Heartbreaking. There’s no other way to describe current affairs.
Maybe it has always been this way and I wasn’t paying attention. It’s cyclical – the good, the bad, the happy, the sad. I can’t seem to wrap my head around it all.
And then, all I can think about is protecting my little one.
My parents watched the news every night when I was younger. I asked a lot of questions, and they were empathetic and careful, but honest. I remember feeling the same way then, as I do now. Helpless, bewildered, heartbroken.
I’m, luckily, not at the stage yet where EJ understands what’s going on or is asking questions, and I hope to protect him from it as long as possible, but at some point, I will have to talk to him about all the hatred, hurt, and pain in the world. I will hold his hand and answer his questions when he too feels helpless, bewildered and sad. But, I am still hopeful that change can happen and maybe by the time he’s old enough, humanity will come around.
If you’re wondering whether to, or how to, talk to your kids about the violence, disasters, and tragedies we hear about daily, this article in The Globe and Mail might help.
Thinking of all those who are lost, all those who have lost, and all those who are hanging on tonight. Sending peaceful and loving thoughts out into the universe and hope you are too – maybe there is power in numbers and the collective conscience…
Before I met my husband, travel was a major part of my life. With settling down and growing up, we don’t get to travel nearly as much as I’d like. Having said that, the experiences and lessons learned through travel are so valuable and something I want EJ to embrace, so we try to make it a priority whenever possible. So, packing one adventure on top of the other this summer, our little EJ is well on his way to becoming one well-travelled little boy.
It feels like summer disappeared slowly and seamlessly, like water flowing downstream. We were busy and didn’t get to see as much of our family or friends as we’d like, but we made so many memories.
From camping trips and overnight visits across Ontario – adventures on Lake Huron to Restoule Lake, all the way to New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and most recently, Dominican Republic (stay tuned for more on that trip), we took EJ on a load of mini adventures this summer.
Camping (in our tent trailer) at Restoule Lake Provincial Park over Canada Day weekend was fantastic. We were at Bells Point campground and had a spot with a little path (albeit a bit steep for a toddler) right to the water. We didn’t have to drive to the boat launch to put the canoe in the water and it made it so easy to get Emerson and our stuff into the canoe for fishing or canoeing over to the beach. It had rained endlessly for our first two days and although the campground was packed and flooded in some spots, there were so many puddles that just made it so much more fun for us. EJ had his rain suit and rain boots and I’m pretty sure his favourite part was jumping in puddles and eating a s’more for the first time.
I am so glad that I brought our Ergo Baby for evening walks and a serious 5k hike to the fire tower (wear hiking boots!). It helped him fall asleep easily if we were on the go, and I counted it as a major workout for me. If you are doing the hike with a little one – make sure you’re not going after a big rain fall, like we did – there are some steep drops and steep climbs that we had to do and it was really challenging in deep mud, carrying a 28lb baby, while wearing the wrong shoes! I almost took a steep tumble down a rocky spot with EJ strapped in sleepily and my beige pumas, with no tread, were heavily covered in muck and mire.
Canoeing with EJ was a dream as well, he kept his life jacket on, was fascinated and calmed by the water, and loved seeing the fish.
A month after our long weekend getaway, my mom and I took EJ to visit my friend and her boys in PEI. We flew to St. John, NB, rented a car and drove to PEI (and all over PEI).
On route, we stopped at the Hopewell Rocks (AKA the flower pots) at Fundy National Park on our way (thanks to the free Parks Canada Discovery Pass for Canada 150!). If you go, I recommend going at low tide and at high tide. We only went at low tide, but what an incredible experience! It was super busy, but seeing the plant life and rocks was incredible.
After a short visit there, we were off to PEI, which we fell in love with. We stayed in a little area called North Rustico for most of the trip, at the lovely Pines Motel & Cottages, which was in the perfect location, recently updated, and had such a lovely property.
We learned on our first night, while looking to buy milk for Emerson and somewhere to eat, that everything closes early, so make sure you plan to eat early if you’re going! We arrived late on a Sunday and only one of the restaurants took us in for dinner after 8:30 p.m.! We spent our time driving around the island and luckily got two nice beach days in, but that didn’t stop us from exploring the gorgeous beaches and sands of PEI.
We packed a few picnic lunches for the beaches and made most of our breakfasts in our kitchenette.
The beaches we visited (although we only swam at two of them!) were:
Basin Head Provincial Park (singing sands is well worth the trip), Brackley Beach (massive and gorgeous), Cavendish Beach, Cedar Dunes Provincial Park (loads of massive shells worth bringing home, a gorgeous black and white lighthouse with museum, and rocky shores with loads of shells worth keeping), North Rustico Beach.
Where we ate:
Captains Cove Cafe is a rustic spot and not what you would expect. The food was oh, so delish, and the staff were so sweet.
New Glasgow Lobster Suppers was such a great experience. We went based on a recommendation from my chiropractor who is from New Glasgow and used to work there. They were great with kids and EJ loved the lobster.
Enjoying COW’s Creamery at Charlottetown’s Fire Station
By the water in Charlottetown
All in all, our trip was incredible and exhausting. We had decent weather for most of it, spent a lot of time in the car, and five days in PEI just wasn’t enough for the little one to acclimatize and for us to see it all.
Travelling with littles can always be daunting. I am guilty for ALWAYS packing too much, but I’d rather be over prepared than under prepared. However, after all these trips, I’ve learned a couple of things. So, here are some of my tips for travelling with a baby/toddler:
Have travel crib, will travel. Instead of a heavy play pen, I bought the phil&teds Traveller Portacot when EJ was 7 months, before our trip to Panama for a wedding. (Check out my unsolicited thoughts on it here). It is easy to bring, set up, and clean. I always know that he’ll sleep comfortably, wherever we go.
Bring home comforts, when possible. Whether it’s a stuffed animal, a blanket, or a monster truck (or five, in EJ’s case), bringing something familiar, like their favourite toy or game can help ease travel woes.
Bring other reinforcements. Whether it’s in the form of grandparents, extra games, crayons, or their favourite shows or movie on the iPad, or even a nanny, extra hands or activities can help distract them when you need a short break.
The bottle or boob might help in flight. If you can save bottle time or breastfeed during takeoff and landing, it can help ease their anxiety and the pressure in their ears.
Calm parents = calm babies. It may sound hokey, but little ones are so sensitive to changes in energy and if we’re anxious, angry, or stressed, it can manifest in the littles. I am totally guilty of this and I’m lucky to be aware of it. Taking deep breaths, smiling lots and playing or joking with your little one might help calm everyone down enough so they don’t scream for the entire trip.
Do what you must. Getting a mobile baby or toddler to sit still, in the burping position, for the entire landing/takeoff (and every time the seatbelt sign comes on) is no small feat, I won’t lie that I used a bit of bribery on our last flight. And, we allowed for a bit of screen time to distract him when he was getting wild. It helped that the poor child was exhausted, so he eventually just fell asleep.
Where have you been or where do you want to go with your littles? What are some of your family travel tips?
Tonight ended in tears. EJ’s and mine. After I rushed out of his room in a huff when hubs came to relieve me from another bedtime struggle and the first night of trying the “camping out” method.
Tonight I sat in his rocking chair, while he incessantly screamed, “Mama bed now, mama bed now,” referring to the cot set up beside his crib. The cot is mainly used by me when he wakes in the night and I just can’t do the up and down anymore. Those nights when you’re bone-tired and you’ll do anything for sleep. All it takes is me being there or touching his hand through the crib for a good night’s sleep.
But it’s gone on too long. I’m sick (quite literally with a cold) and run down and really, truly missing my evenings me time.
Work blends into motherhood which blends into work. Despite having just returned from a week off.
I have only been to Crossfit twice in the past six weeks, because I can’t guarantee either of us will sleep, making it hard to go to the morning class. And since I’m not home until 6:30 and he’s not falling asleep until 8, 9, or 10, I am just too beat to make it to a 7:00 p.m. class. I know, excuses, excuses, but I’m in the trenches here (parenting line, stolen from my coworker). I can’t seem to find five minutes to text my friends, let alone call them, or see them, and other than finishing up dishes and breakfast, lunch and daycare prep once he’s asleep, I barely have time to brush my teeth before I pass out.
And I feel awful about all of it. I feel guilty for rocking him instead of working with him as soon as the sleep regression started, for not spending more time with him to curb the separation anxiety. I feel guilty for having to work and ship him off to grandparents and daycare, I feel guilty for needing Crossfit or a manicure or dinner with friends once in a while to get a break. I feel guilty for venting.
So, I cried as soon as hubs came out (after only five minutes). He let me sob into his shoulder and tell him I can’t do it and that I feel lost and broken. With a tight squeeze, he told me we would get through it. And he’s right, we will.
And, then I felt guilt for letting the mom guilt weigh me down, because I’m lucky. I am so effing lucky. I have a job (and bosses who allow me to have a flexible schedule), a home, and a loving, healthy family.
I know so many moms who can relate to this roller coaster. And I know that this story is nothing compared to what some moms or parents are going through and yet, we all have our own journey and we’re all doing our damnedest to do right by these little people that are the centre of our worlds.
So whether you’re doing it solo, with a strong supportive partner, or with family holding you up, keep going mama.
It’s the one day (or maybe one of a few days) per year that us mamas hope to get spoiled and have some time to ourselves – maybe a pee or a coffee in peace? Can I get an Amen!?
Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but I would like to take a moment and say thank you to all of the incredible mothers out there, doing the best that they can do to raise tiny humans! You’re all doing such an incredible job. Whether you’ve given up your body, your boobs, your time, your mind, or all of the above, remember that you’re raising the future and you’re kicking ass!
My entire life has led me to this. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mom. Among my friends, I was always “the mother hen,” always taking care of them, trying to stop them from doing anything too stupid, making sure everyone got home safely. You get the picture. At the risk of sounding ridiculous – maybe we could say it was my calling.
My husband and I got pregnant with ease, which we are eternally grateful for. Needless to say, we were ecstatic.
The day I found out I was pregnant, I had an appointment with my naturopathic doctor. She was incredibly supportive and offered sage advice, in addition to the suggestion that I get my progesterone levels tested. She explained that low levels of progesterone may lead to miscarriage and we already had concerns that I had some hormonal imbalances.
Without support from my GP at the time (who blatantly refused to add it to my bloodwork requisition), I paid $40 for a requisition through my ND, to get tested. Once we got the results, it was clear my levels were very low or non-existent. I was referred to a fertility specialist, who prescribed progesterone injections throughout my pregnancy. I had blood work done every two weeks to test my levels. The number of shots corresponded to my levels and ranged from one shot twice per week in each cheek (yes, in my butt cheek) to one shot once per week. My husband had to learn how to administer the shots and became a pro.
Other than the progesterone, constant nausea, mild sciatica, hip pain, and Pubis Symphysis Diastis (or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction), I had a good pregnancy. I gained about 27 pounds, although it felt like way more. And I tried to exercise regularly, until the third trimester.
It wasn’t too long into the pregnancy that I started to question everything and worry. My midwives were incredibly supportive, knowledgeable and encouraging. My mother was an angel. And, my husband was so sweet and understanding. Except for that one Valentine’s Day weekend…
I made sure to be grateful for something every day. Once we found out we were having a boy, we were set on EJ’s name. I spoke to him. I sang, “You are my sunshine” to my belly almost every day. And I played with his hands or feet once they started poking me visibly. And then, when my sleep was interrupted because of kicking or discomfort, and getting up, dressed and off to work became more of a chore than anything, I wished for him to arrive. Even before his due date hit, I was ready to become Mama.
Mama. Even saying it then, it felt so surreal. Even with my nine-months pregnant belly protruding so far I couldn’t see my feet, I didn’t believe it was coming to be. Despite the shots, the seemingly endless pregnancy, and the reality of it, it felt like a dream.
I was about to become someone’s Mama. I was about to bring life into this world. I was about to give up the life I knew and understand true purpose. I was about to become everything to a tiny human, who I would nurture and love unconditionally.
And then it came to be – I was “Mama.” It’s as powerful and surreal to me now, as it was then.