This winter morning

When you are expecting for the second time, everyone tells you how crazy busy you will become, and how you will redefine the word ‘tired’. No one, not even one person gave me a clue of the biggest adjustment and emotional impact I would feel – how much I’d miss my first child!

This morning, Blake, my 5 year old had a dental appointment. I took him to the appointment and my husband took our toddler, Scarlett to daycare. I had that rare one-on-one time with my son again, although surrounded by chirpy dental professionals ready to compliment him on what a great job he has done by staying still.

Blake has matured; his progress more obvious in a social setting outside home. He checked out the surroundings and settled on a book he liked. He chose not to spend this time to converse with me. I felt a slight nudge inside of me: Blake has always been that kid who just won’t stop talking and here he is, growing out of it before that reputation has a chance to stick…

You see, when you have a second baby, usually the moms take the responsibilities of taking care of the younger one and the dads assume the roles to occupy the older kid. All that infant business takes so much time and before I knew it, I had missed a lot of Blake’s life in the past year. It sometimes pains me to realize that our mother-son relationship has evolved permanently as a result of it, that he is aware he isn’t the ‘needy baby’ and perhaps, daddy should be the default helper.

The dental appointment went well and we took the subway to his school. As we approached his school building, he sped up and ran towards his classroom. The school ground was covered in white snow, and by contrast, his colourful fire truck backpack gleamed in the winter sun, looking way too big on his little body. Underneath his furry hat with ear flaps, his cherub cheeks were turning red – I always marveled at how cute kids looked in these hats. He waited for me to catch up: “Mom, this is my class!” his smile revealed two missing bottom teeth.

All of sudden, I felt this lump in my throat – Blake is still little but not for long. How I wished this winter freeze could make this moment last forever! As I watched him disappear into the crowd of kids inside, I couldn’t help thinking about the beautiful words from C.Day Lewis’s Walking Away:

That hesitant figure, eddying away

Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,

Has something I never quite grasp to convey

About the nature’s give-and-take – the small, the scorching

Ordeals which fire one’s irresolute day.

I have had worse partings, but none that so

Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly

Saying what God alone could perfectly show –

How selfhood begins with a walking away,

And love is proved in the letting go.


Moments like this

My 16 months old daughter has always been a poor night sleeper. I have had some really cranky moments since I haven’t slept through the night for 2 years (yes, it started when she was still in my belly!). This only gets exacerbated when she catches a cold, which is happening all the time now because of the winter/daycare combination.

We placed a rocking chair next to her crib and there were countless nights Ethan or I sat there rocking her for long periods of time; we took turns so we both could get some sleep.

This past weekend, she caught a bad cold with a fever and the rocking chair had once again become our default sleeping spot. Last night, after woken up by her crying during my deepest sleep, I got up, prepared a bottle, picked her up and sat rocking in the dark while my brain was wishing to go back to bed and finish that dream.

As she finished the bottle and seemed to calm down, I wiped her snots, felt her head to make sure the fever wasn’t coming back, I lay her down in her crib and started walking toward my bed. That’s when she started shrieking, so loud I worried she’d wake up her brother. I came back and put my hand on her back and she immediately stopped crying. I tried to walk away again, and the same thing happened again.

By this time, I had already forgotten the theme of my unfinished dream, my eyes adjusted and I could see the moonlight filtered through the blinds. There was only one thing left to do: I sat on that rocking chair next to her crib, one hand placed on her back.

She seemed to sense that I sat down – she turned around and looked at me. I saw a sense of relief in her eyes. I slouched into the chair thinking it was going to be a long night here, and just then, she gently grabbed my hand, separated my fingers to make sure I held her tiny hand and looked at me as if to say: mom, I really need you right now, stay with me…

I looked back and my heart suddenly felt full. I held her hand and gently stroked the back of her palm. She turned to the other side, getting ready to sleep, then she turned back again. Still holding my hand, she looked into my eyes and smiled. I smiled back reassuring her. Just like that, in a second, she fell into a deep sleep, breathing heavily and had let go of my hand.

You know the moments in life you feel like you are doing exactly what you are meant to do? That you are living your purpose and all the hard work is worth it? This was one of those moments for me! As I watched her angelic face in sound sleep, I sat in that rocking chair for a while longer – I didn’t care to finish that silly dream of mine anyway…




Not your typical New Years resolution

I really love making New Year’s resolutions, I really do. A new year feels like a new beginning and it is always a great time to reflect and be motivated to make a few changes. But at my age, I’ve gone through the whole realization of ‘the best time to make changes is now, regardless of the time of the year’ and the typical focus on health, fitness feels overdone. Therefore this year I am going to focus on two things that I think will make a significant difference in my well being:image

1) Acceptance

Sounds random right? It is actually a lot bigger than most people think. Allow me to explain.

– For work projects:  accept the way ‘others’ are. There is little I can do to change others (in the short term), so instead of being frustrated by things such as the lack of efficiency, I will work on accepting it and see how to best work with that. Hopefully this goes both ways as I am sure I have my own tendencies that drive people crazy

– For myself: accept where I am in life (career, relationship with others etc).  Stop the useless thoughts of ‘where I should be or could be’ and focus on what I can do with what I’ve got

– For my kids: accept the way they are and spend energy on ‘what is best for their unique personalities’ instead of ‘how to get them to meet my or others expectations/standards’

2) Being present

I don’t mean getting down on the floor to play superheroes and crafts with my kids all the time; I simply want to focus on ‘this moment’ more, whatever it is I am doing.

If I really need to answer work emails, then I will say “give mom 5 minutes of uninterrupted time” and do it with focus, then come back to my kids without thinking about emails and pretending to pay attention to them. When I spend the time with family, I will work on really being with them and try not to let my brain wander back to work, to do list, chores etc…

The other day I was walking in the path of Financial District, and I consciously practiced this – I stopped the chatter in my head about what’s happened in the past and what to do in the future while walking, instead I focused on the moment, and I was quite amused to discover how many interesting things, people you see and hear for a mere 3 minutes walk. The constant thinking in my head was keeping me from living the moment!

Here you have it, my two not so typical New Years resolutions. They require a lot of practice – consciously choosing your thoughts and emotions are not natural. I am determined to do it because I know they will greatly impact my emotional health and other important aspects in life. I will keep you posted on how I am doing throughout the year.

Happy New Year to you all!



The Truth about Work Life Balance

The truth about work life balance is: there is no perfect balance!

Flexible work options, gradual return to work program…I am a staunch supporter of these and gender equality, but I am also painfully aware that as wonderful as they are, they aren’t going to make my days 48 hours instead of 24; they offer most parents a possibility to hold a full time job, they cannot provide balance.

The word balance is misleading – it gives the impression of achieving both. In reality, it is more like a game of which is going to be sacrificed more today so I can do a slightly better than the half ass job I usually do! I know I sound a bit negative now, but hey, what do you expect from someone who hasn’t slept for two years which caused a light degree of memory loss which made her drop the ball at work a bit and sent her boss’s boss into a panic attack?

I went back to work three months ago after my second and final maternity leave (two kids is all my money and energy can afford). I am no rookie this time and I prepared well. I even told my boss that they will get less face time from me in anticipation of the kids getting sick frequently (the first year of daycare is always brutal). I promise to log on to make it up after the kids are in bed.

I found new stamina supported by an obscene amount of caffeine and between work, kids and chores I never gave myself a break, determined to make this work/parenting thing work. I did. Well, sort of…I have not messed up astronomically at work yet, I only forgot to remind my 5 year old his first show and tell in a new school and my husband and I have only threatened divorce out loud twice!

The hard truth is, the mere, daily two hours I spend with my kids interspersed by inescapable chores are nowhere near enough, a lot of times even unpleasant. They are tired and cranky from being in daycare for so long and night time routine is a rush to get them to bed before meltdowns. Weekends are non-stop with their activities and chores. When friends offer the good intentioned advice on hiring a cleaning lady, part time nanny to lighten the work load, I can only smile – the cost that comes from being a working parent is high: $2500/month just for daycare, we order food more and buy less on sale because we have no time, we have a big mortgage for an old house in the city because no daycare schedule would allow us to live in the suburbs and take the train. Hubby and I are self made people, not only we do not have and never had support from family, we will and already do support our parents financially and more.

It’s not like I never toiled with the idea of quitting my job and stay home with the kids. The decision to work is complicated; that’s why I’d never judge anyone for making either choice. For one, I enjoy working; I need to be challenged intellectually and socially to feel fulfilled. Money is a big reason but not the determining factor. It has more to do with our life experiences.

Raised by an engineer and doctor, my childhood was more than comfortable until we immigrated to Canada. Not having their foreign credentials recognized, my parents had tremendous difficulties finding work. At the age of 17, I practically begged to get my first job as a housekeeper to clean hotel rooms so we did not have to go on welfare. I learned that the opportunity to work is a privilege; life can be unpredictable and that opportunity is not always available regardless how smart you are.

Both hubby and I also come from divorced parents. My mother, always a career woman, struggled through her single-hood and made a life for herself in a new country. My mother in law who gave up working when kids were little, never gained her financial independence and livelihood. For sure many others in similar situations had different outcome, but our parents’ experiences had profound influence on how we make our choices.

I am not gonna lie that I often wonder how other parents at work do it, sometimes I am sure they are faking it just like I do. When I bumped into another colleague at the coffee machine and seeing her red rimed eyes and hearing her confide in me that her little one is still breast feeding multiple times at night, I couldn’t help but feel a sense sisterhood; needless to say, we became friends afterwards.

By the time that second afternoon coffee finally kicks in and I start to feel like I am on a roll, the daycare alarm would go off to remind me that my work day is over, at least in perception. I sometimes wonder about those who stay behind: they must have grandpa picking up the kids; their kids must sleep at 9 or later; they must feel ok not to spend every single night with the kids (no judgement here! Everyone feels differently about how much time they need to spend with the kids). I envy them too – maybe I could’ve worked the way I wanted to and win that annual award if I had all the above conditions…

Then I chug along, proceed to change my role back to mom, pencil skirt becomes snot wipe. I try not to take their crankiness caused by fatigue personal, and revel in their adorable innocence. After most of the take out food ends up on the floor, and bath water full of pesto sauce drained, I get to give them unlimited hugs and kisses before they drift to dreamland and I drift back to the emails I didn’t have time to finish.

When hubby and I finally finish all that needs to be done, slouching in bed exhausted, we lament how much we don’t want the kids to grow. But then we could also use some sleep or time with each other, alone. We sometimes mention that one person we know who only worked 4 days a week to spend time with kids and still got tapped on the shoulder to become an executive; we argue whether it was just luck…

In all this hustle and bustle, I am no longer searching for that ‘balance’. Our family life is not perfect, neither are our careers. It is how it is because we have to and the choices we have made. There are sacrifices in both because we want it all, so we end up getting half of the pie on both sides. Some people would want to eat a whole pie instead of two halves; some people have so much help they can eat a bigger slice in both; everyone’s situation is unique. Balance though, is really more like acceptance and knowing you are doing your best as a parent while staying true to yourself.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so I want to end this post on a note of gratitude: I am thankful to have my amazing children, loving husband and a career I value; to be blessed with much that I have to try to balance them all! For all who stopped by and took the time to read – Happy Thanksgiving and hope you have a feast with your loved ones. Me? Screw turkey! I am ordering take out! 🙂


Balancing work and family – response to “What if the best years of your life just aren’t”


In the past two days, this article – What if “the best years of your life” just aren’t went viral on Facebook. when I read it, I thought it was very well written but something about the article bothered me a little; I couldn’t put my finger on it. Today I discussed it with a good friend on Facebook and that really helped me organize my thoughts.

safe_image Here are the issues I have with this piece.

Before I start, I’d like to say that I am not saying that these ‘issues’ I have are what was wrong with this article. To be fair, the author wrote about her personal experience and her personal opinions based on her experience and her message is very supportive of moms going through a hard time. Most parents have shared similar sentiments at some point of time, me included. Although I don’t agree with everything in this article, it is a beautiful piece nevertheless!

Now, onto MY ‘issues’ with it. These are my issues because my blog is about my opinions. I get her but I see a different perspective that I wish to express on this particular subject. This different perspective does not mean I only see the negative sides of this article. OK, let’s talk about these ‘issues’.

1) The first few paragraphs are all about her own life, wonderfully written and easy to relate. Then it got to this:

“When I was a teenager, schoolbags were plastered with bumper stickers that said “girls can do anything”. Career counselling consisted of lectures about law, medicine, physiotherapy, stockbroking and journalism. Home economics was removed from the curriculum. It would have been considered downright sexist to point out the paradox. Some careers can accommodate the needs of a family better than others; those choices – whether we like it or not – exist. We can do anything. But if we want healthy, happy, satisfying lives – we can’t do it all simultaneously. Man or woman, there are choices, sacrifices and losses down either path.” OK, a general statement, but still mostly true. Then it continued:

“We do not raise boys or girls to think like this. We don’t educate them to jobshare, downscale, work from home. We raise them to take every opportunity, rise to the occasion, get a bigger office, build a more impressive client list, fulfil their potential. No one mentions what we have to surrender, on the professional or personal front, to do this.” This is where my disagreement started. It is true to some people but not true to others. “Jobshare, downscale, work from home” are not necessarily the opposite of “take every opportunity, rise to the occasion, or fulfill their potential”, especially in today’s day and age. The author’s own experience should not be extended to all professions. I for one, work for a company that is very flexible and does offer these choices to most employees. One of my best friends who is a very good doctor, treats cancer patients 3 days a week, and spends the rest of the week with her kids. That is more time spent with family than most 9 to 5 jobs. She is able to do that because a) she makes good enough money part time to support the family b) when you are good at your job, in a more specialized, highly skilled field, sometimes you actually have more say in terms of your own schedule. The CEO of Yahoo Marisa Mayer built a nursery next to her office so she can see her baby whenever she wants. Sometimes the ‘bigger fish’ comes with bigger perks, and seeing your baby may just be one of them.


The author is not wrong, and in many people’s cases, it is true. However, it is not always true and we should not assume it to be. Women tend to scale back in career way before necessary in anticipation of motherhood. If that is what they want, then by all means but if it is not, I’ll quote Sheryl Sandberg on this one: “Don’t leave until you actually leave“! Let’s continue to teach our kids to be ambitious, to “get a bigger office and build a more impressive client list”. Meanwhile, let’s push and educate everyone on work flexibility and other arrangements to pursue their dreams. If scaling back is needed, then offer support. Let’s not put in our heads or our children’s heads that it is an absolute ‘either, or’ situation when it comes to career and family.

2) My second issue is with this paragraph:

“Once kids start school, they enter a vortex from which they never return to be fully, totally ours again; time with them is negotiated around a timetable of school days, weekends, social lives, activities, term dates and holidays And they emerge young adults, with dreams, plans and all those forks in their own roads to navigate. Much of their journey will be done without us. We will never stand by their side as we do in those first five years.”

This is also my favourite paragraph. I share the exact sentiment! Because of this, the author claims that “you will be filled with gladness for every moment, good and bad, that you experienced with them”. I am not sure…Just because time is fleeting, does not take away the fact that even though there are a lot of joyful moments and you are heart felt happy during those moments, the majority of the days of being full time mom is mind-blowingly tedious and brutally unfulfilling on an intellectual level. I think it is totally ok to not enjoy some parts of it. If I had to hear or sing one more time “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” which is THE magic song to make my 6 months old smile, eat, stop crying, take a bath happily (you get the idea), I’d ignore my alcohol intolerance and start drinking!

I love spending quality time with my kids, but that doesn’t mean I want to spend EVERY moment with them before they turn 5. I will miss their littleness for sure but I am also glad they will never be fully, totally ours again. That means I will not be fully, totally theirs anymore so I can have a bathroom break in peace!


When we look back, the past always looks sweet because the human brain’s memories on parenthood works like Instagram pictures: cropped, romanticized and various sepia toned filters added. That is why we would want to go through labour again. Don’t fool ourselves, acknowledge that good moments will be good and bad moments will be, well bad. There will always be nostalgic, Instagram photos to look back on, but some moments will suck ass!

3) My biggest thing is this statement she made: “I can promise you one thing. You will never regret the sacrifices you make for them now.” This is simply not true. I know someone very close to me who truly regretted having children. Mind you, her children were brought up in a loving, financially secure environment and are grown adults oblivious of their mom’s feelings, but the truth is she did regret not sticking to her intuitions and choosing a childless life. Now in her 50s, she is the happiest ever because her kids are out of the house and she started to pursue the degree she always wanted. She may be a rare case, but all I am saying is that you simply cannot promise this one.

Some women may have become moms by accident and some may have been pressured. Some may feel really bad that after all that sacrifice, their kids did not turn out as well as they had hoped. That is another important issue: does spending more time (quitting your career to stay home) with the kids make them better adjusted, more successful in the long term? Like Seinfeld joked: we are all just too into this parenting thing these days. The verdict is still out on whether this ‘super involved’ parenting style produces better results. You may say what if quitting career is a personal choice for the enjoyment of the parent? What if the mother or father WANTS to be there for every moment because she/he enjoys it and has nothing to do with producing more successful kids? Well, if it is for personal enjoyment, it cannot really be called a sacrifice can it? If you choose to do so solely because you like it, I call that a hobby!

4) My last point is personal. The author states of her dying grandmother: “She had raised sons, grandsons, nursed a dying husband and buried a son.  She had been a community member, friend, devoted great-grandmother, card writer, tennis player, book lover and never forgot a birthday. And in that moment of death, that is all that mattered, that’s all that remained, treasured.”

Am I the odd one here of wanting to leave something else behind other than my children? Of wanting to be remembered for some other contribution I made to society other than being a mother? If I am authentic to myself, I hope in my moment of death, the fact that I raised son, daughter, possibly grandkids would NOT be ALL that mattered, ALL that remained and treasured!

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Do share your thoughts!


A Better Way to Teach Kids Emotional Intelligence – Books About Feelings

My son Blake is a spirited child, a boy full of passion but does not like to hear the sound ‘no’. Teaching him to regulate his emotions better has always been a challenge. When he is in the middle of a tantrum, he is too upset to listen to anything; when the tantrum is over, talking to a four year old about how to better behave next time has been very ineffective, at least for us. We were lost until a friend told us about these: books about feelings.

Our favourites are:



The benefits of these books are:

– They are fun stories to read. We read them during story time before bed and Blake thought they were just like any other stories; it was a good activity to do.

– They are about someone else so your kids will not get defensive. I know that Blake recognized the similarities between himself and the main character immediately but he didn’t resist because he felt it was about Miles or Sally, not himself but he understood the message.

– It is easier and more effective to remind kids in the middle of the tantrum. We would say “remember Miles?” Maybe because we are referencing a character in a book instead of directly criticizing him, Blake was able to stop and think about his action when he usually would not.

I have to say, we really loved these books and will probably search for more when  needed. The good thing is there is a wide selection of such books that address different problems. You can find them at easily.

The only thing I need to warn you is that these books are good but not magic. Your child’s challenge will not disappear; they will not change overnight. The books teach them why and how but to actually improve ones action, it takes lots of reminding and of course, time and patience, for both parents and kids.

What worked for you? Please share your tips and success!


“Mommy, Somebody Needs You.”

Love this article written by another blogger! I too, need to remind myself that: “I have to stop dreaming of “one day” when things will be easier. Because, the truth is, it may get easier, but it will never be better than today…”One day” I will get myself back. But, today I give myself away, and I am tired, and dirty and loved SO much…”

Ever since we brought our new daughter home, her older brothers have been the first to tell me when she is crying, whimpering, or smelling a little suspicious.  “Somebody needs you,” they say.  I have no idea how this little saying started, but at first it sort of annoyed me.  I could be enjoying a quick shower… “Mommy, somebody needs you.  The baby is crying.”  Or, sitting down for a second, quite aware that the baby was beginning to stir from a nap…. “Mama, somebody needs you!”  Okay!  I get it already!  And not to mention that the newborn’s needs pale in comparison to the needs of 2 little boys.  Somebody always needs a snack, a band-aid, a different sock, ice cubes in their water, a NEW Paw Patrol, a stream of snot wiped, a hug, a story, a kiss.  Some days never seem to end, and the monotony of being “needed”…

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