Wednesday, March 30, 2011

NEWSFLASH: Parenting is hard.

Is it just me, or are there a lot of articles out there these days that sound like this. Or this.

I'm going to be perfectly honest here. When I see these headlines, my very first instinctual reaction is: Tell me about it. Then, of course, I feel guilty and think about how much I love my kid and how lucky I am and all that yadda yadda that people do when they're afraid they've revealed their true inner monster.

Today I got to thinking...what is it about our generation that is so terribly ambivalent about parenthood? The obvious answer is that roles have changed over the years, and you now have women with careers and men with more paternal responsibility, and it's only natural that living in our "want it all" culture leads us to inevitable disappointment and frustration when we can't have it all.

But then I started thinking more (I had 2 1/2 hours of alone time today. My brain surprised me with all kinds of thoughtful thinking.) and it struck me that people probably haven't changed all that much over time. Fifty years ago when women were almost exclusively in the home, running a household and raising children, I don't really think that every single one of them felt completely fulfilled and at peace with their lives. Or anyone else for that matter. I think that from the beginning of time, people have been frustrated by their situations and longed for better circumstances. In fact, I'd say that's the only way a species can advance.

Sooo...(Seriously, my brain hasn't had this much exercise in...a long time), why do you suppose that we hear so much more about parental dissatisfaction these days? The moms and dads from my childhood, including my own, seemed happy enough, and by all accounts our grandparents were the picture of domesticity and hard work. So what happened to us? I'll tell you. We're whiners.

Yes. You. Me. We complain to our friends, we complain on Facebook and on our blogs, we complain to our children and to our bosses. We complain to our mothers and fathers, we complain in books and newspaper articles. We are obsessed with venting every feeling and frustration we experience in an effort to a) gain sympathy and b) be reassured that we are not alone in our self-pity.

Our parents didn't do that. Okay, maybe they did it a little, but they didn't have the internet to fan the flames. I'm fairly certain our grandparents didn't do that. Who had the time, with ten children and no washer and dryer? I'm quite confident that from the beginning of time, moms and dads have felt put upon and underappreciated for their own, unique familial roles, regardless of how those roles have changed. But we are just now becoming comfortable voicing our displeasure and feeling justified in our malcontent. We feel that we should be happy all the time, and when we aren't we need a scapegoat. Those damn kids. If I wasn't saddled with them I'd...I'd...

Well, guess what? The childless are unhappy too. As are the employed, the unemployed, the wealthy, the poor, the blondes, the get the idea. Maybe if we all stopped buying into this mass pity party, we could take that energy and focus it on improving our situations. Who's with me?

Maybe I'm being alienating here, and it's not my intention to be, but I also think that people need to form opinions and not be afraid to state them at the risk of offending others' sensibilities. There's tolerance, there's respect, and I'm all for both of those things. But there's also two sides to every story, or perhaps more, and a whole lot of perspectives to consider. I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Naptime Poetry

I remember you
From another time
Freshly inked with independence
Full of plans that had no time to be made

I saw you then
As I see so many others
Glamorized, idolized
With a place for me somewhere in the fallacy

I hoped, I chased
I put on a show for you
You bought a ticket
You didn't leave when the curtain fell

But I forgot to take off my mask

I remember things
Saying the right things

I remember hearing them
Too late

It was all a show
And when it ended, I didn't notice
The lights turned on
The audience left
And I stood there
Looking at you

Friday, March 25, 2011

Big Sister, Little Sister

I think Elle is going to be a wonderful big sister. Someday. (Relax, mom and dad, that wasn't an announcement.) What I know she won't be is a little sister. That's just how it works when you're the first. But she gets to play the role whenever she visits her wonderful friend Gracie. Gracie is expecting her new little sister in the next couple of months, and I can't think of a luckier spot to be in than to be Gracie's little sister. This girl was born to be a big sister. She's kind, she's gentle, she's patient, and whenever my daughter sees her, her whole body lights up. E doesn't generally like to be told what to do, or to get help with something unless she asks for it. Unless it's Gracie. Gracie's mom is pretty special too. I'm going to miss these two something awful.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Best sushi I've ever tasted

Ki Sushi, Brooklyn

Ki roll: tuna, salmon, yellowtail inside, topped with spicy crunch king crab, avocado, caviar and gold leaf

One Great Week

Last summer, the DeWagners came to visit us in Brooklyn. Okay, it wasn't just us. Apparently NYC is a pretty big draw for reasons other than it being where we live. Anyhoo...we spent some time with them and it was fun. Really fun. They're fun people.

Since then, we've been intending to get together again. We were supposed to visit when we went back to Canada...didn't happen. They were supposed to come after Christmas...didn't happen. I've been holding out hope that we can visit them when we move back to Canada this summer. But then...

I get an email from June, announcing that they will arrive in Brooklyn in two days! For a whole week! I was pretty excited. E and Zoey, their little ball of good times, are only six days apart in age and similar in a lot of ways. They got along great when they first met last year, and the idea of getting them together again, now that they've blossomed into full-blown toddlerhood, was extremely enticing.

From the first day of their visit, when they came for dinner and E demanded that they sit together, it was just one giant fun-filled photo op. Days after they had left, E was still calling J and I "Brian and June", and referring to herself as Zoey. A week later, I was still waking up to "June! My clock is yellow!" Just like last time, the DeWagners left us wanting more, reminding us that sometimes long distance friendships are just as satisfying as the ones we get to enjoy every day.

Sorry, Bobby.

Today I told my daughter that Bobby McFerrin is dead. The conversation was all kinds of weird and probably not my best parenting moment for lots of reasons, but mostly because it started with a lie. An inadvertent lie, but a lie all the same. Are you as confused as I am?

E: Agh! I dropped my toast!
M: Don't worry, babe. Just pick it up. No big deal.
E: Don't worry.
M: Don't worry, be ____
E: Happy!
M: Remember that song?
E: Yes. Who sings that song, mama?
M: Bobby McFerrin.
E: Bobby McFerrin. Where is Bobby McFerrin?
M: He died. (I swear I thought he was dead. I have no idea where I got that from.)
E: What did he die to?
M: I'm not sure, a heart attack I think.
E: What is heart attack?
M: It's when your heart stops. You know how the heart goes "lub-dup"? Well, when it stops doing that, you die.
E: When my heart stops, I get another one. It will be yellow.
M: Don't worry babe. Your heart won't stop.
E: WHEN it stops, mama. WHEN it stops, I get another one.
M: Okay, that sounds good.
E: What did that man die to?
M: What man?
E: Bobby McFerrin.
M: Let me check. (Google, Wikipedia...wait a tic...still alive!) Oh, I lied. He's still alive! He didn't die, babe.
E: He didn't die. You lied.
M: Sorry about that.

Now that we're entering the dizzying phase of "How many questions can I ask in one day?", I think I'm going to have to hone my skills a little bit. Both in factual accuracy and delivery. I guess the moral of this story is...when your child asks you a question, just Google it. Or, if you're going to make something up, maybe don't start by killing people off.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Naptime Existentialism

One person.
There is never just one person. Alone. With no ties to another person. Everyone is someone's child. It might not go any further than that - sisters and brothers, friends, husbands and wives - these relationships are not foregone conclusions. But each person here today and who came before and who will come, they are all someone's children. It is a bond we all share, a connection to another human being, no matter how fragile or fractured, no matter how distant or damaged. It makes each of us a tangible part of a thing that is greater than our own lives. Humanity. Earth. Universe. Part of it. Undeniably.
Not alone.

Happy 1st Birthday, Ruby Mae!!!

These are my nieces. Is it just me, or are they the two cutest little redheads you've ever seen? Ruby Mae is one year old today, and my wish for her is that she gets to meet the coolest aunt on the planet before she's another year older. Selfish, yes. But I imagine it would work out well for both of us. I also hope that she gets lots of hugs and kisses today, and some chocolate. It is possible to love someone you've never met. This I know for a fact.

Aayla Moon and Ruby Mae, you are the sweetest nieces a girl could hope for.

Auntie M.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Red-headed Clown: 1, Mom: 0

I knew this day would come. After years of proclaiming that my future children would *never* eat fast food, or at least until they could go out and buy it for themselves, followed by a pregnancy that tempered my resolution to the more *realistic* notion that my children would be at least 5 years old when we first introduced them to a fast food restaurant, to the inevitable first visit to McDonald's when my daughter was about 10 months old and I peeled the breading from the McNuggets and chose apple slices and milk over french fries and now. To this conversation:

E: Mama, I want a booger.
M: You want a booger?
E: A buuuuurrrrr-ger.
M: Oh. Okay, maybe I'll make burgers tonight.
E: No, I want one from the rest-a-ront.
M: Well, maybe we'll go to a restaurant for a burger then.
E: I want milk with my booger.
M: I'm sure the restaurant will have milk.
E: I want milk from the bottle that has Ronald McDonald on it with my booger. At the rest-a-ront.
M: Ohhhhh...(*dangit!*)

Of course, in my endless quest to make myself feel better for my transgressions, I take foolish pride in the fact that she doesn't know that it's called "McDonald's", and she didn't mention fries. She also didn't get to go, so I can tell myself that I'm not a slave to my toddler's demands.

Monday, March 21, 2011

This is the closest thing I have to a diary. It represents the longest and most detailed record I've ever managed to keep of the goings on in my life and the life of my little family, and it makes me happy. So I do it.

I am mom to a truly extraordinary toddler, wife to a devastatingly handsome, brilliant husband and purveyor of food and walks to a tirelessly enthusiastic dog.

I am unfailingly fond of eating with, dancing with, and writing about, family and friends.

This is my story.

Tick tick tick

I want to write. I need to write. But my stomach is too full and my head is too full and there are too many noises bearing down on me to get inside my head. I just want to create something and to be inspired by my own words, but all I can think about is the time ticking away and what everyone else is thinking. Tick tick tick. Too many people and too little time. For me. Do I have too much or not enough? Too much? Not enough. I need to digest my food and digest my thoughts and find some answers to long-asked questions. One day at a time. One hour at a time. One conversation at a time. One word at a time. One breath at a time. Time. It’s all we have but we have no idea what to do with it.


Graham crackers.
Marshmallow fluff.
Peter Luger chocolate medallions.
Peanut butter.

Classic, with a nutty twist. And really, really satisfying

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why is My Clock Yellow?

Right. It's a fair question. One that demands an answer, even.

"My Clock is Yellow!" is the declaration that pulls me from the deepest slumber every morning. It is the first thing I hear in the morning, from my favourite voice on the planet. It is cheerful, it is exuberant, it is my daughter, announcing that the time for sleep is over and a new day is upon us.

She got a clock for her birthday. But not just any clock. The My Tot Clock. It is yellow during the day, blue at night, red for time-outs and green for "independent play time" (though we haven't experimented with that last one yet...she's 2). She's completely fascinated with it, and it has made nap and bedtime a dream. There's something about a colourful clock that reduces even the most headstrong toddlers to brainwashed automatons. The clock is blue? Better go to sleep! The clock is yellow? Party time! She loves it, we love it, it's a win-win.

As for why I chose this for the title of my blog - because it makes me smile. And everyone can use another reason to smile. At least in my opinion. It represents the child-like enthusiasm one should feel when starting a new day, and the unabashed pleasure that should be experienced over something so basic as being given a raw chunk of time to do with as we wish. Sure, you might have a job, you might have a hectic schedule, you might be a slave to "the man", but that doesn't mean that you can't be happy too.

(It's about to get really cheesy now...)

Go ahead. Smile. Own your time. Own your day. Own your life just by deciding for yourself how you want to feel about it. Buy a yellow clock if you must to remind yourself that waking up every morning is reason enough to be happy.

Also, yellow is my favourite colour. But that's not nearly as profound.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What's a Reading Corner?

This is where I will put little literary tidbits for you to enjoy when you have a spare moment. Commentary is welcome, if not always appreciated.

Because I Love You

"Mama, this is my paint, but I'm going to share it with you, because I love you."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The hardest working man school

My husband is pretty awesome. It's easy to forget that sometimes when I'm picking his socks up off of the floor or showing him where we keep the Ziploc bags (for the one-millionth time). But, then again, it's easy to remember when I look at what he's managed to accomplish since I've known him.

He made it through undergrad with an honours degree, having not missed a SINGLE class in four years and simultaneously maintaining a rather impressive dedication to partying.

He worked like a dog to not only finish his PhD but to publish really smart-sounding articles in really famous (if you're a science geek) journals.

He married me. I'm not sure whether I'm writing that in the tone of "What an awesome decision-maker he is" or "Man, all that and he puts up with her!". You decide.

He got himself accepted into medical school while working really hard on that PhD.

He went back to the classroom after an almost seven year hiatus and was consistently one of the top students in his class throughout medical school.

During medical school, when couples are breaking up left, right and center, he managed to be a husband, a student and a father without neglecting anyone or anything. All this while moving to three different countries in four years.

He has always had his priorities straight and he has always been willing to do what needs to be done. He is the hardest worker I have ever known. Combined with the fact that he's also one of the most intelligent people I know, it's no surprise that he took our expectations for his future in medicine and blew them out of the water.

When he enrolled in a Caribbean medical school, we assumed that a) we would never be able to come back to Canada, and b) he wouldn't be going into any really competitive specialties. Being an international medical graduate and a Canadian applying in the US means that you already have two strikes against you, before they even look at your CV. We knew it was an uphill battle. But whatever our expectations were, he worked just as hard as if he were applying to Radiation Oncology at Harvard. Because he did apply there. He applied everywhere, including Canada, for what he wanted, not what he thought he might get.

And he got it. We are going back to Canada. J is being given the opportunity to do the cancer research that has always been so important to him. Everything we could have hoped for in our lives is now possible, and it has absolutely everything to do with my husband and his extraordinary dedication to himself and his family. I can't possibly express how proud I am of him. But I could use a kleenex.

Congratulations, J. I am so painfully proud to be your wife. Even if you can't fold a towel properly.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Drum Roll Please...

And the next city we will move to in our great world-conquering, education-gathering, sick-people-treating and child-producing global tour is....

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada!

All is very, very well.

Close to home - check!
Gorgeous city - check!
Cheaper than NYC - check!
Great program - check!
Everything we could possibly want....CHECK!!!

We are so completely and utterly over the moon. Bright sunshine-y days ahead and all that. Also, lots and lots of these:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Things I Wish the Universe Would Kindly Explain to Me...

Dear Universe,

Why is it that my daughter feels the need to kick and scream and whine about doing fun things as well as the not-so-fun things? I thought that I wouldn't have to worry about my kid not wanting to hang out with me until she was a teenager.

Why does my hair always look best right before I go to bed?

Why hasn't that horrific fad of wearing your pants around your knees gone away? It's been, like, twenty years or something now. I'd love to wear leg warmers again, but that one only lasted about six months.

Why is it absolutely guaranteed that if I am completely prepared to leave the house for any kind of scheduled activity as soon as E wakes up from her nap, she won't wake up? Conversely, when I decide to use her nap time to completely immerse myself into something riveting, she wakes up early. EVERY. TIME.

Can't we figure out a way to make babies that are already toilet trained, sleep trained, and don't yell at their parents? Maybe if we kept them in longer? I loved being pregnant - I could probably have gone for another six months or so if that would make a difference. Just a suggestion.

Evolutionarily speaking, isn't it about time that dogs stopped shedding?

I appreciate your attention to these matters. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Let's go potty now, everybody's learning how...

Have I mentioned before that I'm lazy?

Is there a problem when I feel like I wouldn't mind continuing to change E's diapers until it gets to a point where she's too embarrassed to be wearing diapers to school and decides on her own to quit, just so I can avoid the fights and the stress and the mess involved?

And, while we're at it, it's okay to keep her in a crib forever, right?

Man, this parenting thing is just non-stop!

E's first introduction to potty-land happened quite randomly and unexpectedly about six months ago. She said she had to poop, I asked her if she wanted to go poop on the toilet, she said yes, she pooped on the toilet. Bam! Toilet trained, right?

This is where E shakes her head and sighs "Oh, mama."

What followed was a period of about a couple of months where she would pee and/or poop on the toilet about once or twice a day, basically when she felt like it, and we thought of it like a bonus and didn't push the issue. My *naive* thinking was that she would gradually do it more and more and then just stop needing diapers.

"Ohhhhhh, mama."

After that couple of months, she lost interest altogether. Getting her onto the potty was like pulling teeth, but once she got on she'd be damned if anyone was going to get her off. I like to avoid as many mom-baby standoffs as possible in my day, so I backed off. And so it went for a while.

Then, last week, she started showing interest again. And then I found a package of Pull-Ups I forgot I had. "Practice underwear", I called them as I pitched the idea to my hard-sell toddler.

M: Do you want to wear underwear like mama and dad?

She's no pushover. She fancies herself a doctor most days (when she's not a princess, or Old MacDonald, or an airplane), so she wanted some clarification.

E: Do doctors wear underwear?

M: They sure do!

E: I wear underwear too!

It's on! She loves wearing her Pull-Ups. She kind of gets that she's not supposed to go pee or poo in them, though that doesn't stop her from doing it. But she's been going pee and poo on the toilet about 4 or 5 times a day for the past three days, and that makes me excited.

I'm ready to step it up a notch, but in all honesty I've done little to no research and I have no idea what I'm doing. Have I mentioned that I'm lazy? I've heard lots of people talk about going pants-less as part of the process, which I think I'll try, but realistically, isn't this going to mean that I'll be cleaning up messes an awful lot? Should I put paper down? I'm only half joking. I get the distinct feeling that I'm about to wade in way over my head. And it's not water I'm standing in.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Yakkity-yak, she talks back.

This girl really needs to loosen up and come out of her shell a little, don't you think?

No, no. If this is the my toddler inside a shell, god help us when she finally peeks out. Today in Toddler and Me Yoga, the instructor - for the first time ever - asked that we try to keep the talking to a minimum in the spirit of maintaining some semblance of peace in a room full of toddlers and harried moms trying to chill out. How did this translate to E? I believe she heard the words: "See if you can go one full hour without taking a single breath between words!" She succeeded.

Mama? I want to hug you! Running hug mama! (runs to the opposite end of the room and waits until all eyes are on her) RUNNING HUUUUUUUUUUUUUG!

(steals stuffed cat from baby) Mama! What's this? Is it a dog? Noooooooo. I found a cat! I loooooove him. Awwww. HUG!

(steals truck from unsuspecting toddler) Hey Mama! This is a truck! I will show you how it works. (rolls truck around) See? This is how it works, mama. You want the truck, mama?

I want a snack. I want an ORAAAAAAAAANGE! Yes, please mama. THANK YOU!!!! You want a slice, mama? (No, thank you.) You want some orange? (No, baby.) Have a bite. (No thank you, you eat it) IT'S YOURS MAMA! HAVE A BITE PLEEEEEEEEASE!!! (Okay, great, thanks....sshhhhh)

Hey mama? Cat is hungry! Cat wants to eat oranges! Can cat eat oranges? loooooves oranges.

Mama? What time is it?

(Upon watching another toddler walk away with "her" cat) I WANT THE CAAAAAAAAAAT! (uber-whine system activated) My caaaaaaat!

Mama, what are you DO-ing? You doing yoga mama? I'm trying to hug you mama. I want a kiss!

(attempts to duplicate triangle pose) What am I doing mama? (Yoga.) I'm doing yoga? (Yep.) What KIND of yoga? What this called? (Ummmm....triangle pose?) I'm doing TRIANGLE POSE mama!!! Look at this, mama! LOOK AT THIS!

I'm not sure that we're welcome back.