After Glow



I wish I could say that I have the perfect family, the perfect kids and perfect life. That I am the perfect mother. I mean, it's close to perfect some days, my life that is, but I, like most moms, struggle with my own issues that seem to spill into my parenting. I look at some moms and think, "Wow, how does she do it? She's got it all together. I wish I had more patience, or time, or even interest." But hey, I am who I am, I know what I am good at, and I am mostly doing the best I can. Can I push myself in areas to do better as a mom? Yep. Can I expand my knowledge base, get out of my comfort zone, and maybe listen to some advice I get from others? Yep. So, I try. I try to fix it when I have screwed up, I try to pay attention to little red flags and signs as a mother, I try to keep my cool, and be the example, role model and parent I want for my kids. But sometimes, I can't do it. I am overwhelmed, I am defeated, I have no patience and I do or say, or scream!! the wrong thing. This year in particular has been very challenging for me.

I have a daughter with anaphylaxis and severe anxiety issues surrounding her allergies to the point of fearing if someone spits on her. This year it became a problem for us in everything she did. She is also stubborn and stylish, and gives me a hard time, almost daily. She was bullied this year too. It broke my heart because she is truly lovely, generous, caring and incredibly sparkling in her personality.

I have a son who hates homework (ok, that's normal), but to the point of crying, screaming, being sent to his room, and finally doing the minimum amount required of him. Every night. 3 hours. He is an extremely smart kid though. But he struggles in writing, spelling and up until this year, reading. So, small miracles, right. But he is a leader, a rule follower and excited about life. He's my first.

I have a 2 year old that puts me to the task every single day. Every. Single. Day. He is "spirited", as one mother called him. He doesn't sleep. You may have heard me call him a terrorist, the devil, or a hurricane. He IS spirited, and mostly I hear "wow, you've got your hands full with that one!" Yeah, I KNOW! But he is also delicious, and funny, and smart, and cuddly, and loves Cars (the movie), and Thomas (the train) and is my baby boy (and always will be).

I took my daughter to a social worker for her anxieties. I took my son to a tutor for his spelling, and well...I just have to wait for the tazmanian devil to get tired. After weeks and months agonizing, negotiating, and a lot of tears, I finally realized I am not a psychologist. I have some personal experience with anxiety, but not training or skills in counseling about it. I am also not a teacher (other than exercise...for adults, whole different ball game), I can teach, but I am NOT a teacher. I am a parent. I am a parent with expectations and very little time, like most parents.

Reaching out to the professionals saved my children, but I think it saved me more. Or maybe it saved them from me.... As parents we have expectations of our children. We want them to be happy, smart, funny, friendly, polite, popular, athletic, artistic and more. We have expectations of behavior too. I kept telling my daughter not to worry so much. That went over like a lead balloon. She can't help it. Or at least she couldn't. I wanted my son to just do the work. My daughter does. She grabs her notebook excitedly and gets all her homework done in the first night. Is it wrong to compare? Yes it is. I know. But he couldn't. He gets overwhelmed at the idea of homework because it feels like too much to handle. He feels like it's going to take "forever" (his word). So he has a mental block, that will only go away with confidence and a little patience-and some tricks from the tutor. I really, really want my 2 year old to sit still. I want him to stop hitting, pushing, and throwing things like it's a constant game. I want him to understand cause and effect. I look at him sometimes and think "who is this kid...can't be mine?" I want him to be a gentle soul like his big brother. But he's not, not yet.

As a parent we have expectations of our kids. But every kid is different, and unfortunately needs to be parented differently. With each kid, your tool box grows dramatically so at any given time you can replace the wrench with a hammer. The most important thing I learned from reaching out to these people to help me be the "perfect mom" wasn't how to get my son to do the work, or how to calm my daughter down (that came later). The most important thing I learned came from the social worker, when she said, "You have an anxious child. She questions things, she's worried. This is who she is. Sometimes she'll be able to help herself through the anxiety, and sometimes not. But instead of telling her she doesn't need to worry, or going right to the solution, listen to what she has to say. This is who she is, allow her to express herself. It's probably hard to feel the way she feels. She may never be without anxiety, but at least she won't feel like she's wrong, or screwed up, or not validated."
This struck such a chord with me. Instead of fighting it, wishing for them to be something else, or to react to things differently, I need to accept that this is who they are. The good, the bad, the ugly, and sometimes revolting. Then and only then can I try to find a solution, behavior, or consequence that is appropriate for each individual child. It's hard sometimes. Like, reeeeeaaaallllyyy HARD. But with this new insight, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I no longer carry around my own personal expectations of my kids, and I am trying to accept them for who they are. Well, other than the obvious, I want them to be happy, polite, kind, intelligent, successful, etc....

I love my kids, and I guess you can say, I have got it pretty good. Almost perfect.


Julie Watson is the owner and founder of AfterGlow Health & Fitness in Toronto's Hillcrest Village.  She is a certified Personal Trainer, specializing in Pre and Postnatal Fitness. Her 3 small children are the reason Julie strives everyday to stay healthy and strong.  She wants every mom to know that a mother's positive energy and self-image can improve and change the way our children feel about themselves. You can read more about Julie and AfterGlow by checking out her website at www.afterglowtoronto.com and subscribing to her blog.