Archive for February, 2013

February 28, 2013

finding my stride

each night that i ready myself to run, i engage in a certain set of behaviours, developed in response to my three year old son’s comfort needs.

my biggest boy is an interesting blend of personality and rigidity. this child, who on a good day is bright, curious, engaged, thoughtful, caring, intuitive, perceptive, creative, and independent, can be particular, anxious, hyper monitoring, sensitive, touchy, rigid, demanding, and unreasonable on a bad day. on everyday, it would seem, he is vulnerable to intense experiences of emotional distress if there are changes in routine without notice or preparation.

generally speaking, we are on to him and his ways and we do our best to protect him from unnecessary discomfort, whilst also trying to expose him to spontaneous living so to encourage confidence in the face of the unexpected, as life, of course, can not all be premeditated to suit his preference. he has skills in his favour and uses language to process, he is fortunate to have an affinity for this, which helps. he also has many rituals. rituals that appear, sometimes, without me having realized that they were being designed.

it was sometime a few weeks ago that i recognized the words he was using were familiar, and realized that he had said them to me the last two runs prior. it was then apparent that he had also established a routine of doing certain things prior to and as i left the house.

over all, he has adapted well to me leaving for evening runs. i’ve been quite impressed, in fact, considering i depart prior to his bed time, so he is very much aware of my leaving and the tradition of my putting him to bed disrupted. though his father is involved in all aspects of his care and has put him to bed regularly, i still am often the one to bathe him, read to him, sing to him, and cuddle him before he puts himself to sleep. a love habit, i guess, that carried on past the year where i breastfed him before sleepy time and, for that reason, was the only parent who could do the bed time routine.

this said, the ceremony has revealed itself and, if rushed, he unravels. it looks the same each time: his father bathes him as i put his baby brother down. i dress for the exercise and the cool night air in the room adjacent to his tub. whilst doing so, i explain that i am getting ready to go for a run, as it is important for me to take care of my body.

“okay, momma” he grants from the other room, unconvincingly.

he pauses usually, stuck in his head a bit, and then begins again, seemingly having processed and reconciled that this is the plan.

“you’ll come back” he says for his own benefit, as i have no doubt that i will. “of course, son”, i affirm. “mom always comes back to you”.

“hug and a kiss?” he asks, as if he would ever let me get out the door without this. i happily oblige and good night and sweet dream wishes are said.

“i want to wave good-bye to you from the window” he states, becoming fearful that i will leave without him being able to track it. he explains to his father that he is all done in the tub, panic in his voice as he jumps up and out, covered in bubbles.

i explain that i will wait for him and that by the time i have my shoes on and am at the car, he will be ready at his window, as well. i do as i said i would and gather my running watch, coat, hat, and reflective gear, put on my shoes, make my way to the back of the house, and stand, beside the car, looking up to him in the third floor window.

there he is, alternating between waving frantically, making heart shapes with his hands, and blowing kisses. i do the same. i then get in my car, turn to face the road, roll down the window, and wave theatrically up at him. he relaxes- his shoulders and chest show me as much as they find a more natural posture.

i’m okay with the system. his behaviour, although inconvenient at times doesn’t faze me much. you see, i also have some peculiar habits and it wouldn’t be hyperbolic to claim that some of them are rather bizarre or even compulsive in nature.

the point is, we all have ceremony. and, as small and as insignificant as the behaviour may manifest, the ways in which we occupy our time have meaning beyond what the unknowing, and uninformed public, may be able to see.

this is what running has become for me in the last nine weeks that i’ve been taking my legs out to dance. it sounds neutral an activity enough, but it is far from the simple and basic act of exercise that a passerby may interpret.

as i have found my stride whilst running, i’ve also been finding my way as a mother of two. i have made friends with who i am now, as well as how i am living at present. joy is increasing. perhaps, it could be said, because of running. running has helped me make sense of it all, shake out the crazy, regulate the anxiety, and it has given me purpose, structure and form to my evenings, which otherwise might be vacant and hollow for the social isolation and fatigue. running has become my standby, my go to, the feedback that i need, alone often with only my children for company. running helps me get my feet on the ground, literally and figuratively, and has become what helps assure me that i have influence, that i can contribute to the outcome, and that the world can be predictable. i need this just as my son requires being reminded of the same.

it is an activity that has become increasingly sacred to me. not just because of the religious way in which i repeat the act, but also the priority i’ve given it in time, space, head and heart. as my son’s physique relaxes when he has his neurosis validated and accommodated, my form also feels freed and at peace once a run has been completed: i feel respected, i feel heard.

with gratitude, hh.

* originally posted @ rerunmom.com.

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February 18, 2013

don’t ever grow up

i offered my baby some solids yesterday and, though we celebrated his first meal, it was also fraught for me.

my husband, standing behind me, made the baby nom-nom sounds when i couldn’t. for, though i was smiling and cheering him on too, i was also rushed by tears and, trying to hold them in, the support got caught in my throat.

our preschooler, initially delighted and proud of his brother, began to catch on that i wasn’t quite on page. after looking at us all individually, trying to clarify what emotion we were to be feeling, he, wise on my ways, made his analysis, turned to his brother, and said: “good boy! don’t worry about momma, sometimes her heart breaks when she is happy”.

he was right, and he was wrong: i was also grieving.

i had selfishly debated introducing foods to him because i, emotionally, am not ready for him to be nourished by anything other then me. he is young to start and has no real nutritional need for food. “why rush it?”, i’ve asked myself. “don’t rush him”, i tell myself. but, the truth is, i’m not. he wants it and, despite this hurting my feelings for some irrational reason, i don’t want to get in his way. life is all over him and up in his stuff enough with his brother and my busy both flustering about while we simultaneously try to adjust with some semblance of grace.

in addition, my baby is a gentle and knowing soul and he has few requests of me. those he does have, he makes well known- no drama, just messages in such a way that you hear him. he taught me early who he is and i knew, from lessons raising my first son, that it was my job to hear, respect and honour those cues. i couldn’t deny his interest and, now, i can’t deny his readiness because, in responding to him, he showed me how he could eat it up like a big boy- complete with smiles and squeals of delight to be included in our sunday morning breakfast.

as my dear friend carly has said, we have arrived at the “last of the firsts”. afterall, he is my final baby and this will be the last time i bear witness to what life looks like, one day at a time.

these moments are fleeting.

already, he no longer squeaks- you know, those amazing and surprising newborn noises- and as the days go by i am forgetting what that precious wheeze sounds like. he no longer reaches above his head, closed eyes and fists, in a milky, satisfied, shaky stretch and i had no way to know the last time was upon me, so i was unable to photograph or video or tatoo it to my eyelids before he matured past that simple act of abandon that babies who are aware of the world around them no longer do. he no longer only responds to my voice, he no longer reserves his lovey eyes just for me, and he now delights in his brother and father’s company as much as he delights in mine.

he is becoming himself more and more, really showing up, and, though his unfolding personality is delightful, i wince knowing that this is equally matched by him growing in body and that he will soon be too large to rest comfortably in the crook of my arms, moon face on my breast. his length will soon prevent his cheek from being able to lie against my chest when we are tummy to tummy. his face will soon outgrow the space in between my collarbone and chin, where he nuzzles in at me before sleepy time.

i know he is born to grow and i want him to. i just want to learn him and know him so well as he does this that i can be of service later, and help him find his way back when he gets lost, back to where he came from, and it’s all going by so fast.

February 14, 2013

february: the final frontier

this is how it all went down.

i’d just given birth and, because my son was 11 pounds, i delivered my dignity along with him, leaving me disabled, for weeks, unless heavily medicated.

it was a preschool morning and i, somehow, managed to get dressed, as well as the kids, and then made my sore ass and their cute butts down the stairs, out the door, and in the car. we even made it there on time. it was amazing.

unfortunately, there, after all this effort, instead of a cheer squad ready-set to celebrate my achievement with high fives, was the parent sign up sheet for the halloween party that was scheduled for the following week. this is not the stuff that dreams are made of: i fail miserably at cute mom. the very mention of pinterest gives me anxiety and, on occasion, makes me hostile (you’ve been warned).

i began to sweat but, fortunately, was quickly pulled from my place of fear by my unreasonably competitive spirit (thanks, mom). damned if i’m gonna opt out like some flake, my inner monologue asserted, and i approached the sheet, handwritten in perfect preschool printing, with my head held high.

i scanned the options (cupcakes, cookies, other things that required skill) and, then, relieved, my eyes zeroed in on the cheese and cracker platter. it was a cop-out, but it was a deal. we always have cheese, we have a pantry full of crackers and i felt that regardless of my current state (i.e. inability to perform basic bodily functions), i should, at least, be able to manage that.

no one will even think less of me, i thought, considering it was pretty obvious i had bigger issues to contend with (as evidenced by full brief adult diapers visible above the waist of my sweatpants).

as it turns out, i managed to forget that i’d committed myself to the easiest contribution and on the day of i noticed on the calendar that i had scribbled: “be cute for preschool”, in what looked like a menacing, drunken script. with minutes to spare i mad-frantic hacked up some cheddar and threw it in, of all things, a zip lock bag, complete with a paper plate (admittedly, weak choices) and a bag of stone wheat thins. not quite what i’d envisioned providing for the merriment of my son’s first preschool celebration but i, delusional, assumed it would be good enough.

needless to say, whilst funneling into the classroom i couldn’t help but observe the amazing spread of wholesome and delectable treats also making there way in, held proudly above the makers shoulders as they unzipped the coats of their children with one hand. i cringed, my entire body shrunk, when i saw the other mother’s cheese platter complete with a variety of fromage choices cut out in seasonal shapes and figures (we’re talking about pumpkins and acorns here people) with a wide selection of cracker pairings attractively displayed on a carved wooden serving dish.

head down, i slinked to the food table, infant car seat bumping along my shin as i shuffled my pathetic remains forward. i casually placed my offering on the table providing no eye contact and no conversation, so not to draw attention to myself and in hope of it all going unnoticed.

i left embarrassed and upon return home, i debriefed with my father, who had arrived for his shift as assigned support person, present to intervene should i fatigue, hemorrhage, or melt down to the point of being unable to parent. another mother failure, i reported. sucked it up hard at today’s cute mom attempt, i confessed. patiently, he heard my ridiculousness and shallow musings about the mom race.

fortunately, by pick up time, i’d snapped out of it. eff it, i’d decided. in the classroom i confidently collected my child and scanned the food table to see if any leftovers required gathering. there it was: my ‘effort’, untouched. even the children knew it was a flop. i shrugged it off and then marched over, scooped it up, and made our way to the car.

my father, having accompanied me for the ride, was still in the car with baby. he wisely remained silent as i wrestled my sugar-high boy into his car seat and then collapsed into the driver’s side with a whine- rejected snack in lap.

a few minutes later he broke the silence. “so…”, he began, tentatively, “it all came back”.

just then, before i could reply, the big boy asked for a snack.  “well, looky here son”, i replied, “i happen to have some crackers and cheese ready, just for you”.

my dad and i, delirious, laughed all the ride home.

so…. it’s valentine’s day. you’d think that months later i would be healed from the ego wounds i suffered so many months ago. well, perhaps i have. this said, the depths of my vanity are profound and i have been waiting for months to redeem myself.

and, now that i am continent, can walk with some grace, and generally function like a regular woman, i did. i participated in some role play and put on the ol’ apron. i read and re-read the recipe. i measured, mixed, and swore. i created havoc, and cookies. i dressed myself nicely, walked my son in proudly, placed the platter down whilst engaging as many people as possible. i returned, sure that my treats would have been well appreciated.

and, they were. that’s right, bitches.

p.s.- i realise that my cookies looked like pinterest cookies after they made friends with the blender. whatever. the point is, i baked something, all by myself, the end product resembled a valentine’s cookie, and they were full of sugar. the good moms might scorn me behind my back for not making something with whole grains or a super food but the kids apparently liked them and i got a story out of it. frankly, this adventure turned out better than the last vanity fuelled activity i shamefully participated in i.e. forcing my engagement and wedding band on my sausage of a ring finger trying to prove to myself that i’d lost enough baby weight to get away with it. in the end, my finger went numb, purple, and swelled up until it looked like an angry penis. the rings had to be cut off. no word of a lie.

February 10, 2013

like old times

there was an ad i pulled from a running magazine, years ago, that really inspired me. i saw myself in it, though the image was only of a woman’s shoes.

her feet were running alongside the water line, with the tag revealing that it was dawn, and that that morning, like every morning, the tide line asked her if she wanted to race.
i lived next to the beach when i found it and i was young enough to do things like rip out sport ads and tape it to my wall, so i did.
i’ve long since rid of rip out decorations and i can’t find it anywhere online now, of course, though this may be more to do with having exactly zero patience for internet ‘research’ then it not being accessible. this said, i know it’s image by heart. more importantly, i remember how that fictional ocean challenge resonated with me. even more importantly, i recognize that it still calls me by name.
this Sunday, decades since i was a young athlete and could legitimately be called a “runner”, i ran along the harbour in the morning, in the fog, in the mist, with just my breath and the waves.
the tide won, rest assured, but, in a way, i did too.

“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.”
– Rumi

February 5, 2013

you heard it here first

my husband is aboriginal and was raised, along with his 5 siblings and a million cousins, enjoying his momma’s home made bread. now an adult (obviously), it’s safe to say that he would do almost anything to have fresh bread still be a part of his reality.

i, unfortunately, have very few baking skills or, rather, it can be more accurately said that i lack resolve when attention to detail is required. point is, i’ve never learnt how to make it. i can, however, make a mean salmon stew and this qualifies me as west coast enough (for what?), by my own defintion anyhow.

today, i choose to share my stew recipe with you. more good news: there is no wrong way. i make it different every time and it’s always good. damn good. like, the best. like, if i had loads of free time, an industrial kitchen, and the desire, i could sell it. straight up.

fyi: this makes a ton, which you can then freeze and pull out on desperate winter nights or if you have unexpected friends over for merriment and a vain need to impress them (no judgement):

general guidelines:

1 whole salmon (pre gutted)

8-10 cups water, depending on the size of said salmon (start with 8, add more if you think it could use it)

2 cans wild mushroom soup (reduced sodium and fat, of course)

3ish cubes of veggie soup stock

2 red onions

1 (regular?) onion

1 celery bunch

3 cups quartered small potatoes (purple and waxy ones are fun!)

2 yams, chopped

2 cups chopped carrots

1 parsnip

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup frozen peas

2 cups chopped spinach

2 cups chopped mushrooms

this is kinda a sweet stew. you can change that. add spices or seasoning as you see fit. dill is fun. a wee bit of fresh garlic changes it dramatically. rosemary smells savoury and tastes great too. fresh chives or leek are playful additions. a dash of curry powder makes it a whole new experience. you know, with soups there are no rules.

instructions:

– bake salmon.

– de-bone and de-guk the salmon (easier and less revolting once baked).

– chop veggies.

– throw veggies (firmest to softest) in slow cooker (that’s right bitches)*, flake in salmon.

– add water.

– cook on low for 12 hours.

– stir every so often. if it looks like it needs more water, add some.

– add mushroom soup, frozen corn, peas, spinach, and mushrooms 2 hours before serving.

– stir it all up some more. note: it is intended to be a thick and chunky stew. if there is too much liquid to goodness ratio add more mushroom, corn, or other easy veg like peppers or zucchini that doesn’t take long to cook.

– serve and enjoy. we do it up with bannock, northern style, ’cause it’s HA-MAZING (and foolproof).

* alternatively, if you have some masochistic need to slave away in the kitchen, you can simmer onions and celery in oil at the bottom of a large saucepan (i dunno, 2 tblspns?), then throw in the water and all the hard veggies, giving them time to soften before adding the soft veggies and flaking in the salmon.