what makes a mama?

last year at this time, i was the proud mama of a little three week old squish. that meant that the usual rules of mother's day (sleep in, take time to myself, maybe even -gasp- get a massage) didn't really apply to me - i was still getting the hang of this mama thing, and i wasn't about to leave my brand new little sidekick behind for any reason.

this year, i thought - oh it's going to be so different!

i've spent the week looking forward to my day: a lovely sleep in, a relaxing morning, maybe getting taken out for a yummy brunch before being whisked away by my two boys to the first farmer's market of the year and then a special mama's day tea at a local herb farm. however, my little man had other plans, and i was awakened every 90 minutes overnight and am now completely touched out, and have been up since 530am because someone thought it was morning (his usual wake up time is 7) and it took me half an hour to get him back to sleep. not quite the relaxing start to the day i had imagined.

i was so frustrated by the time 6am came this morning - exhausted, but too awake to sleep, while my little man snoozed happy and oblivious to my extremely bad mood beside me - that i couldn't even be in the same bed with him anymore. i thought about all my plans for the day, and how i'm going to be so tired now i probably won't enjoy doing them. i felt sad and disappointed, and annoyed that my little one year old couldn't just give me one night of peace, not even on the one day of the year that's supposed to be for me. this is what happens when this mama ever allows herself to have expectations about something... i swear that boy can read my mind, and he thinks, oh no you don't!

so i got up, left my boys behind in bed, settled at the kitchen table with a coffee, and took some deep breaths. after a moment, i found myself calm again and missing that adorable little toddler (although i'll be just as happy if he decides to sleep another hour or two - just because it's mama's day).

some people say that mothers are born the day they find out they're pregnant. some say the day they give birth. i say that both of these are true, but really, that just makes you a parent. 

what makes a mama is the giving.

i am a mama when i find my patience being tested until i think i can't take it anymore and i'm going to cry and scream and throw things through windows and jump out and run away and never come back. but instead, i take deep breaths, i sit still, i count to ten, and then all the love that i have for this little creature comes flooding back, and i give him snuggles despite the completely unreasonable thing he was doing, and tell him i love him.

i was a mama in the hours after my birth, not simply because i had given birth to a tiny human that belonged to me, but because i had been awake for 40 hours, 20 of those giving my whole body over to intense labour, giving up on my peaceful birth plan and submitting to a hospital birth, pitocin, and a giant episiotomy because we were worried about his heart rate and needed him to arrive as soon as possible, and giving my dignity to a roomful of doctors and nurses i'd never seen before as we worked together to bring that tiny human safely into the world. i was so exhausted and worn out i thought i could die - every piece of me was gone, but i kept going, and i talked and sang to him and nursed him and cuddled him because he needed me to.

i am a mama in the nights when a teething, or growth-spurting, or just plain lonely little man cries out for me every hour for cuddles and milk and comfort, and i'm so tired i can't even walk straight, and i can't imagine getting out of bed one more time so i finally bring him into bed and snuggle him next to me, and once he's finally asleep again i'm wide awake and enraptured with his little face and i just lay there and stare at this perfect little human i get to share my life, my body, and my days with.

my love is unconditional and never ending. nothing can destroy it or break it, and it keeps me going in those darkest moments when any normal, self-respecting human being would have thrown in the towel. this motherhood gig is fun and wonderful but it is actually REALLY HARD, and the truth is that in deciding to become a mama, i intrinsically agreed that i would give all of myself without asking for anything in return.

mamahood isn't simply forged through the biological act of growing a person in your body and giving birth to them. any woman (or person) who gives all of themselves in the act of caring for innocents in the best way they can deserves the label of mama. adoptive mamas, foster mamas, mamas who have lost babies before they were able to meet them. papa mamas, teacher mamas, volunteer mamas. if you get what i'm writing about, if you understand what it means to love someone so much that you sometimes lose yourself and have to make an effort to rediscover who you are as an individual in the tiny moments of independence that you get during your days or weeks of giving, you are in this club with me.

this is the reason that mamas get a day. we give up our bodies, our dreams, our lives, our patience, our sanity, our very selves over and over for the little people that we call our own. we do it willingly, with love and happiness and without resentment, but it is hard work - perhaps the hardest work a person can do. we do it in the hopes that these littles will grow up and make this world a little more beautiful, a little more whole. and for that, we deserve a day to be a little selfish.

so next year, i'm going to sleep in. no. matter. what.


detox month!

{image from here}

may is detox month at our house! i've been feeling a little off since the holidays, with allergies that just don't go away, frequent sore throats, and sugar cravings that rear their ugly head every afternoon like clockwork. i knew i was in need of a detox, but it's taken until now to really commit to something big (although i did a mini sugar & yeast detox a few months ago, but didn't stick to it). so i decided may would be detox month. phoenix is due for his 12 month vaccines, and i wanted him to go into those with strong gut health and good immunity, and since we've both dealt with yeast overgrowth in the past, i thought i would include him in my avoidance of sugar & yeast. paul got on board too (although he is avoiding gluten rather than yeast) and we're excited to be on day three and still going strong! i decided rather than just focusing on food, i'd like to do a bit of a life detox because the weather has gotten beautiful and i need a bit of a kick in the pants to get outside every day rather than leaving parks & rec on in the background while phoenix & i lounge around the house all day. here's what our detox looks like:

1. avoid anything with added sugar, or with natural sugar but no fiber, including
  • fruit juice (veggie juice is ok)
  • foods with added sugar (fruits are ok; this is basically anything with a label where sugar (or any other term for sugar) is listed on the ingredient list, or things like baked goods at the many cafes that i enjoy frequenting)
  • any refined carbs (white bread, white flour, white rice): they are converted immediately into sugar in the bloodstream, so it's basically like eating cake!

2. avoid anything with yeast (paul is avoiding gluten instead, but for both of us this basically means no bread for the month)

3. eat a serving of vegetables at every meal, including breakfast and snacks

4. drink at least 3 litres (mason jars) of water every day - try to drink it throughout the day - always have a mason jar with water sitting out as a reminder

5. get active every day (i need to be active, so getting outside while phoenix toddles around doesn't count)
  • yoga self-practice
  • yoga class
  • run outside
  • brisk walk 

6. get outside with phoenix every day (this can be a walk with phoenix in the stroller, which would also count as #5, or it can be a walk for phoenix as well, to explore the world!)

7. limit TV watching to 30 min during the day and 60 min (or one movie) in the evening

8. spend time together as a couple (we've had one date since phoenix was born - we should probably change that now that he's one!)

9. read at least one book for pleasure this month (an actual book - not a magazine or a handful of articles that i find on facebook)

10. enjoy the little things in life - an amazing partner, a fun baby, a lovely home, a gorgeous city, the flexibility to do what we want, (almost) when we want.

because i'm not really into just telling myself what i CAN'T eat (it doesn't usually work for me), i've also designed a new meal planning template so i can get all excited about the yummy and nutritious foods i CAN eat (and who doesn't love a gorgeous template to fill in?) i'll post about the template soon along with a free download, as well as this week's foods so you can see what i plan to prep each week and how i'll stay fed & happy.

would you ever consider a life detox? what in your life needs detoxing, and why?


my 2015 mantra & intentions.

i usually spend the first few days of the new year focusing my thoughts, goals, and dreams into a few intentions to carry with me through the coming months. everything seems to take a bit longer with a babe, so it seems only fitting that now (seventeen days into the new year) i'm finally putting down on paper my intentions for 2015.

for me, 2014 wasn't a year for achieving goals... at least, not in the sense i'm used to. my pace slowed way down this year, and my time was measured in naps, cuddles, and late-night feedings. having a new baby is a wonderful thing, and i'm so thankful for the beautiful first months we spent together. but i did notice that i lost a big part of myself when i became a mama. the goal-oriented, plan-making, purposeful side of me went into hibernation when my focus turned to nurturing this new little person in my life. my best friend would ask me frequently "what are you up to today?" and even though i knew it was natural, it felt so strange for my responses to be nothing more than playing with toys, taking a walk, and maybe heading to story time at the library (if it was a big day!) and i think i started to resent it a little bit. i would go through periods of guilt for not keeping the house tidier, not teaching any classes, not blogging more frequently, not doing something productive with my days. i want 2015 to be different... phoenix is nine months old now, and getting more independent (i feel like we're mere days away from walking over here!), but i still want to balance my go-getter self with the nurturing mama i've become. so i was pleased when i stumbled upon a free downloadable for my phone's homescreen of a saying designed by the talented mrs. emily ley:
this message greets me every time i turn my phone on, and it is absolutely my mantra for 2015. i know that there will be days when i get to write, clean, plan, and move a step forward in my professional life. and i know that there will also be days when a clingy baby wants me to hold him all day, or i just need to get down on the floor with him and bang pots and pans all afternoon. both are amazing uses of my time, and of course (so valuable to remember) the times where i just need to veg out and watch trashy tv for a few hours after the baby goes to bed is also a necessary use of my time. the important thing is that however i choose to spend my day, i embrace that and live fully in the moment. as i've heard very (VERY) frequently since becoming a mama, this time flies by all too fast. so if i'm not finding joy in my current journey, when will i find it?

i've also made a few simple intentions for 2015. nothing too "goal-y" or "resolution-y", because i don't want to get so bogged down with trying to produce measurable results. instead, i prefer to give my year a feeling, a filter or two through which to gently guide my actions. and so in 2015 i intend to:

~ turn the tv off and pick up a book ~
(whether it's juicy fiction, a non-fiction about my passions, or just a magazine)

~ do a little each day ~
(whether it's tidying, practicing yoga, writing, or anything else,
just remembering that one little step each day
is way more productive than trying to scale a mountain in one big jump)

~ connect with people ~
(mamahood can be pretty isolating, especially with social media
giving us the *illusion* of being connected.
i'd love to spend more of my days with other mamas,
and use my evenings to really spend time with my lifemate)

~ create in the kitchen ~
(having time to cook might be one of the things i miss most
about my pre-baby days. i want to *make* the time as often as possible)

i feel pretty good about this year. i feel good about getting back into my own skin a little bit, finding a new rhythm as a mama, and welcoming some new opportunities.

what are you looking forward to in 2015,
and have you made any intentions or decided on a mantra
to help keep you in line with your view for your year?