No Apologies Here!

*Just to clarify…

I want to clarify that this post didn’t come as a result of anything family said this last week. I have found myself speaking apologetically about a variety of child-related things when speaking to others for quite some time. I simply became much more aware of this when we were visiting family last week because I had several of the same conversations with a bunch of people as happens when you are seeing a bunch of people for the first time in a while.

Some of the judgements I have felt in the last 18 months have been felt because there have been judgements. Some have simply been things I perceived but were really just me projecting my own insecurities into the situation. Whichever the situation, as parents, we don’t need to feel like we have to apologize for doing our best for our kids.

 

We just got home from a week in Edmonton with family we don’t see very often. It was a great visit! But I came away aware of something I have started doing that I really don’t like. I was apologizing for things I really don’t need or want to apologize for.

We’re doing things a little different than might have been done 12, 13 years ago when my older kids were babies. We’re definitely doing things differently than they were done 25 – 30 years ago when Tim’s kids were babies. We’re doing what works for us as a family. We feel good about the choices we are making and they are working for us. I was really surprised, then, to find myself justifying or apologizing or even feeling a little bit of guilt about when we were talking with various people this last week.

We wear our baby. I rarely use the stroller. Liam is on my back or cuddled against my chest. He’s happiest that way when we are out in public. I love the closeness as much as he does. It really works for us. And besides, have you seen how beautiful carriers and wraps are these days?? Not to mention how comfortable they are for everyone involved!! I was really surprised by how many eyebrows were raised when we were out and about around Edmonton this week – I felt like the only person on the planet who wasn’t using a stroller. And I found myself apologizing for being different in this way.

Mid-Morning Nap snuggles.

Mid-Morning Nap Snuggles

We are still nursing. Liam is going to be 18 months old soon and he LOVES the boobies!! Some days breastmilk is providing the bulk of his nutrition. Other days he is totally into his food and only nurses when he’s thirsty or tired. We ALWAYS nurse to sleep for naps and bedtime. Those sleepytime snuggles and nursing times are long and cherished. He often won’t go to bed without them, especially for naptime. A typical nursing day has him nursing for 7 long sessions (30 – 45 minutes at a time) and several short ones (5 – 15 minutes). It affects my sleep. It dictates the rhythm of our day. It influences how our family functions all around. But it works for us. And yet I was apologizing and almost feeling sheepish about it when people we don’t often see realized this about us.

We are looking at homeschooling our kids starting in September. This decision has come after much thought and consideration of our kids needs as well as considering a number of other factors. It’s a big commitment on our part. We’re aware of the potential challenges. We’re certain this is what is best for us at least for the next year. We’re confident in this choice and are excited about the possibilities. And yet I felt, more than once, like I needed to apologize for this choice.

These are just a few examples.

But why am I apologizing??!! These are the things that work for our family. These are things that have been thought about, talked about, agreed on or simply have evolved because they are what works for us. Some things are things that are pretty standard for families in this time. Other things are a little out of the norm. But whatever the case may be, I DON’T HAVE TO APOLOGIZE FOR PARENTING MY KIDS THE BEST WAY I KNOW HOW. I don’t have to apologize or explain why my husband and I do things the way we do. We aren’t breaking any laws, we aren’t putting our kids in harm’s way, we aren’t neglecting them or depriving them. The only thing we are doing is living our lives in ways that work for our family the best we can figure and sometimes that means we’re doing things that you’ll agree with and sometimes that means we’re doing things you wouldn’t do. Either way it’s okay.

I’m not going to apologize or justify why we do what we do any more. And if you find yourself doing the same thing, you don’t need to apologize either. Only we know what really works for us! Everyone else may have their opinion, they might make different choices, but just because what they think might differ from you, doesn’t mean you’re wrong or they are wrong. We’re all just DIFFERENT! If we could just agree to be different, to embrace those differences and maybe even be willing to engage in conversation about those differences so as to learn more about each other and ourselves, we would all feel a lot less pressure and a lot more confidence.

Own your choices!

Embrace the differences!

Confidently walk through life with your family.

Haters are going to hate. Doubters are going to doubt. Don’t allow them to rob you of your confidence and resolve to do what is best for your family. No More Apologies!

Family Times!

I’ve been quiet for the last week or so because we have been away having family time! 🙂 The kids and I drove to Edmonton last Tuesday to spend time with Grandma. Tim flew up on Friday morning to join us and we drove back yesterday. We hung out with friends, with family, made connections with each other and really enjoyed our time away. Here are some pictures capturing the fun we had! Enjoy!

Edmonton Trip June 2014

Clearwater – stretching our legs and meeting the Moose!

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BIG MOOSE little man! (Clearwater – June 2014)

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Liam’s First Carousel Ride (our horse didn’t move up and down which I was a little disappointed with but probably a good thing for his first time!) (FORT EDMONTON PARK)

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Grandma went with us! We had lots of fun! (Picture credit for these goes to Isaac)

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Grandma & Isaac – great friends! (FORT EDMONTON PARK)

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FERRIS WHEEL!! At the midway at Fort Edmonton Park

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Looking down at the the world from the top of the ferris wheel! Isaac, Grandma & Liam opted to wait for us at the picnic table rather than ride the wheel!

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Harley Davidson motorbike with sidecar….pretty cool but I’ll take an updated version less the sidecar! (FORT EDMONTON PARK)

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Babywearing at the Fort! Photobombed by Isaac! We were the only people there that were babywearing….I can count on one hand how many people I saw during our entire visit. I was pretty shocked by that!

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Babycarrying! 😀 Liam loves being up on Isaac’s shoulders! (FORT EDMONTON PARK)

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Getting in some Grandma snuggles! (FORT EDMONTON PARK)

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CHICKENS!!! Liam loves Chickens! These were found in the area of the park depicting life during the 1800’s in Edmonton.

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Chasing the chicken – Liam kept calling the chicken to come to him but it ignored him! 🙂

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BAAAAA!!! Sheep at the Edmonton Valley Zoo (Thursday, June 19)

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“Neigh! Hi Horsey!” Liam loved the ponies, the sheep, the goats at the Zoo… he’s a regular little farm boy! 😀 (EDMONTON VALLEY ZOO)

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The sheep again!

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Liam thought it was funny that Isaac was petting the sheep and then wanted back in on the action! EDMONTON VALLEY ZOO

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More shoulder rides! Liam and Isaac sure do love each other!

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After the zoo, Liam was a little tired – pausing in the kitchen for a brief little lay down before carrying on with the business at hand….

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“Hey Grandma! Whatcha got there??”

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“Cheese? Oh can I PLEASE have some?? PLEASE???!!!”

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“THANKS GRANDMA! Your cheese tastes so much better than mom’s does!” Never mind the cheese Grandma buys is the same as the cheese I buy, he apparently likes it better at Grandma’s house!!

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Out at the Sweetnam family farm….this tree is actually an offshoot of the original tree long gone.

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Even though it isn’t the original part of the tree, this is part of the same tree that Tim played in when he was a kid! I LOVE the history/continuity/roots that come with that.

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Chattering at Isaac!

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Emily and Liam

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Auntie Shirley has butterflies hanging from the tree and Liam LOVED them!! You can’t hear him but he was SQUEALING with delight!!

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Hanging out in the front yard of the farmhouse Daddy grew up in and that Grandpa Sweetnam (Alan Sweetnam) lived in for a time before heading to fight in WW2.

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Exploring….

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The house that Tim lived in when he was little. It remains in the family and is currently inhabited by his older brother, Don, & his wife, Shirley.

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A little bit of history about the house….

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Heading home! (Liam is in the car but behind my seat!)

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Lunchtime in Jasper! Liam clearly wasn’t impressed that Isaac was leaning so close to me!

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Sticking spoons on our noses to pass the time while we waited for our food!

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Leg stretching stop. Rearguard Falls are pretty cool!

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Family pic attempt #1 – we’re all a little goofy!

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That’s a little better!! 😀

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First glimpse of the falls…

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This road trip home is taking forever…we’re going crazy!

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Liam’s first look at the falls – he wasn’t sure what to make of them!

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“WATER!!” He thought they were pretty cool!

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So much power in that water.

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My two big kids – love these two!

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My girl and I – she’s one of my best friends and I am so privileged to be her mom!

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Little man. Big staircase. He eventually climbed to the top by himself!

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🙂

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Checking out that water again!

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Chattering away about the water…not understanding why we can’t go swimming!!

Enough! Please!!

I want to make it clear to both my teacher friends and my non-teacher friends: I have heard and seen the arguments from both the government and the teachers/union and because I don’t agree with portions of the arguments from either side, I haven’t chosen a side in this contract dispute between them. I’m not for the government’s position in this fight nor am I completely for the teacher’s side. I am in an uncomfortable place because of that. I feel like the friend caught between a divorcing couple being forced to make a choice between the two as to who I am going to remain friends with when I can see what both sides are doing to the other and the kids in between them. It’s an impossible position for me to be in. And possibly that makes this all the more frustrating for me when I see my kids being hurt by both sides.

There really are no easy solutions to the issues we find ourselves facing but if I am going to write to my MLA and let them know that the government needs to give, I’m also going to write to all of my teacher friends and say they need to as well. If an arbitrator has to come in and handle things, no one is going to win. So work it out, please. Set aside all the mistakes and bad choices and wrongdoing of the past and go forward from here. We can’t undo the past but we can make steps towards positive change for the future. Both sides need to get on the same page and learn to work together for the good of our kids, regardless of their personal feelings towards each other.

I have hesitated to express ANY of my feelings about this whole thing in any forum because of the polarizing of individuals this situation creates but today broke me. Having to go to my son’s school to gather his belongings while he was away at camp, was hard. We’ve had 8 years in that building. 8 years of relationship building. 8 years of connections and memories. I was in tears as I walked away from his classroom knowing that he has missed out on his chance to say goodbye, regretting that I allowed him to go on this trip he’d been looking forward to (originally it was a school sanctioned, teacher accompanied class-wide trip but with the rotating strikes and the lockout that changed. Several parents stepped up and took over and the trip became a parent sponsored/supervised trip – they didn’t want the kids to lose out because of the strikes). When I heard the news that full strike action would be taking effect on Tuesday of next week, I was sad that it had come to that, that the two sides involved still couldn’t seem to come to an agreement, but I wasn’t surprised. It wasn’t going to have a huge impact on our family as we already were going to be gone for 4 school days next week because of family commitments elsewhere and I figured my son could go to school on Monday, gather his things, say goodbye to his teachers and walk away from his last year at his school with a sense of closure. But I was shocked and confused when I read that Monday was going to be a “study session day”, designated so by the BC Teachers union. What did that mean?? What even was that??? What did it mean that teachers wouldn’t be in class but the closing of schools was up to each district in the province to decide. What??  A loophole to the 72 hours notice required for strike action was found. The union effectively was shutting down the system a day early without breaking the rules. Ooooo…that’s dirty pool.

I have a huge issue with dirty pool. I was frustrated when the government engaged in it with the lock out. I had hoped they would be the only ones to employ dirty tactics in this fight. I am hugely disappointed that it has been employed by the teachers’ side. It isn’t helping either side gain support for their cause and I have had enough. As I say to my kids on occasion, “STOP FIGHTING, BOTH OF YOU!!! ENOUGH!! FIGURE IT OUT AND GET ON WITH THINGS! PLEASE!!!!!”