Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Love and toilet scrubbing

I cleaned the house yesterday. Really cleaned. Baseboards and furnace vents kind of cleaned. I know. It was intense. And while I was cleaning, I was musing about how much effort was being expended in relation to how much credit I would get for all of my blood and sweat. I cut myself. Twice.

And then I got to thinking about one of the great sticking points in relationships - the tendency for women to feel underappreciated, and the tendency for men to feel sucker punched with spousal discontent when all the while they thought things were going great. Don't know what I'm talking about? Bite me.

In any case, I have to be honest and admit that my first thought was "Hmph. I bet he won't even notice." Hey, I've told you before that I'm a jerk. But then I asked myself why I was cleaning the house in the first place. Was I doing it as a favour to my husband, because he asked me to do it? Was I scrubbing the toilet as a special treat because I know he just loves the way the porcelain gleams on a freshly scoured throne? That would just be weird.

No, I was cleaning the house because it needed to be cleaned, and it needed to be cleaned so that my family can be comfortable and safe and taken care of. That's what I'm doing when I'm sweeping gargantuan piles of dog hair into mounds the size of a small Ralph. I'm taking care of my family. It's one of the ways that I show them love. Which kind of explains why a lady likes to be appreciated for such domestic displays of affection.

But here's the trickery. It's difficult to recognize an expression of love that you wouldn't use yourself. Although I'm sure my husband appreciates a clean home, he appreciates it insofar as he doesn't have to wade through debris to get in the front door or use the same smelly towel for months on end. It's just more pleasant. He's not tying all kinds of relationshippy meaning into it. Sure, maybe he could say thank you once in a while, but I also need to understand that if I want to engage in a mutual exchange of affection, we need to be speaking the same language.

Do you know how he shows love? By spending hours on the computer looking for the perfect movie for me to watch. It irritates the snot out of me. At the end of the day, I just want to sit on the couch and turn on a movie. I don't much care what it is or if it's good, so long as it doesn't involve human trafficking or the death of a child. But J will literally spend an hour scouring the internet for options, painstakingly IMDB'ing each one, before handing me a laptop with 20 windows open, asking me to narrow it down. And if I don't appear to take the decision seriously, he is wounded. Slowly, slooowwwwly, I've come to realize that this is one way that he shows love. He really wants to find a great movie for us, one that I will really enjoy. I didn't realize this at first, because it's just not something I would do. We weren't speaking the same language. See what I'm saying?

So. The next time you find yourself bending over backwards for someone who remains blissfully ignorant of your efforts, take another look at the situation. Maybe take a minute to explain the significance behind your actions to give your beloved a chance to see just how wonderful you are. Or, perhaps even better, think of something you can do instead that they will notice. I can't tell you how excited my husband gets when I come up with a truly outstanding movie selection for us. He lights up like a kid at Christmas. And as tedious as it may be to sit there scrolling endlessly, I have to admit that it  beats scrubbing the toilet.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Walking to School

I've been walking E to school almost every morning since September. I'd say that "we've" been walking, but really, only one of us is doing the work. The other one is getting a free ride. I love it. But, as with most things, at some point I get to analyzing a situation, which leads naturally to overanalyzation and neuroticism. 

Over the past 8 months, my thought process has gone a little something like this:

Stroller/Tricycle/Ergo? I'll let E decide.

Getting colder/snowy...Ergo is easy. E likes it. Let's do that.

Oooh, it's like cardio and weightlifting built right into my day! Awesome. Let's never stop.

Are people looking at me funny for having a three year old strapped to my back?

Should E be able to walk to school by herself now?

Maybe I'll get her to start walking in the spring.

Am I teaching my child to be lazy and not do things for herself?

Is it even within the realm of possibility that E would manage to propel herself in a forward direction continuously for 800 metres using only her two feet? 

I'm a bad mom. My child will grow up to be an obese shut-in with diabetes.

Do I look like an idiot?

But I really don't want to spend 45 minutes every morning cattleprodding my child along the sidewalk. 

Seriously - where did I learn to be like this?

Soooo...last week I made a snap decision. No more free rides home from school. Getting to school is one thing, when we're both on a schedule, but after school is easy breezy. We've got time for meandering and intermittent collapsing onto the sidewalk and coaxing and bargaining and backtracking. So I did it. I left the house with nothing but a smile (oh get out of the gutter), leaving the well-worn Ergo hanging sadly by the door, and went confidently in the direction of my goal. 

Guess. What. Happened.

E and I walked home. Hand in hand, mostly, except when she stopped abruptly for an impromptu roadside yoga demonstration. And there was a stick or two that needed to be collected. And some wildlife to be observed, a few flowers to be gently patted. Lots of jumping. But not a single complaint, not a peep of a whine, no desperate pleas for the Ergo that was not there, or to be carried like a little baby. It was really, really awesome. So we did it again the next day. And every day since. Magic.

You see, nine times out of ten, things are much, much worse frittering around in my brain then when they are finally released out into reality. As soon as I nail down that fact and make regular use of its wisdom, I have a feeling that my neuroticism will surely fade.

And I haven't even told you the best part yet. Also last week, I started pulling her out of the Ergo a block or so away from school in the mornings. Then a block and a half, then two blocks. Today I decided that this baby steps nonsense is really more for me than for her. I do love the Ergo. I've been "wearing" E since I brought her home from the hospital. I love having her close, I love that we can whisper to each other, I love the unsolicited hugs and snuggling that comes so easily when she's attached to me. I just love how it feels. I don't necessarily want that to end, but I recognize that it needs to. And that I'm the one holding on more tightly. 

So this morning, we simply walked out the door. Elle grabbed my hand, looked up at me and said "No Ergo?" And I replied "No Ergo." And we walked to school. Together.

E, surveying her findings.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

E: 926, M: 1.

I get huge amounts of personal satisfaction from cooking. But here's the caveat - that satisfaction is completely offset by feelings of inadequacy and disappointment when a) something doesn't turn out or b) my offering is not devoured with enthusiasm by anyone other than myself.

Last night I made an absolutely delicious chicken pot pie that my daughter decided to ignore on her plate in favour of raw (read: requiring no preparation) sugar snap peas and a simply irresistible glass of milk. Fortunately for my mental health, my husband had seconds and even scrounged the leftovers out of the fridge for lunch today all by himself. (Is anyone else's husband completely incapable of feeding himself anything that doesn't come from a bag or box in the snack cupboard?)

The night before I threw together a lovely dinner of spinach and cheese ravioli with vodka sauce, only to have my daughter declare that she was not hungry.

Homemade sausage, bean and spinach soup? "Where's the bread? It don't want it unless I can dip bread in it."

Pork tenderloin? "Too spicy."

Sweet potato, corn and bean hash? "I don't like it."

Can I remind you guys that my daughter is not a picky eater? And that sausage, anything that can loosely be described as "ham" and corn are on her top 10 list of favourite foods?

Oh, did I forget to mention that she's 3 and is currently pushing any and all of the buttons on mom's rage-o-meter as though training for the Piss-Me-Off Olympics?

My mistake.

So this morning I made yogurt and granola, with no one else but myself in mind. I'm going to eat them every morning, enthusiastically, making outrageous yummy noises and, more importantly, making sure not to offer any to my daughter. Which, of course, will have her begging for it. Which, of course, is kind of the point.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

You can take the girl out of Brooklyn...

E remembers Brooklyn. She talks about it sometimes, about things we used to do there and people we used to hang out with. We left last April, just as spring was springing and trees were blooming. That last image of our old home seems to have stayed with her.

On one of the first really spring-y days this year, she stepped outside and, brow furrowed, stated:

"It smells like something out here."

Then the lightbulb goes off and she breaks into a wide grin and announces:

"It smells like when we were in Brooklyn!"

A couple of days later, on her first tricycle ride of the season, on the tricycle she got for her first Brooklyn...she exclaimed:

"Isn't this just the goodest day? It's just like when we lived in Brooklyn."

No pressure or anything, of course. Until yesterday:

E: We should move. I want to go to a different house.

M: To a different house in the same neighbourhood?

E: No. To a house in Brooklyn. I want to go back to Brooklyn now.

Oh. I see. Hm. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Proulx Sugar Bush and Berry Farm

This past Saturday, we piled into the car and drove a measly 20 minutes or so to the Proulx Sugar Bush and Berry Farm to enjoy Easter Saturday, if you will. There was face painting,

Easter egg hunting,

 ...the gloves come off, and dada gets recruited to help

consumption of vast amounts of brunchy goodness,

 egg hunt prize...must have been a big egg

some taffy pulling, 

quite a bit of sliding,

construction of the second sandcastle of the season,

lots of strolling,

baby animal feeding,

and oh, let's not forget the swinging.

And then, of course, there was a little business to take care of.

By my count, those pictures are worth about 13,000 words. And every one of those words is "love". Hooray for remembering cameras!

On Happiness

Do you know what happiness is like, mom? It's like magic!
When you're sad, you just wait for a little bit, and then you'll be happy. 
You will. It's magic!

~ one smart girl

Pass the ears, please.

When my precious bundle of preschooler hurtled into my arms after school today, lip quivering, eyes brimming and then spilling over with tears, whimpering "I'm boooored!" (translation: "I'm exhauuuuusted because I went crazy at naptime and decided against sleep in favour of messing around like a wild forest child"), I knew that dad and I were going to have to do some fancy footwork. As I believe I have mentioned before, once or twice, foregoing naptime is really not an option in our family.

We ohhh'd and it's okayyy'd and patted and wiped and placed her gingerly in the carseat, loaded her lap up with snacks and proceeded to drive her into unconsciousness. Then, an hour and half later, after 3 successful errands, as I gently retrieved a grumpy, whiny ball of fatigue from the car, I knew that whatever remaining creativity in sneak attack parenting that we could muster would have to be employed if we were to survive until bedtime.

This dude didn't last long. But the smiles and uncontrollable giggles that he witnessed before his ultimate demise were plentiful.

And for those of you (dad) who think we might be starving our child, this fella underwent a full face and hair transplant - which was also devoured - before she packed away a creme egg and about half a bag of cheese curds. I think she'll be good at least until midnight snack.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Warning: some language not suitable for children. Which is kind of the point.

It really is A.mazing that E doesn't have a potty mouth at this point. I mean really, we have not been successful in our attempts to render our speech child-appropriate in the three years that we've been trying. Though effort has been made. And I think she gets that. She seems to understand that she's not supposed to use that language that mom and dad litter their speech with, and that we really do try to limit it as much as possible, and I think she actually...respects that. It's too weird. 

Witness my account, to the best of my (admittedly impaired) recollection, of the only examples in existence of my daughter, the sailor, rearing her foul-mouthed head:

1. Age: approx 1 1/2 yrs
After hearing mama refer to Ralph as "such a dick" approximately 85 times a day since she was brought home from the hospital, and before she could decipher disdain from affection in tone with any reliability, she began to greet her favourite people with the following: "Such a dick, mama!" "Such a dick, dada!" "Such a dick, Gramma!" Oh yes, she did.

2. Age: approx 2 1/2 yrs
While playing quietly by herself with a very small gadget (button? magnet?) that kept slipping through her fingers and rattling on the floor I heard a faint, but ever so emphatic "fuck.

3. Age: approx 1 1/2 years to present
Once in a while one of us will be humbled by the innocent query: "Why is it a fucking mess, mama?" or "Why did dada say shit?"

Can you feel the parental pride simply oozing from this post? Sigh.

Am I f@*$ing adorable, or what?