Suck it up, Buttercup

Suck it up, buttercup was a well used phrase by a friend of mine. Without fail, every time she used it, it surprised me. Coming from such a generous, empathetic, warm woman, it sounded shockingly harsh. With those four words I would suspiciously wonder if she had a dark side that I had never seen. I recognize the hilarity in that. It’s such a gentle instruction. And yet when she said it, it made me worry about the day she would use it on me. Oh, she used the phrase in passing, during a meal we ate or something. ‘Is there any balsamic dressing? No? Shoot.’ Suck it up, buttercup. Nervous smile. That’s about as dangerous as it got.
I’ve lost track of all the things I suck up – either willingly or begrudgingly. There are so many. Keeping a list is not an act of woe, but rather a triumphant war cry of my goddamn accomplishments. I get through because I suck it up, like a buttercup should, and I am learning how to see it as winning, not whining.
It wasn’t always like this. Quite the contrary.
I spent a decent portion of my adult life trying to fight this battle without protective gear. Decked out in honesty and vulnerability I forged my way through enemy territory and wondered why every altercation left me wounded. I wanted to fight with my soul bare, staying polite, beautiful and giving. No wonder my depletion levels got so low I came to a sputtering stop. No wonder my wounds are lasting; scar tissue for days. My depletion left me in a paralyzed shock and as I lay in wait for somebody to come and carry my unarmed body away to safety, I realized the hard and simple truth. There is a lot to suck up.
When I realized this, I spent another healthy portion of my adult life mourning. Then pouting. Vines grew over top of me, earth weighed me down. Spiritual decomposition at it’s best. It’s only been recently, inspired by buttercups that I had the brilliant idea to change my fighting tactics. Maybe I could protect myself in this life battle. Maybe I could stop baring and start conserving. Maybe. Battered and bruised, laying there in my beautiful nightgown, heart open, I heard her whisper in my ear.  
Ripping myself free of the overgrowth has been awful. With each torn root, I wonder how it is that I let this drag on for so long; continuing to believe that my bareness was an effective weapon. Digging myself up feels as though I’m making a tremendous mess for others, and I’m worried that I’m disturbing their garden. My nightgown is torn to shit. But things always gets worse before they get better. I read that once. The surprising news is that my amour is thick. It’s uncomfortable, for sure, and I have urges to shuck it off, crawl back into my cotton nightgown, and run out into the night and assault my loved ones with my tender self again. But I’m practicing life in this new armour and am learning that some positions offer less chaffing. There are some moments that I even forget I’m wearing protective life gear. Baby steps.
Because there is a lot of sucking up to do. Everyday I catch myself, and instead of it sanding away layers of my vulnerability, I slap it onto my armour and watch my protective layers grow. I need this radical shift in my life for a decent period of time. While I am not turning my heart-felt vulnerability off, I am removing it from plain sight. You need an access code now. That’s right, buttercup.
My friend passed away before I had the chance to experience receiving her most frightening, gentle ass kicking. Instead, probably more true to her intention, I hear her every day, carrying her words with me and seeing her animated hand gestures and shoulder shrugs as she uses this most complex metaphor to encourage my growth and survival.
Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 11.51.26 AM
Advertisements

Witness Me

When I was a kid, I would watch and read celebrity interviews with obession. The impossible questions, followed by the ready answer. As an audience member, I was held captive by their words, the seriousness of their sharing. I marveled at the gravity of their experiences. Naturally, I began to mimic my way through imagined interviews. Usually conducted by Oprah Winfrey. The confidence behind their brand of living was something I craved and wanted to emulate. I familiarized myself with key phrases like ‘I have no regrets’ or ‘Pain made me stronger’ and rehearsed them in earnest.

At 34, I still talk to myself like I’m being asked important questions; like my answers matter to a room full of strangers. It’s a delicious self-indulgent feeling, and I admit that I have these conversations on my dog walks, in my car,  or in the bathroom mirror, mugging my way through the thoughts. If I can’t talk it out, I have to write it out.

Over the years, this interview enactment has morphed into a way for me to process my life. Even though it comes from me, the voice being interviewed is an omniscient one that casts an intelligent, high status light on my issues. And thank god I have one voice in my head that takes my shit so seriously. So seriously that she has no shame answering the darkest questions, is willing to give eloquence to my confusion about life, my fears about motherhood, my female wickedness and stand behind them publicly – whether through words or the right tonal inflection. All my private interviews are televised, obviously. All my writing is written with the intention of going viral. If there is an absence of audience, the process does not work.

This need to share, to fumble for the ball in front of a hungry stadium is something that has made me quietly uncomfortable. Why the audience? What void do I have that is so vast it requires strangers to feel validated? Validation – my most elusive lover. Sexy as shit. Toxic as fuck. Validation – that evil sin that keeps me from colouring outside the lines. Validation makes me feel fickle, immature, superficial, and yet, and yet! I pine for it with a gross suffering.

Then: https://tryingtobegood.com/yoga/its-okay-to-want-to-be-seen/ followed by 3 distinct emotions: 1) Intense self- forgiveness 2) Instantaneous compassion for all those professional sharers 3) Overwhelming gratefulness for the internet.

I felt like I had been pardoned for a gruesome crime. I felt like I had found water in the dessert. Sooooooooo….yeah. I have a need to be seen. I have a need to be deeply seen – almost to the point of insatiability. My guilt at needing this is paralyzingly real and therefore I tend to let the world off the hook. I spin in circles waiting to be witnessed, terrified that I have a need that must, it must come from outside myself. It has to come from you. From that group. From them. Otherwise I live in solidarity confinement.

When I don’t let this confident voice sift through the tough issues in order to one day drop it in the middle of an unsuspecting crowd, I suffocate. I bury myself alive with the weight of my toddler emotions, my hair trigger sensitivities.  I slyly coax myself further  out into deep water and then belly laugh at my own drowning. Conversely, if I’m not ready to write it out, not ready to be interviewed, it means whatever the topic, it’s too soon. There must be confusion or angst around it and I have to wait patiently. I have to wait for that inner voice to develop enough confidence that there is no more shame.

Finally, I am standing safely ashore. Check check, I say into the mic.

O.W.       So, tell me: After all the ups and downs, after everything you’ve been through, and know you’re going to face, do you have any regrets?

M.W.      Oprah, get a grip. I have no regrets. 

 

The Night Before Four

On the eve of my son’s 4th birthday, I managed to give him the present one boasts about as an adult. The present that outlasts, that outdoes, that outshines all others. I didn’t even know that I was going to give it to him until he had unwrapped it.

It’s hard to predict how a day goes. There are nights I get very little sleep. These are not nights to complain about. There are nights I get even less sleep than very little and it’s hard not to moan about those. There are familial stresses and tensions. My daughter has taken to telling me very long, very boring stories with no climax and I have to nod dutifully to be supportive but I am actually memorizing cracks in the sidewalk. There are parental and marriage woes, mostly to do with the lack of time, the lack of grace, the lack of 2 bathrooms. Breakfasts, lunches, backpacks, flyers, agendas, behaviour, fatigue, rivalries, meals, lessons, hobbies, video games, laundry, dog walks, social texting, cleaning – it’s all a bit much.

Come bedtime, my kids are lucky if I still look human. They’re also lucky if I have the energy to do the right things, like read books, tuck in, and give a kiss.

But tonight. On the eve of his birthday there was just enough in the tank and I made it. The glorious moments I had with him. His laughter. His hilarious observations. His facial expressions. His ability to follow impulses and watch him recognize that they got a laugh, then milk it a bit more. His laugher at himself.

His present was that I was there. I let bedtime go on too long, and his reward was watching his mother relax and release with giggles. He so rarely sees that, and it was a joy to let him experience it after a tough slog of uphill battles.

The memory will escape him by tomorrow, he’ll have no recollection of this night we shared. But it’s there somewhere, tucked in both our sub consciousnesses, ready to fuel us when we’re running on empty.

20171010_184105

Mom whats it going to feel like?

What?

My birthday. How long will it take you to set up?

It’s not your party tomorrow. It’s just your birthday.

It’s my birthday on this day?!

No, my sweet. Tomorrow. It’s your birthday for the whole day.

A whole day? And then I’m going to be 4?  (so many vowels jammed into that word. I don’t know how he does it)

That’s right. When did you get to be so big?

Hmmm, I got so big because I eat all my dinner. 

Sometimes.

Can I smell your armpit?

Sure.

Will it smell bad?

Probably.

We don’t want things to smell bad. Not our penis, not our feet, not our belly button, not our…

Just smell it.

Okaaaaaay!

Growing Up Plants

It started in early spring. I’d stop in at a plant shop and flirt with the greenery. I wouldn’t buy, only touch. I’d rub my hands along leaves, stems, picture them pot-less, wondering what was happening beneath the soil. I’d go home and fantasize about them, about them belonging to me, and me satisfying them.

I’d visit the shop again, maybe inquire about some of their likes and dislikes, get to know a few of them a little better. I’d play ini miney mo in my head Will you be the lucky one? How long will we will last? Right when the unknowing got unbearable, I’d buy one. I’d cradle it home, pick a spot for it, and place it gently. Here you go. Now we try to make it work. Please, let’s make this work. 

First it was one, then two. All of a sudden I was picking up new beauties every week. In the course of 2 months, I acquired 8 new obsessions.

 

A long time ago, I had a bit of a green thumb. I was even somebody who bought discounted plants and could bring them back to life. But more recently, I’ve discovered I’ve lost my undeniable touch, and it’s shaking my self esteem. How could I be so good at something 10 years ago, and now be void of skill? Is this something I should prepare for when it comes to motherhood, wifehood, friendship or something else? No thank you.

And so I fight.

The Creeping Ivy – beautiful and touchable with miniature oak leaves that started to die. I was horrified and touched it more, panicked and watered it more, but continued to watch it wilt. I changed the lighting (candle light my sweet?), played Jann Arden for her, touched her in places she’d forgotten about and watched her bounce back to life. But then one morning I wept quietly beside her and decided desperate times called for desperate measures. I removed her from her pot and performed an impromtu surgery. I cut her in half and tried to decide which side had the best shot of surviving. I repotted the more lively side and said goodbye to the brown, miserable side that had peaced out. She toys with me. The side I saved hasn’t died. It hasn’t thrived. It is a zombie plant, stuck somewhere between life and Darryl.

The Bamboo plant from Canadian Tire ($10) – violated by my cat. The leaves were nibbled or eaten entirely and yet she stands proud in her…beer glass (?) and continues to green the crap out of the rainbow spectrum. She gives all the other plants a run for their money when it comes to colour. A survivor. Don’t don’t care what she looks like. She’s bad ass.

The Kangaroo plant – doing well. She gives me hope. There’s nothing wrong me with me, I tell myself. If she can be happy here, then the others are being picky. 

The Orchid. The Geisha of house plants. I knew it wouldn’t last. With the beautiful orchid, I enjoyed our time together. She wooed me, gave me pleasure. Our shared time was beautiful, memorable, but there was no lasting power there. We were not soulmates, we were in love for a night and I was relieved when it was over. She left her expensive pot and I still don’t know what to do with it.

The Aloe. Omigod the Aloe. What am I doing wrong? I look around and everyone, I mean everyone seems to be able to keep an Aloe alive. I’ve seen the craziest people host the heatlthiest aloes, meanwhile I’m starting to use my Aloe as material with my therapist. Sometimes it stands up straight, sometimes it wilts.  At times I think it wants more from me, and I cater. I touch the soil, I stroke the tentacles, one time one fell off into my hand. I was mortified. I came home the other day and a new juicy arm was developing. Playing hard to get, clearly.

I don’t know what my relationships with these plants mean. It feels important, it feels like a test, like a calling. Please need me I whisper. Please make me your number one. Your North. I’ll provide everything if you keep loving me.

And so, I keep growing up plants.

20171002_165837

 

 

 

Thanks Jerry.

Jerry Seinfeld once said ‘There is no such thing as fun for the whole family’. I didn’t hear him say it, but it sounds like Jerry. Dry. Witty. True.

This simple statement has become a bit of a mantra for us. We say it every time something fun goes south. It’s a gentle reminder that it’s not really our fault. It’s the cause and effect of trying to find an activity that suits the needs/moods/interests/attention/fascination/imagination of 4 different humans.

Today was one such day. Would you like to come on a short road trip with us and then spend the rest of day in our company? If you need reassurance that your family is normal, or a reminder to never have one, this could be right up your alley.

8am: Everything is pretty normal. Dog has been walked, tea has been made. Kids are eating their weird breakfasts (butter/peanut butter/jam on crackers followed by a plum…?) and I’m excited about the day’s events. A short drive to the Bonnechere Caves. An Ontario marvel. A childhood memory I’m excited to pass on to my offspring. Then comes the question from my daughter “Is it going to fun?”

Um.

“What do you mean is it going to be fun?’ I ask/hiss/threaten.

“Yeah, like are we running around caves, or is it like somebody narrating the whole time like those movies I don’t like” (documentaries)

At this point everything turns on its head. I explain what’s going to happen, she sinks into a deep depression, and her brother starts to tease her. I channel Jerry and recite our mantra, and my husband predicts that everybody’s “play acting bad moods will soon turn into actual bad moods.”

10 minutes later I am doing angry dishes, he’s having an angry shower and my son is stomping around trying to fit in.

8:50: I find a note on my bed written by my daughter that is an example of her character and pulls everybody out of their funk. Well, not my husband. He was the last one to join us in the actual bad mood, so he lingers there for a tad longer, making him an easy target for me and my daughter to pick on and encourage to ‘let that bad mood go’. Shameless.

The road trip is only an hour and half. In that short time period all the predictables happen.

  1. Kids laugh and play until they are crying and mad at each other.
  2. My son finds a potato bug in the car and becomes best friends with it.
  3. My son loses the potato bug and we listen to “I want my bug back” for about 10 minutes.
  4. “Mom my penis is hard”…. okay, not so predictable.
  5. My daughter decides opening her window on the highway is the most dangerous thing she could do and refuses.
  6. “Mommy look at me” plays on repeat and I respond with ‘wow’ ‘oh yeah’ ‘hmm’ ‘huh’ in a monotone reserved only for the dying.
  7. “Stop hitting yourself”
  8. etc.

11:30: We arrive. The activity itself is a success. The kids are captivated, the caves are cool and our tour-guide is just awkward enough to give my husband and I some good material for the ride home. We park next to a family with kids named Ezekiel, Judah, Isla and We-Think-Our-Kids-Are-Miracles and I hide my eye rolling behind my sun glasses.

1:30: The trip home goes as one would expect. A bit crankier, a bit louder, my husband a bit sleepier at the wheel and I keep staring directly at the sun to catch this solar eclipse everyone keeps talking about.

3:00: Arriving home means dividing up tasks like feeding kids, walking the dog, buying the groceries and an hour later, it’s time for me to leave the family and go for a run. I don’t much like running, but I enjoy being alone, I enjoy the slight sense of punishment that running gives me and I enjoy a quick orgasm after. After my run my husband is off to punish himself at a boxing class and I am left to make dinner. I don’t like cooking, but I do like following instructions, so if I have a recipe I’m good. The kids hated it.

6:30 – 9:00: As evening wears on, my patience runs thin, my love dwindles. I just need everybody to go unconscious now so I can scroll through feeds, lie on the couch and conjure up energy for tomorrow. In a short span of time my son breaks a wood working tool, I force him to own up to it, we start one book, he chooses another, he picks two books, I begin one, he wants the other, I start that one while he cries with a blanket over his head because he wants to sleep with the broken tool, he finally shuts down, moves his pillow to the hallway to fall asleep, creeps into my room to say his entire bottle of water is travelling slowly down the hallway, my husband and daughter are spending a relaxing few minutes with each other so I put a stop to that immediately and bark at them to clean the kitchen, I clean up the water, I tell my son I don’t want to see him again tonight, he asks for a kiss, I kiss him on the forehead, he says ‘no the lips’ I kiss him on the lips, I barrel into my room and decide now is the time to capture the day in writing.

Of course even that activity gets interrupted by the rest of the evening. It never ends. But by 10:22 I am sitting in darkness, surrounded by unconscious people who will wake up and make everything loud again in 10 hours. In this moment, I think everybody is happy.

So there Jerry.

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 10.32.29 PM

(This post is dedicated to Shelagh, who challenged us to write one blog post a week for the next four weeks. To you Shelagh, a slice of life for you to snack on.)

Chilly morning

The morning’s cool air hits my arm, having breezed in from the open window and I tuck it under the covers, feeling a heat wave that draw my eyelids back down to their resting place. The sleeping bodies of my son and husband offer enough heat to keep me dozey for days. A little foot is hooked between my thighs and the sweet’n’sour smell of sleep waffes into my nose. I turn my head, re-open my eyes to the bright grey sky. My son’s hand is softly open on my pillow, holds no tension and I instinctively place my thumb in the palm of his hand, wondering if he’ll still squeeze it in his ripe old age of 3. He is so quiet when he sleeps. I smile at this profound revelation. He is so beautiful – looks like my grandfather, reminds me of my father, behaves like me. I don’t want to get up, I know that moving my body risks stirring him awake and then the quiet will end. After his 3 years; my daughter’s 9 years, I am tired. I am wounded and I react badly to loud sounds.

The cool air nudges me out of my nest and I breathe my last soft moments. I eye my husband lightly snoring on the other side of the bed, the cat curled around his head. When I get up I will put my socks and pants on in preparation of taking the dog out for her morning walk. I know that I will put my jacket on louder than I need to, that I will not try to stop the dog leash from hitting the wall and I will begin my day resenting that my husband is still enjoying the warmth beneath the covers. After 10 years, I am tired. I am wounded and I react badly to men lying in bed when there is a dog to walk.

Outside, the street is covered in a light frost, the bushes decorated with winter garbage. My dog lunges for squirrles. I’ve stopped reprimanding her.  I duck down the streets I am least likely to run into anybody, because I do not have the energy to discipline her anymore when she whines for the attention of other dogs she is desperate to play with. I walk through the chilly air and know my husband is getting up, risking the great threat of our son waking up to my absence and having an early morning tantrum. He must be terrified every morning. He precariously gets up, having already faced one of the biggest fears we carry, and he turns on kettle. He wakes up our daughter and he makes the tea. I bring the dog to her favourite place to do her business. He empties her lunch box from yesterday. I pick up dog poo. He makes one or two or three or four breakfasts. I stroll myself down an extra street, he makes a lunch or two. We meet in the living room before 7am and I drink my warm tea. There is little to say.

Convincing the kids that the morning is chilly, and therefore requires appropriate attire, is each and every day a shocking challenge. In the moments that I wrestle shoes on unresponsive feet I curse the chill that first woke me. When I’m hunting for the only sweater that my son wears, I curse the frost that refuses to leave our city, that forces me to lose my temper. I blame it for my lack of patience, for my quick swear words directed at my shitty kids, and I imagine a world that is warm and requires no layering of clothing.

Oddity: I am unapologetic about loving hot cars. It’s my favourite moment, on a hot summer day, to climb into a hot car and just suffocate in the heat for a few moments. I am always the last to roll down my window, ignoring the shouts and chides of my family who are pushing their faces to the down rolling window for their fresh air. I wait until I’ve sat in the dead heat just long enough and only then will I break the hot weight by letting the fresh air stream in. My love for hot cars is rivalled only by my hatred for cold ones. Like a cruel punishment, we have somehow managed to get to the kids up, fed, prepped and dressed for the day; we have managed to get them down the hallway of our building – our building filled with crazies who constantly leave signs about not running, not shouting, not toddlering in the hallways – without pissing anyone off; we have literally stopped to smell the dead flowers (dead from the persistent frost) … only to be met with a cold car.

Our daughter gets dropped off behind her school – a glimpse into her growing embarrassment of her parents. ‘Drop me off where nobody can see us together‘ her eyes hiss. Her only job when getting out of the car is to say good-bye to her adoring brother. My son keeps his eyes stuck on her from the moment she unclips her seatbelt until she disappears down the path. He waves with an exuberance that breaks my heart every morning – and he cries if he is robbed of a proper good-bye. My daughter knows this and exerts her power over him every once in a while by ‘forgetting’ to wave, by ‘smiling’ with her lips tight and her eyes rolled. When she does this, my husband and I roll down our windows and shout at her to ‘wave properly! Smile! Say good-bye to your brother!‘ It is exponentially more embarrassing for her but I am committed to making her life miserable each and every time she tries to shirk her morning responsibility.

Our son gets dropped off at daycare – and it can really go either way with him. Sometimes he runs into the arms of the workers and sometimes he clings to our legs in not-so-silent protest. The exit is swift and sometimes gut wrenching.

Childless, my husband and I often drift glazed-eyed over to the coffee shop down the street. We order our resuscitating coffees and dreamily listen to the banter of the staff behind the counter. We remember the days that we had the energy to worry about social graces, exams or something else more promising than financial woes, pre-teen development and tantrums. Their life seems so meadow. Ours feels so back laneway. No Entry. Private. No Trespassers. Coffees in hand, minds heavy, we head to work. By going to work we leave the morning behind and talk weather, make jokes, run errands and make good impressions. We know the evening is waiting for us.
Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 3.24.23 PM

Being An Adult

Sometimes I forget that I’m older then when I last checked 10 years ago. I seem to eternally hover in my mid 20’s, and often it’s surprising to see my friends celebrate their 30-something birthday and then realize I’m next. It’s not that I don’t want to age, it’s that sometimes I feel that I’ve missed it’s happening. I look in the mirror and I look older. I come home and there are two kids waiting for me. There is evidence that I have been adulting, but the things that I thought would make me an adult while in my youthful 20’s are perpetually out of my reach. I wrote out the list, ad lib, and realized that not only do I seem unable to check off the items, but I can’t seem to make a new list, one that is probably more realistic. Here is what I’ve been banging my head against, in all it’s miserable glory:

Signs of (Unattained) Adulthood That Plague Me On a Daily Basis

  1. I need a big(ger) apartment. No. I need a house. I need a house so that I can have people over and cook dinner for them and tell them it was no trouble at all!, and then it will look like I’m doing okay.
  2. I need matching sheets and sham pillows so that my adulthood is validated, like I’m winning at this adult game. Also, those matching bedside tables. Maybe an accent wall. Definitely a dresser.
  3. I need at least one piece of leather furniture, Miriam Come on!
  4. I need to stop using cinder blocks and wood planks as shelves.
  5. Laminate flooring is for losers.
  6. Towels that are older than 5 years is a sign of life dysfunction.
  7. The filling of my pillows must match. One feathered, one foam? Jesus, when did I become such a failure?
  8. The cupboards are disorganized. Tea and medication on the same shelf? Spices and a cheese grater? Canned food and a cat brush? This is an all time low.
  9. I need to start planning for a successful life right now. Why didn’t I start right now 10 years ago?
  10. Google has the answers. “What should I be when I grow up?” There are a surprising number of hits. “Changing careers”. Too broad. My husband tells me I’m too vague when I Google. “Best careers for Miriam”. I end up taking an aptitude test that has 71 questions of multiple choice and then I have to pay twenty dollars to get the results. Hang your head and go back to scrolling through everybody else’s PPL (projected perfect life).

I try to conjure up my blessings, a quick substitute for a new list of what it actually means to be an adult. I mean, if there’s one thing Western Society is great at reminding me, it’s to Be Grateful asshole – accompanied by photoshopped images of somebody’s zen travels and tanned skin hiding under GAP Body underwear. It’s hard to fail daily at the one piece of advice constantly thrown at me over newsfeeds, petition emails and viral ad compaigns. But I keep trying. So I made a list. I’m good at lists.

A List of Things To Be Grateful For You Ingrate

  1. Keep it Simple: You have a roof over your head. You eat fresh food everyday. You take hot showers, and cold showers, depending on your mood. You have family, you haven’t experienced deep trauma and you aren’t isolated or alone physically or emotionally. Simple. Stupid.
  2. Your son thinks you know everything. Proof: “Mommy, how come you know everything?” (I will shamelessly nourish this delusion for numerous years)
  3. You have 2 beautiful healthy children, and a handsome, hilarious husband. (Screw white picket fences, you tell yourself while staring at real estate listings and comparing the impossible with your bank statement)
  4. Your husband makes you laugh to the point of tears running down your cheeks or legs at your expense, his expense, your kids’ expense, and neutral life observations. He knows you so well it’s scary. Honey, please remember to read the labels when buying things; I always know you’re wrong when you say your 99% sure about something; No matter how amazing your life is, I know you’ll only post about how imperfect it is. Too true honey, too true.
  5. You have wild, beautiful friends all over the country. Some are artists, some are new mothers, most are more successful than you. All of them are unapologetically authentic, which is really your only criteria for friendship, and one of the hardest things to find. All your friends seem to really like you, which gives you tremendous strength while you forge ahead on this adult path.
  6. How many more of these do I need?
  7. You have a job that is in the arts – and as a graduate of one of Canada’s top theatre schools (out of…5?) this is huge. As a trained actor who has made people laugh and cry (remember when I made you cry Jessica?) because of your insane talent on the stage (your words KShaw, not mine – also she never said that but she was thinking it) it is a miracle that you are working in the arts. You’re not the artist, but you’re part of that world. Yes, you are doing more admin work, more IT support, more stamping and mailing, more supply ordering, but still. You get to say you’re working in the  –  Never mind, can I move this up to my first list?
  8. You still need to listen to music loudly, alone, dancing, singing to ground yourself. You still have fun moving your body in different ways to music and are slightly convinced it keeps you young. In spirit. Nothing is stopping the physical decay.
  9. No major health issues – you know how quickly life can turn around when you suffer from light illnesses. Kids continue to need you, money still needs to be made – there is no amount of gratefulness that can sufficiently amount to how grateful you are for this. Should probably be #1 on the list you numbskull.
  10. Despite a visceral aversion to parenting, you do have some excellent mothering qualities. Mostly just being present and honest. Your kids won’t have memories of veggies cut into little shapes in their lunches or super organized birthday parties (See blog post titled ‘Let Me Invite You to (Judge) My Birthday Party!’) but your kids are emotionally intelligent because of your emotional demand, will ask you tough questions and have a sturdy self esteem. Take that adulating!
Ultimately, I have the unnerving feeling that I might be wrestling with these lists forever. Maybe there is no ‘ah ha!’ moment when an adult finally becomes an adult. Maybe adulting is just multiple lists of what you are failing at, and what you have to be grateful for. In my true youth, I wouldn’t have thought to make these lists. My youth was a blissful ignorance of lists. I can’t imagine the other lists waiting for me around the corner…I should stop now, or I’ll start making a list of possible lists that I’ll be making in the next 10 years.
Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 3.24.52 PM

DAY ? A lesson in Tomorrow.

N :Mommy, is this tomowow?

M: Hmm, no, this is today.

N: But we go to bed and say ‘See you tomowow.” So it’s tomowow.

M: Right, but that’s because when we wake up, it’s not tomorrow anymore. It’s Today.

N: So there’s no Tomowow?

M: No. Tomorrow is always the day after Today.

N: Do I go to Daycare today?

M: No, you’ll go to Daycare tomorrow.

N: Oh. And when we wake up it will be tomowow?

M: Yes, but we’ll call it Today when we wake up.

N: So we go to Daycare today?

M: No. Tomorrow.

N: What?! Why?!

M: Because it won’t be tomorrow anymore. It changes to Today. The Day. The Day we are in.

N: It changes?

M: Yes, the words change.

N: I want to make a dinosaur.

M: Okay. So is this today or tomorrow?

N: Today.

M: And when is tomorrow?

N: I don’t know.

M: Hmm. I guess that’s true.

N: It’s true? You don’t know when tomorrow is eefer?

M: I guess I never know.

Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 5.46.17 PM

 

DAY 11

I wrote this yesterday, on Day 11, when I was feeling particularly fond of my children. Currently I am sitting with my back against the door of the bedroom and the toddler is yelling out in the hallway because he wants the computer. I have barricaded the door with my body, and feel especially proud of myself for not swearing yet today.

An entry on Love

I spend a lot of time griping. To be honest, it’s my comfort zone, and I’m largely irreverent. I don’t hold much outwardly dear, which can be judged as lacking sentiment, or perhaps lacking respect for the sacredness of parenthood, but you would be a judgmental tool if you continued to think that after getting to know me. My inability to view the world with a sense of awe is part of my intelligence, and while I have been deeply moved by art, friendship, love, and parenthood, I do not function with the lightness of a butterfly wing, marvelling at the dew in the morning and watching the miracle of the sun rise. Barf. That’s simply not my style.

My sense of the world, my sense of humour, and sense of self is dipped in vinegar and if you are lucky enough to see me be moved, you will know I am capable of awe. If you are not so lucky, I am just kind of funny, kind of insightful and mostly sarcastic.

So that’s my preface to why my writing might not be very gushy, or very generous about my feelings towards to my immediate family. But something interesting has happened over the last 11 days.

I have found myself quietly surprised at how wonderful my kids are. Yes, there are loud moments, some naps on the counter, maybe even some sleepless nights, but overall, my children have been kind, cooperative and positive about this experience.

My daughter is, simply put, phenomenal. She is wise beyond her years, spunky and independent. Yes, her sense of humour is developing which creates some very awkward story telling, joke telling, and other forms of telling, but her understanding of humour is quirky and solid. She is sensitive, inclusive and knows when another kid is being a shit. There are so many shitty kids on the playground, and I marvel at her ability to put words to the actions of others and to her own reactions. Nothing makes her more mad than when somebody says a girl can’t do something a boy can, and she is equally satisfied and disinterested in school to assure me that she has her head on straight. Over the past 11 days my daughter has stepped in when I sound exasperated, and she has gone to bed 15 minutes earlier than her regular bedtime without complaint when I need to be alone. In return she has asked for a non-negotiable schedule of sleeping in my bed every other night, a jean jacket, and to make tea for me on the weekends without any help. I’m not sure I will come across a better deal than this one. Ever.

My son is, in the best of sense of the word, an imp. He is cheeky and intelligent, mischievious and kind, sweet and strong. He wrestles till he takes you down, begs to be tickled and is thirsty for new things. He is handsome, built like a tank, expressive and snores. He is so young, there are no stories yet to tell about how he functions socially, he just wants to play with his buddies and to build guns with LEGO. But he has a sensitivity that I will cultivate, an awareness about others that is remarkable for his age. He has feelings that get hurt, and he understands when his actions have hurt others. His sister is his most important compass, and I thank my luck every day that he is able to learn from her.

I consistently feel conflicted about my role as mother. Sometimes I feel like I do really well at it, and sometimes I think there is nobody less suited to the job than me. But if the last 11 days are any indication of being on the right track, I will take it, and try to remember that when I want nothing more than to plunk my kids on a bus and watch it drive off into the sunset.

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 12.08.33 PM

 

DAY 9 and 10

DAY 9

International Women’s Day.

Don’t spend money. Don’t go to work. Strike. Do march. Do wear red. Do not acknowledge supportive men. Do acknowledge supportive men. Celebrate the strength of women, but also remember to include those that need support. Be strong, be loud. Post, share stories. Be sexy, but not too sexy. Be be be be be FUUUCK YOU.

Day 10.

Sometimes I’m Bombaloo is a children’s book about a little girl named Katie Honors who is a great kid, but sometimes her little brother pisses her off and she throws shit and punches things and becomes ‘Bombaloo’. She doesn’t care much for what is good behaviour when she’s Bombaloo, but after she has calmed down, her mother hugs her and helps clean up the mess Bomboloo made, and then she can play with her brother again.
It’s a great book. It helps me remember that kids are not really themselves when they lose their cool, and that everybody needs help cleaning up the mess they made after Bombaloo has come to visit. Even adults. Especially me.
A time out is a great thing, and it comes in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. Here are a few of my favourites:
1) A  bath. Or two or three, depending on how severe the need. I often need to be immersed in water to cope with the outside world. Bubbles are just for show, I don’t think they do anything but cause one to slip. A book is good, but a beer is better.
2) Some stretches. It can be hard to find the calm to stop and sit and try to touch your toes. It be hard to stop, and it can be infuriating to try to touch your toes. What a way to make things worse, when and you can’t even touch your fucking toes. It’s a real testament to the deep level of failure when your body is stuck in a hunched or hanging position and you can’t breathe. Often I feel worse about myself as I change positions, moving from the impossible goal of toe touching to the even worse challenge of sitting straight while keeping my hip flexes loose. Call me crazy, but that position makes me want to throw up and I’m literally just sitting there. True to it’s shape, I sit like an L and think of Lame, Lack, Loathing, Loser. It’s a real doozie on the self esteem, that position. And how is this a time out? Oh, because I spend so much thinking about my own worthlessness, that I forget  whatever created the need for a time out in the first place.
3) TV and chips. Speaks for itself. Turn on the tube and turn off the world.
4) Social stimulation. Obviously when the going gets tough and all you’ve been asked all week is for bowls of yogurt, it’s imperative to reach out and beg for friends to provide company. Be bold, swallow your pride and ask to be invited over.
5) Read. From the latest FB status to the Huffington Post, to a glorious novel about dysfunctional marriage, it’s all good.
6) Colour. I’m not trying to make you feel bad, but my colouring skills are epic, and while I have yet to figure out how I can make my fortune with this talent, it’s enough to have my colouring books and special markers to clear my mind.
Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 11.50.02 AM