Toronto
Canada

This is a storytelling space that focuses on documenting life experiences, ranging from motherhood, to travelling, and every inspirational idea in between.

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The Mommy Files

The #CasualtiesOfMotherhood

Sultana Patail

 

Motherhood is the most difficult yet rewarding job I've ever had. 

Any of you who read my blog probably would have pieced that tagline together about me by now. However, now that my cute bundle of joy is more of a fragile, over sized Amazon package, let's just say some new challenges have arisen. Therefore, this piece isn't to celebrate the cute, rewarding moments of motherhood - no. This one's for us. So let's call a spade a spade. Let's talk about the #casualtiesofmotherhood.

Casualty #1: Loss of Time
Loss of time has got to be THE biggest casualty. Somehow a 24 hour day becomes 12, and the workload triples. And to those non-believers who think today's generation of parents are just poor time managers - think again friend! We plan, time, and coordinate everything down to the wire. And no I'm not just talking bedtime routines and feeding schedules. I'm talking about giving an extra 20 minutes for a walk to the gym that should only take 2 minutes, because somebody's chasing his shadow; Planning an extra 5 minutes in the mornings knowing that as soon as one foot's out the door for work, you'll have to turn right around because somebody just 'POOPED!'; 10 extra minutes getting out of the garage because somebody has crawled into the front seat to play with all the buttons; 15 extra minutes after somebody has mischievously turned his bowl of food upside down so he can yell "OHH NOO!"; and my personal new favourite - 5 extra minutes allotted during the morning diaper change because somebody has discovered his pee pee and screams bloody murder if he doesn't get to hold it like a grown-ass man to start his day. All of these moments, while hilarious in hindsight, add up to hours. So please, friends, co-workers, non-parents, don't judge us on punctuality. There are forces at work stronger than us. 

Casualty #2: Your S.O.
The flame that once burned brightly between you and your significant other, will probably be all but outed. Your little one will require all of your attention. And yes, you will fight. You'll fight over your different styles of parenting; the scale will tip between good cop and bad cop; you'll roll your eyes at the division of tasks that aren't always so equal. But I promise you, a day will come, when you will regain your connection, and perhaps reach for your partner in bed one night ... only to find a slobbery, perpendicular, mass of hot mess in between you both. (haha, just kidding, it get's better I promise.)

Casualty #3: Clothes
Your clothes will be ruined either by food, vomit, or some other lovely bodily fluid. I suggest living in perma sweats at home, or becoming a nudist. 

Casualty #4: Self-Care
R.I.P that cute girl you used to be, for just a little while anyway. I don't want to speak for all on this one because I've seen some fabulous looking mommy's (when I creep them online jealously). However, the mass majority of us may start to look like our mothers - hair in a bun, 5-minute make-up, any clothes that are still clean (see casualty #3), and cave woman eyebrows because who knows when last we got to our waxing lady.

Casualty #5: Privacy
This one's right up there with loss of time. Privacy of any kind, especially in the bathroom, is unheard of, because they'll finnd youu. They just don't have a concept of personal space. They want to see what you got and whether or not it's the same as theirs. I can't even knock this one because it's so damn funny. The silver lining here is I now have a prompt toilet paper tear-er and towel hand-er ready at a moment's notice. My only advice here is get up early, and get that solo time in before they're awake. And husbands? If the door is closed, stay out please. That's our personal hiding time, thanks.

Casualty #6: Your Home
My mom once advised not to invest in any expensive pieces for my home until my children were grown. Now I understand why. Laundry and toys are our new home decor, little food finger prints cover our walls, and yes I have literally shed tears for spilled milk on my freshly clean bed sheets. I've come to accept that cleaning with kids is like brushing my teeth with Oreo's. But it is what it is. I take solace in knowing that a messy home is usually a fun one.

Casualty #7: One of Your Arms
Because for years you will hold them in one hand as you cook, clean, put on make up, and do literally everything else with your other arm.

Thank God they're cute, huh? 

We are strong, hear us roar - Mothers unite! ;)

Baby Sign Language 101

Sultana Patail

There's a reason why we as parents, make the silly faces and become party to the sometimes nauseating baby talk - we're trying to communicate with the cute little squishy thing we made. 

Long before they enter the world, we poke, prod, read, and play music at our bump, trying to get a reaction. Once they arrive, we look for any sign of interaction. We decode their incoherent babbles as "da-da" or "ma-ma", insisting that they're geniuses. Even their smiles are boast worthy - despite the fact that it's usually just gas. The bottom line is, we want our babies to communicate with us. Which is why many new generation parents are flocking to baby sign language classes as a resource.

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Being no exception, we recently signed our little guy up for a 6 week baby sign language course through My Smart Hands. Naturally, we got mixed reactions from family and friends

"Is it doctor recommended?"

"Does he have a hearing problem?" 

"What's the point? He'll talk eventually."

This kid's hearing is so sharp he can hear me opening a chocolate bar down the hall; and yes, he will talk eventually without this class. But for those who are in it, 'eventually' can seem like an eternity away. 

The idea is to teach them how to sign, because they understand much sooner than they can speak. Babies truly are sponges that learn, grow, and retain information at a rapid rate. By teaching them this skill, if they can't say it, they can sign it. There are multiple benefits - it eliminates parents' frustration because they understand their baby's needs more easily; it increases their cognitive development as they have to associate a word with a sign and preform it; and - contrary to popular belief - helps them verbalize their words sooner.

Having completed our course, I can say we had an excellent experience. Classes consist of 45 minute sessions, in an interactive and playful environment, which both parent/caregiver and baby attend. The first level class covers every day words such as more and milk, as well as specific foods, family members, emotions, animals, and transportation. Signs are taught through interactive instructions and demonstration, as well as songs. We were fortunate to have the lovely Gina McCubbin as an instructor who was helpful, responsive, and encouraging throughout our course and beyond.

So was it worth while? I'd definitely say yes. I had my moments of doubt, as I consistently signed to a confused baby. Although he knew something was up, he mainly just laughed at my motions. However, with Gina's encouragement and reminders that babies don't typically reciprocate until about 12-18 months, I kept at it. And I'm happy to say that we now have a signing baby! In the past he'd cry for something. Now, he'll clap to indicate when he wants more food, shake his head no when he's full, and squeeze his fist when he wants milk. So I know how to remedy the situation immediately, ultimately easing my frustration.

All of the textbook pros aside, it just feels amazing to be able to communicate with our baby. So, if you're contemplating baby sign language classes for your little one, I highly recommend My Smart Hands. With classes offered year round, and the option for private sessions, My Smart Hands was very accommodating. Reach out to gina@mysmarthands.com for more information. 

 

 

Mother's Day, The First.

Sultana Patail

Thank you.

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Thank you for reminding me of the peacefulness that comes with early morning risings. 

Thank you for your midnight cries and developmental stages that have made me stronger than I ever thought I could be.

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Thank you for your mischievous smiles when you do things you shouldn't, encouraging me to laugh at life.

Thank you for demonstrating your fierce persistence when you fall down, inspiring me to apply the same ambition to life.

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Thank you for needing my complete undivided attention - weakening at first, but ultimately strengthening my marriage.  

Thank you for clinging onto my leg when I'm trying to cook or clean, telling me to slow down and love you, because you'll only be this way for a limited time.

Thank you for your sleepless nights, so that I have an excuse to cuddle you in my bed, and feel your warmth. 

Thank you for following me everywhere I go, letting me know that right now, I'm the most important thing in your world.

 

Thank you for coming at a time unexpected; for filling my heart till it runeth over, drip dropping into voids I didn't know existed. To be your mother has been a journey into myself, a test of endurance, but most of all, an honour. My baby boy, my little prince, thank you for letting me see the world through your eyes this past year, and having a reason to celebrate today, my first mother's day.   

Ask Me What I Do All Day ONE.MORE.TIME.

Sultana Patail

My husband and I recently had a baby free weekend and indulged in one of those conversations where we admit truths about parenthood. You know the ones. Where you admit your monstrous feelings about your bundle of joy. So he says to me "I love him [baby] but I miss simple things you know? Like I just want to binge watch Daredevil without interruption. Is that so hard?" I looked at him, daggers in my eyes and retorted "Yeah, same. Sometimes I just wish I could use the washroom in peace." [Cocked eyebrow. Not actually the same.]

Safe to say that men don't always get it. Not to knock them - our kid adores his dad, as do I, because he fulfills the Papa Playmate role so very well. But because we have different roles, they just don't always understand because they're not in our shoes. For that matter, society is not in our shoes, and so a stigma about the stay at home mom is formed. Which is how that lovely question came to light: "So, what do you do all day?"

Well let me fill you in.

We don't have a set 9-5. When you leave in the mornings and come back in the evenings, things may seem relatively calm, but there is a lot going on behind the scenes that extends well past the 8 hour workday. We're on call 24/7 and the logic is that we always have to be ready, because we don't have to get up for 'work' in the morning. Instead, we enter into a 2ish hour cycle of diapering, feeding, burping, and rocking, from the moment they come home from the hospital. They're tiny, completely reliant on us, and adjusting to their new environment. Life is overwhelming for both of us. Because all the while, we're completely sleep deprived, hopped up on pain killers, and stressed as we learn on the go. There is no manual to catch us up to speed on this quarter's project. It's trial by fire, and turn around time is always now now now!

In those first few weeks (and hell, maybe months too) we nap when they nap because it's the only way to get any rest (So if you happen to call and we're asleep, please don't say "must be nice." We didn't sleep last night); We pump breast milk in the middle of the night because that's when it flows best; We feed them as often as they need during cluster feeding and growth spurt periods; We do baby laundry as it piles faster than we can catch up to it; We sanitize bottles and toys; We give them tummy and play time to ensure they reach their development milestones. We get them to inconvenient doctor appointments, deal with their immunization fevers, massage them when they're constipated, cut their infinitely sharp nails, and give them baths - small tasks that you would never think of, yet can take up a lot of time. When you're rounding your lunch hour, we're trying to remember whether or not we had breakfast. Things are in a zombie like routine when they're newborns. Our job is to take care of ourselves, so that we can take care of them. 

As they grow, they gain more skills. They can hold their head up, roll over, and - praise the lord - sleep longer through the night. But we also gain skills. By the 4-6 month mark we're pretty much multitasking ninjas. Our energy level's are back up, as they need to be, because our day starts around 5AM with that first cry. Our days are still filled with baby laundry, diaper changes, and feedings, but now there's more to do with our little one. Yes we get to play with them, but it's not all fun and games. It's making sure they're drinking enough ounces a day; It's changing their bib 10 times a day because they drool buckets during teething; It's making their baby food and testing for allergic reactions; It's making more baby food because they didn't like that last batch and spat half of it up at us; It's taking them to drop-in centres so that they can socialize with other babies, even if it's the last thing we want to do because we're so tired; It's getting lost in the multitude of parenting articles to make sure we're doing things correctly, because many of us are fumbling through the whole parenting thing. And aside from that, our regular household tasks resume, like preparing meals for ourselves and the rest of the family, doing our own laundry that's now covered in spit-up/food, and regular cleaning - because let's be honest, the place has been a zoo since this little one came home from the hospital. 

When they're approaching the year mark, we really have our game face on. They're crawling, cruising, and - hallelujah - maybe even walking around the house at top speed, causing terror everywhere they go. We've baby proofed and put our lives on hold because now they require our full attention. Now we're lucky if we get a shower and a quick bite before we're out the door to an appointment, play date, or baby activity. (Let's not even talk about how it takes 45 minutes to get out of the house by the time we dress baby, pack diaper bag, and stroller.) And then there are the other days we spend at home. The ones where we're nursing them back to health after a bad cold or teething fit; worrying over their temperature, and consistency of their poop; trying to calm them down through our own headache from their non stop crying all day. They're bigger, louder, and can call out for us now. They've hit sleep regressions, separation anxiety, and first colds, which causes them to wake up at night - so we're back to square one some nights and it feels like all of our work is down the drain. We're back to being exhausted. 

Exhale.

That, is what we do all day, in a nutshell. And this is only my version. There are the parents who deal with so much more - colic filled nights, hospital horror stories, developmental challenges, single parenthood - and the list goes on. The other side of this, is our own mental psyche. Being out of the workforce for a year, and instead home with a babbling baby, takes a toll on us mentally. The act of not interacting regularly with other adults, not getting out like we used to, or even not getting alone time, are all factors that affect us. Do you think we want to talk about their poop? When you come home and tell us about the contributions you made at work, and we're like "OMG he held his spoon" - we know how we sound.

The point is, the old adage "walk a mile in my shoes" is true. It may look like we're lucky because we get a year off work to stay home and 'play' with our cutie. But there's more to it than scrap booking memories, and posting to social media. We're turning out tomorrow's generation. We can't afford to fail at our job, therefore we don't take it lightly. Those key moments - their first smile, first words, first steps - get us through this overwhelming period. And yes, we are lucky to witness them. But don't underestimate how overwhelming our job actually is, or what it is that "we do all day".

Sleep Regressions and Separation Anxiety Oh My!

Sultana Patail

Like a phoenix I rise from the ashes - or rather baby sleep regressions, baby separation anxiety, and general baby hell. I haven't written in a while because of the above mentioned conditions. Writing has been put on the back burner as my little one has taken over my life recently. Such is life.

I was one of the lucky ones. Whether it was my sleep training or an act of God, I had a kid who slept through the night 8-12 hours at a time for the majority of his life. So when he hit 8 months and things changed, I was taken by surprise. 8 month sleep regression started and he was climbing the bars of his crib at 1AM. Separation anxiety followed a month later, and he shrieked whenever we took a step away from him. I almost cried out of frustration, thinking that all of my hard work was down the drain. But a little perspective (and google searching) showed me that my kid was developing just as he should be. 

 

Sleep Regressions

Babies hit sleep regressions around 4-6 months, 8-10 months, and 1 year. We didn't experience the first one, perhaps because we were travelling, but boy oh boy when his 8 month birthday came around he was in full swing. (True story: I didn't know what 8 month sleep regression was until I saw an episode of Jane the Virgin and started researching)  

The 8-10 month sleep regression occurs because they're developing both physically and mentally so rapidly, that they can't sleep. Thus, they wake up excited to climb and play at the most inconvenient hours. Some tips and tricks to help you cope:

1. Be rigorous in your sleep routine. Even if they wake up, don't give up. Keep doing exactly what you're doing every night. The predictability of a routine helps assure your baby of what's coming next. If 7PM equals dim lights, bath time, and bottle - stick to it.

2. Don't let them cry it out. In fact, don't let them cry it out younger than the age of 18  months. If they're whining, that's one thing. But if they're screaming at the top of their lungs, it's a different story. When they wake up crying, comfort them briefly but don't encourage play, and put them back in their crib. 

3. Be careful how you handle this stage, as actions will become habits. i.e. avoid bringing them into bed with you to fall asleep, or rocking them to sleep, because you'll be doing it when they're a toddler as well! (Hate to say, I failed at this one)

4. Let them practice their new skills during the day! Don't keep them cooped up. Let them crawl, climb, and cruise to their heart's content. Tire them out so that they rest peacefully at night.
 

Separation Anxiety


Like clockwork, when he reached his 9 month birthday, separation anxiety stepped in. It was actually creeping in slowly before that. He began getting more clingy to my husband and I, he whined when he couldn't see us, and he cried at bedtime. 

Before now, your baby had no object permanence. Once you left a room - or even held a sheet up in front of you for that matter - to them, you were gone. (This is why peek-a-boo is such a big hit with them. It's like a magic trick.) By 9 months however, they understand that you're still somewhere even if they can't see you. Out of sight does not equal out of mind anymore. Therefore, they come looking for you. (Yes, even in the washroom.) They don't know when you're coming back, and think that you're leaving them forever. So it's understandable why they freak out at this age. Some tips and tricks to help you cope:


1. Expose them to a variety of people. Grandparents, siblings, friends, co-workers. Have others babysit if you're comfortable, take them for play dates, enroll them in baby activities etc. If all they see is mom and dad, it's likely that they will cling to you. If you do a good job of exposing them to a variety of people early on in, you may skip this stage altogether!

2. Talk to them - they understand more than you think they do. Reassure them that you're coming back for them. Put them in their crib and tell them you'll be back in a few minutes, then come back 2 minutes later to check on them. You're likely to get a smile of relief.

3. Play peek-a-boo throughout the day. Not only is this game easy for you and fun for them, it also reassures them that no matter where you go or for how long, you'll be back for them.

4. Don't sneak off! Always say bye. Otherwise, they'll be scared to ever let you out of their sight, for fear you'll disappear. 


As we're closing in on 10 months soon, I can say that some of these techniques worked for us, while others didn't. Most nights we still have to calm him down in our bed, let him fall asleep on the bottle, or walk with him until he falls asleep. Every baby is different and it's basically a crap shoot. But nonetheless, hang in there. They'll grow up in the blink of an eye, and you may wish to have some of these moments back ;)

 

Devo Kai

Sultana Patail

Happy birthday to my friend and fellow mommy, Mae Moreto. Today we look back on a simple yet memorable day - A day with one of the loves of her life. It's the little moments that make our lives worth celebrating.

Growing Pains

Sultana Patail

For days, weeks, months now, I've been watching my kid try to crawl. I never thought much of it before I was a parent. It just seemed like another milestone that babies inevitably pass. However, when you watch it day in, and day out, it is kind of a big deal. 

In these past days, weeks, and months, I've tried all the parenting tricks. Bought the crawl mat, placed the toys in front of him, got down on all fours with him, tried moving his arms and legs in succession. The most I got was a few amused, confused, and blank looks, as if to say "lady, why the hell are you trying to crawl?"

Finally I started leaving him alone. And sure enough, yesterday he reached his breaking point. He got to the point of such extreme frustration that he cried, screamed, and banged his fists down. I fought all urge to help him, and just observed instead. It worked. His frustration pushed him to finally crawl (shuffle crawl that is), and spew out a bunch of new baby words such as 'da-da'. I was in disbelief that these two things happened simultaneously - not because of extra help, or example - but just out of sheer frustration.

I couldn't help drawing the parallels to us as adults. Why do we struggle in school, careers, or relationships etc, despite guidance, advice, and positive influence? Why do we wait until we hit rock bottom to really get started? Why do we finally leave that 9-5 for our passion, only after long periods of unhappiness? Is it because we have to reach that point of sheer frustration before we're motivated? 

Maybe, for some of us. Observation of my 7 month old alone tells me that it's ingrained in our code. It's in our human nature to let frustration propel us into success. So, if you're struggling right now, don't worry. Your breakthrough might be after your next breakdown. 

Traveling With a Baba: The Good, The Bad, The Spit-up

Sultana Patail

When I planned this post, I thought it might be punctuated with a bit of regret. All of those voices that said not to travel with a baby so young, gnawed away at the back of my mind. Was I doing the right thing? Was I an irresponsible parent? Should I wait a bit longer? However, I thought of my particular kid who happens to be 1. super easy going, 2. an excellent sleeper, and 3. very curious, and weighed the pros and cons, ultimately making the right decision for us. 

The fact is, there's a case to be made for travelling with a baby. Young children are sponges. The first few years of life are important for development, but it's years 0 to 3 that are crucial. I can't afford to talk at length about the brain, but based on my Google research, what it boils down to is: new experiences = more neurological pathways in the brain. 

I'm happy to say that 90% of our travels were amazing. We had our ups and downs, and a couple of meltdowns (nothing like a screaming baby on the MTA to remind you never to miscalculate a feeding time by so much as 1 minute ... ever. again.) But for the majority, we couldn't have asked for better.

The Flights

We flew in and out of Toronto through Porter. With a 5 minute Uber away, and none of the chaotic line ups of Pearson, it was well worth it with a baby. So if you're travelling with your little one, and the option is available, I highly recommend flying Porter. I can't lie, I was nervous as hell getting on. A baby is like a ticking time bomb - anything can set them off and it can take an eternity to calm them down. As we cautiously buckled into our seats. we had bottle, pacifier, toys, and carrier all ready to go. But when we peered into his little face, he simply looked up at us with those big curious, smiling eyes. 

Some Tips:
1. Feed them during take off and landing - the swallowing motion helps avoid ears popping.

2. Research policies well in advance! For instance some airlines allow ready made formula, while others allow bottled water and powdered formula. Most are pretty accommodating and some will even warm your bottle for you and provide a carry cot for your babe to sleep comfortably. We unfortunately didn't get this luxury (sorry Virgin 'Murica - you were kind of a disappointment) 

3. Take your carrier - feed them, burp them, put them in your carrier. Between your heartbeat, the humming of the plane, and the altitude, there's a good chance your little angel will sleep. This trifecta worked like a charm on our little guy, so he slept for the majority of our flights.

4. Give yourself extra time - things will get annoying. Let me break it down for you:
- push them in the stroller in one hand and your suitcase in the other (which will lull them to sleep by the time you get to security)
- wake them up to take them out of the stroller for security check
- balance them in your arms while emptying all of your 'contents, electronics, coats, belts, and shoes'
- dismantle the stroller
- wait off to the side while they forget about you..then remember you..then check the stroller (for traces of drugs? I guess your kid's stroller is the perfect disguise)
- reassemble the stroller
- walk to your gate and dismantle the stroller again for plane storage
*shout out to the hubby for doing the last 4 steps for 4 different flights - he became a pro!

 

Time Zones

My advice here is, start adjusting bedtime a week or so before you travel. Adjust by 15 minutes each night. If you're going East, put them to bed earlier. If you're going West, bedtime is later. We went West, so we basically just had to keep him up a little longer each night, which was pretty easy. It also helps to expose them to as much light as possible to give their biological clock cues. And when you get where you're going, rest that first day. Your body and theirs alike need it. I thought the changing time zone would be one of our biggest issues, but thankfully all of our daily activities tired him out and he slept soundly. 

 

Activities

There was a gorgeous tree house hotel during the PCH drive. We're talking Smith Family Robinson - that we did not  stay at because they didn't take guests with kids under 6. (ouch - hurts to be in that category now) So yes there were some pitfalls during our trip. We couldn't do everything we wanted, and we were in bed by 9pm in Vegas, because bedtime comes first. So there are definitely some trade offs - you just have to re-prioritize. For me, seeing the Golden Gate for the first time and being engulfed by ancient redwoods with my son, trumped the nightlife scene.  

 

Surroundings

Show them around! Everything is new for them. What may be mundane for you, is magical for them. Our little guy spent most of our trip with his head craned back, staring up at everything from skyscrapers to trees to just nature in general. As soon as we got to San Fran, I jumped out and showed him the palm trees - to my delight and amusement, he gasped!

 

So do I regret it? Not at all. He did get a little sick toward the last two days, which made me second guess myself for a split second. But ultimately, it was an unforgettable trip, he's stronger than ever, and we have memories with him to last a life time. Could it have gone a different way? Absolutely. The plane altitude could have been painful, he could have cried through all flights, he could have had difficulty adjusting to the changing environments or not slept well in strange cribs. It could have been a disaster, and definitely wouldn't work for every baby/family. But for us, it did. He took the flights like a champ, adjusted to time zone shifts sleeping 8-11 hours a night, and genuinely enjoyed taking in all of the sights. So hopefully, somewhere in there, there are some new pathways. Call it good luck or whatever you will. Either way, I'm glad I learned to read my kid early on in, and stuck to my guns. When you feel like you're flailing in parenthood, trust your instincts - they will guide you.  


Picture's Worth A Thousand Words

Sultana Patail

They said I'd fall in love with you, 

but I had no idea how true,

It could be,

to me,

you were a blessing, 

and now I am free,

to love,

unhindered, 

unconditionally.

 

We share these moments,

sometimes I wish I could just hold it,

and hone it,

place it in the palm of my hand,

save it,

for when I need to show you 

how our hearts once danced.

 

It makes me laugh through tears,

that you won't remember,

in future days and years,

but it's the love that you'll retain,

and that's the most important,

for we need that to remain.

 

But let me just tell you,

this one little story,

because a picture's worth a thousand words,

and this one might help you be...

 

Once upon a time, on October 19th, 2015, we took a picture together. I held you in my arms, as we sat on the stoop of the building of my first home. A place I've come back to time and time again, that's looked a little different at various stages in my life. Because my boy, things like that may happen from time to time. So don't let it scare you if you can't seem to find your place. It was a time of struggle for my parents, your grandparents, because I - like you - was an unforeseen blessing. And now that I'm in their shoes, as I raise you, I want to tell you to always remember your family. Love and respect them. Try to hold them close to your heart. They gave me their everything then, so that I can give you my everything now. 

 

Love,

Mom

xo

Mothering In Progress: What it's Actually Like

Sultana Patail

A lot of people have asked what mommyhood has been like. Those who have gone before me and want to pass on the torch, those who are up to bat next and are curious, and those who are currently in the trenches with me, wanting to compare stories. If you really want to know, having a baby is like falling in love with the quarterback/head-cheerleader against your will. You'll become infatuated and lose sleep, while they'll use you 110% and catch amnesia to all of your most loving moments together, yet provide you enough overwhelming joy to keep you coming back for more. Sounds awful, I know. It's really not, but it is quite demanding, as I'm sure you've figured out by now. The truth is, motherhood is different for every woman depending on her perspective. But, to be clear, there are some universal truths. So let's just get them out of the way:

1. You'll spend your first month or two staring at them and checking to see if they're still alive. (They can be super stealth when they want to be - the buggers don't blink)

2. Your first few weeks home, anything may make you cry - world news, rom coms, an untied shoelace - anything. 

3. About this whole sleep thing. You'll still get to sleep, however you'll lose the luxury of deep REM sleep. And for a long while, you'll kind of be in a watchdog mode, always listening for their cry...and then there's the tantrum toddler years..and then the fighting bedtime years..and then the teenage missing curfew years - you know what? the next 18 years are a wash. Sleep all you can now. 

4. You'll never realize how stupid you can sound, until you have a child and that baby talk starts flowing. 

5. At feeding time, first thing's first - line up all your essentials in hand's reach: phone, remote, laptop - because the little sucker will finally fall asleep awkwardly in your arms, where these items are just 2 inches out of reach. And Netflix will ask you if you're still there. 

6. Your new joys will be the regularity of their body fluids, even if that means projecting onto you. Because a pooping baby is a happy baby.

7. You'll learn to move with the grace of a ninja, in efforts to not wake them.

8. You know those chicks with the amazing IG accounts, sporting 6-pack selfies and feeding their kid with wind swept hair a week after giving birth?  Yeah that may not be you. You may very well spend the majority of your days in spit-up covered t-shirts, hair up in a bun, trying to recall your last shower. #pureexcuses #welcomebackfriedfoods #napwhentheynap [Just kidding, you may actually get super motivated to get fit again]

9. You will learn to drive again - your stroller that is. Except instead of looking for on-ramps, exits, and car pool lanes, you'll now look for elevators, automatic doors, and family parking. (Why every ttc subway station doesn't have an elevator is beyond me - come on T.O. get with it!) - shout out @UPPAbaby for being one of the top models out there for urban living.

10. Your new cute bundle of joy may unintentionally tear you and your significant other apart, temporarily. Just breathe, you'll get past it. [True Story: just as my husband and I were getting into yet our billionth spat, our little guy farted. Seeing that face smiling up at us pretty much squashed everything. I want to say that a flatulent baby could prevent a lot of divorces.]

11. Breast milk - let me just say that producing juice from your own body, and putting it into another body, is possibly the most difficult thing yet rewarding thing anybody can attempt to do. [*Note: not all attempts are successful. Don't beat yourself up too much]

12. [Cue seriously emotional music] What they say is true, you will never know a love like this one. Not that it's necessarily deeper than what you may have experienced in the past or for your significant other - but it is a truly different kind of love; Unconditional and all encompassing. 

Anyway, I digress. Those are a few hard facts that unite all mothers. However, motherhood is also a different experience for every one of us. To begin with, we're not all listening to our ticking eggs. Yes we know they're there, and yes we're weary, but some of us just aren't ready. It's a difficult concept for people to grasp sometimes, I know. Family, friends, Facebook - first comes marriage, then comes carriage. (By the way, asking a woman when she's planning on having kids is like emotional roulette - you never know what baggage you're unpacking. So stop asking. Just don't do it!) It's hard to find time to fit the bucket list items in between, as our generation seems to lean toward these days. I made every excuse in the book, from 'establishing career' to 'need to travel the world' first. I think I felt the need to be an appropriately experienced, well rounded adult, with all my ducks in a row, so that when I finally produced a little human, he/she would have a suitable role model. Needless to say, sometimes things don't work out the way we envision, and when I not so purposely became blessed with this little one, I wasn't entirely ready.

However I knew what I didn't want to put up with, versus what I was actually afraid of. It wasn't the sleepless nights, or colic horror stories (though I do thank the baby God's that this one doesn't have that), or even the whole giving birth to a 16 pound bowling ball thing. All of those hurdles I knew I could jump with a bit of patience and prayer (and drugs). It was this other thing, this tiny voice deep down inside of me. I was scared of the unconditional love factor that I knew would come.

You see, the thing with motherhood, is that it's an impossible love. It's 'a piece of your heart outside of your body'. They grow within you and then they're no longer yours to protect. You'll send them out the door one day, and hope that they're accepted out there, not bullied; that they never face prejudice, or judgement for the colour of their skin or for their beliefs. You dread watching them get hurt, and fight all mama bear instinct to protect them, but instead teach them how to get back up. You brace yourself for the first time they push you away, utter the words 'I hate you', or the day you both lose your understanding with one another and break your sacred bond. You hope they don't inherit your procrastinating, lazy, [insert flaw here] ways, but instead become an amazing human being.  And above all, you pray that they're never at the wrong place at the wrong time, because to lose them before they lose you, is to destroy you. 

Obviously as mothers we don't focus on these things. The joys outweigh the fears by far. The love transforms you. And the satisfaction of celebrating their milestones swells you with pride. However, from the moment they are born, that tiny voice doesn't go away. In effect, having a child is placing an unconditional love and commitment upon you, which if you're not ready for, can be quite intimidating. But as all mothers do - as all parents do for that matter - we embrace the love, let our hearts melt, and rise to the occasion.