Wednesday, December 24, 2014

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

This year.
This year she gets it. This is the big one. I have a feeling it may also the last one, so I'm taking in every second. For the last couple of years she has looked forward to Christmas, and she's been excited for Santa and presents, but never like this year. She has never had that special shyness when meeting Santa, she's never woken up on the 24th saying "Merry Christmas Eve!", and she's never had trouble going to sleep on Christmas Eve.
Tonight was magic. We kept our eye on the NORAD Santa Tracker, we made sure to get to bed on time, and we panicked and jumped out of bed when we realized we had forgotten to leave snacks out. She was giddy like a...well, like a 5 year old at Christmas during her bath, while brushing her teeth, and she positively couldn't sit still during story time, joining in as dad read How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
And then, just as we were lying down and tucking in...there arose such a clatter. First, jingle bells. Right outside the window! Then, a booming HO!HO!HO! Merry Christmas! Away to the window I flew like a flash...but saw nothing. After a few moments, the prancing and pawing of each little hoof...and the unmistakeable scraping of what could only be a sleigh, landing on the roof! And again, jingling and HO!HO!HO! Elle was beside herself, and I was mystified. "Is Santa here? Is he here at this house right now??!" she asked me. "It sounds like it!" was all I could reply. "Quick! Go to sleep!" she pleaded, and threw herself under the covers. Then she realized that everyone was still awake downstairs. Up she leapt and ran to the stairs. "Everyone! Santa is here! Go to sleep! EVERYONE GET INTO BED RIGHT NOW!!!" She didn't try to go and see if there were presents. She didn't try to catch a glimpse of him. She just ran around frantically trying to persuade everyone, including a guest who had recently arrived for a visit, to drop everything and go to sleep. Eventually Jeff and I coaxed her back upstairs and lay down in the room with her, but she knew that the folks downstairs would stop Santa from coming down the chimney. We assured her that he was doing a first pass to get all the houses where everyone was already asleep, and then he would circle back to get the rest of us later.
It seemed to work. Because here we are, ten minutes to midnight, and she is sawing logs. I think I see sugarplums. A few weeks ago she decided that it would be amazing to wake up Christmas morning to see her room filled with balloons. So Santa is bringing a balloon bouquet that he'll put at the end of her bed for her to wake up to. Between that and the pile of gifts downstairs, along with Papa's genius Santa App and the trusty NORAD Santa tracker, I think we've got her hook, line and sinker for at least one more year. Tonight, perhaps more than ever before, I believe in the magic of Christmas.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Not That Serious

Hi babe.

This year, the year that I am 38 years old, I have a new motto. Want to hear it? Here it is:

Life is not that serious.

Your dad doesn't share this motto. He's in his 4th year of a 5 year residency, looking down the barrel at a pretty big exam in a not-so-distant and ever-nearing future, while handling the life and death of his patients day in and day out. Life is pretty serious for him right now. And that's okay. 

But for me? I have a job I love that offers me very little in the way of stress. I have a husband I love, a daughter I am head-over-heels smitten with and a dog who's the worst but we love him anyway. Our little family has a roof over our heads in a fantastic neighbourhood with fantastic neighbours. We have food on the table and amazing shops and restaurants we can (sort of) afford to enjoy. You go to a wonderful school with wonderful teachers and are learning so much so quickly it makes my head hurt. We live in a safe city in a great country with loads of resources for families. We get to go on vacations, we get to pursue hobbies, we get to greet each other every morning and kiss each other good night every evening. For me, life is not that serious. It's seriously sweet.

Having said that, there is a reason that I needed a motto to come up with in the first place. You see, sometimes I take things too seriously. Or, to be more accurate, I take almost everything way too seriously almost all of the time. I have no perspectacles. Do you know what those are? Those are special imaginary glasses you wear that give you a beautiful view of the BIG PICTURE, so that you don't go losing your mind over things that are not worth the crazy. (A very wonderfully wise woman came up with that term. You would do well to learn as much as you can from her.) So this new motto of mine, it's an attempt to find my perspectacles, and to keep this elusive BIG PICTURE in mind as often as possible. 

Not everything is an omen of terrible things to come. Not everything is teetering on a slippery slope toward doom. Things might be just wonderful next time, even if this time they were very, very bad. THINGS ARE OKAY. I read an interesting article the other day, saying that most people who believe that they are in the middle of terrible, horrible periods of their lives are actually OKAY from moment to moment. You may be going through a divorce, but at this moment you are grocery shopping and you are doing okay. You may have a new cancer diagnosis, but you have just finished reading your kids a bedtime story and you are okay. We all have times of struggle, and sometimes those struggles are intense, but we are STILL OKAY. And we can smile. 

These ideas are so easy to type, and so hard to live. But I believe that the only true meaning of life is to find joy for yourself, and to make joy for others. We are lucky enough to begin life, lucky enough to live it, but not quite lucky enough to get out of it alive, so we might as well enjoy that luck until it runs out. 

I wish you joy, peace and lots and lots of laughter. I wish you a lifetime shared with your greatest loves. Life is not that serious, but it is beautiful.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Being your mom

Sometimes I wonder what you'll be like as a mom, having endured me as your role model. Will you say that I didn't play with you enough? That I got mad too often, stayed sad for too long, didn't understand you? Will you try not to make the mistakes I made? Probably.

I can't fight it. I will make mistakes. You will remember them. But what I hope more than anything is that you know, really know, that I truly enjoy you. That being with you, teaching you, learning from you and moving through the world with you is a joy.

Maybe it's selfish, maybe it's needy, but I want to be your best friend. Of course there will be so much more to our relationship than friendship. And some of it won't be great. But one day, when the day to day gig of raising you has come to an end and you're wading into adulthood, I want to be on your speed dial. I want to be in your pictures. I want to be there in your life. And to have you in mine.

I know that it's the stuff I do now and in the coming years that will frame how you see me when you're all grown up. How you see us. This thought terrifies me. It comes to me every night just after you go to sleep. And it's overwhelming sometimes.

What's the answer? The answer, I think, must be to keep showing up. To keep trying. To keep reminding myself that you will hopefully not be as hard on me as I am on myself. And that if I can manage to keep letting my love for you guide my decisions, we just might be alright.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One Bathroom

One Bathroom
adapted from "Rude" by Magic! (

Early this morning jumped out of bed
and made me some breakfast
Then heard a rumble but you’re in the can
all the way upstairs
Knocked on the door with hand on my bum
to ask you to vacate
Cause I know that you only did #1

Will I have one bathroom for the rest of my life
(Say No say No)
This can’t be my fate
You say we can’t afford another till we leave this house
Tough luck my friend but you’ll just have to WAIT!

Why you gotta be so rude?
Don’t you know I have to POO!

Why you gotta be so rude?
I’m gonna poo in my pants someday
(Poop in my pants) Poo in my pants someday
(Poop in my pants) No matter what you say
(Poop in my pants) Now get out without delay

Why you gotta be so RUDE?

I hate to do this, you leave no choice
I’m grabbing the potty
Can you hear the panic in my voice
It’s an emergency
Think of your daughter, man
She has to go so bad now too
You know she is just a kid
She will sit anywhere and go

Will I have one bathroom for the rest of my life
(Say No say No)
This can’t be my fate
You say we can’t afford another till we leave this house
Tough luck my friend but you’ll still have to WAIT!

Why you gotta be so rude?
Don’t you know I have to POO!

Why you gotta be so rude?
I’m gonna poo in my pants someday
(Poop in my pants) Poop in my pants someday
(Poop in my pants) No matter what you say
(Poop in my pants) GET OUT! MAYDAY! MAYDAY!

Why you gotta be so RUDE?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Love you to Pieces

Today we picnicked in Hampton Park after swimming. Hampton Park has everything a kid could want in a park, with just the faintest whiff of seediness to make it feel like an adventure. There's a swimming pool, a great play structure, a wide open field and the whole thing is bordered by trailed forest.

First we laid down our towel under a pretty tree that rained purple petals on us. We forgot our cutlery, so we managed to get through our chick pea salad using specialized "food shovels" (crackers). After a dessert of oranges and Girl Guide cookies, we made our way toward the edge of the forest and waded in. Mosquitoes. Lots of them. Also maybe poison ivy. We tried to avoid the latter, and were absolutely feasted on by the former. After finding a few interesting bits of moss, an intricately holey tree, a friendly and relatively unsuspicious looking dude smoking something slightly more suspicious, and a lonely snail just begging to be relocated, our hike through the forest ended rather abruptly as Elle yelled (fresh from another mosquito assault) "I DON'T WANT TO BE IN HERE ANYMORE!!!" and bolted back out to the sunshine faster than I have ever seen those legs move. Okay. Forest time over.

The snail accompanied us for the rest of our playdate, mostly watching from a nearby beach towel and occasionally being paraded around on E's arm. Now, it was bad enough when I realized that I would have to get comfortable enough with slugs when my daughter developed an affinity for snails - their moderately less distasteful incarnation. It was almost more than I could bear today watching her lovingly "wipe its bum" with a leaf (for #2) and a soft purple petal (#1) after it chose to repeatedly use her hand as a latrine. Gah. 

After the forest we went on to the Feats of Strength as she scaled the rock wall a few times and engaged in random acrobatics to my motherly amazement. At some point though, she became Elsa and I became Periwinkle and we had serendipitously run into each other in a mountain after coincidentally both freezing our families and running away in self-imposed exile. So we made a magical ice palace, naturally, which happened to be a very good vantage point for a local baseball game in progress in an adjacent field. We watched that for a while, quietly leaning into each other and occasionally reminding ourselves how lucky we were to have found each other in this mountain.

Then one of us had to poop so we did five minutes on the tire swing and hightailed it out of there. 

Back at home, we did some gardening and went head to head in a gruelling game of checkers. After one "false start" (it was her first are kind of mandatory) and more than a few "oversights" on my part, she came out the victor after a nail-biting thirty minutes. 

At some point we came to the place we always get to. I need to get something done that doesn't lend itself well to being trailed by a 43 pound blocker. I explained that things become complicated and at times treacherous when every time I turn around I have to bob and weave to avoid injuring one of us. Surprisingly, she seemed happy to go upstairs and harass consult with her father for a few minutes. About ten minutes into my solitary bliss I heard the pitter patter of feet on the stairs and thought "Well, it was a good run." That's when she presented me with a piece of paper that read:

Ay luv yoo too pesus. Sew ay want too folow yoo arawnd.

And so I responded the only way you can respond to such a gesture:

Sweetheart, you can follow me around forever.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Deathbeds and tombstones

Things I want to be said about me:

By Elle - Best mom ever. Always there for me. The first person I go to for advice and comfort. Taught me to be my own person. Taught me to be happy.

By Jeff - Best wife ever. Always thinking of me. The first person I want to share my successes and failures with. The glue that holds our family together. Makes me happy.

By Myself - Best me ever. Always showed up. Always kept trying. Made the lives of her friends and family better by being here. Happy.

There are really only three people in the world whose opinions I care about. Any time and effort I spend on making an impression or living up to expectations should be spent on these three people. Any effort spent trying to make anyone else happy is a waste. At the end of my life, I won't care whether the other people in my yoga class thought my outfit was cool enough, or whether the parents of my daughter's friends thought my car was fancy enough, or whether I was nice enough or funny enough or smart enough. The only people I need to be enough for already know that I am enough. They just need me to keep showing up. And so all of the energy, all of the strength, all of the passion, love and focus I can summon should go to them. And their gratitude will feed me. Their successes will drive me. Their love will satisfy me. It will be enough.

Friday, February 7, 2014

What a difference a week…doesn't make.

We're just seven days into this whole "being 5" gig, and this is the conversation that happened today:

E: Mom, I think you should start treating me like a 5 year old.
M: Oh, okay. How am I not treating you like a 5 year old?
E: Well, I don't know. But so far 4 and 5 seem p-r-e-t-t-y similar.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


My husband and I parent exactly the same way, about totally different things.

As much of a frustration that is, I've come to realize that it's more of a blessing. We live in a household that does not spank, slap, use name calling or any other form of physical or verbal abuse. This is something J and I never really had a conversation about. It just is. And I am so thankful for that.

I had a conversation with a client the other day in which she told me about how her boyfriend (read: NOT the father of her child) had started trying to discipline her son in an effort to become more of a parental figure. She talked about locking doors and belts, and I felt ill. No way. No. Effing. Way. would that ever happen in my house. And thank whomever that I don't have to worry about establishing those kinds of boundaries with my husband. I trust J completely when he's alone with E, and when he's disciplining her, and I've come to realize that that is a luxury that a lot of people don't have.

When it comes down to it, most of the time, my "talks" with E are much more stern than J's, but I still can't help but go into mama bear mode when I hear him coming down on her. 98% of the time she totally deserves it, and 100% of the time J is well within anyone's definition of acceptable behaviour, but I can't help but panic at the thought that her psyche is being damaged if anyone but me is handing down punishment. It's one of my very few faults. Although I prefer to call them "intricacies".

In any case, it never ceases to amaze me how riled up J gets about mismatched socks and which movie to watch, while he easily turns a cheek at getting sassed up the wazoo or being deliberately deceived. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten the subliminal eye roll for enforcing polite and respectful behaviour while he loses his schmidt over the thought of being forced to endure an episode of Caillou. (Okay, I kind of get the Caillou thing.) I guess we can chalk another one up to the whole Mars/Venus theory.

So what was the point of this? Well, I suppose it's this: J gets mad about the weirdest stuff.
But at least we get mad the same way. `

Let Me Explain

This is (hopefully) not going to be a soapbox rant shaming well-meaning people for being well-meaning, or creating awkwardness and sensitivity around a topic that doesn't necessarily have to be awkward and sensitive. Rather, I'm trying to take the "education" route. I want to make conversations easier, not harder. I want to open up, not shut down. Well, let's see how it goes.

I want to have another baby. Now. More specifically, about a year ago. My husband would be happy with one baby, but is open to having another. Just not now. More specifically, in about two and a half years.

This is our very own, personal situation. And, in my opinion, we are the only ones who should be making this decision. That's not to say that I don't want to talk about it with anyone. But there's a certain kind of conversation I'm open to, and another kind that I'm not.

For some reason, I seem to talk about this a lot. And for the life of me I swear I'm not the one bringing it up. Part of the problem is that I work in an environment where I'm locked in a quiet room with one other person for one-hour blocks of time, and while some people use this time to catch a snooze, others like to make conversation. People ask about my daughter, and her age, and the next obvious question seems to be if we're having any more. I don't mind that question at all. I'm perfectly capable of answering a yes or no question, and I personally don't find that particular question intrusive. But here's where the problem starts. I'm a rather open and honest person, and I worry about making people uncomfortable by clamming up if they want to talk. Usually I'll offer a brief explanation about being uncertain on timing and try to leave it at that.  Sometimes I can redirect a conversation before we get into murky waters, but in my experience, if someone really wants to know something, they'll find a way to get the question in there.

So here we are. And what, you may be wondering, are these murky waters of which I speak? Well, I'll tell you. My own personal issue with these conversations is the "advice". If you're my friend and I'm asking for advice, lay it on me. If I just met you and you have no knowledge of my history, please keep your advice to yourself. And if you fit into some other category, then let's keep it simple. Did I ask you for your opinion on how my husband and I should navigate a disagreement on the inner workings and ultimate expansion of our family? Yes? So, what are you waiting for? Give me the answers I seek! No? Then, how 'bout we talk about something else?

I can't imagine that J and I are the first couple on the planet to disagree on the timing of having a second child. If we are, then by all means, someone step in and give us the golden key because we're obviously missing something. But if we're going by the advice I've been given so far, which largely consists of relieving my husband of any input in the matter and forging ahead with one of numerous devious pregnancy-inducing schemes that have been suggested to me, then I think it's best if we just keep the matter between my husband and I. Lots of people have made similar suggestions in a joking context, and I can take a joke. What I can't seem to swallow, is crazy-assed advice from gravely concerned half-strangers with all kinds of "knowledge" about my situation.

"You're healthy. You'll have no problem having a baby at 40."
- Oh good, I'm healthy! Whew. And you know this because...I'm thin? You just met me, so unless you've been perusing my medical records and conducting fertility tests without my knowledge, ease up on the diagnoses and clairvoyance.

"Don't wait. You'll regret it."
- Fear-mongering. Awesome.

"Just get him drunk. He'll do whatever you want."
- Let's flip the sexes on that one and see how you'd sound. Also...tried it.

"You don't want just one. Only children are never normal."
- Let's make sure to have the follow-up back-pedalling conversation if E turns out to be solo.

"Why are you giving him the choice? You're carrying the baby. He doesn't have to do anything."
- You're an asshat.

"You should just wait. Then you'll have lots of money and it will be great."
- Yippee!!! There's that magical future of mine again, popping in to say hello! Money still takes away all of our problems, right?

…and it goes on. And on. On almost daily basis.

-- PAUSE --

And once again this blog proves itself and more therapy for me than entertainment for you.

I got interrupted while writing this post - because who can write an entire uninterrupted blog post anyway? - and have been thinking about it ever since. About how I can't seem to distill my thoughts down enough to make it not a rambling, flip-flop of a stream of consciousness. And as I've been mulling it over I've come to a very important conclusion.

All of you aren't the ones that need to be re-educated. It's me. As I thought about what I wanted to say, I found myself asking the same kinds of questions over and over:

Do I want to tell people what they can and cannot say? (No.)

Do I want people to feel like they should or shouldn't talk about certain topics? (No.)

Do I want people to be so afraid of offending or upsetting someone that they don't bother starting conversations? (Absolutely not.)

Do I want people to walk on eggshells around me? (Please, no.)

So what is my purpose here? Who is it that needs to understand how to behave? Do I really think everyone else needs to align themselves with my needs and way of thinking? If so, then I'm more of a diva than I thought. No, I guess I have to admit that maybe…juuuust maybe…I need to stop letting the opinions of others have such an impact on me. Was it Eleanor Roosevelt that said "What others think of me is none of my business"? Someone did anyway, and that's the truth.

So I suppose I should wrap it up with a quick "As you were!", but if you don't mind, enough with the advice. Do we have a deal?


Monday, January 6, 2014

Another year, more reasons to smile.

I have such an amazing kid.

If I felt the need to qualify that statement, I would make sure to point out that there is no comparison or judgement intended, no thoughts of superiority or boastfulness, just an overwhelming and sincere adoration of the little person that sits across from me at the dinner table every night.

But I don't.

Lately, and often, I find myself struck by her thoughtfulness, her empathy, her eagerness to be kind and sweet and generous. And I tell her. Because if there's one parenting philosophy I subscribe to, it's that you can never say enough of the good stuff. And she loves to hear it. She gets almost shy as her eyes light up and a smile just tickles the corners of her lips. And I swoon. There is no other word. I swoon hard.

Yesterday we came across the word empathy and she asked what it meant. I explained that it had to do with trying to imagine how someone else is feeling as if you are the other person, rather than thinking about what you would do in their situation. Immediately, E responded with "Oh! I do that all the time! I do that with Noemie and Ayan, and Olivia!" It was as if being empathetic is just a natural thing you do with your friends. Because for her, it is. And I love that.

A few days ago she had an uncharacteristically long and intense meltdown in regards to the peeling of a clementine, which involved several (unsuccessful) trips to her room to calm herself down before re-entering society. Eventually, what began as a suggestion became a sentence, with the cell bedroom door closed, not to be opened except by the warden mom. I can only think of one or two times in the past when I've had to resort to outright imprisonment. There were a few moments of wailing, some pleading, and one request for Kleenex. But then all was quiet. She was in there longer than she has ever been before, and I won't pretend that I didn't relish the uninterrupted chore/shower time. But after about 30 minutes or so, I decided it was time for "the talk". I hate that part. I'm never confident that I'll get the important point across. There's so much pressure for this "moment of truth", when impacts can be made and behaviour can be molded, and more often than not I find myself yammering unintelligibly to a confused looking audience. But I went in boldly and calmly, and was…humbled, what I saw. I expected E to have found something awesome to play with, completely unconcerned about this alleged "punishment", throwing it gleefully back in my face as she announced that she was not ready to come out yet because she was having sooooo much fun. But instead I found her standing there, looking hopefully up at me, a once-pyjamad lunatic, now perfectly calm and fully dressed. All she wanted to do was tell me about the outfit she picked out because she knew I'd like it. The gold zippers on her pants that matched the gold buttons on her shirt. The shirt she knew I liked because I had bought it after noticing the little heart details in it. She was standing there so proudly, hoping for my approval. And she got it. I told her how proud I was that instead of pouting or playing, she had obviously thought about what had happened and had come up with something that would show us that she wanted to do better. That she was thinking not only of herself and her feelings, but of her place in the family and the role she could play. And we still had the talk, and I probably still talked too much, but I know she could see that she had figured out a way to make things right.

On another day, she mentioned wistfully that she couldn't wait to be a grown-up. It's not the first time she's had this ridiculous notion, and I always tell her the same thing. That while I get the frustrations of being a kid and not having a lot of control over things, most people I know would go back to being a kid in a heartbeat. And not necessarily because being a kid is so much better, but because once you're an adult, you'll never get to be a kid again. But kids are in the enviable position of having it all. They can enjoy the good parts of being kids, and look forward to the good parts of being adults. It's a win-win. I asked her why she wanted to be a grown-up on this particular occasion, and her answer was "Because then I can tell people what to do." Hm. I told her that that's one of my least favourite things about being an adult. "Really?" she asked, baffled. "Why??" And all of a sudden I got a flash of how she might see me…

…happily presiding over my minions, ordering them around freely to do my bidding.

I tried to think of a good explanation that would make sense to her. "Because it makes me feel like I'm bossing people around, and I don't like to be bossy." And, just like a good minion, she had the perfect response. "I don't feel like you boss me around, Mom." There's that swoon again. Can swoons be violent? Because mine are.

The next morning, I was presented with this lovely surprise in bed:

You never boss me
I always love you

God, I have an amazing kid.