Confessions…What do I believe?

Growing up, I was raised going to church almost every Sunday. Although neither of my parents were “die-hard” church goers, there was always a presence of God and religion in our lives. If not through my parents, then through school. I attended Catholic school from Kindergarten up to grade 13, and as such, was raised to observe the sacraments of the Catholic Religion; Baptism, First Reconciliation, First Communion and then Confirmation.

I’m not sure when, but somewhere along the lines, I started to question certain aspects of the religion. What I’m about to write is not to dispute anyone’s beliefs. I will preface this by saying that I am a believer in a higher power of which I call God. I believe in love and treating all of humanity with kindness. I believe in helping people and doing good; for myself, my family, my friends and for those that I have yet to meet, because I believe that we all have an obligation as spiritual beings to help one another along this journey we call life. We are all heading to the same place, and when I get there, I want God to recognize me for the light that he created in me.

As I sat in church on this particular evening, I watched as my children nervously awaited their turn to meet the priest for their First Reconciliation. For those that aren’t familiar with the Catholic religion, the sacrament of Reconciliation is where you confess your sins to Jesus and God, by way of speaking through a priest and asking for forgiveness. It was the one sacrament that not only scared me as a child, but confused me as well. Why did I have to speak to a priest? Why couldn’t I just deal directly with God? And if there is unconditional love from God, then why is there hell?

Leading up to this day, I caught myself constantly reminding my children that, no matter what they say or do, there is nothing that would ever make me (or God) stop loving them. I reminded them that they are perfectly imperfect, just the way God made them and that everyone sins. Essentially, I caught myself feeling very vulnerable and sensitive, to the point where I wanted to take them home to protect them…from what I’m not sure.

I started to reflect on my own experience with my First Confession. It felt like only yesterday I was waiting in line for my turn to see the priest and I can vividly remember how nervous I was. I already felt bad for my “sins”, and thought that when I prayed to God to apologize, that I was forgiven. But when I was introduced to Confession, the idea of me needing to confess to the priest, made me feel uncomfortable. What if he judged me? What if, once I confess my sins, the priest thinks I’m a horrible person? It “seemed” at the time, that the priest held all this power and that somehow, he could decide if God forgave me. It’s amazing how a child’s mind works, especially when there is no one there to correct their assumptions. Needless to say, it was probably my earliest experience of the Catholic religion that I can recall, that made me start looking at my world and my beliefs a little differently.

So why, you ask, would I have my children go through Confession if I didn’t believe in it myself? Simply, I want them to be the judge of what they believe in. And as it turns out, they wanted to go. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that not everyone shares the same experience or viewpoint as we do. My experience of confession was clearly not theirs. They didn’t have a problem with needing to confess through a priest. Their nervousness came from their fear of not remembering the right words to say, and had nothing to do with a fear of being judged. And, as it turns out, I chose to send them to a Christian based school, and so, it is expected that they would need to participate in these sacraments.

There are still things that I don’t fully believe or embrace about the Catholic religion but that doesn’t mean I’m not a believer in God. My children will need to create their own opinions and it’s my job as a parent, to expose them to enough experiences so that they can do just that. I believe that the most important thing we can do for our children is to create a space where they feel safe and comfortable to speak openly with us, and for us to listen and accept them, regardless of what we believe.

I confess that I may not be the best person to teach them about the Catholic religion but they will know about love, spirituality and the inter-connectedness that we all are to each other, and to God.

The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see. -Alexandra Trenfor.

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Life with Maddie

“Can we please get a dog? Please??!!” The plea and begging that you would only expect from children…only they were my words, out of my mouth, and directed to my husband.

Having grown up with pets, I was really starting to feel the urge to want one for our family. In fact, I had been for a while. There is something about pets (for me it is dogs specifically) that bring a sense of joy and stability to a family. Not to say that there isn’t joy with my two beautiful children, but it’s been quite the year of grief and goodbyes. And as a result, I have been left with this empty feeling, and one that I was eager to fill. Things really peaked when we lost my husbands parents this summer, after they unexpectedly passed away one week apart. It was one of the hardest things we have had to face and especially so, for my husband. Needless to say, 2013 hasn’t been kind, but I was determined to change it.

I am not usually known for my spontaneous behaviour but when I set my mind to something, I am determined to get it. On this one particular day, while glancing at pictures on various social media sites, I came across this picture of a puppy. My heart immediately warmed and I found myself smiling at the cute face on my screen. I had to have a puppy. And so it began.

My husband has never grown up with pets, so we didn’t exactly see eye to eye on this. I had asked, and sometimes begged, if we could please get a dog, but the answer was always “not now”. I knew that introducing a pet to our family was exactly what we needed; what I needed. So, I did what any devoted, loving and caring wife would do. I schemed up a way that I knew would make it difficult for him to say no! I booked an appointment with a breeder to have “a look” at the types of dogs…an education session if you will. *grin*

Exactly one week later, I am sitting in my kitchen writing this blog post, with my sweet ten week old goldendoodle puppy Maddie, resting by my feet. So how has this little girl changed our lives? Well, if there was ever a void, I can’t find it. Or shall I say, I don’t have time to feel it. I believe it’s fair to say that I’m overflowing…with responsibility, distraction and of course, unconditional love. It’s been quite the ride with this little pup. As pretty close to having a newborn baby as you can get. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. In only a few short days, it became pretty obvious to me, how “comfortable” we’ve made ourselves in the routine of our daily lives. It was time for a change and Maddie definitely changed things up.

The kids have grown up so much this last week. Taking the dog out for little walks during cold and dark hours of early morning (without being asked). Being responsible for feeding her, playing with her, and still managing to get themselves ready for school. It’s almost as if, giving them more responsibility that wasn’t about them, made them more efficient. More responsible. They are over the moon happy, and the sounds of their belly laughs while they play with Maddie is enough to make my heart melt.

Maddie has brought new life to our house. We spend more time together as a family, playing and going for walks. Even though at times it is challenging, with the middle of the night whimpers, accidents on the floor, and a few minor arguments over whose turn it is to walk her (usually between me and my husband), Maddie has been the perfect addition to our family. And as it turns out, she has used her puppy charm to capture the heart of my husband. There is something about hugging and playing with a little puppy, that softens the heart.

It has only been one week, but a week it has been! I’m not suggesting that getting a puppy will magically solve all of life’s problems, but it has helped us close one chapter of our lives and look forward to a new adventure in the next. As we approach the holidays and the end of 2013, we are able to focus on something joyous, while honouring and remembering the missing that the many good-bye’s have left us. Life with Maddie has brought a sense of connectedness to our family; a gift. I believe, out of all the puppies we saw, Maddie chose us just as much as we chose her and we are all the better for it.

Mirror, Mirror…

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most perfect one of all? “YOU ARE

Self (age 10): I wonder where I fit into the world? I want to be grown up, but I’m not quite there yet. I think I look pretty with lipstick…but not as pretty as her. I want to sing, and write…but I’m not as good as her. I just want people to see me…but I think I will hide instead.

Future Self: You’re so hard on yourself. You weren’t born to fit in. You were born to stand out! To shine, like the sun. You are beautiful, with or without lipstick. You are more than good enough, because you are perfectly you! One day you will know this.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most perfect one of all? “YOU ARE

Self (age 20): What do I want to do with my life? I’m a jack of all trades and master of none. I wish I had a talent…something to make me unique. Like a dancer, a skater, a singer or a writer. I don’t want to stand out anyway. Someone might notice I’m flawed.

Future Self: You can do and be anything you want. You are brilliant and creative. You are perfectly imperfect, and that’s what makes you, YOU! Don’t play it safe. Have fun. Travel. Stay out late. Take risks. Create your own adventure. The world needs you. Don’t hide. Where did you go?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most perfect one of all? “YOU ARE

Self (age 30): I can’t believe I have a daughter. She’s perfect. I hope she sees her beauty and her strength. I will never let anyone dull that sparkle of hers. I love the way she sits in front of a mirror and smiles at herself. I love the way she beams when she hears her own voice. Did I mention she was born on my birthday? It’s like looking into a mirror.

Future Self: Now you’re getting there! Do you see it yet? Do you see how perfect you are? Look at yourself in the mirror, and smile. Hear your voice, and beam with pride. Is that a sparkle on your nose?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most perfect one of all?

Present Self meets Future Self: You were right

The Forgetful Tooth Fairy

Getting ready to leave the house, my daughter runs out of the kitchen yelling “Mommy, Mommy. I lost my tooth!” as she proudly displays one of her molars in her hand. “Awww, that’s awesome baby! Look how quickly you are growing up!” I reply. She grins and happily hands over her tooth.

As I’m wrapping it up in a Tissue so that she can place it under her pillow, I’m thinking two things to myself. First, what am I going to start doing with all these teeth? Growing up, my parents kept them hidden away in a box. Sentimental I suppose. Although I can recall the day I accidentally found them. I was both confused (why would the tooth fairy leave them here?) and slightly grossed out. There is nothing pretty about seeing a box full of teeth, albeit some were wrapped in tissue, but still…

The second thought on my mind was “You better not forget to leave money this time!” Yep. I’m guilty. It’s only ever happened once, but I will never forget the morning my daughter woke up and came running into the room looking sad because the tooth fairy had forgotten her. My heart sank, and I immediately jumped into “Mommy will save this” mode. As she jumped in our bed, I gave a signal to my husband to distract her. I calmly got up, grabbed $20 from my wallet (a lot I know, but it was all I had) and asked my daughter if she wanted me to help her look and that maybe she missed it somehow. She quickly jumped up and followed me to her room.

I started lifting her pillows, moving her sheets, and essentially creating enough distraction so that I could discreetly drop the $20 behind the bed. “Have you looked on the floor?” I asked. “Maybe you accidentally knocked it off the bed while you were sleeping?” She crouched down, screamed with delight and happily retrieved her $20. *phew*. Well played mommy. Well played.

After that incident, I swore I would never forget again. Walking to her room today, I reminded myself of that previous incident and once again swore that tonight, I would not forget. That evening I lay down next to my daughter while she happily checked under her pillow to ensure the tooth was still there. And I happily remembered that the tooth fairy would be making a visit, before we both drifted off to sleep.

I must have walked back to my room half asleep because the next thing I realized, I was in my bed, it was 3am and a wave of anxiety came over me. Not again! Up I got, tip-toeing in the dark, trying to recall where my purse was. Walking over to my dresser, stubbing my toe (%#*!) trying to remain calm, but wondering who the heck created this silly idea of a tooth fairy anyway, I eventually find my purse only this time, I wasn’t so lucky. Opening my wallet, I had zero cash. Maybe a few quarters, but that’s it. So I did what any mother would do. I tip-toed to my sons room, and shamefully raided his piggy bank.

Feeling relieved to have found $5, I immediately grabbed it and crawled out of his room, feeling as close to a ninja as I ever have. I quietly approached my daughters bed, thankful that she was sound asleep. I made the switch and off I went, back to my room, wondering when the day will come, that I can give up this whole tooth fairy gig.

Morning quickly came, as I heard the eager footsteps of my daughter approach my bed. She’s grinning from ear to ear and proudly holding up her reward for losing a tooth. I see the look of pure joy on her face and in the back of my mind, I re-commit to the tooth fairy, at least for one more year.

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Confessions of a working mom

My day started with me being forced out of my bed at 4am by my daughter who happily nuzzled her way in, landing a cozy spot on my head. Off to her room I went to try and catch the last few hours of sleep, only to toss and turn with my mind racing from all the things I need to do this week. Grumpily getting up at 630am to get the kids dressed, breakfast made, bags packed and out the door (without any meltdowns) for 730am.
Once everyone is gone, I check my twitter and facebook feeds while cleaning up the kitchen, and if I’m feeling really good…perhaps even planning dinner, all before getting myself ready to get to the office for 9am. A typical morning by all accounts.

While quickly perusing my phone for interesting quotes, posts or photos to get me motivated to get on with my day, I came across an article talking about working moms. It basically accounted for the “superwoman” complex I happily carry with me like a badge of honor and how sometimes, despite our best efforts, we screw up. I laughed at the honesty and clarity of the article and felt reassured once again, that I am not alone.

Growing up with a supermom (literally and figuratively), I knew I had to strive to be nothing less. Balancing work, kids, marriage and me-time. Sometimes I am on my game. Finding time to play with the kids, preparing delicious dinners that everyone eats, sneaking in time for my workouts and yoga practice, date nights with my husband, and over all feelings of accomplishment after a busy day at the office teaching, mentoring and attending business events. But sometimes I am not. I lose my s*#%, I forget appointments, leave things to the last minute (more often than not), send my kids to school without jackets, neglect myself and my marriage…the list goes on.

So what do I make of this? That it’s life. Everyone is struggling with something and everyone is striving to achieve some sort of balance. We do what we can, with what we have. Some days are great, and others not so much. But it is a joy and privilege to be able to have such problems. Every day I have to remind myself that I am not alone in this “working mom” role, and that if I can find at least one thing to feel grateful for, then I have succeeded.

Balance is a great thing to strive for but I no longer beat myself up when I fail. Being a working mom is tough enough without the added pressure and guilt that I put upon myself. After all, the only thing that I really need to do to be a great mom, wife and business woman, is to just show up! It’s me they want and need. The rest will unfold as it should.

9:09am….I’m late for work.

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How full is your child’s bucket?

I rarely watch the news, but for whatever reason, I tuned in tonight. Perhaps it was because it was talking about a 12 year old girl who committed suicide after she was being bullied at school.

Images of this young, vibrant girl popped up on the screen while her friends spoke in the background of their memories of her, and the recent situations she was experiencing at school.

It was disheartening, tragic and sobering. This is the reality for our kids today. But hasn’t bullying been around forever? I can recall being teased in elementary school, confronted in the school yard… I think many of us can. But what is tragic is the amount of kids today who feel like suicide is their only answer. So I started asking myself why.

One of the moms on the news program questioned whether the girls parents knew what was going on; had they had conversations with their child about what was going on at school? Which raises a great question. Are we effectively communicating with our kids? She also went on to question if the parents were monitoring their daughters internet/social media use as a majority of the bullying was taking place online? That brings up another great question (debate). Is there a line (and if so, where) when it comes to monitoring your child on internet/social media? Do you spy on them? Ask for their passwords? Forbid them to use it? (Which I know many parents who have tried, but in my opinion, I think we are way beyond that being an option).

I’m not sure what the answers are or if there is even a one-size-fits-all solution. But what I do know is that the next time my son or daughter comes homes upset about something that has happened with friends, I’m going to pay extra attention. I’m going to make sure that they know I have their back. That I’m on their side and that no matter what, I’m there! That they are loved and valued and supported. Because at the end of the day, isn’t it our job as parents to create that primary space of security and belonging? Isn’t it our job to make sure that we send our kids out into the world with a full bucket of love and self esteem, so that no matter what the world throws at them, that they have enough supply to endure?

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