Pessimism and Negativity

Guess what! I am someone who always finds the glass half-empty. I expect the almost worst at every turn just so that I surprise myself with how okay things turn out in the end. I have to actively find the positive or I’m a giant cloud of gloom most of the time.

Example? Monkey has started to crawl and it’s adorable. He doesn’t do the traditional crawl. Instead, he’s learned the army crawl. He scoots around on his belly and gets under stuff like coffee tables and couches. This should be super exciting, but all I can think is “UGH now I have to buy a baby gate so he doesn’t tumble down the stairs, but it means I’m going to have to haul my pregnant, lazy butt over top of it every stupid time and I’ll probably fall down the stairs and lose this baby and then I’ll probably blame Monkey for the rest of his life and he will resent me because it’s not his fault that we bought a house with lots of stairs and why is his mom the worst?”

All because my little 9 month old has started a new stage in his adorable little life. See what I mean? And then I see all the people on social media talking about how wonderful parenting is and how their children are the lights of their lives and I wonder if maybe, just maybe I’m not really good at this mom thing. Like, maybe I should have left the procreating to people who aren’t like this. I mean, what kind of kids am I going to raise?

Why do I do this to myself? Control. It’s all about control. I think that if I can anticipate the worst, then I have some measure of control over it. If I keep in mind that I could lose this baby, then, if I do, it won’t be such a shock. But really, I’m letting the negativity control my life. I let the pessimism control my mood and interactions with my little guy, which I’m sure he’ll resent more than anything else.

So how do I relinquish the illusion of control? For me, taking pictures. Not of myself, but of Monkey. Seeing him grin at the camera or reviewing the pictures of him with his butt in the air while he tries to crawl reminds me that negativity hasn’t entered his little mind yet. All he sees is a whole world to explore and people who love him and a dog that has the most pullable tail. And how can I not share in that simple joy? Plus, I can’t make him sit still to take a fancy picture, I only get the candid stuff, which reminds me that I really, really can’t control anything. If I can’t get a person the size of a pillow to sit still for the fraction of a second it takes to snap a photo, then I can’t control the cosmic moving of the universe. And that’s maybe the way I want it. ‘Cause universe moving sounds like a huge amount of responsibility and let’s be honest, I’m pregnant and lazy and moving my own body is too much work sometime.

What about you? Do you ride the grumpy train with me most days or does a positive outlook come naturally to you? What do you do to let go of the negatives?

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What Do I Buy A New Mom?

Lots of people on my Facebook friends list have announced in the last couple months that they are having babies. I’m loving that baby fever is in the air because I have a little one of my own (and another on the way) and I look forward for my babes to have little friends to play with!  But with all these new babies comes baby showers and it’s hard to find gifts that please and won’t just get regifted to the next mom-to-be. Just coming out of new-mommyhood myself, here are my top 5 gifts to give new moms. Please note that I am not being sponsored by any of these companies to endorse or review these products.

5. Sleepers (especially ones with zippers or magnets)

For the first nine months of Monkey’s life (so far), he wears sleepers like this or this 95% of the time. Why? Because they don’t pinch his tummy or have to be pulled up or tucked in or rolled up like every other outfit seems to. I think they are still freaking adorable, but I know they aren’t as stylish as babies in jeans and a sweater. I noticed an immediate difference in Monkey’s sleep habits when he slept in a sleeper vs. anything else. And when you are a new mom (or any mom for that matter), sleep is one of the most important things your baby can do.

So, in my books, skip the button up shirts or the leggings or the dresses and fill the new mom’s house with fuzzy-wuzzy (or cool if it’s warm where you are) sleepers. If you can find ones with bear ears like this one, you’ve done very, very well.20141216_114452

Monkey at 1 day old in my favorite sleeper!

4. Board Books

Maybe I’m a little biased, but I think that books are one of the most important learning tools we have as a culture, so why not start kids on them early? They are the perfect accessory to a low-key bedtime routine and it’s an amazing feeling when your little one learns to turn the pages all by herself! There are thousands upon thousands of books out there that you have got to be able to find something that will interest you as well as your little ones.

And one of the coolest parts of buying a baby a book is that it can act as a card as well (saving money!) if you write your message to the little munchkin on the inside cover. I’ve heard of many baby showers who actively ask people to bring books instead of cards because, let’s be honest, who actually keeps all the cards they receive nowadays?

Finally, books can be part of your child’s earliest memories. I still remember some of my favorite books that my parents would read to me (The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear anyone?). Cherishing those memories through those books that I can now share with my little tykes is simply amazing.

Unsure of which book to pick up? Read my top 5 favorite board books!

3. Blooming Bath

This is a little specific, but I absolutely love my Blooming Bath Flower. It’s a big foam flower you can get in a whole bunch of different colours that fits in your sink for bath time. Once your baby is too big for the sink, it works really well as a soft mat to lie on in the tub. Once bath time is over, toss it in the washing machine for a spin (or if it got dirty, maybe a full wash), and you’re good to go!

When I was pregnant, you could only buy these suckers in the USA so I had to order it from California and wait weeks before it arrived, but it was totally worth it! Now, I’m 90% sure that…yup! Bed Bath & Beyond carries them plus all their accessories.

2. Drooling Bibs

This is something that the big baby clothing companies have yet to pick up on: drooling bibs. These are little bibs, usually bandana shaped, that fit over your baby’s clothes to keep him dry while he burbles and spits and blows raspberries all over the rest of your house. These are things I’m not sure I could live without. I’m serious. My favorite ones have 3 layers: cotton on top in whatever adorable pattern is out there, flannel or cotton inside, and a bottom layer of polyurethane so the drool doesn’t soak through to the clothing. But I know lots of people who don’t love that bottom layer.

The only problem: where do you get them?? Etsy is the easiest if you’re looking online, but lots of small specialty shops have them as well. For me, I got all mine at Sweet Momma Spa in Edmonton, AB where they sell them for My Sunshine Creations, a local lady who makes them. Which is the third way you can get these: making them yourself. I mean, it’s literally a triangle with snaps/velcro to hold it together. So if you’re a crafty type, this might be the perfect, home made gift for someone you love.

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Monkey at 7 months in a bandana (yes, covered in some kind of cookie).

1. Swaddling Muslin Blankets

This is the final thing that I couldn’t live without. I’m not kidding. I have about 10 of these suckers and they have gotten me through the coldest winter days and the balmiest summer ones. My favorites have got to be Aden + Anais ones, but they can be a bit pricey. There are offbrand ones that are starting to get popular as well, so you should be able to find one of these guys somewhere.

They aren’t as soft as what you can find in the baby section, but they are breathable, which made me 1000% more comfortable with Monkey using them. They were a great size for swaddling head to toe and, when Monkey grew out of swaddling, they were perfect blankets for him to get tangled in at naptime. While he was teething, he loved to chew on these too. Plus, they’re machine washable and get softer every time you wash them. And, I will say it again, THEY ARE BREATHABLE!

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Monkey at 2 weeks, swaddled in his muslin blanket.

These are my top 5 gifts for new moms. What do you think? Have I missed anything? Tell me your favorite gifts to give (or receive) at a baby shower in the comments section below!

When The Worst Happens

I wish I hadn’t started my blog this week. A little girl was found murdered yesterday after a highly publicized amber alert in my province and, if I hadn’t started my blog, I wouldn’t feel compelled to write about it, but here we are.

I have a little boy of my own and, while murdered children broke my heart before I ever had any of my own, being a mother has made me a lot more sensitive to situations like this. As a mom, I’m faced with the “what-ifs” that plague parenthood. What if my child had been abducted? What if I was sitting at home, helpless, while police searched my neighbourhood for a body that I desperately hoped wouldn’t be there? What if I had to hear the details of the horrific death my child experienced alone?

At first I feel sick, but then the churning in my stomach reveals anger and a lot of hate. I don’t want to admit it, but I don’t know if I wouldn’t be able to control myself if someone killed my babies. I can think of all the violent books and movies and research I’ve done for school that I could use to hurt someone. And the angry, hateful part of me feels justified in these fantasies. I don’t want to be the mother that forgives the heartless person that kills her children. I want to be the one who exacts the worst kind of revenge.

Last night, I indulged those fantasies. I considered a book idea of a collection of letters from a jailed woman who had killed the murderer of her children. I thought about the hate and the anger and the despair that I expect would come from someone who lost their loved one to that kind of violence. This morning, I woke up exhausted. Hate like that burns the life out of the person who holds it. Anger and fear make that hate more attractive, but in the end, we pay for the hate that we manufacture. Today I paid a good night’s rest. Not much, but enough to make me realize that it’s not the answer.

This week I expect we will hear a lot about the man charged with the murder of that little girl and her father. We will see his picture everywhere. If he is a white man, the media will try to humanize him for us by using terms like “loner” and “suffered from mental illness” and giving us a back story. And I will have to force myself not to let the hate creep up at the media for trying to make the murderer not seem so bad and for stigmatizing mental illness, which many people suffer from and do not kill others. If I let myself read the comments on any article or Facebook share, I could get sucked into the hate towards this man with all the people that describe in detail what they would want to do with him.

It’s easy to get sucked into the hate for someone who does something as despicable as what has happened this week. And when I’m feeling this sickness in my gut, I can’t think of a reason not to succumb to it. I have to remind myself that I harm myself and my family if I stew in that rage. I have to remind myself that letting that anger take hold does nothing for the child that was lost or the family who mourns her. Nor does it do anything for my children who are here and safe.

How do you let go of anger and hate when a situation this horrifying is presented every time you look at social media? How do you step back and not let yourself get caught up in it all?

Hello world!

Welcome to rbtopping.wordpress.com!

This is me giving a glimpse into the glamorous world of a mother who loves to write, but struggles to find the time. Hopefully this will one day be the place where I can announce the publication of my first novel or any of my short stories, but until then, let me entertain you with the moments that make up my life.

I warn you, there will be a lot of graphic honesty here. If you don’t want to know that I have just come from a blow-out diaper and I’m not really sure why I can still smell it (oh, I have some in my hair…great.), then you might not want to move forward. But if you’re willing to laugh with me a the silly moments that come with being a mother or the pent-up anxiety of not writing anything good lately, I invite you on what I hope will be a fun ride.

I plan on having a couple of guest bloggers and maybe even some fun event days like a Throwback Thursday or I-hate-this-day-when-will-it-be-over Monday, but it sort of depends on when I get the time while my little monkey grows. I aim to publish every week at least. Forgive me if I am being overly optimistic.

Can’t wait!