Adoption in Ontario

baby s right foot on person left palmOk. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I feel compelled to write about it now because honestly, I have been thinking about it most of my life. I would love to present the ever-controversial topic of adoption and dispel some myths surrounding this serious and life-long decision.

I know so many people say that adoption is not a good idea especially if you have your own children. They shift the dynamic of the home and forever change the members in the family. However, my counter argument to this is simply- children of any sort whether biological, fostered or adopted shift dynamics and change lives. That is what God intended when he created them so why would adopted children be any exception.

I will write this blog in terms of myths and try to dispel them as far as I know how. There will be some specific information that I will be unable to transmit because I am not a professed expert on the topic. Hence, I will abstain from providing any false information and I will try to be as factual as possible.


Myth #1: Adoption is expensive and too long of a process

This may be very true if you would like to adopt internationally or privately. However, in Ontario, “You don’t pay anything to adopt through the CAS. You may even be able to get financial help from the government if you adopt a child through CAS.” This is if you choose, “Public adoption [which] means adopting a child through the Children’s Aid Society (CAS).” In fact, the CAS website clearly states:

Adopting through a Children’s Aid Society is free. It generally takes approximately one year to go through the adoption process. This time period is necessary to find the right match for a child. When we meet with potential families, we are looking for a cultural match, but we also look at the personalities, interests and the needs of a child not just in the short-term, but for their whole life. The matching process is integral to people really understanding what child would fit with them the best.

The cost of adoption depends on a number of variables: the type of adoption you undertake, whether you work with an agency, the province you reside in and any associated travel costs.  It costs very little to adopt through the public child welfare system in Canada.

Range of Adoption Costs

Public (foster care): $0 – $3,000

Licensed Private Agency: $10,000 – $20,000

International: $20,000 – $30,000

Myth #2: Children that are up for adoption are ‘damaged’ or ‘hurt’ and will never recover

I will try to be as objective as possible in replying to this extremely judgmental and painful, albeit common, opinion. Truth is, yes, many of the young wards of CAS have been neglected or dismissed. Adoption.ca states “Loving foster families and ultimately, permanent adoptive families give these children the best chance at successful outcomes and bright futures.” No damage is irreversible. I have worked with children for close to three decades and they were from varying environments with a diverse spectrum of abilities and circumstances. I have even met and taught children who were adopted from Romania where they aren’t touched as infants except to be changed and they become so detached from the world. However, this little girl made it through after 8 years of love and she was thriving beautifully. If you won’t give up on a career or a pursuit of a dream no matter how long it takes, how could you give up on another human being who is little and in need of your love. Be prepared for the damage because no damage is too great for love to handle.

Furthermore, every child is unique. Some have health challenges, some have emotional challenges, some have cognitive challenges. With the right education and preparation, many families embrace the effort to meet the child’s needs. Families need to understand their limits also. Children available through the public system have thorough assessments and are often already receiving helpful services that will continue once they have been adopted.

Myth #3: My children will not be able to accept the adopted child

Here is what the experts say about this:

Whether your biological kid is getting an adoptive sibling or the other way around, you need to prepare the child for an addition to the family. “Talk to your child about how you want to grow your family: ‘I had siblings, and I want you to have them too,'” says Rita Taddonio, a licensed social worker and head clinician at Spence-Chapin, a private, not-for-profit adoption agency in New York. “Kids think everything is about them. You’re making it clear that this is not about your child, so he doesn’t think, ‘I’m not enough.’

“Involve your kid in the preparations by getting him to help decorate the new baby‘s room or pick out toys. If you’re adopting, let your kid attend a family meeting with the social worker and ask any questions he has. Give older kids a role, such as changing diapers or reading books to the new sibling. And make it clear to your child that he’ll still have one-on-one time with you — then plan for it, even if it’s only an hour a week in the beginning, Taddonio says.

Myth #4: Adoption isn’t common

Approximately 1 in 5 Canadians are touched by adoption.

Let this stat sink in.

Myth #5: The birth mother will reclaim the child after I adopt him/her or my child will grow up and seek his/her real family.
Although this is a common fear, it is rooted in your own reluctance to make a commitment. Truth is, once parental rights have been terminated, biological parents cannot regain custody of their children. Also, prior to placing her baby for adoption, a prospective birth mother has the right to change her mind at any time and have her baby returned to her. After the placement, there is a period of time where she can revoke her consent and have the baby returned to her. After that period expires, however, her parental rights to her child are terminated and eventually transferred to the adoptive parents, who will be responsible for raising him/her. The key to preventing a potential birth mother from undergoing a change of heart is to screen her carefully and to make sure she receives sufficient counselling so that she clearly understands her actions and her rights and responsibilities. Remember, too, that until she terminates her rights to her child, she’s not a birth mother. She’s a pregnant woman who’s considering adoption.

grayscale portrait of man woman and child holding hands

 

According to recent longitudinal studies that followed adopted children, searching for one’s birth parents was quite common in adoptions of the past, but not any more. In open adoption today, children — though curious as ever — have less of an interest in meeting their parents. That’s because there’s no burning mystery or dark secret to uncover; they feel secure with themselves and their environment. And in those instance where the do want speak to their birth parents, their adoptive parents will simply pick up the phone and dial the number for them.

 

How you communicate with your adopted child makes all the difference. In open adoption today, a child’s origins are never in doubt. From a very early age, s/he not only knows that the people who are raising him/her are his/her adoptive parents, but in many cases s/he will have a picture or letters from his/her birth parents. All the information is out in the open, should the child be interested in learning more about his/her origins.

Even if they are, encourage them to find their real families when they are older if they choose. They will never forget the love you had for them so it makes it ok. Actually, there is an entire database for them on CAS if they choose called “Finding Your Roots”

Myth #6: I am adopting because I can’t have any(more) children.

Adoption is not a cure for infertility. It’s a way to build a family and share your love with a child whose parents simply weren’t ready or able to become parents. While a child can perhaps soften the pain, disappointment and frustration stemming from infertility, s/he can’t make it disappear. Please don’t place your personal issues, health or otherwise, on the adopted child. You will find that this is too great a burden to bear on the child who has already been through so much. Please be emotionally willing and able to level set your expectations and know that this is a life-long commitment to a human life. There are support groups and networks of families that have adopted that can help you with this.

In essence,  not everything works out the way we’d like it to. Many people, for instance, want to start a family, but for medical reasons are unable to do so. Just because they suffer from infertility, however, doesn’t mean that they can’t — or shouldn’t — become parents. Which is why there’s adoption.

 Myth #7: I am single hence I cannot adopt.

False. A single parent can provide a loving stable home.  Increasing numbers of children live in single parent homes (as the number of two parent homes declines) and thrive beautifully, and increasingly, single parents successfully adopt all the time.

Myth #8: I cannot adopt my foster child.

False. You can and many do. However, if you are seeking a child to be his/her forever home, just skip the fostering and adopt. It will be more challenging if you foster a child, love them like your own then they get adopted and you suffer a great loss.

Myth #9: What should I think about before adopting a child or children?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I provide a child with a secure, nurturing and loving home?
  • Can I make a long-term commitment to a child?
  • Am I ready to take on the responsibilities of supporting and raising a child?
  • Am I willing to participate in a multi-step adoption process?
  • Am I ready to welcome a child into my family?

photography of baby holding the hand of person

If the answer is yes to all of the above questions, then you are ready to learn more about adoption in Ontario and your role as a potential adoptive parent.

Myth #10: People will judge me.

I will tell you this from my heart, people will judge NO MATTER WHAT YOU DECIDE TO DO. Opinions are just that- opinions. They are optional and you don’t have to listen to them. If this is a mission of the heart and you are adopting for the right reasons- mainly to give a child a much needed, loving and stable home and family. Then do it. Stop caring what others think. Do what is calling you.

Here are resources for adoption:

http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/adoption/thinking-of-adopting/index.aspx

https://stepstojustice.ca/steps/1-learn-about-different-types-adoption

http://adoption.ca/home

http://www.torontocas.ca/media/adoption-process

http://www.canadaadopts.com/adopting-in-canada/open-adoption/

http://adoptontario.ca/

I am ready to adopt- what do I need to do?

http://www.torontocas.ca/contact/interested_in_adopting

If you are still hesitating, please watch this:

 

If you can, and if God has written it on your heart, please adopt a child.

My husband and I were gifted with three beautiful children but we will still pray to adopt a child.

God bless you always.

Smartignani

 

 

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Fever Watch = Seizure Watch

tim 2So my son is sick again. He is turning 3 in two weeks. He is prone to febrile seizures.

The last time he had an episode was hours before he turned 2 then he had mini-seizures in his sleep. Like two more times. Now he caught a virus from daycare which would normally set other children back 24 hours. Fever and vomiting. For him, having a seizure is a constant threat hanging low over his head. At least for me. His father is stronger than I am.

I am fighting my own demons.

I am constantly watching his monitor. Even at night. It’s a sick obsession. 

I have joined support groups on Facebook that are made up of parents who are struggling with febrile seizures attacking their babies. When I first joined, I read about the sad story of a 3-year-old who was taken from this life by a seizure. It was debilitating. The story and the mother and her advocacy and trying to understand was beyond hopeless. My anxiety increased when I read that story and I started researching even more. There is no known cure nor prevention of febrile seizures. It seems the medical community has just accepted it as a “common event” for children and they “will grow out of it by the age of 5 or 6”.

What?! I can’t sleep out of fear and incapacitating anxiety for 5 or 6 years????

As a mother of a baby who suffers from seizures, I have to confess, there is nothing worse than seeing it happen. The pronounced  shakes, the foaming at the little mouth, the whole-body stiffness, the exhaustion afterwards and he does not even know what is happening. I read other parent’s encounters on Facebook and I write them comments to support them but it’s not good enough. I went to therapy and I paint, knit and even write songs but it’s not therapeutic enough.

We need more research about this. We need to give parents better ways to cope with this. I was told in the Emergency Room by the doctor who finally got around to seeing my son, 5 hours after his seizure- that even Tylenol and Advil and controlling his temperature will not stop a seizure.

So what will?

I wanted to let you know that my son is sick. It’s not a visible illness and it’s not chronic and so many parents tell me to be thankful that it’s not leukemia or a disease that is terminal. Yes. I am grateful. Yes I realize that this may or may not kill him. I know that seizures, on the broad spectrum of what can go wrong are fairly and legitimately unconcerning but…

I STILL HATE THEM!

I hate them every time they occur. Every single second that my son’s body is out of his own control with his eyes rolled up. Every time that he is not “conscious”. I hate their powerful hold over him and over me. I hate how scared I am and how tired he looks afterwards. I hate the fact that he has to get them. I hate not knowing when and how he will get them. I hate not being told that they can be deadly. I simply hate it all.

Despite the fact that they may outgrow the seizures, we will never forget the misery, the worry and the pain of seeing our child this way. Febrile seizures are killing our insides a little bit at a time. There is numbness on the edges of my heart.

I still pray but inside me I am filled with rage and frustration.

I question why certain children get it. Why others don’t? There has to be some research done on precursors- a gene, a chromosome, a virus, a predisposition, something.

There has to be an answer. This is incredibly hard. I can’t explain nor describe the sickening feeling of dread and tight knots in my belly as I watch him on the monitor tonight. It’s like waiting, and knowing, that something really bad will happen.

It’s being ready with clothes on in case you need to go to hospital or call 911. It’s having a packed hospital bag hanging off your stairs banister near the door. It’s having more than 10 bottles of Children’s Tylenol and Advil and Motrin everywhere. It’s the constant, gnawing, persistent and ever-slow tapping on your nerves.  It’s the fervent prayer in the night as you sleep with one eye open while the other watches and counts every rise and fall of the chest. It’s my palm on his chest to check his heartbeat. My heartbeat. We are one and we are connected. I don’t know if I can do this.

If you are reading this and you know how it feels, please know you are not alone. It may be common but that doesn’t make it easier. It may be minor but that doesn’t make it any simpler for us to digest or comprehend. It may be transient or temporary but it is no less traumatizing.

I am left with PTSD as a result of his seizures. I am always anxious and scared to be away from him. I hate the fever/seizure watch with a passion.

I am but a former shadow of myself. I used to be brave and so strong. Now, I am fearful that I will lose one of the sweetest gifts God ever granted me.

Please keep me in your thoughts. And keep him in your thoughts as well.

 

 

 

 

Toys you should and should NOT buy for my kids…

Without sounding wholly ungrateful and extremely rude, I want to thank you for buying my children gifts. I do. I want to tell you that everytime you give something to make my little ones smile, even for a fleeting moment, that you have done something special for me. But please… if you want to buy my children something, remember the following- for my sake and the sake of all the parents out there with young children.

  1. If it tinkles, jingles, beeps, whistles, toots, squeaks, honks or hisses- please, I urge you from the bottom of my heart, do not buy it! The sounds it makes, initially, may seem bearable to you but those same sounds are repeatedly and incessantly going off in the house even when the children are not playing with the toy. You so much as step near the damn thing and it sets it off. We received one toy that would consistently bark whenever someone was near- and would unfailingly wake up the baby when he was younger. Needless to say, that toy met its maker well before it was due to.
  2. If it reinforces a gender bias in the extreme- avoid toys that are extreme in any way but especially those that may incorrectly depict femininity and masculinity.  I am not talking action figures and superheroes, those are cool and they give them a chance to imagine a plot. I am talking about Barbies, Monster High Dolls, and other unrealistic images of girls and women in the form of fake plastic. Let’s try and avoid teaching our young girls that you must have a tiny waist and be busty to be pretty. Instead, buy them dolls they can take care of like babies with cool accessories. That teaches them responsibility and it’s good for boys or girls. On that note, girls also like Lego, cars, trucks and train sets. It’s not just for boys, it is how you nurture your children.
  3. If it takes up a considerable amount of space- reconsider please. Parents are quickly running out of room to put their children’s toys away. We almost wish there was a way for our bigger toys to swallow our smaller toys so that there are less toys to clean up because realistically we are the ones cleaning up the toys and not them. Sorry, I ranted. Rant over.
  4. If it is made up of many smaller pieces– don’t. Just don’t. The girls received a toy that needed a day to be constructed with tunnels and slides then you roll beads everywhere to see them spin and twist through endless mazes. I wasn’t sure which was worse, the lengthy set up or the agonizing pain of accidentally stepping on one of those darn beads. Please, just don’t. I still have not forgiven my brother-in-law for buying the girls Nerf guns. I find those damn nerf bullets in every orifice of their playroom and my entire house!
  5. If it is cheaply made- then buy a $10 Toys’R’Us or equivalent gift card instead. Truth is, those dollar store toys are dangerous for young children. My 2-year-old was playing with a wand that someone bought him from the dollar store and it broke and the batteries fell out (small circular ones) and I saw him almost putting one of them in his mouth. Another time, my daughter was playing with a ball from the dollar store that had sparkles inside it then it burst suddenly and the smell of chemicals inside it was horrendous. Please don’t waste your money on cheap, easily broken, lead laden toys for the children. A gift card or a bottle of wine for mom and dad would be much more appreciated!
  6. If it is messy- think of whether you would want my child to play with it in your place. If you will worry that they would get it all over the floors or walls or end up staining your shirt or your bedding, then please do not buy it for our place. Someone bought my kids coloured bubbles once and the grass was stained purple for a week! Please, no markers, no paint, no playdough, no slime, no jelly, no sparkles!!!!!

I didn’t want to be a negative Nelly throughout the whole blog so here are some gifts you SHOULD consider purchasing…in my opinion, that every parent would not mind:

  1. Gift Card to Children’s Place or equivalent: Because our kids wear the hell out of their clothes and they are in perpetual need of new ones. Their sizes change daily so please don’t chance it and try to buy them something yourself.
  2. Books: Educational, quiet, colourful, and can be used over and over again. Best of all, they are quiet. Did I mention books were quiet? Shhhhhhh
  3. Hats, Mittens, Scarves, Gloves: I can’t begin to tell you how appreciative I am every time we are getting ready at the door that we have extra gloves, mitts, hats, scarves and ear muffs. We live in a cold place so we need a seemingly infinite supply of such things. Just saying.
  4. Gift Cards to McDonald’s or Dairy Queen or somewhere where there is ice-cream: and the gift card comes up again. When you give a family with young children a gift card to a restaurant or treat, you are gifting them with the precious gift of time with their children (I said gift way too many times) but know this- we appreciate it and it gets us out of hiding and into daylight where we will risk taking our little rebellious army and do something together for a change already!!
  5. A movie or tickets to a movie: Either works because it requires them to sit quietly and just watch something while I try to reconnect the million broken pieces of my life or clean my closet or dust between the stove and the counter. If you can take them to see a movie- even better!
  6. A subscription to a magazine or children’s club of like this or this or one of these. Chirp magazine or National Geographic for kids are the best! They are fun, educational and quiet. Ahem, best part of that last statement for a parent? Yes. The quiet part.

Sometimes the best gift of all is coming over and sitting on the ground with the children and playing with them or baking cookies with them. They just like to spend time with you. You are the best present of all.

This blog was not only intended for those of you who are seeking to buy toys for your friend’s kids. I am also going to give an honourable mention to a little tradition we call, Loot Bags.

One question- why? 

Why are we spending an inordinate amount of time and money on giving away toys and ‘stuff’ to children who were invited to give your child toys for their birthday? I think loot bags is a silly tradition because no one shops for expensive toys for loot bags. We almost always come home with tiny whistles, bubbles, markers/crayons, colouring books and some form of candy or sweets. Please stop this silly tradition. Our kids don’t need to be given something everytime they breathe. You already gave them great food, playtime, and cake. Let’s stop at the cake. Really. Parents- let’s revive something called “Being at the party is a reward all on its own”

So whether you are a “well-meaning” friend or another “mom of an army” like me or “super dad”- please remember that above all else, parents always look at three things to assess the value of a toy and its potential existential duration within the child’s grasp/memory:

1. Safety (watch out for small bits and pieces that can swallowed)

2. Usability (will it last and does it need to last)

3. Educational Value (is it making my child brighter or dumber)

And there you have it. I hope this helps any of you in determining what is a good gift for a child and what is not.

A good rule to remember is “Would I buy that for myself if I was kid and I could see/play/hear/use it everyday?”

Thank you and to all a Merry Christmas and an exceptional 2018!

From me and the Fam to you and yours.

Smartignani

Random mommy moments…

This is a short compilation of recent mommy moments that I feel the need to share with the world.

  1. My three year old still thinks that hairplanes depart from the hairport. Image result for hairplane
  2. My 19 months old son will randomly go up to dogs anywhere and start bopping up and down – dancing to an imaginary song in his head. Dogs usually love that.
  3. I spelled out to my husband, very quickly, that a friend is trying to get p-r-e-g-n-a-n-t and my 5 year old immediately asked – “Who is trying to get pregnant mommy?”
  4. My three year old came up to me and said “Mommy, I love you as much as pickles” then walked away. She doesn’t like pickles that much. Image result for emojis unamused
  5. My husband did the laundry which was awesome. My toddler wore my underwear on his head when someone rang the door and he came running up. Not awesome.
  6. My five year old exclaimed loudly, in public, “Mommy why is that man screwing around?” as she pointed to a gentlemen who was fixing a chair with a screwdriver.
  7. My toddler is frustrated that the TV is not touch screen. He can’t swipe anything. So frustrating for him. There are tiny fingerprints literally ALL OVER our TV screen.
  8. My 3 year old likes to watch TB and often tells people in random places “I love my TB.”  As people noticeably and justifiably back away.
  9. My 5 year old broke down today because it was so hot and said- “I am dehydrated mommy- are you trying to kill me? Hydrate me please, that is all I ask!”
  10. A magician at a small party asked the kids, what do you breathe out into the balloon- all the kids shouted “air” but my 5 year old declared “Carbon Dioxide!”
  11. My toddler keeps running away from imaginary people who are trying to tickle him. He then chases same and says “Tickle, tickle, tickle” I think he sees the unseen.Image result for emojis
  12. My 3 year old will sit down for breakfast and have a bowl of cereal then a bowl of oatmeal and then desperately ask “Do we have any more Eggos?”
  13. My 5 year old blamed mommy when she got in trouble at school, stating and I quote “My mommy made me this way. This is how I was born.”
  14. My toddler physically removes and carries really heavy items out of the pantry then cries because he doesn’t know how to put them down.
  15. When asked who she loves more, mommy or daddy, my 5 year old daughter proudly and confidently asserts “God”.

I can’t be prouder and they can’t be more beautiful in my eyes. Thank you Lord for blessing them. Please share your moments if you like!

Smartignani

Bedtime Wars!

Image result for pillow fight childrenSome of our battles are quite epic! Please tell me I am not alone. My preschooler and my kindergartner share a room and a bunk bed and THEY NEVER WANT TO SLEEP!

We have a routine. We change into our pjs, we brush our teeth, we pray in our beds, most nights I read a story, we snuggle and huggle and cuddle and huddle. I rub their back, I play with their hair, I sing songs and I plead, beg, bribe, reward, remind, count-down, count-up, cry, tickle and threaten but NOTHING WORKS!

These kids just won’t sleep. They refuse to succumb to any strategy I have used thus far. The only thing I can think of is splitting them up which will suck for us because we will lose our extra guest room which I use when family comes over. The other reason I don’t want to split them up is because that would mean one of them sharing the bathroom with my toddler who is not a heavy sleeper which means one toilet flush or one song and he is AWAKE! I cannot have that!

I am beaming with pride during the day. They are good, wholesome, beautiful young ladies. They share, they care and they dress themselves. They tidy up when asked to and we operate within a very strict sticker reward system that sees them closer to their goal of going to a fun “place” once they achieve a certain number of stickers. Positive behaviour is rewarded and negative behaviour is also acknowledged through the loss of stickers. It’s an ongoing delicate balance of telling one daughter “You get 2 stickers for listening right away” and telling her sister that “Whining is not acceptable, you will lose one sticker now”.

I feel like we made progress everywhere in their behaviour. Despite my eldest’s incessant arguing (it is part of her curious nature to be inquisitive even though sometimes it feels like she is questioning my authority- it is usually unintentional). The middle child is cautious and every so sensitive, so I feel like we made great gains in making her more confident to experience the world and know that she will always have our love and support. However, together and after the bewitching hour of 7:15 pm, they become tiny hellions that are more boisterous than a small crowd of protesters in front of city hall. I have tried installing a monitor to yell at them through it but it did nothing but make me irate with the sheer amount of shushing and threatening I had to do while they action ideas, which I can hear,  that are just no no no no no good!

I read forums about this so I decided to stop listening in and I took away the monitor. I decided to just let them play but all I kept hearing downstairs from their room is banging, thumping, stomping and screaming. They would often wake up their baby brother which would send me into a small dark rage and result in them losing the ability to attend events, visits or even go out in public! My husband kept telling me to stop incentivizing them with what we will be doing next that would be fun and I listened even though that was the only thing that worked with them! If we had a wedding, or party or fun event coming up, I would say “Remember, if you listen and go to sleep tonight, we can go to…and have lots of fun”. It worked beautifully but this did not sit well with my husband so he implemented the strike system.

Strike one, they lose their books and flashlight (yes, they each have 3 or 4 books to read in their bed). Strike two, we close the curtains (we keep them open for daylight and until they sleep) then last strike, we turn off their star nightlight since they do not like the dark- that is absolutely the worst one.

It is working except, if I give a strike then it affects both girls and the eldest usually says “But mommy, why are you punishing me? I’m listening!” And she is right. I don’t know if this is a foolproof system, certainly my 5 year-old is no fool!

So I really don’t know what to do or whether to actually do anything at all. I am blogging about it to see if I am the only one in the mamaverse who is struggling with this. My goodness, some days, I just hate bed time. If I wasn’t sure that they need at least 13 hours of sleep, I wouldn’t have even bothered putting them to sleep at all! And even though I start bedtime at 7:15 pm most nights, they are not usually asleep until 9 or 9:30 pm- crazy right?

There is something wrong with these children. Don’t mince words. Just tell me- WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE CHILDREN?

Image result for tired momLOL.

Smartignani

Another crazy year!

crazy-829178_960_720So Christmas 2016 is around the corner and I am just guffawing at how quickly time is melting away. I am constantly looking at my “babies” (and I am using that term loosely since they are now 3 and 5) and wondering “What the heck happened?”

There is no end to my disbelief that time could possibly move that fast. It needs to SLOW DOWN. Seriously.

My baby, who I feel I just had and brought home yesterday is almost one year old! What?! I’m so saddened yet secretly relieved that he made it this far with his two crazy older sisters jabbing, kicking, poking and kissing the heck out of him!

This year was like so many before it, CRAZY! Is it me or do things get more insane each year you get older?

Let’s see, this year alone I sold my business, almost lost my mom, raised thousands of dollars to save my mom, helped two close friends through some tough times, reconnected with family that I didn’t know before, survived three grueling months of sickness that was passed back and forth between the members of my family, contracted some form of illness that gives me constant and intense bone pain throughout my entire body and I got rammed in the back of my SUV with all my kids in the car. And it is only the beginning of October- OY VEY!

I am grateful and so thankful to God that nothing really bad happened this year. Even though I keep waiting for something really bad to happen- there is, sadly, an ever-present sense of foreboding and doom that resides deep within my soul. I have to intentionally wake up each morning and suppress it like a dormant demon that is inflaming me and trying to steal my joy.

Talking about joy- I have more joy in my life than I can wish for. My children and husband, my family and friends. My brother and sister. My in-laws and nieces and nephews. I am so blessed with such amazing and lovely people in my life that I seldom fear the demons within. But there is one remaining phase in my life, I neither wish to face nor desire to imagine… leaving my children to return to work.

It is very difficult for me to acknowledge this but some days, like all other moms, I have a deep and seated desire to wake up, put make-up on and leave the house to go to a place where I can make money and talk to other adults about stuff other than poopy diapers, dirty dishes and the endless nagging of a threenager. Then almost immediately afterwards, I am plagued with intense guilt combined with profound sadness. I feel like I am giving up on my babies who are growing up too fast (hence the initial part of this post) and I am abandoning them in favour of adult conversation and income stability. I loathe the decision to return to work and I envy the ladies who can afford to stay home with their children but I know in my heart that I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home-mommy. I really don’t like house chores and I am quite tired of my kids by the time noon hits. If I am being very truthful, I look forward to missing them a bit – is that awful to admit?

We were looking at the childcare options available to us and we decided to go with a nanny. With three children (2 full-time and 1 part-time) this was our only option. The nanny will apparently help keep the house tidy and clean as well as  take care of my children. We interviewed many people and met many nice ladies in the process. We perfected our questions and made a decision. I will not jinx it yet because it is not confirmed but I do hope she accepts our offer.

I am not sure why I even wrote this post. I just needed to let it be known that I am going back to work and maybe seek validation from other moms who were in my shoes?

If you are that mommy- talk to me and tell me I am not insane and heartless because of my sporadic and intermittent fluctuations of wanting to play grown-up after my maternity leave is up some days and my intensely deep and mourning-like days of loss and pain for the future of my children without me for 9 hours a day.

Talk to me!

SMartignani

 

Judgement and Consequence

I wanted to write this for a while but I don’t think I have enough hours in the day. With three active children under the age of 5, I am like a feather caught in a whirlwind torpedo of activities: potty training, teething, tantrums, tucking in, tickling, travelling and tumultuous transformations.  But I am still holding it together… I think.

I am sure oKasketaldi_haurra_001ther parents can see the wild look in my eyes because I haven’t slept in 6 years or the suspicious glances flicked at me because each of my children including the baby have a bump or scratch (all self-inflicted, I assure you). I am positive that other moms are looking at the way my 5-year-old crosses her arms and stomps and yells “NO! Mommy- I don’t want that!” and thinking that she is spoiled and lacking in discipline. Or shaking their heads when my almost 3-year-old decides to pick her nose and eat it (gross, right?) because we don’t correct her (which we do every time) and that she will forever be a perpetual proboscis picker.

Here is the thing… I don’t really care about what others are thinking or feeling or perceiving or believing. My world is centred on my children whom I know intimately since the moment of their first wail into the world.

I was at the mall the other day and in the little play area and I saw a mother struggling with her toddler while trying to jiggle her baby on her shoulder. She was getting so frustrated and her cheeks were flushed and her baby was getting quite stirred (literally and figuratively) because she was over-jiggling. The two moms next to me were talking about this particular poor soul and saying the following:

Lady 1: “Oh my, that little girl is NOT happy!”

Lady 2: “Mom needs to get a handle on her before X (her own toddler) sees that behaviour and starts to copy it!”

Lady 1: “Some people just don’t know how to control their kids! It’s because she decided to have a baby, the little girl is probably needing attention”

Lady 2: “Exactly! This is why I am spacing mine apart. Exactly for that reason”

At this point, I had enough. I huffed really audibly as I stood up and I spared them one sneer and a quick “You are far from perfect yourselves ladies!” and then I confidently and quickly approached the mom of the melting down toddler and shaken baby and softly said:

“It’s ok, mine do the same thing. My 2-year-old is in there playing happily, for now, can I offer you a hand? I have a baby too but he is sound asleep, would you like me to carry your little angel while you deal with your baby girl?”

The relief that washed over the mother was indescribable. She hesitated for about one second then she gave me her baby. I stood there making googly eyes at the baby and she calmed down and started to give me the sweetest smiles. I was singing her silly songs and dancing with her while her mom was dealing with her sister. The lady told her 2-year-old that she will get some Skittles if she just calms down and tells her what is wrong using her big girl words (we do the same). The toddler stood up and in between bouts of tears and noisy, wet sobs proclaimed, “I pooh”. Profound declaration but adequate explanation of her crappy disposition (pun intended).

Mom told her that it will be ok and that she will change her. Toddler hugged her and looked up and me. I smiled and I handed the baby back to mommy informing her that she will have to change two poopy diapers and that I know exactly what that is like too. She took the baby and the toddler and went to the family washroom. I walked back to the main benches where judgy lady 1 & 2 are sitting and I wedge myself right next to them. My daughter is standing aside as one of their sons shoves another child off the climbing thingy. Lady 2 who was afraid of the toddler’s behaviour affecting her angelic son turns to her friends and says “He is so assertive- isn’t that cute?”

Wow. Perceptions.

I turn to her and gently respond:

“That is not being assertive, that is called being aggressive. Assertive is standing up for yourself and giving your opinion but what he is doing is pushing and shoving other children out of his way. That is being aggressive. So is judging a mom who is in the middle of a toddler meltdown. You should really stop and look at your house made of glass before you start throwing rocks!”

Yup. That happened. True story. I did say all that.

I expected a fight. I expected cursing. I even expected her to punch me in the face.

Instead, I got a teary and ashamed lady who quietly said “You are right. He is a little terror and I don’t know what to do with him? What should I do? He is our only child and I am having a terrible time bearing another child. I am scared that he will be the only child and that he will become a bully. I was bullied in school by a boy. I don’t want my son to be that way.”

Ah, what? What just happened? This, I did not expect.

I proceeded to spend the next hour with this lady and her friend who felt equally ashamed and mom of toddler and baby at the special play place at the mall. After the apologies and the brief discussion about how we should be kind to one another and stop the judging because we ALL need help, we started discussing strategies and parenting tricks that worked for each of us.

My toddler and the baby got tired and hungry and wanted to leave but I certainly did not. We agreed to meet again soon and we even exchanged contact information. We went from being four strangers waiting on their kids to play to four friends who joined the same Mommy Facebook Group.

It was super cool and I even got to hold the little ray of sunshine baby girl again while the lady I helped held my baby boy. All around awesomeness.

Moral of the story:

STOP judging other moms. Get off your butt and help. You are not perfect. Your children are far from perfect as well. The only perfection is founded in our humanity. So like Ellen DeGeneres says “Be kind to one another”.

Love,

SMartignani

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