Tag Archives: parenting

I lie to myself.

Week 30 – For a long time, I’ve fooled myself into thinking there are two types of mom’s in this world: career-oriented mom’s and stay-at-home mom’s.

To make matters worse, I’ve continually told myself that I would never be good at being a “stay-at-home” mom, and that I belonged in the career-oriented category.

I’m here to say – I’ve been lying to myself.

I’ve been killing myself trying to fit into this “career-oriented” mold.

I’ve been neglecting my home life, my family, my marriage, my kids, myself – and making it all okay. Because, let’s face it, I’m not cut out to be “that kind” of mom.

Enough is enough.

I am just a mom, struggling to find purpose, maintain order and provide security. A hugely daunting task, really. A task through which I am continually losing myself, over and over.

It is easy for me to find the validation I’m looking for – in my career. There is reward and satisfaction that comes along with working hard outside of the home – the amount of work I pour into it seems to pay off. No, it definitely doesn’t add anything to the paycheck, but it’s sustained my self-worth up until this point.

It’s not cutting it anymore. At the end of the day, I am coming home to a house full of half-empty cups, relationships needing more attention, matters half-dealt with demanding more time.

It’s like I’m slowly beginning to wake up.

My kids are getting older. The phase of toddler-dom that is all-consuming, exhausting and self-sacrificing, is coming to an end for me. Hindsight is arriving, sure to disappoint me as it always does.

In the moment, the choices I make always seem like the right ones. Why does hindsight always have to present itself after the fact? For once, it would be handy to have the information it brings – BEFOREHAND.

I foolishly thought that after preschool, once the job of parenting and educating my children became one shared with the public school system, things were going to get easier. Is it possible, as I look around at this mass chaos I am leaving behind every morning – switching my, “there is no way I can do this” mom hat, for my much-preferred, “teacher of the year” one, is it possible that my children are needing me now more than ever?

A really hard pill to swallow. Something’s gotta change…

Maybe I can start by eliminating this “career-oriented” vs. “stay-at-home” debate that has been playing on a loop in my head since I became a mom 11 years ago.

Be kind to yourself, moms.

The Evolution of the Date Night

Last night our big kids were both out having a sleepover. What did that mean for Caleb and I? Date night! 

Thinking back, it occurred to me how much the definition of “date night” has changed over time. Life sure is funny that way. 

Date Night Before Kids:

Anytime you get dressed up and get out of the house – dinner, movie, party…

Date Night After Baby:

Anytime you drop baby off with Grandma and Grandpa to get dressed up and go out – dinner, movie, party…

Date Night With Two Kids:

Anytime you drop the kids off with Grandma and Grandpa. Now, the date includes things like – getting groceries and running errands. You may start arranging a paid babysitter for those “special events” – the movies, dinners and parties (as they are all now planned well in advance). 

Date Night With Two Kids and Twins:

Anytime the big kids are out of the house. 

This was us last night. What did we do? Went for a walk with the babies, stopped at Subway for dinner (because why would we cook for just the two of us?), came home. We put the twins to bed, poured a glass of wine, queued up Netflix (more specifically, House of Cards), and cuddled on the couch with a blanket, leaving our phones upstairs. 

We still have amazing people around us who will take all four of our kids (no paid sitters yet), so don’t get me wrong, we still have our specially “planned-ahead-of-time” dates; those special events – usually revolving around a birthday, anniversary, or something work-related. But it’s just… different.

I know date nights will continue to change as our children inevitably grow – into adolescents… and then teenagers (yikes). 

*Envisioned Date Nights with Teenagers:

I’m reminded of the television sitcom, “The Middle.” If you haven’t watched it, you should. I can’t help but relate to the mom’s character. It’s great comic relief, poking fun of the not-so-fun parts of being a middle-class parent. 

In one episode, it’s Valentines Day and the parents decide to go out for dinner (their kids all have plans of their own). In one way or another, each of their kids need them for something and by the end of the episode they’re sitting in the restaurant along with their 3 children – date night turned family night. And they realize – they wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Funny, life is. Looking back on how our date nights have changed, I only wish I could have had the perspective I have now, in those moments back then. I suppose I feel this way about everything. 

If only I could have the perspective on life that I will have when I’ve reached my 80s, granted I get to see them. If only I could have that perspective NOW. How differently I’m sure I would be living my life… my everyday. I’ll never be able to say it enough: Life is funny. 

We Made It.

A year ago today, I was laying in a hospital bed with my arms wrapped around my belly. The contractions were coming every 10 minutes and I knew today would be the day. I was unusually calm. I had seen enough moms roll through the Antepartum Unit, and I remember that feeling of panic that would overtake the room as their babies would come too soon. I had spoken to the neonatologists – the experts, who went through with me all that it would mean for my babies to be born at this time – all that they would need to survive. No expectations were given, only odds, as these babies all have a mind of their own. A lot of unknown. But, here I was, calm. As I hugged my belly, I leaned down and told them, “if you’re ready to meet me… I’m all in.” I knew my body was no longer the place for them. They needed more, something I couldn’t give.

Fast forward to today, and here we are, a family of 6. As I write this, my babies are tucked up in their beds, having their morning naps. Completely content and asleep, they are telling me they are happy, and have everything they need. There is nothing more comforting in this world. It has been a wild ride to say the least, but as I look back, I know how blessed we have been through the whole thing.

The missing pieces of our family’s puzzle have arrived, and they’ve let us know it.

Our H – born at 1:35pm on this day last year, weighing only 2 lbs. 15 oz.


Our H – now, weighing 15 lbs. 4 oz.


H is a firecracker. With piercing blue eyes and 4 adorable teeth, he’s a heart-melter. Although, the last thing he feels the need to be, is a heart-melter. Our busiest baby, he is much too busy to snuggle up and flirt – he’d much rather flash you a toothy-smile from across the room. He’s always on a mission, places to go people to climb. Our explorer, Gigi calls him, out to conquer the world. He has been meeting his milestones all ahead of schedule, and before his brother – something we weren’t sure would happen after his PVL diagnosis (see article here: Periventricular Leukomalacia). This is still something “on the table”, to see how or if it will affect him, and he will be followed closely until about age 3. But, there’s no arguing, he’s perfect.

Our Fin – born at 1:45 pm on this day last year, weighing 3 lbs. 7 oz.


Our Fin – now, weighing 14 lbs. 12 oz.


Fin is our soft-hearted soul. Taken along for the ride after H’s water broke, we maintain that Fin would have been much happier staying inside my belly for as long as he could. “The serious one”, he has heart-wrenching hazel eyes, and the same 4 teeth as his brother (although, his smiles are still “gummier” than his brothers… gotta love them gummy smiles). He is mama’s boy – and I’m so thankful for that. Our resident “ham”, he will stare at you – waiting for eye contact, and then proceed to either play peekaboo or tilt his head to the side in an attempt to “look cute”… anything he can do to get you to smile. The bulk of his first year has been spent by my side, perfectly content to be within my line of sight, with a hand on my knee or an arms length away. It’s been just recently he’s started venturing out with his brother, the two of them becoming quite the pair – if Fin’s not with me, he’s with H.

My boys

Today, I’m a mom of 1 year old twin boys… a mom of 4 beautiful children. Wow. How lucky am I?

Parenting is the strangest phenomenon. To feel THIS much love for something … it’s overwhelming… and to feel THIS much love for 4 somethings – it’s unreal. I have to pinch myself everyday. Being a mom has been the biggest challenge of my life. But I can’t think of a challenge more  rewarding than this. If I’m going to sacrifice anything in this life, let it be for them, my kids. Then I know it will be worth it.

I am so thankful to have been chosen to be the mother of these two amazing boys. They have taught me so much about strength, perseverance, sacrifice and love in SUCH a short year. I am anxious and excited to see what’s in store for them next, hopeful to be along for the ride for as long as I am able.

Here’s a song that I heard on the radio the other day, and basically burst into tears as I instantly pinned it to my love for my kids… It sums up everything that I feel about them. As a mama, we choose to put our kids first, whether we realize it or not, it’s actually a choice. A choice I would make any day of the week. I’m NOT perfect and my kids will know this. But I’m here, looking to learn from my mistakes. I know I’m unprepared for what the future holds, but I’m willing to take it as it comes in the best way that I can. When my children think of me when they’re all grown up with children of their own – whether I’m around or not – I want them to think of love. Above all else, I want to leave a “lifelong love letter” to my kids.. and not just the hug/kiss, tell them I love them kind of love… the hard kind – the doing what’s best for them as much as it hurts me kind of love.

Happy birthday my smart boys!

I love you more than you or I will EVER be able to understand!

Want to read our story from the beginning? Start here: pProm with Twins

Let me persuade you to follow my example and take a turn about the room – I assure you it’s very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude. – Pride and Prejudice

I do not like Mondays. Mondays are my LEAST favourite days. After “relaxing” all weekend (and by relaxing I mean – only leaving the house when I want, not when I have to) you are thrown back into the weekly grind of it all. My kids are no exception. School days take a lot out of them and we all pay for it at the end of the day. As excited as I am to get them off the bus and hear all about their day, they are significantly less so. The short walk from the bus stop to the house is (3 days out of 5) spent mediating an argument or two… or five.

My saving grace? We’ve started a ritual before entering the house after school. When we are having a mood – feeling grumpy, sad, mad – we make a point of leaving that bad attitude outside. Me included. We think up the most elaborate, silly, exaggerated way possible for us to pull that attitude out of us and get rid of it forever. This includes, but is definitely not limited to, shaking it out of our hair, throwing it as far as we can, spitting it out, smashing it or stomping all over it. It’s done wonders (for me too – it’s amazing how much better I feel after jumping around and being silly). Our afternoons have been completely transformed. Does the attitude occasionally slip inside with us? Naturally. What do we do? I send them back out to get rid of it all over again.

Here’s hoping we all have a great week – week going not so great? Try to leave it outside.

Anxious Child – Anxious Parent

This weekend will be a big one for the Fricker household.

News Flash: Gigi is going on her first-ever friend sleepover. And I couldn’t be more terrified.

Worry Time

She’s slept away from home plenty of times – one of our closest friends has been taking her for fun sleepovers for as long as I can remember. But that is someone I trust, she trusts; a second mom.

Gigi is THRILLED. She has been counting down the days, the hours, the seconds, until this thing begins. Me? The panic is starting to set in. All of her closest friends from school will be there. She’s been telling me non-stop about all of the fun things they plan on doing. But, my mind is racing – what if? what if? what if? And this little girl… alone and afraid in the dark… is all I can see.

Gigi has endured enough for the little old soul she’s always been. Our transition to Calgary was surprisingly the hardest on her. A lot of insecurities have since surfaced and continue to do so.

It started with school. She never wanted to go. Her Kindergarten year – the kicker being, her mom was working right across the hall, and her brother, hanging out with a bunch of 2 year olds a couple of rooms over. Terrified eyes turned to tears, and she spent the bulk of her mornings trying to pretend to be “ok”.

Then came bedtime. And we quickly realized this was becoming a problem that wasn’t going to go away without a fight. If it was a school night, she would be afraid to fall asleep because she didn’t want to have to wake up and go to school. If there was a special event coming up, she would keep herself up afraid that she wouldn’t be able to fall asleep, and be too tired to enjoy the special day. If mom or dad had to go out at bedtime, she would worry we would never come back. If she couldn’t hear us downstairs as she slept upstairs, she would worry we had left her alone.

It definitely affected her socially. At playdates and birthday parties, she would panic at the thought of me leaving her side, bringing herself to tears. The worst part about it was that she knew she was different than her friends. She felt differently than they did, and she hated it. She just wanted to be like them.

In the beginning, I would say things like, “don’t worry Gigi,” and, “why are you so worried?!”. It drove me crazy. But I’ve learned not to ask those questions anymore and as impatient as I still feel about her worries, I will never say those words again.

We were at our wits end, with a professional’s phone number at my fingertips, when I came across this book – “What To Do When You Worry Too Much – A Kids Guide To Overcoming Anxiety” – by Dawn Huebner.

Everyday we would set aside time (15 minutes of strictly, “Worry Time”) and work through this book together. It opened my eyes to an anxiety-ridden world. Together, we turned her worries from these abstract, nonsensical thoughts into a Worry Monster that we were determined to shrink.

She’s learning to separate her worried thoughts from “the truth” and can pin them against each other to overcome her anxiety. We do a lot more asking – and a lot less telling. The questions have changed too… from “why?” to “what is worry telling you?”, “is it true?”, “is that really going to happen?”.

At school, she’s started taking the school bus. There is something about it that’s made everything easier. She needs to make the choice to walk away from us, rather than us walking away and leaving her. The bus driver is waiting for her to get on so they can move on to the next stop, she doesn’t have the luxury to dwell on her worries.

At bedtime, she’s started using the intercom on the phone to call us if she was ever concerned that we weren’t there (a safety behaviour that I’m a little worried could end up doing harm..).

Socially, we’re back at the sleepover. She is becoming a lot more confident when it comes to play dates and birthday parties, although she still rejects more invitations than I would like her to.

Up until now, we have been taking small steps. We are learning to expect these worried thoughts and are gearing up to deal with them head on. We’ve been lucky. We have only come CLOSE to looking into professional help, although I know that may be in the cards for us in the future- it will always stay on my radar.

This sleepover doesn’t seem in keeping with our “small steps”. It’s a leap, a bound even; one I’m not ready to take. But she sure seems to be… And after all, that’s what really matters…right?

Here’s hoping I can get through this sleepover without having to pull out any of Hailey’s worry-squashing strategies… for myself.

Update: After a lot of positive self-talk – she did it. She had a fabulous time – and I quote, “the best night of my life.”

I have not the pleasure of understanding you. – Pride and Prejudice

As a parent of four children (officially – I’ve counted them several times over. I assure you there is still four of them… as much as I keep pinching myself), you’d think I’d have it all figured out. Right? Maybe? Not really?… Not at all.

The most incredible thing about being a parent, is not in what you teach them, but in what they teach you. It is easy to compare them to each other, to yourself, to your siblings, to your parents… they have so-and-so’s eyes, but with such-and-such’s spirit… and I have no idea WHO he gets that HAIR from… it’s fun even – to guess who they will turn into as they grow old.

The amazing thing about it is that, ultimately, they will be like no one else, they will be them, an individual.. and that makes it so challenging.

Each one of my children needs me in a different way. Yes, yes, fundamentally they all need me the same. But, fundamentally, if every child needed their mother in the same way as another, there wouldn’t be an entire section of the book store devoted to parenting. There would be one book. And it would be easier (note: I did not say easy… I said easier).

As I get to know each of my children, I realize more and more how much I won’t be able to understand them. I have my own scope, vision, point of view that keeps getting in the way. The minute your children are born – heck, the minute your children are conceived – you begin to develop this “understanding” of who you think they are going to be. But it’s not who they are or who they will become… and that’s the hardest.

This week, instead of wishing for the pleasure of understanding, I’m hoping to let go and spend my time ignoring my misconceptions and appreciate the little people I’m getting to know (dare I say, searching for and living in the serendipity of what I am learning). I wish the same for all of you.

Here’s my amazing husband…
…dreaming up the lives of each of our precious ones.


Catherine’s expectations of pleasure from her visit in Milsom-street were so very high, that disappointment was inevitable; – Northanger Abbey

Expectations. We all have them. Just yesterday, I expected to put the babies down for a nap in the morning, grab a hot cup of coffee, sit down and write this post. Hmmm… that didn’t happen at all how I expected it would. I’m beginning to think having expectations is like setting yourself up for failure. Unrealistic expectations anyway. The problem is – in the moment, I don’t feel that my expectations are unrealistic. Maybe there’s something to not having any expectations at all…

Expectations for Yourself. I am the QUEEN of to-do lists. I love making them, and often make more than one… you know, the first one is the rough copy, then I’ve got to make a good copy that’s pretty to the eye. The satisfaction that comes with crossing something off a to-do list, there’s nothing like it. But, the longer it takes me to cross things off, the more tempting it is to re-write my list altogether. Expecting myself to accomplish everything in a short amount of time, leaves me frustrated.

A typical day: Caleb will come home and ask about our day, and frustratingly all I can say is – “well I didn’t accomplish anything on my to-do list.” When really, there is so much more to our day than that. Zach and Hailey put on yet another  “show” for me, I got both of the twins laughing simultaneously, the babies finally fell asleep for two full hours and I spent that time doing damage control on the house, spending the last half hour snuggling on the couch with the big kids. Hmm… sounds like a pretty perfect day to me. So why was I so frustrated by the time Caleb walked in the door?

Realistically, I need to be choosing one thing on my to-do list, and setting that as my goal for the day. Obviously, we have the everyday that needs to be accomplished – the kids need to be fed, diapers need to be changed… but I may or may not have a shower… the laundry may or may not get folded and put away… supper may or may not be ready when Caleb is home from work… instead of feeling frustrated about it, I’m slowly starting to convince myself – it’s ok.

Expectations for Your Spouse. This is an easy one. It’s interesting how I’ve been able to easily have less expectations for Caleb and yet I’m having a harder time having less expectations for me. I’ve found, the more expectations you set on your spouse, the more unhappy with them you will be. If you are expecting them to do the dishes after supper, and they don’t, you feel disappointed, mad and sad. If your expecting them to put the kids to bed, and they come up 20 minutes after bedtime with a storybook in hand, you’re thinking, it’s about time.

Take away those expectations: You get up from the table to do the dishes. You start filling the sink and look over to find your spouse with the load of wash you had been meaning to fold all day. He’s sitting with the kids, showing them how to fold a t-shirt while they are playing the “sock sorting game”.  After you’re done washing the dishes, you bring the kids upstairs to brush their teeth and put on their pyjamas. Just as they are crawling into bed, your spouse comes in with a storybook in his hand.

Is there a better feeling?! Instead of feeling disappointed or frustrated wondering if he’s ever going to do anything to help you, you’re surprised and can’t help but feel grateful. What’s more – when you stop focusing on what your spouse is NOT doing, you have so much more time to work on bettering yourself.

Expectations for Your Kids. This one is the trickiest. Our children need to know their limits and need to have a standard of behaviour. Our children need us to set expectations – but they need to be healthy ones, children are incredibly hard on themselves, and the last thing you want to do is to set them up for failure and affect their self-esteem.

The expectations we set for our children need to be conducive to their individual development. This is a tricky one for me. Hailey is such an old soul – I have to constantly remind myself that she is 7. If I don’t, I’m expecting her to be able to control her emotions as I do, rather than as a 7 year old is able to. As a result, I instantly feel frustrated when she is behaving in a way I don’t expect.

I’m a huge believer in self-regulation. I am definitely no dictator over my children, I’m here to act as their partner, guiding them and providing them with the skills necessary to monitor their own behaviour. In this way, I am able to put the expectation of behaviour into their own hands. I’m definitely more patient with them because of this, we can sit and talk about their behaviour, how they felt they acted, and help them figure out what they would do differently next time. It’s so satisfying hearing the words come out of their own little mouths, “I need to use my words to tell Hailey to stop” instead of me having to harp at them, “Use your words! Use your words!” .

The expectations we set for our children need to be process-based, rather than focused on an outcome. As long as they are doing their best and focused on their task, they are fulfilling the expectation. Something we have started to do in our house after supper, is to have the big kids take turns wiping the table and sweeping the floor. Basically, we wanted to make them more aware as to how unbelievably messy they are when they are eating their supper. Obviously, they are not going to be able to do as complete a job as Caleb or I would do. Sometimes, it can be absolutely excruciating to try and watch them manoeuvre that broom. But, as long as they are trying their best, they’ve fulfilled my expectation and as a bonus, they try to contain their mess as they eat, knowing they will be cleaning it up.

I think the most important thing about setting expectations for our kids, is to not set expectations that we wouldn’t follow. A “do as I say not as I do” issue. Having an expectation for them to use a calm body and talking voice while we have frustrated bodies and are yelling at them?… Having an expectation for them to keep their room clean, while our room is messy – guilty! I am by far the messy one in my relationship. But, to my kids I am human, I openly talk to them about what I feel I should do differently – regulating my own behaviour and at the same time modelling how to do so in themselves.

Expectations for Your Baby. You’ve gotten through the worst of it, or so you think. After weeks and weeks of waking every few hours, your baby starts sleeping through the night. The first time it happens, you wake up wondering if they’re still breathing. Then, as it continues, you start waking up, thankful for a good night’s sleep. But expectations slowly sneak their way in. You start staying up a little later in the evening, expecting your baby to sleep through the night. Until they don’t, because they won’t. And how do you feel? Frustrated and disappointed.

Having baby on a routine or schedule is definitely important, at least for me it is – we all do what works for us don’t we? But, when we expect that our baby is going to adhere to their routine “by the book” every single day, you are looking for disappointment. Without the expectation, you are grateful in the moments that they ARE following their routine, but you’re a little more understanding when they don’t – saving you from frustration, able to enjoy those precious baby moments that never seem to last long enough.

With all that said – 

This morning I woke up with no expectations. And wouldn’t you know it? It’s 10:00am – the babies are asleep, the big kids are finished their breakfast, and I’m here, writing this post, with a hot cup of coffee in hand; babies following their routine, and my goal for the day complete.

Have a great week!



The parenting dilemma.

For this week,

Her character depends upon those she is with; but in good hands she will turn out a valuable woman.

– Emma.

The dilemma for any parent. We need to be the “good hands”. We want our children to become “valuable” people. Valuable, that is, in today’s sense, not in Jane Austen’s victorian mindset where being a valuable woman means being valuable in terms of her marriage prospects.

We are given this precious gift of a baby, and it is our responsibility to take that baby and raise them to be all that they possibly can be. An immense responsibility, in my opinion, and here I am, with that responsibility x 4…

Well, ok, so if 1 child is an immense responsibility, what does that mean for the responsibility of 4? Sounds like it will take nothing less than my whole life’s work.  It makes sense now, why my passion is for teaching. I always knew I wanted to teach,  but cashing in my classroom to spend my time with the 4 most important students I would ever have? That was news to me and it’s taking some getting used to.

For any new parent, the ugly side of the world begins to stand out and the world  becomes this scary, harsh place. Our heart instantly wants to protect our children from all of it. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Our children are going to face challenges, they are going to have defeats as well as triumphs. Our true task as parents, in my opinion, is to equip our children with the necessary tools to be able to handle the challenges that are set to come their way. This is really all we CAN do.

Here is a great little 4-minute video that sums up (in my opinion) our role as parents.

Have a great week!