I have never intentionally set out to practice Advent before this year. It is a time when we anticipate the coming of Jesus before Christmas. Where we wait in anticipation and reflect on hope, peace, joy, and love. Each Sunday, a different candle is lit and each week another candle is added as a remembrance of what is to come – the birth of our Saviour. This year, with COVID restrictions, we have not been able to gather as a church in the way we have been used to. So at The Dale we decided to make Advent packages and distribute them to our congregation in hopes that we could celebrate the Advent season together, but apart. For weeks leading up to the first Sunday of Advent, we each took a week on as a staff team. We wrote a prayer and a chose a bible verse to reflect on. We picked songs, made colouring pages, and packed candles into bags. We gave them out to our community and we started a few Sundays ago now of waiting together in this season.

The first two Sundays, Ian and I practiced these Advent traditions together, lighting one purple candle the first week for Hope and lighting another the week after for Peace. We read the prayers and verses, listened to the songs, and coloured in the book. Hope and Peace – two things that weren’t easy to reflect on given the current times but in the spirit of being intentional we did try and found some hope and peace in those weeks that brought a lot of comfort.

On the third Sunday of Advent, Ian’s mother Katharyn unexpectedly passed away. The third week of Advent is the week of Joy. I can tell you that it has been hard to find. Joy… I literally just googled the meaning of joy and found a lot about a deep rooted happiness. Was happiness lingering this week? Definitely not. In my heart I know that joy comes from the Lord – from his goodness. When bad things happen to us, we know that God remains God and that He is good. I also know that when you are sat in deep sorrow, joy feels further away. We wait in this season of Advent now on a week meant to be reflected on Joy, in a sense of despair grasping for answers that have yet to be found – on why Katharyn passed and how. How could this happen now? There are so many things that have been going on in our family behind the scenes that I will leave private. But I will tell you that waiting in anticipation with Joy is a practice that we have been sorely lacking in.

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we celebrated Katharyn’s life. The fourth Sunday represents Love. She was and is loved by a variety of people who miss her with a sense of urgency that comes with walking in grief. To remember her life is to find love in who she is, in the memories we hold, and the way that her heart carried love for her family. The love that she had for her family runs very deep.

This week our family was touched by many people, near and far. We were given practical nourishment – food, coffee, and gifts of love. We were given spiritual nourishment – prayer, cards, comfort, support, and calls. These things are helping me remember the past two weeks of Advent that I was missing. Joy – a sense that God is good even in difficult circumstance. And Love – His love for us fills the cracks of sadness and fills us up and reaches for us when we feel like shutting out and shutting down.

These weeks have been very difficult… these months have been very difficult. As we walk through life holding hands with a new sense of deep grief, we are living in a time with vibrant lights, happy songs, and a joyful demeanour – Christmas is around the corner. It has been such a jarring thing to walk each day in sorrow being surrounded by the anticipation of Christmas. It is in these times that I hold fast not to the anticipation of Christmas as we know it societally. But of the anticipation of Christ our Saviour. This is where the worldly Joy that I wasn’t feeling can be brought in through the Joy of God’s goodness. Where the Love that seemed to be dripping in tears can be made whole again. Where Peace and Hope don’t just come in dreaming of a better new year, but of a Kingdom that will one day come. This is where I rest in my Advent season. It has not been perfect, but it continues on whether we keep up or not. And He waits with me and my family, holds us closer when we need it, and brings people in that really know and care.

Peace to you this week… thank you if you have prayed for us, come alongside us, and joined us this week in grief. We needed you, and we are finding comfort in your care.

Katharyn Knight – a light of quiet yet fierce and loyal love.

Holding My Breath.

Things look a lot different at The Dale these days. All of our efforts to connect with community are done outside. We wear N95 masks for the entirety of our shift – we pray, smile, cry, and hope under those masks now. All of our meals are given outdoors and taken to-go… we can no longer gather around a table. I knew that when I got back to work mid October that I would have some processing catching up to do in terms of how different life at work would be. I think for the most part that processing is still happening in chunks. Last night I was able to do some reflecting on life at work with Ian and it was good to talk to him (and my team) who understand so many intimate details of what this new life is like for us.

There are so many things I long to communicate but I am still searching around for the words, often unable to describe the then and now and the contrast between time before and present time. There are so many polarities. So many gifts in this new COVID season of new connections and constant provision, and so much taken. I often write on this blog about holding hands with grief and joy. This is one of those times.

A couple weeks ago, Erinn gave a message at our Sunday service and she talked about “thin places”. To describe it is like trying to describe a feeling. It is those times when we are firmly planted on earth and yet somehow a veil lifts and we catch a glimpse of heaven and feel God so close to us. When a child is born, when we witness family reuniting, when we can be close to someone in their weeping. I feel like before at The Dale, there were so many opportunities for thin moments and I wish I had been more keenly aware. Sometimes it can feel like thin moments are lost on me these days.

Yesterday as a team at our check-in time we discussed the notion of how in many things in life and especially at The Dale, we can often do something but we can’t do everything. There are so many instances where I want to do everything. I want to give someone exactly what they were hoping we would hand out for lunch. I want to get all the work done that we have on our constantly flowing to-do list. I want to put a bandaid over the heart wounds of my friends that sometimes spill out too easily. I want to put a bandaid over my heart wounds too.

But if I have learned anything over my years in this work it is that I am not a saviour, I can’t fix it all, and I sure can’t do everything. I can give the food I have to give and be a safe and dignifying space for our community. I can participate in the work we have to do and be a good team member. I can sit with my friends and help them hold the heavy things of our lives. These are the some things I can do. I look to God to help with the rest.

This blog feels like a breath being held to me. I am sorry if you feel that too. I didn’t really know where I was going when I started and I am not sure that I know where I am going with this now. I think writing helps get some of the stuff out… so thanks for sitting here with me in this space. I would ask you to pray as we enter into winter. The cold air is coming and it makes it mighty difficult to be working outside. Our friends are weary. We are worried about the future. We are trying to catch and hold joy and gifts and thin places but it is hard when grief pulls the other hand. I hope you can understand.

With peace to you, and hope that I can witness more thin places. I know they are still there. In a season that is supposed to be met with joy, hope, peace, and love. I pray… and I thank you for yours.

I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries. For me, doing this work means inviting others into my journey of ministry – prayerfully and financially. If you would like to support the work that I do at The Dale, I would love to chat. Please email me at meagan.gillard@gmail.com

Wisdom from a Loud Stranger.

Today as I was taking the streetcar home, I sat across from a seating area that was a mess. There was an empty beer can left, some other garbage, and some crumbs of weed on a folded paper. Definitely not an inviting scene to me but not uncommon. I took my seat in a cleaner spot and was lost in thought when a man got on the streetcar a few stops later.

His personality was loud. From the way he walked and moved to the way he chose to sit near me in the area filled with what I thought was garbage. He threw the can aside, slammed down his stuff, and threw the banner that was supposed to be a barrier out of the way. Suddenly he exclaimed very loudly. “Woah! I was just rolling a joint! Look at all the weed here! Look at this! Who can say there isn’t a God?!” He was thrilled. I mean beyond thrilled… he was ecstatic. I could feel the tension in the car rising beyond normal levels. Stay with me for a second. I know I probably have some more conservative readers here and I’m going on about a guy thanking God for drugs. I do have a point.

This guy was the loudest one on the streetcar but honestly, he was probably the most tuned out. “Another guy yelling on the streetcar”, right? Another person who’s just a little too different to ignore. But there was wisdom in his rambunctiousness. As people looked side to side and tried to keep their eyes on anything else but this guy, he spouted out loads of wisdom. Yes he was thanking God for weed. But he also said, “A man who can’t appreciate a dime will never be a millionaire.” He appreciated what was left behind and found a gift in what was meant to be nothing. He talked about his wife and had loads of knowledge about the Muslim bible, the Quran. He talked about how women should be adored and respected, mothers especially. He said, “Any man who does not respect women, I would look at him and ask where he came from? A woman! He should get down and kiss the toes of his mother.”

We didn’t get far before I reached my stop and had to get off, but I wanted to get out my notebook and take notes from this man. I don’t know exactly who he was talking to. Maybe himself, maybe someone I couldn’t see, or maybe all of us. Some of what he said was hard to track, but a lot of what he said had such value. Respect, finding gifts, knowledge of a holy book. When we look past people that are different than us, we miss a lot. When we look past those that are loud and that sit amongst garbage and thank God for drugs, we miss a lot. I know a lot of people would have walked past this guy and not sat down, but I know that Jesus would.

That feels uncomfortable to me too sometimes. Jesus would sit with the loudest one on the streetcar. He would sit with the crying one. He would sit down next to someone passed out. He would sit next to someone talking to no one we can see. He would sit next to the one drinking the beer and throwing the can aside. Would you? Would I? How can we love others who may look different from us or act different from us? How can we be alongside them? Something to think about… I’m still learning too.

Peace to you.

I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries. For me, doing this work means inviting others into my journey of ministry – prayerfully and financially. If you would like to support the work that I do at The Dale, I would love to chat. Please email me at meagan.gillard@gmail.com

Familiar Ground.

Thursday was my first day back in Parkdale at work in about a year. I didn’t feel the urge to cry until I sat in the car with Ian and watched as Charlotte waved to me from our front door in my moms capable and loving arms. I was grateful to many people on Thursday, but especially to a friend and one of our community partners who dropped in to what is now The Dale HQ and asked how I was doing. When I told her I was teary all morning she said she’s not sure when it ever ends (she has three kiddos herself) and said she wanted to hold that space for me. I am grateful for friends who see and know.

A lot has changed about the way we do programming these days. As we handed out breakfast meals that morning I got to chat with people in line from under my mask and was so aware that half my face was missing from the equation. I already miss seeing people smile, and was trying to practice keeping my eyes smiling on the bus ride home.

I met a man that day whose name already escapes me. He has started coming to The Dale since my departure, and his words struck me. After our introduction from Joanna, he said it was nice to meet me and then, “Welcome Home” as he shrugged. I was taken aback after writing something very similar in a blog last week before my return to work. He shrugged as if that was naturally the only thing he could say to someone in this situation – welcome home. I’m not sure, but I’ve been thinking about it all weekend since and I think God put those words on his tongue for me to receive that day.

Home. I looked up the definition of home last night as I couldn’t get this out of my head. Upon searching I found what I knew to be true in the basic sense. That home is a place of residence, a place of origin, where one lives… etc. It’s actually funny that someone may describe The Dale as home in THAT sense since we tend to move around so much. Our stuff basically moves from one place to the other on constant rotation and us along with it. Nomads with a schedule, that’s what we are.

I think to get to the root of the feeling I had, I had to search for something else. Not just home, but AT HOME. To be at home. Relaxed and comfortable, at ease, in harmony with the surroundings, and this – on familiar ground. Our feet have walked up and down Parkdale countless times. We know the streets, and each other. To be at home is not just to be at a certain place. It means to FEEL at home – to feel comfortable and at ease. As a community we can move around each other with a certain familiarity. We know each other by name, we have inside jokes, we know what people like and don’t and we are always learning and growing as a unit. We feel like we are on familiar ground. And that is what I think of when I come back to The Dale.

Welcome Home. I know when I show up to work our stuff may be here and there. I know we are always on the move. I know we don’t have a place to call our own, but many places indeed that carry pieces of our hearts. Lots of buildings and rooms have held our tears and our laughter. But more so my community is home. A place of familiarity. A place I can be myself. A place I can come and show up and give and receive. A place that I am seen and known. A place that is always and forever changing but somehow still remains familiar ground.

Welcome Home.

Peace to you this week in an ever changing world. May you find your familiar ground.

I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries. For me, doing this work means inviting others into my journey of ministry – prayerfully and financially. If you would like to support the work that I do at The Dale, I would love to chat. Please email me at meagan.gillard@gmail.com

Coming Home to The Dale.

October is a very reminiscent month for me. It is the month, almost four years ago now, that Ian and I started dating. We are always taken back to that time in the month of October, and remember fondly falling in love. It is now also the month before my sweet girl was born. This year, I find myself thinking, “Last year this time I was pretty huge! Last year this time I was walking around the park trying to get a baby out! Last year this time I was just going off work….”

Next week Tuesday will be my first day back to work at The Dale since “this time last year.” Time sure has a way of doing that – moving along faster than you can imagine. So many things are different now. For starters, I did walk around the park enough to walk a baby out! Our sweet Charlotte will be a year on November 6th. She’s standing, eating lots, becoming more vocal, and growing so much. Ian and I also moved when Charlotte was just two months old. Finally… COVID – the thing no one could have anticipated.

This mat leave turned out to be really different than I thought it would be. As I have alluded to in previous blogs, I spent a lot of this year alone. Where I would have thought I would be hanging out with my friends who had kids, I walked alone. Where I thought I would have been sharing in Charlie’s milestones with family, we saw each other a lot over FaceTime. Where I thought I would be visiting The Dale and showing off my kid, I ate alone at home only dreaming of the struggle my community was going through trying to stay open and connected.

Now I prepare to head back to work and COVID still isn’t letting up, and who knows what the future holds. I feel fearful of getting on transit and being more exposed to so many people. I worry that new people in the community won’t know me. I feel anxiety over going back to work and having to learn a new routine, a new set of safety rules, and a new world essentially. I thought my return would involve hugs, handshakes, pictures, and eating meals around a table catching up – not face shields and hand sanitizer. Maybe this all sounds selfish… I know people are fighting for their lives during COVID times in many ways, but this is my reality right now.

This year was not all heavy. I did get to spend a lot of quality time with Charlotte. It was such a joy watching her grow and learn new things. It was hard too. But I feel proud of our accomplishments. Ian got to spend five amazing weeks with us on his own paternity leave in September. We took trips to the beach in the early mornings to walk, went to the farm, got some apple picking in, and spent many normal quiet days just together as a family. I also got to see my mom finally when COVID slowed this summer and watch her find great joy in being with Charlotte.

Next week as I return to work, things will be different I know. We are battling with a few things here in the Knight house, including two parents returning to work, a baby turning one, and a whole lot of in between stuff because Life never stops. I am grateful for a team that understands and loves deeply, who embraces me with open arms (and all my emotions!). I am grateful for the flexibility to work the hours I can to be able to work and be at home with Charlotte. I am grateful that people in the community are already checking in, encouraging me in this transition. And I am grateful for a God who always provides in ways that I least expect it – but that’s a blog for another day.

I guess this is a small way to say, hi! I’m coming home to The Dale, and I am nervously excited (a phrase Ian and I often use). Thank you for waiting on the other side for me. I must admit it was harder to write here than I hoped. I look forward to meeting you here more often in the coming weeks.

Peace to you this week.

I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries. For me, doing this type of work means fundraising to earn my salary. If you follow along on this journey with me and would like to support me in my work, please send me an email at meagan.gillard@gmail.com. I would love to chat with you!

Memories of Parkdale.

Hi friends.

It’s been a while. I regret not visiting you in this space more often… as all of you are keenly aware, life was swept away with Covid-19 infecting every space possible. For me this meant hunkering down at home with Charlie and spending way more time with my family over FaceTime than I thought was possible and keeping distance, especially with Ian’s work being as frontline and essential as it is. It meant being alone – a lot. It meant feeling more isolated than usual, feeling more overwhelmed, and feeling more unrest. I know I am not alone.

My life these days involves a lot of wiping, a lot of mouth checking as baby teeth come in, a lot of responding to dadadadada and constant babble, a lot of changing and quickly growing baby. Today as I was walking with Charlotte quickly around the block (as I often do to keep my sanity) I was brought back into Parkdale as I received a call from Erinn that our friend John had passed away.

John was a beloved member of The Dale. He was a fixture in Parkdale, often seen with many dogs and a bike. His dreads reached the floor which was quite a feat considering how tall he was. And his smile was large and bright. I will miss John, truly. He was often the last face I saw as I walked out of Parkdale to my bus. I was surprised to hear of John’s sudden passing but honestly it quickly left my mind in the heat of the day and in the ever hectic routine our nights have become. It wasn’t until I sat down after Charlie was asleep and read Erinn’s blog about John that I was reminded that my friend was gone and many memories came flooding back to me. As someone commented on Erinn’s blog about John, “Parkdale is less now.” It is true, I think.

My heart has become heavy this night. Memories of John come and go, and with it come memories of Parkdale, The Dale, and life before Covid and Charlotte. My mind is full of Queen Street reaching from Dufferin to Roncesvalles. I think of our friends along the way and I feel like I am there, walking for hours up and down. I remember walking by Coffee Time and waving to Sandra* in the window. She calls us her Padre-ess’s…and Pete! I remember seeing John outside the Health Centre and his ornament tree. I remember finding Cindy* in the hot summer heat and walking her home, her arm linked with Joanna’s, me walking backward and laughing in the breeze. I think of Matt* playing guitar outside the LCBO… you can hear him talking from two blocks down. They are all there, and I know they remain in their own way although much has changed. People like John are now gone, no goodbye to be said. Businesses such as the Coffee Time have closed. We can no longer walk arm in arm.

I wonder what my return to The Dale will look like in October. Will we still be greeting our friends and community outside, unable to gather together and eat around a table? What will Coffee Time become? Will I look for John at the health centre on my way home, hoping for a final wave at the end of the day? Tears fill my eyes. These are things I cannot think of now. I know by the time that I am there my baby Charlotte will be nearing One. My, how time flies…

Thanks for sitting with my in my thoughts this evening. Thanks for your patience as I try to enter this space more and again.

As always, may you find peace tonight.

Love, Meg.

Far from the Front Lines.

I’ve tried to write this blog a handful of times and the words just aren’t coming so easily. What do you say at a time like this? At a time that none of us have been through before? At a time when so much is unknown. It wasn’t until I was in the shower tonight that I let my emotions start to fall like the water around me and I thought – just go back to the basics. Just tell them how you feel. So here it is.

The truth is, I haven’t felt this far from the front line, ever. I have been walking alongside people in community work and social care since my school days at Ryerson – about 7 years. During this time, I have walked alongside folks experiencing homelessness, addictions, and mental health issues. I have been a food preparer, dish washer, pet sitter, patient visitor, fight breaker-upper, talk someone down-er, prayer, listener, lesson learner, court day supporter, and much more. Now I spend a lot of my days at home with Charlotte, my baby girl. While this is an important job too, that of being a mom (which tasks I won’t list because they involve butt-wiper, etc), this is not the work I am accustomed to. I mean in some ways it is… and in a lot of ways I just miss my job, my team, my people, my work.

I think there is a lot to say in all of this that I am still processing and thinking about and trying to feel. Every time I talk to my people about this I get the same response over and over: It’s complicated, messy, hard. There is no right way to go about all this motherhood/work life balance thing. Right now, I just miss my life. Plain as that. And I feel really weird saying that right now to be honest, because I think it is made all the more messy knowing that some of my friends and colleagues, and even my husband, are still out there in this pandemic fighting. They’re fighting for justice and safety and community and connection for my friends on, or close to the street who are continually pushed aside and ignored. And it’s hard to be here while they are there. Because I wish it could be both ways.

There are moments that came to be in the shower tonight like my life was flashing before my eyes or something. All are moments from my work at The Dale that I hold really close to my heart. That time that Cindy* invited us into her new apartment to pray over it (and meet her cat that she tells me every. single. time I see her that she named Meghan Markle). That time I was pregnant and every time Toby* saw me he rubbed his belly and said, “Did you have a big breakfast too” even though he knew full well I was pregnant and was mostly making fun of himself. That time that my brother sat with Tim* in the grass on outreach and talked about classic books. That time that we pet-sat Samantha’s* dog and 8 cats for months while she was in the hospital. There are a hundred more.

These are the moments I miss so dearly being away from my work and my friends and my people. And these are the moments that we MUST not lose to this virus. We need to keep going, in any way we can, so that our friends can hold onto hope and connection and community and love and joy. And so that we can hold onto these things as well. Where do you isolate when you live outside? How do you panic buy when you live less then cheque to cheque? How do you hold onto community when drop-in after drop-in and coffee shop after coffee shop are shutting down? How do you stay healthy when you live head to head in a shelter? I really don’t have all the answers.

What I do know is that my colleagues at The Dale are trying so hard right now. They are trying so hard to stay visible in Parkdale while people retreat inside, in a way that is safe, intentional, thoughtful and loving. Working without our own building has taught us a lot about resilience and staying quick on our feet, but I don’t know what this ultimate test is supposed to teach us right now. Buildings that we used to parter with are shutting their doors. We are losing space and being pushed further and further outside. We need your help.

The Dale is going to continue to meet for as long as possible in whatever way is possible and safe. We have a lot of vulnerable people in our community and in our lives and their safety is most important. The Dale is meeting outside our usual “spots” right now and staying a safe distance apart physically while trying to remain close in heart. I say “we” but I really need to hand it to Erinn, Jo, Pete and Olivia. They are heroes to me.

I am asking for your help. This is what I can do from home with a baby in one hand and a lot of hope in the other. Can you pray for my team and my community? Can you pray for safety and strength in this unknown time? I know they could really use it. I know this is a time of scarcity for a lot of people so if you have extra to give, would you consider donating to The Dale? There are a lot of things they could use, but as with the times, I’m sure that list is changing by the day. You can read some of what is needed in Erinn’s blog post here (the list of needed items can be found at the bottom of the post if you are short on time, although I encourage you to read the whole thing!). Money is such a support at a time like this – a time where our donations of food are far between since we don’t have a place to receive them, where our kitchens are closing and we aren’t sure what is next… money would help obtain whatever supplies are needed to keep food, sanitary items, and any necessities coming. Any help would be so appreciated. Please visit https://www.thedale.org/donate/.

Peace to you in these times of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. I know I always say it but I really do mean it. May you find a peace that passes all understanding.

Love, Meg.

Lessons from Mom Life, Pt. 2

Last time I wrote a blog inspired by a video I watched on YouTube called, “I don’t like being a mom.” If you haven’t read that blog yet, you can find it here. We chat about the often hard realities that come with motherhood, how I miss my “old life” but love my kid, and how both of those things can be true at the same time. This week, as promised, I am back with my own list of Ten Reasons Why Motherhood Is Great. This one is a little long. I hope you have the time to grab a snack and sit with me for a minute. As always, thanks for walking this journey with me and holding this space with me where I can be honest with you. It means a great deal to me. Here we go!

Ten Reasons Why Motherhood is Great:

  1. Her cutie baby laughs and how hard you have to work for them. Charlotte learned to smile at Christmas. Most recently she has been practicing the art of laughing. I could sit all day and try a hundred ways to make Charlie laugh and it won’t come… but then it will! After 8 hours of acting like a complete dork trying to make her laugh, one stupid thing finally pushes her over the edge. And it keeps me humble. It reminds me that sometimes, happiness doesn’t come easily. Sometimes you gotta work really hard at it, and when you do it can truly begin to feel like a gift.
  2. Family cuddles in bed. Ian and I love waking Charlie up on weekends from a long nap, and bringing her into bed with us for a family cuddle. We take turns tickling her, making her smile, watching her stare at the marks on our ceiling, and chatting about how cool she is. I love this bonding time we have together as a family.
  3. Being a team with Ian. One thing I found about motherhood is that it is really hard for me to do alone. Props to all the single parents out there doing motherhood alone, whether you’re a mom or dad. I feel like I can truly be my best mom self when I have Ian there to tag team with and it helps me appreciate how great of a dad he is. After all, I wouldn’t be a mom without him being a dad right alongside me.
  4. Mom Friends. I don’t know if I will ever be the type to go to a “mom group” with Charlotte, but I am slowly coming to appreciate how great it is to have friends who are also moms, especially of young babies. Whether we see each other or just interact online, I love being able to relate and feel seen. “My hair just started to fall out and it’s really hard. I love my long hair,” I said to my mom friend the other day. “Oh me too! That happened to me too!” That’s all it took. I was seen. And it was really nice.
  5. Having a village. Did you ever hear that phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well it’s true. From people offering to watch Charlie to people bringing dinner to us, to people asking how we are… these are the things that help raise a baby and I am so grateful for these people who have become my village. Motherhood wouldn’t be the same without the many hands reaching in to help me and us. I don’t think I would be a good mom without these hands!
  6. The satisfaction of putting your baby to sleep. Charlotte is just starting to get the hang of falling asleep independently. All those long hours of rocking, putting down and picking back up, scheduling naps, and finding routines that work are all starting to pay off. And while I know she isn’t perfect and there will still be bumps in the road, it is really satisfying to walk slowly out of her room, close the door, and see her fall asleep on the monitor. One small step for Charlotte, and one giant step for mom-kind.
  7. Physical pain doesn’t seem as bad. I pushed a baby out of me. And it hurt. A lot! And I had an epidural! That was just my experience. There are so many ways to bring a baby into this world, and so many ways that can be painful. So now when I sit in the doctors office and they have to do a little procedure and they say, this may hurt – I saw, “Nah! I’m good!” And for that I am really grateful. Pain reminds us how strong we really are. Well let me say I am stronger than I ever thought I could be.
  8. Leaving parties early. Most of those who know me know that I am an introvert. I can appreciate a good outing, but I also love to go home, get in bed, and relax in my happy place. It can be hard to keep coming up with excuses for why you have to bounce early when you’re single or when you’re married and your husband is veeeeery extroverted. Now? “Sorry! Gotta get home to the kid! You know how it is…” Maybe you don’t know how it is, but I do! And I am happy to have an introvert pass for life!
  9. Small talk subject. Part of being an introvert for me is being not great at small talk. “Oh man, the weather lately eh?” “Oh yeah… totally.” That’s pretty much as far as I can get before I slowly back away. Now ask me about my kid and I can go on and on. Yes I am one of those people! And I don’t mind if it saves me from talking about the weather for 30 minutes.
  10. Permanent company. Now this is a love/hate thing from my perspective. Remember that introvert thing I was talking about? Loving my alone time? Yeah, some days I really look forward to nap time. But motherhood can also be really isolating. Going from working, even being on public transit, engaging in a city that’s so full of people to being in a baby bubble at home can be a tricky thing to navigate. I think these days I am trying to learn to embrace the balance of things that life offers to me. On those days where I feel lonely, I am so grateful for my best bud Charlotte, and soon she will be able to talk back to me and I won’t feel so odd about talking to a baby who says nothing (although that gets easier with practice, as do most things motherhood throws your way).

I hope this list provides some encouragement to you, especially if you are mom (new, experienced, about to be…). In writing this list, I was pleased in taking time to reflect on how this season has been for me. I know that I can forget to do this, especially in the daily grind of being a parent. What season of life are you walking through? Whether it be easy or hard, can you take some time to reflect on how it has been for you? I found that it was nice to reflect and think about the good things that have come from motherhood. It can be hard, yes. And it can be good. In doing this exercise, I didn’t want to let the hard things go. Pain is apart of life. I am learning that all emotions fall on a spectrum and it is okay to feel all the things you feel. Let us learn to hold both good and hard lightly and learn as we go. That’s what I will be practicing this week. Hope you join me.

Peace to you.

Charlotte, wearing a reminder to me of all that I am as a Mother.

Lessons from Mom Life, Pt. 1

Can we talk about “guilty pleasures” for a second? I don’t really like that term but for the sake of this blog, let’s just go with it. I’m talking about things that you do that bring you joy that maybe not many people know about you. I don’t know how many of you know this about me, but I would say one of my “guilty pleasures” is watching YouTube videos. I love sitting down with my breakfast or lunch while Charlotte is having a nap, and watching a video or two. A few of my favourites are mom related content, recipe videos, or “vlogs” where people film bits of their daily lives and upload it online, kind of like a more relatable mini reality show. Weird? Maybe! But I’ve been watching YouTube videos since my high school days and I love the little communities online that I get to be apart of.

Becoming a mom opened up a whole new door of YouTube content to me. Little did I know that the online world was filled with videos about labour, baby essentials, motherly advice, and so on. Now this is where I needed to give my head a little shake. Start watching some of these videos and you may begin to get a little overwhelmed with all the products, advice, and theories out there about how to be the “perfect” mom. That can lead you down a road of comparison that I sure didn’t want to walk down. Therefore, I’ve really started to be more selective about what I was watching, especially when it came to mom related content.

When Charlotte first was born, I was sat on the couch one day while she slept watching YouTube. I came across a video called, “I don’t like being a mom.” by a woman named Jessica Hover. To be honest, I was a little perplexed at the title, but decided to click through anyways, maybe looking for a hint of honesty in a world too often polished when it comes to the realities of mom life. Jess goes on to talk about how as moms we need each other. We need moms that aren’t too keen on the heavy realities of motherhood and we need moms that feel like they were born to do “this”. She says that she loves her children so much, and still there are many times where she doesn’t like being a mom. She remembers her old life, and her old self, and how things were pre-children. She was honest. And I sighed a breath of relief.

Finally, someone was able to say it. To say what so many of us may be thinking, but what can be hard to admit. Of course I love Charlotte with all of my heart and soul. But can I imagine my life without her? Do I even remember what life was like before? Um yes. I remember it well because it was practically a blink ago. I remember the 26 years I walked the earth before Charlotte and I miss those days. I miss the freedom of my “old” life. Do I take it back? No. Do I accept that I chose this? Yes. Will I have more kids? Hopefully! But that doesn’t mean that everyday of my life I am overwhelmed by my love of motherhood, even though I AM overwhelmed with my love for my kid. And I hope as moms we can accept that this is true for some of us, and not true for others. And that’s okay. Everyone’s experience of motherhood is so unique, and is valid.

Jessica goes on to tell about 10 Reasons Why Motherhood is Great, and the lessons she’s learned while being a mom – the reasons why being a mom is so awesome, even though it can be really hard sometimes. I actually took notes the first time I watched this video and still have them on my phone. And on the days that Charlotte is really grumpy (or I’m grumpy) and I’m really tired, or the days where my mental health isn’t great and I wonder what the heck I got myself into, I look at this list. And it totally helps.

Because this blog is already pretty long, I want to write another blog next time inspired by Jess’s video, and make my own list of reasons why motherhood is great. Because sometimes I need a reminder! It can be hard, and tiring, and isolating. And it can also be a miracle, and lovely, and joyful. Something can be two things at once, and that’s something I love about this world. Things can be good… and hard. We can not love motherhood…. and love our kids more than anything. We can be really sad….. and still find joy in little moments. I feel like I’m already trying to talk myself out of the shame of saying I don’t like motherhood sometimes, but HEY. It’s okay to say you don’t like something. And it’s okay to say you love it. Let’s all be gentle with each other okay? And let’s continue to work on being honest. I know it’s really hard. But I think its worth it.

Peace to you.

PS: Heres a link to Jess’s video. If you have 20 minutes, give it a watch. She is an honest, funny, sweet lady who makes honest videos about motherhood and faith and being a human, and she has some other videos on her channel if you’re interested.

Falling Short and Remaining Faithful.

I was standing in the bathroom getting ready for bed when Ian walked in from outside. He had been out for maybe 30 seconds taking out our recycling. “We have to pray for our friends on the street tonight… it’s freezing.” he said to me as he took off his coat, his face red from the sting of the cold. “And what good is that going to do?” I snapped back – a mixture of many feelings swirling around in my head these days, some being anger, resentment, fatigue, and sadness.

He looked at me shocked, and I apologized. He responded in the only way Ian knows how to do – with deep encouragement. “Meg, we always pray.” He went on to list many of the ways that God has been so faithful. When we needed a car, our good friends had one that they were willing to let go and generously gave to us for our growing family. When we were short on money, people would e-transfer us grocery money without knowing what we were going through. And just last week when I really needed a friend, someone reached out who had no idea what I needed.

The truth is that I’ve been struggling. Mostly I am tired. Don’t get me wrong, Charlotte is amazing. She sleeps really well – but we are still up at night, taking care during the day, learning so much, walking through this season of being new parents. We have been through a lot of transitions in the last couple of months and it is wearing on me. When I’m tired, I don’t do well handling my emotions, and I think I can say the same for Ian. This leads to more arguments, more sleepless nights, less self worth, and more sadness. The past couple weeks have been rough, and I am almost ashamed to admit it. I don’t want to “fail” as a mother or wife, but it feels like I fall short many days. And you know what? I need to learn that this is where God comes in.

Of course a simple prayer for our friends on the street won’t “fix” homelessness. But it does give God the power and the glory which is what we need to do in this life, isn’t it? There are many people tirelessly advocating, walking alongside people, working hard day after day for our most vulnerable friends living outside. And maybe during this time off work where my hands are less busy shaking those I meet outside and more busy holding a baby, I can still pray. I can pray that someone finds my friends and is generous with their time or money. I can pray for my colleagues and husband who are still working hard on the field. I can pray for a miracle. And God works in many big and small ways as Ian reminded me that night.

In my sadness and fear of failure, it is easy to think that God is not with me. It is easy to remain angry, to continue to fight with Ian, to not tell people how I am doing, to give up on therapy. But that’s not the way things get better. I’m not sure where I wanted this blog to go, but I do want to encourage you that God is so faithful, even when it feels like you’re falling short – He never does. So we pray and give God all the glory. We pray and give Him space to do His work. And we remain faithful. I know it isn’t easy, but it is important.

Peace to you this week.