The end of an era

After a decade of parenting columns, I will no longer write about my kids

Over the last couple of years, it’s become increasingly difficult to write about my children for this column

What are they comfortable with me sharing? How much do I feel I can declare, publicly? Am I writing something that might embarrass them, now or in the future?

Our son was barely a year old when I started writing a parenting column called Mommy Diaries for a local magazine …

… and when I started writing The Mom Scene for SaltWire Network newspapers, he was three and our daughter was one. 

Babies! All of us!

Now our son is 11 years old, in his second year of junior high school. (They renamed it a “middle school” over the summer, but he refuses to be demoted.) I can tell you he loves YouTube, Harry Potter, taekwondo, running and K-pop, but he’s creeping up on being a teenager, so I can’t tell you more than that. He deserves his privacy.

Even our “baby” is far from a baby. She’s nine going on 16, with highlighted hair and a brand-new set of braces. I can tell you she takes four dance classes a week, loves to act, and shines the brightest on any stage, but she rolls her eyes when I embarrass her, so I don’t dare tell you more than that. She, too, deserves her privacy.

First day of school 2015 vs. 2021

When I started writing about life as a mother, it felt like there were thousands of things to write about — baby food, cloth diapers, potty-training, naps, sleep deprivation, tantrums, first words, speech delays, ear surgeries. I loved reading “mommy blogs,” and couldn’t get enough of parenting content because it summed up my whole world.

When my kids were in preschool and elementary school, there were entertaining stories to tell about screen time, playdates, birthday party drama and ER visits because of swallowed screws. (He was fine, and hopefully learned a lesson about dissembling and snacking on Happy Meal toys.)

There were serious topics, too. I wrote about struggles with postpartum depression, the crippling anxiety of raising children during a pandemic, and the enormous mental toll associated with parenthood. I wrote about the backlash our son experienced when he grew his hair long, and what it taught all of us about misgendering

One newspaper edition at a time, I wrote the story of our lives — not all of it, but a decent snapshot of what the last decade has been like for our family. 

And while I know many people believe parents shouldn’t publicly share anything about their children, including photos, I have been happy with my decision to share bits and pieces. 

I don’t regret the years I spent telling these stories, and neither do the kids — so far, at least. They enjoyed when their school bus driver taped up a column for everyone to see, or when a teacher stopped them in the halls to congratulate them on something they’d read.

My children have grown up smiling through the pages of newspapers across Atlantic Canada, and now they have a thick scrapbook of brightly coloured newspaper clippings to look back on — a storybook of their younger lives, captured forever on newsprint. 

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New school year, new worries

For children too young to be vaccines yet, masks are their only defence

For the second year in a row, schools across Nova Scotia will be reopening with a mask mandate — but, unfortunately, it may not last for long.

With the province scheduled to hit Phase 5 as early as Sept. 15, barely one week into the 2021/2022 school year, I’m worried about what a mask-free world is going to look like for our children under 12.

I know, I know — the vaccine wasn’t even available to most parents of school-aged children until the last school year was almost over. (My husband and I had our first doses May 19, and second doses June 28.) Since being vaccinated wasn’t an option during much of the last school year, it didn’t seem as terrifying to have all these unvaccinated children (and adults) walking around, interacting with each other.

But now that vaccines are here, available for everyone except our children under 12, the thought of sending them off to school unprotected is unnerving. Combined with potentially removing face mask requirements one week in, and you’ve got a perfect storm for worried, anxious parents.

FACE MASKS FOR KIDS UNDER 12

True, I could “force” my kids to wear masks at school even when they’re not required. But I can just imagine how well that would go over. 

“My friends’ parents don’t make them wear masks!” Well, just because your friends jump off a bridge — er, heighten their COVID risk, doesn’t mean you … Ugh, I’m already exhausted, just thinking of the arguments.

My kids (aged nine and 11) are excellent about wearing their masks. No, they don’t always want to, but they wear them without complaint when we’re out and about. They wear masks on lanyards. They wear disposable masks and reusable masks. They stuff masks in pockets and backpacks and jackets, so they always have a mask when they need one.

#MaskLife

But if Nova Scotia enters Phase 5 and masks are “recommended but not required,” are they really going to choose to wear them? Probably not. 

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Surviving the first big slumber party

Everything was going great … until it wasn’t.

I was washing the dishes when a wide-eyed child appeared in my kitchen, motioning to the backyard where six little girls had all been playing nicely just moments earlier.

“You’d better get out there,” she told me darkly. “People are sad.”

Um, what?! 

I hurried out back to find tween turmoil. Some were crying, some had stormed off, and some were comforting the ones who were upset. What happened? No idea. I couldn’t understand everyone’s tears and shouts.

Nervously, I called my daughter over and hissed “We need to do something!” She was wailing, too, worried that her very first slumber party was ruined before it had really begun. 

Thankfully, she’d planned a scavenger hunt, with scribbled marker clues leading her guests to discover which movie they were going to watch. The distraction calmed everyone down and they forgot about their squabble.

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