Judgements of Motherhood

A friend of mine will soon see her baby for the first time.  Due in 2 months and preparing for her baby’s arrival, her life is about to change forever.

I remember those first couple years of motherhood.  Suddenly you are in “the club” only you are a rookie; and sometimes the club is not too kind to the newbies.


I can remember being told: “You shouldn’t put your baby to sleep in that manner, he will NEVER learn to sleep on his own.”  

Or how about, “Really, you need to give that baby a soother.  He will NEVER stop sucking his thumb!”  

Or my favourite (being a pharmacist), “Dear, you just need to put ‘blah blah blah’ on that rash and it’ll be cleared up in no time.”  

All this well-meaning advice can be hard on a new mom.  While finding their way and trying to do what is best for their baby and themselves, it can be difficult to stand your own ground.  Unfortunately, the sense of self-doubt tends to stay with moms as we continually wonder if we are making the right choices for our kids.

Sierra Exif JPEG

As I became more experienced as a mom I began to see my own judgemental nature.  I was a mostly ‘stay at home mom’, an ‘attachment’ parent who kept my babies close at night and in a sling by day.  Wasn’t that the BEST way to be a mom??

Now, after many years of homeschooling, my kids are in school full-time and I am running a full-time professional practice.   I am still the same mom.

I have met many stay at home mom’s who feel it is the ONLY way to raise a child.  And I know many working mom’s who feel that THEIR way is the only way.    Having been on both sides of the fence I can say that there just is no “one right way” to be a mom.

What IS the right way is to lose the judgement.  Moms need to support each other.  It is one of the most difficult journeys helping a child grow up to be responsible, kind and a positive member of society.

As for the well-meaning advice….Ben now sleeps like the dead, Noah hasn’t sucked his thumb for at least 6 years, and the rash….that was food allergies.

Nod and smile… and remember that there are many paths.

noah-mommy-bw - Version 2

at least one of us is tired..

“The Talk”


I just had “The Talk” with my kids.

It started like this:

“Boys, when I need to hire someone do you know what one of the first things is I do?”

Nope, they had no idea.

“I google them,” I said. “I see what they post on Facebook, Twitter, blogs. If they have posted anything that is calling someone else down, is sexually inappropriate, or if they’ve made blatantly disrespectful comments on other people’s postings, I would tend not to hire that person.”

Social media is a relatively new invention. Young kids now are posting things on the internet that will follow them into their adult life —>for the first time in history, creating a permanent personal digital identity. This is the first generation creating that type of history, and without being aware, kids can be damaging their future unintentionally.

So far, my boys only foray onto social media is Instagram. It is a starting point, and I am allowing them to learn as they go. So tonight, I asked my son to come sit with me and show me what he has posted so far (yes, I look at it regularly, but I wanted to encourage discussion.)

Among the mostly silly pictures, there were a few I would consider inappropriate (mostly for language). I asked him about them and he said, “Mom, I like to post things that make people laugh.”

Yup, that’s good, I said. So I asked him what kind of job he wanted to do when he grew up, and he said a musician. So, I told him to picture the future scenario of a man who had to choose between him and another musician to come entertain his guests. If the man googled Noah Oleksyn, what would he see? It would be terrible to not get that job, or the next one because of some dumb stuff you posted when you were a kid right? I repeated a similar conversation with my other son, substituting “Fifa Soccer player” for musician. What I heard from both of them is that they hadn’t thought of that at all.

I think as parents we need to do three things for our kids:

  • Be aware of what our children are doing on the internet
  • Be on sites with them and teach as they go.
  • Be examples with our own digital identity.

I love this post shared by Royan Lee. Great questions for all of us to keep in mind.

Kids using social media and posting content on the internet without any sort of direction is like dropping them off at a grocery store and saying, “Choose some food.”

Without some education on healthy eating and good choices, mine would definitely come out with a bag of chips and a case of pop.

We teach our children how to talk in a respectful manner, how to keep healthy, be kind, have manners and a myriad of other things throughout the time they are entrusted to our care. Today, becoming literate digitally is just as important as learning to read and write. We need to be alongside our children in this new area that encompasses so many aspects of their life. Social media and interaction on the internet is not going anywhere, and as with talking about sex or drugs, our conversations need to be continuous as they grow up in the digital world.

True Love

I came across this quote today, and it reminded me of what true friendship and love really is.  I feel fortunate to have experienced such love in my life.

“Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.”

African song

ccFlickr shared by smig44_uk


Scan 5 - Version 2

Carlene and Carl

I was born on his birthday.

I share his name….and every year from the time I was born until I finished university and moved away, we would celebrate our birthdays together.

The baby years where all I wanted to do was grab the cake, through the awkward years where I was “too cool”,  to our last birthday together when he was in hospital.

I didn’t get to see him before he died.  Family members all went to be with him, to be present, say goodbye.  But I was too far away to get there.  I figured it was okay.  It hadn’t been that long since I had last seen him.  But when I got the call that he had died I felt not only loss, but a horrible sense of Scan 2 - Version 2guilt that I wasn’t there.

That night he came, in a dream that wasn’t a dream. He said to me that it was okay.  It was okay that I hadn’t been there, and that he loved me and he would always be with me. That was it.  So brief, yet with complete certainty it was him.

Today is our birthday and he is on my mind.

I know others who have had such visitations; from a child lost as a baby, a grandmother, a beloved dog.  The stories need to honored as much as the memory.

Scan 3 - Version 2Happy Birthday Grandpa.


ccFlickr shared by Dave Pearson


A question can become the bridge that connects us to the lives of others; to those we love and to those we’ve only just met.

I have a friend who, no matter what is going on in her own life, always asks questions of the person she is talking to.   Whether the person she is speaking to is four or ninety-four, she will ask about their family, their work, their day to day, often remembering the smallest details from previous conversations.

The beauty is not that she asks the question but that when you answer her she is completely in that moment.  She has a beautiful way of making the other person feel like she is totally focused on them; that what you are saying is of utmost importance to her.

It took me awhile to discover what it was that made people in her presence feel as if they were receiving a gift. It is in the listening.

So often I find myself listening with an agenda or with the intent to reply rather than with the intent to understand.  I may think I am listening but my hearing is selective, deciding what the person’s meaning is before they have even finished talking.

In the five years of our friendship I have received this gift of being listened to over and over again. But the real gift has been in having this type of listening modelled to me which reminds me always to work at improving selfless listening in my own life.



“What have I done?”

A few weeks ago a colleague warned me that in the first year of owning and running a new pharmacy I would conclude that I had made a huge mistake.

Yup….that happened well before turning the sign to “open”!

The two weeks leading up to my opening day were chaos.  I’ve never slept so minimally, had my “to do”list grow so fast, nor seen my children so little.  As I heard repeatedly, “Mom, are you coming home late again today?” I figured I had made a mistake.  I am a clinician; I love the “care” part of health care, and here I was, steeped in putting a business together. Spending hours on end away from my family, and even when with them my mind was racing with all the things I needed to handle.

So when I walked into my brand new pharmacy on day one and flipped the sign to open, I wondered whether I had jumped into something I would resent, or at the very least not enjoy.

Then came patients through my door.  Just a few at first, and a few more each day, and I found myself in a place of privilege.  As I provided health care, I heard their stories.  Stories about caring for terminally ill spouses, stories of how difficult it is to live with chronic pain, journeys through chemo and disappointment with the system.  Even stories of past jobs and places they had visited in their life time.  As I immunized many against the flu I also shared a lot of my own story.  How I came to be in this new pharmacy, growing up in Saskatchewan, how I had started a pharmacy in Chemainus when I was very young.

It struck me once again that the connection made and the care given are what brings me joy.  Having my own pharmacy means I can structure and set up to practice the way I want.  I have control over how I care for the people who walk through my door.  There is no one to tell me I must meet a certain quota or promote sketchy treatments or unproven products.  In the end, it is worth all the headaches that I am sure will come.  So it is to the people who came through my door this week that I am grateful to, for reminding me what it’s all about.

Tidal Wave Changes

cc licensed Flickr shared by Chris-Håvard Berge

For the first time in 8 years I am not homeschooling any of my children, and after 18 years of practicing pharmacy in someone else’s dispensary, I will practice in my own.  I’ve made a huge leap, with the support of my family, into what I hope will be a rewarding new phase in my personal and professional life.

Those who have read my blog, or visited my professional site, know that I have complained a little (and sometimes a lot) about the struggles of wanting to practice pharmacy in line with my philosophy of patient engagement and focus on learning.  So I’ve made the leap to “putting my money where my mouth is” so to speak and, along with some great partners, am opening a pharmacy in Stony Plain.

As I embark on an exciting new phase of my career, my children have also had to adapt and grow.  They have taken on full time school (here’s Noah’s remarks on that), more chores, my babysitting,  and a different way of learning at home (less time with Mom to explore cool stuff together.)  My spouse has moved his office home to be more available to them and they have embraced the changes with more enthusiasm than I had hoped.

I’ve experienced, over the past year, small ripples of growth and change and had no idea where they would lead.  As the ripples converged into a wave, I’ve received much support and encouragement from family, friends and global connections.  I have much to be grateful for. And yes, even though I’m sending them all to school, on their first day they still got cake for breakfast.