Reading Between the Lines in the Underappreciated Role of Mom

Never stop doing your best

Do you ever feel underappreciated as a mom?  Oh who am I kidding, if you’re a mom, of course you’ve felt this way. Sometimes it seems we pour out our heart and soul into these little beings and all we get is back talk, whining and eye rolls in return. But every once in awhile you’ll catch that little glimpse of the impact you really are making. The kids will drop the barrier, if only for a second,  and show you how much they really do appreciate the little things you do, and all of a sudden it’s all worth it again.

"Seriously, Mom?"

“Seriously, Mom?”

I’ve mentioned before how much music impacts my life. If we want to start the day off in a good mood, then turning on the music is the first thing we do. For the last month once the kids get up I turn on the music, start tidying the kitchen and dance like a mad woman. It’s an immediate mood booster for me and also starts the eye rolling from the kids and the complaints about why we can’t listen to their music. (Because, if I have to hear Let it Go, What Does the Fox Say? or Gangnam Style one more time I’m going to get all murdery). Once I start dancing, Izak will either hide behind the cereal box or just hang his head in his hands.  Ayla raises her eyebrows and looks away. Of course this only fuels my fire and makes me dance more. If we can’t embarrass our children why do we bother having them?

A couple weeks ago , I had one of those mornings where I needed to get stuff done before school so I  was sitting at the computer instead of doing my normal kitchen dancing routine. It was pretty quiet that morning and  as Ayla sits at the table she says “You should turn on some music, Mom.”  Of course! Silly me, how could I forget the music? So on it goes. A minute later Ayla looks at me again and says “Mom…you can dance…if you want to.”  I looked at her and smile “Do you WANT me to dance, Ayla?”. She looks back at me, smiles shyly and says “Yeah…”.  Ah ha! They DO love my dancing! The work could wait, it was time to dance it up for my little people. Those little crazy things that you do, the things that make you the unique mom that you are, they notice. They may roll their eyes, you may hear a lot of embarrassed “Moooooooomm…”. But deep down they love exactly what their mom is. All crazy embarrassing little bit. Just maybe not in front of their friends ;).

We may not see it often, it may not be said out loud, but those little people do appreciate you. Yes, they take you for granted most times. But they’ve always had you there so they don’t always know how awesome you really are. (And yes, Mama, YOU are awesome). So hang onto those moments when they do show you what you mean to them. When the impact you are making shines through.  Sometimes you’ll see it in their laughter and giggles, the way they treat their friends, the way they’ll be kind and helpful to their sibling when they don’t know you’re listening, you’ll receive a special card highlighting all the things you do as a mom that you think go unnoticed, or they’ll give you a hug and an “I love you” when you need it the most.

Focus on those moments, start a journal, write a blog, whatever you need to do. But hang onto those memories. When you’re feeling like you don’t make a difference, that nobody even cares that you’re there, look back and realize how loved you are. Remember that without you, they wouldn’t be the amazing little beings that they are.  You’re doing a great job, Mama. Don’t ever forget that. 

Do you have a special memory of when you felt appreciated by your kids? Big or small, share below! Sharing the memory has a great way of bringing back those loving feelings :)

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Where’s the Reset Button?

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It’s been a bizarre year. I kind of feel like I’m lost in a haze and can’t even figure out what’s real and what’s pretend anymore. It was a year of heightened emotions. When things were good they were great but when they were bad , it took everything I had to keep going.

By the end of the year all I wanted to do was run away. Escape. Start fresh. After many tearful conversations with my husband I started to realize that a fresh start doesn’t mean I need to move away and leave it all behind.

I think my fresh start needs to come from a change in priorities. What I was doing wasn’t working for me. I made a lot of mistakes last year. I’m working through them. I’m moving forward. But I think in order to make sure there’s a real change, my focus needs to be on the right things.

I had decided last year that what I needed was to be busy. Busy gives me purpose, it keeps me occupied, it distracts me so I don’t have to deal with things I don’t want to deal with.

The problem with busy is that it not only distracts you from the bad, but it keeps you from enjoying the good. I was finally at a place in my life where I could do all those things that I wanted to do but never had time for. I would have enough time to finally feel like I wasn’t drowning with the endless tasks that had to be done in the 1.5 hours, 2-3 days a week that my son was in preschool. And instead of finally being able to breathe and enjoy that time, I decided busy was what I needed to be.lifezoom

But what’s so wrong with enjoying the moments? We sensationalize busy all the time. But it costs us so much. It’s like we aren’t enough if we aren’t frazzled and sleep deprived. We need to be everything to everyone. Super mom, super wife, super business woman. But who are we working so hard for?

Am I doing it for my family? I’d say no. I never see them. I may be in the same house but I’m shooing them away because “Mama has to work!”.  I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none. I was miserable. I was stressed. And instead of enjoying my time with my family I was pushing them away. And the busier I got the guiltier I felt. The guiltier I felt the more I pushed them away, the farther I pushed them away the more I made bad decisions. The more bad decisions I made the guiltier I felt. It was a terrible cycle.

So why can’t I just be “Mom”? Why do I feel the need to be “Super Mom”? Why do any of us feel the need to be Super Mom? “Mom” is the most important title you could ever have in life. You want to motivate, inspire, change the world? Why not start with those little humans you’re raising at home. They are your most important contribution to the world. So instead of trying to be everything to everyone or doing everything to earn the “Super Mom” title, I’m going to focus on being “Mom”. That’s all my kids really want anyway. They want my time, they want my presence, they want my love.

And my amazingly patient, loving and forgiving husband…well he was getting the absolute worst of me. So it’s time to change up my priorities once again. I’m focusing on my marriage because that’s number one. Next, I need to make sure I’m really there for my kids. And last but definitely not least, I also need to make sure I’m taking care of myself.

So my focus for this year is set.  I’m putting last year behind me. I’m making a change. I’m taking my escape. It just so happens that I can stay right where I am to do it. Because where I am now is exactly where I need to be.

And all those mistakes?  Well…they’re birds now.

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What Would Life Be Without Music?

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No matter the state of my life or emotions music is the one constant.  Whether I’m in a dark and depressed state or I’m on top of the world, I can always find a song to match.

I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately so I’ve been taking a lot of long walks in the evenings.  Listening to music and letting the emotions, the music, and the fresh air sooth my neurotic mind.  Amazing how much faster sleep comes after listening to calming music and breathing in cool winter air.

During the day, determined to keep boredom and depression at bay the music is loud and happy.  Dance parties crazy enough to embarrass my 4 year old are happening daily.  What point is there in having children if you can’t embarrass them?

Sometimes music will be there to lift my spirits, keep me from giving into my impatience with my children.  Sometimes it will be there to comfort me in my lowest of moods.  Sometimes I will listen to sad melodies and soft words, wallow in my pain and cry all my tears.  And sometimes all I want to do is listen to happy music and dance barefoot in my kitchen belting out tunes in a wooden spoon microphone.

There’s nothing like the rush of emotions that comes back to me when I hear a song that was playing during an important time in my life.  Listening to a song can bring back some of the greatest memories, and also the most painful.  From my wedding song, the album my best friend and I used to listen to in high school while cruising around town, and also the song that I cried my eyes out to when I found out my friend had died in a car accident.  There’s just so much emotion attached to music.  It’s no wonder the most powerful part of any church service for me is the worship.  Nothing can elicit tears from this girl faster than a powerful worship song.

I love that it doesn’t matter how I’m feeling, through music I can always find someone who’s been through the same struggles and the same joys.  Whose poetic words match the state of my heart. I love the feeling of connection that comes from a beautiful melody and lyrics that speak to my soul.

What would life be without music? I hope I’ll never have to find out.

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Vegan Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

When it comes to baking I’m an all or nothing kind of gal.  Well actually, I think all or nothing probably describes more areas of my life than baking.  Regardless, I love to bake.  And when I bake I can never just make one batch of cookies.  Oh no, it will be two different batches of cookies and some muffins.  Then the next day I’ll probably bake some banana bread and another batch of muffins.  The day after that I will most likely bake at least another batch of cookies.  Until finally my freezer is full and I’m well stocked for lunches and snacks for quite some time.  At which point I will cease to bake altogether until my supply is completely exhausted.

Well, I started another marathon baking spree this week.  I was inspired by the delicious muffins posted by my friend, Amira, in her Facebook group Healthify Veganize.  I love a good healthy muffin recipe so I couldn’t resist.  These muffins did not disappoint! Both my kids gobbled them down (as did I) and couldn’t wait for me to make another batch (I ended up making two more).

And of course being the type that loves to share the wealth I decided I needed to share the recipe with all of you! Enjoy!

Vegan Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

(posted with permission)

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  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I used Spelt Flour)
  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2/3cup – 1 cup frozen blueberries ( I used 2/3 for one batch and 1 cup for the second batch
  • optional: coconut oil for greasing pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare muffin tins by greasing with coconut oil.  Alternatively you can use silicon pans which are my preference. Mix dry ingredients well in a large bowl.  Add wet ingredients. Fold in blueberries. Pour batter into muffin tins 2/3 full.  Place in preheated oven for 23 min.  Let cool in muffin tins once removed from oven.

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Izak’s first bite…

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…It gets the thumbs up!

Do you like a freezer full of baked goods or do you prefer to make a batch at a time of fresh goodies?

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For Every Dark Night There’s a Brighter Day

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Do you ever have one of those moments where you stop and look at your life, like really look at everything in front of you, and realize how lucky you are? That was me this morning.

I’ve been having a bit of a rough patch lately. Perhaps it’s the weather, the over abundance of sugar and unhealthy foods, or just lonely housewife syndrome, but it hasn’t been good. I’ve been in a fog. Short tempered, and unable to deal with day to day life with my children. Snapping at my ever patient husband and taking for granted everything he does for me.

I let distractions get in my way once again. Distractions blocking all the amazingness that’s right in front of me. I was focused, life was going my way and then just like that I lost sight of what was important. It’s so easy for me to let boredom and selfishness get in my way instead of remembering to be grateful for what I have.

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I’ve talked about gratefulness and contentment before but I think being grateful is something that requires a conscious effort and constant reminder. At least this is very true in my life.

Everything will be going so well for me and I start to get too comfortable. And when I start to get too comfortable that’s when it sneaks up on me. All of a sudden what I have isn’t good enough anymore. I start to think the grass is greener. It’s like there’s a giant spotlight on everything just out of reach and I’m blinded to what is right in front of me.

But this morning, after being woken up to whining and screaming from my fighting children and two tired parents not dealing with it as well as they should have, I decided to stop and take a breather. Time to rethink what I’ve been doing because obviously it’s not working for anyone. Time to adjust my attitude and get rid of some of the distractions. Time to once again remind myself that if you can’t change the situation then you have to change your attitude.

So this morning I came down with a new resolve. I came down and looked at my family, really looked at them, and my heart swelled with love and well, a lot of guilt. I haven’t been there for them lately. But today is a new day. I’m going to do my best to get rid of the distractions and just be there. It’s never easy and I’m far from perfect but I’m hitting reset and trying once more. Today I’m grateful for my family, for love and hugs, the forgiveness of a child, and the knowledge that for every dark night there’s a brighter day.

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Time For a Fresh Start

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Another new year, another opportunity for a fresh start. I’m not really one for big resolutions and I don’t really want to jump on that train this year either. But I think making unrealistic resolutions for the year is much different then setting goals.

I haven’t been blogging, I haven’t been running and I only started back at the gym in December. So goals are what I really need right now. As well as some serious accountability. Which brings me back to this blog. That’s what I created it for in the first place right?

I won’t give myself a weight goal. I realized during my time on the DAMY program that big changes do not necessarily mean a big drop on the scale I don’t even want to say I’m going to run x number of times a week. But I do want to make a goal of getting back to that happy and healthy place I was a year ago.

I want to be able to run and enjoy it. I was reading some old blogs about my love for running and I missed that feeling. I started craving that feeling you get after a good run. I think half the problem is that I did actually forget what it felt like to get outside and run for the pure enjoyment.

What’s horrifying to me is that I realized I haven’t been outside for a run since the summer and I’ve only done a couple walk/runs at the track since then. How did I go from loving to run, training for and completing a half marathon, to barely logging 10k a month at a track?

So today I took the first step and went outside for a run. It was cold and the sidewalks were covered in snow/ice which added another level of difficulty. I wasn’t going for speed, and I wasn’t going for distance. I was simply getting outside to make today my first day back at it. And you know what? It felt great. I was able to get that little taste of why I started to love running in the first place.

Tomorrow I will restart my early mornings at the gym. One thing I have learned is that if you want to see big changes you need to hit the weight room! And of course you can train as hard as you want but you can’t out train a bad diet. So I need to make sure I’m fueling my body the right way. And no, this does not mean a crazy low cal diet. It means eating (and eating quite a lot!) of good clean nutritious food.

As for a specific goal, I want to run at least one 5k and one 10k by the summer. Eventually I will do another half, but for now I’m keeping it simple. I want to enjoy running, so I don’t want to pressure myself too much. I will look into specific races and register for them by the end of this month.

We’ve also booked a trip to Mexico in April for our 10th anniversary, so of course my other goal is to feel comfortable and look fantastic in my bikini.

So there you have it, nothing crazy, nothing unreachable and right now it’s not even anything too specific. I simply want to start taking more steps in the right direction. And really, I think we all just need to focus on taking one step at a time.

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What are your goals for the new year? What’s your first step to achieving your goal?

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Freshette vs Shewee: Some Urination Considerations

As some of you may remember, last year I wrote about my love for the female urinary device after using the Freshette on my hike up Fisher Peak. If you don’t know what a female urinary device is then you are missing out. It’s a funnel/hose contraption that allows a woman to stand up to pee. Greatest invention ever!

After writing that blog post (Free To Be Me But Pee Like A He), the founder of Shewee, Sam Fountain, decided to send me a Shewee to try out and compare with the Freshette. Unfortunately, I had not been out hiking in the past year and didn’t have a chance to use it. Can you believe it?!

You can imagine how excited I was when my husband and I went away for a week of camping and hiking without the kids. My first thought of course…I finally get to try out my Shewee!! I’ll try to write more about my trip later, but right now we have serious matters to discuss. That is, the great Freshette vs Shewee debate. I’ve had a few people hounding me about my review and I can finally give one.

I was looking forward to using the Shewee daily while hiking but unfortunately most of the hikes had outhouses at the top. Way to ruin my fun! I guess I could have used it while in the outhouse but,well, that just seems pointless to me.

Anyway, the day finally came for me to try out the Shewee. It was our last day of hiking. We were in Waterton National Park hiking Crypt Lake. I was staying nice and hydrated and making good time on the hike when I realized it was time to take care of business. At last! It was time to break out the Shewee. We were about half way to the top of the hike standing on a hill with two people right above us and two people coming up below us. I break out the Shewee. I’m giggling once again at the thought of peeing in the trees like a man. All is good and then….ummm pretty sure I’m not supposed to feel it going down my legs!!!! No, no this is all wrong. I was mortified. What am I supposed to do now? This did NOT happen with the Freshette.

I’m starting to panic. What do I do? Throw some water on my legs and just pretend I’m clumsy or an extreme sweater? Turn around and go home? Strip naked and air dry? Ok that was never actually an option.

Thankfully there were a few things working in my favor:
1) My pants were black, with loose legs and a quick dry material. Peter said you couldn’t actually tell by looking. (But what about smelling? Hmmm)
2) We were hiking fast enough that we were pretty much on our own on the trail.
3) It was our last day of hiking so I wouldn’t have to wear those pants again.
4) We both have a good sense of humour and were able to laugh about it for the rest of the hike.

So what went wrong? Perhaps there was a bit of user error? Maybe I needed more control? When comparing the two devices the Freshette has a much larger funnel area. I’m guessing the problem comes simply from releasing too much liquid at once. The Shewee simply can’t handle all I have to offer. Either way I have used the Freshette numerous times and have never had any issues.
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So after this experience I can say without hesitation that my vote is with the Freshette. I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty disappointed. I really wanted to love you, Shewee. You have the better name, the better case, but unfortunately I just can’t stand up for you anymore.

Related links:
www.shewee.ca
www.freshette.com

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