Sunday, May 14, 2017

To my mama on Mother's Day - Thank You

My mom was always the quintessential mama. When my sister and I were young, she was a stay-at-home mom. Family dinners every night. Baked goods always on the counter. My sister and I painting on our easels, construction paper crafts, homemade play dough and cookie cutters. Friday nights were 'movie nights', which meant pop and chips and picking out a movie from the library. We'd get into our pj's (my mom would often dress the dog up too), get cozy, and watch Disney.  

We had a wonderful childhood, and I always knew that my mom was a great mom. It wasn't until I had a little girl of my own, though, that I realized just how amazing she was.

When my mom died, I was 15 - years and years away from thinking about having kids. When I got engaged, picked out a wedding dress, got married, it was difficult, but the longing for my mom was never so strong as when I found out I was pregnant. The sadness was palpable - I remember thinking "how am I going to do this without her?" There were so many questions I wanted to ask. When the morning sickness turned into all-day sickness and lasted my entire pregnancy, I wondered if she, too, had struggled with the feeling of being perpetually hungover for nine months. As I slathered oil on my expanding belly, I wondered if she too worried about stretch marks. Did she have to keep a bottle of tums beside her bed to chew in the middle of the night? Did it take her breath away the first time she felt her baby kick? (I remember the moment so clearly - I was in a meeting at work, and let out a little yelp, followed by a giggle under my breath.) So many questions were unanswered as I navigated through my pregnancy. I, of course, had amazing friends, my mom's sisters and my grandmother who remembered a lot and were able to answer questions for me, my amazing mother-in-law. But, it wasn't the same. As I got ready to deliver my first baby, I thought of my mom almost constantly.  

Then, little Aurora Gillian arrived, and I felt completely and utterly clueless. Those first few weeks were difficult, as we got to know our new daughter and she got to know us. There was so much I felt I didn't know. So much advice I felt I'd missed, having my mom taken away as a teenager.  

As time has gone on, though, most of that sadness has been replaced by a quiet peacefulness. I've settled into my role as a mom. And, in those moments when Rory falls asleep on my chest, her breathing rhythmic and calming, I realize that even though my mom's not here, she has prepared me for motherhood.  

The memories of my mom come through in small moments with my daughter. The other night, rubbing Vicks Vapo-Rub on my her chest to give her some relief from a cold, I thought of my own mom, my head in her lap, as she did exactly the same thing to me. Preparing for Rory's first birthday party, people told me I was crazy to go to so much trouble for a one year-old. Again, I thought of my mom, getting ready for our birthday parties, making sure everything fit the theme - the cake had to match the pinata and the treat bags, and the games (turns out, she was a little bit insane too). When I'm having a silly moment with Rory, I think of my mom, and how my sister and I used to tell her she was a 'weird mom.' Her silly voices, her wild laugh, the way she would get so excited about her own practical jokes that she would ruin them way before the punchline. Trying to learn my sister's dance moves and taking four steps before ending up on her ass on the floor. 

The other day, I was walking around the kitchen with Rory in my arms, getting her dinner ready, explaining everything to her in my best Julia Child voice. "You're weird," said Damien with a laugh as he walked through the kitchen. I don't think he quite realized how much his passing comment meant to me. 

Although my mom left us far too early to give me any concrete parenting advice, she taught me something far more important. She taught me to work hard. She taught me to go all in, to feel things deep down in my bones, to trust my gut, to be patient, to be gentle, but also to be wild and silly and out of control sometimes too. She taught me about passion, she taught me about the importance of family. Most of all, she taught me about the deep, unconditional love that our kids bring us.

Through her wonderful ways, through the memories that surface when I least expect them, and even though she's been gone for almost 20 years, my mom continues to teach me how to be a mother.   

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Dear Aurora: You're 10.5 months old

Dear Aurora,

Ok, I have to admit, when I started writing these 'Dear Aurora' letters, I didn't have a 10.5 month old post in mind. To be honest, they were to be monthly posts throughout your first year of life but that was before you came screaming into the world and took all of mama's free time so here were are. Ten and a half months it is!  

These past few months have been so precious to me. While the days, weeks, and months felt so long in the beginning, they're now whizzing by like road signs on the side of the highway. Here comes 8 it comes...whoops, there it goes, growing smaller in the rear view mirror. Nine months, coming, coming, whoops, gone. I don't know if time is speeding up because you're crawling now and our days are like, 208973498 times busier, or because I'll be going back to work soon and I'm trying to savour every single moment (even the moments I find you playing in the dog's water bowl or smearing peanut butter in your hair). Next month you'll be one year old and when people say "I just can't believe it's been a year!" I respond with a wholehearted "I KNOW!" because I really, truly can't believe it either.  

Yet, every day, you show me that you're more than ready to enter toddler-hood. I guess I under-estimate your abilities sometimes, because you still surprise me with your mad learning skills. I'll say "Do you want to read a book," and you'll say "book", so clearly that it can't possibly be any other word. You see Daddy's truck pull into the driveway and head for the front hall to greet him, whispering "Dada....dada....dada..." the entire way. I will say, "Rory, that's not yours, give Gus back his bone," and you hold it out for him until he (reluctantly) comes over and retrieves it.  

Your relationship with Gus is still pretty one-sided. You adore him, you scream, laugh, and say "Gus Gus!" whenever he comes near you. Gus, on the other hand, is still a pretty big pansy when it comes to you. He spends most of his days avoiding you - lying down, then getting up when he sees you crawling toward him, lying down in a different spot, repeat. In the past couple of days though, I've seen a slight improvement in Gus' attitude toward you. He's been letting you get a little closer, sit near him a little longer, and yesterday he even let you touch him on the head. That was a great moment for mama. Our patience and watchful eye seems to be paying off and although we have a long way to go, for the first time I really believe that you guys will turn out to be the best of friends.  

You are still such an easy going and happy baby. This past month, mama and daddy left for a weekend away together and left you with Nona. This was the first time we had ever left you on your own, and you rocked it girl! You and Nona had a great time, although I had no doubt that you would. I used to worry (selfishly, I'll admit) that you didn't really need me, that you would be happy with just about anyone. I now realize what a true gift that is - to be able to leave you, and know that you'll be content while I'm gone.  

Next month, I'll go back to work full time. This is something I've been struggling with - the thought of someone else having all of your sweet little moments throughout the day. Again, I realize that this is a selfish worry, and deep down, I know you'll be just fine. I'll be ok too, and once we're in the swing of things I'm sure everything will run like clockwork (delusion or wishful thinking?). On the plus side, you will make some new friends and I will get to speak to adults again on a daily basis! 

Aurora, my love, as you learn, you also continue to teach me and your Daddy. As you follow Gus around the house relentlessly, hoping to get just a quick pet, you teach us about patience (Gus also teaches patience too as I can almost see him roll his eyes with every approach). As you explore every nook and cranny around the house, pausing to examine every crumb and tumbleweed of dog hair on the floor, you teach us about the importance of curiosity. You teach us determination as you try (still unsuccessfully) to climb up on the couch, your little leg lifting just a couple of inches off the floor. And, you remind us how important it is to be silly, as your squeals echo through the house during what we've come to call your 'silly time' (just before bedtime, FYI). You've taught your dad and I to appreciate each other, as we find ourselves genuinely thanking each other for the most mundane tasks that seem so big ("Thanks for making dinner!" "Thanks for emptying the dishwasher!" "Thanks for taking out the diaper pail bag!" "Thanks for acting like it's normal when we're both in bed at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night!").  
There are lots of kids in the world, Aurora. Our journey is something that many, many people have done before. I'm no different than a million other moms out there, struggling with the reality of going back to work, wondering what the heck I'm going to make for supper tonight, wondering how this Cheerio got tangled in my hair, and just soaking in every adorable minute with my sweet girl.

But, there's only one you, my love. Only one happy, sweet, smiling Aurora Gillian, who has turned Mama and Daddy's world inside out while simultaneously making us the happiest we've ever been. You're truly our little ray of sunshine.  

Shine on, my lovely little Rory-girl.  


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Things I thought (and said out loud) before I had a kid

When I think back to what I thought life would be like with kids, before I had kids, I laugh. And laugh. But not too hard because one of the things I actually didn't think about before I had a kid was postpartum incontinence.  

I remember some of the looks I used to get when I would say things about having kids. Most people were pretty polite and would just smile. Now that Rory is here and we're almost 10 months in (still rookies, I know), I realize how insane 90% of my assumptions were. Here are some of the wildest ones, the ones that make we want to go back in time and slap the crazy talk right out of my mouth.  

"We just got a puppy, so I feel like we're pretty much ready for a baby. I feel like it's pretty close to being the same thing." 
I said this to colleagues at work who all had kids. They laughed. A lot. And said things like "oh ya, how many times a night does your puppy get up? How many diapers do you change in a day? How many bottles does he drink? Does he ever just cry and cry and you have no idea why?" Here's a tip for those of you without kids: never, ever, compare having a puppy to having a baby to people who have babies. When our baby was born and we were in the thick of it, it was actually NOTHING like having a puppy.  

"Night feedings are going to be so cozy, so calm, such a great bonding experience with baby."  
I pictured me, on a rocking chair, lovingly feeding (breast, of course) my new baby while she stared up at me. The house would be quiet, the only light coming from the dim lamp beside me. Baby would eat, coo, and fall back to sleep, as would I, with a lovely warm feeling inside. What I didn't picture was feeling completely clueless when our 45 minute feeds were be followed by 45 minute crying sprees. I didn't picture waking up with a start and thinking "did I just feed her or was that a dream?" Didn't picture the vomit-fests that followed almost every feed. Didn't picture struggling with breastfeeding, supplementing with formula, and the intense guilt that went along with it. Nowadays, I have to admit I kinda like those rare occasions when Rory wakes up fussy and I have to rock her back to sleep. Back then though - nope, nope, nopeity, nope.

"I know I'll be tired, but it really won't matter, because it's not like I'll have to get up and go to work in the morning!"  
I guess I didn't realize I'd still have to get up and TAKE CARE OF A HUMAN, and not only in the morning, but at all hours of the day. Plus visit with people, feed said human, feed myself and my husband, and do about 3980234723 loads of laundry a day. The level of exhaustion was something I'd heard about but I feel like you don't really understand until you're in it. Falling asleep for five minutes and it feels like two hours. Falling asleep for two hours and it feels like five minutes. Waking up with crusted drool and bright red pillow marks on your face in a panic because the baby's been sleeping for two hours and that can't possibly be normal and there has to be something wrong but nope baby's fine and you just woke her up in your panic-induced frenzy. I also remember being heavily pregnant, suffering from insomnia and thinking (not sure if I said this out loud) "I can't wait until the baby comes and I can finally get some sleep!" Completely. Freaking. Delusional.

"Oh my gym has a daycare so that'll be great for getting back into shape."  
How many times have I packed up the baby, and myself, and brought her to the gym with me? HA HA HA HA! Let's just leave it at that.  

"I'm totally going to rock the whole breastfeeding thing."  
I've always been a pretty healthy person. I don't get sick that often, I don't drink excessive amounts of alcohol or smoke, my body's always done pretty much what it should when it should. Which is why I always pictured myself breastfeeding my baby. I felt like it was such a natural thing, I would just put her on my breast and away we'd go. When she was born and they placed her on my chest and I was so ready for that amazing beautiful moment when she would latch and we'd be forever bonded. Except that moment didn't happen. We struggled from the beginning and, for my husband and I, it was our biggest challenge and stress as new parents. Damien desperately wanted the baby to stop crying, wanted me to stop crying, wanted to fix everything. "Babe, let's just give her some formula," he would say gently, during one of our feeding sessions. "NO!" I would say, tears streaming down my face. "I don't want to give her chemicals!" Luckily, my family doctor is an amazing, smart, very practical woman who told me that there was nothing wrong with formula, in fact, urged me to start supplementing for not only my baby's health but for my mental health. "There are many other ways to love your baby than breastfeeding," she said as I sat in her office with tears in my eyes. My doctor truly saved me in that moment, and after giving Rory a couple of ounces of formula, I couldn't believe how content she was. How bright eyed. I think that was the first time she fully opened her eyes and we looked at each other. Turns out that I totally didn't rock the whole breastfeeding thing, but also? Turns out that's ok. 

"Your kids are ALWAYS sick! Maybe you should give them less sugar." 
Ok, so turns out the part about kids getting sick...totally true. Rory's only 10 months, but already we've learned what all parents already know...if your kid is around other kids who are sick, they will get sick, and they will likely pass it on to you (one of Rory's fave things to do is stick her hands inside the mouths of whoever is holding her.) The fact that I 1) judged my friends and their kids for 'always being sick' and 2) thought 'less sugar' would prevent cold and flu viruses is the part that I'm ashamed of. Let's just go ahead and put this in the "what was I thinking?" file. 

To everyone who listened to my crazy ideas about what having a baby was like: thanks in advance for not saying "I told you so."

Monday, November 14, 2016

The husband's guide to having a baby

I want to preface this post by saying that I am in no way an expert, even remotely, on the subject of labour, delivery, and babies. I'm more like the person who shines the experts shoes and gets the expert coffee, who most of the time has not a freaking clue what's going on but sometimes offers advice here and there.  

I'm still pretty new at this whole parenting thing. But I'm far enough removed from the newborn phase of it all that I feel like I have a healthy hindsight as to what worked for us (and what absolutely did not) when we were in the thick of things those first few weeks. My husband still looks back on those early weeks and says "that was hell," but I'm starting to look back fondly and think "that wasn't so bad." I'm surprising myself because I'm already thinking about baby #2 - doesn't nature work in mysterious and seriously effed up ways?

The other night I was talking to a friend who is about to become a dad. I asked him how he's feeling about it and his answer was so familiar and brought back so many memories from those early weeks. He said he is excited, but still feels disconnected. "I really have no connection to the baby yet," he said. "I'm sure when he comes that will change." I couldn't help notice a brief flash of fear in his eyes. 

I remember Damien feeling the exact same way. I could sit there for hours with my hands on my belly as Aurora kicked and twirled and rolled inside me. I would call Damien over ("BABE! HURRY! THE BABY'S KICKING LIKE CRAZY!"). Inevitably, as soon as he would put his hands on my belly, the movement would stop. I would get mad (ok, I can admit now that it was completely irrational) when he wouldn't want to sit beside me and wait...and wait...and wait for the next kick. "You're SO impatient!" I would huff. "Do you even care?! Do you even want this baby? Do you even love me?!" (Hi, hormones!)

This brings me to the first on my list of new dad tips: 

1. It's ok if you don't connect with the baby right away. 
Sorry Dads, but as far as baby's needs go in those early weeks, it's all mama's boobs, all the time. Of course my husband was so excited when Aurora was born, he held her, he cuddled her, he changed her, and he fed her when he could. She'll be seven months old in a couple of days, and their bond is so much stronger. He still doesn't miss the 'newborn phase,' in fact, he says "I wish babies came out this size, and at this stage" (while a look of sheer terror washes over my face). I think a big part of that is that a lot of dads feel completely useless for the first few weeks. Now, he is able to do so much more with her including play, throw her up in the air, make her laugh. He's now her favourite person in the world (I guess she forgot about all those late night breast milk extravaganzas). It's totally understandable if you don't feel an immediate connection with the tiny, purple, pooping, crying bundle that just shot out of your wife's lady bits and left her a sore, emotional mess. It will come. In those early days, you may not be able to breastfeed, but you can:

2. Do everything else.
This is one thing that Damien killed at during the first few days and weeks that Rory graced our household with her angelic presence. I quickly discovered that for me, breastfeeding wasn't going to be the natural, built-in, carefree journey that I had anticipated (more on that here). When 98.5% of your time is spent trying to get a good latch, making sure your baby's had enough, burping, and then cleaning up the subsequent vomit, there's little time (1.5% of the time, to be exact) to do anything else. That's where Dame came in. He cooked the meals. He cleaned. He made sure the house was presentable for our visitors. He brought me water, toast, coffee, oatmeal, hand cream, the remote, my inflatable bum donut, the receiving blanket. He went to the store and bought nipple cream, more breast pads, breast pump parts, bibs (we had NO idea how many bibs we would go through in a day!), energy bars (complete breastfeeding lifesavers), and everything else I needed. He was a rock star, even though he was just as exhausted as I was. Husbands, boyfriends, partners, lend me your ears. If you take any piece of advice, do the above. Your wife/girlfriend/partner will love you forever (even when she's yelling at you for your future stupid comments). Which is where my next point comes in: 

3. Learn what NOT to say. 
Some of these things Damien didn't say, but in speaking with friends who had babies, these were things some of their husbands did say. Some of these things Damien did say, but only once. My response to all of these is always "ARE YOU F*&CKING KIDDING ME!?!?!?"
Stay away from: "What did you do all day?" husband asks innocently as he strolls through the door. I'm sitting down, the TV is on but I'm more or less staring into space after having just gotten Aurora to sleep after the most recent fussy period. "Is your baby content, fed, clean, dressed, and more importantly ALIVE?" I answer with fire in my eyes. That question never came up again.
Safe alternative: "How was your day? Can I get you anything? You look tired. Why don't you go take a bath while I take over the baby duties." 
Stay away from: "You didn't have time to (do the laundry/vaccum/go to the grocery store/take a shower) today?" This is a bad one. Just don't say it. Just don't.  
Safe alternative: "Relax while I (do the laundry/vaccum/go to the grocery store/run you a hot bath.)"  
Stay away from: "Why are you crying...again?" Men will never, ever in a million years understand the emotions and hormones that come with carrying a baby inside you for 9 months and then suddenly giving birth and that baby is out in the world and you can't comfort her anymore and she's crying and you have no idea why and you haven't slept in two days and she's not latching and your milk isn't in yet and people are sending such nice gifts and people want to visit and you feel like crap and, oh, one more thing HORMONES. Man friends, if your wife sobs uncontrollably the first few days, it's totally normal. It will pass. Promise!
Safe alternative: "It's ok. It will be ok." (Because it really will). 

4. Be the best damn support system she's ever had. 
From the moment she got pregnant, you were a team. Remember when you held her hair while the puked during those early months? (In my case it was Damien standing over me and cheering because he was just SO damn excited that I was pregnant. Now it's cute. Then it wasn't.) Through pregnancy, labour and delivery you were there, encouraging, telling her she was rocking this, wiping her brow, bringing her ice chips. At no time is the support person more important, however, than after the baby comes. When she feels like she has no freaking clue what she's doing, she needs you to tell her she's doing an awesome job. She needs to hear that she is an amazing mom. When she's frustrated with breastfeeding and feeling like a dairy cow, tell her she's rocking that breast pump. When she's overwhelmed and exhausted, tell her a joke. One little joke and a shared laugh can change her whole night. You're in this together now. It's your time to shine, coach!

5. Hold on to the fact that your new 'normal' is just around the corner.  
Around the three month mark was when our household started to feel normal again. Things settled into place, we all got into a routine, we had gotten to know each other, and we were all pretty comfortable with our new living situation. In the first few weeks, LOTS of different people told us that it would get easier, and they were right. And so, I'm passing that wisdom along to you. Now, seven months into the game, it's so much easier, we're so comfortable, and it's absolutely the most fun I've ever had.  

You got this, soon-to-be Dads. And we've got your backs, just in case you need a little help now and then. But I have a feeling you're going to be just fine. 


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Internet: meet Biller

Breaking news from the lake: Biller has the Internet.

It's easy to forget how foreign the concept of the Internet is to someone who has never been on it, who didn't grow up with it, and who had to receive written instructions for checking his answering machine. 

We've been trying to get my Dad online for years - telling him about the amazing things he can see and do online, trying to explain to him that an Internet search can yield him answers to questions in seconds. This is a man who, when my sister and I would ask a question (it could be any question, like 'what kind of bird is that at the bird feeder?') would march us downstairs to the 'library', point to the collection of encyclopedias, and say 'find the answer.' So not easy to get him to wrap his head around a search that took seconds and provided thousands of answers.  

This fall, all the stars aligned - my sister moved overseas, he had a second-hand laptop, and I think generally his curiosity finally got the best of him. We went into the store and set him up with the Internet. I've been trying to show him the ways of the web, and wanted everyone to share in the hilarity (I'm a little hesitant now that he can read this website, but I don't think he'll mind).  

Here are a few 'Biller-isms' from early on in our online journey.  

On signing up for the Internet:  
Biller, to sales clerk: "So, what does this include?"  
Sales clerk, slightly confused: "What do you mean?"  
Biller: "Does it include Google? Does it include Facebook? Not that I want my own Facebook, I'm just going to go on my daughter's."  
Me: "Wonderful."  

On money management: 
Sales clerk: "You can set it up with your bank, or it can come automatically off your Visa."  
Biller, super proud: "Don't have a credit card, never have, never will!"  
Sales clerk: "Really?! Wow. That's really impressive!" 
Other sales clerk, overhearing: "That's amazing! Good for you."  
Biller looks at me, smiles and nods as if to say "told you so!"  
Me: "Jesus."  

On technological terms:  
Me: "You only have a certain amount of gigabytes you can use each month. Things like watching movies and Skyping with Gigi take more gigabytes. But don't worry, you'll probably never go over."  
Biller: "So if I leave the computer running but just close the top, am I using gigabytes?" 
Me: "No, you're only using gigabytes if you're..." 
Him, cutting me off: "Biting a gig. HA HA HA HA HA!" 
Me: "Jesus." 

On getting his contact info out there: 
B: "Ok, so how are people going to know my number?"  
Me: "Umm, what do you mean?"  
B: "Like, people are going to want to text me now, right?"  
Me: "Nope, you'll have an email address that you'll give to people. We can set that up after. So once people have your email address they can email you."  
B: "Ok so how are people going to know my email address?" 
Me: "Jesus."  

On online shopping (without a credit card, mind you)
B: "So, I just want to make sure that I'm not going to do something wrong and break the computer."  
Me: "You can't do anything wrong. The only way you can break the computer is if you take a hammer and smash it."  
B: "I just don't want to click on something and order something accidentally."  
Me: "Ok, so you don't have a credit card and as long as you never give out your personal information you'll be ok."  
B: "Ok, I just don't want to order up a bunch of hookers or something."  
Me: "Jesus." 

On pop-ups:  
B, browsing the internet, suddenly closes all windows and looks terrified: "Something happened."  
Me: "What?"  
B: "I don't know, something bad. Something really bad."  
Me: "Ok, that's ok, it was just a pop-up." I notice he is shutting down the computer. "What are you doing?"  
B: "I'm getting out of here!"  

On email etiquette:  
B, sending his first email to my husband, his son-in-law: "Can I write f&*k you?"  
Me: "I mean, you can if you want...."  
B: "They're not going to charge me or anything?"  
Me: "Who? Who would charge you for swearing in an email?"  
B, seemingly frustrated with my ridicule: "I DON'T KNOW! THE INTERNET POLICE?!"  

These are just few of the comments I wrote down. And I only started writing things down near the end of the introductory weekend. 

He's actually a pretty good student - except for the fact that he kept giggling every time I said the word "mouse" and the fact that all he wanted to do was look at moose videos on YouTube (ok, I'll admit I liked that part too).  

Get ready world! Biller's on the net, biting gigs, not shopping online, potentially creeping my Facebook page, and sending offensive emails.  

You're welcome. 



Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dear Aurora: You're six months old

Dear Aurora,

You're six months old. What an amazing six months it's been.  
When you were first born, EVERYONE said "enjoy every moment - it goes by so fast." Back in those early days of uncertainty, (what seemed like) constant crying, and not knowing how we were going to get through, I would do an internal eye-roll every time someone said this. I would think "I wish she was older, I wish she was stronger, I can't wait for this newborn stage to be over.

Now, only six months later, I can see exactly what those wise people were talking about. I find myself longing for those newborn snuggles, the weight of you asleep on my chest, even for the feeling of you nestled into me while I nursed you. I can't believe you've already been here for a half a year. It's truly gone by in the blink of an eye. Rory, I'm now really trying to take that advice - I'm trying to enjoy not only every minute, but every second with you.  

Over the past couple of months, your dad and I have marveled at how your personality is developing. You're happiest in the morning or after your naps when you spot us walking into your room. Your smile is so contagious that sometimes your dad, Grandpa, Nona and Papa and I all scramble to be the ones to go in and get you when you first wake up.  

You are the most easygoing baby. You barely ever cry, you go down for your naps and for bedtime like a dream, you sleep about 12 hours every night (insert wood knock here). Our friends Darcy and Trish (and your buddy baby Ari) babysat you one night while your dad and I were at a wedding, and they asked us if you are always this easy. We had to admit (ok, brag) that yes, you are. You are already making us so proud, my girl.

Over the summer, you continued your adventures traveling with Mom and Dad. We went to Ottawa to visit Auntie Dom and Uncle Dave. Last month, we traveled to Hanover, and then Toronto. You met all of your Grandma Brenda's family and they just fell in love with you. Seeing the smile on your Great Grandma Weber's face as she kissed your cheeks over and over again and cuddled you was so special. You were the star of the show and once again, and again, you made us so proud by being your easygoing self. We even took a ferry on our adventure - the roughest ferry ride any of us had even taken. You were a gem the whole time - entertaining all of the green passengers with your smiles, laughing, and cooing.

This month, we said goodbye to Auntie Gigi as she left for her new adventure in London, England. I promise you that even though your Auntie is far away, we will do everything we can to make sure that you don't feel the distance between you. Auntie Gigi jokes that when you grow up, you will be a world traveler just like her. I cringe jokingly, but in reality, I want you to see all of the wonders that make up this world.  


Little Rory girl, the past six months have been such a crazy adventure with you. Some parts of my life are the same, yet things feel completely different now that you're here. I used to sleep like a rock at night - and now I find myself lying awake (even when you're sleeping) and thinking, worrying, contemplating everything under the sun. I think about whether you're too hot or too cold, whether your tummy is bothering you, how fast you're growing, whether I'm going to have to buy you new clothes soon, what the next 20 years will hold, what tomorrow will hold. 

I used to care more what people thought - now, as long as you're happy and healthy, I really don't care in the least. The other day, I was in the grocery store, trying to hurry, when I accidentally banged the shopping cart going around a corner. A lady nearby looked, and very loudly 'tsk'ed in our direction. I looked down at you and you were smiling. The lady's dirty look and judgement  evaporated, just like that, as soon as I saw your smile. The little dramas don't matter anymore. It's hard to be anything but grateful when I look my happy, healthy little Rory. 


Sometimes, before bed, we read a book called "I'd know you anywhere, my love." A story about how a mama will always know her baby better than anyone else. Sometimes, I feel like you have given me a superpower. I now know your facial expressions, I know when you're about to make strange, when you're about to cry, when you're about to vomit all over yourself, and me, and anything within a five foot radius. When you're down for your nap and you wake up, I seem to somehow know when you're going to go back to sleep and when you're up for good. The connection we share is sometimes unbelievable to me. I can't explain it, except to say that I am your mama and you are my baby. It is the sort of magic that all of the storybooks talk about but that you don't really believe until it happens to you. 

Aurora, you've given me an amazing gift. You made me your mama. You had faith, in those early weeks, that I could do it. Every day, our bond grows stronger and stronger and I love you more and more (how is that even possible?).

You've given me confidence, you've given me strength, you've given me the chance to raise you, teach you, and guide you.

You've made me feel like the luckiest mama on earth. 

Thank you, my little love, for this awesome gift. Happy half-birthday.  


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Bon voyage

Growing up, my sister Gillian (now affectionately known as Gigi to her friends and family) was always the tougher, more stubborn, straighter shooting sibling. This is the kid who would fall down, scrape her knee, and proceed to beat on the sidewalk and call it names. The kid who once looked across a room full of people at my parents Christmas party, pointed at one of their house guests, and proclaimed "I don't like dat man." Her wild curls and mischievous smile only added to her carefree personality. I, on the other hand, was the gentler, worried, older sister (my family nicknamed me Memere at a very young age).  

Despite our differences, Gigi and I were always, and still are, the best of friends. No one makes me laugh like my sister, and when we're together, it's like we speak our own language. Once, at a party, someone made a comment that we just sat in the corner the whole time, laughing at our own jokes. We compared ourselves to the two old men from the Muppets and laughed even harder. 

Over the past few years, our lives have taken different paths. I veered off on the traditional path - got married, bought a house, got a yellow lab and had a baby. Gigi followed a more unconventional path - living in Toronto, establishing a wonderful group of friends, working hard, zooming around the city on her bicycle, and being the go-to girl for the trendiest restaurants and shopping spots. Our lives were pretty different, but we always found time (usually a good hour a couple of times a week) to catch each other up on what was going on.  

Last winter, just after Christmas, Gigi announced that she was moving to London, England. This was followed by many questions from my dad and I, the most prominent one being WHY? Why do you want to move there? What are you going to do there? It's SO far away! When will we ever see you? Are you really going to go? Deep down, we knew the answers to all of these questions. Gigi was going because she wanted adventure. She wanted to explore the world. She was determined to get a job, and that way she could travel Europe and come home as often as she wanted.

Deep down, although we hoped (for selfish reasons) that she would change her mind, my dad and I both knew that our determined, stubborn, little Gigi was going to England. Deep down, we also both understood why, and we knew we had to be supportive about her move. If you know Gigi, you know that trying to convince her not to do something will only piss her right off - and make her want to do it even more. But goddamn it - we're going to miss her. See, our little clan is pretty tight - we do best together. 

And so tonight, Gigi will board a plane that will take her to her new adventure across the Atlantic. She's done her homework. Her work visa is intact. She has a great job waiting for her. She's already established a few contacts in London. I'm not worried about her in the least. Frankly I'm more worried about me, how I'll survive knowing a piece of my heart is so far away. But I'll be ok.We'll have FaceTime and Skype and I'll be waiting anxiously to hear about all of her adventures across the pond. I'm so excited for her.

Now, there are no more questions, no more words, except a few important ones.

Good luck.
We love you.  
We'll miss you.  
We'll see you soon.  

Go get 'em, Gigi.