Parenting 2.0

Posts Tagged ‘motherhood


I have an hour to myself. Yes, to M-Y-S-E-L-F!

I head to the mall (namely Toys R Us) armed with a dual item shopping list. And what two items is my heart after? Drum roll please. Baby bottle brushes and bibs! Oh wow, the excitement.

Post Toys R Us success I’ve still got ten minutes to burn. I pop into the Gap? Nope. Town Shoes? Uh-uh. Starbucks? Heck no! Gymboree? Bingo! Seeing so many good buys, I can’t pass up the deals, and end up getting four new shirts for Niko.

You know you’re a mom when…

all you buy at the mall is stuff for your kids.

And you’re excited about your purchases.


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Is parenthood life-changing? Most definitely.

Does it have its challenges? You betcha.

Is it all worth it? Wouldn’t change it for the world!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been enjoying my library pick: The Hand that First Held Mine, by Maggie O’Farrell. I found it via the UK Amazon site. I don’t know why I used the UK version as opposed to the Canadian one, but anyway, you can look up titles on the site and it recommends titles of other books that readers liked who liked that particular book. For example, I liked The Slap, so did a quick search of that book and found many recommendations. After a quick perusal of the suggested titles I settled on The Hand the First Held Mine and checked it out of the Ottawa library.

Unbeknown to me upon checking it out, this book ended up being partially about parenthood, and this one particular passage, about how life changes post-parenthood really stuck with me. Especially the part about carrying small tractors around in your purse. Because in the the pre-Niko days, that’s certainly not one of the goodies you would have found in there, but a welcomed site nowadays, nonetheless.

The following, albeit lengthy is the passage I’m referring to, now forever memorialized here on my blog! Thank you Maggie O’Farrell. Thank you.

The Women We Become After Children

(Excerpt from The Hand that First Held Mine)

We change shape, we buy low-healed shoes, we cut off our long hair. We begin to carry in our bags half-eaten rusks, a small tractor, a shred of beloved fabric, a plastic doll. We lose muscle tone, sleep, reason, perspective. Our hearts begin to live outside our bodies. They breath, they eat, they crawl and – look! – they walk, they begin to speak to us. We learn that we must sometimes walk an inch at a time, to stop and examine every stick, every stone, every squashed tin along the way. We get used to not getting where we were going. We learn to darn, perhaps to cook, to patch the knees of dungarees. We get used to living with a love that suffuses us, suffocates us, blinds us, controls us. We live. We contemplate our bodies, our stretched skin, those threads of silver around our brows, our strangely enlarged feet. We learn to look less in the mirror. We put our dry-clean-only clothes to the back of the wardrobe. Eventually, we throw them away. We school ourselves to stop saying “shit” and “damn” and learn to say “my goodness” and “heavens above”. We give up smoking, we colour our hair, we search the vistas of parks, swimming pools, libraries, cafes for others of our kind. We know each other by our pushchairs, our sleepless gazes, the beakers we carry. We learn how to cool a fever, ease a cough, the four indicators of meningitis, that one must sometimes push a swing for two hours. We buy biscuit cutters, washable paints, aprons, plastic bowls. We no longer tolerate delayed buses, fighting in the street, smoking in restaurants, sex after midnight, inconsistency, laziness, being cold. We contemplate younger women as they pass us in the street, with their cigarettes, their makeup, their tight-seamed dresses, their tiny handbags, their smooth, washed hair, and we turn away, we put down our heads, we keep on pushing the pram up the hill.

PS Note: I am not cutting off my long hair!

Why do moms do this?

Besides, a ponytail’s way easier than the hassle of trimming your hair every 3 weeks!


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1) 32 weeks and 5 days pregnant.

2) Note to husband: bikini bottoms do not count as underwear!

During my stint in the hospital I had a short list of “please-bring-mes” that I dished out over the phone to my lovely hubby: one of these things being underwear. A few hours later, he trots in with the items and I begin relishing in my requested delights: a gossip magazine, ChapStick, leftover Halloween candy, etc. Then I get to the underwear and hold them up with an inquisitive look.

Borys: Yah, I wasn’t sure which ones to bring, but those looked thick and big so I picked them out. Maternity underwear, right? Or are they a bathing suit?

Granted they are black, but still, how many pairs of underwear has he ever seen that are made out of bathing suit material? Plus I don’t own any maternity underwear!!! They’re too “thick and big” for my liking.

Me: Withering look, with a secret smile inside.

Thanks goodness I requested two pairs. And thank goodness the other ones weren’t part of a bikini.

3) “Chee-yos” (that’s Niko-speak for Cheerios) in my bed.

Yes a weird thing to smile at, but one night this week Niko had been hungry before going to sleep, so I got him a little bowl of Cheerios to snack on while I read him a bedtime story in my bed. Of course his little hands couldn’t help but spill a few here and there, but they were milkless, so what’s the big deal? Together, we picked up all the renegades (or so we thought), and then I scooted him off to his own bed.

The next morning I awoke to an array of random Cheerios stuck to my legs and arms. Guess we missed a few. But still, the memory of the little guy enjoying his snack and leaving traces of himself behind, was enough to put a smile on my face.

4) Good news from the NICU: a baby born at 32 weeks has the same chance of survival as a full term baby.

Not to say a 32 week old baby, wouldn’t have other health issues, but just that the survival rate is so high put a smile in my heart.

5) Rediscovering my library card.

I checked out a book and started reading it!


Niko’s got a new job. He started feeding Frasier. I’ll fill up the scoop (an old sour cream container), and he walks it over and dumps it in the dish, never failing to make it there without a proud smile on his face. Even though it takes a little longer for him to do it, than it would if I just did it myself, his utter air of triumph from successfully completing the task makes it all worth it.

Each day he walks the length of the kitchen, scoop in one hand, other hand cautiously guarding the top, whispering “Careful. Careful.” to himself. Then he slowly crouches down and dumps the food in the dish. The first few times he did it, there was much, like let’s say half, of the food on the floor – but he picked it all up. Over the next few days I taught him to crouch and dump slowly and now he can do it, often without spilling a single bit of kibble. Way to go little man! And when he does succeed without spilling he congratulates himself with a “Niko, no spill! No spill!”. And when a few do hit the floor: “Niko, pickin’ up the Frasier food” and his little fingers go to work.

Hey, the more responsibility I can shirk off to this little minion guy, the better! It’s great to learn a sense of responsibility early, right?

Other ways he likes to help:

1) Packing Daddy’s lunch: getting the soda water and other various items from the cupboards and fridge and placing them on the counter. Not to mention sampling some of Daddy’s snacks along the way. (This morning I found him biting into the Saran Wrapped Oreos only once he had managed to glean a few crumbs from between the punctured plastic.)

2) Giving Frasier cookies: He’s grasping “Sit”, “Paw” and “Good Boy”, although at times he’s not interested in giving the dog a cookie and will willfully exclaim “No Frasier cookie! Niko, cookie?”

3) Making rice: He carries the rice and pots to the counter. And once I make the measurements he pours it all in the pot.

4) Putting his clothes in the laundry basket: Self-explanatory.

5) Cleaning his toys: Well, we’re still working on the “like” factor of that one…

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My baby girl’s keeping me up all night and she’s not even born yet! I know there’s a lack of sleep involved with newborns, and for this I am mentally prepared. But what book, friend or millionth piece of advice out there, forewarns expectant mothers that the sleepless nights may come even before the baby is born. Don’t get me wrong, at this stage in the game, when my little babe is at a gestational age of only 32 weeks and 2 days, I would rather be having sleepless nights while she’s still nestled in my belly, than while she’s born prematurely and living in an incubator at the NICU. But still, I just wasn’t prepared to be up all night with my unborn baby. They just don’t warn you about these things.

So the other night around 2 AM I started having labour pains. What else to do but monitor myself for 20 minutes or so, waiting to see if they would subside or if indeed these pains would mean a trip to the hospital? After about 20 minutes of me timing contractions, listening to my husband’s sleeping-breathing and growing increasingly anxious, I figured it was time to wake him and get this “birth plan” into action. But what “birth plan” really? I mean, it was too early – AGAIN! And I wasn’t exactly hospital ready. But what else can you do when baby starts knocking on the entrance to the world? Little Niko was of course unaware and seeing as we couldn’t get a hold of my father-in-law I called on my friends Traci and Paul to come over and Niko-sit. Ironically, I had just asked them that night if they could be our emergency back-up babysitters if I ever went into labour in the middle of the night.

Anyway, Traci came over. Borys and I rushed to the hospital and I was hooked up to many monitors – not to mention poked, prodded and tested in various ways to see what in fact was going on. Thankfully after a few hours of contractions – and yes they were real contractions, painful and clearly documented on said monitor, they subsided. Turns out baby girl was knocking, but not quite ready to open the door! Phewf!

And after that, I didn’t get a bit of sleep. All I could hear was the beating of my unborn baby’s heart, projected from one of the monitors. In a way, it was nice to hear, the constant and strong beating of that little heart inside me. But some shut-eye for mama to be would have been nice too. Borys on the other hand, had no problem falling asleep. So really it was the beating of her heart intermingled with the quiet breathing of my husband that created the perfect recipe for a sleepless night. I blame them both!



1) 31 weeks pregnant!

2) After a brief lesson from my friend Heather, I finally learned the basics of an Excel spreadsheet and successfully stepped into the millennium by transferring my paper and pen budget into electronic form.

3) Morning bedhead and fireman attire.

4) Borys finished painting the Malkovich room. (See item #3 for further explanation).

5) Niko slept until 10 after 7 this morning – not his usual 5:30 wake-up as has been the norm this week.


I had this grand idea (like so many of mine…) that toddlers were into dressing up. I envisioned a trunk full of dress-up clothes and Niko enjoying the costumes and items for hours. Embracing my love for a good deal I scoured Kijiji for toddler appropriate dress-up items, and I found some: a duck, a dog and a dragon. What could be better?! I bartered on the price with success, and then picked them up. This all happened at least a month before Halloween and the idea of dressing up for the holiday had not even crossed my mind: simply I wanted a bunch of dress up clothes for my little guy, and I was starting with Kijiji.

However, not all went as planned. The dragon had a hole – bye bye dragon! The dog is way too big! And the duck? Well the duck fit just right. And did Niko enjoy it? He sure did – for about 15 minutes, and then it’s moment in the limelight was done. The duck was cast away with the likes of the abacus only to be dredged up as an afterthought when he caught site of it’s yellow fur out of the corner of his eye.

Things I learned from this experience:

1) Toddlers may be too young to appreciate the joy to be had by a dress-up box.

2) Outfit-type costumes may be too cumbersome, not to mention too hot, for a toddler to enjoy on his own or for very long.

3) Not to live too vicariously through the little guy: despite the fact that one of my favourite things to do as a child was to play dress-up (fashion shows etc.) at my friend Alison‘s house, my son may not embrace these same interests.

So then Halloween rolled around. And I didn’t even ask him. Niko was going to be a duck and waddle his way to a few neighbourhood houses in his first ever attempt at trick or treating. Although…I did almost buy him a vampire costume in early October. It was just so cute and would have been a great addition to his tickle trunk – but let’s face it, that idea really hasn’t taken flight (just yet). So I resisted the vampire  attire and Niko successfully waddled door to door, collecting candy and whispering “trick or treat” before he even reached the houses.

Note: As of late, Niko has developed an aversion to having his picture taken. I now end up with a lot of blurry pictures (see middle picture down below), or ones where he completely turns his back (see picture in top right corner).

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