Posts By: Guest Blogger

Halloween a Love/Hate Relationship?

By Lisa Van Meeteren

If Halloween and I were in a relationship we’d probably need counselling. That’s because while I can get into the Halloween spirit like anyone else, helping my kids come up with Halloween costume ideas and putting up Halloween decorations there are still parts of it that I don’t like and things about it that confuse me…I told you it’s complicated. Read on to find out what I love, what I like, things I’m not crazy about and things that confuse me, to see if you can relate.

These are a few of my favourite things…

What I love:

Halloween memories:

Halloween was the first time my husband told me he loved me when we were dating. And FYI he was dressed like a priest and I was wearing a Catholic school girl uniform. I know. That’s why it took me a week to say it back. I wanted to make sure he loved me. Not the fantasy…

Being a kid and dragging a pillowcase behind me full of candy and just as I felt like my legs couldn’t go one step further, my Dad would lift me up and carry me on his shoulders, pillowcase and all.

Sharing that same candy with my best friend who wasn’t allowed to go out for Halloween.

Making new memories:

Watching my kids get dressed in their costumes, decorate and get excited.

What I like:

Cobwebs in your house become homemade Halloween decorations (I think I heard this on T.V, and realized that yes there are a lot of decorations in my house.)

A bad hair day becomes a good hair day-if I wake up looking like road kill I can just call it a costume!

Pumpkin seeds- I love these suckers roasted with some sea salt! It almost makes pulling out the goopy strain pulp worth it.

Watching other people carve pumpkins- or better yet watching as my husband tries to use one of those pumpkin carving stencils and not lose his patience. I know it’s a bit sadistic but hey it’s Halloween!

Halloween Horrors! What I don’t like:

Dressing up. I know. Boo me. It always makes me feel silly. The odd thing is I like acting and don’t mind donning a costume on stage but in real life no thanks. Even as a kid my costumes were lame. Cow girl anyone (yes it’s jeans a scarf and a hat-about how far I was willing go in order to get candy.) I am an expert at easy Halloween costumes. One year when my daughter was a toddler and didn’t want to put on her costume, I pulled a robe on over her jammies, and tossed a roller in her hair and let her just got to one house.

Me! Or at least the person that takes over my body as I try to get the kids ready on Halloween night. That person runs around like a headless chicken searching through the freezer for hot dogs or pizza or some other nutritionally defunct fare that can be ready in ten minutes and gobbled down in five while simultaneously searching for missing parts of costumes. That person looks like someone from the night of the living dead with wild eyes, that bug out, yelling, “Hurry Up!” every five minutes in a voice so high that it alerts the dogs in the neighbourhood and generally acts like her kids are going to be late for their stage debut on Broadway.

Rude kids or kids that look like they could shop at the LCBO and not get carded. How come there are still teenagers who look like they are old enough to sport mustaches ringing my bell and asking me for candy at 9:30?  Half of them have jobs and probably make more than I do. Go home. Go to a party. Leave me alone.

Candy fights. No I don’t mean we throw chocolate bars at each other. (Hmmm date night?) I mean getting asked every day by my kids if they can have a candy in their lunch like other kids, me saying no, them whining…you get the picture.

Sneaking candy. Not the kids. ME!! I tell myself every year…thou shalt not eat a bowl of mini-chocolate bars just like thou wouldn’t eat more than one regular chocolate bar at a time. Those little suckers are dangerous. Logically I know that just because they are the mini version doesn’t mean I should sit down to a whole bowl of them- I mean pizza pockets are the small version of pizza but I wouldn’t scarf down an entire box at one sitting.

So that’s it my dysfunctional love/hate relationship with Halloween. The good, the bad, and the mini chocolate bar bad…

Happy Halloween! Are there also some things that make you anti-Halloween? What are some things you love, like, or dislike? Do you have any special Halloween memories you’d like to share?

 

About the Author

Lisa Van Meeteren is the mother of two children, ages 5 and 9. She works as a copywriter and has just completed a novel!

Should You Co-Sleep…with your partner?!

By Lisa Van Meeteren

 

I haven’t had a REM cycle since 2002.

Or at least it certainly feels that way. It’s no coincidence that it’s also the year I got married. While many debate about whether or not to co-sleep with their children-that was never a consideration in our household. I have enough trouble getting quality zzz’s without inviting another human being into my bed, as it is already occupied, quite fully by another. Yes, the love of my life, sigh.

When I first began to share my bed with my husband, (earmuffs, Mom) I didn’t mind his “quirky” habits. Everything he did, including throwing his legs on top of me until I dreamt I was in a fifty car pile-up on the QEW and snuggling me until I dreamt I was being “heimliched ,” was a part of his charm. And he didn’t seem to mind that I stretched out like a giant starfish every night. As these sleep habits became less charming we adapted, and invested in a little thing I like to call, the marriage saver, otherwise known as a king bed. Problem solved. Sleep once again became a reality, until…children. And we all know how that goes, so once again sleep deprivation ruled my life, and I obsessed over sleep like some dieters obsess over cheeseburgers, refusing to give into the temptation of sleeping pills in case I was needed.

Then once my kids grew a little older and when they managed to stay healthy, guess what? I still couldn’t sleep. After years of training myself to remain half alert in case a baby, toddler, or sick child needed me, I slept on half alert, like I was taking a light nap. Which meant I heard- EVERYTHING. Every timbre of every snore my husband orchestrated, every slurp, bodily function and whistle annoyed me. I needed a solution so I bought marriage saver #2-earplugs. And it worked. Every night I shoved those babies into my eardrums so hard that I probably have more hearing damage than your average groupie. And not only did I not hear all of my husband’s snoring as an added bonus I didn’t hear the kids the first time they cried either. This meant for the first time since their birth, my husband woke up before I did and attended to them!

So all was good in the universe was again, until….my husband took up night running. I don’t mean he left the house and went jogging, I mean in bed in his dreams. Every night he would run marathons in his sleep his legs whirling around like electric mixers jiggling me awake the second I started to dream. (Which explained how he looked so trim and why the circles under my eyes would make any nocturnal trash loving beast, envious. Yes, raccoons.)

Once again I began missing my beloved REM cycle. I started to think that maybe Victorian couples were on to something in the days of candlelight and separate bed chambers with a “nookie” door. Sounds romantic to me. Imagine this. After a blessed night’s sleep, you awaken refreshed and greet your mate all groomed and ready to go maintaining illusions of grandeur. I could do that. There’s something enticing about my husband not witnessing me with my mouth guard, earplugs, and eye mask, all part of my womb-like and completely unsexy sleep ritual. And just when this was on the forefront of my mind, that’s when I saw it on TV, dangled in front of me like a beacon of hope.

“Many couples are choosing to have two master bedrooms now,” a designer said. He went on to talk about other bedroom ideas, including the new trend of homes being built with two master bedrooms, a preference of many busy modern day couples who are making the quality of their sleep a priority. I wondered…was this solution #3?

So we tried it. Not on purpose at first. My husband had a cold, and his snoring was an operatic assault to the senses, breaking all sound barriers, including my earplugs, and the pillow I shoved over my head. I kept kicking him, (it started out like a love tap, a gentle, ‘hey, you’re snoring’ and it turned into a ninja- like assault) until he finally woke up and said, “I need to get some sleep!” Ditto pal!

He plodded off to the guest room and for a moment I languished like a child making snow angels stretching out as far as I could go. Then I began to feel guilty. He was the one who was sick. I should have left. I didn’t get much sleep that night. The next night he automatically went to the guest room saying that he wanted me to have a good night’s sleep and I did, sort of. His cold improved but the following night he remained in the guest room and it felt odd. Like we were fighting, though we weren’t.

And it hit me. I missed sharing a bed with him. I missed a friendly tap on the shoulder when I’m grinding my teeth, or a sleepy back rub to calm me down. I missed spontaneous morning cuddles that sometimes led to something more. So I googled restless leg syndrome cures, gave him magnesium (solution #4) and invited him back into our bed where he belonged. I knew I was taking a gamble on whether or not I would get a REM cycle but felt like it was better than gambling with the intimacy of our marriage. So, my take on co-sleeping with my partner? I’m all in. Gassiness, snoring, kicking, cuddles, comfort and closeness- in.

Would you consider the nouveau bedroom ideas that include couples who sleep in separate beds in order to get a quality night’s sleep? Do you have some marriage advice or solutions you’ve come up with to overcome insomnia and sleep deprivation?

 

About the Author

Lisa Van Meeteren is the mother of two children, ages 5 and 9. She works as a copywriter and has just completed a novel!

 

My Battle with Baby Bonding

By Lisa Van Meeteren

Preparing for a baby is somewhat like preparing for all out warfare. Battle plans are drawn, forces assembled, baby names are chosen. There is a lot to do to prepare for the imminent invasion of this little person coming into your life for the first time, dropping missiles, assaulting your senses with cries that resemble an air siren.

By the time the battle (giving birth) is upon you, you are exhausted but armed and ready. Or so I thought…here was my battle plan.

Diapering: I practised diapering my old cabbage patch doll. I swaddled that thing, dressed it, and fretted over how long it actually took me to put a diaper on the thing that stayed on.

Prenatal classes:  I took Lamaze classes to prepare for the birth, learned that tennis balls are apparently a great tool for dealing with back pain during labour and established boundaries with my husband such as, “thou shalt never touch my face during contractions.” The films were a little graphic but not as graphic as the instructor warning us about taking care of business before hand because you will likely “go” like a farm animal during delivery. This thought horrified me more than the birth itself.

Breast feeding: I took classes to learn to feed my baby, where I learned that after two months the baby will stop pooping for a week and that this was normal. I gazed around the room at women with swollen bellies nodding and smiling, and mimicked them. I wasn’t going to be the only one in the room freaked out by this.

Equipment: I bought baby clothes first, then researched strollers, car seats, the safest crib bedding, the best breast pump, the most practical diaper bags… googling reviews, investigating prices and then hitting the stores to try them out.

There. I was ready and prepared for the battle of birth. I was terrified and excited at the same time similar to someone about to dive headfirst out of a plane.

When the big day arrived, I had back labour the whole time, and I’m sorry but the tennis ball is a crock of you-know-what. It did nothing to ease my fiery insistent back pain. I wanted to get all McEnroe and shove that tennis ball somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine if you know what I mean. I bounced on an exercise ball, lamented how much induced labour hurt and then 22 hours later I had a baby!

And then something happened; something that no class could have taught me or prepared me for. I didn’t fall in love with my baby. You know what I’m talking about, that instant adoration for your child the second it’s plopped onto your stomach all slippery and wet, that movie moment you dream about where you’re laughing and crying at the same time, forgetting the pain and exhaustion as you look at your miracle? Yeah, well…never happened.

I let her latch on right on after birth just as the breast feeding classes taught me because it was supposed to be good for bonding. But still I just felt tired, and a little sorry for this creature who looked the same way. But she was exhausted and being held and cuddled and fed, I’d just gone through battle and I was expected to perform. Perhaps if my baby emerged with a towel for her mother’s sweaty brow, a cup of tea and a warm chocolate chip cookie as a peace offering, then we would have bonded instantly. I was horrified that I didn’t feel the way I should. What was wrong with me? Then I took a step back and thought maybe this is like all relationships, you have to start out getting to know the person first. I looked down at her wrinkled face, searching for traces of myself but only saw my husband. This was good because I certainly loved him. Okay, this would work.

After we came home I worked hard for my daughter, just like all moms do for their newborns. I fed her. I burped her, I changed her. I fed her. I burped, her I changed her, again. Repeat. But she still didn’t feel like my baby. I kept waiting for the doorbell to ring and someone to say, “Okay we’ll take her now, you obviously don’t deserve her.”

I tried to convince myself it was the lack of sleep. My daughter had terrible colic and I literally spent half the night feeding her and the other half trying to get her to burp so that she wouldn’t wake screaming with a sore belly. I thought if I could sleep then I would feel more loving, because let’s face it after a few weeks without sleep, it’s tough to love anything.

I was exhausted, depressed and discouraged. So my husband and I took a vacation. Yes, you heard me right. How does one take a vacation with a four month old you ask? I booked it before she was born as part of my battle planning. I knew that I wouldn’t want to leave her after she was born but that I would need it to get me through the winter.  I put my breast pump to work until I had a freezer full of breast milk, and left her in the capable hands of my mother. Not to say I didn’t feel guilty. I did. The night before we left I cried myself to sleep, saying I was a horrible mother, but I knew I needed to go. Perhaps a little sleep and being away from my baby would make me appreciate her more.

When we arrived at the beach, my worries ebbed away with the tide. I became myself again, the person I was before miscarriage, infertility, pregnancy and motherhood. A woman in a bikini sharing some much needed alone time with her husband. I felt happy again. And I felt guilty for being happy. It didn’t help that every time we saw a baby my husband would point to it and say, “Ah, look. How old do you think he/she is?” Followed by a sad look and, “I miss her.” Every baby he saw was smiling and cooing and each one I saw was screaming while it’s poor harried mother tried to walk the beach with a look on her face not unlike a titanic survivor.

“Do you miss her?” My husband asked me.

“Who?” I asked.

His eyes widened. “The baby!”

“Oh, her, no not yet…I’m good.”

Every day he asked me and every day I said the same thing. As the plane docked in Toronto all I felt was disappointment. I didn’t want to be home. When I was reunited with my colicky bundle of joy all l felt was stuck. After a blessed break where I’d had sleep, and uninterrupted conversations I didn’t feel renewed, I felt like I was being tossed back into shark infested waters. My mother returned to her home, an hour and a half away, my husband returned to his long work hours, and I was alone. I wasn’t experiencing any of the joys of motherhood. I had a healthy baby, colicky and miserable, but still healthy so why wasn’t I grateful?

Then it hit me. Babies are selfish. Yes, I said it. They take and take. They take your sleep, your breast milk, your figure, your time, your energy and your brain power. It’s hard to love someone that is always taking and never giving. In any other relationship this would be considered downright dysfunctional!

So there you have it, my confession. As much as I prepared for all the possibilities of birth not bonding with my baby right away wasn’t one of them. I am happy to say that when my daughter was five months old our relationship became a two way street and it finally happened. I was 100% truly madly in love with my baby. For me I guess love is a two way street. As soon as my daughter showed her love by smiling, cooing and saying mama, it was easy for me to give her mine.

You can’t predict when you’re going to fall in love with your baby. For some it is the moment they conceive, for others it is the first time they hold their bundle in their arms and for others, like me, it takes time. So if you’re having trouble feeling what you think you should for your baby, I’m here to say don’t worry. It will happen when it’s meant to, and it is one love that is definitely worth the wait.

Did you or someone you know have difficulty bonding with baby? How long did it take you to fall in love with your bundle? How did you overcome your bonding obstacles and develop secure attachment?

 

About the Author

Lisa Van Meeteren is the mother of two children, ages 5 and 9. She works as a copywriter and has just completed a novel!

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