To M, on my shortcomings

I write this to you specifically, rather than you and your brother, because you are starting to understand the world around you in a way he doesn’t quite grasp yet. You will likely have memories that exist within these next 4 years. Or 8. Hopefully not 8.

DSC_0135.JPGI need to say I’m sorry. I’m sure by the time you read this you will have passed many hours in therapy trying to figure out where exactly I screwed you up. And I want to record this as the precise moment I began to fail you.

To cut myself a little slack, I do partially blame it on the election that happened in the USA 48 hours ago. An election between two inherently flawed people, one of whom is qualified, experienced, gracious, respectful, intelligent, diplomatic, and the other of whom is…. decidedly none of these things. And while I definitely don’t agree with probably 90% of his policies (this is pure emotional conjecture, I really have no clue what his policies are as he hasn’t really brought forward any kind of plan for government), if he was a normal human I would likely just suck it up and make jokes for the next 4-8 years the same way I did with Bush Jr. because we are Canadian and ultimately this affects our lives very little.

However he is not a normal. Not in the least. He is hateful. There are many other words that could and probably should be used to describe him, but this is the core of it. He is hateful.

How does this contribute to my incompetence as a parent?

I don’t feel equipped to handle this. It’s tough enough raising children in a world where bullying is lethal, where media is lethal. My mom had a hard enough time when all we had to worry about was the weird guy down the street. But now, as I struggle to form you into respectful, caring, kind humans who possess empathy and compassion for everyone, who give everyone the benefit of the doubt, who strive to improve the lives of others and contribute to their society in a meaningful way – as I’m struggling with all of these things this new obstacle has been thrown at me and has knocked me sideways.

Because how do I raise children to build a world full of all those things when our neighbouring country has decided it is acceptable to speak about women, minorities, the disabled, gays, …actually about pretty much anyone…in such hateful, hurtful ways? There is no empathy there. There is no love. There is no compassion. There is entitlement. There is intolerance. There is fear-mongering. There is ignorance. There is hatred. And half a country either agrees with it, or is complacent to it, and in my eyes those are equally destructive.

I can’t put into words how disheartening it is. How painful. And when my heart was so heavy I thought it would sink into my toes, it got worse. Because as I put you to bed and we were discussing your day, you told me some boys on the schoolyard had called you fat. When I asked what you said you told me you just smiled and walked away. You are five. You are perfect. And some kids who are at most 8 years old called you fat to shame you. And as much as that kills me, slays me, my mind goes to the kids who are not white, upper middle class kids living comfortably and how much worse they get it, and how that is apparently okay to half of America.

But I push on. I will always ask you how it makes you feel, and I will always ask you to remember that and strive to never make anyone else feel that way. In fact I will require it.

When HRC made her concession speech, she said the following, and it made me cry thinking of you and your future:

“And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and to achieve your own dreams.”

I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m almost certain I will fail. So I’m sorry. But I promise you I will do my best. Because even though I’m not a little girl, I have a dream for one.

 

Fakin’ it til we Make it

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I feel like I’ve used that title before. It is sort of a motto for me. Not even a motto. A mantra.

But, that’s where we are right now. Barreling along at 500 miles an hour trying to keep it on the road.

The kids are amazing, and also horrible. M is growing so quickly and I can see she is equally ecstatic and anxious to start Big Kid School in September. I’m excited for her, but I know it will be a tough adjustment. She’s been at the same school with mostly the same kids and teachers for 4 great years, and next year she will know approximately 3 kids in her grade at school. I know she will adjust, in time, but she has my penchant for fears, worries, anxiety and obsessing. It’s going to take work and positivity, and I’m trying to get my head right before helping her through it.

S is ridiculous. He’s kind of the stereotypical “boy’s boy” except for the times when he wants to wear the Princess Anna costume and twirl around. He’s hilarious, and stubborn, and adorable. But less spiteful than M was at that age, I think. He’s one of the most clumsy kids I’ve ever seen (tonight he tripped and fell three times in the span of 4 minutes because he was trying to read a book while walking).

I have a couple of draft posts about different activities we’ve been up to lately – Disney on Ice, a hockey game, swimming lessons, a children’s museum, new bedroom arrangements – but I rarely have the energy to process life. I barely have the energy to be present in the moment, let alone conjure up something witty or funny, or insightful to say about the experiences. But we’re doing things. We’re makin’ it.

 

Into the Light of the Dark Black Night

Into the Light of the Dark Black Night

After my uncle passed away, my aunt, his sister, told a story of those last weeks. She said he kept insisting that he had to get out and feed the crows. Her first thought was that his brain was making up stories (he did have a tumor, after all) but he wouldn’t let it go, and one morning she decided to humor him.

So, they went out to feed the crows. There were none at first, but she hung out and watched him. Suddenly he started cawing at the top of his lungs, with wild abandon. CAW, CAW, CAW. And one by one they came, and he fed them, and talked to them, and shooed away the blue jays who would try to steal from them.

After his funeral, on my first day back into our daily routine, I was dropping the kids off at daycare and M said “Look, Mummy, it’s the bird from Malificent.” And there, on the lamppost outside of the school was a huge, strong crow.

And now, almost every day I see them. One morning one flew parallel to my car for at least a full kilometer. It’s the middle of winter and I see them everywhere.

I know he is in them. They are him. He is watching over me, and guiding me, and protecting me. He wants to watch over my children and keep them close to him.

I am not religious, but I do believe very strongly in energy. And I can see his energy everywhere. It fills me up, and gives me strength. These days it has given me new perspective, and a greater resolve. It inspires me to cling to purpose, and to what is right, and to stay true to myself, my heart, my code.

I refuse to let him leave me. So now no matter where I go, he’s got my back. And I’ve always got his.

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Blocked

I’ve had a mental block for the last few months. I want to write and get it all – vomit the contents of my brain onto the site and just leave it here. It could be that easy.

Except it’s not, and I turn the words over and around, considering and editing and tearing them apart.

2015 was a tough year. The toughest in a long time, for so many reasons, from start to finish. I want to leave it behind – or at least all the bad parts – but I’m not done processing it yet.

My heart was deflated, then filled up full to bursting, and then broken into a zillion pieces. I’m still putting it back together, but I’m learning that not all the parts are worth keeping.

I learned a lot about other people, and my perception and expectations of them. I learned that I can be the worst and best judge of character, because I confuse love, trust, and respect. They are not equals, and they don’t always reside together. 

I learned a lot about myself. I almost came apart, and spent the better part of the year reconciling who I am vs who I thought I would be vs what other people see. And when I was done learning that, the universe decided to test my mettle. And I did not break in two.

Moving forward, I’m trying to occupy my own head space. I feel more comfortable in there than I have in probably my whole life…like I finally know how to arrange the furniture. The closets are still dusty, the tiles are a little mouldy, but I’m sorting it out. Because the bones of this space… they are strong, and they are good.

 

I’m shovelling fried clams into my face and trying to feel normal. Nothing is normal. My whole world is this weird fog right now.

When I was little I lived with my grandparents for a few years. My uncles were like my brothers, all teenagers and super cool and weird funny boys. They loved me and teased me and doted on me and likely hated me too, like brothers do. My uncle Joe joined Navy, and his unknown adventures at sea became mythological to me.

And now my uncle Joey has died. He was 53. He had a brain tumor, and we were waiting for a plan, and then he just died. They called me at 8am Tuesday to say he was being rushed to the hospital, alive, but unresponsive. There were updates about tests being run. I continued working, and hoping, and rationalizing.

At my wedding, six years ago, I was so delighted that all my aunties and uncles made the effort to get there, to celebrate with us. I remember a conversation with my Uncle Joe and we talked about our solidarity against having kids. Two years later, on M’s first visit to NB, he brought it up to me. He said “I thought you said we were in this no-kid thing together?” with a twinkle in his eyes. He played with her like she was a treasure, he doted on her, and she connected with him. They met several more times, and I could see it all over his face how much he adored her. Seeing him love her that way, I knew he had forgiven me for stepping out of our “pact”.

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This Tuesday, at 2:55 pm I got a text that his MRI showed massive brain swelling, and he was showing zero brain activity. I knew he didn’t want resuscitation, so suddenly my plan to wait and see for results turned into a race, a sprint. I was so frantic and blind, and completely on auto-pilot. I barely remember how I left my work station, how I got home. I remember grilling my travel agent trying to find a route that would get me there before midnight. I considered just driving. There were texts that they were taking him off the ventilator. I asked them, begged them, to ask him to wait for me. It was stupid, and selfish, but I needed to ask.

He died at 4:10pm my time. My plane wasn’t leaving until nine.

The moment we found out he had a tumor in his brain my one and only concern was that he never be alone. He was a bachelor, and lived alone, and was off work due to a shoulder injury, and I was so panicked that he would be alone, and scared. My family made sure that didn’t happen. In the end he was surrounded by my mom, my sisters, his sister and her husband, his brother, and my grandfather. In the three plus weeks since his accident they all rallied around him and took care of shit like no one else on this planet ever could have.

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In the end he was supported, and loved, and held and cherished. In the end I was the one that was alone and scared and frantic. And I feel guilty that I wasn’t here, and I feel stupid that I held out hope that he would improve, and that we would see him for Xmas. I would give anything, anything, to rewind 6 days and just get my ass here. To have been here for that last family dinner that he insisted on having, where he laughed and joked and said it was the best meal of his life. I want to hug him and smell his neck. I want him to hold M on his lap again so they can look into each others eyes and just know what the deal is.

I have not experienced a loss in my adult life. I lost a lot, a lot, as a child, but as an adult life has been sweet. I’m not sure if anything about grief is normal, but I feel like I’m building up my normalcy, and my acceptance, and then I’ll be hit with a big wave of anger, or frustration, or regret, or sadness, and it just washes the whole thing back out to sea. It pulls me down with so much force I can’t breathe.

 

 

From Far Away

We live 12 hours away from our families. I’m an introvert, and I like my space, so I think I’ve always known this is how I would feel most comfortable. There are trade-offs for sure – there would be advantages to living closer – but in general this life works best for me, and for us.

But right now my uncle is very, very sick. It’s sudden, and shocking, and horrible. And now my family is dealing with it there, and I’m dealing with it here and it seems impossible. I’m fighting every instinct in my body to jump in the car and be there.

What use would I be there?

None.

There are more than enough people there who are already feeling quite useless. I want to be there with them, and for them, but am trying to stay rational and keep my texts and phone calls positive and drama-free. I take care of my kids and I go to work and I check in regularly. I worry and I don’t sleep and I eat too much and drink too much.

Tomorrow there is a biopsy. After that, there will be more information on how things will move forward and then there will hopefully be a plan. And my brain knows that when there is a plan, I can figure out how and when I can be of use. But my gut wants to take me there, and my heart breaks that I can’t make it happen.

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On M’s first holiday season.

The kids are alright

It’s fall. I love fall so, so very much. The crispness, the leaves, the coziness.

We’ve had a busy fall, and I’ve thought of writing many times but whenever I have a moment I generally prefer to just play Candy Crush.

We had a beautiful Thanksgiving with all our besties. Thanksgiving will always be my very favorite holiday – so much food, so many friends, so much love. This year we had a total of 30ish people, including kids, 2 turkeys, indoor and outdoor seating (with a heater, and a chandelier courtesy of my handy husband), and hours and hours of laughs and loveliness.

The kids have been taking swimming classes, and playing outside a lot while their dad cleans the yard and closes the pool. We’ve started taking them to a restaurant after swimming each Sunday, and I find them acting less and less like barbarians when we’re in a public place so that’s nice.

I’ve been running and doing hot yoga and generally trying to counteract my love of wine, beer, and french fries. I will run a 5K race this Sunday, which wasn’t my goal for the year (I wanted to do a 10K) but I’ve set a time goal I feel good about.

Life is big, and life is hectic, but we’re having more fun times than bad times, so I guess that’s the goal. Sometimes I feel like we’re barely keeping our heads above water, and I see the kids reacting to it. They become so exhausted and cranky and ornery, and quite unpleasant to be around. Last weekend my husband said he regretted not getting out to do something exciting or special more often, but I’m of a mind that it’s good to just rest. I know at the end of the week I need a rest. I can’t see how it would be that different for them – they’re little. And their lives are big.

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