Saturday, June 20, 2009


For all the squabbling over toys that happens between the Dudes, I'm proud to say that teamwork is a concept that they understand and display with great regularity.

Like two days ago, I found myself in a house way too quiet not to take notice. I went to investigate what the boys were up to and discovered that Little Dude had figured out how to work the double locks on the sliding doors. He let not only himself out, but also his younger brother. I found my two little escapees happily playing in the backyard by the sandbox. I laughed out loud when I saw them because, even in their rush to get outside on the patio that was still very wet from a recent rainfall, they remembered to put their boots on. It is usually LittleR Dude who insists on wearing shoes before going out so he, no doubt, convinced his older brother to wear their boots, bringing them to him, as he often does.

Or, yesterday, the boys were working on a puzzle together. I watched quietly as Little Dude handed a puzzle piece, one at a time, to LittleR Dude who then put it in the correct spot. I did a double-take. Yes, in fact, it was my 21-month-old completing the 15-piece puzzle and my 3-year-old playing the assistant.

Folding the laundry was a family affair for awhile. Little Dude just loved it and got so great at folding the face and hand towels that ... well, he lost interest eventually. These days it's LittleR Dude who comes running when I announce it's folding time. He insists on taking the towels out of the basket, crumpling them up in a ball and handing them to me to be put in the 'folded' pile.

As for yard work, the boys are all over it. They are out there, mowing the lawn with the Good Man every time.

Teamwork is a lovely, lovely thing.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Even 3 years and 3 months after giving birth to my first child, I'm still overwhelmed by the intensity of the guilt I feel when things go amiss with the boys.

I remember feeling like the worst mommy in the world the first time Little Dude scratched his face. I flogged myself with accusing questions. How could I have allowed his nails to grow so long? How is it that I missed filing down that jagged nail? Looking at his face made me wince with guilt. His marred cheek and nose were evidence of my nail-clipping inadequacies.

Then the inevitable happened. The boys began to venture off the floor. As they tried to master walking, running and climbing the stairs, their previously unflawed bodies soon showed the scrapes and bruises suffered from their new-found mobility.

Later more permanent marks of their misadventures began to taunt me. Like the scar above Little Dude's eye. A reminder of a game of chase that went wrong and the 6 stitches it took to close up his wound. Or the much bigger scar on LittleR Dude's chest. A token of having to hold my then 10-month-old down while the hospital doctor attempted to cut an infected cyst away and, later, watching him succumb to the general anaesthesia before having the remainder of the cyst surgically removed.

No book or person could have prepared me for the overwhelming sense of guilt and inadequacy that I sometimes feel raising two active little boys through the bumps and hiccups of life. In a job where your main marker of success is the happiness and well-being of your child, these feelings seem an inescapable part of motherhood. It's unlike any other job I've held where less-than-pleasant situations can be controlled, managed or avoided. Jobs where I thrived and felt competent. Where the decisions I made did not impact the physical or mental heath of two young children.

Two nights ago as I sat on a hospital bed with my arms wrapped around Little Dude holding an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth, I was reminded again of my inability to protect my children from all injury, sickness or harm. I stroked his hair watching his chest rise and fall far more deeply and rapidly than I had ever seen or would care to see again. He seemed to struggle with each breath and I struggled with my emotions and feelings of helplessness.

I recreated the events of the day trying to figure out what signs I missed that could have prevented this hospital visit. He had been coughing but was in great spirits. He begged me not to take him to nursery school. He wanted to play outside instead. I complied. It was too beautiful a day to spend inside. He had been pestering me to set up the blow-up pool for several days now. I gave in to that too.

That same night my 3-year-old was reduced to whimpering in his bed. I climbed in with him to give him comfort. He was wheezing, a sound that was foreign to me until then. It frightened me.

It's raining outside today. Little Dude is talking to himself, playing with his train set on the floor while his younger brother is pulling pieces of play-doh apart with his little fingers. All is back as they were. There are no battle scars to mark our latest trip to the hospital. Still, today, I am reminded of my young boys' fragility. And that sometimes, all I can do is watch them breathe and hope that it is not the last time I see this familiar heaving. The steady rise and fall signifying life.

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After returning from our two-week long family trip, I had intended to restart my blog on a happy note by celebrating our near-perfect vacation. I will have to save that for another day, I think. Here is one of my favourite photos of our trip just in case I don't get to writing that blog.