Category: Parenting

Have we reached peak parenting?

Current parenting win: I knit a sweater that a child is excited to wear. She even wore it to school this morning.

This morning I could hear Oonagh unloading the dishwasher while I was still laying in bed. She can’t reach the upper cupboards (even standing on a stool) so when it is her week to unload she leaves most of the dishes on the counter. However, when I came downstairs the dishes were all away which means one of her sisters helped her (it was Moira). The three girls were sitting at the table eating their breakfast and having a conversation as I sat all bleary from sleep and watched them. Then Moira announced it was time to get dressed and off they went.

This is not a typical morning.

Some days the dishwasher doesn’t get unloaded until after school no matter how many times I ask. Some days getting dressed is a fight.

But not this morning. The goal, I found out later, was to get ready for school so they still had time to play The Game. We call this “The Game” because there is always a never ending game going on – the toys and rules are different but its always The Game. Sometimes when I tell Oonagh it is bed time she screams at me “but we haven’t finished The Game yet!” And I laugh at her because The Game is never finished.

Anyway, my girls are hilarious and I love how they play with each other. They fight a lot too and dynamics are changing as people get older and the oldest of them is heading into puberty. But compared to my early mommy writings on this blog the old adage “things will get easier” is so true.

Part of yesterday’s game consisted of a fashion show where they barely wore anything but these handknits given to us by a friend, it was -25 degrees outside. They then got dressed in full winter gear and went and played outside.

This morning was easy – I even went to the basement later to get something and ALL THE LIGHTS WERE OFF.

In fact, it seemed almost a little too easy. I keep wondering if we have reached Peak Parenting? Years and years of little irksome issues that compound with child rearing to give you one perfect morning. (Made more perfect by the fact that no one is sick and they all went to school.)

I hope we get more than this one perfect morning. I should make something really challenging for lunch just to see if they will eat it. (Just kidding. Why would I want to jinx things?)



Kicked out of my own kitchen (because it isn’t just “my” kitchen).

We had a great weekend. I knit. I sewed. I even left the house and hung out with a friend (one of my goals this year: to say yes to invitations). Yesterday Miss Oonagh woke up sick so I got a lot of snuggles. Plus we had book club on Friday which means I am DONE with Us Conductors and never have to read the book again. (Why no, I did not enjoy it, thank you for asking.) Today Oonagh and I are home and I’m taking a break from snuggles to write. Also, what I have dubbed as my “cancer period” has finally started so I am basically hemorrhaging right now and can’t leave the house anyway. (Really looking forward to a nap!)

This weekend I also thought a lot about how important it is to empower your children.

On Friday Fionnuala made cupcakes. Saturday morning she made pumpkin pancakes and then planned out lunch for Sunday – which she also made: Oh She Glow’s Mac and Peas (It was delicious).

She’s eight.

Of course, I had to help her but I tried to step back as much as possible and just be near enough to answer questions. During the course of the weekend she learned to double a recipe, peel potatoes and get over her fear of knives. I was nervous about her being around the stove but tried not to freak her out by showing my nervousness. I didn’t always do a great job because at one point she told me I had to leave the kitchen. (Small child! Hot stove!)

Fionnuala, age six, cooking at the stove.

Years ago we tried to have a schedule where the kids helped out in the kitchen one night a week – but we aren’t that great with those kind of schedules in this house. Of course we have a rotating chore chart so they always have chores to do (and no, they don’t get paid for them – just like we don’t get paid for them) but the cooking thing never worked out and they were young. I find it works better for us if someone decides they want to spend time in the kitchen – like Fionnuala did this weekend. Initially it seems like a lot more work for me but it really wasn’t – I mean, one of us would have been in the kitchen cooking anyway because everyone still needs to eat. But my initial reaction when confronted with a child who wants to take over in the kitchen is “ugh” because that involves a lot of patience and guidance on my part for something I could just do myself.

My initial reaction to a lot of things is “ugh” but thing almost always work out well – I just need to get out of the way of myself.

From day one my parenting philosophy has been to raise people I can stand being around as adults. (The fact that I most likely won’t be around when they are adults isn’t lost on me but the goal hasn’t changed.) When I was first diagnosed we also knew that the girls had to become more independent because I just couldn’t be relied upon to do every little thing for them anymore and their dad still has to put in a full day at work. Unless I’m making porridge they all get their own breakfast in the morning. They can make themselves snacks (smoothies are popular). They have to make sure they are organized and ready for school because if they forget to bring a snack to school or their homework I’m not bringing it for them even if the school is across the street. This frees up a lot of my time and brain space – which I appreciate.

Also, I know so many people who reached adulthood and didn’t know how to cook (or do laundry, or clean a kitchen) and I just can’t imagine. I love cooking because I love eating. And while our whole foods, plant-based diet might seem strict or limiting to some it has felt like one big culinary adventure for me.

I will admit, however, that it is kind of nice being kicked out of the kitchen once in a while. Giving up control is hard but I am getting so much more back in return – and so are the girls.

Thoughts on this past Fashion Revolution week

Credit goes to Sarah Lazarovic who very kindly allows you to download this from her website and print it off yourself.

Even before I knew it was Fashion Revolution week I had been trying to have discussions with my oldest daughters about smart shopping. Like, maybe we don’t need a half dozen shirts with unicorns on them from Justice (that are already falling apart before they get home) just because you love unicorns? But if I am feeling overwhelmed by it all I can only imagine how they must be feeling when the only time I talk about it is when I finally loose my s**t about the amount of stuff in our house (which is pretty much daily).

So I’m trying to be smarter about it all. I’m trying to figure out ways to have more open conversations about what mass consumerism is doing to our planet but in order to do that I need to be more educated about it myself. Currently I am waiting for the documentary The True Cost to come in from the library. I’m hoping it comes in this week so we can continue our discussion about fashion which, of course, will continue into a discussion about where all of our stuff comes from.

Fashion Revolution week this year (April 23-29) marked the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster that killed 1,134 people, and not much has really been done about working conditions. Did you know there are approximately 7,000 factories in Bangladesh? I read in a news article that 3,000 of those factories are endangering the lives of their low-paid garment workers. I think this is something even children need to know about. Maybe not enough to give them nightmares, but enough so that they know there is another person making their clothing and that we have more sustainable options.

I’m hoping that this week the girls and I will also make some skirts for the summer. They each picked out a fabric from my stash that has been lingering unused for years. I’m hoping that if they have a hand in making something themselves it will mean more to them and they will see how much effort is put into making clothes.

Fashion Revolution week also started the day after Earth Day and the girls had all kinds of Earth Day events they participated in at school. One day was “no garbage lunch day” where they weren’t supposed to bring a lunch where there was no packaging to throw out. Another day was “no plastic” day – which I found rather difficult since I was trying to send them to school without disposable items. Since then, however, I have been trying to stay on top of making snacks they can bring to school that aren’t packaged. I find the packaged snacks that are also vegan pretty limiting because a lot of them contain nuts and they can’t take nuts to school. So I’ve been making a lot of muffins and putting them in plastic reusable containers. It’s all so very overwhelming but I’m really trying.

My children come home for lunch

And I love it.

And I hate it.

This muffin is going to get me through the afternoon.

And I hate it.

And I love it.

Sometimes those feeling oscillate within the very same moment. Most of the morning I fret about what I am going to feed them and so hardly get anything done until I start cooking. And it isn’t enough to just give them a bowl of cereal or a peanut butter and jam sandwich because I am the worst sort of food snob: the vegan-ish food snob. Sometimes they come home and are extremely grateful for whatever I have put on the table. Today it was homemade nut yogurt with fruit and pumpkin millet muffins. Except one of them was then annoyed that there were kiwis in her yogurt, didn’t like the muffins and washed it all down with leftover pizza.

I made myself kale soup and washed that down with leftover pizza.

The girls come home for lunch for various reasons: 1) We live across the street from the school and it makes sense. 2) No one likes making a packed lunch in the morning. 3) Money. Not the biggest reason but at $300 a kid to stay for lunch supervision and with me being at home, it is the wisest choice. 4) My cancer. It’s one of those “I want to spend more time with my kids” things that I feel I should do – even when they come home and do nothing but fight with one another and I wonder why I bother.

I remember when Moira was little and would spend the day at her grandmothers so I could have a break. I would be so happy for her to get away from me for a while – but even when your children are gone they are still right there. As the hour approached for her return my anxiety returned. Did I use my child-free time wisely? Will she have missed me? Will her return instigate a full-blown tantrum. (Answers were usually: no, yes, and every time.)

It’s been 9+ years and I still don’t have the whole balance of being a mother and a writer down. Hell, I don’t have the balance of someone who is a mother and has actual other hobbies that I don’t immediately give up because my children take up my every waking thought. I have given almost every single moment of the last decade to being a mother and wife and it has sucked almost every ounce of creativity out of me. And yet I love my daughters so much that sometimes I wish we had more of them because (I’m crazy) they are all so brilliant and gorgeous and I am in awe daily that half my genetic make-up could create such beings.

I did it all willingly and I’m pretty sure I would do it all again given the same circumstances.

Plus I think they make me a more interesting person and a better writer when I actually manage to put some words on the page.

Anyway, I keep saying “I’m living the dream now” which is sort of tongue-in-cheek but not really because the dream has always been to live long enough to have all three children in school at once. So that is finally where we are. All my worries that Oonagh was too young for school and would be exhausted by days end have been squashed by a little girl whose answer to “How was school today?” is: “fantastically awesome!”

Things are finally getting easier but to borrow Meg Wolitzer’s term, how do you wake up from your 10-year nap? I feel like I have option paralysis now and I need someone to come in and organize both my office and my brain.

Meanwhile, the girls will continue to come home for lunch, and I will continue to both enjoy it and dread it. They will be happy with my food choices some days and hate them other days. They will continue to fight and make me crazy. The earth will continue to rotate around the sun. I will, hopefully, start putting more words on the page.

So, come here often?

One of my favourite bloggers recently decided to start writing again after a long absence. Her explanation about why she stayed away so long was because she felt she had to write a big welcome back post explaining why she stayed away so long. Doesn’t everyone feel pressure like that? Every time I write a post it ends up being… Read more →