Do What Is Right, Not What Is Easy.

Fall is my favourite time of year. Yes, I love a great pumpkin latte, but it is more than that. My eyes fall so deeply in love with all of the bright colours. The fire red and yellow leaves. The blazing orange pumpkins. The smell of the crisp air gives my soul a calming energy. This has been exactly what my life needed to refuel.

I was faced with a decision to make in my personal life recently. I have made a few tough, life-altering choices in my life, so I should be a veteran at this. This one was different. It was different because not only would it affect one of my children, but also go against what society deems to be the norm.

Each day I meet with clients, as a therapist, and I am always telling them to make decisions in their life based on what is best for them. They will be judged and questioned at all times, but only they have to live in their world. Always do what is best for you and those who you are responsible for. Yet, here I was struggling to do the same.

Recently, I made the decision to home school my youngest child. Even as I write that sentence, I can feel my own muscles tense. Not because I feel in any way that I have made the wrong choice, but because I spent a few weeks believing I needed to defend it. I was wrong.

Those who know me, know my children are my world. I have two adult children who are very well educated. It was actually my oldest son, who is about to graduate university who gave me the most challenge regarding this choice. Education is a priority in our family; he needed to be reassured that is not changing.

My own choice to home school really is not the important piece to this blog. The list of why parents make this decision is extremely diverse. I have had children in the public education system for twenty years continuously so I have seen how much it has changed. I made the personal decision, along with my son, to offer him more than they can at this current time. I have the most respect for all teachers. I believe they have been faced with unfair challenges and my decision is no reflection on them.

The most important piece to this blog is the struggle that I have put myself through in making this decision. Reflecting back, I am shocked I took so long based on the biased I knew I would face from society as a whole. I am stronger than that. My son deserves more than that.

Yet, I am very aware of how these types of decisions are avoided every day. People will stay confined to boxes of many types because it is “easier.” Having to face all of the judgement and questions from friends, family or society as a whole is exhausting and overwhelming. It can leave you doubting your ability and your choices.

You do not need to explain anything. You do not owe that to anyone. There were key people in my son’s life who I chose to involve in this decision. I wanted them to be able to support him and me. Ultimately, I made that choice. I did not owe it to them. If you run into confrontation along that journey, let it go. They are not meant to be involved in this portion of your life. Surround yourself with those who can be loving and supportive.

Will I face those who will squish up their faces and question me when they realize my son is home schooled? Yes. Have I let all of that go? Yes. How did I move past that? By seeing the amazing transformation in my son in such a short time. I will take his constant laughter and growth over judgement any day.

Trust in your decisions. Doing what is right, will not always be easy.

Much love. ❤

A Realistic Guide To Being A Kick Ass Parent

Do you know what is hard? Being a parent. Do you know what is even harder? Being the parent you want to be while every Nosy Nancy and Stoic Steve decide what is best for you and yours.

Advice from a self-proclaimed supermom of many, #1.

Unless actual harm is involved, raise those spawn your way. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise can suck it. Unless of course they have offered to change the average two thousand five hundred diapers your child will plow through in their first year of life. Yes, that is the national average.

Let me be crystal clear about one thing. It will not be perfect strangers, your in-laws or even your own mother who criticizes you as a parent the most. For those of you right now cuddling that new born or watching your child take their first steps. Enjoy. It will be that sweet little ball of joy, who will one day make you believe, oh yes and tell you, that you are the worse parent to walk to the face of the earth. Repeatedly, with what may appear to be hatred glaring from that once cherub face. 🙂

Like most of us, we will keep it together while we lash back and remind them this behaviour is unacceptable. Soon after, we will fall into a heap of tears wondering where we possibly went wrong. We took the prenatal vitamins, went to parenting classes, read the books. We took them on play dates, enrolled them in dance, ballet, hockey, flute, and soccer. Oh and all the glorious family vacations. Sweat profusely rolled down my eyelids as I showed them the lions seeking shelter from the heat beneath the trees. “Look, it’s a baby lion!” I would whisper. “I want candy floss!” They would shrill, as I applied yet another layer of SPF 7000. We were forbidden to leave before snapping that glorious family photo to prove we visited the zoo. Teeth clenched in a piercing smile, as I am yanking on arms and legs to keep everyone in place. “Smile for the goddamn camera and I will get candy floss.”

Advice from a self-proclaimed supermom of many #2. Bribery does not make you a bad parent. Read that again.

All of this came flooding back today when I asked my twelve year old to go on a walk. I should remind you that exercising is not my strong suit. I do know it is a great way to relieve stress, so I am trying harder. Your parent guilt will be unique to each of your children. I didn’t do this for that one, and so on. My wee spawn, as I call him is my baby. The last to leave the nest. There is a ten-year age difference between him and the next, so he is wise beyond his years. He has seen me through a divorce, a remarriage, a diagnosis of Lupus and all that comes with that, me going back to University and the loss of my sister/best friend. All within six years. That is enough to give me massive amounts of parent guilt. My older children were ten years older but obviously affected too. The wee one worries a lot. We are working on that. He has the biggest heart and smile. I am working on leaving the guilt behind and enjoying the little things, like our walk this morning and our awesome talks.

Advice from a self-proclaimed supermom of many #3. Allow your spawn to see that you are human. That you struggle and make mistakes. That life is filled with challenges, hurdles and difficulties. Apologize when you mess up. They learn how to tie their shoes, use a toilet and count from us. You best remember to teach them the difficult stuff too. What better way than watching you fall and struggle. Rise and succeed. Cry and laugh. If you hide all the negative things from them because they are “children”, how will they ever know how to deal with these things as adults?

I was not sheltered from watching my Mom struggle. I watched her fail, but I watched her fight to succeed. She taught me that there would be times you can only rely on yourself and that is okay. The true meaning of resilience.

We can be so hard on our parents while we are growing. I once handed my thirteen-year-old daughter a pad of paper and a pen. She had told me I had ruined her life by grounding her. I told her she might want to write down every time she felt this way because I had a suspicion that she would need more paper. I also showed up at her high school in my fuzzy yellow duck pajamas to kindly remind her and her boyfriend that he wasn’t welcome there, as she was grounded from seeing him. In all fairness, I did warn her I would do it.

Advice from a self-proclaimed supermom of many #4. Always follow through on your threats. They always need to know you mean business. Yes, she was mortified. Yes, I ruined her life. Today she is twenty-four and says she will do the same to her child in a heartbeat. Success!

My last piece of advice is going out to all parents. When they say parenting is a lifelong job, nothing could be truer. There will be growing pains with each stage. As you are deciding between jarred food or making your own. Cloth diapers versus disposables. How old before they can wear make up or get a cell phone? When can they date? You are going to make mistakes. Some will be inconsequential, and some will scar you.

It will be so hard to remember this, but you must be forgiving of you. You are human. You are learning as you go. Not all of your children will be the same, which will be surprising to most. All three of my children have vastly different personalities. I quickly realized that one parenting style would not work for all of them. Grounding my daughter from her cell phone, actual ARMAGEDDON! My oldest son could have cared less. Taking his computer keyboard away, DEVASTATION! You get the drift. Be adaptable.

Being a parent has been the most fulfilling, exhausting, loving, and stressful part of my life. I hope that my children can learn from my mistakes and respect my faults. Admire my resiliency, and enjoy my sense of humour.

For those of you parents listening today, hear this. Did your child run around in their pajamas all day? Is cereal on the menu for dinner tonight? Has your teenager perfected the eye roll with each conversation you have? Do you currently see more of your spawn’s social life on Snap Chat? Have you quietly dreamed of that lavish vacation you could have taken if it weren’t for the insane amounts of money spent on back to school clothes?

Guess what? You are normal so let that parental superhero cape fly! That’s right, behind a great percentage of those social media family vacation shots, are stressed out and exhausted toddlers with lollipops stuck in their hair. Parents back at the hotel, realizing it just cost the equivalent of one year’s college tuition to visit “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

Last piece of advice from the self-proclaimed supermom of many.

Embrace it all. The good, the bad and the ugly. That is after all what life is all about, for they too shall become parents one day. 🙂

P.s. Don’t forget the candy floss.

Much Love ❤

Learning To Love Your Body

 

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I do not run. I have not tried to run since my three smart mouthed children needed me to prove that I physically knew how. I peed a little. We all laughed so hard that I peed a lot more. It is still one of our favourite household stories to tell.

As I sip my tea and prepare for my day I am in awe staring out our picture window. Much like every morning, there have been a minimum of eight, ambitious and energetic runners pass by. Their brightly coloured shoes, belts with multiple water bottles and I am instantly intrigued wondering what their play lists contain. What exactly gets them up and out, hitting that pavement with such dedication? Did I mention it is so hot today that I had sweat running down my ass crack just checking the mail?

I have a few friends who are avid runners. I will never claim to understand this life. I absolutely love that they have found their passion and take this time for themselves. They all describe it as being able to disconnect from it all, I respect that.

Have I ever been a runner, an active sports gal? Heck yeah! The year was 1988 🙂 I played any sport they offered up in high school. I would throw on a gym uniform without ever asking my friends if it made me look fat. I would run up a field without ever wondering if my thighs were jiggling. I would eat pizza in the cafeteria never worrying if it would go straight to my hips. Volleyball, field hockey, soccer, you  name it! Not once did I pee when I ran. I oozed confidence.

Then at 15, I met a boy.

I met a boy and fell in love. I spent twenty years with him and built a family together. Without even noticing it, my self-esteem was being dismantled. If I am being honest, I don’t think his 17-year-old self realized what he was fully doing.

“Are you sure you want to wear that?” “You look so much skinnier in these jeans.” When I was five months pregnant with our first child, we went to see the doctor. I was asked to step on the scale. Weighing in at one hundred thirteen pounds, he made a mooing sound. His twenty-five year old self believed it was funny. The doctor did not. I was in tears. I then made it my mission to wear my regular size 0 jeans home from the hospital. He was so proud. We brought her home one Christmas Eve and I was gifted a Slim Fast gift pack and a work out video. So sweet.

At this stage in my life I refuse to lay all the blame at his feet. I will never make progress that way. Here is the most important message.

How many times do you look into a mirror and dislike what you see?

How often do you attempt to go shopping for something to wear and become so frustrated you leave with nothing?

How many hundreds of dollars have you spent on ways to transform your body through diet or exercise?

How often do you cry because of how you physically look?

I admit to three out of these four just in the last twelve days. We need to make a solid attempt at ending this way of thinking. We cannot do this unless we travel back and figure out how it all started. You can spend all the money you want, start all the regiments and programs, put your body through it all and none of it will work if you don’t start with your brain.

Fix what dismantled it in the first place. Realize you are beautiful once again.

I am merely in the beginning stages of learning to love my body.

My name is Christine and I am embracing my bat wings. You know, those chubby, flabby, lovable bits where your triceps once were. I have nicknamed mine Wing 1 and Wing 2. I have spent the equivalent to ten thousand hours, researching ways to dress myself to hide them. Editing and cropping photos, bend your elbows this way. You get the idea. Could I hit the gym to sculpt them, order up some cow bells or weighted balls for my home and dedicate the next seven years to getting my wings beach body ready? Yes, and for those of you with that dedication, I love you. I can admit to myself that I will not be doing any of that. I am embracing them for what they are. MINE. As a young child my grandmother had the largest set of bat wings you can imagine. I would climb up onto her lap and she would wrap them around me. I would feel safe and loved. Not once did I ever remember thinking she needed to get those bad boys toned up.

I am not telling any of you to sit back and be immobile. I try to live my best healthy life. I promote healthy mind, healthy body. I do my absolute best to make healthy food choices for me. Do I indulge in gorgeous desserts or slushy drinks with umbrellas? In a hot minute because life for me is meant to be celebrated. I have limitations to physical workouts because of health issues, but let’s make one thing clear. I am still capable of exercises that I do not do and that is on me. If I am given the choice to head to the beach with family instead of the gym, I do. I surround myself with fluffy pillows and fuzzy blankets early in the evening as I watch mindless reality shows. Snacks are a necessary part of this process. This helps me detach from my day and I’m sure contributes to wing 1 and wing 2. I am at peace with that. You do you. Just be sure to throw in an apple every now and again. 🙂

Being able to celebrate your body and be comfortable in your skin is a whole new level. Our time here is short. You need to refocus where you want your energy spent.

I will never be an avid runner, fitting diapers under those fashion forward tights is not a look for me. For me, incorporating short walks as often as I can will be the next steps. Helping to give me some time to disconnect from everyone and give me some time all my own. The added benefit of movement for my body.

I hope you can travel back to find where your messages became distorted. You get to be the author of your book. Find what works for you. Even learning to love a freckle is a win.

Much love ❤

 

 

I’m an Incest Survivor Who Is Finally Thriving

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I need every single person who is reading this blog to understand that I am not what happened to me. It took me almost forty years to come to terms with that.

The day that I decided to no longer be muzzled, I was free. I am an incest SURVIVOR. I am finally THRIVING. My message today is for all those still struggling.  To understand that you can take control of your own destiny and not hold onto the shame for the rest of your life.

This is my story.

By the genetic luck of the draw, spiritual selection, God’s will or however you want to spin it, I was born into a family with multiple pedophiles. Grandfathers, Uncles, Father, and who knows whom else under said slimy rock. It was bound to happen.

From my own personal memories, I spent from age three to age twelve being the victim of a one grandfather and my sperm donor, a.k.a father.

For the sake of many others involved, I will spare those nine years of details. That is not the point of this blog.

The point of this is simple. I am using this platform to tell anyone who needs to hear it that you can heal. You can live an amazing life. You are not destined to be trapped in the dark place you may be in right now. The two things that kept me there were shame and fear. Neither of them belonged to me. They were gifted to me by sick grown men. Given to me as an innocent child. I carried them my entire life, until finally at age thirty-eight I broke my silence.

I was met with uncertainty, glares, hostility, love, support. Most importantly, I allowed myself to begin the path to healing. Finally, room to breathe. This transformation did not happen overnight. It took a few more years for me to do some major work, dig deep and decide what the next steps were going to be.

You do not have to be a therapist like myself to know the psychological damage done to a person who has undergone sexual abuse as a child. I spent most of my life ignoring it. I made poor decisions in my first marriage and allowed myself to be treated less than I should have. I had work to do on my self-esteem and worth.  I made the difficult decision to end that marriage of twenty years. I had become a chronic liar. I started lying as a child to cover up abuse, and as a wife to cover up even more abuse. That pattern needed to stop and was more challenging than I had anticipated. More change, more room for growth and more fear of the unknown.

It all started with finding the courage to tell my truth. To this day, the single most difficult and terrifying thing to speak of in that moment. Now, as years have passed I am using my voice to continue to empower others and myself. We are not meant to carry the fear and shame of those who victimize us. Give that shit back. Clear your path to a better life.

How amazing would it be if we could begin a revolution? Shatter the silence and make those who violate us carry the weight for a change. Let’s shine the spotlight of horror on them. Stop hiding these criminals, covering up these family secrets and allow us to live our best lives. We deserve that much, and so much more.

To any of you suffering in silence, I see you and I am sending so much love. Please know there is always hope, and always remember that shame is not yours to carry.

Much love ❤

 

Why This Day Is Emotional. Happy Last Day Of School!

 

il_794xN.1544496625_mvxsToday is the last day of school for many children where I live.  This day always means different things to different people. There are those of us who cannot wait for the summer months. A break from the daily routine of making the dreaded school lunches. The non-stop regiment of assignments, field trip forms, homework, extra-curricular’s. Oh, and who can forgot that 8:00 pm urgent plea for poster board and glitter for tomorrow’s art project they forgot to mention. By the third child, you always have a closet filled with emergency supplies.

There are also those families who now have to spend these months juggling their children between summer day camps and babysitters. It can be even more stressful making sure all of their working hours are covered. They will be counting down the days until school is in session once more.

We all know some mothers and fathers out there who miss these days. Their children have grown and moved on. Gone are the days of running through the door with report cards in hand. No more days of over flowing backpacks filled with journals and artwork. They know just how precious time is. They are the ones who will tell you to enjoy each of these moments for what they are.

I am sending out so much extra love to all of the parents who have had to endure the loss of a child. Each time these milestones splash across social media, it is painful. They would trade life itself to make last day of school plans.

For me personally, this year is filled with mixed emotions. I have a bonus daughter graduating high school tonight. It almost seems surreal. When I came into her father’s life, she was a sweet and shy twelve-year old girl. Weekends were filled doing arts and crafts, playing legendary games of man-hunt, watching movies for hours, and braiding her hair. Pizza and chocolate ice cream were always on the menu. Now, here we are at graduation and off to University in the fall. She is our fourth to leave the nest and no it doesn’t get any easier.

I have another special human in my life graduating high school tonight. My nephew will also be taking the stage. Thirteen months ago, I lost my sister, his mother in an automobile accident. There is no sugar coating this. It sucks. Her job as his mom was the single most important thing in her life. She did a fantastic job. I will be sitting there, clapping and yelling like a proud fool as he walks to get that diploma. I will be there for her. I will be there for me. I will be there for him, tonight and always.

Today is also my youngest son’s last day of sixth grade. I have personally gotten two children (his siblings) through school. Although not all was smooth sailing, we got through it. This year with my wee spawn as he is affectionately known, was the most difficult to date.

Not a single week went by without a struggle to get him out the door. I mean an emotional breakdown, can’t catch his breath sobbing.  I lost track of how many teacher interviews were held, but I am quite certain I ended them at eight. Two meetings with the principal and probably five phone calls with said same individual. Now, just to be clear, I am not blaming this entire situation on my son’s teacher. I can say she was young, and most certainly on a mission to change the world. Bless her ambition.

What have I learned about my youngest son this year? He has the ability to worry and stress like an adult. I say this because he is twelve, but has been having these worries since he was probably eight. What does he worry and stress about? When it comes to school, it is always about doing things perfect. Bringing home his saxophone and memorizing the sheet music for hours until he can play it by heart. This was the third day of school.  Group projects will force him to do everyone’s part just to be sure it is done perfect. “Mom, if I don’t she could mark me badly thinking I didn’t do enough.” Any test, any project that he brings home with less than an A he feels devastated and judged by his teacher. All it takes is for him to hear the words from his teacher, “Why did you get that wrong?” He feels like an overall failure.  He can spend an hour stressing out over where he is going to go to University of College. How is he going to pay for it? Where he is going to work to pay for it. I had to stop him from attempting to do a household budget for when he does move out. My minor lapse of parental judgement may have told him I would pay him to bring me home a C or D this year. 🙂 #momoftheyear

If any of you have followed along with my blogs, you will know I am not a big lover of labels. This is even truer of children. I feel very strongly that if you label a child at a young age, they spend much of their life fighting to get out of that box. I diagnose and label people for a living. Instead of slapping them with that, I give them tools to deal with the issues at hand.

The picture changes when you are a Mom. My heart hurts when he hurts. I can clearly see that my boy has many of the same issues I do. He strives for perfection at any cost. I know this started for me at a young age too. This caused me much stress and anxiety throughout my life. If I don’t keep it in check, it still does. So, that’s what he and I will do this summer. We will work on tools to help him realize he is amazing. That being perfect is impossible and unrealistic. That what other’s think of us is none of our business. Will I take flack for being the professional to help my son? Read that sentence above.

Happy Last Day of School!

Much Love ❤