Monthly Archives: March 2016

These Little Moments #11

I was all set to write a melancholic post about being sure you take note of the small details before it is too late. I’ve spent the weekend mourning a friend who passed away after an aggressive battle with cancer. She was, among many things, an amazing mother to her 3 year old and 7 month old sons. She was present when she was with her kids. And that’s what made her so amazing. It breaks my heart to think of those boys waking up without seeing her smile.

I’m tired of being sad, and so I’m focusing on a moment where I was present with my daughter.

I hate doing dishes. On top of the “dishes” aspect of it, it also means generally fighting with my daughter to keep her entertained and out of the way while we do things like load the dishwasher (“the coolest thing in the kitchen”) and sweep the floor (using the “really awesome stick of wonder”). Usually, I just abandon Scott to clean while I… fight with C in the living room because she can still hear the siren song of the kitchen and someone is in there “having fun” without her.

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Then one evening, I threw on some music to drown out the impending fight (for the record, we don’t put shoes in the cupboard with the pots and pans), and rather than trying to climb into dishwasher after her Batman straw cup, C started dancing. At that moment, I knew she was distracted enough I could likely take out the garbage without her trying to come with me, or rescue the Tupperware from inside C’s play kitchen. But instead, I started dancing too.

And while we were getting our groove on, Scott started dancing too. And we had a fun little family dance time in the middle of our overly messy kitchen.

It didn’t solve our problem of our overly curious toddler’s attempts to climb into our fridge, or her fixation with sitting on our flour canister. But it made the usual struggles a little easier, and it let me take time to be present with my girl… even though there were things that had to be done.

Linking up with Simply Shaunacey for Monday Moments of Gratitude

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Categories: The new identity | 4 Comments

A Post 6 Years In The Making

In every relationship, there is that crystallizing moment when you look into each others’ eyes and just KNOW.  I’ll never forget that moment with Scott.

It was March 13, 2010. We were in a crowded school theatre at an academic conference, listening to the keynote speaker: producer and comedic performer, Rick Green. It didn’t matter what he was discussing, every word out of his mouth made me think of Scott. When Mr. Green discussed his relationship with his wife, it was as though he was talking about Scott’s relationship with me. The session ran long, but when it ended, Scott and I found ourselves still seated, as the theatre quickly emptied.  Finally, we worked up the courage to look at each other. As our eyes locked, we just knew.  With our hearts in our throats, it was both an eternity and a mere second before I had the courage to say what we were both thinking: “Scott, you have ADD”.

Scott was diagnosed and started treatment for ADD just after Christmas this year. It was both shock and relief.  It flew in the face of all that Scott had accomplished. After all, even his psychiatrist remarked how successful he has been despite how severe his symptoms are. He married, had a child, graduated with a degree and a diploma and was on a successful career path.

But I felt like I could breathe again. While I can’t take credit for his success, I do know I helped.  Sometimes, it was just normal relationship stuff: if he needed more focus at work, I took over all responsibility at home. Other times it was more intense, like walking away from my desk at work so I could talk him through an anxiety attack. It was exhausting trying not only to help Scott untangle parts of his life, but also to stay a couple steps ahead to deflect anything that might potentially tangle him up again. Finally, someone (with the right training) was stepping in to help.

Now a few months into treatment, the shock as faded and relief has been replaced with reality. For Scott to move forward, it means I have to move backwards. Even during the worst moments of the last 6 years, there was a comfort in being the one in control. And now I know that if I want him to to actively learn skills that I’ve taken for granted, I have to let him both take over, even if that means letting him make mistakes and lose control.

 

Categories: The new identity | 1 Comment

These Little Moments #10

We’ve been having some sleep struggles around here. Sure, 8 hours is never long enough, especially when some external force (whether in the form of an alarm or a child) wakens you, but we’ve been struggling to get Little C down at night at a reasonable hour, with a reasonable routine.

This Saturday, it all crashed down around us.

I’d been noticing that C had been struggling to settle on nights when there were hockey games. While she never really focuses on the TV when it’s on (and it’s usually only on for hockey games), I guess it can be rather overstimulating: the music, the commentators, the bright ice, the coloured lines, the constant movement. It’s understandable. Her mommy and daddy? We weren’t just born yesterday.

So Saturday night has an earlier hockey game, so we go downstairs to watch it. Before bed, I take C back upstairs, and we read some books, sing some songs and have a bit of play time before bed. Surely that will counteract the TV right?

No such luck. I tried rocking her. I tried walking her. I tried letting her play. Nothing could console her once she started crying. It wasn’t her cry of pain; it was her cry of frustration. She was so tired, but she couldn’t sleep. The only thing that finally calmed her down was lying between Scott and I, in our bed, in the pitch black dark.

Yup, we all were tucked into bed by 9:00 on Saturday.

There was a collective sigh of relief when we transferred her into her crib finally at 9:30 and she stayed asleep. Yes, it was nice turn the lights back on, stretch my legs out in any direction, and actually get a chance to talk to Scott about the game. But I was also relieved that I’d weathered the 2 hour fight without losing my patience.

I always assumed that as we got the hang of this parenting thing, especially thinking back to when C was a newborn, we’d have shorter and less frequent nights of trying everything to get her to sleep. While I’m sure we do spend less time and spend that time less often coaxing her to sleep, the biggest difference is how we approach these nights. We spell each other off as needed. But we also know that one night won’t make or break us as parents. We know how much coffee can get us through a day after a sleepless night, and we know that letting her sleep with us every once and a while won’t be the end of the world.

Linking up with Simply Shaunacey for Monday Moments of Gratitude

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Categories: The new identity | 3 Comments

2016 Reading Challenge: Book 6

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Banned books are a tricky category. I mean, if it’s truly banned, you need some back alley means to procure the book. The fact I legally borrowed a digital copy from a library belies the fact this book is banned.

My first experience of reading a banned book came in Spring of 2002 when my Grade 12 class was tasked with reading The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields. Having just been introduced to the world of Canadian Literature, my heart was on fire and jumped right into the novel. The next class, our books were confiscated, and our teacher remained tight lipped as to why, beyond telling us that some parents took offense to some of the more graphic details. I was not dissuaded, and continued reading the book at home, borrowing a copy from my own mother. I later found out that the passage which caused all the uproar was in the initial pages, when the narrator attempts to tell the story death of her mother in childbirth. Apparently the narration of a baby exiting a birth canal, the same journey the majority of us in the world take, was inappropriate for a Grade 12 English class to read, even in a province whose curriculum dictates the teaching of procreation at least 3 times between kindergarten and graduation (though in all honesty, I only remember a very basic lesson on procreation happening once around grade 10, and yet an entire day was spent on raising babies).

Why yes, I did in fact go to high school in a conservative small town!

The book I chose for this challenge is more commonly banned. From 1990-2000, this was #3 on the American Library Association’s list of top banned books in the US. It’s main challengers point out the molestation and rape of an 8 year old girl, the questioning of sexual identity of 16 year old, and the difficulties faced by the Black American community during the 1930’s & 1940’s. From a twenty-first century perspective, the story of Marguerite Johnson is shocking, but that is all the more reason to read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

What I found the most shocking is that almost 90 years later, racism is still pervasive. We still have the attitude that we can’t talk about rape. And we still have rampant misunderstandings about sexual identities. Perhaps if we didn’t try to “shield” our children from these controversial subjects, we might actually be moving society forward at a faster pace.

Outside of the controversy, this book was a good, relatively quick read. Angelou does a fabulous job of presenting her autobiography within the (normally fiction-based) genre of the bildungsroman (or “Coming of Age” novel, if you’re not up with German literary terms, though that is an over simplification #literaturenerd). There is, always, a degree of apprehension that I have when a coming of age novel (sorry if this is a spoiler, but come on, you probably read it in high school) ends with the birth of a child. It always is symbolic of the child having a chance at a “new life” because of the accomplishments of the parent, but it also suggests a cyclical nature that we never really get that much further ahead.

3.75/5 for Maya, who made me wish I was 7 or 8 years old again, just so I could be her friend.

 

Categories: The new identity | 1 Comment

My feelings are delicious

I am under no illusion. I am well aware that I stress eat.

Yet, I was caught completely unaware when I stepped on the scale at my in-laws (the only scale I step on, since I have such limited access to it), and had put on 4 pounds in a month.

While 4 pounds isn’t the end of the world, it still threw me. After all, there is no real reason for me to be gaining weight, especially as we are out of the Christmas treat season (but still manage to have lots of treats in the house), Scott’s latest prescription means he can’t drink (but yet I still manage to have an open beer in front of me now), and we’ve been working out 5 days a week (but that seems to have ramped up my hunger).

Whether it’s been because of lack of sleep, necessitating a trip to Starbucks; a kid who has stolen my breakfast, requiring a pit stop for a deceptively unhealthy oatmeal; or a “I miss my kid/ I can’t believe that person didn’t read the email before they replied / this is the world’s most boring project” extra spoonful of sugar in my afternoon tea, there is always an excuse at the office.

Those four pounds aren’t a big deal. They’re a week or two of making sure I drink enough water, I hold off on evening snacks, and maybe schedule in an extra run or two. 

It’s the emotional weight that concerns me. It’s the wanting to be at home with my kid. It’s the wanting to be moving forward in my job but not being sure which way ‘forward’ is. It’s not knowing what my next personal goal is. It’s the recent dose of bad news about a friend’s health. 

But cookies and tea won’t solve any of those problems. And it’s time to stop pretending they will. 

  

Categories: The new identity | 1 Comment

These Little Moments #9

C has been a daddy’s girl her whole life. Fortunately, Scott’s been a very involved daddy, so with the exception of 5 minutes after he leaves, and 5 minutes before he comes home, there is very little opportunity for C to search the house longingly for him. The only downfall is that her love for her daddy often comes at the expense of her mommy.

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Miss C was somewhat uncharacteristic this weekend.

Saturday morning, she couldn’t get enough of her mama. She sulked when Scott got up with her to let me sleep. She ran over to me with an armful of books when I got up. When she needed some extra snuggles as she worked on cutting a tooth, she called to me. After an all-too-short nap, she sat calmly on my lap as I rocked and sang to her.

I wouldn’t, for the world, want to alter C’s relationship with Scott, because nothing brings me more joy than seeing the two of them together. But those days when she walks past Scott to come directly to me? Ya, those are a really close second.

Linking up with Simply Shaunacey for Monday Moments of Gratitude

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Categories: The new identity | 4 Comments

It Takes a Village

I spent last week on vacation from work, just hanging with Little C. There was nothing special about the week. If anything, it looked very much like the week before for her, and very much like the weeks we spent together while I was still on Mat leave. By all accounts, it appeared to be an unremarkable week. But Friday night, oh boy did I cry.

My heart broke that I had to go back to work on Monday. I cried that she had to go to “Nana and Grandpa Daycare”. I cried because the week revealed just how better our relationship could be when we spent more time together. I cried because part of me was relieved to be going back to work.

In my struggle to accept my role as “working mom,” I’ve used “it takes a village” as a reminder that I am not the sole person responsible for raising my child. I have a husband who willingly gave up his cherished bus rides to work in order to drive C to my parents’. I have two parents who gave up their retirement plans (of sitting in easy chairs staring boredly at each other, apparently) to ensure C is always surrounded by love. I have two in-laws who are anxiously awaiting summer when they plan to abscond our girl for days at a time to show her how to fish. I have a sister, niece and nephews who accept her almost a fifth member of their week-day brood. She has swimming instructors, Rhyme Time leaders, church nursery helpers, doctors, dentists. Little C has an amazing village to help raise her and there never a point when she is not surrounded by family and love, even when I can’t be there. I’m hugely grateful for every one of them.

But it doesn’t make the guilt go away.

While I can’t feel guilty about the circumstances in which she spends her days, I feel guilty that after a week spent with her, I am ready to go back to work. I missed the feeling of accomplishment I get at work. I missed variety of the tasks I get to do. I missed the structure of the work day. For the last 6 months, I’ve felt incredibly guilty for working, as though my enjoyment of work detracted from my love for my daughter.

But it doesn’t.

It’s selfish to think that the only village that I’m apart of is my daughter’s village. A village is anyone who can help anyone else along their journey in life. My job lets me be part of the village for exchange students traveling halfway around the world, the students experiencing difficult circumstances that can derail their academics, the high school students looking to get a jump start on their university courses.

My girl deserves the best village, and she has it. But everyone deserves the best village. So sometimes, it’s important to let C’s village help raise her so I can be part of the village in someone else’s life. And it’s time I start to feel good about that.

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Currently: In March

Can you believe we’re at March already? I know we still have another deep freeze or two, and a couple snowstorms certain to arise, but it feels like spring is in reach. I usually struggle through Winter, but this year, everything seemed doable.

Currently March
Wishing
: For a fast forward button. While I am excited it’s already March, I’m ready for trips to the park, playing in the backyard and venturing out without 12 layers on.

Craving: Soup. A coworker just spent 10 minutes discussing different types of soup that she has in her freezer right now, and while I’m usually not a lentil person, lemon curry carrot lentil seems really good on this winter’s day!

Going: Crazy? I’ve been a planner, but lately, I’ve had to let my compulsive planning ways take a backseat to let Scott have sometime to take the lead for a little bit. While we’re ultimately making decision together, and it’s good to keep my control-freak-ways in check, it’s not a dynamic I’m used to.

Wearing:  Fleece lined tights.  With everything.  I’ve stuck them under jeans for walks outside. I’ve worn them as pants with tunics (butt-covering, of course). I’ve worn them as tights under dresses. And the best part is the waistband. I love a good non-segmenting waistband. Seriously, regular tights, get with the program!

Learning: Marine safety. Or at least I will when I find the textbook again. With spring around the corner, summer isn’t that far away and I’ve given myself a July 1st deadline for getting my boating license. I started it about half a year ago, but C wandered off with the book and I haven’t found it since (nor have I really looked in some of the deeper, darker recesses of our under-the-couch storage because who wants to think about boats in the middle of winter?).

Thanks again to Jenna and Anne!

Categories: The new identity | 6 Comments

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