Two years ago, I sat down and drafted this blog post. I couldn’t bring myself to publish it. Reading back on it now is like reading an old journal entry, and I wanted to share it with you. This was written when there was much uncertainty around covid and before I had 4 children. It feels incomplete, but I’m not in that space right now, and I think the words are important, even if the writing is unpolished.
December 2020 – A friend and I were recently talking about the impact COVID has had on our identities as mothers. Like me, she works full-time from home while her husband works outside of the house. Like me, she is raising three children of similar ages to mine. Like me, she has immunocompromised family members she is worried about.
She said to me, “I miss missing my kids.”
And that hit the nail on the head. That phrase was one I felt I had been searching for.
I remember when I was on maternity leave with Robert and later with the little guys. I remember feeling like I wanted to be home and be present for my children as we raised them. I wanted them to know that Mom could always come on their field trips or pick them up after school. That I was a safety net in that way, ever-present and forever cheering them on. When I had these thoughts, I never dreamed that the world would shut down and provide me with a twisted way to accomplish this.
Because raising kids and caring for a home is a full-time job.
Because working from home during the pandemic is my full-time job.
And doing both simultaneously doesn’t allow me to feel like I am a safe space for my kids. It doesn’t provide me with the opportunity to be present and engaging.
2021 was a bust when it comes to my blog. Did you notice? I felt the emptiness of not putting “pen to paper” over the past year. The emptiness of not connecting with others, and sharing our trials and tribulations.
It’s not that I didn’t have anything to write about. With 3 (now 4!) kids, it’s nearly impossible to have an uneventful day. It’s more that I wasn’t motivated to write. I felt like the cycle of daily life wasn’t interesting enough to capture an audience’s attention.
I forgot why I wanted to write this blog. I let the Panny overcome me. But honestly, this blog is more for me – as selfish as that sounds. I find I actually process a lot of what is happening when I write about it. And I spent an entire year without writing, and in a way, not really processing.
Now here we are… About to turn the pages of our calendars and jump into a New Year. And with this, I want to bring myself back to the blog. I want to get back to documenting our moments of joy, our reasons to celebrate, our struggles, our challenges, and even our “mundane Panny lives” as it were.
And with the New Year, comes a New Word. This is the time of year where I don’t make a resolution. Instead, I think about what I want to use as my “Word of the Year” – I blogged about this in 2020.
I ask myself “What will guide me in 2022?”
Naturally, I have been reflecting on the events of the past year. We have had many personal changes and there is much to think about with what is going on in the world around us. What mindset do I want to bring into the New Year? And after a lot of thought, I finally decided on a word. This year, my word will be Cherish.
It was the definition of the word that really spoke to me. As a verb, it prompts me into actions of love and hope.
In 2022, I will :
Cherish my babies. Cherish my marriage. Cherish my family. Cherish my friends. Cherish my body. Cherish me.
And with the addition of baby Margo (surprise! I had a baby! I will blog about that in 2022), I feel as though I want to cherish every moment with her. So why not make it purposeful, intentional, and part of the day-to-day in 2022?
What’s your Word of the Year for 2022? Tell me about it in the comments, I’d love to hear about it.
2020 has been a year. I remember in the early months I worried about Robert being accepted and treated fairly. The gap for many with disabilities has widened, thanks to the pandemic. Despite the challenges, the year 2020 hasn’t been only horrible. There have been some pretty great moments too.
To send 2020 off right, our friend Kylie made this beautiful video. She held an “open casting call” for people of all abilities to submit moments in 2020 that represented joy and pride. In the heaviness of the Pandemic news, the quarantine, the work-from-home-while-raising-kids, and the worry that the lack of socialization brought, it’s moments like these that deserve to be celebrated.
Kylie not only recognized this but put it to video!
For the past few months, I haven’t seemed to be able to find a topic to compel me to sit down and blog about. It’s not that nothing is happening, and more like I feel stuck in the same rut. I blame these ‘groundhog days’ we are living. You know, where every day blends into the next and you just can’t tell them apart unless you look back at your photos and check the date stamp.
So, today I decided to check pinterest for some ideas. It’s true, you can find nearly anything on that site!
One of the first suggestions was a page with 31 ideas to write about in December. It ranged from favourite December vacation destinations (my couch? the kitchen? what do you want here?) to fashion and make-up … and I am an expert in neither of those last two things.
I kept looking until finally I found some parenting blog suggestions.
OK, I thought, I can do this. I am not exactly an expert, but I feel as though I at least have some idea of what being a parent to small children is like. Initially, I thought the suggestions would be “favourite moments you’ve spent with your children” or “how to serve mac&cheese in 5 new ways!”… you know, relatable topics for anyone reading. To my surprise, the topic suggestions were more like “How to get your baby to sleep through the night” and “Healthy Eating for Toddlers”.
Now, I might have 3 boys under the age of 6, but I can assure you that I know nothing about those topic suggestions. My 3-year-old finds his way into our bed about 1,700 times a night, pushing me over so he can cuddle. I obligingly move over, knowing that it’s highly unlikely he’ll be doing that when he’s 13, all while my husband sleepily tells the 3-year-old to go back to bed. My husband doesn’t want me to move closer – he claims I emit furnace-like heat and he doesn’t want that anywhere near him as he sleeps. And health meals for toddlers? Try as I might to feed my kids healthy meals, if I’m being honest, I’m throwing goldfish crackers and nature valley fig bars at them hoping they will stay quiet while I’m on my 13th video call of the day.
Oops. I just gave away my productivity secret for work-at-home parents.
Here’s the thing… For any parent who is trying to work at home with small children underfoot, a productive day is one where there was minimal crying (from the child or parent), most work-related tasks were completed, and the children are still alive and fed.
It’s tough working from home right now. It’s not like before when working from home meant you could walk the dog on your lunch break or get a load or two of laundry done between spreadsheet creation. Now, it’s all about survival.
The other week, I was with my youngest 2 children almost exclusively by myself from pre-dawn wake-ups to bedtime routines. There was an exception – an 8-hour break spread over 2 days. And when I say break, I mean someone else was responsible for my children. I was still working my full-time job, trying to stay on top of the files and expectations.
When I was alone with the children, I would be at my dining room table trying to work as the kids played in the next room with the TV on. I remember being on a videoconference and glancing over just in time to see the 1.5-year-old lugging a suitcase in front of him as he walked across the couch. Naturally, I took a photo so I would always be able to remember that moment.
As I participated in video calls, I was simultaneously fielding questions and demands from the kids. Demands that ranged from Je ne veux pas CA! (“I don’t want to watch THIS tv show”) to MAMAN! DU LAIT STP – J’AI TELLEMENT SOIF (“MOM!? MAMA!!??? Milk! Please! I’m so thirsty!”). During all of this, I did my best to stay composed. I would briefly turn off the camera to oblige, hoping they’d stay quiet for just 10 more minutes. Well… Sometimes I would turn off the camera. Other times I would be too frazzled to remember.
For any parent, mom or dad, trying to work from home while their littles are underfoot, I want you to know that you are doing a great job. It’s OK if the house isn’t vacuumed or the kids are having frozen peas and hot dogs for lunch (again). I mean, first of all, who is coming over to visit? And second, can they vacuum on arrival?
If there was ever a time to give ourselves grace, this is it. And, if there was ever a time to reach out to someone and say ‘hey, you’re doing great’ – today’s the day.
So if your child is walking on the couch with a suitcase, eating goldfish and watching Daniel the Tiger for the 88th time that day, know you aren’t alone. You’ve got this! And while this might not be the parenting tip you came for, it might be the one you need.
I love that we celebrate Christmas as a family on December 24th. We gather at my parents home, eat appetizers instead of dinner, let the kids open and enjoy their gifts while we open our gifts to each other. It’s casual, relaxed, full of chaos and love.
This leaves us time after Christmas day to spend with my husband’s family, where the kids are cherished and spoiled and adored by their grandparents and friends who are like family.
On Christmas morning, we get to take things slowly as our small family unit. Next year, this will change. Robert is finally beginning to understand Santa and next year Sullivan will, too. We will have to make sure Santa stops at our home on Christmas morning, instead of only at my parents on Christmas eve. We’ve already purchased different wrapping paper for Santa’s elves to use for next season.
It’s interesting to have a 5 year old who is just starting to understand who Santa is. I hear other friends’ talk about their kids and the wish lists they are mailing Santa. They are waiting to leave carrots for the reindeer, cookies and milk for Santa, and talk about the magic of Christmas.
We haven’t really experienced that awe feeling yet around Santa, and while I wish that little bit of extra magic was present for this Christmas, knowing that we can enjoy another year of simple family time together makes up for it in spades.
So from our family to yours, wishing you a Christmas full of love, laughter, and joy.