Thursday, 30 May 2013

Boys Against Girls

I've never felt inferior (or superior) based on my gender thanks to an amazing team of role models including my fantastic parents, extended family, teachers, coaches and friends. While there are obvious times when a male is better suited to the job, such as those related directly to physical strength, I was brought up with the mentality that boys and girls could do any and all of the same things.

You know, like math and sports.

 As a kid I preferred dolls and dress up, but I was known to get down in the dirt behind Papa's car and make roads with Dinkies. I caught a couple of frogs, but to this day I'm totally grossed out by snakes and bugs. I tried all kinds of sports, from hockey to gymnastics and horseback riding to basketball. I excelled in some places and sucked at others not because I'm a girl, but because it just wasn't my strength.

I'm the girl who wears high heels almost every day, never leaves the house without mascara and I have 6 lipsticks in my purse. I'm also the girl who likes to drink a beer and watch the hockey game. I'm the mother to a three-year-old boy who eats, sleeps and breathes trucks and cars and machinery but announces his favourite colour is pink. His favourite stuffed animal? A lavender coloured puppy named Violet. He likes to watch My Little Pony and Bob the Builder.

He also told me I couldn't play with his trucks today because I'm just a girl.

F started daycare last week and so far he's brought home a miserable cold and ear infection I really could have done without, and talks my (painfully aching) ears off every night about Rachel and Owen and the playground. Apparently he's also bringing that gem home.

F's daycare provider takes care of elementary-schooled aged children before and after school in addition to her all-day toddlers and babies. Maybe that's where he learned it. Maybe he heard it on TV. Maybe it's some inate thing that all small children have in their heads. I'm sure I told little boys on the playground that they couldn't do something just because they were boys, but I can barely remember what colour underwear I put on this morning so it's safe to say I don't remember my 7-year-old antics.

I sat and gently explained to F that boys and girls can do the same things if they want to. Boys can play with dolls and like the colour pink just as much as girls can play with trucks and like the colour blue. It's a super easy conversation to have with a three-year-old, but I happen to think it's a very important one.

It's never too early to teach our kids that it must always be what's between your ears that counts, not what's between your legs.

Thursday, 23 May 2013


You know when you're walking out of a store on a windy day, and your receipt that you totally need blows away?

Yeah. I hate that.

So, knowing full-well that you look like a total jackass, you run across the parking lot all flailing limbs and tripping over shopping bags (what were you thinking wearing heels, anyway?), hair blowing in your face trying to get one of your feet to land on top of the receipt. There's anxiety lightly gripping (or totally asphyxiating) in your chest, until you manage to grab it.

Enter sigh of relief and cue victory dance. Am I right? You know I am.

I had that feeling today, after months and years of feeling that moment of possible loss. I saw my name, all glossy and pretty, in the byline of a magazine. A real one. A real publication.

I'm a real writer.

Anyone who knows me knows writing is kind of my thing. My passion. My outlet. My first love. My dream.

It got away once though, blowing across the parking lot  of life much like the Future Shop receipt from when I bought my iPad... except that I didn't let my dream blow away so easily. I chased it, in everything from fat pants to skinny jeans, running shoes to leopard print wedge booties until I caught it.

Today, I got to hold that dream in my hands and it felt bigger than it ever looked, and better than I could have imagined.

I'm a real writer.

Whatever your dream is, don't stop chasing it. You're a step or two away from getting one of those fabulously-shoed feet or perfectly manicured hands catching it.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Girl Power?

Here comes an early-morning rant. You've been warned.
(I'm not even caffeinated yet)
I'm not sure if it's my overtired self being a little more irritable lately, or if it's the fact that my tolerance for nonsense has lowered but I have found it more and more painful to read the tweets and Facebook statuses in my news feeds lately as my generation of "feminisists" go on man-hating, male-bashing tirades.
I've never dropped myself into the category of feminist, but I wouldn't say that I'm not a feminist either. I prefer to say that I'm a woman of the 21st century, and that's good enough for me. I'm a feminist in lots of ways, but if feminism means that I hop on a soap box and run men down, count me out.
"Men only make two mistakes: everything they say, and everything they do" popped up in my Twitter feed this morning. Not once, but three times, in the 7 hours since I had previously tuned in. Facebook statuses announcing all men are idiots crowd my newsfeed every day. Come on girls, really?

If you really want to be a feminist, how about celebrating women a little more and beating up men a little less? How about not stooping to the level where you have to bash men - cause, last time I checked we were all against the whole "anti-woman" thing, weren't we? No?
I'm really proud to be a woman. I'm proud of the women in my life who inspired me and shaped me into the person I am today - including the women who were stay-at-home-moms (HORRORS), and the ones who went out on lobster fishing boats just like the 30+ men in the community. I'm proud that I have a girly-girl streak and I'm not ashamed to say that I hate getting my hands dirty (chipped nailpolish isn't my style).
I'm also really proud of my boyfriend, dad, brother, son, uncles, and male friends who screw up and make mistakes all the time not because they're men, but because they're HUMAN. Like me. Like you. 
I'm all for equality. I don't think women or men are necessarily smarter, or better or cooler or whatever based on gender alone. I don't think all men are good at math and all women are good at cooking. Everyone is an individual. Unique. Can't we celebrate that individuality in women and in men? Is that so hard?
 I think I should receive an equal wage as a man in the same position I hold, if we're standing on the same level of talent, skill and qualifications. Let's try tackling that instead of attacking every guy. Let's stop grouping them all into the same category, lest all feminists be thrown into the file of "man-haters".
What goes around, comes around y'all.
End rant. Time for coffee. Fully aware that I'm now hated by the feminist community.
Happy Wednesday.  

Tuesday, 21 May 2013


Today was the first day in a new chapter for F and I.

The good news is we survived it. The bad news is my baby is all gone.

When I got up at 5:00am this morning, two things crossed my mind, the first relating to how sore my legs were, the second relating to the fact that the boy in my bed was a lot smaller than usual. Red's been away over a week, and while I miss him dearly I'm pretty glad to have my numero uno to snuggle with. Last night marked the first solo night for F and I in a very long time.

A year ago, I was slowly settling into work again after spending my winter as a single, stay-at-home-mommy. If chapter one was my marriage, and chapter two was singlemomdom, I think we're at about chapter 5 right now and I love it!

F was up an hour later, at 6:00am and ate the breakfast I'd set out for him, brushed his teeth and got ready for his first day at daycare. After spending some time at home with him, I can honestly say that I miss it a little, but the whole SAHM thing just wasn't cutting it for me. I love having a career. That said, I still felt a twinge of Mommy guilt leaving him at daycare.

We were 15 minutes ahead of schedule this morning, and I stood in the porch watching him pacing with his backpack on. "Come on, Mommy!" he'd say with one hand on the doorknob and the other holding Ellie, his stuffed elephant. Where did my baby go? Did I miss him while I was trying to sort out being a grown-up?

He had a great day, when it was all said and done. We came home and made dinner together, none of which he wanted to eat, and he's playing with his trucks watching Dora the Explorer. He's already talking about going back tomorrow to play with his friends, wondering what toys they will play with and if he can have a Kinder Surprise for dessert.

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to figure out where my baby went.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Sing-a-long away

The couple who sings together, stays together…

… or something like that. In the middle of the super-duper crazy week that saw Red and I spend our first stretch of days apart since we started dating and F move from CB to Halifax, get into daycare and Mommy almost go through a window (don’t ask), Red and I cut out some time to talk face-to-screen-face on Skype. After a busy day, it was just nice to talk to him the way I normally would… except that he was 5.5 hours away.

When he took out his guitar and started playing some of our favourite songs, I could feel my heart absolutely melting. And then we both sang. Miles away from eachother, and with the god-awful lag that comes from shitty internet connections we sang a couple of songs we both love. It was really awesome, and possibly totally cheesy but there he was, all adorable smiles and sexy as all get out with this guitar. *sigh*
I know, I know… I’m the luckiest girl ever.

The end of our first week apart is coming to a close, and I’ll see him tomorrow evening. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely over the moon with excitement – which makes me worry that I might be a complete wreck when he’s gone for, you know, weeks or months at a time down the road. I know it’s going to be a reality in our relationship – so is the life of a military partner.

I also know that Skype conversations won't always be a possibility in that reality. Maybe long phone calls won't always be in the cards, either. There will be lots of long weeks without him, and weekends will always be too short. Sometimes there won't be weekends.

How do you maintain that closeness when you're miles apart? How do you explain that situation, the dynamic of our relationship, to a toddler? It will be an adventure, and we have a learning curve ahead of us.

 Got suggestions for how we can make the days apart a little easier - or how to keep our relationship fresh? Share 'em below!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


Feeling pretty is important.

Regardless of whether I’m going to work, school or the grocery store, I like to feel good. While I don’t usually pile on makeup, I’ll throw on some lip gloss or mascara and try to make myself look presentable. I think it’s important to feel good about yourself whenever possible, and while I have more hang ups than an art gallery, I usually get the job done by wearing clothes/jewelry/shoes/whatever that make me feel pretty.
It is for this reason and this reason alone that I own a lot of pretty underwear. Any woman will tell you, pretty underwear make you feel pretty. Unfortunately for my butt, it can also leave you looking absolutely effing hilarious.
Before you hop on your soapbox and lecture me about the dangers of tanning, let me assure you that I’m well aware of the research, findings and warnings that are associated with tanning. But, like wearing my fancy underpants, it makes me feel really good and it also helps me clear up some of the problems I have with my skin – so I do it. ‘Nuff said.
Even when laying (or standing) in a bed at a tanning salon, I absolutely refuse to go nudie. If you’ve ever had a sunburnt ass, you know why. I pack a pair of bikini bottoms in my purse any time I know I’m dropping into the salon across the street from work to make sure I’ve got full-bottom coverage.
Except for last week when I forgot. And then, in a moment of pure brilliance I decided to wear the lacy underwear I happened to be wearing into the tanning bed. Everything was fine and dandy when I got out. I wiped the tanning lotion off, rubbed some moisturizer in and ran across the street to finish my day at work.
My first mistake was using tingle-y lotion. I sat at work for 2 hours with itchy arms and legs, but the itch wore off around quitting time so I figured I was in the clear. The rest of the afternoon went by like any other, but as evening set in I started to get increasingly uncomfortable so I decided to have a bath. My itchy arms, legs, belly and back had long since gone but I had a new, super-annoying itch.
My butt cheeks.
I got undressed for my bath and decided to check myself out, and that’s when I saw it: a delicate, floral lace pattern sunburned onto my otherwise pasty-white ass. Red laughed at me, and the redness stuck around for about 3 days before fading to a light brown.
Lace patterns on my butt are best left to overpriced undergarments, it would appear.
Oh, and that tingly lotion sticks around: just ask Red about how red he was post-snuggles when I forgot I had it on. Oops!

Saturday, 11 May 2013


A very dear friend of mine recently announced that she's going back to work after two and a half years spent raising her beautiful daughters, and her joy made my heart smile.

Her Facebook wall was overcome with congratulatory well-wishes, and "you go girl" boosters. It especially touched me because I've known her since we were just kids ourselves, lucky enough to have mothers who could be home with us... and now, we're fortunate enough to be mothers ourselves.

Being a young mom comes with a different set of rules and a pile of extra perks that, in the midst of all the chaos, can be kind of hard to see clearly.

In the wake of everything that happened since I hit my 20's, I've become an entirely new person and it's exciting, liberating and absolutely terrifying at the same time. But I love it.

I ran into another old friend not too long ago and he told me that it was nice to see I'd "reclaimed the old me".


The old me is gone. Long gone, and I'd be willing to be she's never coming back. The old me thought that she was just a Mom now. She thought that her tomorrows were filled with ho-humness, but luckily for the new me there was still some spark in there. It's that little spark that helped me find my way to the spot I'm in today.

Being a Mom is great, but I'm more than that and realizing this simple fact has been incredibly liberating. It's been a long process - the better part of this year. It started way back here, when I decided I was ready to take the first few tentative steps. It has taken me to heartache, and to emptiness, to a heart so full I thought it might burst.

But now, I'm ready to just be a 25-year-old woman, and it's about time that my blog reflects the new Ashley.

My life has petered out to normalcy (HA!) as I've fallen completely in love and gotten my feet beneath me - in fabulous heels, no less - but I have some hilariously blog-worthy moments that I felt could never be shared on my "Single Mommy Blog".

Not any more. :)

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Dear 16-year-old self

Although there are some parts of being 16 I'd rather not ever revisit, there are a pile of things I wish I could go back and say to myself now.

Dear 16-year-old self:


 You may not know me, but I know you. I know you very well. I know your ins and outs, the way your mind works and I know that you have two thongs hidden in a bag in the back of your closet. Don’t worry. Mom’s not going to freak out – in fact, she won’t even say anything about them when they land in the laundry basket. She’ll wash them, and you’ll find them in your underwear drawer. In ten years, you’ll hate them so don’t stress about wearing them. Seamless panties are better and way more flattering. TRUST ME.
I know you’re really worried about having sex for the first time with your boyfriend. Stop feeling bad about your decision to wait, because it’s going to change everything. Know that you made the right decision, and that you chose the right person to share that experience with. When you break up next year, you’re going to feel like you can never love again but you will and you do. By the way, you’re still friends in the future and you’re always going to hold him in a special place in your heart.
Speaking of love, Mom loves you, and she was right: one day you’ll understand why. You see, you’re going to watch your heart running around before your eyes in only a few short years. You’re not really going to be ready for it, but you’re going to love every minute of it.
Stop trying to grow up so quickly – your adolescence and carefree days are gone before you know it.
Stop calling yourself fat. You’re not. Don't listen to the people who make you feel badly. They're as ugly on the inside as they make you feel on the outside. Make sure you don’t skip breakfast – it’s important and while beauty trends are going to go from super thin to curvy and back again over the next few years, don’t forget that healthy is always in.
Make sure you tell everyone you care about just how special they are. You never know when or how things will change.
Don’t stop writing and don’t stop dreaming. Those dreams are going to become a reality and you really are going to be a writer when you grow up. If you don’t believe me, just read this letter again. You wrote it.

Perfection is overrated. Get that through your head.
In less than ten years, you will have cellulite, stretch marks, wrinkles and hormonal acne on your chin. It’s not the end of the world. You’re a tiger and you earned those stripes, dammit. ...Except maybe the acne – but Witch Hazel is your friend and those super expensive acne treatments that are full of harsh chemicals are going to screw up your skin. Don’t waste your money. Seriously, you need it to buy toys for F.
Never say never because you’re going to survive things you thought you couldn’t and do things you don’t necessarily want to. Don’t forget: if you have to convince yourself to be with someone or convince that someone to be with you, it was never right in the first place. Let it go. Happiness is waiting around the corner.
Give Great-Aunt Mayme an extra hug. You’re going to live in her house in a few years, but it’s going to be short-lived. You’re going to feel her presence forever. Smile every time you see a Habs emblem – it’s Doug telling you he loves you. Papa lives in your baby’s heart, and when you look in his eyes you’ll see Papa shining through.
Becoming a Mom is scary. Enjoy every minute of it because he’s going to run out of time to spend sitting on your lap before you’re ready to let go of his hand. Speaking of Moms, make sure you thank Mom for folding your laundry and don’t bitch at her for asking you to put it away. You’re going to miss that. Trust me.

Double speaking of Moms – your biological mom is still out there, and she hasn’t forgotten you. You’re going to find her soon. Hang in there.
Hug Dee, because you have no idea what he’s going through. He’s going to be your best friend in a couple of years – stop rolling your eyes, it’s true – and you’re going to cherish him in a way that you didn’t know you could.

Your boobs are going to be a little saggy in a few years. Take that bra off while you still can, girl!
Don’t forget to forgive yourself every now and again.

Nothing is going to hurt more than sucking up your pride and going home, but you’re going to realize how lucky you are to have Mom and Dad. Go give them both a hug. Say I love you at every opportunity. They deserve to hear it, and you’re not too cool to say it.

High school isn’t forever. The people who are mean to you now will be mere memories soon. You’re going to meet your true friends and they’re as whacky as you are. Oh, and that red-head in the Nike sweater? Yeah, girl... you win him over in a few years. Hold on - he's worth the wait.

It may not be easy, but life is good. Enjoy it.


Friday, 3 May 2013


No matter how hard I try, I've realized that I'll never erase the damage that J left from my life.

I foolishly convinced myself a few months ago that I was over thinking about what J put us through. Fat chance. Whether I like it or not, I will live with the hurt that he caused for as far into the future as I can see. Sure, the pain has dulled and sometimes I completely forget about him, but every now and again it pops back up the way your finger stings when you get nail polish remover in a hangnail you'd forgotten you had. Ouch.

I've undeniably been the happiest I've ever been since Red came into our lives. F adores him, and I have to admit that I'm pretty smitten myself. We have fun, and we laugh and my heart nearly bursts when I watch F and Red playing together, or listen to them talking about the solar system, trucks or what they did while I was at work. Maybe it's because I'm so happy with Red that I find my mind wandering back to how unhappy I was a year ago, but it's a place I often find myself revisiting: the place I never want to go back to.

When J and I split up, I selfishly shut down. I won't lie and give you the "I did the best I could" line, because I didn't. I spent my days on the couch or in bed, I spent hours on the phone crying to my Mom or my friends, and I left F to play with his toys while his Mommy felt sorry for herself. When I finally got my shit together, people would offer up their condolences - hoping that they could ease my pain with "better now than later" or "at least you're still young".

When I decided to come back to school, I heard the same lines: "do it now while F is still small, he won't notice as much", or "it'll only get harder from here on out, girl". Just like the day I admitted that one of my biggest fears what that F would be damaged by J's leaving and then my own, I'm bombarded with "F's too young to understand" or "F doesn't even notice that you're gone".

Bull shit.

F is three-years-old. He's not stupid. He's not unaware. He knows damn well that his Mommy is away most of the time, and that shocking reality crashed into me this week.

We were wrapping up a fun time at the pool. F had been laughing and splashing, "swimming" and learning his own limitations while Red and I looked on. In anticipation of a toddler meltdown (leaving the pool is, afterall, a tragedy), I decided to dry off and get dressed to make it easier. I went back into the pool area armed with towels and a Kinder Surprise, and watched as F and Red swam around for a few more minutes. Then Red started walking up the ramp to leave the pool.

"I don't want to go!" F cried, though he slowly followed Red up the ramp.

"Well, I'm going to go," Red told him. "I need to go and get dressed."

F stopped and Red kept walking along the side of the pool, until F started to cry.

"Everyone leaves me. Every body just leaves me."

Heart. Broken.

Earlier in the evening, as we were getting our swimsuits on, a young family with two small children was drying off to leave the pool. F pointed out that the man was a Daddy. Two hours later, he's announcing that everyone leaves him.

F's never really had a Daddy, and while it's not my fault I find myself riddled with guilt over it. Hearing him say "Every body just leaves me" rips the heart right out of my chest. This is what I was afraid of. This is what makes being away from him the hardest.

I tell him all the time how much I love him, and explain the whys and the hows of Mommy going away for school. I promise him that I'll never leave him, and assure him that no matter where we are, he can always find me in his heart. But the fact is that I leave him almost every week, and it's taking a toll on him.

In the last couple of months, Red and F have formed quite a little relationship. F really needed that. He talks about Red all the time, and I couldn't be happier that F finally has that special relationship with a guy. But Red is leaving soon. I haven't quite decided how I'm going to approach that bombshell, or when or even if I want to.

Maybe we'll just have to go along for the ride.