Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kairos

I may have mentioned on more than one recent occasion my current obsession with mom blogs. Actually, there are a few non-mom titles in there as well. I'm blog-addicted. And what started it all was this post that a friend of mine had shared on Facebook a couple of weeks back. (Thanks Sarah!) Of course by now you have all likely seen it somewhere, on Facebook, or on the Huffington Post, or on about a million other websites and talk shows. Imagine getting so much attention for one blog post. It turns out that it wasn't a fluke, this woman amazes me every time I read something she has written. Her writing, her brain, her heart - it's all quite breathtaking...and hysterically, even-my-husband-is-laughing-funny. Where was I going with this?

Oh yes. So "Don't Carpe Diem" is all about how difficult and, arguably, unrealistic it is to seize every moment of your day and see it as a precious gift, particularly when raising young children. In the end, she brilliantly and eloquently boils it down to two types of time - Chronos and Kairos. Oh heck, just go and read the article for yourself. It's worth it. I'll wait.

Okay, are we up to speed? Good. So I've been thinking about that a lot, and it's slowly starting to seep its way into my daily routine. I've been lucky enough to have two Karios moments today, and it's not even noon.

1. This morning E slept in and I had to wake her up for school. Now if you recall, I am terrified of my daughter, and oftentimes the wake-up call, no matter how sweet and loving, is not well received. Considering that she is also recovering from a bit of a cold, I was experiencing more than mild trepidation at the prospect. But I soldiered on like the brave warrior I am. I knelt down, put my hand on her back and said "Your clock is yellow, it's time to wake up!" as soothingly as I could. And when she turned her head to me and popped one eye open, I was rewarded with an absolutely heartwarming smile, the smile of someone who has just been pleasantly surprised by her most favourite person in the whole world. It was awesome.

2. J had an unexpected morning off today and wanted to accompany me on my grocery shopping expedition. I grudgingly allowed him to tag along, forseeing an unnecessarily inflated grocery bill and an extra hour out of my day as a result of this new development. I can be a jerk sometimes. What I got instead was an hour and a half (I know, right?!) of quality, uninterrupted and wholly enjoyable time with my husband. Along with 8 bottles of totally necessary wine. It was also awesome.

So you see, some days are meant to be seized in their entirety, like your wedding day or the day you find out that your cancer is gone. But some days aren't going to be filled with sunshine and rainbows, no matter how much blowing you do, and that's just fine. It's when you find yourself, day after day, not finding a single thing to smile about that you might want to do some serious re-evaluation. For me, I had two blissful moments with my two favourite people this morning, and if the only thing I carpe for the rest of the day is another cup of coffee, well I'm pretty sure that's a good thing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

No, but I can make one that says 'Smartass'.

I recently purchased Melissa & Doug's Responsibility Chart, after a painstakingly thorough search of every available option when it comes to bribing children not to whine. I was delighted to find that I can also now bribe my child to perform all kinds of helpful duties, although many of them are beyond her reach (read: interest) at this time. There are a ton of "responsibilities" on there, my favourite of course being "Stop Whining". Some of the others that are currently being monitored are "Share" (an easy one to keep her motivated), "Clear the Table" and "Put Clothes in the Wash" (which we consider accomplished if she takes her plate to the sink and puts her dirty clothes in the hamper) and "Help with Outdoor Chores" (playing in the snow/leaves while mom and dad shovel/rake qualifies). It's going pretty well. In short, she's still whiny, but she's also a lot more helpful. It'll do for now.

Today she's sick and I've kept her home from school. On a very few occasions - like Christmas and Illness - I allow her to stay in her jammies all day. It drives me crazy, but I understand the proclivity. This morning she looked at me with that sly little smile and asked "Is it okay if I wear my pyjamas ALL DAY today???" Why not, I thought. They're going in the wash tonight anyway, might as well keep the germs festering all in one place.

Just before dinner she sauntered over to the chart and asked her usual question. "Mama, do I get any magnets today?" The magnets are little happy faces saying things like "Awesome!" and "Excellent!", to be placed beside each chore accomplished for each day. Today she had earned the Share, Take Care of Pet, Put Toys Away and Clear the Table. "Can I have this one too?" she asked, grabbing the "Get Dressed" label from the stack of responsibilities not currently being used.

"Well, considering that you didn't get dressed today, I would have to say no." I replied.

She turned back to the chart. At the bottom, there are two blank labels, where you can make up your own responsibility. She grabbed one of them and thrust it into my hand, saying "Can you please write 'Stay in Pyjamas All Day' on this one?"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Making amends

Dear Ralph,

I know, I know. I'm such a bad mom. You don't get enough walks. You don't get to play fetch enough. And the poop is starting to layer itself in the backyard.

It's not you, it's me.

Actually, it's also E.

She's just not a very fast walker, and she's so dang opinionated. And sadly, taking you for a walk isn't high on her to-do list most days. That dad of yours isn't much help either, being at the hospital around the clock.

When we first moved here you were so excited about all the exercise you were getting. We were too. But the whole thing was kind of a false pretense. You see, dad was off for that month and it was pretty warm outside. Now that we've hunkered down for six months of snow and ice, and dad had his drivers license updated to reflect his new address (The Hospital), we're facing a new reality. And it's not great news for you or your cardiovascular health. If you're an optimistic sort of fella, and I feel you must be, July 2012 is looking good for a bout of regular outings. Maybe even another trip to the lake. Remember that one time last summer? Pretty good day, huh? That could be in the cards.

Until then, I promise to do better at remembering both of your meals each day, not just one. (Which reminds me...I'll be right back.) I'll set time aside just for cuddling every day, although it will be on the floor as there's no chance of revisiting the "dog on the furniture" embargo. I know you can't possibly understand the sheer joy that fills my soul when I think about how I haven't vacuumed a couch in almost a year, and I don't wake up with dog hair in my mouth, but just know I can never go back.

When ice stops falling from the sky I promise to go outside and pick up the superficial layer of poop, mostly to prevent it from ending up in pawprint form on our floors, but I feel confident that you will appreciate the aesthetic value as you roam the yard, scanning for errant squirrels. I'll also bring that giant box of Costco dog treats up from the basement and give you one once in a while.

Oh, and I've decided to stop yelling at you for barking every time a door opens, or you hear footsteps or - God forbid - a siren*, or you see a squirrel/bird/cat/other dog/movement in your peripheral vision. I'd like to try to stop yelling at you altogether, but let's stick to baby steps for now.

You used to be a good dog:

video

Then again, I used to be a good mom. I'd like to say we failed each other to relieve some of the burden, but given that I'm the only of us that has the capacity to think these thoughts, I guess I'll go ahead and take the blame on this one. I can do better. Just watch.

Love,

The hand that still loves you, even though it screws you

*
video

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Couldn't have said it better

Sometimes you feel things that bounce around in your head for ages, never really coming out in any sort of coherent way, until someone else figures out a way to say it for you. That's what happened here:


The Resident’s Wife



I miss you.
My companion. Love. Friend.
You’re never here.
But then you are, but not you.
Hollow. Lights dimmed.
Stress.
Fatigue.
Exhaustion.
Physically, mentally, and emotionally drained.
Then pieces of you shine through,
And I have renewed hope.
Then you’re gone again.
The sign above our bed taunts me daily,
“P.S. I love your laughter,
And I love the way you make me laugh.”
We did laugh once, right?
I miss you.

My life seems busy. But not.
I fill it with things to help me feel busy.
It pales in comparison to your daily dread.
Fighting, disobedient kids.
Dinner to cook.
Laundry. Groceries. Bills.
A house to clean.
Schedules to keep.

Monotonous? Yes.
Dull? Possibly.
Frustrating? Sometimes.

But there’s no one looking over my shoulder,
Watching my moves and critiquing my care.
No one waiting for me to make a mistake
And ready to sue.
Or criticize at my first falter.
No one competing with me to impress.
Well, maybe a few.
But only rarely do I have the fear that
I might mess up and truly ruin a life.
For a doctor, that fear is omnipresent.
Babies to deliver. Watching new life. And first breaths.
But also seeing death.
Suffering and grief.
Pain. And sorrow. And Fear.

Isolation.

Wounds to treat. Patients to heal.
Paperwork.
Paperwork.
Paperwork.
Notes.
Notes.
Notes.

You’re tired, so I’m tired.
If you’re miserable, I must be miserable, too.
Why should I be happy when my other half appears ruined?
“Just a few more weeks. Then a new rotation.”
“Just a few more years, then residency will be over.”
Will it be better?
Worth it?
At what cost?
The kids have stopped asking if you’ll be home for dinner.
I miss you.

You’re jealous of me. I get to have a hobby. And exercise.
Does it make you love me less?
Are you angry when the house isn’t clean?
When you wake at 3:50 am,
Do you stand over me lovingly?
Or do you resent that my alarm will be silent for another 3 hours?
I resent it for you.

Four days off per month is criminal.
80 hours? Ha.
Paperwork not included.

Holidays have no meaning.
Just another time to be reminded that other families are together.
Like weekends.
I only look for 4 chairs at church.
Remember church?
But you and I, we are still faithful at saying our prayers.
Do they count if you fall asleep during them?
And when you’re away, our prayers here always include,
“Please let daddy have a good day at work.
Please help him be a good doctor and to be happy.”
And I silently beg and plead that you will not fall asleep while driving.
The kids include, “Please let him come home early.”
And, “We miss him.”
They know.
I miss you.

No days off this week.
But we will savor those minutes from 7:15 to 8:15 pm
That the children have to jump on you and love you.
And I will try again to make you laugh.
And then watch you sleep.
And pray again that somehow He will make 6 hours
Of rest be sufficient for your tired body.

It will get better.
It will be worth it. It has to be.
I’m so proud of you.
Do I tell you enough? Do you believe me?
I know other people need you.
They need your naturally skilled hands.
They need the knowledge you’ve worked years to acquire.
They need your comfortable, easy attitude and manner.
They love you, too.
I will share.
But I miss you.


This was written by a woman named Charlie whose husband was in medical school with J.** We met once or twice**, and she seems lovely, but now I feel like she might have taken up residence in our attic, having described our reality so perfectly.

**Editor's note: These statements are completely untrue. The mistaken identity is being attributed to mom brain. Charlie, however, is real and she did write the poem. You can read it and her other musings here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ummmm...I'm not sure how to respond to this...

E: My bum feels better than it did yesterday.

M: That's good. Why was your bum hurting yesterday?

E: Oh, I think I got a nut in it or something. Or maybe the tip of a bird's wing...

This is me now

So you might think I'm writing this stuff for you. And you might be right, but unless you're me you're also a little bit wrong. I'm writing all this stuff to keep loved ones in the loop, to amuse and entertain, but I also have a very important purpose in mind for this. One day, I will look back at this continuum of drivel and remember what life was like when. When we lived like nomads, when babies were small, when budgets were tight, and onwards and upwards from there. I look forward to a magical day in the future when I sit with an all-grown-up daughter...and perhaps another...and giggle over the memories, hopefully convincing them that this was a very worthwhile endeavour.

That being said, I would like to pause to reflect on things I am loving at this moment in my life. No, not sappy, emotional type stuff, just stuff that I can't get enough of right now. For fun. Because one day it will give E yet another opportunity to remind me of how desperately uncool I am.

1. Rants from Mommyhood, Momastery, and an embarrassing number of other mom blogs that remind me to laugh when life hands me a screaming toddler

2. This song, but especially when sung by this dude

3. Also, this song (mom and dad - don't watch this one)

4. Satsuma hand soap from the Body Shop

5. The whole tunic/leggings/silly knee socks/boots look. I don't care if it's so two years ago and I don't conform to the six foot/82 pound frame required to make such a look work, I'm not taking them off.

6. Chicken fingers

7. 700g Toblerone bars from Costco (I've made it through 2 already...and J should know that his isn't safe just sitting there defenseless under the tree)

8. My Name is Earl (especially Joy - "Oh, chasquido!")

9. This. And this. When I grow up I will have one, complete with a matching little upholstered bench.

10. Our new Tempur Cloud pillows. Best Christmas present I've ever given my husband that I have also been able to take advantage of. I've also rediscovered the joys of reading in bed thanks to these babies.

These are the things that are sustaining me these days, along with coffee and the incredibly charming way my daughter says "Psst! I love you." right before I'm about to strangle her.

Holidays are made of this...

Here is a bakers dozen of Cowfam holiday moments for your enjoyment...













Here's to 2012!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Author speaking on condition of anonymity

I'm terrified of my daughter. She's terrifying. Maybe you've met her and you heartily disagree. Or maybe you're going to decide to be honest and acknowledge that underneath those delicious cheeks and behind those big, beautiful, sparkly eyes you can just begin to make out the sharper edges of an iron will and budding control issues. Can you see it? Just to the right of that wonderfully affectionate heart and due north of the shamelessly protruding belly. That's it. I call it the Seat of Terror.

Several, far too many, times a day, I find myself hesitating. Before I suggest breakfast, before I suggest getting dressed, before getting myself dressed, certainly before announcing the plan for the day. Because you just never know what The Boss is going to think about your big ideas, and if she doesn't like them, well, you may just find yourself looking straight into the eyes of hell.

It doesn't happen all the time, and sometimes not even every day, but I've been on the receiving end enough times to salivate when I hear the bell. Of course, I know it's (most likely) a phase and that it too shall (most likely) pass, but perspective is an easy thing to write about when she's engrossed in the 87th screening of Finding Nemo. For all her cuteness and brilliance and je ne sais quoi, that little package also packs a crapload of fury in her jeggings.

Here's what I need from you. First of all, I need to write about it so that it becomes a humourous little anecdote rather than a death spiral. So thanks for that. Secondly, I need to hear from other grown-ass adults who are terrified of their own tiny monsters. Those of you who cannot identify with this phenomenon need not reply. It's not that I'm one of those jerks who feels that anyone who doesn't admit to sharing my problems is a liar, or that everyone needs to experience my particular brand of agony in order to earn the title of parenthood. It's just that right now I need to link arms with my sisters and brothers who have been broken under the tyranny of a similar regime, to know that I'm not alone and that perhaps there are enough of us to mount a revolution.

I can see it now:

Occupy My Toddler

Who's with me?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012? What the...?

Yes, yes. I'm still here. All family members are present and accounted for. Slowly, in the next week or two, I'll try to make up for some lost time, but for now I'd just like to limp in with a little borrowed humour. Rants from Mommyland is my new crush, and I want to shout it from the rooftops. But it's cold, so I'll just post a few links:

For all you dads of girls...here's what's comin atcha: http://www.rantsfrommommyland.com/2011/09/daddy-my-pillow-smells.html

Grrr...turtles indeed:
http://www.rantsfrommommyland.com/2009/11/herding-turtles.html

Guilty:
http://www.rantsfrommommyland.com/2011/11/sometimes-you-should-listen-to-your.html

And one from The Bloggess, because I can't stop laughing about it:
http://thebloggess.com/2011/06/and-thats-why-you-should-learn-to-pick-your-battles/

Good night.