But what if.

Last night was a fairly low point in my young parenting career.

It had been a long few days of go-go-go. I haven’t been sleeping much, so by the time the bickering had reached an all-time high on the drive home, my patience, not to mention nerves, were shot.

I slammed the car onto the side of the road and unleashed. I was done and they could walk home, as far as I was concerned.

No, I didn’t make them walk 34kms home. I’m not a total monster.

We drove home in silence.

Me, seething and full of regret, knowing I’d overreacted but too stubborn and angry to apologize.

Them, well, who knows what they were thinking.

As I lay in bed that night, all I could think was “but, what if that outburst is all they will remember of the day?”

When I can’t sleep, the but, what ifs bounce around my brain like pinballs.

I want to let all 3 kids have all the freedom I feel they can handle.

But, what if all they remember is me not being by their side, somehow missing out?

I’m finding that one of the hardest parts of single parenting is not having that partner to bounce all your thoughts regarding these humans you are responsible for off of 24/7. On your own, the littlest things can take up an abnormal about of brain space.

There’s no question that I feel like we’re a team, me and the kids. A unit. When I’m away from them, I don’t feel whole.

But, what if that’s too much pressure for them?

The eldest is (was? he seems to have tapered off) on a “health kick”. He claims to be on a diet; he does a mini-workout that he saw on YouTube and has been biking every day.

I ask him why and what prompted him. His response is that he “wants a six pack and to be a faster runner and biker.”

A big part of me is proud of him for making healthy choices.

But, what if this is because of a negative example I’m setting? That time I teasingly poked his little belly? All those times we joke about my “jelly bum”… How many times have I told him that I love him just the way he is?

I want them to have the summer of their dreams. To have the freedom to make their own choices, to make mistakes, to skin their knees, build forts, embrace boredom, ride their bikes, live on popsicles.

But, what if it’s not enough?

I don’t believe in helicopter parenting. I want them to make smart choices and be accountable for their actions.

But, what if they aren’t? What if, by giving them these inches, they are taking yards?

But, what if, you never know, it all turns out ok?

Making the most of it.

I don’t particularly like swimming.

I was reminded of this fact when the alarm went off at 5:10am today. I groaned, cursed my sport of choice and went to the pool.

(Nevertheless, she persisted. Ha!)

Of the 3 sports that make up the rather odd one that is triathlon, swimming is, in my opinion, just the vehicle that gets me to the other two.

My dad will tell you all about how I used to scratch the shit out of my mom during toddler swim time. To this day, I still can’t open my eyes under water, making for some interesting swim meets in the lake as a kid (goggles? Who the hell wore goggles?!) The only reason I learned to properly swim in was to start triathlon.

(And also to feed my addiction to cute bikinis.)

Why yes, I have been dead last out of the water. This is proof.

Anyway. All this to say that getting into the pool always feels a little like a chore, the workouts always a little daunting.

Except! Except…

The boys joined the Whistler Swim Club about 8 weeks ago. I had made a deal: they had to try it for one session. They were wary of my expectations (were there races? What if it’s super hard? What if we’re slow?! Like you!)

I told them I wasn’t expecting mini-Michael Phelps’. I was merely hoping for them to learn how not to drown.

And here we are, 2 months later. No only do they know how to “not drown”, Will can sort of butterfly (I cannot), Rory like to swim backstroke because “I can breathe during that one, and they say things like “I had to go on the red top”.

I mean, c’mon. That’s cute, right?

As for me, I time workouts to happen during their practices and I struggle through my swim sessions a little less, mostly because I find it fun to spy on my kids underwater, and to share an even playing field. They do their thing in their lane, I do my thing in mine.

And Will can already beat me in a kick race.

 

When Mama gets a man cold

I spent the first day of 2017 in bed with what can only be described as a Man Cold. Feverish, sniffly, tired, general malaise. What a way to kick off the year! I felt sorry for myself and thus relied on the kids to take care of themselves (foreshadowing: the kitchen is something else this morning).

Anyway. As I lay there is some kind of fever delirium, I mentally went through the various stages of Mama’s Man Cold (MMC).

Sidebar: I came up with a gazillion ideas as I lay there in a fog. None of which I can remember today. 

Step 1. The Inkling

December 31 started off like any other day. A bit tired, maybe. That’s not all that unusual. But as the day wore on, I knew. That feeling at the back of your throat… the deepening fatigue… uh oh.

By the time we were expected at friends for NYE, I was clutching a box of tissues and celebrating with peppermint tea. Woo.

Step 2. Denial

Me at 8:30pm: “If I just take this Nyquil and go to bed early, I’ll be right as rain in the morning.”

Total fallacy.

Step 3. Resistance

We had big plans to ski fresh tracks on New Years Day. We were going to kick of 2017 with bacon and a full day of skiing. Up dark and early, I told myself I was ok. I packed my Tylenol and a box of tissues. I got this, right?

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By 10am, I feebly told the kids we were going home. Mama couldn’t hack it. Also, my eyes were watering so badly I couldn’t see #safetyfirst.

Step 4. Acceptance

Fine. I’m sick. Once home, I crawled into bed and let the kids fend for themselves. One of those days when you lie in bed floating in and out of sleep, but still with an ear towards what is happening in the rest of the house (are they fighting? eating? breaking things?) I don’t venture downstairs, knowing I’m better off in bed and that they are ok. Somewhat.

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Step 5. Recruitment

The dog never leaves my side, and a few times the kids check on me. Actually, it’s more like they can’t figure out what’s going on. They are wary: they stand at the door and wonder why I’m just a lump in bed: “Are you going to get up… at all?” They can’t seem to get used to the idea that I’m not hovering nearby. Eventually, they come close enough to sit on the bed with me. Anja makes me toast. I have helpers.

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I sleep for 14 hours.

Step 6. Recovery

Mama’s version of the man cold cannot extend past 24hours. The house and children may not survive. I get up, get dressed and face the day, still clutching my box of tissues.

On the bright side, at least I got my annual MMC over with early this year.

 

Day 1

It’s pitch dark when I open my eyes. I’m still tired, congested. I’ve had the flu for a few days. I look at my watch, it’s 6:08 on a Sunday morning. Ugh.

I lie there for a minute, thinking I could probably roll over and try to sleep, but I know that won’t happen. My brain is scrolling through the Mom list: do I make lunches first? Who didn’t finish homework? And then I remember… it’s not a school day!

It’s day 1 of the ski season for us. Finally.

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I try to pad downstairs quietly, but trip over the cat and the dog smashes into me and I hear Anja quietly ask if she can get up. Sure, I say.

Shortly after that, Rory joins us in wrinkled jammies and Will comes up, squinting in the light but already wearing his long underwear.

The morning is a blur. Breakfast gets half-eaten, fights ensue, socks are lost, reminders get issued. I’m thankful that I packed most of the ski stuff the night before, else you can be sure some critical piece would get left behind.

We bid the cousins goodbye and miraculously, we’re out the door at a reasonable time. Rory’s in the front seat, scrolling through iTunes so we can jam on our way to the mountain. And by jam, I mean listen to One Direction for the 100th time this weekend.

We’re all giddy.

The parking gods smile upon us and everyone is dressed and ready faster than ever. They dart through the cars, and I have to catch up to them after I lock our car and get my own stuff sorted.

We’re on the lift in no time, the kids are virtually vibrating with excitement. Naturally, we snap our first chairlift selfie of the year. My arms are short and my kids are getting bigger.

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The first run of the season has to be in powder and moguls, directly beneath the lift. Obviously. Outwardly, I’m laughing and having a great time. Inwardly, I’m cursing the moguls and marvelling and how the kids seem to have secretly skied all summer.

As is always the case when we play outside, there’s virtually no complaining or fighting. I take my gloves off and adjust helmets/goggles/mitts/etc no less than 4 billion times. “But Mooooom, let’s GO!” gets yelled when I ask for another picture. My socks are so itchy, but I can’t stop because no one waits for me, anyway.

We duck the rope at the end of the day #deathbeforedownload, and I get talked into a stop at the candy store on our way home. They get their sweet tooth from me.

The drive home is a little more quiet than in the morning, but still a little giddy. We talk about the powder, “mom did you see when I hit that jump”, plan for next weekend. We share the same joy in taking off ski boots. We go out to dinner in our long underwear. The glass of red at the end of the day almost makes me forget my congestion.

Ski mom beats soccer mom every time.

A different kind of Mom Guilt

As I type this, the kids are downstairs playing some game that specifically excludes adults (and sounds kind of rough, but they are laughing, so I’m staying out of it).

My inbox is very much under control (it’s a quiet time at work), my workout for the day is done and the dog came with, so that’s a 2-birds, one stone kind of situation.

The house is mostly under control (I mean, I could probably do another load of laundry but whatever).

I glance around the living room as the sun sets way too early and realize, with some trepidation, that there is nothing urgent that needs my attention.

And for some reason, I feel guilty.

There’s an expectation these days that moms (and dads, or anyone, really) need to be busy-busy-busy oh-no-no-time-to-sit-down. It’s a pet peeve of mine when you ask someone how they are and the first thing they sigh is “oh, I’m just so busy!” Uh huh. Aren’t we all.

Except.

I’m not. I’m really not! I have free time. Time that I don’t feel I need to assign a task to. Frankly, sometimes I don’t know how to fill that free time. Sometimes, I am even bored. And yet, it doesn’t feel right that I have this magical unicorn kind of time.

It’s like I’m admitting something, finally coming clean:

Hi, I’m Christine and I’m not busy all the time.

Maybe I need a hobby.

Feet up, Monday, 4:33pm.
Feet up, Monday, 4:33pm.

Editor’s note: I even feel guilty just writing this.

Sound bites of summer

“Dropping in!” (can refer to anything from trampoline time, bike rides and hurling one’s self off the top bunk).

“Mom! Watch me!” (can refer to anything from trampoline time, bike rides and hurling one’s self off the top bunk, and let’s not forget everyone’s favourite: handstands in the shallow end).

“HEY! Don’t touch my XYZ!” (any child at any given moment referring to any given thing).

“Can I have a freezie?” Rinse and repeat.

“Aw, do I have to?” (refers almost exclusively to showering).

“Can I have something to eat?” (why, why, why are they always so HUNGRY?)

“Have you seen my XYZ?” (refers to everything, including the clothes they are currently wearing.)

Parents, do you feel me?

#summer.

Summer snippets

It’s Monday. A holiday in the USA. Technically, a work day for me. The house is messy, my inbox is overwhelming me and deadlines loom.

Kids are running wild, shooting cap guns and refusing to eat the healthy snacks I put out, instead choosing to subsist on freezies and crackers.

I realized the other day that I had completely dropped the ball on summer camp registrations, and now I’m staring down a summer of kids using this house as base camp for all manner of adventures sprinkled with statements of “I’m bored”.

I honestly have no idea how parents find the time or the inclination to helicopter parent.

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Summer got me like…

Since April, and the last race I did, all motivation to train and be fit and put in the work required to do well at the exercise contests I am so fond of evades me.  Life gets in the way, excuses become too easy to concoct and the reality is that I need a carrot at the end of the proverbial stick to get myself going. Doesn’t help that my training buddies are just as busy with life as I am (I hate the “I’m busy” excuse, but we’re all prone to it) and one of them is baking a new bébé.

So I’ve taken to scouring the race calendar and trying to entice friends to sign up with me. Beware friends, my powers of persuasion will soon be turned on you…

Oh. Wait. I did another race. The Test of Metal ended it’s 21 year reign and I felt an obligation to take part. Was I undertrained? You bet. Did I not want to do it one bit when I woke up? 100%.

I changed my attitude on the start line and ended up having a ball. Truly. 4.5 hours of muddy good times. I won’t lie: I’m proud of myself for that one.

This morning, I was up at 5:30, per usual. Will woke a full 5 hours later. Is 10 the new 16?

I am not ready for this.

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I’m jealous.

I have a deep, unabashed affection for summer beach reads. Anyone in the internets have any suggestions? I just finished House of Wives and Engaged. Both highly entertaining reads.

Does anyone else feel like summer break totally snuck up on them this year? I survive by repeating my motherhood mantra:

Fake it till you make it.

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