the mommy truth

no one ever talks about the ugly side of parenting. sure, we all love our kids. whether you have 1, 2, 3 or 7 (or however many you decided upon) you love your children, it’s a fact. BUT there are many, many, MANY times where we don’t like them, errrr, i mean, their behaviour. it’s true and yes, i said it. being a parent isn’t always easy. i know that my husband and i have many years of parenting ahead of us (being that our little guy is still pretty young) but no one can prepare you for the roller coaster of emotions that you will feel.

when they first arrive you are elated; overcome with joy, love, fear and pure bliss for the little person you have brought into this world. you can never imagine being angry, upset or frustrated with such a perfect little being. and then they start to grow. and move. and talk. and learn. all day, every day. i love my son, more than anything i ever thought i loved before. he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. he is my greatest accomplishment, my little teacher and tester of my patience and he just turned one in February! … but i never knew what true frustration was until i became a mother. sure, friends do stupid things, partners and siblings can be annoying but nothing can make the screaming banshee come alive like being a mother with sleep deprivation. every little thing starts to annoy you. you get to the point where you are ready to scream (and just might have to) and then tear someone’s head off (which you probably shouldn’t do). another thing that causes this is being with your child 24/7. every parent needs a break. whether it’s running to the grocery store, going for a drive or hiding out at a hotel and not telling anyone where you are (wouldn’t that be nice?).

i read an article today on the Huffington Post about kids and bedtime, and although my son is still young, it really hit home (read it here). one particular paragraph spoke to me, and i quote:

“One of the myriad problems with this parenting gig is that they save the hardest part for last. BEDTIME. Bedtime should be in the morning — when we’re fresh and kind and sweet — and decent parenting still seems like a very real possibility. But no, the hardest parts — dinner and baths and bedtime — arrive at the end of the day, when we have nothing left. When the truth is, we are counting the minutes. Counting the moments until no one is the boss of us anymore. Until we can sink into that couch, book, Internet or glass of wine — whatever our victory lap includes.”

OMG, this is so true! i have often said, why can’t our son be full of attitude and frustration and incessant whining during the day? why does it have to be when i’m exhausted and at my wit’s end and ready to just have a little me time? especially when my husband is on afternoon shift and the whole afternoon, evening and bedtime routine is mom-only.

more parents (new and old) need to talk about the reality of being just that, a parent. the times when you have to go into the bathroom and scream into a towel just to get the frustration out because there’s no one else to take over for you (yes, i did that today). the times when you say things you shouldn’t to your kids (whether they understand or not) and the times when you just sit and cry your eyes out because you are just SO tired. the times when you can’t imagine your life without them. when they make you prouder than you ever thought possible. when they make you feel like the most important person in the world.

no one has, or is, a perfect baby, toddler, child, teenager, young adult or adult. if they say so, they’re lying. every parent has gone through hard times, they just might not admit it. we need to start talking more about what frustrates us, what we’re going through, the good, the bad and the ugly. i think if that happened, we’d all feel a little more normal. whatever that is.

sleep, what’s that again?

you know that feeling, when you’re so tired that you just want to break down and sob? yeah, me too. that’s how this week has been for us. i can honestly say that this has been the longest and most trying week i’ve had since becoming a mother. i used to think that the first few weeks were the hardest and most tiring, but now, that seems like a walk in the park. i knew why my son was waking up throughout the night, he needed to nurse. i was okay with that because i knew i could slip back into a sweet slumber once he was finished.

i guess i can say we’ve been spoiled when it comes to being parents, up until now. my son was always a great sleeper (save for the odd night of craziness). he’s been going to be around 8-ish and sleeping 11-13 hours straight since last spring, and i’m not exaggerating. whenever he’d have a growth spurt we’d know it, because he’d wake up in the night and want to nurse. i was always fine with that. this past week has been frustrating, mentally-draining, and just exhausting. it’s been almost a week now that my son’s sleep pattern has been extremely off and i don’t know why. he went to bed last Sunday, and all seemed to be well until he woke up only 2 hours later crying. we tried to console him to no avail. he’d be happy, sad, angry, then laughing; every emotion you can think of, except tired. he was wide awake. we changed his diaper and tried getting him back down around 10:30, no luck. my husband came in to try. nothing, just a very awake and crazy kid. changed him again around 1am. we tried leaving him in his crib with toys and leaving the room, that lasted 5-10 minutes before he stood up sobbing and wailing. we tried sitting in the rocking chair while he was in his crib with toys, same results. we tried just leaving the room, same. i was getting extremely frustrated and cranky (because, hey i was tired too) and i held him away from me and said, listen you need to stop it and go to sleep! mommy is very tired and so are you, this isn’t fair!! i firmly set him down in his crib and he started to sob; that scared and upset cry. i picked him up and held him close and i started crying. a lot. after about 15 minutes i set him in his crib while he played with some toys and i quietly sobbed in the rocking chair beside him. i didn’t want to wake my husband up as he had to be up at 5:30 to go to work. i ended up picking him back up and rocked with him until around 3:30am when he finally fell asleep. i’ve honestly never broke down like that. i was upset because i scared him; because i was so tired; because i couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t sleep. because everything in my heart was telling me that he was fine but it just didn’t seem like it was. sleep deprivation isn’t good for anyone, especially an already worn out mother.

he stayed asleep until about 10am the next day, which was fine i suppose, but then was a miserable, cranky baby most of the day because, why? you guess it, not enough sleep. he went down for a 3 hour nap (which was awesome for me) and i thought maybe that would help him. that night we did the usual routine again. and again he fell asleep, just the same as always only this time he woke up about an hour after he initially passed out. the night before repeated itself with him finally falling asleep around 3:15am. i was losing my patience throughout the night. i normally wouldn’t be frustrated with him until probably an hour or more of farting around but i was at the point where after 15 minutes i was irritated, ready to snap. it was starting to wear on me because i couldn’t figure out what was wrong. my husband brought home a beautiful bouquet of flowers to cheer me up (they really are beautiful and still going strong) and told me that i was doing a great job but that i needed to take a break.  he put our son to bed that night and miraculously the wee man slept for the whole night through! with only one wake up for about 15 minutes (i’ll take it). i thought, thank you! yes!! the next evening (Thursday) we had plans to go for dinner and a comedy show with some friends and my sister was coming over to babysit. she said the little guy was great and he only woke up once before we got home. awesome. hubby and i relaxed on the couch until about 11:45 when our son woke up. surprise surprise. up we went. changed his bum and this time we were up with him until between 3-4am. my hubby was amazing. after i tried and tried he came in and told me to go get some sleep and he’d try. i felt so guilty because he had to get up to work but he kept insisting. my hubby sent me a text Friday morning to tell me that he cancelled his overtime for Saturday so that i could get some rest. he told me to go out that night, do whatever i want and not come home until whenever, or stay out all night.  what a guy. i am so thankful to have such an amazing and supportive man in my life. i did go out. i went and had my makeup done (just for fun because a friend of mine is a very talented makeup artist who works at MAC), then went out for dinner with a long-time friend to a tasty little restaurant called Ben Thanh (yummmm) and then did a little grocery shopping before getting home between 9-9:30pm. i went to bed a few hours later and the little guy didn’t wake up once. he slept 14 hours straight! holy crap! i guess he was catching up on some much needed rest.

we looked up some info on sleep regression as a friend of my husband’s suggested maybe that’s what was going on. i hope it doesn’t last 2-6 weeks like a few of the articles we found said it could. i understand that their sleep patterns/habits can get thrown off when they’re learning new things but honestly, i never expected it to be like this.

last night was another one for the record books. he slept for maybe 20 minutes and then was wide awake until 1am when he passed out in my arms. he stayed asleep until just before 6am. i changed and rocked him and he was back out by 7-ish and stayed out until 10am. he’s napping again right now (hubby just got him down).

I should’ve wrote this in the middle of the night when i was awake and frustrated and at my wit’s end. maybe it would help for the next time this happens, because i’m sure this isn’t the last.

stumbling into freelance

for any “creatives” reading this, you’ll know what i mean when i say it’s not easy diving into the truly competitive world of freelance graphic design. when i first started college (back in 2000), my fellow classmates and i were under the impression that we’d be successful designers, with lots of opportunities for amazing, rewarding careers. where creativity knew no bounds and had no limitations. little did we know that it would be such a competitive, and over-populated line of work. there are now more freelance designers than there are paid designers, which doesn’t make designing an easy job to get into. the good positions at design firms are rarely up for grabs, as those who hold such positions wouldn’t leave unless they had no other choice. being successful as a designer isn’t easy. there’s always someone else out there who’ll do the same work, for less money and in a shorter timeframe. crappy, eh? then there are places like Walmart and Vistaprint, and programs such as Microsoft Word that give non-designers a false sense of creativity. i went to college, paid good money in tuition, and worked my butt off for almost 11 years at a newspaper and design hub to now be an unemployed graphic artist. sigh. it wasn’t my choice persay. after working at a small newspaper for 7 years i was told that our design department (and every other one at every other newspaper across the province) would be shutting down, and that i had a choice to transfer to another city (about a 15 minute time difference in my daily commute) or take a severance package. i honestly debated the severance. however, being sensible, i decided to transfer my position to a design hub where over 40 designers would work, in shifts, mass producing advertisements for all of the newspapers & flyers from Ottawa to Windsor. i received a minor pay raise but by comparison, i was still earning far below the “average” wage of a graphic artist/designer. i needed a job and since i’d been with the company for a while all of my benefits, holidays, etc would transfer over so i figured why not! a few years after being there we realized we couldn’t keep up with the amount of work coming in so the powers-that-be decided to send work off shore – literally. they started sending design work to India, INDIA! really? we couldn’t afford to keep the jobs in Ontario, let alone in Canada? (rumour had it that the President of the company was building a new hockey arena, so we all joked that he needed to save money for that, which now seems feasible). as time passed more and more of our work was being sent off shore, so i suppose i shouldn’t have been surprised when 4 years after transferring there, and only a few months after finding out i was pregnant, i was told that again, i would have to decide between transferring and taking a severance package. this time the new location was 3 hours from home, yikes! i honestly didn’t have to think hard about my decision. i took a salary continuance (instead of a lump sum) so that i’d still have an income, sort-of, for the remainder of my pregnancy. it ultimately worked out,with my continuance ending a month before my son was born and my maternity leave/pay starting. however, i’m now at the point where my mat leave has ended, the cheques have stopped coming in and i’m without employment. for the first time in 13 years i’m jobless! it isn’t quite as horrific as i thought it’d be, although i feel guilty being at home with our son and not bringing in any income. hence my decision in starting to do some freelance design work. i’m hoping that with my experience in print work that i can at least bring in a little extra spending money for hubby and me, we’ll see.

SweetLittleMama_BusCards

i’ve done stag & doe tickets, business cards, logo design, brochures, pamphlets, flyers, rack cards, photobooks, posters, party invites, baby & wedding shower invites, the list goes on. if you’d like to check out some samples of my work, stumble over to www.facebook.com/sweetlittlemama … in the meantime, i’m off to let the creative juices start flowing. well, only until my son wakes up from his nap.