Archive for ‘marital duties’

June 16, 2013

baby daddy

“What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility it. I think it has something to do with the energy of love. Contact with this energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago. I do not thing that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order. It is a kind of balance that is his glory… He can love the shapes of human beings, the fine and twisted chaos of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love.”

– Leonard Cohen, Beautiful Losers

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

November 14, 2012

if these walls could talk

my husband’s family home is 100 years old and stands in the center of a town that has grown up around it. in the face of change, growth, and expansion, it stands, stubbornly, seemingly refusing to be altered or modified from it’s original state. it has seen many a rainy day and suggests, in outer appearance, at least, that it might have had enough of the grey scale, fog, and moisture, and might just melt into the ground, end the fight to withstand another tofino winter, and make peace, finally, with the harsh landscape and weather pattern.

inside, though it is often cold and drafty, it is usually full of family members who love each other and, paired with the fabric of his family’s history, having been inhabited by multiple generations over the years, it is, for that, very warm. it is a damp, dark house, with a narrow entry way, steep and creaky stairs, a number of bedrooms, one bathroom, one living area, an eating area, a cold spare room used for storage, and a bizarre and tiny kitchen. it is so small, in fact, that the oven and other essential appliances live in the large and spacious dining area, which is fitting, considering the volume of people who dine there on the regular.

the kitchen was once mint green, i think, and is now faded in it’s glory. the linoleum is lifted in parts, worn completely out in others, and the yellow sparkly countertops have lost their sheen. like the exterior, what could pass for neglected is, in fact, just well used and unpretentious. it is a busy and active kitchen and i can hardly believe what his mother, sisters, and brothers in law are capable of producing from there. feasts, i tell you, by any other name. i personally find that it lacks counter space and order and therefore can’t think very clearly in there and, because of this, have difficulty functioning to my potential inside it’s walls.

despite this, i love it. i love the ice cream bucket compost. i love the garbage cans, often full of salmon remains, that are separated into burnables and non (a system, admittedly, i have never fully understood and probably confuse and/or ruin regularly). i love that there is only room for one, maybe two adults in there, and i love that when the dishwasher moves in, requiring a hook up to the sink to drain, that exactly zero people fit, rendering it unusable. i love the vinegar in the microwave, i love that there is always baking on the counter (though my waistline does not), i love that there is always coffee in the pot though no one who lives there drinks it, and i love the cactus on the window sill which is so illogical, given the floods that pound the pane, rendering it even more blurry and isolating, as the plastic that is put up in protection every season keeps out the angry storms but limits any clear view to the external world, as well.

one of my favorite parts of the kitchen is a hidden treasure taped inside a cupboard, a piece of worn paper with faded writing, hung above a oversized vat of flour, used by my mother in law (a precious, kind, and giving woman who has raised what seems like hundreds of children and even more spirits) when she creates her home-made bread that is highly coveted.

taped there for reference, complete with a threatening reminder to NOT (or else) remove the #$%&*@! recipe is the simple list of ingredients and directions you will find below. i don’t follow directions well, and often resist conforming to the rituals of my in-laws for some unfounded reason i can’t name or explain but, truth be known, i have been absorbed by this one. years after first seeing the yellowed scrap paper with what i think is his second eldest sister’s writing, and after dozens, maybe more, pancake breakfasts at his mother’s proud and stoic family table, i made the call, i asked for the recipe, it was generously provided to me from memory, and i am the better for it. you will be too.


pancake recipe

1. mix together:

1 & 1/2 cups flour, 3 teaspoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3 teaspoons baking powder.

2. add:

1 cup milk

3. stir until just smooth.

4. in a separate bowl, mix together:

1/4 cup milk, 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 tablespoons oil or margarine / butter.

5. combine and mix together.

July 30, 2012

rain washed histories

The Cinnamon Peeler’s Wife

If I were a cinnamon peeler I would ride your bed and leave the yellow bark dust on your pillow.

Your breasts and shoulders would reek                                                                                                                                                                                                  you could never walk through markets without the profession of my fingers floating over you.

The blind would stumble certain of whom they approached though you might bathe under rain gutters, monsoon.

Here on the upper thigh at this smooth pasture neighbor to your hair or the crease that cuts your back. This ankle. You will be known among strangers as the cinnamon peeler’s wife.

I could hardly glance at you before marriage never touch you – your keen nosed mother, your rough brothers. I buried my hands in saffron, disguised them over smoking tar, helped the honey gatherers…

When we swam once I touched you in water and our bodies remained free, you could hold me and be blind of smell. You climbed the bank and said

this is how you touch other women the grasscutter’s wife, the lime burner’s daughter. And you searched your arms for the missing perfume. and knew what good is it to be the lime burner’s daughter left with no trace as if not spoken to in an act of love as if wounded without the pleasure of scar.

You touched your belly to my hands in the dry air and said I am the cinnamon peeler’s wife. Smell me.

– Michael Ondaatje

when i was young, i loved a man whose smell captivated me. most things about him captivated me, and because i was young i didn’t yet appreciate that to be captured does not correlate with anything love or life sustaining. his smell though… a haunting and seductive aroma, rich with oil, grease, and inaccessibility owned me for a long time…  i found this poem when he was my love, and the words of being marked,  stories told by the aroma of a man got me deep.

i thought of myself as some kind of a mermaid then, for reasons i can’t relate to now, and i used to think that the sexiest thing was that even water could not erase our acquaintance without effort. truth be known, the reality of time eventually could erase anything that did once connect us, including his smell on my skin, and even in my heart, but the poem remained a favorite, and still grabs at my romantic self and asks me to answer who it is that i am marked by.

but i don’t have to think about it. i have no questions about whose smell i am associated with, or will be for moons. the traces themselves are not always present, but i am reminded in seasons where his story is more pronounced then others, like when the summer brings us plenty and we are blessed with wealth in resources and he and his family work hard to provide for us. or in the winter, when i prepare warm food for our family that his hands made ready for use and our whole home tells the story of him being from the west coast.

it’s the rich smell of salt and sea… and when the direct evidence is gone, there is another smell that lingers. it’s the aroma of a healthy love. it’s the smell of a good man. it’s the smell of my man, and in the shadows, of his family, and his roots.

it’s the smell of me. i am the west coaster’s wife.

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