Pinch Me!

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WOW! Is it really 2013? Can I pinch myself just yet?! I have obviously neglected a piece of myself over the past several months, my blog. That said, I’m not one to dwell and state the obvious, so I will give you an update instead.

I started dating. (Can I say that out loud?) It was a disaster and again I’ve been forced to realize that most men, most single men that I would consider dating, are not ready for my little fireball and the life we offer. What life is that? What do we offer? We offer a family, that’s what I have and that’s what I’m selling! Well, not selling really because most of the time the seller wants the buyer to buy. I, on the other hand, could, quite frankly, care less! Wait a minute, that’s not right either. I care, I care a lot about a lot of different things, just not about convincing someone, who’s not quite ready to become a father figure, that he should get ready and get on board. And X, well, he has quite a few amazing male role models already!

X turned 2! And you know, everybody LOVES to tell me, “terrible 2s, terrible 2s!” This is not quite true. He was terrible, at 18 months, not so much at 2. Sure he gives me grief here and there. Eye balling me before opening his water bottle and turning it upside down, spilling water everywhere. Or his new favorite thing “Throw it!” And “it”, for those of you wondering, is usually a piece of train track, something that makes a nice loud “THUMP!” as it hits my hardwood floor.

(And now I am secretly wondering if any man will ever love me, the way I love him and his “terrible 2s”!)

It’s summer and you know what that means? COACHELLA! Yup, threw my not yet two year old in a tiny, old car and drove all the way to Coachella for a weekend of dirt, unreal heat, music, not enough water and pee (I didn’t realize 20 year old boys still act like they’re two!). We spent a month, camping, staying with friends and sleeping in hotels. Normally I would sleep in my vehicle at rest stops, but alas, my car is not fit for that. And yes, when I have one that is fit for that, I fully intend on sleeping at rest stops with my toddler in tow! In April and May, we wondered through Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and back up again.

Now we spend our days swimming in the ocean, lakes and rivers of Vancouver Island, taking camping trips to neighbouring areas and spending afternoons eating figs, raspberries and other goodies grown in local gardens. We have one more trip to the US before summer is done, then it’s back to school for me and X starts daycare, which has already been a bit bumpy and I do promise to write more about that soon!

Please take time to spend these last warm days of our soon to be gone summer, wandering the streets, tasting fresh produce and soaking up those warm rays!

Peace and love,
Amber Grace

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“Lucky Loonie”

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CAUTION: I use some “slang”, if you will , in this post, so take it with a grain of salt or keep on walking!

This is a new term we “coined” in our house tonight. Meaning, I coined and the only other member of “our” house, who doesn’t yet speak a language I can understand, obliged. So let me tell you the story of the “Lucky Loonie”.

Tonight we were at Walmart (there I said it, we shop at Walmart!) and when we were finished, we strolled pleasantly back to our car (we bought a car and said “bye-bye” to the bus, which X is still unsure about). We took the elevator, cause X loves to push the buttons, and now, 17 months old, demands he pushes the buttons. I walked in, no big deal, and he followed, like he usually does. He’s a good little soldier. Lately though, he thinks his 30-pound self is somehow going to slip through a half an inch crack, so he takes his time, cautiously navigating the crack.

In the elevator are myself, X, an older couple (who have already taking a liking to X and his charm) and a man about my age, a little older and of Asian decent. The “grandpa” in the crowd is already lost in my son’s innocence and comments to the Asian man about his son. I couldn’t help myself, but laugh right away and blurt out, “His dad is black!”  Slang over. We all laughed and talked about how cute X is for the next 4 floors.

Fast-forward 5 seconds to the doors opening at the rooftop parking: we all go to pile out, but alas, X is standing in our way. Again, he’s afraid of the crack separating the elevator from the rest of the world. So what does he do? Turn to his beloved mama for help? Even better, he turns to the “grandpa” and reaches up for his hand. Damn near broke my heart, in a good way.

As we’re walking back to our cars (and yes, everything in “kid time” takes this long and is this dramatic) the “grandpa” reaches into his pocket and pulls out a bunch of change, not wanting to give X something small enough to choke on, he says, “Here kid, here’s a loonie for ya!” X takes it, and holds on tight. The “grandma” turns to me and says, “You cherish him.” I was smiling, but in my head (heart) I was saying, “I already do.” Damn, I’m going to cry again!

That couple will be in our lives forever, and so will their loonie. No more “lucky penny” for this little family. From here on out, we’re going bigger. It’s all about the “lucky loonie”.

Big or small, I have it all!

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Wow! Has it really been two months? It felt like one to me, so maybe time really does fly? At any rate, once again, I return to you filled with stories of the past, hope for the future, and, oh man, I just stepped on mashed banana for the third time this morning! Today is all about laughing at yourselves ladies.

And why is it important to laugh at ourselves?! Because whether you laugh or not, several people going to laugh at you throughout the day as they witness your reactions to your (ok my) growing toddler and take notes on “what not to do” when your child throws yet another fit or spits out yet another mouthful of food. In these instances, isn’t it better to laugh with instead of feeling eyes burning in the back of your…everything?!

Sometimes I think my mornings are practical jokes sent my way like little joking fairies to teach me lessons throughout the day about being a better and more patient parent and person. Like this morning, in the wee hours, my still nursing-whenever-I-bloody-well-feel-like-it son decided he would wake every 10 minutes from 6am on to nurse. I know what you’re thinking, just get him up out of bed and start the day. My X wakes around 7:30/8am like clockwork and dragging him out of bed any earlier, well, he would be cranky like most of us would be! So, I nursed, then I nursed again, then I nursed again. All the while trying desperately to get “just one more hour” of sleep. But alas, he kept waking, ever so consistently. By the third time I had about had it and told him the milk was all gone. He whined and cried and quickly went back to bed. Only to wake up 10 minutes later. So I nursed, again, for the fourth time in case you’re not keeping track, and he fell back asleep, quite soundly this time. The choir was singing in the background right up until the point where I looked at my clock…7:30am. Great, just great!

So I smiled as I rolled out of bed and reminded myself not to take life too seriously.

And now as my day is dragging on, I’m now reminding myself that I get to do it all over again, tonight! Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment, as parents, as teachers, as the people who do it all for that one little person (or in some more extreme cases, several) in our lives who shines brighter than bright on the gloomiest days, sometimes it’s hard to laugh and sometimes we (I) get mad at the people who seem to be floating through parenting with ease and grace. Then I have someone in my life, who points out to me, that to many, I am that person, who seems to be floating with ease and grace. And I laugh, HARD! Perception, it’s everything at once and nothing at all and is completely and utterly meaningless. We all have our moments, big and small, and like a page out of a Dr. Seuss book: “Sometimes the questions are complicated, and the answers are simple.”

I’ts a bird. It’s a plane.

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Oh shit, it’s a BOOB! And after a slightly long hiatus people, I’M BAAACKKKKKK!!

After reading a recent article about the benefits of continuing to breastfed past the age of one, I’m dumbfounded as to why it’s become such a big deal in the first place! I say this from the perspective as a single mom who is still nursing a 15 month old, but also as a single mom, who doesn’t feel like it’s a big deal, whether I am or am not still nursing a 15-month old.

You see, it seems this whole nursing business has become slightly too public for my liking. If I choose to stop nursing my son, at any age, it’s my business and nobody else’s, and in my case, that really means NOBODY else, not even a partner!

I nurse my son to nourish him and myself. I do it as much for the bond and emotional connection as I do for the money- and life-saving benefits. After spending the past four and a half months traveling (three months in Europe and the last six weeks in Texas), I can tell you, American is in more trouble than just financially speaking! I can’t tell you the number of times my friends would comment on how easily I would “flash” my breasts in public, or for that matter, in privacy, but avec mes amies!

For your information, my infant turned toddler is very obvious when he is ready to nurse. The whole lifting of my shirt should be more than one needs in preparation for, dare I say, a bare breast! Which is not bare for long, because as obvious as it is when I’m about to nurse, I can assure you, X is an old pro and he latches on as quickly as you can bat an eyelash!

And so folks, I leave you with this, it’s a fucking boob. GET. OVER. IT!

Need advice?

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You’re probably thinking, “Advice? Me? No thanks, I have enough of that!” So I’ll get to the point. I’ve got a good friend in my life, who’s taken on a motherly role in my life, you know, the one who you can call and ask for money, even if you haven’t spoken to or seen in the past year. Anyways, she gave me, what I value as the best non-advice a soon-to-be parent could receive. She told me, “You want my advice? Here it is: don’t take any!” That was it. That was the all-encompassing, most valuable piece of advice I could have received at nearly 9 months pregnant.

Now my little sister is due any day now and I find myself doing the very thing I detested while pregnant: offering advice. Not even just advice about labour or the first few weeks, but advice for the 6 months and beyond. I mean, who am I kidding? She’ll forget that stuff over the next few months, or bits of it will linger and she’ll feel confused and defeated, instead of supported and loved. She, like many new moms, will start to lose touch with her own instincts and instead of opening up and saying so, she’ll foolishly turn to books, which we all did, which only confused us more and took us further from our intuition!

As a mom, especially the first time around or if you have elders in your life, which most of us do, there are a plethora of people, strangers or not, parents or not, who are ready to offer parenting advice at the drop of a hat. And if you’re like me, it often goes in one ear and right out the other, accompanied by a classic eye roll right smack dab in the middle! Most of us never give much thought to this, often, well-meaning, well-intentioned “advice”. However, I’ve been spending the past days, even weeks, thinking about the root of such advice that so many people and I’ve come to a conclusion.

After some soul-digging and absolutely zero research (Hey, I live a casual life), I’ve discovered something very real and very honourable about the of said advice. As parents, we just can’t help it! It’s true. I’ve tried to stop myself, but I can’t and I’ve discovered why. It’s not that we’re controlling, or “smarter” than, or even that we think our way is the right way, after all, it way the way that worked for us after several failed random attempts. It’s that we legitimately, from the bottom of our heaping hearts, want to protect other new moms (I’m saying “moms” because I have never heard a dad offering such advice!) from our “traumas”. Like the mothers we are, this is what we do. Our job is to protect, serve and defend, not only our children, but other children and moms alike. This is the job we inadvertently signed up for and this is where that “well-intentioned and I-just-can’t-help-myself” advice comes from.

We, as advice givers, are like confused teens, who, like these teens, often mean well or come from a good place, but often have a faulty delivery system. Instead of offering advice, we should be offering support because, I think, that was actually our intention. And so, advice? No thanks! Support? I’ll take 50 heaping scoops please! As for the strangers and non-parents offering advice, I have but this to say on behalf of other new moms, “Shut the front door!”

Culture Shock

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No, not the kind you get from moving to another country. For once, this posting is more about me than him…read on!

We have many firsts this week: first steps, first words, first belly laugh, first cut, first climb up the deadly stairs and yes, my monthly friend has decided that this week is a good week to add, yet another, first to the list. I knew it was coming, I could feel all the warning signals. The ovulation, which I never noticed pre-baby, the cramps, the headaches and a slight twinge of the back. I also knew it was coming. Xavier recently started sleeping through the night and on his own, which means no more night nursing. With an almost toddler on my hands (just two weeks away from another first) the timing was definitely right, but am I wrong for optimistically thinking it may never return and I can continue living in happy baby bliss for all eternity?!

Pre-baby, I grew to love that monthly gift and thinking of it as a reminder to my superior health. Every month, it came on time, stayed for a few days and left without a kiss. It was dependable. Call me crazy, but I actually thought I wouldn’t mind its return after a nearly two-year separation (yes, I’m referring to my period as a partner), but I was wrong! I mean really, really wrong! Actually, I think my wrongness surmounts my wrongness to “nurse to sleep” rather than nurse to feed. That’s another topic. I think I’m actually going through culture shock right now. As I was standing in the bathroom, looking at what I was looking at, I was in complete and utter shock. Despair might be a better what as I thought to myself, “What do I do?” On one hand it’s great that it’s been gone so long that I had to question “what now”, but on the other hand, seriously, WHAT THE F$*@! NOW???? Oh right, a pad, get a pad. GREAT! That’s what I need in my life: another person to diaper!

I haven’t come to terms yet with my inconspicuous “friend”, but I suspect I’ll eventually come around and arrive at the same conclusion as before. That is, it’s not so bad and it’s a healthy sign, but now of something different. Now it’s a healthy sign that even though I’m not ready for another baby, my body is and eventually, when I am too, another baby will be had and another period will go unmissed!

The lion sleeps tonight

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ImageAfter three nights of “crying it out”, or as I prefer to call it a “necessary step”, my nearly 11 month old is officially “sleeping through the night”, but again, I call this “doing as he should at his age”! What did it take? No tears, on my part. Some anxiety, but mostly it just took sleeping far enough away from him that I didn’t hear him, also a “necessary step”.

Many people asked, “Aren’t you worried you won’t hear him if he really needs you?” Frankly, no. Well, yes, but no. I won’t hear him for every minor waking and that’s exactly the point. In his whole life, not one of his night wakings was ever life threatening, to him that is. For me, on the other hand, I’ve been greatly impacted by his lack of sleep and I didn’t realize it until I, too, started sleeping through the night. For nearly 11 months, I have been dutifully waking an average of every 90 minutes throughout the night, sometimes I get more sleep, but mostly not.

I’m sure every person, who’s also a parent, can find something wrong with the way another person, who’s also a parent, is choosing to raise their child or children, whether it’s sleeping, eating or changing a shitty diaper, we are all “doing it wrong”. I choose to let me child cry and to take back what was rightfully mine. Sleeping that is. This is the way I’m surviving as a parent. Not as a single parent, just a parent. The end result is a happier mom, a happier baby and a routine that doesn’t follow the clock, but follows the rhythms of the body and sun.

So my vote is for turning off the baby monitor and letting our babies find their own way, in sleeping and in life. Being in France doesn’t hurt either! Not that anybody is asking, but if I had to give advice, that would be my advice, but I was sleep deprived and confused, so what do I know? What I do know is the only one who sounds frantic, distressed or crazed is me as I’m asking, “Has he stopped crying? Is he asleep yet?” and, “What do his cries sound like?” And you see, even without the monitor, there is still a monitor!

I can just imagine him now, down to a couple of minutes of crying, even in a strange place and, laying his sweet head down as he tells himself, “Fuck it! She’s not coming back for me. I’m going to sleep!” A few days ago I handed in my night waking resignation and on the very same day, I handed over the keys (countless night feedings), took off my uniform (sleep deprivation, which I wear all over my face) and turned in my weapon (stupid baby monitor). And then I slept…through the night…like a lion.