Archive for ‘faves’

July 9, 2013

i don’t want to live that way

i was standing at the counter, washing dishes, when a song i loved came on. immediately the volume dial was spun; words, music, amplified.

my big boy, maturing and becoming himself faster then i am even aware of, i’m sure, was fast in the kitchen with me, defining the moment with his running commentary: “momma! you LOVE this song. this song makes you happy!”.

he was gone as fast as he came, his body writhing along, feeling the tunes, relieved, it seemed, that i was having a feel-good moment.

i kept at my chore, legs dancing, hands elbow deep in dishes that i had been too tired to deal with the night before. he was right, the song did make me happy and the louder, the better.

my gaze found forward, towards the window- the view expansive, bright; my chest constricted, heavy.

——

my son was sat in a bar- dark, musty, furnished with heavy wood- and was facing forward, watching the game. his shoulders were broad, muscular; his neck, craned forward over his beer. i was alarmed, he looked so much like my brother from the back- tall, strong, beautifully toned, stern faced. next to him was someone i didn’t know, someone he too was not overly familiar with, given the small talk, the getting to know you exchanges. perhaps a college acquaintance, or a teammate.

“so, your mom’s coming to visit, huh?” he said, inviting my son to engage. “what’s she like?”.

my son winced, right cheek to right eye, took a drink from his beer, and subtly shook his head- chin shifting minimally to the left. “my mom’s a bit much, ” he offered- no eye contact, no details.

“yah?”, probed his buddy, light hearted, busy in his body, looking for some energy out of my kid, now grown up.

“yah,” my son affirmed, tentatively. “she’s a weird one- you never know what mood she’ll be in”.

——

the song was over, my day dream over, radio ads now filling the space at a too loud volume. the noise hurt. i reached over the island to return the volume to an acceptable level, my shirt becoming damp from the counter’s edge, and saw my precious children. a big smile came back across my face.

“hey, mom!” my eldest greeted, poking his head up so he could see me from my reached over stance. he had a balloon in one hand and a mish-mash of play kitchen food in another. “it’s your birthday, mom! keep smiling! it’s chocolate, it’s your favorite”.

——

that’s when i knew: i hadn’t gotten out unscathed.

for me, last time, it was an anxiety, a worry, a rigidness, a panic. for me, last time, it was ruminative doubt, it was fixed ideas and plans, it was near obsessive. for me, last time, it was guilt, worst case scenario thinking, generalized sadness, pervasive stress and a creeping desperation to be free yet a paralyzing fear disallowing separation. for me, last time, i didn’t know what it was until it was gone. for me last time, it was my first time, and insight came too late.

for me, this time, it’s a pressure on my cheeks, a low grade head ache behind my eyes, an irritability that rests just below the surface, a short temperedness that ignites when itched. it’s a fatigue that’s increasing, despite sleep habits improving. it’s a uncharacteristic sourness, a powerful one, that tries to taint my rational appreciation and my authentic (deep down) happiness. it’s a threat to my genuine love and delight in my children, in my life.

for me, this time, it’s not compromised thought content, behaviour, or living style. it’s all affect. it’s a bluntedness, a flatness. it’s all heavy heart and effort, it’s all forced enjoyment. it’s all fighting against the beast version of the mom i could be, if i let my impulse win; my impulse that is not in line with who i truly am; normally am.

for me, this time, i know.

i know that now, after the regular hormone shock attacks have largely ceased, the typical jolts and bolts of post-partum change, that this is different, that this is more- a monster of it’s own.

for me, this time, long since i have successfully recovered and healed from a challenging pregnancy, labour and birth, long after i’ve adjusted to our family of four and care of two, months after mastering our daily life, that this discord is purely internal.

for me, this time, i can’t pretend that this is normal and i know that this is not healthy, both for me and for them.

for me, this time, i’m taking charge- for all of us, and our life. our full, complete, and love swollen life.

my son(s) will remember me and this time fondly. i will too.

——

my son was sat in a bar- dark, musty, furnished with heavy wood- and was facing forward, watching the game. his shoulders were broad, muscular; his neck, craned forward over his beer. i was alarmed, he looked so much like my brother from the back- tall, strong, beautifully toned, charismatic. next to him was someone i didn’t know, someone he too was not overly familiar with, given the small talk, the getting to know you exchanges. perhaps a college acquaintance, or a teammate.

“so, your mom’s coming to visit, huh?” he said, inviting my son to engage. “what’s she like?”.

my son looked down at his beer, smiled, and subtly shook his head- chin shifting minimally to the left. “my mom’s a bit much, ” he offered, chuckling.

“yah?”, probed his buddy, light hearted, busy in his body, looking for some more details out of my kid, now grown up.

“yah,” my son affirmed, jovially. “she’s a weird one- she’s full of crazy, but in a good way”, now laughing in full. “i can’t wait to see her”.

April 29, 2013

it’s business time

i’ve recently conducted some (very) informal research and have generously decided to share the findings with my male readers. don’t say i never did anything for ya.

p.s.- the fact that this is largely autobiographical should not sway you from the path to enlightenment.

10 phrases that’ll get your (baby raisin’) woman down to her (cotton) skivvies:

10. babe, you meal plan like a boss.

9. budgeting me so little spending money really reinforces just how much you priorize our financial health. i love that about you.

8. you look bangin’ in those yoga pants.

7. your stretch marks are so amazing. (optional: and they remind me of how beautiful you were when you were pregnant and all the sacrifices your body made for our family).

6. your voice sounds so pretty when you sing ‘the wheels on the bus’.

5.  thanks for reminding me about all the stuff that needs to get done. you make me a better man.

4. i love it when i come home from work and you haven’t showered yet. it says so much about how you put our children and home first.

3. the smell of breast milk really complements your b.o. (see above).

2. i brought home some wine. if i was you, holding it all down, i know i’d want some.

1. tell me about your day. please describe what the kids did and said in detail. how was it for you? don’t leave anything out, i’m dying to know.

in all truth, what we really need to hear is quite simple. no, really. there is no need for games, smoke, or mirrors.  it’s no secret that what we want to be told (and everyday would be nice). it goes a little something like this: you’re amazing. you’re the best. i’m the luckiest man in the world. i am so fortunate to have you as the mother of my children.

got it? it’s not eff’n rocket science boys. now, for gawd sakes, open your mouth, use some words, say it like you mean it, and (rumour has it) ye shall receive.

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April 20, 2013

“when you walked into my house”- stevie nicks

my son thinks nothing grows in the winter but, he’s wrong. i do.

in all fairness, he hasn’t been made privy to the story of how his father and i came to know one another. he doesn’t know how we fell into a raw and complicated mess that broke both of our hearts. he doesn’t know that his father was brave enough to forgive me, and he doesn’t know how transformative it was for his mother to lower her fists, or that i almost didn’t.

i met my husband in the fall of my 25th year. every sunday night, after yoga class, i went grocery shopping with two friends who were coupled at the time. he worked there and i noticed him. i thought he was cute and found the manner in which he carried himself enticing. i was only mildly interested whether he had anything to offer beyond that. mostly, i liked to watch him work and i liked that he watched me back.

it’s no secret that secrets are hard to keep in small towns and, as it were, news travelled fast. we were quickly set up by mutual acquaintances, and we did not have much choice in the matter. truth be known, i didn’t much resist: it seemed like something to go for. after all, winter in tofino was fast approaching and it would be dark very, very soon.

we met up, hung out, and then, with my closed heart and big mouth, i spent a few months participating in the sport of pushing him away. i was finally successful, only then to realise in the depth of winter, with him now long gone from my days, that despite my pretentiousness, protectiveness, and preconceived ideas about partnership, i had, despite all efforts, fallen in love with him.

at that stage in my life i had a habit of being stubborn to the point of self sabotage and i was, specifically, overly proud around matters of the heart.

i had to be. i was recovering from a significant car accident that had devastated me a year prior and though my bones were mostly healed, shadows still rattled me in secret. i was a different girl. i felt vulnerable in multiple ways and i wasn’t too inclined to make myself more so. i was wounded in other, less specific ways, too. i hate to admit it but the ghosts of a breakup past followed me around.  despite my voodoo efforts to shake him, his memory and the lessons i needed to learn haunted me, finding me at inopportune times, mostly when in the company of boys. as it turned out, one minute i’d be laughing, glass of wine in hand, and the next, when my eyes met theirs, there he’d be, infiltrating my consciousness, without consent.

ultimately, this burden resulted in me keeping myself emotionally distant from most individuals of the male persuasion. it can take a while to shake someone out of your system, as i happened to learn twice that winter.

my husband surprised me, the first of many surprises about what kind of man he is and what kind of woman he makes me. i was the bold, loud, assertive, and dynamic one and i thought i was in charge, untouchable, even. he presented, in my judgemental eyes, anyhow, as passive, uninteresting, inexperienced, and limited.

i did what i did. i drew lines in the sand before him just like i had for others. he didn’t listen. he didn’t fight me with force but he did stand steady: solid and open, and persistent in his gentle and unassuming way. i kept it frivolous, as i was in the habit of doing. he was not afraid to let it be known that this was not an insignificant union for him. i made sure he knew he was nothing to me, and never would be. he took it away with him but he also came back.  i engaged with him exclusively on my terms and disregarded what might have been his. he was patient with my arrogance, and my neurosis.

after a while it got complicated. our dance became an unhealthy culmination of bad decisions, consequences, shared horror and, a dangerous codependency. so, like any decent woman would do, i took him out at the knees: chose to proceed, alone from him, and i forced goodbye.

it wasn’t the end, however.

weeks later i could no longer deny that he’d gotten into my bones- deep where a constant ache was already the new normal. and, like my pain, i couldn’t shake him. the winter has a way of forcing me to look at myself and that winter was no exception. i realized, then, that for all the reasons i had determined he was unsuitable for me, not of my kind, i had been wrong.

it was his differences from me that were most striking, most honourable, and most respectable. some distance had let me see that. some space had given room for me to appreciate what kind of person he was, and what kind of man he had been to me.

i remember calling him for the first time with my guard down. it was christmas day, actually, and i called a good friend who knew our story first. “cheryl”, i whispered, “i think i’m in love with him”, i confessed. she, like any good friend who knows when you need to be moved from places of stuck, laughed and pressed me onwards.

i was shaking when i dialed. i knew what it meant. if i opened to him, he would be in my life- in a long-term way. i knew, that for him, there was more to our story. i tried to trust. afterall, he had made clear who he was, and he was a good, good man.

i won’t soon forget how he sounded when he answered the phone, or how my whole being lept at the sound of his voice, previously unappreciated. i won’t ever forget how gracious he was to me, me who had been so selfish and so cold with him. he, in line with past behaviour that i had dismissed, received me with grace, curiosity, and warmth. we spoke for a long time, longer then we had before, and, of most importance- i finally listened.

when i returned from the christmas that i had spent at my parents home, where i had landed, as i often do when i am in a bad way, he greeted me. he brought gifts, of person, of course, and those he had carefully chosen for me, before i had even called. my new life began. the next morning, a friend saw me walking the beach with him. she told me later that she didn’t recognize me. i didn’t either.

the following christmas he proposed to me. i said yes. the next year, we were wed just as winter was giving up it’s fight. like much of our relationship, i oscillated between blissful abandon and crippling anxiety throughout our engagement and, felt both, even, as i walked towards him. there was a giving up in me too, you see, not of who i am, for he has always accepted, honoured, and encouraged me, but of my fear. letting go of what held me back, even as i was moving forward with him, was met with hesitancy- my ego was a hard match for anyone, even my better self.

late the next winter we conceived our first son. the next, he was born. if i thought i had grown to be unselfish in my relationship with my man, i was wrong. the birthing and raising of my first son was a time of my most paramount personal growth. we conceived our second son in the winter, as well, and we welcomed him in the late days of fall. this past winter, i grew again: the kind of growth that can only come from sacrifice, surrender, and patience- like my husband teaches me, over and over, if i slow down enough to watch him live.

this day, all days, all these years later, the anxiety is gone. i knew i was on the edge of a life the day that i called him, and as many would say growth occurs just outside of your comfort zone. fortunately, i arrived, and am now deep in the home of us.

last week,  we took our family on vacation to celebrate 5 years of our marriage. while we were away, i looked over from the bed i was sharing with our baby and silently waved at my spouse, who was in his bed with our eldest son, both of our children deep asleep. he and i were laid diagonal, bodies curled inwards towards our children, and to each other, i suppose, punctuating our family like human parentheses.

i was filled with joy, and pride. there we were, as per theme: seeds planted in the fall, soul work every winter, and in spring, our beauty becomes evident.

with spring here, my inner effort has been exposed again, the big reveal, and all that has been growing with difficulty but without witness, is blossoming everywhere. a subtle, yet vivid intimacy, infiltrates our life and the sun, making me smile, starts to tell the tale.

my son, bless him, is a preschool version of my intensity, and will, naturally, need to be taught and reminded, as i do, that becoming who we are meant to be is a process. nothing is born complete, though it may seem so, for we are often only shown the bloom.

“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident… we have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from our branches we have found that we were one tree and not two.”

– by Louis de Bernieres, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

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.

January 28, 2013

a ghost just needs a home

a week before christmas i was on the ferry to vancouver island when i found myself in front of a large and unforgiving mirror in the poorly lit ladies bathroom.

my baby was being love hushed to sleep by my spouse and my three your old was running laps, quite literally, around the washroom- offending some with noise as he slapped opened doors; terrifying others as he bent down to peer in curiously; humoring grandparents who delighted in his high energy squeals, echo experiments, and relentless questions; and irritating those without children who were used to navigating their lives, or at least their time in the facilities, without the nuisance of interruption.

it was an early ferry, full of other families who don’t consider having to arrive 1/2 an hour prior to an 8 am ride unrealistic. i don’t much mind. i was always a fan of the morning and at this point i’m well used to waking up 7 days a week to bright eyes and high needs. i was tired, though, and looking at myself straight on i was undeniably pale and weary appearing.

it was the first time since my husband went back to work after our baby had come home that we were all together with no frantic functional weekend hustle to contend with. just us, just space. baby was fed and was learning how warm and strong his dad’s arms were and our big boy son was trapped near me, given the too heavy door back out to the open boat. plus, he was happily terrorizing the public. i kept looking.

it had been a long and grueling 6 weeks with my spouse away from the home from dark to dark and with me having over scheduled myself and the boys in fear of feeling suffocated by home life. it showed.

i remember that i felt very calm and that i perceived the moment to be very quiet, something, i think, the other women who were around me would contest. i felt as though i had time, one of the few reasons i don’t resent the boat travel as many others do, and i stood there for awhile, taking myself in. scene was the same: black tights, black tunic, black boots, black cardigan, black purse. hair straightened, hair up. shira bracelet on. no make up. lip gloss applied.

i recall that on that day i had planned it so i could at least stand myself. i had chosen a comfortable travel outfit that was also cute enough to allow me an opportunity to run into any number of possible ex people i once shared life without wanting to cringe, or feel like i had to make excuses for my life. i smelt good, and that goes a long way in me recognizing myself.

it didn’t work. looking in the mirror i found that i hardly made sense. it got quieter. i blinked, shook my head a little, eyes still fixed. this calls for water, i thought, and i lowered myself to the sink. my body whined as i moved or, rather, my back screamed and my pelvis ached, moaned, and shifted with an audible clunk into another gear. my hands, stiff and clumsy from dehydration and the damp, found the faucet- an irritating push and receive with no option for agency- and they were soon filled with a safe tepid water. in a routine gesture, i applied to face, rubbed eyes, blinked some more. i fanned away the excess and rolled my spine up, neck and head having no choice but to obey. there she was again.

the woman looking back at me wasn’t old looking, per se, but she was so worn. she looked okay, if you knew the context, i suppose, but she didn’t look happy. i winced for the immediate pang of guilt.

it was too quiet, suddenly. i shifted focus to the external, again. feet planted, i cocked my head, listening for the sound of boy child. he was quickly located, making friends with a woman changing her baby. my eyes shifted down and i stood, listening. “i have a little baby too. he’s max, he’s so cute. mommy pushed him out her ‘gina. her bum hurts now”.

a smirk found my face and a chuckle bubbled in my throat. my eyes flicked up. gaze met gaze. there, i thought, she looks familiar.