Friday, May 26, 2006

Mushy Carrots and the Debate about Perfection

This week Mike and I had a bit of an argument. Not a fight where there was screaming or anything. Just a civil debate.

It all started because I had made a nutritious and delicious stir fry for dinner. Instead of commenting on how yummy the meal was, Mike took out all of his baby carrots, the best part, offered them to me and said “they are too crispy. I like my carrots mushy.”

If I were a calm and civilized person by nature I would have taken that in stride and perhaps thought to myself, that yes, I should have pre-cooked them so they were less crispy. Or, maybe I should omit them next time.

Yeah, right.

I was furious.

Every single day I pick May up at daycare and suffer through an often-unpleasant subway and bus ride with a sometimes cranky toddler and then get home to plan and make dinner. Mike comes in about 15 minutes after me to dinner mid-preparation, Matthew usually happy with a snack or a drink, sometimes helping me (safely) cook or sometimes playing or watching tv.

And I don't ask for any assistance. I think it's a pretty nice house for Mike to come home to.

Most of the time this is okay to me. But, when my meal gets criticized, even if it is about the correct carrot mushiness, I get annoyed.


Because I work really hard. And because the compliments are few and far between. And, I’m tired of it.

In fact I am tired in general. Yes, there are more breaks with a toddler than with a newborn. And, being a working mom I have the luxury of going to the bathroom alone, of savouring a cup of coffee on a quiet day, and even occasionally going shopping on lunch if we’re not busy,.

But, I always feel like I am in a time crunch.

We’re out the door at 7. I’m at work around 8:10. I stress if I am later than usual picking my son up, and then I stress if the subway is delayed because it means dinner will be late which means that Matt will get to bed late which means he won’t get enough sleep.

All these things go on in my head, and when part of my routine is criticized, inadvertently or not, I crack.

I brought this issue up with my sister and another friend. We meet informally every few weeks as a group to chat about life and motherhood and stuff, and laugh about all the stupid issues that we could be annoyed about. And we often e-mail back and forth. So, in one of our e-mails I mentioned the carrot episode.

The comment that Ketly made seemed pretty astute to me. She said that I don’t need to look at the whole dinner thing as my responsibility, nor do I need to look at it as something that is my job. (She also pointed out the crispy carrots probably have a lot more nutrients!!)


I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to do everything and be everything. No matter what anyone says, there is a lot of guilt about being a working mom. I try to be pleasant and happy with my son for the time I am with him, but it can be hard when I am trying to be perfect in so many other areas.

The other day my doctor actually told me that sometimes it’s okay to be stressed in front of Matty. She explained that his watching me deal with stress will show him how to deal with stress himself.

So, where does that leave me?

I don’t really know.

I know I should probably let a few more things go just a little bit. Like, maybe I don’t need to worry quite so much about the state of cleanliness of my bathroom, whether or not I journal every single thing I eat and whether or not Matt’s clothes match perfectly. I could try not to schedule every weekend as much as I do and I could accept that if we leave the house 15 minutes late one day and I have to send an e-mail saying I will be a couple minutes late to work that the world will not end.

I’m not sure whether that would make me a better person, better wife, or most importantly a better mother.

I honestly think it may make me a little more stressed because if the bathroom isn’t clean, Matt looks like a wreck and I am late for work I will just be angry. And, I think angry is worse than stressed.

I think.

So, for now I think I will try to accept that all of these things are my quirks.

I also think that tonight I will not cook dinner. Maybe we will eat fruit and cottage cheese and bagels or maybe we will get some take-out or maybe even attempt going to a restaurant. (Okay, the last one may be a bad idea).

But I am not, absolutely not, stressing about the state of my carrots any longer, or whether my pork chops are properly seasoned, if the chicken is properly marinated or, really, if every member of my household is enjoying the meal I provide.

And, I will also not be so sensitive over such stupid, unintentional comments. Or, at least I will try not to be.

We’ll see if it works.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pictures ...

I often talk about my niece Kyla. She's the adorable little girl who loves ballet, Barbies and does not own Dora clothing!!! (I'm kidding about that last one).
I can't believe that she will be turning 4 in July. I can remember holding her when she was about an hour old. Really, more like 15 minutes.
Though you can't see it in this picture, she has an ever growing shoe collection thanks to her doting aunt (her little sister, Paige also has a growing shoe collection.) I have to definitely say girls' shoes are far cuter than boys shoes, and Kyla is also a lot more willing to wear the various shoes I buy her. The latest acquistions include a pair of pink Geox boxing boots (adorable and also good for growing feet) and a little pair of pink ballet flats that I bought her yesterday, but they are still at my house. I think I may give them to her at her ballet recital because it fits with the theme.

Happy Birthday, Mommy!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It could be worse ...

So today I decided to wear a new skirt to work. I love this skirt! I haven't shopped along Bloor Street since before I was pregnant (shocking, I know) and the Friday before Mother's Day I ended up there after a lovely lunch. (I took the day off).
And, I found this pretty pink skirt.
It was pretty springy and I bought it.
Since the weather today was so beautiful and spring like, out came the pink skirt. I've been trying to lose weight, and despite an early morning zipper mishap I looked pretty good.
As the morning wore on I was thinking that my diet was really working quite well because my skirt seemed looser than the morning.
Turned out that no, my little zipper mishap was not so little and I was literally walking around with an unzipped skirt.
So, lucky for me I work in a company of 400 employees, and there were safety pins and binder clips to be found. Another lucky thing is that I have lost some weight since buying the skirt (8.5 pounds, but who's counting?) so it was loose enough to pin together without it being too too noticeable. And, the third lucky thing is that I have been covering for our CEO's assistant the past few days and she is back so there were no embarrassing run-ins there.
Anyway, pinned and clipped together I headed over to the GAP for a new skirt.
Of course I found a skirt at the Gap. I love that store. It does not let me down and the people are always nice to me. And honest. Like if I look really hideous the gay changeroom guy tells me.
So, I tried on said skirt in the size I always pick up. Always. I don't even bother trying to pull from the other sizes. I go in and put on the size and it fits. Today should have been no different.
I walked out in the changeroom in the skirt of usual size not for an opinion so much as for a pair of scissors to cut the tags off.
The guy looked at me and said "Oh - you need a smaller size - that is too large."
I refrained from hugging him, kissing him, and announcing my total weight loss to date (early stages still, but whatever).
Instead I humbly told him to go get me the size 2 (okay, I'm kidding) and waited for him to return.
God bless the Gap.
And, thinking ahead I also popped by the pharmacy to get the Tide to Go stain stick. I'm not banking on it being a completely lucky day. I did, afterall, walk around all day with a hole in my skirt!!!

Monday, May 22, 2006

The ever important clothing decision - Dora or no Dora??

The other day my sister and I went out for coffee and shopping and enjoyed some fun sister bonding/child-free time.
Our conversations ranged from talking about husbands to in-laws to our friends, parents and of course parenting.
Becky's older daughter, Kyla, is almost 4 and in September she will start Junior Kindergarten. We got on to the topic of Dora, and more specifically, Dora clothes. Kyla has loved Dora for a couple of years now, but my sister has resisted buying her Dora clothes. She did get the running shoes, but never the clothes.
A big part of that is because Becky doesn't want a child who needs to have all the cartoon character shirts. I think it also has to do with Becky's taste in clothes, and it's never really bugged Kyla.
But, on to the deeper topic, which was about clothing in general.
I shared with my sister that a friend of mine has a 7 year old who wore a Dora ensemble (shorts and t-shirt) to school in sr.kindergarten. Her friends all made fun of her and called her a baby.
So, I told my sister that in no way should Kyla where Dora clothing to school. The other kids may laugh at her.
It turns out that Becky was aware of this, and she said that is why she is pushing her in the direction of Princesses and Barbie using subtle persuasion. For instance, if Kyla sees the Dora runners that light up, Becky will direct her to the Princess running shoes and suggest she get those instead.
To avoid being made fun of.
I'm pretty much on board with this solution. For instance, Matty loves Dora and he has a pair of Dora socks (that's as far as I was allowed to go even though Walmart sells boyish Boots playing soccer sandals. I didn't get those, in fact, because they looked like they would fall apart before we left the store). They are blue, but definitely girly. Even at the age of 2 I will not let him wear them to daycare. They are reserved for trips to Grandma's house. Why? Because I don't want my child to be made fun of. And, even at two kids make fun of other kids.
When I asked my friend the mother of Dora-wearing-five-year-old what she did about the situation, she confessed that she knew that her daughter would be mocked, but she let her wear the outfit anyway. Why? Because she felt that life isn't easy and she may as well learn young. And, she said she hated the outfit and she knew that if she let her daughter wear it to school she would never have to see that outfit again.
I have to say - I don't get that.
I understand completely that a parent should be a parent and a friend should be a friend. For instance, when your kid is misbehaving or just not listening you need to fill the parent shoes. But, I also think that being a good friend to your child cultivates a good relationship.
Maybe if she had told her daughter that her friends may laugh at her and call her a baby, her daughter may have reconsidered. Who knows. But, at least she may not have been quite as shocked and upset.
Personally, I like the way my sister is doing it. It makes sense. She's encouraging Kyla to wear something that won't be made fun of and is letting her fight the battles she needs to fight because I am sure there will be many of them.
Thank goodness I have a big sister leading the way.

A Really Nice Day!

Some days it's really nice to have a do-nothing day.
Mike and I decided that since today is a holiday we were going to do absolutely nothing as far as leaving the house. We were just going to hang out, relax and enjoy each other's company.
I think that when Matt woke up he realized it would be that kind of a day today too. He just sort of got up, and decided to snuggle with us - a little different from his typical hyperactivity!
So far today we've spent the day watching Dora, eating banana bread and cleaning the house. I even (and I know this was a shock) ironed my clothes.
I'm beginning to realize that times like this are just as important as going out and doing stuff, seeing people and having play dates. As great as it is for life to be full, it's also important to just sit back and relax and not feel the pressure of being around people. It's sooooo nice to make several pots of coffee and not look at the clock once while drinking it. It's nice that we can all have an afternoon nap, eat popcorn in the afternoon and of course, my favourite order pizza for dinner.
I love days like today!!!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Brithday/shmirthday ... I want to be 2!!!

So yesterday was my birthday. I'm a ripe old 28 which doesn't really make me old or make me young.
Pretty much an uneventful year.
But as always I was looking forward to my birthday. I love birthdays and expect this will always be the case, but yesterday I realized that birthdays do get a little less exciting as I get older.
Don't get me wrong. My family made a really nice dinner for me and we had a nice time. I got some great gifts (apparently teaching Matt to say "Pedicure" was effective ... next year I will have to teach him "Louis Vuitton" and make a little more $$) and I think between my son and my niece the song happy birthday was sung about 37 times. I even got a surprise birthday cake from my co-workers.
It was all pretty fun.
But, what was missing?
I think I really wanted to be like my 2 year old at his birthday. It wasn't just a day, it was sheer joy!
From the moment he woke up it was pure excitement. He didn't really know what was going on. He just woke up to a giant Bob the Builder balloon - okay that part sort of freaked him out - but it was just fun. He had several different parties. He had a party with Grandma and Becky and his cousins, he had a party at the old daycare he had just left (and, yes, I sobbed, but that is another story), he had a party at a pretty cool restaurant, he had a party with a few friends and then with all his adult friends. He was a little birthdayed out, but it was worth it.
I am not saying that is what I want now.
What I really want is to feel as excited by life and full of sheer joy as he is.
And, what stood out to me about his birthday, and about him when he goes to other kids' birthday parties is just how much enjoyment he gets out of it.
When Matty opened a cool gift, it wasn't him being excited and the other kids being jealous. They just all wanted to pass the toys around and play with them. And, Matt was just as excited to have kids playing with his toys as with playing on his own. In fact he enjoyed it more.
The other day we went to a birthday for his friend Ethan. Matt's eyes almost bulged out of his head when he saw that Ethan had a gigantic bouncy castle (it was the size of Matt's bedroom and all you did was jump.) And, instead of being jealous of Ethan's cool toys, backyard and play house he was just excited to be sharing in the fun.
So, I guess I'm kind of looking at myself in a different light this birthday.
I think maybe I need to be less excited about my own stuff, and just as excited for others. Maybe it's my perspective that needs to be changed not my experiences.
But, I am really glad I worked so hard at teaching Matt the word "pedicure."