HOMETOWN Fort Langley, British Columbia, Canada
ON THE WEB Heidi Cave
NUMBER OF CHILDREN Two
DAY JOB Mom, writer and motivational speaker
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Married
FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. Charlotte’s Web is a favorite because we are captivated by every creature in that barn. We’re sympathizing with Fern, rooting for Wilbur, and falling in love with Charlotte and her rich vocabulary. We love Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus because it’s a funny tale about, well, a pigeon that shouldn’t drive a bus but at every page makes a case for why he should. My kids like to take turns reading it very loudly.
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?
My husband goes to work for a web development company from Monday to Friday. Annie is 8 and Benjamin is 6 so they’re off to school each morning which leaves me with the house all to myself. As soon as I drop off the kids I come home to a quiet house and this is when I attempt to get productive.
I make the trip down the stairs to the dungeon that is the office. I write, do laundry, trip up the stairs to sweep the floor and load the dishwasher, and then I return to the dungeon. I squeeze in lunch while watching House Hunters International (What is it about that show? I’m hooked!). The day zooms by and on the days we have activities I am the driver wrangling and then ferrying my kids across town. I loathe cooking, so Scott is our cook and I do the clean-up. It’s a system that works well for us. On Tuesdays Annie has ballet and Benjamin has soccer at 5pm. Until a cloning device is invented, I can’t be in both places at once, so Scott will come home early to take Ben to practice and I’m in charge of Annie.
We don’t have lessons and activities every day. It’s important to me that my kids are kids, that there is time to play without assignment and structure. Along with school, both have one thing they’re involved in. Right now it’s ballet for Annie and soccer for Benjamin.
HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL? For instance are you now careful, when pre-children you led bungee jumping and sky diving expeditions?
I laughed when I read this because my husband Scott is a skydiver. When I met him I learned he flew planes and jumped out of them. He continues that craziness today. And the kids are completely on board. They go to the drop zone with him, draw colorful pictures of parachutes and drop action figures from the top of the staircase in delight. In fact, Scott and the kids will be going on a field trip to a wind tunnel in Seattle where each of them will take turns flying.
As for me, I often find myself looking at the world through my kids’ eyes now. Their curiosity and questions have fueled my imagination and given me fresh perspective on how the universe works. I can also say that the range of emotions I experience in one day is far greater after having kids, from frustration to heartache to sheer joy. I used to have all this space and time to myself. There’s certainly less of that now, but I carve out time for myself when I can. I wholeheartedly believe it makes me a better mother. I refuel, so I’m ready to give.
I also do some pretty serious silly dancing, now. The kids and I have moves!
WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AS A PARENT AND WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES? (WHAT ARE YOUR PARTNER’S?)
I’m going to combine questions 6 and 7. Scott and I are a team, true partners in this parenting gig. Scott is laidback and easygoing. I am not. But, I get things done. I am the organizer and the planner of our unit of four. I know our schedules and if you can’t find something I have an odd knack for discovering that missing tape or mangled stuffy. Scott is the resting place to our children, for me. He is a fixer. You can often hear me calling, “Scott, help me!” when the fridge has ceased to be a fridge or when I have given up on the computer.
Scott and I are opposites, but we share the same values. We want our kids to think for themselves. We desire for them to live this life well and to know what it is to truly live. Scott and I respect each other enormously, and we believe through our love and commitment our kids will thrive.
I was in a devastating car crash 13 years ago that left 52% of me severely burned and I lost my legs below the knees as a result. Scott and I had been dating for only six weeks before this happened. I was in the hospital for seven months and spent five months in rehabilitation.
Everything had changed and, as we quickly discovered, it isn’t the ideal way to begin a relationship, but we had each other. We now have a take on life we didn’t have before, and we want to pass on that love of life to our kids.
WHO ELSE PROVIDES CHILDCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN?
If we need help or a night out, Oma or grandma babysits. We’re also fortunate to have a second family in our friends who, in a pinch, would be there for us.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
Benjamin was diagnosed with cold-induced asthma when he was three, and as the asthma increased without a cold attached to it we were in and out of the hospital. Every time we went to emergency with him, saw a doctor, and followed up with our family doctor or nurse we were given different explanations and methods of treatment. Our heads were full of information, our cabinet full of medicine, pamphlets and puffers, but we had conflicting advice. Watch him when he has a cold. Does he have trouble breathing when he’s exercising? No? Then, he should be fine. Nebulizers are great. Nebulizers won’t help. Take the orange (flovent), the blue (ventolin) puffer. Only use the blue if he needs it and only use it up to 4, 6, 8 times a day. We weren’t told to take it seriously. And we didn’t want to be those parents that freaked out over every sniffle and cough.
Ben had been wheezy, a rattle in his chest, for about a week. We upped his medicine, kept a close eye on him and followed our instructions. One early evening his breathing grew labored, so I increased his dosage of the blue puffer and continued to watch him. Scott came home and I was unsure as to what to do. Scott thought we should bring him to emergency. Just as we were debating the trip Ben vomited. This was a sure sign that things were headed in a dangerous direction. He wasn’t getting enough air.
Scott took him to the hospital as I followed through on plans with a friend. I brought Annie with me and I waited for Scott’s call. I was so used to these hospital trips I expected the call that said they pumped him full of oxygen and meds and they were on their way home. That didn’t happen.
Instead Ben wound up in the hospital for 4 days.
My heart plummeted. I felt sick that I didn’t realize the gravity of Ben’s situation and I was guilty of not demanding and learning more as his asthma progressed. I’m Ben’s mom and his greatest advocate. After that hospital stay we were finally referred to a pediatric clinic specializing in asthma where we asked many, many questions and were finally given sound advice. When Ben begins to show signs that his asthma is beyond our control we take him in to the hospital and make sure he is treated properly. We now have a pediatrician that is wonderful and Ben has been doing well under her care.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
One afternoon I stared at my crummy, sticky floor and wondered if I should sweep it or lie down on the couch and call it a day. I heard my kids whisper on the staircase. Ben said, “I have to tell her.” Annie encouraged him, “You go. I’ll be downstairs.”
As I worried about what kind of trouble they got into Ben shuffled over to me, hands in his pockets, and said, “Mommy, I have to tell you something.”
“Okay, Ben, lay it on me.”
He drew a deep breath, “Mommy. You are my hero. You are brave and smart and you finished a whole book and that is hard work. I’m lucky you’re my mommy. He sped through his speech, threw his arms around me and hung from my neck. “I just had to tell you. You’re my hero.”
I had recently finished a manuscript about a car crash I was in and the long recovery that followed thirteen years ago. It wasn’t that I was a hero. I wasn’t waiting to hear those words. It was how I felt known in that moment. Ben saw me for more than someone who yells at him to clean up his Lego that is scattered throughout the house or pick up his clothes. He saw me as a person, as a mother with feelings and goals and dreams.
We talk a lot about compassion in this house. Embracing people’s differences, including others and being kind. To really see people. And in that moment he did.
My daughter Annie is a lovely, curious and fiercely independent girl. Annie’s quest for independence can sometimes bring me to the brink of crazy. We’re similar. Between our zeal for making our own way and the perfectionism that runs in our bloodstream we are capable of some epic battles. Some of my better parenting moments is to know when to let go, and if I’ve crossed a line to admit my mistake and tell her, “I’m sorry.”
When Annie was three years old we were in the house playing in our kitchen and I swung her around in a wide circle. She began to sing-song, “You be you and I be me.” I’ve never forgotten that and I hold fast to it today.