The Year Of Broken Plates

She is everywhere.

Your Instagrams, your Pinterests, your blogs, your billboards, your Wal-Marts, your coffee shops, your gyms, your parks, your schools, your TVs, your dreams.

The Mother.

Her hair is done, her house and clothes are clean, her body is healthy, her coffee is hot, her kids are happy, and like, she’s busy but she is HANDLING IT.

This time last year, I was suffering from a common condition known as “summer pregnancy.” I knew this part was hard, but then the baby would be here, and I would become THE MOTHER and everything would be great.

And then, suddenly, I remembered that I’m terrible at juggling.

Good china plates are lying in shards around me; my brain is dizzy and my feet are bleeding. The baby is screaming, the dishes are crusted with 3-day-old food and flies, the house carries a faint but distinct odor of wet towels and shit, the floor is sticky, and TBH I’m probably gonna throw a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner…again.

I have one baby. ONE.

The Mother did not come to me; the Mother betrayed me. The Mother didn’t tell me that she had to give up everything else she loved, like music or writing or friends, in order to be considered a good mom.

By her standards, I have failed spectacularly.

“It takes 9 months to put on the weight, so give yourself at least 9 months to lose it and then #HustleYourButt!” but instead I gained it all back and heyyyy it brought some friends!

I was given TWO Baby Bullets, and I rejoiced because I wanted to make fresh food for my baby every day.

I have used exactly ONE of them ONE time. And I remember to brush those 2 preciously sharp little chiclets in his maw about once a week, so he’s definitely going to need dentures by the time he’s 5.

Does it sound bad if I say that my 11-month old son already has favorite showS? #YesThatWasAnEmphasizedPlural #ILoveYouMoana #AndDinoTrux #BasicallyJustAllOfNetflix

If I get all the laundry done, it’s a good day.

If I get all the laundry done, folded AND put away, I’m pretty awesome.

If I get all the laundry done, folded AND put away AND take a shower, I deserve sexual favors and Chinese take-out, full stop.

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This little helper gently rolled into the sink head first about 2 seconds after this picture was taken. #MotherOfTheYear

I’m honestly a little sad. The first year is already almost up, and the only thing I feel confident in showing for it is that Harrison, Steven and I are still alive.

Maybe in Year 2, I’ll figure out how to keep the house clean as well as get in shape, and return to music/writing/friendships on a regular basis. Maybe I’ll just drink my coffee while it’s still hot.

But one thing (lol, probably a FEW things) I do pledge: to be okay with being JUST okay, and to be okay with NOT being okay.

To delegate those chores. To not do IT ALL. To get together with a friend, like, once a week, even if the dishes aren’t done. To kiss my hard-working husband at the start and end of every day. To unfollow the perfect Instagram moms.

And lastly, to donate the good china plates and settle for some good ole indestructable Corelle and Tupperware. I’m a mom now, after all.

 

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5 New Mom Truths I Didn’t Know Until I Knew Them

I’ve been a mom for 4 whole months now so I’m pretty sure I know what I’m talking about.

1. You learn to function without sleep.

All I had to do was stop visualizing my life as “day” and “night”, and start visualizing it as nap #3 of 6 in a 24-hour period. So go ahead and have that coffee at 9pm, because nothing matters anymore.

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2. Breastfeeding can be REALLY difficult. 

And just like pregnancy, I did not love it. I  wanted to, and I thought that would be enough to make it a reality.

 

Nope. I could not Desire Map my way into this delicate, hormonal endeavour called breastfeeding. But after doing it for 3 months, I can say YOU GO MAMA to anyone who manages to do it for longer, while eating, while lying down, while in public, while being covered up, while being stared at, while being given advice. YOU ARE MADE OF STRONGER METTLE THAN I.

3. Successfully putting your baby to bed is like a scene from The Hurt Locker. Or any movies involving bombs, really.

Their bellies are full, their bums are clean, the room is dimly lit, the white noise is whirring, the lullabies have been sung, and Baby is so sleepy it’s adorable. You debate just holding and snuggling them for the duration of their nap, but then you remember you have shit to do. And so, you must GTFO before this happens:

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If you succeed, this is how you will feel.

 

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4. Any amount of personal hygiene will feel like a spa day.

If you’re wondering about the state of our hygiene as new parents, a mouse lived in our tub long enough to chew the shower curtain and drop 40 poops in it before we noticed. But once we decided not to burn said tub to the ground, man, those showers felt great.

5. Your love for your child will be infinite.

All the songs on the radio will be about them, you will sacrifice everything you once loved to take care of them. Every smile and achievement they make will convince you that surely it’s never been done before, and they are the first ones, and they are THE BEST at it.

But you’ll be amazed at how much MORE you love them when they sleep more than one hour at a time. It may occasionally happen at the expense of your husband’s feelings (“If you fart like that one more time, you cannot sleep here! At least muffle it with a pillow for the LOVE OF GOD!”) but it will be worth it.

Actually, everything is worth it.

Talk again in another 4 months…maybe…

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Somewhere Over The Rainbow: A Birth Story

It is absolutely surreal to me that, at this time 5 weeks+3 days ago, I had just given birth.  First of all, thank you for receiving my last blog post so graciously. I was a little unhinged, so y’all have … Continue reading

Baby Button Needs You To Stop Praying For Him Now

8 weeks ago, I wrote a story about the journey our baby was taking us on, and how we were praying that my body would survive being pregnant just 7 more weeks to give him the best chance. So many of you responded in love and prayers and genuine care.

I truly believe it worked because my body proceeded to need a total of 3 amniotic fluid drains, plus a dramatic 3 night stay in the hospital because I was having very real contractions every 5 minutes…and then suddenly everything stopped. I went home. Life has resumed at an almost-usual routine for the last 4 weeks. Baby Button has grown big and strong, we have a safety-approved place for him to sleep and travel, and my mom made it here without complication.

So now? I need y’all to stop praying. I turned the corner on 38 weeks yesterday, and I am done.

I know every third-trimester mother says that, but I don’t think you understand.

I am “answering questionnaires for concerned psychiatrists/sense of humor completely gone/collapsing into tears for no reason at least once a day” done.

I have survived the Apocalypse. I have lived in fear of the government and deportation. I have moved houses at least as many times as I’ve had birthdays. I’ve seen a childhood friend die right in front of me. I have endured losing a relationship with my father 2 months after it began. I have gotten lost in Europe, lost a baby, lost jobs, and been one paycheck ahead of financial disaster for years.

But 9 months of pregnancy, one of life’s greatest mysteries that I was looking forward to the most, is the straw that broke this camel’s back.

I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel needy. I feel weak.

And so I feel lost. My identity is shifting. I’m the girl who writes about all the crazy shit that happens to her, and still manages to make people smile. I’m the Chandler Bing, I’m the Spartan who keeps on trucking, I’m the one who has heard time and again, “Wow. Looking at you, listening to you, I would never have guessed that you survived all THAT. You’re amazing, and you should probably write a book.”

My shit has always been a little messy, but it was my mess, and it made me stronger.

Now? After being pregnant and sick and worried and unprepared for 267 days in a row (including being displaced from home for 60+ days in a cramped house with 4 animals and 4 in-laws out of that)?

All I want is to go to sleep, and wake up in my own bed with a fresh mani/pedi, a killer haircut, a multi-ethnic buffet, and an impossibly adorable baby who never cries longer than 5 minutes or makes me question whether I am mentally and emotionally capable of becoming a mother in the first place.

I feel gross for even admitting it. Because I can see all you ladies who have been moms for years, who are laughing at my innocence and thinking, “Just you wait, honey, it gets worse.” I can see all you ladies who have been thinking they’d like to get pregnant, and now I’ve just ruined it for you. I can see all you ladies who had magical unicorn pregnancies with babies made from Jesus’ eyelashes, and are secretly judging me for being so dramatic and non-sacrificial.

And honestly, I’m going to play the Pregnant Bitch card and say up front: I don’t need to hear from you right now.

The only thing that keeps me typing so vulnerably is the off-chance that maybe some lady will read this and think, Thank GOD I’m not alone. Maybe I’ll wait one more day before checking myself in to the closest institution. Hi, Carly. I’m your new messy mama friend. Let’s keep talking.

13 days or less…

 

7 weeks to go: the ups and possible Down’s of our Baby Button

Every once in awhile, there comes a time when you straight up have to cancel your life. Your cares, your responsibilities, the expectations placed upon you are bulldozed by reality, and you must deal with THIS THING for your own … Continue reading

13 Inappropriate Status Updates I’ve Wanted To Make Since I Got Pregnant

Oh, good. Another blog post about pregnancy. This should be informative, fun, cutesy, non-judgy and—*retches into nearest garbage can*.

Oh, sorry, that wasn’t about the topic – that’s just my life now. Any conversation I have from now until September is 90% likely to be interrupted by me retching into the nearest garbage can.

Cause I got knooooockedddd upppp hawrrrrd. 

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Two hours into my shift and I'm ready to go home. I am the weakest link.

It was really difficult for an oversharer like me to achieve but Steve and I decided to keep this news fairly on the down low this time around until it was impossible for a photo of me to be shared without cropping half of me out. We wanted to make sure that everything was okay first, as if we are going to have control over a concept like *that* ever again.

And now, unfortunately for y’all, I have a serious backlog in my brain (and phone) of everything I’ve wanted to say since the day I found out I was pregnant again.

1. “This pregnancy test better not be f*cking with me.”

2. “Oh shit, this is actually happening. I should probably find a doctor or a midwife. And tell my husband. In that order? Will he be less panicky if I say I already have a care provider ready to go, or will he want to do that together? Yes.”

3. “Wow, I’ve made it 6 whole weeks, and I feel great! But that’s bad. I should probably be sick, right? I wasn’t sick last time, and that was a bad sign. Oh no.”

4. *one week later* “Ohhhh Goddddd, when will the vomiting end?” #SecretlySuperRelieved

5. “I just vomited from the hours of 3am to 6am and now I have to go to work for 8 hours. I’m no mathematician…but this kinda sucks.”

6. “I am the worst human being in the world. Like, here’s Donald Trump and waaaaayyyy down here is me. For I have just desecrated Her Majesty Queen Adele. She was on the radio, and lo, I could not stop barfing from beginning to end. Off with my head.” #HelloFromTheGarbageCan

7. “Did you know you can get a sinus infection, just from all the extra fluids being produced in your body during pregnancy? I SURE DIDN’T! Seriously, Adele, if you’re not gonna cut off my head, I’m just gonna do it myself.”

8. “Sweet, I finally lost that 15 pounds I’ve been chasing for 3 years, and the curves are landing in all the right places! Hello, boobs, nice to meet you at last!” *smacks husband’s hands away for the 27th time cause these new bubbies HURT, BITCH*

9. “Steve just told me that he feels like our bodies are singing Sarah McLachlan songs to each other, it’s been so long. And then to prove his point, he burst out, I WILL REMEMBER YOUUUUUU WILL YOU REMEMBER MEEEE DON’T LET YOUR WIFE PASS YOU BY *reaches towards new boobs* WEEP NOT FOR THE MAMMARIES

I should probably do something sexy before he leaves me.”

10. “I am in the bathroom at work. I have just barfed, peed myself a little, switched gears for diarrhea and had a nosebleed in the last 5 minutes.

Baby Button, I love you, but seriously CALM YOUR SHIT.” #AlwaysKeepAChangeOfClothesInTheCar #ThanksHusbandForBringingMeClothesAndAlsoForNotLeavingMe

11. “Omg our maternity photo shoot is in 3 days, and everything is terrible! At least on my wedding day, someone could use the power of foundation and witchcraft to make me beautiful, but NOW I’m on my OWN! I need a haircut! There are burst blood vessels in my face! I have nothing to wearrrrr…”

12. “Did I actually forget how amazing our photographer is? For. Shame.”

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13. “Hold up. Did I just…? Yep, there is *something* moving inside me, and for once, it’s not gas! Or maybe it is? Wait, now I’m being punched in the ribs by the tiniest little fist in the world, yes I am, hello baby! Steve, come quick! Everything we’ve gone through in the last 5 months is about to be worth it!”

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To be continued…

Build a Bigger Table

Since the beginning of time, we have been on the move.

For any number of reasons: water, food, shelter, dinosaurs, volcanos, family ties, earthquakes, adventure, danger, curiosity, beauty, divine calling, opportunity, safety, home.

Home; the thing we long for most, the reason for all the wandering – we want to go to there.

Look around you.

None of us originated where we are. Maybe you have to go back a few generations, but chances are, someone somewhere in your family took a chance – a leap from where they were to where you find yourself now.

The square root of all humanity is immigration.

Only in the last few hundred years (maybe longer, I wasn’t there) has the world begun to define its resources as “mine” instead of “ours.” Finders keepers, losers weepers.

We think we actually own stuff, just because we have it. Meanwhile, the bank, the credit card company, maybe even God himself, are all chuckling to themselves a bit because they know you’re almost nothing without them.

I was almost nothing, once.

I was 18, living on $5-an-hour in a $12-an-hour world. Somewhat educated, a whole lot unprepared for real life.

Why? Because I was an immigrant. Not from Syria or Africa or India – from the United Freaking States of America.

How did this happen?

My family situation was one of fear: the future, the US government, relationships, Harry Potter. Nothing was to be trusted except ourselves and God. But he’s kind of a wild card, so tread lightly.

I’m 28 years old and I’ve lived in Canada since I was 10. But only in the last 5 years have I been legally able to drive, work, travel, get married and have an education. The previous 13 were spent in fear, hopelessness, depression, guilt, worthlessness and secrecy.

Once I took the step and made myself known to the Canadian government through refugee status, I didn’t know what would happen. Jail? Deportation? I had not kept up connections with anyone in the US except for a couple of friends. No family. I’d barely graduated high school, and I had no resume except the occasional babysitting and housecleaning. #HollaAtMeMexicanStereotypes

I was scared. My mom (at the time) did not support my decision to officially emigrate. Are you *supposed* to do things your mom doesn’t want you to do?

But after 4 long years of waiting, surprises were in store. I was not deported, but my mom was.
Turns out working 40 hours a week is really hard, but minimum wage is really nice.
Europe was pretty amazing; I’ve heard other places are just as good, so I might go there too.
I can’t imagine my heart or my life without my husband.
My home, with my little cat and my big dog and the dishes I hate doing and the laundry machine that whirs peacefully, is a gift.
In the big scheme of things, I have absolutely nothing to complain about, and everything to be thankful for.

I want that for my Syrian humans. And my East Indian humans, my Asian humans. My native American, African, South American, Mexican, Russian, European, American & Canadian humans. All the humans.

And if they have to come to where I am to receive that, then my arms are open.

Because I’ve lived with nothing, and others have shared with me. If they hadn’t, I’d probably be dead, inside and out.
And now that I have some things, I want to share with others in need too.

What we have before us is an opportunity to love greatly with simple actions. Don’t miss it.

**On behalf of the town of Smithers, British Columbia, I say WELCOME to the Syrian families that will be joining us soon. I hope we can make things better.**

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The Turkey & The Hurricane

Last Friday, the Button family went on the road trip of a lifetime.

We just didn’t know it at the time.

1. The Hurricane

It was a dark and rainy morning. We had the next 4 days off work, because we’re in Canada. And instead of celebrating the domination and desecration created by that Columbus guy, we eat turkey while knowing little to nothing about Sir Martin Frobisher.

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We left our house around 6am, so it was still dark. For the next 3 hours, we were blindsided by driving rain, gale-force winds and nasty-ass dog breath.

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The weather was actually a little scary. Our little car tried to leave the road several times.

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Thankfully, Steve was the one driving.

Later, we would turn on the news radio and learn that an event called Hurricane Oho was occurring off the Pacific coast, and we were literally feeling the after-effects of it in the middle of British Columbia. Steve quickly coined it Hurricane Uh-Oh, and I quickly coined us Bill Paxton & Helen Hunt.

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^^^ Dat’s us. #DriversAndSurvivors

2. The Never-Ending Ride of Burgers, Weed & Sh*t

Hear this: I love coupon day. I love opening my mail box, and seeing those shiny red papers filled with pictures of food I want to eat and money I want to save.

No more.

We brought all of our coupons for the road trip because #poor, so we basically ate burgers and potato-related foods, all 3 meals, in the span of 14 hours. Sure, we saved money, but by the end of the day when I could no longer poop, I found myself wishing they made coupons for organic salad.

Oh yeah — we were in that car for FOURTEEN HOURS. Because the freeway between Hope and Vancouver is bat-shit crazy on a good day, and we were there on a Friday. On a holiday weekend. And while the Fraser Valley has many lovely qualities…

Smelling good is not one of them.

I know they *say* marijuana hasn’t been legalized in Canada yet, but in that valley, it might as well be. Also there are cows and mushroom farms and lifted trucks that are singlehandedly putting a hole in the ozone.

Did I want to poop? Did I want to throw up? I couldn’t tell anymore.

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3. The Golden Anniversary

But the reason we drove (besides turkey) was well worth it. It was the 50th anniversary of my mother-and-father-in-law.

And they didn’t know we were gonna show up.

I was a little nervous; I hadn’t seen them since we moved away a year ago, and I feel like a golden anniversary is kind of a big deal. I wanted it to be memorable.

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I found this beautiful British-style teapot awhile ago, with them in mind, as well as some loose-leaf earl grey tea that could be used to fertilize Mum’s garden after they were diffused.

To me, it was meaningful on many levels.

To them, it was too.

But that wasn’t the only surprise of the night.

4. Poppy vs. The Pool

It was dark by the time we arrived at the house, and we thought Poppy should explore her new surroundings.

I didn’t see any of this happen, so this is how I understand it.

Poppy was busy sniffing the backyard by the light of the back deck, when she suddenly came upon a strange new surface. It was blue, kinda wet and level with the ground.

It was the tarp cover on the swimming pool.

She quickly realized she’d made a terrible mistake, and tried to swim her way to the sidewalk. Instead, she started sinking.

Very calmly – like Jesus, one could say – Steve reached in and pulled our Precious out of the pool just as the cover was starting to blanket her.

And since she’s smart, she remembered and avoided the special blue ground for the rest of the weekend.

5.The Guardians of the Toy Store

We’re nerds. Straight up. We collect Funkos from multiple fandom’s, and our Christmas tree looks like the entire pop culture from the 1970s-now threw up on it.

So when Steve showed me the newer, much bigger location of our favourite toy store, I nearly had a heart attack.

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Ewoks on a tree bridge over the toy shelves! #UhhhhCha!

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Treebeard & Gollum creepin’. #We’reTakingTheHobbitsToIsengard

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Completed by the best: Groot & Rocket extending hands of friendship to yours truly. #WEAREGROOT

And finally…

6. The Darla Effect

Have you read Darla Halyk, from New World Mom?

You probably should. She has amazing stories, from comparing herself to Amy Schumer to her literal, actual, text-the-Vatican miracle baby.

I had no idea, until recently, that she lived near Vancouver her whole life – up to and including the time I lived there. When I think about the coffees and laughs and sisterhood wasted, I wanna cry.

Because I got to meet with her for approximately 90 minutes before heading back north, and you guys.

She’s amazing.

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We hugged upon meeting, because of course we had to. She drank out of a coffee cup the length of my forearm while we talked non-stop about writing and our pets and her kids and food and it all ended too quickly. She is the Real Deal, from her sweary-mouth to her sparkly eyes and again to her fierce love for life. I can’t wait to hang out with her again.

So, I am very thankful. I made it to my 28th birthday with little mental breakdown, I ate turkey dinner twice, laughed at YouTube videos with my sister-in-law until my stomach hurt, made great memories with friends & family, and I survived a hurricane.

But above all, I am thankful this picture exists. Because we’ve had enough of Sharknado to last a lifetime. Haven’t we earned…

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…Turkeycane???

My Inner Child Is A Cool Teenager Now

I have an admission to make:

I’m turning 28 in a matter of weeks.

But I’m pretty sure I’m still 16 on the inside, and last weekend I discovered…I love it.

When I actually *was* 16, I constantly heard from strangers that they had taken me to be at least 25. Now, people are surprised to hear that 28 is approaching. That’s not a humble brag – that’s actually a sort of effed-up psychological facet that I’m starting to explore.

For starters, I didn’t have much of a childhood. As a homeschooled only child preparing for the Apocalypse to hit in Y2K, I took life (and what I thought was left of it) pretty seriously. Books were for learning survival skills in the woods, even in something like Little House on the Prairie. Movies were for becoming desensitized to blood and violence and end-times scenarios. Music was for prayer and thoughtful reflection. I “grew up” pretty quickly.

I learned a lot. I learned that you can’t predict anything the future holds. And because of that, I learned that you have to live a little, otherwise you might as well already be dead.

As you can imagine, my upbringing made me a little…awkward out in regular social circles. I was not cool, no matter how hard I tried. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I found my self-deprecating charm that people enjoyed. I joined Facebook; I started blogging. My “voice” online feels like it could be important, but out in the real world, there’s no way that being 28, among all the other 28 year olds, is something I’m ready for.

So I hosted a sleepover. At my house. For 6 teenage girls, and one 7 year old little sister. Throughout my childhood, I had been the babysitter for almost all of them. #OkayIDOFeelOld

It wasn’t hard for me to come up with ideas for our sleepover. Teenage girls? Cupcakes, dance competitions, pizza, face masks, nail polish, Bollywood musicals and Disney cartoons and selfies.

It’s so simple. *mic drop*

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17 hours later, it was declared “the best sleepover ever”; we stayed up til 3am, talking about The Hunger Games, Divergent, as well as Shawn Mendes, Imagine Dragons & Taylor Swift. I knew all the songs on their iPods, to their genuine surprise. They all want to divide up my house into their own rooms to live there permanently. As long as they have access to an easy-bake oven.

Quotes of the Night

“My booty is unshakeable!” – Alys

“I’ve been interpretive dancing for approximately an hour and a half.” – Journey

“Um, esscuse me, is that fruit punch organic? If not, I’m leaving.” – Camryn

“Burn! That’s checkin’ your white privilege right there!” – Avery

I never thought I’d live to see these little girls become teenagers. They’re enchanting in their almost-woman-ness. And now, like some sort of weird Benjamin Button story, we have met in the middle. I finally belong.

I used to be ashamed of myself, my weird amalgamation of balancing my checkbook and watching The Vampire Diaries, not being late to work while eating leftover Kraft Dinner for breakfast. (Although I AM determined to finish Anna Karenina & Les Miserables, maybe even find someone to have an intelligent conversation about them.)

I’m sure I’ll grow up one day. Just, for now, let me have this. It’s the most myself I’ve ever been.

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“Be who you needed when you were younger.”