together for a bit.  So there’s that.

Anyway, I’m digressing a bit here.  The reason his line got to me and didn’t warrant a response from me was because one thing I have decided is that men truly don’t understand the power of the words “what can I do to help?”  When the wife is clearly stressed out and tired, and actually telling it straight to the husband’s face, why does a husband still have to be asked to help?  Why is there something in their genetic makeup that makes it so they can’t or won’t just simply offer to lend a hand to the person that they love?  Why do they have to see their wife at her wits end and turn it into an argument instead of just simply offering the help?  I know that my husband is not an anomaly and that there are millions of men out there who are exactly the same.  There wouldn’t be articles written about the burden on mothers that the husbands don’t understand or see.  I know this is something that clearly isn’t going to change and I should just learn to accept it and start asking for help.  But for some reason I keep trucking along, trying to be “do it all mom” and end up continuously annoyed with him because he isn’t offering to help me out.  And continuously bickering with him because he doesn’t see where I’m coming from and I don’t seem to want to see where he is coming from.

I definitely get it.  It’s so easy to just ask for help.  But why is it so hard for me to just do it?  “Hey Eddie, can you please swap the laundry over?”  See?  So easy.  So why don’t I just do it?  I know it isn’t fun to always be annoyed with him about this, so why don’t I try to fix it?  Is it my sheer stubbornness?  Is it the fact that we are both Taurus star signs and as stubborn as each other?  Is it because I don’t want to seem like I’m failing as a mother and a wife because I need to ask for help?  Or is it just my wishful thinking that one day he will come around and actually offer to help me out?  The other day I was annoyed that I had forgotten some stuff at the grocery store and he said he could go get it.  So maybe he is already offering to help do some things but I’m just not noticing it or picking up on it because they aren’t exactly the things I want him to be offering to help on?  When I’m stressing about having to do a huge pile of dishes and go to the grocery store and he says he can go to the store for me, does he realize that I actually like going to the store as it’s a break from everything and I would prefer it if he offered to do the dishes instead?  Or should I just take what he offers and be grateful that he has said he will take one thing off of my loaded list?

For my own sanity, and the sake of our marriage, I need to figure this out and I just need to woman up and start asking for help.  This can’t keep going on this way because I might lose my mind and my happiness.  My husband is more than willing to help out.  I just need to simply ask.

Change of Season

The dark days of winter have started….even though it’s Fall still.  This morning’s commute to work was pitch black and bucketing down with rain.  It’s been 6 months of driving to work in semi-day light or total daylight so it’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow waking up and it’s black as night out and driving to work in that darkness.  What doesn’t help is that the highway I drive to work on is a highway on the side of the mountain so it’s got a lot of curves and hills and it isn’t lit by any street lights at all.  This morning I was reminded of why I really don’t like the commute in the winter.  People coming towards me drive with their high beams on and don’t dim them when I approach so I get blinded.  The rain creates pools of water in sections of the road that pull my truck in unexpected directions.  In daylight I can be prepared for those pools, but in the pitch black I can’t see them.  There are no reflectors of any sort on the road lines so you can barely see them when it’s pissing down with rain.  Same with the concrete barriers that are supposed to keep me from catapulting down the side of the mountain….no reflectors on a lot of the newer ones put in so suddenly I’m right next to the barrier and shitting myself because it was such a near miss.  What also doesn’t help is that my vision at night is already not the greatest, so adding rain into the mix and soon snow into the mix and it’s even worse.  While driving this morning I actually started thinking about how maybe it’s time to look for a job in the town I live in so I’m not commuting in the dark anymore.  We’ll see.  It’s the first day of dark commuting so maybe I just need to find my “sea legs”, so to speak.

With the colder weather comes the desire to just cuddle up under a blanket and veg out at home.  It’s taking added effort to get things that need to be done, done.  My house is a bit of a gong show right now with a HUGE mountain of laundry on my couch and a huge mountain of laundry in our bedroom that needs a home but we haven’t bought a dresser since moving into the house and I don’t have enough hangers to hang every single article of my husband’s clothing.  And believe me…he has a LOT of clothes.  But do you think, once I’m done dishes and making lunches that I take a bit of time to start dealing with the laundry?  Nope.  Instead I’ve been climbing into bed to watch Netflix on my ipad.  Maybe I need a new plan of dealing with at least 10 items of clothing a night before I sit down to watch Netflix.  And maybe I also need to tell my husband that we need to buy a freaking dresser for our clothes.  We spent our summer making our camping trailer a priority purchase, our hot tub a priority purchase, the huge patio umbrella for over the hot tub a priority purchase, but not a dresser.  Our priorities were out of whack!  I will get there eventually.  My goal is that once I get the massive piles dealt with then I will work hard to stay on top of it so we don’t end up in this situation again.  If only my husband would pick up a few articles of clothing and toss them on hangers or fold them up.  Instead he will sit by the pile and not even seem to notice it building and building.  What a guy.

And then there’s my drive to better my body…which I’ve written about before.  I’m now four days into the throes of eliminating sugar out of my diet.  Still allowed fruit, but not a lot of it.  I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t realize it would be this hard.  I’m proud of myself for sticking it out these four days.  I have diligently read labels on everything, I’ve cooked simpler, I prepped a giant veggie-full frittata for breakfasts for the entire week and I paired up alongside it some chicken sausages that are zero sugar.  I’m allowed to have a latte on a rare occasion but I haven’t let myself have one because I think it could be a slippery slide off the wagon if I taste that delicious milk.  Last night was by far the hardest night out of them all as I had a busy day, I was tired, I was stressed out about work and I didn’t get to the gym.  Every thought in my head was telling me that it would be ok to have just one or two spoon full of the delicious, fatty vanilla yogurt I have in the fridge for my son.  I was prepping his lunch and there was leftover yogurt on the spoon and I caught myself raising the spoon to my mouth to lick it off but stopped half way and did the right thing and took it to the sink and washed it off.  Today feels like a bit of a low day as my body is cleansing itself of the sugars.  I have had a few dizzy spells when I move too quickly and a headache.  I have also been moodier than normal this week.  I talked to my food coach about it and he assured me that it’s normal to go through when detoxing the body of something it has grown used to.  A friend of mine also confirmed that it’s normal and everything should level out within a few days.  It’s like a drug addict detoxing off of their drug.  Just on a lesser scale.    It is truly, truly making me realize how many things I have been eating that have sugar in them.  I know that one little slip can send me spiraling back into a place I’m not happy with when it comes to my body so I need to keep staying strong.  This is only the start of the changes so I need to sit down, buckle up and prepare myself for the ride.  I haven’t noticed too much change in my body since I started working with the food coach a week and a half ago.  I have lost four pounds but the last couple of days it’s fluctuated up and down.  I guess my body is trying to figure out what is going on and it will fall into routine soon enough.  It’s a process of creating good habits, as my coach says.  He’s easing me into everything slowly as it will ensure longer term success and less of a chance to fail like a lot of people do when they jump all in.  I like his plan….but right now, when I feel like this, I don’t like his plan!  But I’m going to trust him.

We had a great long weekend this past weekend which I will have to write about another time.  Work is calling my name and since it was stuff that was stressing me out last night, I guess I should start making a dent in it.

Happy times.

Hoping This Is It!

Last week I wrote about how enough is enough and it’s time to get my chunky butt into gear.  I did well last week and I got on my spin bike twice (ouch do those seats ever hurt, even with bike shorts on!!) and I got up at 5 a.m and went to the gym 3 times.  It was good.  The early morning actually wasn’t as brutal as I thought it would be.  I hauled all of my work clothes, makeup, etc along with me and despite a rocky start on my first day where I locked my fob in my locker and then promptly locked myself out of the gym, the rest of the week flowed much more evenly and I enjoyed getting the workout done first thing and not having to worry about going in the evening.  This week hasn’t been as stellar as the temporary membership I got to the gym expired on Monday and I haven’t been able to go there when office staff are in to properly sign up for a full membership.  The goal is to go tonight before 8:00 since I’m kid-free for a few hours.

The online personal trainer that I talked about before got back to me and said that his schedule is crazy busy and he’s not taking new clients on at the moment.  *sad trombone*….BUT, he then said that because we have worked together before and he remembers me being quite low maintenance client, he’s willing to take me on again!  Wahoo!  Money has been transferred to him and, as we speak, he’s creating my program and will have it to me to start on Monday….or actually Tuesday.  Since Monday is a long weekend day and we are out of town.  I’m excited!  I know my way around a gym, and I know how to create my own workouts, but I’m too busy to sit down and research and plan my workout program, so it’s just easier to put it into the trainer’s hands.  It also will hold me accountable.  I will be using an app where I will have to report every time I do a workout and, if I don’t “check in”, then he can see it and he will ask me why I haven’t been going.  It worked well last time so I hope it will this time too!

The scariest part of me trying to go from chunky mommy to fit mommy is working with someone who is going to totally do a total flip on my eating.  My sister has been a guinea pig for one of her Crossfit coaches and is having amazing results, and, as I mentioned before, I casually suggested to her that maybe I should talk to him to see if he can help me out.  I was willing to pay.  After a week of waiting, I was given his phone number and we started messaging.  He agreed to help me out but only if I absolutely 100% commit.  I’m not a commitment-phobe, but it was frigging scary saying to him that I’m committed and will try not to let him down.  My husband wasn’t overly thrilled at the idea of me working with him, but only because it might mean I have to stop ordering the pre-made meals that we have been using for our dinners.  Even though they are incredibly healthy and diet friendly.  If we aren’t using the meals then typically he and I don’t eat dinner until after Hunter has gone to bed because between finishing work at 4, picking Hunter up from daycare, commuting 45 minutes home from his daycare, we don’t get home until 5:30-ish and there isn’t a lot of time to cook dinner before the bath and bedtime routine happens.  So I’ve usually whipped something up for Hunter to ensure his belly is full and then after he goes to bed I make something else.  The husband doesn’t like the late meals too much, which I totally understand.  I don’t either.  But instead of making that comment, he instead should say that he will step up and take a bedtime or two off my hands or he can make dinner, he whined about late dinners and got grumpy.  I may have snapped at him a bit and walked away.  But after talking with the food coach, he said that we are going to start with small changes and then slowly build from there.  So as of next Monday I will be officially cutting all sugar out of my diet.  This includes hidden sugars like in bacon or deli meat turkey or in marinades for BBQ’d meat.  Fruit is still allowed for now.  But, in a way it means that I’m cutting out simple carbs like bread and other deliciousness that carbs bring.  Am I ready for this?  Yes….and no.  When he told me this morning what I had to do I honestly felt immediate panic.  What am I supposed to eat for breakfast?  I don’t even really like eggs!  Lunch is no problem.  But can I eat the meals that I order for us to eat when our schedules are so busy??  I’m pretty sure he was rolling his eyes at my panicked questions and he calmly answered each of them.  He sent me a website of good sugar-free breakfast meals I can make ahead of time and just reheat.  Praise baby jesus that cheese is still allowed as I can add it to my hearts content to a frittata or to scrambled eggs.  I sent him the website of the food place we order from and he said that because it’s a Paleo company, they don’t have any added sugars to any of their meals, so for now, it’s safe to eat.  At first I was all “naaaah I don’t eat that much sugar or hidden sugars” but when I really look at my daily food intake….there is definitely a lot of hidden sugar.  I know, I know, it should all be about moderation and still eating the things you enjoy and such.  But I have about 40 pounds that need to come off of this chunky mommy body and we need to do an overhaul and get my body away from what it’s gotten used to.  For me, sometimes it’s all or nothing.  If I’m still allowed those chips, then I will get one taste and then want to inhale the bag.  I struggle with moderation sometimes.  So I have to jump all in.  To say I’m nervous about making that step is an understatement.  I don’t eat that much sugar, but there are definitely elements of it in the granola I eat for breakfast, or the bread in my sandwich for lunch.  This first step means that I am going to have to go back to my pre-baby days of doing meal prep and ensuring I have something cooked at the start of the week that I can resort to.  The best way for me to fail will be lack of preparation.  I know eliminating sugar for the rest of my life isn’t feasible, but for now, while I try to drop the weight, I will do it.  I’ve heard of people having great increases in their energy levels, they sleep better, their skin feels better and they lose weight just by removing sugar from their diet.  I’m not expecting huge changes in one week of no sugar, but a small change might be good.  I also have to go home tonight and take a picture of my fridge and pantry.  Thankfully the fridge won’t be a bad one as I tend to have lots of fruits, veggies, yogurt (mostly for Hunter) and our pre-made meals in it.  We have a lot of jams though as my husband is huge on buying jam when we travel, brings it home and then uses it once and forgets about it.  We also have about three jars of mayonnaise in there right now thanks to camping trips, meanwhile I only use a small dab of it in my sandwiches.  I told him that I will take the pictures but then I will have to specify out of it all what I actually eat vs. what the rest of my family eats.  The pantry is going to be interesting as well as, again, I don’t eat that much of the food in the pantry.  It’s cans, jars of pasta sauces, more cans, all of the snack foods that Hunter gets (goldfish crackers, granola bars, regular crackers, mini muffins) all of which I don’t eat.  Then baking ingredients, which I never use because I never bake.  Shreddies because Hunter is a shreddie monster.  My granola.  And the bottom shelf is where a whole bunch of wine is stored at the moment.  I explained to him that I rarely eat food out of the pantry, but he still wants to see a picture.  So again, I’m going to have to add a disclaimer to it as well.  I wish I could say the pantry is full of all kinds of goodies like chips and chocolate….but it isn’t.  I’ve explained to him that my diet isn’t actually typically *that* unhealthy.  That I have either veggies and fruit at every meal, I never buy chips because of the aforementioned lack of self-control with them, we have chocolate in another cupboard but it’s all chocolate I can’t eat because it has orange in it.  In fact, I think my husband has forgotten it exists.  We don’t drink sugary drinks, not even juice.  The only cookies we have are for Hunter for a twice a week treat in his lunch, and they are mini cookies.  We never eat them ourselves. He’s going to look at what I eat on the regular and wonder why I can’t lose weight.  It’s truly actually not that bad.  But that’s his job.  Figure it out and help me find out the route to go!

Not only that, but I have an appointment with my naturopath/doctor next week and she will be able to share the results of the blood work that I did back in September to check my thyroid as well as my hormone levels.  I’ve been trying to get an appointment for a few weeks now but it just hasn’t been working out.  So I’m now slowly getting my ducks in a row.  This is the most serious I’ve taken weight loss and control of my body since my early 20s when things and time was a lot easier.  I have learned that I need to make myself accountable to someone other than just myself.  I don’t want to pay for a trainer and basically give him free money because I fizzled out after two weeks.  I don’t want the food coach to judge me and, when he sees my sister, tell her he’s disappointed I didn’t have what it takes to take control of my own health.  I don’t do well with change, but this is a change that absolutely has to be done.  For myself and for my son.

The Fears Of A Mother

In light of the Las Vegas shootings as well as a small terrorist attack here on Canadian soil recently, it really is getting me thinking about the kind of world that I am raising my son in.  Before he was born I was already fiercely protective of him.  I worried about bullying from other kids and body image issues.  Once he was born and nearing heading into daycare to spend a lot of time away from me I continued to worry about bullying and accidents happening at daycare.  I worried about earthquakes and not being able to get to him.  I worried about fire burning up the daycare.  I worried about when the kids go out on little field trips to the nearby music hall or the duck pond that he was going to wander off and they won’t notice and someone would take him.  The mind is truly capable of reaching the far extremes when it comes to worrying about the safety of your own child.  It isn’t enough for me to keep him safely hidden in the four walls of my house so he will never get hurt.  But it’s enough to make this mama learn how to control her anxiety about protecting her sweet little boy.

But on top of the standard worrying of a new mother, there becomes the worry about the upheaval in the world.  The shootings and bombings that seem to become part of what we hear taking place almost weekly.  Of course a lot of it isn’t happening in Canada….but some is.  And it’s a growing concern.  Sure, some of it is religion based.  Some of it is pure hatred.  Are we ever safe??  If we can’t even go to a concert without the fear of someone with mental instability or racial hate deciding to make a statement and take out a crowd of complete strangers, then we truly are never safe.  We are slowly entering into a world where people are going to start avoiding crowded events.  We see too many of these moments, the amateur videos terrified people make as we hear the pop-pop-pop of an automatic rifle in the background, and they are enough to start to scare us into believing that we could be next.  There is no connection to these mass shootings….so how do we truly know when someone is going to open fire again?  We don’t.  After these shootings happen, for a week or two the world stands together and we say “Pray for [insert city affected here]” and we all say that love is stronger than hate and we can overcome this.  We all announce that gun laws in the U.S have to change.  But after a few weeks, those of us not directly affected will forget about what happened and it will just be the ones who lost loved ones who remain with the scars from their loss.  And it will go this way until the next shooting happens.  Then the cycle will repeat itself.  I am not American, but I am a neighbour to America and have friends there and their safety means everything to me.  If I could do more about gun control in a country I’m not a citizen of, I would.  But I can’t.  I can only support those who can encourage the change.  All I can do for my son, as this turmoil surrounds us is teach him how to have a voice to help create change where he can.  I can teach him that love truly is more powerful than hate and he can be part of the shift in the world that spreads love, helps those with mental illness and welcomes everyone of all races, background, cultures and religions.

Am I ignorant to think that my son can be part of a much needed change?  Maybe.  Maybe the problem is bigger than me.  Bigger than him.  But by encouraging him, as the future generation shaping our country, that is one step into the right direction.  Maybe it will be his generation that has had parents witness and experience the horrors from bullying to gay bashing to the extreme of suicide bombers, and it will be because enough of us parents are appalled by the change in the world, that we can mould the minds of our kids to create a better place to be in.  We can raise children who will select country leaders who truly want a better, safer world.  Maybe our children will be able to actually feel trust in their country’s leadership, knowing that they are thinking about ALL human kind and not just themselves and their own agenda.  It all starts with one parent encouraging their child and it can snowball into something positive from there.  I’m a firm believer in this.

I couldn’t sleep last night and I lay in bed until almost midnight thinking about the families mourning the loss of their loved ones after a senseless attack.  I thought about what could have been done to avoid this happening.  And my thoughts weren’t even about gun control (okay…they obviously were to an extent) but they were about mental illness and the negative stigma attached to it and the lack of help and support we, as a society, give to people who struggle with it.  I thought about the life of struggle the Vegas shooter must have had if something in his head was telling him that he needed to take innocent lives and then his own.  I thought about how I can forever protect my child….even though it’s impossible.  It’s tough.  In a world where people care more about what Kim Kardashian’s hair colour is than they do about the state of their country, how do we switch the mindset back in our children?  How do we tell them that instead of spending time looking at snapchat pictures and filters, which is fun, to instead read a couple news articles, which may be depressing, and learn about what is going on around them?  How do I one day answer the questions my son is inevitably going to have about terrorism and hate?  Questions my parent’s generation never had to deal with.  Being a mom is hard enough as is, and to have to spend time, after each major terrifying event, trying to think “how would I answer Hunter’s questions about this?” is even harder.

I don’t get it.  My heart is crushed still today as I think about it all.  I can’t get my thoughts straight.  I am struggling to focus on work.  But, like every good parent out there, I will put my focus into raising a well-rounded, accepting, loving little boy.  It’s all I can do right now in a world where I feel helpless.

Adulting Is Tough!

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Now that summer has ended and we are into the throes of Fall it means that we are spending more weekends at home instead of going out camping.  We have no camping trips planned until just after Christmas, but it doesn’t mean we won’t add one in if we can here and there.  Our trailer is fully winterized which means that we can camp in the cold and not freeze our faces off.  But for now, I’m enjoying having the time at home to do whatever we please.  And I’m also enjoying that the last three weekends in a row, Hunter has slept until 8:30/9:00 almost every morning, which means sleep in for mom and dad too!  Just  yesterday he slept until almost 10:00!!!!  He did wake up a few times and played with his stuffies for a few minutes then would lie back down and go back to sleep.  But I finally pulled the plug and woke him up just before 10:00.  To say that altered our day majorly is an understatement.  He didn’t go for a nap until 3:00 and I’m fairly certain he thought it was night and his nap was encroaching on 1.5 hours, which is highly unusual for him.  I ended up having to wake him up from that too so it didn’t affect his regular bedtime and was met with a very cranky little boy for a few hours after.

Anyway, the point I was getting at is that now that we are spending more time at home on the weekends I am trying to take Hunter out and about to explore our town some more.  It was starting to seem like when we were actually home on the weekend, we spent most of our time wandering our neighbourhood and going to the pool.  It was starting to do my head in.  I usually couldn’t be bothered packing Hunter up into the car and going anywhere.  I decided to get over that feeling and realized that I need to revitalize our weekends a bit.  So we have started to do the playground tour in town.  Up until recently we never took Hunter to playgrounds.  I chalk part of that up to him being too small/young and being easily intimidated by the bigger, more confident kids playing.  I thought we would be wasting our time making all of the effort to go, only to have him stand there, holding my hand, frozen in one spot because it’s too noisy or busy for his sensitive little soul.  After touring a variety of different playgrounds we found one that is near the library in town.  It is right in downtown but never seems to be that chaotic, and it has a couple areas to it, some designed for little ones and some designed for bigger kids.  Which means that Hunter can climb around freely without being bulldozed over.  And, with it being so near the library, once we are done with playground time, we stop in at the library where they have a great kids section with good books and even toys for the little ones to play with.  We will go there and he will play for a bit before he pulls the plug and starts to clean up the toys saying “all done” and then we leave.  He now understands that going to the playground means he gets to go on the slide and he’s always excited to go.  It’s going to get interesting once the snow falls and he keeps asking about the slide.

The one thing I have started to notice is that, despite being in a small town and most people are typically friendly, a lot of the other parents at the playground keep to themselves or only talk to their friends who are there with them.  The first time we went to the playground I tried to make small talk with a mom and dad who were there together with their son who is the same age as Hunter.  I got shut down so fast it took me back to a time when I was 20-something and I asked a hot guy to dance and he looked over my head and straight up said “no”!!  They clearly had no interest in talking to me despite our kids being the same age.  Yesterday when we went I found that Hunter was the youngest one there and the parents of older kids sat around the perimeter of the playground and watched their kids from afar.  Hunter is still at an age where I try to let him play and climb independently, but I also I have to follow him around a bit more than the others do.  So I barely spoke to anyone and spent the whole time going down the slide with a happy little Hunter.  How is a woman supposed to make friends in the town if every time she makes effort it gets shut down fast?!!  Surprisingly, I have felt that in the city, on the odd occasion I took Hunter to a playground there, the parents are more interactive with one another there than they are in my small town!

But, on the flip side, yesterday a woman with her 14 month old son briefly was talking to me, and I suddenly felt insanely awkward.  It didn’t help that her accent was so thick that it was really hard to understand her.  But it also didn’t help that I suddenly didn’t know how to socialize with this woman.  I am a bit naturally shy in social settings.  I do better with people who are more outgoing and confident in their socializing.  People who like to talk about themselves and like the sound of their own voices.  I usually feel more relaxed around these people because there is less pressure on me to try to carry the conversation and I seem to find more ease in bantering back and forth with people who are confident.  But the moment I end up in a situation where it’s someone who is shyer than me and who doesn’t try to help the conversation by asking questions or keeps their answers to my questions brief, that’s when it becomes awkward and it fades out and I find some excuse to walk away.  So maybe this nice lady with her 14 month old was actually trying to do exactly what I need to do, and make friends in a new town, but because it was so awkward feeling it was a connection that didn’t really go anywhere because it was too much work for me.  Which sounds so awful to say.

But the other challenge is, how the heck are you supposed to try to connect with other parents when you are following your 2 year old around a playground?  It’s way easier if I can just stand and talk, instead of starting to talk about something then being pulled in another direction and having to yell my final pieces to the discussion over my shoulder as I’m being hauled away.  I recently signed Hunter up for a parent and tot dance class.  I’m a horrific dancer myself, but I’m sure my skills will be slightly better than the 2 year olds in the class.  It’s going to be really interesting as this will be the first ever group activity he’s been involved in, besides daycare, and it will be the first time I will be going to something that will mean I will regularly see the same people every week.  It’s a 9 week class and we are already missing 2 of them.  But part of me is hoping that, in the time of the class I might be able to meet a couple other parents who are also in need of new friends like me!

This would all be so much easier if I was 5 years old and had a toy that another kid loved and that was enough for us to immediately become best friends.

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Styling monster ready for weekend adventures!
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He now knows to say “cheeeeese” when I take his picture!

Just a Big Softie

Since becoming a mom I’ve suddenly got all kinds of new feels going on inside of me.  I know people said that when pregnant and post-birth your hormones go crazy and you can go from sweet and kind to raging and crying in a matter of minutes, but what nobody told me was how my heart would feel a feeling that I sometimes can’t even describe that well when I see certain things.

For example, a few months ago Eddie and I were watching the movie with Mark Walberg in it about the Boston Marathon bombings.  I was all cool with it and enjoying the movie until they showed an 8 year old boy who had been killed by the bomb.  The tears started creeping into my eyes and I told myself to get it together.  It didn’t work.  They showed the little boy’s body covered by a white sheet and the police officer standing guard over him until an ambulance could come for him….hours later.  I immediately burst into ugly, snotty tears.  Eddie paused the movie and asked if we should turn it off.  I blubbered out that it’s ok and to keep watching.  He put the movie back on while I sat next to him and cried.  He paused it again and said he can’t follow the movie with me sniffling away so should he turn it off?  I said to keep watching and slowly I got myself together.  Prior to having a baby this would have tugged on my heart strings, but it wouldn’t send me into a sobbing downward spiral.  It isn’t the only time this has happened.  Stories in the news involving kids, stories in tv shows involving kids, stories in magazines involving kids.  They all make my heart swell and hurt for them and for their families.  I don’t always cry, but I always feel an intense emotion and have the need to go and protect all the kids everywhere.  Today while I was eating my lunch I was reading a magazine someone dumped in our office kitchen and there was an article in it about heroin and the high level of overdoses going on.  In the article was a picture that some American police had taken of two full grown adults both overdosed in the front seat of their car and in the backseat is the blurred out face of a child sitting in his carseat, clearly screaming and crying.  I stared at that photo, no word of a lie, for five solid minutes while my head rushed through all of the thoughts about how terrified that child must have been.  How helpless he was.  How badly I wanted to go into that picture an unbuckle him from his seat and hold him tight and tell him he will be ok.

One of the moments that stands out the strongest to me, in the days after Hunter was born and I was going through a very tough time with baby blues or maybe even postpartum depression and my mom was over.  We were getting ourselves together to go for a little walk and to grab some lunch.  I was putting Hunter into his car seat on the stroller and my mom asked me what my strongest feeling was at that moment.  She was trying to get me to talk through the mental challenges I was going through.  I told her, as I looked at tiny, sleeping Hunter, that my heart hurts every time I think about how helpless he was.  That absolutely everything he needed to do, depended on me.  How he wouldn’t be alive without me.  To this day I still feel strongly about that.  Even though he is a very independent little 2 year old, he still absolutely needs me in so many ways.  It actually is a bit mind blowing to me to really think about how HUGE of a job it is having someone who relies 100% on me.

It is the fact that I know how helpless a young child can be that turns me into a blubbering mess during movies or the news.  My heart wants to embrace them all and keep them safe and sound.  To be protected for life and no bad will ever come to any of them.  I am even struggling to find the words that can best describe this intense feeling.  How to explain why my heart feels like it is going to burst through my chest during these moments?  My husband just pats me on the hand and calls me a softie.  But surely he must feel some element of it since becoming a Dad?  Surely?!!  Part of me wonders if I will learn to be less of a softie about these things and one day they won’t get to me as much.  Or will I now and forever be the one that is diving into the depths of the emotions that the kids might be feeling and want to protect them all forever?