Wednesday, 30 October 2013

in the last days of mat leave

There is a little bit of sadness this week as I do things in my year-long routine for the last time.  There is no regret, just sadness that this amazing year is coming to a close. 

I teared up today as I put Liam back into his car seat after our last outing together.  Every Wednesday for this past year, I have gathered up both kids and all their stuff and taken them on an adventure.  Sometimes it’s to the soul sucking indoor playground, but most of the time it’s been some sort of outdoor adventure.  “That’s it, Liam,” I said today as we got into the truck and drove away.  He had a little pout on his face and it broke my heart a little bit to think that at the same time a week from now I will be in some sort of office attire in a cubicle while he is in daycare. 

today was our last Wednesday adventure all together, out and about the town
almost every Wednesday included my good friend and her kids. here we are last week on our last big group adventure

On Monday I ran for the last time with Alex in the stroller. Every Monday for 9 months we have run the same route. When I started in January I could only run for 4 minutes at a time and did about 6k.  Now we do a little over 10k in under an hour.  As usual he napped and I listened to the rhythm of my footsteps plodding along the galloping goose and practiced just being in this beautiful moment. It was sunny and 15 degrees. People paddling kayaks, walking dogs, all the industrial activity across the inlet going full speed. Yes, this was just our morning jog but the fact that we did it in rain, wind storms, 30 degree heat, without fail on Monday mornings made it meaningful this last time.  

Tuesday was my last class of BDHQ’s baby bootcamp.  What an odd feeling to know this is it. Of course I will continue to work out and stay in touch with the friends I have made there but the breaking of a comfortable, healthy habit is kind of hard. 

These last three days have defined what my mat leave was all about – being really disciplined about doing something with the boys outside every day, learning to take care of myself as much as I took care of a new little life, bonding with my 3-year-old and meeting him on his active terms, and always challenging myself to ensure the routine didn’t get mundane, whether that was running faster or longer, finding a new adventure on which to take the boys, or whatever made sense to get better.
 I am thinking about why this year was so amazing, and in short, it’s because I worked hard to make it and perceive it that way.  I don’t think happiness happens to a person; you work on having an attitude that makes good thing happen in your life and deals effectively with the bad things that come your way. On my first maternity leave I returned to school to finish my masters when Liam was 4 months old.  I basically just survived—it was all about getting him down for a nap so I could study or finish an assignment.  In retrospect, it was not a healthy situation at all.  This time around I gave myself a major attitude adjustment.  I feel like a different person because of it.  I decided this year that I want to live my life with integrity and give out the most positive energy I can to others. I can get really wrapped up in achieving goals, and come across as really serious, sometimes a bit too judgemental and critical of others and myself.  I started thinking about how I could look for the best in everyone I met. How I could leave them better off when we parted ways. I decided to live in the present moment, not live for some future time (when I’d be thinner, happier, less tired, etc.).  I chose to be thankful for being tired, because it meant that I had children in the first place, and that I was able to take care of them.  I learned that when you intentionally set about your positive attitude, you acquire one.
Here is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to Alex shortly after he was born.  It sums up how I feel about bringing my boys into the world and why it is so hard to tear yourself away from them a year later.

"We found out through an ultrasound you were definitely a boy. I thought, 'Ok, I will be living with 3 boys for the rest of my life and I better get on board with being the only girl in the house from now on!'  But the moment you were born and they handed you to me, I loved you so fiercely I could not imagine having just had any other child but you. I have my two beautiful and precious sons and your dad, and that’s all I need. You were perfect, and those were my first words after you were born. The moment your baby is born is what your dad and I call one of the 'heaviest' moments in a person’s life—heavy with emotions like joy, excitement, relief, fear, curiosity... Alex, I would do all of this all over again to have you. I really believe God picked you to belong to us and I wouldn’t want it any other way.   My heart grew a bit bigger the day you were born. I can only imagine what we are going to go through together on life’s journey, and whatever it brings, and whenever you are reading this, please know that I have loved you since literally day one!"

And so ends this chapter.  But like all things it means a beginning of something else, and I am excited to see what next week brings.

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