Monday, 30 September 2013

Making the Change

Sometimes the happiest endings come from beginnings filled with sadness.

It's hard to believe that two years ago, I was relishing in the glow of newlyweddom (it's my new word; deal with it). It's harder still for me to wrap my head around the fact that just one short year ago I was in the preliminary process of the whole back-to-school-mama business. I'm not even sure I was truly convinced I'd do it. And here I am, about to graduate.

I'm incredibly fortunate to have had this opportunity and I know that. Many don't. I'm blessed with great friends, wonderful parents and a community who stood behind me to offer support, words of kindness and consolation, cups of coffee to wake me up and shoulders to cry on when needed. It hasn't been easy, but we did it.

When my plans to move to Ottawa came crashing down on my head and I found myself, clutching Kleenex and sobbing in my supervisor's office, asking for my job back I felt like my whole world was about to implode. It was like I was perched precariously on the verge of total devastation, and unable to get away. It was a bad feeling. And then one day, I came home from work and got in the shower and let all of the sadness and bad feeling go down the drain with the suds from my shampoo.

Less than a year after totally uprooting my life and challenging myself in ways I didn't think I could (and would rather not ever do again), I'm working in a field that I love and have been for nine months. I won't stay here forever, but it's a perfect fit for me right now. I made the decision to be happy, and though there will always be bumps in the road and obstacles to overcome, I've made it to a place where happiness really is my reality.

But it's easy to get lost in sadness.

I know this because I've done it, and it was a long, hard battle to get out of the rut I had settled into. It's easy to stay there. It's easy to mistake comfort for contentment, or happiness. We settle for what we have, rather than dare to dream. Change is scary. It's hard, it's the unknown but it's almost always worth the journey. 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Fat (part 2)

I am the problem.

I've been a part of many conversations bashing the media and Hollywood in particular for the skinny-obsession, and I've stood in a different light in lots of these. Sometimes, I feel like it's our job as individuals and as parents to remind ourselves and teach our children about the importance of healthy eating, exercise and body image. Sometimes, I want to karate chop the media and the fashion world for creating this skin-n-bones monster in the first place, but then I glance at my workout playlist on my iPhone and remember it's called "Get Skinny".

Yup. It's a thing. I dread standing on the scale at work, and yet it's become a compulsion because I'm feeding the monster (no pun intended...) that I hate.

"Please be less than..."

And I remember dancing around in the Gap fitting room because the 00 pants fit me, or the times I've skipped a meal (or several) because I felt fat.

I remember the times I've eaten something and felt guilty. I remember the time I let the word "fat" fly out of my mouth like a derogatory word, because although I'm an advocate of loving your body, I'm terrified of gaining an ounce.

I am the problem. I'm a part of it.

Fat is another four letter word to me, and it's one that I wish I could help my toddler unlearn. Because, like his Mommy accidentally taught him, F uses FAT to describe things he doesn't like because he's 3 and it makes perfect sense to him, just like I would use gross, ugly or smelly to describe something I'm not really feelin'.

But then, I remember the time that F asked me if he was fat, because he learned it from me.

So, we can sit around and bitch at the media and build a cross to crucify the media, and then force-feed a bunch of stick-thin models and actresses a bunch of cheeseburgers but that's not the fix. I love my Mom, and she's a wonderful friend and mother and role model, but she's also where I learned to stand in the mirror and say "I look fat". The world isn't always going to be what we like. We can't control every message out there, but we can control our own. It's time I change my message.

I caught myself in the nick of time tonight.

"What are you doing?" F asked as I set up my Wii Zumba, strapping on my belt and stretching a bit. When I told him I was exercising he asked why... and do you know what I started to say? So I won't be fat. I'm glad I caught myself, because that's not why I should be exercising, and that's not what I want my amazing 3 year old to hear.

"So I can be strong and healthy."

Because that is the type of child I want to raise.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Fruit and Nut Oatmeal Crisp

Mine is a household of ugly mornings.
I'm not the biggest fan of waking up at 5 am (if we're being honest) and F doesn't think wakeups should happen, period. Most mornings involve tears, a lot of pleading and one gigantic rush out the door. I'm hoping we'll eventually streamline the whole morning shuffle, but I'm not totally convinced this will ever actually happen.
Probably the biggest obstacle for mornings at my house is breakfast. By the time I make myself a half decent breakfast and sit down to eat it, I'm looking at about 20 - 30 minutes down the drain. Since I like sleep and don't particularly care to be up a half hour early just to make something every day, I decided it was time to get creative. Oatmeal is one of my favourite breakfast dishes - with some brown sugar, frozen blueberries and a little bit of soy milk on top - but it's time consuming and messy (because I'm definitely NOT washing dishes before I go to work). I figured if I can take the time to prep lunches and dinners for my week, there's gotta be something I can do for breakfasts, too, right?



Enter my fruit and nut oatmeal crisp with bananas and chocolate chips! Yummmmmmy.

Be warned: You will want to eat the entire dish when it comes out of the oven.

2 c. quick oats
1 c. fruit (berries or apples are best)
1/3 c. brown sugar, unpacked
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 c. crushed nuts (I used Beaver trail mix, which is crushed myself)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chocolate chips
2 cups soy milk (regular milk is fine, too, but I use Silk Light!)
1 egg
3 tbsp. melted butter
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 ripe banana, sliced

In a large bowl, together oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add half of your fruit or berries, crushed nuts and chocolate chips (you'll need the other halves later!).

Grease a baking pan of your choice (I use a 9 x 13" Pyrex baking dish), and add the dry mixture. Sprinkle the remaining nuts, fruit, crushed nuts, chocolate chips and place your sliced banana evenly along the top of the oatmeal mixture.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together your milk, egg, melted butter and vanilla. Pour over your oatmeal mixture, making sure everything is coated. Shake the pan a little to ensure it gets all the way through.

Optional: sprinkle some brown sugar on top before you bake for a slightly sweeter version!

Bake at 300* for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown. Be sure to taste test. Store in refrigerator, and pop in the microwave for a warm, delicious breakfast all week long!

Enjoy! :)

Mommy Fear

Earlier this week, I had a big heart-to-heart with F.

It went something like he was eating a bag of pretzels and staring at me while I poured my heart out to him and essentially apologized for being a sub-par Mommy these past few weeks. (I'd get into the whole past, um, his entire toddlerdom but we'd still be in that conversation and I'd feel even worse and he'd have fallen asleep on me anyway.) Whether he understood it or not, we had a hug and a kiss and exchanged a couple of I love yous before he went back to whatever he'd been doing and I stayed exactly where I was just watching him.

I'd always imagined that Mommy was something that just came to you.

The first day of the hardest job I've ever had.

I was wrong. Being Mommy is as much a learning experience as anything else I've ever done in my life, if not more. It's a combination of skills, understanding and a relationship to boot. It requires cultivation, and you are bound to make a million mistakes along the way. I know I have. I made at least one hundred in the past month. I love F, but being a Mom hasn't always been easy for me. Sometimes, I fear that I'm doing it all wrong. I don't want to screw him up.

My impatience combined with my anxiety and Type-A personality made for a tough couple of weeks while F and I were settling into the changes that had happened in our lives. In an effort to do what I thought was best for him, I sent us both reeling backwards - hurt and sad and afraid. I found myself raising my voice and losing my temper when he did that thing toddles do sometimes, defy me. I found myself getting angry and frustrated when I should have been asking him what was wrong. I argued back, instead of explaining why my decision was final.

And even knowing I've done it, I can assure you I will do it again.

In frustration or anger, in tiredness or a rush, my patience and my better judgment will escape me and I'll be that sub-par Mom again - if only for a few moments. Friday morning alone was a test. An hour of trying to wake F up meant we were a whole hour late for his daycare drop off. It meant cutting the things I had hoped to do out of the picture in spite of the mile-long list of things needing doing before 5pm today. It meant that F had a less than awesome breakfast, which he ate in the car, and that I went for a run on an empty stomach and to work with undone hair. We got home with a week behind us, but with no energy left. I snuggled up next to him in bed last night at 8:30 pm, and we didn't get up until after 9am.

For every stressful time, there's a moment like this to wash it away.
Today, I vowed I'd be a good Mom. I made homemade buttermilk pancakes and didn't freak out over the toys all over the floor. I made it until about noon before I found my patience beginning to disappear. By the time we'd finished running our Saturday afternoon errands, I was frazzled to the ends of the earth and had the frizzy hair to show for it. Protip: AVOID BAYER'S LAKE ON SATURDAYS. Don't even ask, just listen (see what I did there - momism).

Today was a day when I sat in the driver's seat of my car with that sinking feeling that I'm doing it all wrong, until I glanced in my rear view mirror. Smiling at me, F patted his new (big boy booster seat style) car seat and said "Thank-you for buying me this car seat, Mommy".

Maybe I'm not doing it all wrong.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Cycle of Bully

You might remember me from yesterday when I was about to kick the ass of one five-year-old and then take on his Mom.

Well. I decided to not pick on anyone, but to talk to the lady who's about my own size and find out what the heck was going on with her kid telling my kid he's gonna die - WHO FUCKING DOES THAT? Turns out, the big kids at her son's school does that, and he in turn did it to my son.

Do I feel bad for the kid? Yes, I do. Nobody should be made to feel bad. But I don't totally buy it. Want to know why?

This week, I was lucky enough to have the flexibility to take F to daycare and then hit the trails for a run. To make sure I to got my ass off the couch, I purposely wore my running clothes to drop him off. The first day I met this woman - to be quite honest, I don't even know her name to this day - she looked at me and scoffed "Heading to a marathon, are we?"

Um, lady, (to borrow a quote from the Maury show) YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW ME! Maybe I am training for a marathon or maybe I just fucking hate pants with buttons. What difference does it make? And, while it was tempting to point out that she was wearing her pyjamas, I smiled and replied "that's my plan!" and I left. Unfortunately, I wound up in my bed and not on my way to any marathon except a Netflix-fueled X-Files marathon with a big ass cup of coffee.

But I digress. The fact is that this kid has learned that it's OK to be snide and rude and mean to people. Was I annoyed and a little put out by that woman? Yep. I was. But that's not the issue. The real issue here is that two kids that I know directly are being bullied, and the bigger issue is that for every two kids I know directly, there's a thousand I don't know who are being bullied and it's gotta stop. The real issue here is that this kid is picking up these behaviours from his own family, his peers and then he's passing it on to others. It's a cycle, and it needs to end.

photo: bullying project

I took yesterday as a learning opportunity - a teachable moment, if you will. F had to make the little girl who he was mean to yesterday an I'm Sorry card. He also had to apologize not only to Ella - the little girl - but also to his childcare provider, because he was unfair and unkind. And he had to understand why, so we talked about it. A lot.

We talked about how important it is to talk about our feelings, and how it feels when someone doesn't respect us or treat us kindly. We talked about how to talk about the things that aren't always easy to talk about, and then we talked about cars and trucks and how they make us feel because when you're F there's nothing more important than the cars and the trucks.

I know that these are conversations we're going to have over and over again - and I'm not just talking about the cars here, people. I know that there's going to be another kid who hurts F's feelings, and there's going to be some feelings that are hurt because of F. Talk to your kids. Be an example for them. Teach them how to stand up for themselves, for others, and teach them how to treat themselves and their peers with respect. You don't need to be friends, but you need to be nice was the rule at my house growing up, and it will be the rule at this one, too.

 In one day, I watched the cycle of bully happen. That little boy who picked on F? He was told he was going to die while he was at school. He was told his Mommy would die and everyone would forget about him. So he told my son that. And F acted out and it scared him and it scares me that some five-year-old punk with a mushroom cut and the cutest dimples you've ever seen could make my son feel that way. The conversation with his Mom was a little uncomfortable and a lot helpful. She knew it was going on, and she spoke to him. The childcare provider chatted briefly with me about her plan for nipping any poor behaviour in the bud today.

And when I picked F up this afternoon, he was playing with the five-year-old sweetheart.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Bullies (and buckets of water)

Have you ever wanted to punch a child in the head?

I have.

It happened today, when I found out that a kid at F's daycare was picking at him. I was annoyed at first. I've met the Mom. She's a real fucking treat, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that her kid is a five-year-old jerk with a bad attitude and a nasty disposition. Seriously, I'd rather have a yeast infection for the rest of my life than exchange pleasantries with this woman - it's that bad. Now - I'll go ahead and say that I'm glad this world is filled with many different people, because I'm sure that this particular person has a circle of friends and family who adore and admire and appreciate her - I just don't happen to be a part of it. I don't think she likes me either, so there's that.

(can you tell i'm still raging? cause i am)

It started when another kid suddenly dropped to the ground crying while F was trying to play with him. The daycare teacher asked him what was wrong, before explaining that the little guy is having a hard time with the upcoming arrival of his baby brother or sister. Add the fact that he'd been up since 5 am to the mix, and this little guy was just an emotional wreck in size 4 Pull-Ups. F went over to him and hugged him, urging him to play. The five-year-old immediately rushed over to me.

"Your son just pushed Sam down. He's such a little brat. You should punish him."
That was the exact moment I decided this kid was a twit - I WAS WATCHING THE WHOLE THING. If he really wanted to get F in trouble, he should have waited 'til my back was turned and I didn't know any better. I brushed it off, and went back to talking to F's caregiver. And then it happened.

"Just do it, splash Ella!" the shithead five-year-old said, devilishly urging F to throw the bucket of cold water he had in his hands on the not-quite-two-year-old little girl in the group. I had no sooner warned F that he'd better not do it than he threw the entire fucking bucket of water onto quite possibly the world's cutest (and now probably most emotionally scarred) toddler girl. Her whole body shook and she blinked her eyes in total shock before collapsing into a meltdown that would make a Real Housewives star look put together.

Although I wasn't freezing cold and dripping wet, I don't think that little girl was any more shocked than I was. I couldn't even move. There were no words. I said F's name over and over, before coming to my senses, taking his hand and announcing that I was disappointed in his behaviour and we were going home to discuss it. Upset by his own actions, F apologized to the little girl and cried as we started toward the car. Tagging along behind me was the five-year-old terrorist, insisting that I put F to bed without dinner and take all of his toys away for being such a bad little boy.

I suggested he haul his little butt back to where the daycare provider was as nicely as I could, before closing the gate behind me.

"I'm scared," F wailed as he got into his car seat. "I'm dying and you're going to forget me, he said I was going to die and I splashed Ella!"


The word "fuck" comes to mind. Exasperated and sad and confused and angry, I sat as F sobbed onto my chest multiple times this evening silently cursing kids and their innate ability to be mean and unreasonable and mean. I talked him through it, assuring him that he's not dying and I will never forget him. Have I mentioned that kids are mean? Because they are.

I knew that F and the five-year-old had butted heads yesterday, too, but I chocked it up to kids being kids. I had no idea that this kid was making him feel this badly, and it breaks my mommy heart. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and I know that. I remember the hurtful words and endless taunting. I remember the broken hearts and the "you can't be our friend anymore" conversations over MSN messenger. I don't know what tomorrow will look like, but I do know that I wasn't ready to be dealing with this yet. Bullying wasn't supposed to be in our world yet.

Let me say now that I have no illusions that F is a perfect kid. He lost his TV privileges for the night after the way he treated his friend today. But, at 3 years old, F is learning boundaries and sometimes he has to learn them the hard way, through getting hurt and sometimes through hurting others. He really felt badly when he saw how sad he'd made Ella, but I know my kid and I know that he was hurting, too. Was he bullied into being a bully? I don't know. Will it happen again? Probably. And I'll be throwing a big HYPOTHETICAL bucket of water on F if and when it does.

And teaching F that life throws the biggest buckets of cold water on bullies, one way or another.

Yellow Lights

Right now, my clean laundry is folded in a basket on the floor of my bedroom closet. 

My clean dishes are sitting in the dishwasher. My bed is unmade. My voicemail is full of messages, my to-do list is growing exponentially and I'm not even a little bit worried about it because the last few weeks have been such a wonderful kind of busy. It's been a time of exciting changes and new beginnings, and in the excitement and hustle and bustle of it all, I forgot to slow down and take a break.

Prepare to Stop
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I need to remember to slow down.

While driving to daycare this morning, F reminded me that I needed to slow down as we approached an intersection, the traffic light glaring yellow as a warning. I felt the car slow to a stop as I braked, in time with traffic and the changing of the light. I need to do this sometimes. I need to slow down. I need to stop.

For two months I've been like a barely-in-control race car, speeding around the little track of my life. Mindlessly, I've gone through the motions without being present enough to see - much less enjoy - my surroundings. The drive to work had become so monotonous that I would often find myself in the parking lot before it really occurred to me that I had left home. We raced out the door in the morning, and rushed home in the evening. It was barely-tasted breakfasts and quick-and-easy dinners. It was lunch at my desk and it was smiles and happy and fresh starts and a lot of coffee, so I'm not entirely sorry that I didn't slow down.

But I plan to park for a day or two. Maybe I'll even get that laundry put away... 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Defensive Parenting

"People are telling me I'm selfish because Rori is going to be my only child."

This was the beginning of a conversation between my friend and I last night. Not only does she have the best name ever (three guesses what it is), she's an outstanding person and a wonderful new mom. The road to getting pregnant and the pregnancy itself wasn't a walk in the park for Ashley and her partner. She's had to face more health issues than any 20-something should have to. It's changed her life, her career and her person, but she's a strong person and she's made it work. (In case you're wondering, that is why she's one of my best friends)

And I sit her defending her, which is almost as crazy as the fact that she has to defend herself and her decision to anyone else. What the what?! Why do we have to defend every.single.decision we make as parents? Why does the rest of the world feel they need to weigh in on that? Ack!

It's infuriating to think that another person would feel they had the right to tell a mother - especially a new mother, in Ashley's circumstances - what's best for her family. Selfish for only having one child? It should be some kind of bad joke, but the unfortunate truth is that shaming has become such a big part of our society that I don't think folks even realize they're hurting one another any more.

In the world of Pinterest and My Sweet Sixteen, it's never been harder to be a Mom. The bar has never been set so high. I was damn happy as a kid to get a homemade pizza and store-bought birthday cake, with a handful of friends to play with. My Mom didn't wear designer clothes to pick me up from school or gymnastics. And it was great. I often wonder if she worried about how she looked when she went to the playground, not because of how her clothes made her feel but how she felt in front of the eyes of other parents.

We've got slut-shaming, fat-shaming, and mom-shaming. At least it's not racism though, right? (See that? That's called sarcasm.)

 I've been accused of being selfish and a bad mom because I went back to school. Clearly we can all see how selfish I was to want to work towards a better future for my family. It's ridiculous and unfair and it totally disrupts our lives as mothers, women, friends, people. And I guess I'm selfish, too, for only having one child. Gosh, what was I thinking? *eye roll*

Is it just me, or does that make about as much sense as wearing a raincoat in the shower or drinking decaf coffee on a Monday morning?

Why do we feel like we have the right to tell another mother how to raise her family? When did it become OK to project our values onto everyone else? I would have loved to have had another child, I'd have loved for F to have a playmate - a little brother or sister to share with and teach and learn from, but I didn't. And do you know what? I'm not a bit unselfish in being glad for that. Selfish would have been having another child that I would struggle to support financially and emotionally. Selfish would be Ashley having another baby and risking her health, wellness and happiness just to make all of those mom-shaming bullies happy.

Selfish is not considering the welfare of your family first.

Last year, I vowed to stop apologizing as a mother, woman, friend. I won't apologize for going back to school. I won't apologize for being a single mom, for not lending my clothes to someone, for not driving people around. I won't apologize for turning down opportunities that didn't fit into my plan, or accepting the ones that do. I won't apologize for putting my son before anyone else. I won't apologize for making my happiness a priority.  I won't apologize for standing up for myself or a loved one. Don't apologize for things that aren't worthy of an apology.

We shouldn't have to.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Four Letter Words

I have a terrible potty mouth.

Anyone who knows me at all can attest to this. I do my best to keep it under wraps as well as I can, but every now and again I let a handful of four-letter words fly. In my house, there are a number of other "four-letter words" - the bad ones, the ones I don't like to hear. Monday, for example, is a four letter word. My toddler might tell you that bedtime and toothbrush also fall into this category, though we aren't quite seeing eye-to-eye on that.

Dad is also on my list of four-letter words.

Last week, I was filling out the registration forms for F's new daycare teacher and chatting with her about his favourite foods, his routine and his personality (I probably should have prepared a book). After signing my name for the umpteenth time, I scanned through all of the paperwork again to make sure I hadn't missed anything. "It's all there, we'll see you on Monday!" I said as I handed her the booklet. She asked me to wait until she signed it, and told me she had something else to send with me. She flipped through the pages and then stopped, looked at me and told me I "must have forgotten" to fill out the Father's Information.

So I told her about my list of four-letter words. I don't think she liked it much.

For all intents and purposes, in spite of a pretty diamond ring and a fancy wedding ceremony, I have always been a single mom. F's dad was never totally involved, though I can give some credit for the times he made an effort (which is wasted on the almost year that's gone by since he last saw his own child). It might not have been my dream, certainly raising a child alone wasn't the future I had envisioned for myself but I own it and I love it and we do just fine, F and I. But I definitely don't forget about the Father's Information on anything.

I don't forget about the fact that F's dad has nothing to do with us. I don't forget that I pay every bill, every childcare hour and every last expense from socks to car payments without a single penny in child support. I don't forget about the awful hurt that I feel when another kid asks F why his Daddy doesn't pick him up.

And F won't ever forget that he had a Mom who did it because she loved him that much.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Bathina by Benefit Review

I haven't been doing well keeping up with my weekly series the last couple of weeks, which I will shamelessly attribute to being under more stress than I can even explain. Thankfully, my stress level is dropping and I'll be sharing the news behind that soon.
Back in July, I was wandering around Shoppers Drug Mart waiting for a prescription to be finished and I decided to do a little shopping. It was actually the same night I picked up my Clinique Chubby Stick, and that other product I didn't need: Bathina by Benefit. What the hell is that? you may be wondering, so lemme fill y'all in. Batthina is a luminous, silky body balm that smells amazing and gives your skin a dewy, golden-pink sheen. It comes with a velvet puff to apply it with (how cute!) in a precious tin and because it's a balm you never have to worry about leakage.
The woman at the cosmetics counter filled me in on why I needed it by throwing around information about how it gives your skin a rather flawless look, makes you look slimmer and that the Sex and the City reportedly used it on set to give their legs the perfect look you'd get from a good pair of flesh-toned 'hose. When I rubbed a bit on my skin, I pretty much fell head over heels so I joyfully cashed in my optimum points and went home with my fantastic chubby stick and balm feeling rather like a princess.

I'm going to keep the tin!

The tagline - "Take a picture it lasts longer..." - is cute and cheeky, and I happen to think the tin is absolutely adorable, too.

At $36 for the tin, I don't use it regularly but rather save it for special occasions like dates or work events - times that I want to look really good, especially if my legs are going to be bare. I like putting a bit on my collarbone too, and I have used it on my arms once or twice. The puff is exquisite and I love, love, love the way Bathina makes my skin feel. Benefit wasn't kidding when they described it as "pure body luxury".

When you apply the balm, be sure to really highlight the front of your legs all the way down to your toes to elongate and slim them, and gently "buff" your skin in circular motions with the velvet applicator. Freshly shaved legs will be as smooth as butter, I promise. I'm a huge fan of Benefit, and Bathina is no exception. I've used a fair bit of the balm already, and I'll definitely get another tin when it's all gone - though I'd wager to say I likely won't be too concerned about having glow-y legs this winter (they glow in the dark without a tan, anyway!).

Look at that sheen - gorgeous!
My other favourite Benefit products?

SunBeam liquid bronzer, They're Real mascara and Erase Paste corrector.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Confession: I'm a complainer

I have a confession to make:

I complain about my child.

There. I said it. It's out. I'll just wait here while you reread that, shake your head and call me a bad parent.

Done? OK, good.

When I decided to go back to school, I had to make a lot of tough decisions. I had to leave the comfort zone that I was pretty happy in, give up the home that I loved so much and hardest of all I had to swallow my pride and ask for some help by leaving F with my parents. If you can imagine tearing your heart out and leaving it behind over and over again over the course of six months, you know what I'm talking about.

When I finally - and I mean finally - got to bring him to Halifax to start daycare and live with me, it was a challenge. I had a routine, a schedule, a little life that involved a lot of missing him but not a lot of including him. I had to rethink my approach to my days, my weeks - to every minute of down time. I had to toddler-proof my life, and I was so happy to do it but so exasperated when it didn't go smoothly.

A certain celebrity was quoted as saying that he didn't understand why parents referred to things they've done as "sacrifices" because in his mind there's nothing more important than your child, and that's true... but you do still sacrifice other things to be a better parent. It doesn't mean that those other things were more important or less important than the role as parent, just that they had to be put on the backburner or forgotten altogether.

I had to sacrifice the better part of F's 3-year-old life in order to do what it would take to be a better parent, but then in the same breath I lamented how tired I was, how poorly he was behaving and how tiresome he could be sometimes... but I wouldn't change a second of it.
I wouldn't trade a single meltdown, time-out, temper tantrum, spilled drink or fingerprint on my newly cleaned windows because I know how many people would do anything to have that.

So tonight, as I wandered down the hall in the dark I found myself thanking the universe that I hadn't tripped over anything but longing to step on the dinky cars I normally curse, or to feel a few cracker crumbs under my bare feet because it would mean that F was sleeping soundly a room away.

And I hope that next week after washing the living room window 32 times, pleading with him to put his pants back on, tripping over stuffed animals and finding boogers in my hair that I remember just how empty this apartment feels without him.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

September 3

Two years ago today I got married.

Two years ago today, at this exact time, I was running around like a headless chicken, with a tear-stained face trying to be excited while fear gripped at me. Was I about to make a big mistake?

Then, with F.

You know that thing where they tell you to listen to your gut? Yeah. I didn't.

We had a beautiful ceremony and an equally beautiful reception which I spent separated from my new husband, as he was busy "consoling" his mother. I danced to S Club 7 with my best friend, drank a lot of wine and I mingled with family and friends until it was time to pack it all in. I remember vividly the moment we got back to our rental house for the weekend - some of our bridal party opted to stay up and keep the party going. I went to bed, exhausted.

When we separated six months later, I was devastated but things immediately felt right.

I don't even remember what I did last year. But today I'll go to school and I'll go to work. I'll drink about five cups of coffee. I'll call my parents. I'll talk to friends. I'm hoping to get to Home Depot to pick up a couple of little things. Just for the Hell of it, though, I'm going to reflect on the milestones of the last two years.

Such as:

J has seen our son 0 times in 2013. In 2012, the grand total was 6.

I haven't heard from J in more than six months. He hasn't contacted our son since he texted me ON F'S BIRTHDAY to say he was drinking and couldn't come over. He didn't even send a card.

Classy, right?

I'm also going to pick up a bottle of wine tonight and I'm going to toast myself for not going completely crazy. I'm going to raise a glass to F, because he's the driving force behind every single thing I do. I'm going to toast my amazing parents and friends who have supported me, held my hand, offered a shoulder to cry on and given me a healthy dose of reality when needed.

Now (in matching shirts, no less!)

And then, I'm going to climb into my big, beautiful queen size bed with my stuffed sheep and the terrorist kitten and I'm going to sleep.


And totally happy.

Sunday, 1 September 2013


I spent some 18 years of my life feeling like I had done something wrong.

As if I, as an infant, had been so awful that I'd been unwanted. In spite of growing up in a home filled with love and support I struggled with the whys and hows and the questions I hadn't dared ask surrounding my adoption. So, as a coping mechanism, I worked towards perfection. I would be so great that everyone would want me on their team, as their friend, in their life. But, that back fired and I'm really glad.

That's how I learned it's OK that we don't all want the same thing.

For as much as I wanted to unearth the answers about my biological family, my half brother didn't. For as much as I wanted to speak with my biological father, he didn't. For all the answers I wanted, some people chose not to share. For all the things I wanted to say, some people didn't have the desire to listen or to know me and they chose to pretend I didn't exist. And so, bit-by-bit, that nagging sense of being unwanted started creeping back into my heart.

I tip my hat to the women who voluntarily put their children up for adoption in the hope of a better life. I tip my hat to the men and women who work tirelessly and often thanklessly to make sure the rights and best interests of young mothers, newborn babies and families who'd given up hope are represented. I tip my hat to people like my parents, who could have a lot more money and fewer grey hairs (or more hairs, in Dad's case) had they not gone through the process of adopting two children.

But I didn't always.

What parents of adopted children don't always realize is that, no matter how hard you try or how much love you shower on your child, the questions are still there. No matter how many pieces of paper or documents or reports they read or social workers who tell them "it was for the best", the questions will never be answered. What my biological family doesn't know is that many of my questions are still unanswered, and I'm finally able to live with that.
  Not knowing is sometimes hard, but I learned that knowing can be harder still. Knowing that my biological mother faced some of the horrors she did hurt my heart. Knowing that my biological father refuses to acknowledge my existence hurts my heart. Knowing that he married a woman and adopted her children hurts. Seeing how the unease and unresolved questions from our various adoptions has taken a toll on my siblings hurts, too. But like so many things in life blame lays nowhere. Laying blame doesn't help. Harbouring anger and resentment and sadness only makes the pain greater, like rubbing salt in a wound.

Coming to terms with the facts surrounding my adoption hasn't been easy, and perhaps it never will be - maybe I never will. While the facts are hard and fast, the emotions are slow and they stick to you, flaring up unexpectedly and intermittently. The things I want and don't want are sometimes within arm's reach, but sometimes they are totally out of my control. And that's OK.

I wouldn't want it any other way.