We may not be able to protect our kids from heartbreak but we can try to prepare them for that crazy BIG thing called love. Here’s a throwback post, originally published by Mabels Labels, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

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Huddle up girls.

I know you’re only six and nine and the idea of a boy kissing, touching or liking you is capital G GROSS right now, but you need to be ready for the day that changes. You need to be ready for the day a boy, or girl, takes your heart and cradles it lovingly in his hand before smashing it to the ground and jumping on it with soccer cleats.

I know, that was harsh, but this is important. I need to make sure you’re paying attention.

Oh sweetie, don’t cry, I don’t mean your actual heart. I meant your feelings. What happens when someone hurts your feelings.

Better now? Okay good.

So here’s the scoop: Right now boys are annoying. They’re loud, they’re rough and most of them smell. They don’t like dolls or stuffies and they think most of the things you like are stupid. They’re right about Shopkins, by the way, but I digress.

Soon, much sooner than mommy and daddy would like, you will start to see boys, or girls, differently. You will develop feelings for them that are different from the feelings you have for us or for your other friends. You’ll probably feel these feelings in your tummy. You might start acting different when that person is around. You might start to pay attention to where he is at all times and finding reasons to be around him. These feelings might make you embarrassed, but there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Liking, or feeling like you love someone, is a wonderful thing. It’s called having a crush …. because that’s how you’ll feel when it ends.

But trust me my little angels, you will survive.  You will cry and sob and rage about the unfairness of it all. You will wonder what you did wrong and consider changing everything about yourself in order to please him.

But here’s the really important part: DON’T.

One of the hardest lessons you’ll ever learn is this: sometimes the people we love don’t love us back. Sometimes they start loving us then change their minds, and sometimes we change our minds about them.

Remember, this is romantic love we’re talking about, the long, smoochy kissing kind of love. The kind mommy and daddy have for you is the kind that lasts forever and ever no matter how many things you break, what colour you dye your hair or how many times you skip school. We will always love you unconditionally and beyond reason, forever and ever. This is non-negotiable. (That means stamped it, no erasies).

Boys, on the other hand, come with no such guarantee. They will come and go and the only thing that will stay the same is YOU. Yes, you will change, grow, travel, learn new things and do different jobs but your pure, sweet, wonderful, full hearts will, I hope, never change. The person you are in your heart and soul should remain strong.

When I watch you I’m overwhelmed by your confidence, the way you walk around the house singing and dancing, laughing and being silly, so sure of who you are and that you are loved. If I could bottle that innocence, my babies, I would. And even though I can’t protect you from every crappy thing the world throws at you, I will prepare you for it as best I can.

If you’ve hurt someone or made a mistake, please apologize and make it right. If you’ve been hurt, know that it’s okay to cry, and to be disappointed and heartbroken when things don’t go your way. But promise me you will never doubt who you are. Staying true to yourself is the thing that will get you through difficult times. Know your heart and know your worth. Believe in them and don’t settle for someone who makes you feel less than you are.

Movies would have us believe that everything works out in the end. That all you need to mend a broken heart is a quirky best friend, unlimited Chardonnay and a great haircut. An entire industry has been built on the fantasy that a handsome single dad will eventually notice you and you’ll live happily ever after with his adorable twins and the blind cat he rescued from the well on his parents’ farm. Your happily ever after may not involve any of those things and yet everything will be okay because you have what you need to be happy: your own true heart, and confidence in who you are and what you’re meant to be.

You’re still at the age where you believe me and like me (most days) so I hope this lesson sinks in. It’s the best I can do to prepare you for that crazy BIG thing called love. This is the voice of experience talking so I’m asking you to trust me, even if you have no idea what I’m talking about. Remember what I’ve said, call me every day, don’t get a tattoo and you’ll be just fine.

 

Love,
Mommy.

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How to Choose Your Own Adventure in 2018

I wrote this for Mabel’s Labels almost exactly a year ago, having no idea how relevant and meaningful it would become just a few days later.

2017 is in the rearview (thank God) and 2018 is well underway, making “resolution” talk a bit stale. But I don’t think there’s ever a bad time to ask…. are you ready to choose your own adventure?

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Remember Choose Your Own Adventure books?

The format is based on the reader being able to make decisions, to choose which path to follow at every crossroad in the story. Once the end is reached, you can go back and start over again, making different choices, until all possibilities have been explored and the book has been read cover to cover.

As a child of the 1980s, I LOVED these books. They got me into reading and helped inspire a lifelong pursuit of travel and adventure. They’re the reason I love mystery novels and why I’ve never given up on my dream of piloting a hot air balloon over western Europe while being chased by mysterious, yet handsome, bad guys.

I recently purchased a set of these books for my daughters and reading the covers and synopses was a total trip. I expected the plot lines to be laughable and out-dated, and I wasn’t disappointed. Lasers, aliens and aliens with lasers were common themes, as were damsels in distress and buried treasure.

It’s been a long time since I thought about Choose Your Own Adventure books, but they’re top of mind now as many of us think about charting our course for 2017 because the truth is, this year can be whatever you want it to be. You too can choose your own adventure. You can even go down one path, decide it’s not for you and switch course. You are the driver, you’re in control.

YOU, my friend, are the alien with a laser.

Will this be the year you

lose 15 pounds?

travel to that bucket list place?

pay off your credit card?

start a new career?

expand your family?

learn a new language?

end a bad relationship?

Or will this be the year you hunker down and keep the status quo? Will your focus be feathering the nest, getting better at your job, or turning a hobby into a career?

Will you start new friendships, end old ones or reconnect with someone who meant a lot to you back in the day?

Or maybe you’ll start changing the way you see the world, consciously or unconsciously.

Even when you choose your own adventure, life can throw you a curveball. And while your plot twist might not be two-headed camels chasing you across the surface of the moon (at least I hope not, for your sake), it might be something that rocks your world, something you didn’t see coming that changes everything for better or for worse. So you’ll keep reading and wait for the chance to regain control, to make the decisions that restore order, at least in part.

If 2016 was a difficult year and you’re hoping for better in 2017, what choices are you making to ensure that happens? Because even when it’s all going to hell and our husbands, bosses, and kids seem hell bent on ruining our lives, we still have choices. We all have the power to choose our own adventures, any day, any time and we don’t need a calendar flip to do it (but a nice glass of merlot can be extremely helpful.)

The point is, only you can write your story. Your kids, your spouse, your parents and your boss might have plans and expectations but YOU are the one who chooses. YOU are the one who gets to decide on a path and follow it either to its conclusion or until it forks and you have to choose again. Even when the universe sends you down a different road, never forget that eventually the time will come when you can take back the wheel.

This is what I want for myself, my girlfriends and all my loved ones in 2017: the ability to recognize that we control our own stories; for each of us to understand that there is power in choice. As we move through life we’ll have many co-pilots. At different times our parents, our friends, our spouses, even our kids, will have huge influence on the choices we make. And while it’s okay to let them guide us, even to nudge or suggest a certain path, no one else can write your story for you.

The decision is yours. Choose wisely.

 

 

Throwback ….

Repost from June 2016

I wrote this last spring but the list of still holds true. These books are some of may favourites. Each one captures the joy, trauma and complexity of motherhood in very different ways. Just in case you’re looking for a new  novel to lose yourself in this weekend … Happy reading! J xo

http://blog.mabelslabels.com/six-books-that-nail-motherhood/

Originally posted on June 16, 2016 for Mabel’s Labels on blog.mabelslabels.com

 

Happy Birthday! Pass the Wine.

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Yesterday was my birthday and the day before that was Daren’s. And with our 10th wedding anniversary coming up next month I’ve been thinking a lot about how gift-giving and celebrations have changed so drastically since we got together.

Birthday at 32? Lots of wine, sex and presents.

Birthday at 42? It’s all cake, streamers, sprinkles, crumpled gift bags and excited, sugary faces running in circles yelling “do you like it do you like it do you like it?”

Tiffany and Pottery Barn have been replaced by Homesense and homemade necklaces. Dinner at a hot new restaurant is now dinner at “that new place with the chicken fingers Leila likes.” In short, my expectations (like my breasts) are a little lower.

There are a few reasons for this:

1. We’ve been shopping for each other for 15 years and we’re running out of ideas. Clothes, jewelry, furniture, trips, books, booze, experiences, household decor, kitchen appliances, sporting equipment, massages, mani-pedis and fancy dinners have all been tapped. Livestock, gravel driveways and skywriting are all that remain and do you have any idea how expensive goats are? Though by some miracle of science they produce delicious cheese so I’m not ruling them out.

2. Unique gifts are too hard to think about and shop for between working, driving, cooking, shopping, bathing and all the other things normal humans are supposed to do each day. If we get 10 minutes to swing by Canadian Tire and another 3 to pick out a card at Shoppers that is a good year.

3. Gift-giving is no longer solely up to the adult. With the kids involved you inevitably end up getting what THEY want you to have. Harmony is working on her reading and insisted we get daddy a hockey chapter book. So off I went to buy Daren his 91nd book on the evolution of NHL goaltending. You’re welcome honey.

4. Expensive gifts just aren’t in the budget anymore. Discretionary purchases of $100 and up must now meet one of the following criteria: Can we eat it? Does it increase the value of our home? How long will they play with it (preferably in the basement or at a friend’s house)?

What about a quiet dinner out just the two of us? It goes something like this:

“Mommy and daddy are going out.”

“Why? Where?”

“To our favourite restaurant to celebrate our birthday”.

Stoned silence.

“But it’s your birthday”

Yes I know. That’s why I just said we”re going out to …”

“BUT. IT’S. YOUR. BIRTHDAY.”

“I know and we’ll celebrate as a family later but tonight it’s just daddy and I”.

“I thought birthdays were for families. You said that when I wanted to have all the grade 2s over last year.”

“Well they are and we will celebrate all together tomorrow but right now mommy and daddy are having some mommy and daddy time.”

“Fine”

“Fine? Did you just “fine” me?”

“It’s just that I thought birthdays were for families”.

“Get in the car”.

I don’t begrudge a single one of these changes because they are part and parcel of the lifestyle we embraced with open arms (and wallets) when we became parents. But I do look forward to once again waking up to a little blue box that is NOT the recycling bin.

Really? You shouldn't have!!

Really? You shouldn’t have!!