Monday, November 6, 2017


I have been mulling over thoughts on parenting lately. This feels like a minefield! So many opinions. So many ways of thinking. So much room for misperception or judgment. Even the mere thought of writing about motherhood is enough to make me question if I REALLY want to open this can of worms online. Before I continue it is important to note that my beliefs for my life with kids are just that, about MY LIFE. This isn't to say you need to do it like me, or that I think my way is right. It's just right for me. If you chose to stay at home because that fulfills you, awesome! If you chose to work full time because that fulfills you, awesome! If you chose to send your older kids to daycare during your mat leave so you get to bond with your newborn, awesome! Whatever you do, great. I just know what works for me and my family, tied with the fact that we live in an expensive city and there are some realities we need to work around :) Some of you live far from your "villages" or families and that is a reality - there is no judgement if you can't raise your kids in a village because of circumstances or choice. With that said...

First week home with 2 kiddos

I have found that as a Mom there is so much external pressure; almost all of it is well-meaning (I have to assume it's well-meaning, or that's just discouraging). As a Mom/Women I have some very strong convictions on balancing priorities: work / church / parenting / self-care / marriage / other responsibilities. This is something I read a lot about, think/pray a lot about, talk/listen with others about, and talk/pray with Paul about. 

My parents weren't perfect, certainly, but they managed to instill in me some very strong beliefs on this subject. Both my parents worked and found great joy and significance there. They also had thriving friendships and relationship with our extended family. They (and therefore us girls too) were hugely involved in church and the community. They balanced all of that with parenting and taking time for themselves and each other. I had struggles with my Mom over the years, but I never questioned if she had time for me or wanted to be with me, no matter how busy she was.  Our struggle was more a parenting style, but not the motive. I grew up knowing that my Mom loved and enjoyed me deeply and that she was a better mom because of her involvement in work, church, and friendships. She was clear that her capacity to “mom” was increased when she was also fulfilled in God, and outside of the home. I am a lot like her. 

My sister and I breastfeeding our newborns at church...what fun to do together

After a day of fulfilling work, I come home ready to engage with my kids. I am learning how to do this well - the first year in my job was a learning process - to turn off my email and focus on the girls. But its something I highly value figuring out. I love my time with my kids. It’s why I don't want to go back to work full time and have chosen to work 2-3 days a week instead. At the same time, I love my time at work/outside of the home and prefer not to stay home full time. I love using the gifts God has given me in work and church and friendships. I come back refreshed and excited, ready to give myself up to love my kids. 

A and I enjoying a summer day

B likes summer days with Mom too

When my Mom worked, I had the privilege of spending my time with my Auntie Sandy. To this day, she is one of my best friends. She has been there for me my whole life - as a teen, I remember turning to her in moments where I wasn't ready to go to a parent. She was a safe place. What a gift she is. I am so thankful for the large amounts of time with her growing up. When my parents went away we stayed with one of my three aunts, or one of our sets of Grandparents. These times where my parents chose to go away to marriage weekends, or women's retreats, or cruises never left me feeling left out. I built strong and enjoyable relationships with my extended family that benefit me to this day. 

An example of two of my amazing aunts who are also friends

I want that for my girls. I am overjoyed that they have had the privilege of being looked after on my work days by Paul's sister now, and before my sister. The reality of working 2-3 days a week means I need to pay for childcare - how thankful I am that I get to pay my girls aunts to do it! It's a double blessing - for us and for them. I love that my college-aged cousins loved babysitting and chose to spend time with them. Plus the other youth and college girls at church! My kids feel like mini-celebrities when they get near the young adults at church and they love it! Paul's and my cousins and aunts also step in to help, and I love that my kids get to bond with their relatives. This is why it would be hard to leave this city near so much of our family and community! What a gift that both sets of our parents are involved and willing to step in, in different ways - I love watching my kids getting to know their grandparents. This isn’t just about free childcare, but relationship building. It's why we have taken my nephews overnight on anniversary weekends for my sister and her husband for years, to build those same relationships with our nephews. It's why we have friends over with kids - despite the fact that the conversation is definitely trickier and a simple phone call would probably cover just as much. But I value kids being around other adults, as well as us. I was raised by a village, and I value my daughters having that same benefit. 

When it comes to parenting I'm sure we aren't doing everything right. I know there are things we won't be able to afford to offer our kids that I got to experience (my parents sent us to preschool, and later paid for university - that's most likely not on our radar with 4 kids in Vancouver). I also know that there are things we are getting right. Our kids know they are loved and enjoyed. They know that there are more than just a family that loves them - there is a whole community around them that thinks the world of them. I see them flourish in that. 

Box time!

Sometimes I'm surprised that I need to clarify this. It doesn't cross my mind to questions other people's parenting (I'm not saying I'm perfect, just very very tired). Even in my circle of best friends, we have VASTLY different parenting styles. From attachment to babywise and everything in between - and yet we stay friends because we are parenting side by side - at times seemingly in the trenches. There isn't the emotional energy left to judge. Parenting is an amazing way to wipe the smugness out of yourself - to strip the selfishness from us. With each baby, each moment where everyone is crying and needs help, I learn to be more open, more caring and less self-focused. What a gift. Also how tiring. We understand how fulfilling it is, and yet at times how badly we just want to have a bath without anyone needing us. To sit in our room without someone needing us. It's a beautiful tension between these two things; the joy and the exhaustion. 

Fort time with A and preggo Mom **twins not pictured :)

As people (parents or not), can we come alongside each other? What a gift it is to call a friend, who I know won't judge me, and share my good and bad, to share my hopes and hard moments, and to know that they get it, they are there and they are standing with me. That is worth working for; worth being vulnerable for, even know that some people won't get it and that sometimes it will backfire. But the times it works out? Man, that's gold. 

Just a few of the wonderful women I can call anytime

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