Thursday, April 30, 2009


"Unlike grown-ups, children have little need 
to deceive themselves."
J.W. Goethe

Pip is a little lovebug.  She tells us that she loves us all the time, and not just in response to my husband or me telling her that we love her.  Pip's, "I love yous," are often completely random and unsolicited.  She has also been known to say, "I'm falling in love with you, Mama," and, "Mama, I love you and all of your parts."  

Perhaps it was Pip's sweet nature that made it all the more disturbing when she looked at her sister one day and announced, "I don't love her."  
"Who is it that you don't love?" I asked, hoping that Pip was referring to Taylor Angelique, the doll that Crazybaby was currently eating.
"Crazybaby.  I don't love her."

Now, I realize that this is a perfectly normal sentiment for a three-year-old to have about her very assertive and newly-mobile one-year-old sister, but it's still just a wee bit heartbreaking.  I mean, what mother really wants to hear those words uttered?  Not this one.  

Nevertheless, I kept my cool.  I gave my husband a little, "this is interesting," wink across the table and took Pip onto my lap.  I told her that we could understand why she might feel the way she did.  I came up with a couple of, "It must be frustrating when..." scenarios, and I let her know that we thought she was doing a really good job of being a big sister.  Then I told her that I thought she would grow to love Crazybaby someday.  
"I won't Mama." Pip insisted.  So I left it alone.

I have such high hopes for my daughters' relationship, but I can't impose my expectations on them.  It is their relationship.  It will be what it will be.  My husband and I will guide them and love them and make them each feel special, but in the end it's up to them to create their sisterhood.

I'm glad that Pip was honest about her feelings.  I'm also glad that Crazybaby didn't understand a word she said!  (At least I don't think she understood.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


"I observe myself and so i come to know others."
Lao Tse

I launched "The Grateful Mama" last Thursday and was terribly interested in hearing what people thought about it.  My family members told me it was good, but they love me so their feedback doesn't really count.  I was most interested in the opinions of readers who weren't related to me.  So I checked for comments on Friday: nothing.  Saturday: nada.  Sunday: not a word.  When I went to bed Sunday night I felt a bit discouraged.  I was still going to continue with the blog, but my enthusiasm for the project had definitely diminished.  

Then Monday morning arrived.  Beautiful Monday morning.  I received three glorious emails: one from a friend and two from women I have never met, but who heard about my blog through a friend.  Their comments were so encouraging and affirming that I actually giggled aloud as I read them.  Thank you, ladies.  You know who you are, but you have no idea how much those notes meant to me.  I apologize, by the way, for the difficulty you experienced in posting comments and subscribing to my blog.  The comments should be easy to post now, but I'm still baffled by the subscription problem.  I'll keep you posted.  (No pun intended.)

Feedback is important, yet it is often absent in our role as mothers.  We don't have a boss or supervisor to provide us with feedback.  There is no annual performance evaluation or sales report to review.  You might look to your children to see if you're doing a good job, but their behaviour can be misleading.  A happy, smiling child does not necessarily represent fabulous parenting.  Oftentimes a crying, angry toddler is indicative of a strong, thoughtful parent who has clear boundaries and follows through with consequences for bad behaviour.  So we can't really count on our kids to provide us with feedback.

Who can we turn to when we need a little encouragement from time to time?  Why not each other?  Why not compliment other mothers for a job well done?  Maybe a little, "Way to go Mama!" when your girlfriend  is sticking to her guns and carrying out a difficult consequence with her child.  Or, "Wow, what nice manners!" to a mom at your local play group when her child says "thank you."  Let's build each other up, because we're really all on the same team.  We're all trying to raise respectful, kind, responsible future members of this global community.  It's hard work, and sometimes we need a little pat on the back.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


"Parting is such sweet sorrow,"
William Shakespeare

I've traveled to India by myself, backpacked through Europe on my own and enjoyed a solo vacation in Thailand, but today I found it challenging to be only 100 km.'s away from home.  Why?  My three-year-old daughter is sick.  She's not terribly sick.  Her fever broke a couple of days ago and she's sleeping and eating well, but she needs her nose wiped every three seconds, her throat feels "yucky," and her big, blue watery eyes are constantly saying, "make it better Mama." 

My fabulous cousin had invited me to spend the afternoon with her, and my mom offered to watch the girls.  I was only going to be away from about noon to 6pm, but I started to feel a bit uneasy as I got ready to go.  Was I worried that Pip's health would worsen? No.  Did I think the girls were in good hands?  The best.  Did I deserve to go off and have an afternoon to myself?  Of course I did.  Then why was I feeling so emotional about leaving?  I'm a mom; that's why.  And when you're a mom, parting is sometimes difficult.  

I teared up a bit when my mom arrived to babysit.  Pip was clinging to me saying, "Mama, mama."  She wasn't about to make my departure easy for me.  Both my mom and I knew that it would be healthy for me to go; that I would be fine and the girls would be fine and indeed that's what happened.  (In fact, I went on to have a wonderful visit with my cousin, and I got to meet her lovely new man as well!) 

Shakespeare got it right, though, when he called parting, "sweet sorrow."    I'm going to think about his words the next time I have trouble leaving my kids;  how sweet it is that I love these two little beings so much.

Monday, April 27, 2009


"The illusions of childhood are necessary experiences: a child should not be denied a balloon because an adult knows that sooner or later it will burst."
Marcelene Cox

My mom gave me a box of our old Disney books a few months ago and Pip was instantly drawn to Cinderella.  I was reluctant to read it to her.  I mean, isn't there an official 'complex' named after Cinderella?   I wasn't about to plant the 'handsome prince equals happily-ever-after' seed in my daughter's head.  Pip was persistent though.  Despite my efforts to hide the book at the bottom of the box, Cinderella kept making her way back into Pip's little hands.  (And let's face it, Pip certainly wasn't ready to discover the fate of poor Bambi's mother!)  

I watched Pip carefully throughout the reading of the book.  Did she admire the prince?  Was she afraid of the stepsisters?  Did she notice the flawed logic in the post-midnight existence of the glass slippers???  Hard to tell.  It was snack time.

Pip, Crazybaby & I sat down at the girls' little wooden table to enjoy a feast of sliced apple with cheddar cheese.  After several delightful fruit and dairy combinations, Pip stopped chewing long enough to announce, "Mama, we're living happily-ever-after."  There was no gown, no prince, no fairy-godmother; just the three of us with our apple and cheese.  Hooray for Pip!!!
"Yes we are," said I, and suddenly the whole happily-ever-after concept seemed just fine.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Right Track

"Even if you're on the right track, 
you'll get run over if you just sit there."  
Will Rogers

I read Ekhart Tolle's book, A New Earth, a couple of months ago with my book club.  I got really fired up about it and even put some of Tolle's ideas into practice as I was reading.  It felt fantastic, and it made me realize that I hadn't read a book about spirituality in ages.  Not surprising, considering my daughters are one and three years old.

I found myself thinking back to my "pre-children" days when I had the free time to roam about bookstores with a coffee, engage in thought-provoking discussions with friends, take meditation classes, write in my journal and pursue other soul-fulfilling activities.  "Free time is such a luxury now," I thought to myself, "that it's harder to focus on my spiritual growth."

RUBBISH! I say.  (Even though I'm not British.)  Spirituality isn't just a hobby, it's a way of life!  Instead of seeing my sweet little family as an obstacle,  I have to start viewing them as a vehicle.  My girls can be my greatest teachers.   I just need to stay on the right track, and that's what this blog is all about.  I want to remind myself to be a wisdom-seeker; a beauty-hunter.  If I can somehow manage to inspire other mamas along the way, well that would be a beautiful thing!

So Mamas, I'd like to officially welcome you to my blog, and I invite you to check in with me whenever you wish.  

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Breathtaking Moments

"Life is measured not by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of breathtaking moments."
Author Unknown

Having young children automatically entitles you to an endless supply of breathtaking moments.  There are the universal "first" moments; holding your baby for the first time, witnessing that first gassy-smile, hearing them laugh for the first time, watching them take their first steps.  And then there are the breathtaking moments that are unique to you and your child.

My daughter Pip, (her 'in utero' name,) turned three at the beginning of this month.  When it came time to plan her big day, I explained that she would be having a party with our extended family a few days after her birthday, but that we could also do something special on her actual "birth-day."  I imagined Pip frolicking in the backyard with her little girlfriends, playing games, eating cake and dancing around with her spring frock blowing in the wind.   
"No, mama," Pip said, "I just want the whole day with you and Daddy and me and Crazybaby."  ('Crazybaby' is Pip's name for her one-year-old sister.)
"Hmm", my ego thought to itself, (thank you Ekhart Tolle,)  "I wonder if that will be special enough."  Nevertheless, we honoured Pip's wishes.

Because Pip's birthday arrived on Good Friday this year, her dad was home from work.  'Big Daddy-O' and I had agreed that the day would be all about Pip, and we'd let her call the shots.  We began the morning with a few gifts, a syrupy breakfast of blueberry pancakes, and a stroll to her favourite park.  Pip surprised us by riding her little two-wheeler bike all the way to park for the first time ever!  She was terribly proud of herself.  Of course the trip took us thirty minutes longer than usual, but Pip had to stop and smell every variety of flower along the way.   

Lunch consisted of bunny macaroni with peas, followed by Easter Egg decorating with Mama while Crazybaby napped.  I had bought some colored tablets to dye the eggs,  but it was difficult to distinguish the colours.  They all looked terribly dark.   I invited Pip to choose two colours.
"Where's green?"  she asked.
"I don't think there is a green, honey."
"But green is my favourite colour."
"I know it is sweetie, but I don't see a green tablet.  This orange one looks nice."  Pip reluctantly plopped the orange tablet into the container of water and vinegar.  

While we 'oohed' and 'aaaahed' at the way the orange tablet coloured the water in cotton-candy clouds, Pip spontaneously threw in another tablet.  I think I started to say something like, "Oh, not in the same container, "  but then I noticed that the water was turning green!  The most glorious emerald green that a hard-boiled egg could ever dream of becoming.  Pip looked at me with her eyes full of excitement and wonder, her mouth dropped open and she threw her arms around my neck.  Breathtaking moment number one.

Once Crazybaby woke up we headed off to Pip's favourite sandy beach for a walk in the sun.  We met a host of slick black sand-dollars enjoying a little tidal pool, and I picked one up for Pip so that she could see the tentacles on the underbelly and the flower pattern on the top.  As we stood up from looking at our treasures, I spotted two horses (with riders) galloping toward us.  Now, this was the first time Pip had ever seen real horses in action and these were truly magnificent animals.  The sun was shining, the waves were breaking, the horses hooves were kicking up sand, and our little Birthday Girl was just taking it all in.  Moment number two.

On our way home from the beach we picked up dinner: pizza and a little carrot-cake.  (As promised, Pip called the shots!)  After dinner I put three little green frog-candles in the cake and told Pip about the whole 'birthday wish' concept.  "I think I'll wish for a green birthday cake," she said.  Fair enough.  I lit the candles and took the cake over to Pip while Big Daddy-O and I sang 'Happy Birthday.'    When we finished singing, Pip closed her eyes tight and whispered to herself, "I wish my ponies would come alive."  There it was.  The mother of all breath-taking moments that day.

How cool to be three years old and believe in the magic of wishes.  How wise of our little Pip to just let her day "be."  And how lucky we are to be along for the ride.