10 January 2015
Our lives are so incredibly hectic, filled with appointments, diaper changes, feedings, therapy, snuggles and kisses. All of our attention is focused on our children. We neglect our partners, we forget what it was like so long ago. In our home, we have two little ones who are 16 months apart and we have devoted all of our love and energy towards our children. We have completed neglected each other's needs and wants, but have not done this intentionally, but rather, we just kind of put the other person to the side because we have two sweet girls who need our attention. They need us twenty four hours a day. This mommy/daddy job doesn't stop, even when they are sleeping.
James and I lack affection. We lack excitement. To be honest, we lack a lot of things. I knew that being a mom would be a lot of work, but I didn't realize that I would lose myself. Some days, I feel like I am only a mom. Just a mom. I have lost my identity. I used to be a teacher. I used to more than just a mom.
I promised myself that I would work on balance and my well being. I continue to fail miserably. It's actually funny how terribly I fail in this department. I feel some days that I have hit a wall, a huge, gigantic, brick wall.
Feed and water kids.
Sit on the potty.
Sit on the potty.
The monotony of the day can be grueling. Yes, that word is pretty extreme, but it can make for a long day if it's -30 and we are not leaving the house.
So.....the other day, my mom called and offered to watch the girls while James and I go out on a date. I hesitated because mom doesn't have the best luck with Adele...there are usually tears and barf involved. Mom never complains, but I feel bad when things don't go smoothly. Because of Adele's needs as a baby, we didn't leave her with others, so now she is adjusting to having other family members take care of her.
So.....I thought, screw it. Mom can do it! She's been around lots of barf and shit! We are going out on the town! A nice romantic dinner, maybe we'll hold hands, kiss each other deeply while sitting in a corner booth, surrounded by candles and cloth napkins. I am going to wear a pretty outfit, add some extra mascara and give these lips an extra coat of gloss. Lip gloss can make any date better.
James would be home at 5:00pm, we will run out the door, laughing and singing and soak in every minute of the two hours that we had....all alone...no children.
James walked in the door. I got dinner all set for grandma and the girls. I got the plates out, the rice was ready, the chicken was in the oven. I didn't avoid cooking a meal, but that's ok, I was going out on a date with my husband.
We get in the car, I didn't change. I am still wearing my Lulu Lemon pants and would you look at that, I'm wearing a shirt that is from Wal-Mart, no it's not a shirt, but I wear it as a shirt, it's actually a pyjama top. It's ok, I fluffed my hair and put on lip gloss. I look decent.
We decide on Original Joe's...no kids allowed. We pick a small table right by the teacher staff party table. It's ok, we can still make this romantic. James mentions if he should sit beside me. I laughed. That's cheesy. I make fun of people who sit side by side at restaurants. No, we won't do that.
I ordered a rum and coke.
We are so used to inhaling our food because we are usually feeding two children at the same time. I think our plates were cleared in five minutes. We forgot to hold hands and look madly and deeply into each other's eyes. Damn. I forgot to savour the food and the moment.
I contemplated having another rum and coke. I may get a little frisky if I have one more. Remember those moments in the car, when you were in your twenties, you were more flexible and you weren't on a schedule? Remember those days?
I opted for an iced tea.
We decided that Wal-Mart would be a good choice after our romantic dinner. We needed a potty that we could take out with us and some more potty treats. Of course, since we didn't have any children with us, we spent more money and actually took the time to look at items on the shelves. We didn't have to rush. It was a relaxing shopping experience at Wal-Mart. We waited in line, we were relaxed. What is this feeling that I am experiencing? What is this calmness that has taken over my body? I feel like I could take on the world right now. I laughed at people who had kids running around and who were dodging their parents. HA! HA! I remember those days. I laughed at those who were waiting in line to pay and their children were misbehaving. I was savouring my Wal-Mart experience. I was in heaven........at Wal-Mart.
Our time flew by. The two hours was not a lot of time, but it was nice. We talked with each other. We talked about our day. We took the time to ask each other questions. We went on a date. I love dating my husband. For a moment in time, we experienced what it was like six years ago. It was fun. For two hours, we focused on us. I think I will go on another date with my husband, after all, he is the father of my children. I should at least make an effort to call him again. :)
We walked in the front door and it was back to mommy/daddy mode. Adele barfed up her squash and managed to get it into every little crevice on her high chair. James started stripping it all down. I picked up all of the toys and finished cleaning up the dinner dishes. Brinley needed to go on the potty and grandma was yawning.
I am a mommy. I am a wife. I suck at balance, but I love my family.
5 January 2015
As we all know, being a mom is the hardest job in the whole world. We want to throw the towel in at least once a week, well, once a day, we lose our patience, more easily some days, we swear, or maybe it's just me. I have sworn. I still swear, sometimes. We leave our children in their pyjamas all day long, we give them Kraft Dinner for lunch, we hand over the IPad just to get a ten minute break, we give in, we text daddy and tell him that we are done. We are spent. We want to curl up into a little ball, in the corner of the room, with a bottle of rum. We postponed potty training because for the love of Pete, it takes work. We eat on TV trays in the living room.....the TV is on. We sigh. We take deep breaths all day long. We count to ten. We snack on junk food because it will make us happy. We add an extra nap for the kids, so that we can sit down and relax and find more energy for the rest of the day. It's a damn hard job being a mom.
When Brinley came into our room this morning at 7:30am, she tiptoed quietly to her dad's side of the bed, she climbed up, got as close as she could to me, looked at me and smiled. I whispered to her that she needed to be quiet because her sister was still sleeping. She had her two Minnie dolls, pulled them close to her and closed her eyes. I stared at her. I looked at the shape of her eyes, the shape of her nose and her ten little fingers up above her head. She was so content. We stayed in bed until Adele woke up at 8:00am. As soon as Brinley heard her sister stirring, she yelled "Adele is up!"
Brinley's excitement to see her sister is the exact same every day. She acts as if it is the first time she's seeing Adele, every time. She ran over to her crib, put her hands through the wooden posts and rubbed her head, touched her face and they both giggled.
This is why I love being a mom.
We came downstairs and as I was getting breakfast ready, the girls were giggling. They were playing with their toys and playing so nicely together. Adele idolizes her big sister.
This is why I love being a mom.
Adele gets close to the stairs and Brinley yells "ADELE FALL! MOM! ADELE FALL!" She is so protective of her baby sister. She brings Adele a toy so that it will distract her from going near the stairs. "Adele play."
This is why I love being a mom.
We are working on potty training and it's going great. We play educational games on the IPad and Brinley shocks me with all that she knows. She navigates on an IPad better than her father and I. She loves puzzles, colouring and Lego. She loves imaginary play.
This is why I love being a mom.
Our lives are complicated. Our lives are busy. We take care of our children the best we know how. We have made mistakes. We will continue to make mistakes. We will apologize to our children numerous times and I'm ok with this. I'm ok with admitting fault to my children. I thought about how much work it would be to have children but truly didn't fully think about all that it entails when we were planning on starting a family. Does this make sense? You know that it will be hard work. You know that you will be responsible for this new life, but there are also so many things that you don't think about. You never think about if it will be difficult to conceive. You don't think about if there will be complications. You don't think about if your baby will be diagnosed with Down syndrome. Autism. One less chromosome. Asperger's. You don't think about delivery and if there will be complications. We are sometimes faced with more challenges than others. We are sometimes faced with extra worries and concerns. What I have come to realize is that we are all in this together. We are all moms. We all love our children unconditionally. We would take a bullet for our children. We advocate. We teach our children to be the best that they can be. We try our best.
I feel that as moms, we compete with each other. We feel that we need to best Pinterest mom that we can be. We need to have it all together, all of the time. Our lives are perfect. Make sure that when you post pictures of your child's second birthday, you include the $200 piñata and the Perrier water that you strategically placed right beside the loot bags that are filled with $100 worth of goodies. My god, social media has turned you into a lunatic.
This year, I will focus on a few things. I am going to slow down. I am going to appreciate the days. I am going to wake up, thankful for my family. I am going to be present. I will continue to love my children with all of my heart. I will continue to provide a safe, happy and healthy home for my children. I will not compete with others. I will not get down on myself for making mistakes. I will forgive myself.
I am not one to make New Year's resolutions but I came up with a list of things that I will do this year and I hope that some of you will join me.
1) Meditate - now when I say meditate, I am not saying that you need to sit on a fluffy cushion, palms up, make humming noises. Meditation comes in many forms. Alone time to gather your thoughts.
2) Don't worry about what others think of you. You are you and you are amazing.
3) Do things that you have wanted to do. Stop putting things off. You want to go kayaking? Do it! You want to take a yoga class? Do it! You want to try naked hot yoga? I think you're weird.
4) Give yourself credit. Pump yourself up. Tell yourself that you are worth it. You ARE worth it!
5) Forgive, forget and move on. Forgiveness can be easy, but forgetting can be difficult. Let go of all that has been holding you back from being truly happy. Let yourself be happy.
6) Don't feel sorry for yourself. At some point, you need to move on and step up to the plate. Don't compare your situation to others. Don't hide in a corner because you had a shitty childhood. Do what you need to do to heal.
7) Have fun. Do things that make you laugh. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. Surround yourself with love and those who show you support, especially in times of need. Don't give into those who bring you down. Don't spend time with those who cause you heartache.
8) Don't email, text or send Facebook messages, when you should pick up the phone and call. If your good friend is celebrating a birthday, call them. You soon come to realize who your friends are.....there are texting friends, Facebook friends and those who call and make the time to see you.
9) If you make a mistake, admit it and move on. We are all allowed second chances. Give yourself a break.
10) Listen to your gut. Do what is right for you and your family. You need to be selfish sometimes and that's ok. Nobody else is in your position. Nobody has the right to judge somebody else's journey.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
3 January 2015
I attended your husband Dan's, celebration of life yesterday. As I walked into the auditorium, immediately, the beautiful picture of Dan caught my eye. You are instantly drawn to his smile and really awesome hair. It was an inviting and welcoming atmosphere for all of his friends and family. I knew from the moment I walked through the doors, we would be celebrating a man who has impacted the lives of so many. A man who made a difference in this world.
We sat near the front, I looked around and could feel all of the love, respect and admiration in the room. Dan had a lot of friends, whether they were family, business or drinking buddies. He was loved.
You asked Dan's voice coach to share songs that meant something to Dan and his family. They were all beautiful. I laughed. I cried. I knew that each song had a special place in all of your hearts. Hearing Dan's voice, that is something that you get to share with Audrey for a lifetime, she gets to continue to sing with her daddy night after night.
As I sat and listened to all of the speeches that were given by friends and family, I realized that Dan was somebody who people looked up to. He was the organizer. He was the person who kept up his friendships. He valued the importance of being a loyal friend, a loyal husband and a loyal son and brother. He lived his life to the fullest and made sure to include those who were most important to him.
The love that he had for his young daughter is a love that you know is unbreakable. I'm pretty sure that Audrey was Dan's hero. Dan was 40 and Audrey is 5. The bond and connection that they shared, is one that no other will be able to match. He will continue to take care of Audrey, he will watch over her and protect her. He will always be her daddy.
I have only ever met Dan a couple of times. It's unfortunate that I wasn't able to get to know this amazing man. Yesterday, while listening to others share their stories, I realized that I have missed out. He was a mentor, a best friend, a go-getter, a thoughtful and kind-hearted man. He was generous, stubborn, a perfectionist, a business man, a son, a reliable and trustworthy friend. The qualities that Dan possessed, were qualities that most of us work on all of our lives, but don't always acquire. He was one of a kind.
My words to you my friend.
Your journey ahead will be difficult. You lost your partner, your lover, your best friend. You are left with raising your beautiful daughter, but this will be what allows you to heal. Audrey will keep you grounded. Audrey will still want to play, dance and go places. She will force you to be present. This is the time where people return to their lives, while you sit and try to find the reason, why cancer took your husband's life. I don't always understand why God calls some home earlier then others. Always remember that Dan will be with you forever, in your heart, in your dreams. He will watch over you and your family.
You will heal. You will find the strength to move on but you will hold all of the memories and cherished moments close to your heart.
Talk about Dan, share stories with others. Keep his memory alive. Let your friends and family support you. Lean on others. Cry when you need to cry. Get mad when you feel anger. For most, what you are experiencing, is not our reality. We don't know what it is like to lose a spouse at a very young age. It's sometimes tough coming up with the right words to comfort you, but remember that you have an extensive support system that surrounds you and will always be there for you. You will find strength within yourself that you didn't know existed. You will find courage within yourself that you didn't know existed. You provided your husband with a loving and caring home, filled with laughs, support and family values. Dan is proud of you Renée.
"...the most important thing is, even if we're apart....
I'll always be with you." - A.A. Milne
1 January 2015
A Look Back On 2014!
New Year's 2013
Our first donations for the baskets
Mom and dad think that the bear pictures are coming to an end
Working so hard
My first love
Mom walked away
Just one more month
EEG - I loved it
My first love
My mom is on a mission
Brinley's second birthday
Funky sock day
Getting rid of the soothers - it was working out well
What is this white stuff?
No more night oxygen - April/14
My second love - Disneyland - April/14
Sometimes you need to eat ice cream for breakfast
I'm always happy ;)
Matching pyjamas :)
My best friend
A fun vacation to Radium
Dad got a speeding ticket and mom laughed....hysterically!
Adele's first birthday
Brinley became a Jedi Warrior
Sort of learnt how to ride a bike
I have a sense of humour
Making a difference
My second love and forever love
My second Halloween
Stronger and working so hard
Music Therapy has been one of our best decisions for the girls
Our baskets have grown :)
I'm not too sure....
Thank you to all of our friends and family for the love and support over the past year. We are blessed, thankful and grateful. It has been a great year for our family. We have delivered 12 welcome baskets to families who have a baby born with Down syndrome. We have received donations from all over the world. Thank you! We have been featured on Global News and in several magazines. We have done presentations at our local elementary school and we were recently asked to submit photos of both girls to a major clothing company who is taking part in Changing the Face of Beauty. It's been a busy and wonderful year. Our goal is not fame, our goal is to get the word out, to educate, advocate and bring some comfort and joy to families. If you would like to donate or if you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email -
firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact me through Adele's Over the Rainbow Baskets - Down syndrome LOVIN
Have a wonderful 2015! We are looking forward to making an even bigger difference in the year to come. Stay tuned! :)
The Collins Family xo