Posts Tagged: grandparents

The Birth of a Superstar

In celebration of Mabel’s birthday, Julie Cole reflects on a birthday post about one of her favourite people – her very special Aunt Joan. Do you celebrate someone special in your family?

50 years ago my Aunt Joan was born. Hers has not been an average life. She arrived prematurely, possibly having an unfortunate run-in with the umbilical cord on the way out. Regardless of the cause, she has had a special place in our family because she did not develop in a typical manner.

From all accounts, it was not easy in those early years. The doctors made grim predictions about Joan’s future based on what they thought her IQ was. Grandma once threw a social worker out of her house for suggesting that Joan should be removed from the family and raised elsewhere.

She was the seventh born in a big Irish family and everyone rallied around their baby Joan, sharing feeding responsibilities and surrounding her with love and support. Joan was a part of that family and although it was a family forever changed, from their enlightened perspective, they were better for it. To this very day she lives with my grandparents who are in their mid-nineties.

Joan is a remarkable person. Embraced by a supportive school and staff, she has spent the last 25 years working as a classroom helper in a centre for children with special needs and who are medically fragile. Joan has a special place at Mabel’s Labels as well. She helps out when brochures need to be stickered, she decorates posters and cards for special events and contributes her famous brownies for staff functions. Most of all, she is our biggest fan. If you’ve ever been on a city bus and had the woman next to you ask if you have Mabel’s Labels, chances are it was Aunt Joan. She hands out her Mabel’s Labels business card to anyone and everyone – a business card which appropriately lists her job title as “Superstar”.

To get the full picture of the positive impact Joan has on those around her, let me tell you how her 50th birthday was celebrated:

- The school board threw a surprise party for her. 50 staff members and retired staff were in attendance to celebrate;
- Our family had a surprise dance party/open house. More people than I could count were in attendance;
- Of those people at the dance party, a ridiculous number of us were wearing t-shirts featuring Joan’s picture and the words ‘Joan is a Superstar’;
- Even the babies in the family got involved. They all wore custom-made shirts that said “Great-Aunt Joan is a Superstar”.

I know when we all have babies we want them to be perfect in every way. However, Joan has taught me that sometimes it’s only when they are not “perfect” that they are able to become Superstars.

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

Good mother.

My Mom is one of those Moms.

I got out of bed the other morning at the sound of my 4-year-old trotting down the hallway. When I turned the corner to find her, I nearly bumped into my Mom. She had stayed overnight to help me with the girls while my husband had to work a late night.

This is what my Mom does. She helps me.

I went to get my daughter her cereal. “I think I hear Lauren. I’ll go get her,” Mom says as she walks towards my two-year-old’s room.

When they come out to greet us, Lauren is clinging to my Mom like a baby monkey. She’s tired and sleepy-eyed and not ready to take on the day yet. She wants a snuggle with the woman she has bonded so closely with already.

And why wouldn’t she? Grandma is always here when I need her. Grandma’s always there for the girls, too.

I smile at them and think about all the times Mom’s been there for me.

Running her fingers through my hair when I was home sick with a cold. Writing simple notes and hiding them in my lunch bag for school. Attending every single performance of every single dance recital I was in. (Not just one showing per year – but all 4 shows that were all. the. exact. same.) Telling me I looked nice before I left for school. Smiling like the best thing had ever happened to her, just because I walked into a restaurant to greet her for dinner. Reminding me over and over again that I’m a good mother. Showing up at my house in her pajamas for a pj day with my daughters. Helping me with the children whenever I need them. No matter what.

“Why don’t you go get ready and I’ll feed the girls?” she asks.

I snap out of my daydream and go about my morning. I am happy knowing I don’t have to rush. I won’t start the day feeling tense.

We’re a long way away from my awkward, irritable teen years. When my eyes rolled almost daily at the thought of something – anything – she had done.

Now I know. I know the value of her love. Her patience. Her caring. I can understand why she felt the way she did. I know why she would smile at me like I was the best little human that ever existed to her.

I carry on with my day, relaxed and at ease.

And I am grateful. I am so, so grateful.

 

About the Author:

Heather Dixon is a copywriter at Mabel’s Labels, a smoothie aficionado, a runner, a wife and a Mom to two – soon to be three! – highly advanced little girls (according to her husband and her).

Why I Avoid Reading

 

I recently had the opportunity to read a book. As a busy, working mom of six, it was a rare occasion. We were at the cottage for a week and my kid had been nagging me to read her favourite novel, The Hunger Games. Surprisingly, I got really into it and had a hard time putting it down.

 

It’s difficult to be negative about reading. It is valuable to read to and with our children, and it is important that they see us read. I was raised by an avid reader. My dad read constantly and as soon as one book was done, he was on to the next. It was amazing in so many ways – he had so much knowledge to share and provided us with a home filled with beautiful books. We talked about books and Dad would spontaneously quote from novels, plays and poems whenever he had the chance. He had a love of words. Several of us kids went on to study literature at university.

 

While I was stuck into that book at the cottage, my kids would buzz around asking for snacks or wanting my attention. I found myself shooing them away saying “Let me just finish this chapter”, hoping they’d be distracted long enough so I could start the next one.

 

It reminded me of being a child and watching my dad read his books. There were many times he was reading when he really should have been engaging with us. Indeed, there were times it seemed his books were more important. Family game night often meant Mom playing with us, while Dad sat in the other room reading. There were times I thought this was selfish and maybe I was even a little jealous of his books.

 

Because reading is smart and noble, I think it’s a hobby that is not only forgiven, but praised. If my dad had been on his iPad or iPhone all that time, it would have been unacceptable. There are many times my kids have to occupy themselves because I’m working on my laptop. There are other times I’m distracted by other things. Do I think kids need undivided attention? Absolutely not. It’s good for kids to see parents work and relax. We want them to have the ability to entertain themselves. But it just got me wondering why certain activities are more forgivable than others. The effect is the same.

 

I kind of didn’t like who I became when I was so wrapped up in my book at the cottage. I think for the next while, I’ll stick mostly to reading with my kids because I get the sneaking suspicion that the day will soon come when I can do all the reading I want and I’ll wish I was being interrupted for a snack.

My DD dressed up as Katniss Everdeen.

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