Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Conversations with....Nolan (entry 2)

Nolan got in trouble today for jumping on his bed after his brother was injured for the second time and had already been warned that he would lose his "music player" (boom box) if he was caught jumping again. So he lost the music player and launched into an insane tantrum. Later, at dinner, we had the following conversation:

Nolan: "Mommy, I love you so, so much."
Me: "I love you too sweetie."
Nolan: "But sometimes I just don't really like you Mommy."
Me: "That's ok, I still love you and like you."
Nolan: "I don't like you taking things away from me."
Me: "I know, but there are rules."
Nolan: "I think you won't like me taking things away from you."
Me: "Like what?"
Nolan stares at me silently with a thoughtful expression and goes back to eating.

Great, now I get to be on the lookout for shit that has gone missing. Then again, he already took my self-respect, my sanity, my flat stomach, my perky boobs, my money, my sleep and my last nerve. So really, what's left?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Santa Baby (The Mom's Version)

My very own version of the Christmas song, for all the moms out there who make Christmas happen while the fat guy gets all the credit.

Santa baby, just slip a bottle under the tree, for me
It’s been an awful long year
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, could you just watch the kids for a mom's night out?
Don’t wait up for me dear Santa baby, just hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the fun I've missed
Running around town with this damn Christmas list
Next year maybe you could do your share
And prove to me that you actually exist
Boo doo bee doo

Santa baby, I need a shot and make it the strongest
you’ve got
These kids are driving me nuts
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa honey, one thing I really do need, I plead
for just a quick little nap
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa cutie come and fill the stockings, it’s the least you could do
Don’t forget to fill mine
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Come and clean around my Christmas tree
Cook the Christmas dinner for the family
I’d really like to believe in you
Let's see if you believe in me
Boo doo bee doo

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, the vacuuming
Don’t forget under the couch
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry down the chimney tonight

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Five Parenting Magazine Stories I'm Tired of Reading

Like all moms I read a whole lot of crap about parenting when I first had my kids. Let's face it, I had no idea what I was doing. Most of us don't. They just hand you this baby, just let you take it home and wave from the hospital doors. You can almost hear them chuckling at your expense as you drive away with your newborn completely unprepared to navigate the rough waters ahead.

So we moms pick up parenting books and subscribe to parenting magazines and read every word in hopes of finding solutions that will actually work. Our sleep-deprived minds read and re-read everything and anything that might help us figure out what this squalling little bundle of dubious joy wants, how on earth we can make him/her go to sleep and stay that way, what we should do about that fever, that cough, that funny noise he/she is making.

I am currently subscribed to two parenting magazines, and after 4.5 years of reading each issue as it comes it I have come to the conclusion that the people publishing these magazines don't know anything more than the rest of us. Basically, they publish the same crap over and over and repackage it make it look like new information. I have read the same story so many times I should be writing them instead, at least I could add something new.

So without further ado, in homage to the "top # things" stories those magazines love to splash on their covers, here are the 5 parenting magazine stories I really wish they would stop publishing.

1. This Celebrity Mom is Just Like You!!!!
This is the article in which they interview some celebrity mom and add splashy pictures of her looking well-rested, happy, and enjoying motherhood to its fullest in her beautiful, spotless home. Apparently because she has a child, this celebrity mom is just like the rest of us! Sure, except for her millions of dollars, jet-set lifestyle, vacations in the South of France, two nannies, housekeeper, personal trainer, stylist, enormous house (cleaned by said housekeeper) and closetful of designer clothes, she is just like me.

What I would love to see is a celebrity mom looking like crap with spit-up on her shoulder, dark circles under her eyes and stretch marks on her flabby belly. But even then, the millions of dollars would be kind of hard to ignore.

2. The Quick Fix for Your Discipline Problems!
First, this article implies that there actually is a quick solution for disciplining your kids. Second, it implies that the same method will work for every kid. Also, it is the same useless advice over and over. I particularly enjoy gems like "keep your cool!" and "try to see your child's point of view".

In the parenting magazine world, everything just sort of falls into place. The minute you "stop using the word no", look your child in the eye and tell him or her how you really do understand how they feel and speak to them as if they are capable of rational conversation, there won't even be a need for discipline. Because your kid is just going say "well, since you put it that way, mom, we're cool."

Have these people actually tried to have a conversation in a calm voice with a four year old having a meltdown because you won't buy him a Hot Wheels?

3. Sleep Solutions that Work!
This article should be called "let's rehash a popular sleep theory that doesn't really work." This article will be one of two things: a no-cry sleep plan or a cry-it-out sleep plan. Either way, the odds of it working are really just a crapshoot. This article preys on the desperate need of the average mom for more than an hour or two of sleep at a time.

I've got news for you: unless you are one of the incredibly lucky people (and I hate you all by the way) who has a miracle baby who sleeps all night from an early age and also takes nice long naps during the day (even the good sleepers usually only do one or the other) you had better invest in a good coffee maker and a heavy concealer. Babies don't give a crap what the experts say about their sleep, they'll sleep when they're good and ready. Some never do. I know, I am up with my 4 year old every night.

4. Fun Crafts you Can Make With Your Kids!
Screw you Martha. Who the hell has time or energy for crafts? And if you do, don't tell me because I hate you almost as much as the people whose kids sleep.

5. The Latest Super-Scary Way Your Kid Could Die or Be Maimed for Life.
Because parenting isn't scary enough with worrying about SIDS, allergies, bullying, milestones, and getting them to do the most basic things such as actually eat and sleep, we need this article like a hole in the head. These are either articles about really odd accidents that have happened that we can now add to the Many Dangers of Everyday Life list, or they are about rare diseases the five people on the planet have but whose symptoms exactly mirror that of the common cold and you are now completely convinced your child has.

I think I am going to subscribe to Star next instead. At least then I can be guaranteed to see some celebrities looking like crap, and I can roll it up and use it as a quick discipline solution too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Conversations with....Nolan (entry 1)

Welcome to my all-new spectacularly fun feature in which I share with you, my lucky readers, the confusing, hilarious, nonsensical and inexplicable conversations I have with my kids. Today's entry was a conversation enjoyed while the kids were having a bath.

Nolan: Is it dark inside my bum?
Me: (laughing) Um..yes I guess it is.
Nolan: Is it really dark?
Me: Yes.
Nolan: Is it dark like a cave?
Me: Yes, like a cave.
Nolan: Are there monsters in there?
Me: (tears flowing) Well, you could call what comes out of there a monster. Stinky poop monsters.
Nolan: (squealing with laughter) STINKY POOP MONSTERS!!!!!!!!

And now you are all forewarned that Nolan has a new poop reference, and yes, it's my fault.

Blessings of Ingratitude

My kids are ungrateful, self-absorbed and completely oblivious to the troubles of those around them. And you know, I think I'm ok with that.

Yes you read that right. I think it's ok that my kids are completely unaware of how much they have to be thankful for. It's not that I don't want them to learn gratitude and thankfulness for everything they have been handed in life. It's that I am thankful for the ability to raise children who have no idea how shitty life can be.

Perhaps I'm still not making sense. It was all so clear to me this morning as all three of us were snuggled in bed and Nolan said to me "Mommy, I'm thankful for a nice warm house." It was one of those things that are so sweet to hear, and yet I know that it's a rehearsed line handed to him by myself, his dad, and by his teachers at preschool. Because Nolan has no idea what it means to live anywhere but in a warm house. His four year old brain doesn't have the capacity to understand that his life is not the life enjoyed by all.

And I realized that my kids having no idea how lucky they are is really what makes them so lucky. Or some sort of similar logic.

They don't know any other life but one of safety, warmth, happiness and security. They can be told to be thankful and repeat back by rote what they are thankful for, why they have so much to be thankful for. But they don't have the slightest clue what that really means. Which leads me to a different rant.

Guess what people? We are all the 1%. Everyone in this country. We are all living a life that much of the world can't even imagine. Do we have some poverty? Yes. Do we have problems. Sure. But our problems don't begin to compare to what others face every day in places torn by war, disease, famine and the daily face of death. So for Thanksgiving, stop acting like my preschoolers and acknowledge it. Put down the picket signs and see the life you live.

When you're 4 and 3, as my kids are, you should be able to live a life where you don't really understand why you should be grateful. But as for me, even in the face of financial struggles and difficult decisions for our family, I know that I have everything, absolutely everything to be thankful for. As for me, I'm thankful that my kids have no point of reference for gratitude, and thankful for the ability to give them that life.

And that's my Thanksgiving thoughts. Serious moment over, it's time for turkey.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Twitter Killed the Telephone Call?

A few days ago, one of my favourite musicians, Matthew Good, decided to hand over the job of posting to his Facebook page and Twitter account to his staff. You can read his reasons on his blog. It, along with the comments people left, got me to thinking about the backlash against social media that is becoming the trendy thing to do these days. Where once you were uncool if you weren't on Facebook, it is slowly becoming cool to bash the use of it and other social media.

"What ever happened to face to face interaction?" "People don't really talk to each other anymore!" "We have no idea how to communicate in person anymore." "The internet is so impersonal and cold."

Just a few of the common phrases thrown around by people who are probably pissed off that they don't have more Facebook friends or nobody "liked" their status recently. Backlash that follows a common thread: the nostalgia for a "better time", the years before technology came along and changed everything. Video killed the radio star. The internet killed the art of conversation.

Well, yes, the internet changed how we communicate, along with texting on our smartphones. Yes, some conversations are held in a digital form today where once they might have been over the phone. Of course, even further back those conversations would have taken place via hand written letters that travelled sometimes for months to reach their destinations - at least when it came to having a "conversation" with someone far away.

Your circle of friends was a lot smaller, and they didn't have access to your everyday thoughts and ruminations. Maybe life was better that way; I don't know. I do know that it saddens me to think of the many wonderful people who are in my life now that I would never have known but for that cold, faceless form of interaction known as the internet. And it saddens me to think of all the people whose lives I would not be a part of if not for Facebook.

"Just call them on the phone to catch up with them!" is the response of the backlash crew. Sure. I will find the time in the life of a work at home mom of two small boys, a wife, a mother, housekeeper and cook, to call all of the over 200 people on my Facebook page.

It's not that I need over 200 friends. I have the close friends who live here, and those people I do see and talk to regularly. But for the people who live far away, from whom I am in many ways distanced but who still hold a place in my heart and life - how would I have any connection to them if not for online? And what about the people I have actually met online who have become incredible, say, my husband for one.

In the case of Matt Good, well, I have been a fan of his for nearing two decades now. When I first found out he was posting on his own Facebook page and interacting with his fans I was really excited. Not only has social media given us the chance to connect with people far away, but it has also given us the chance to connect with people who were once completely out of our reach. Being able to respond to Matt and others like him whom I have admired for a long time and to feel that sense of interaction with them is just plain cool, especially when you have been a fan of that person for a really long time.

It's not that I think Matt or anyone else has some obligation to be accessible to their fans in such a way, but prior to social media that opportunity just didn't exist at all but for a lucky few. Matt said in his blog post that he is here to make music and not to be constantly available to people on the internet. But making music and living the life he does is a direct result of people like me supporting him, buying his albums and buying his concert tickets. He says that he would continue to make music even if people stopped buying it, but I am fairly certain that it was the people buying his music that have enabled him to buy his farm, support his family and continue doing what he loves to do in order to make that a reality, instead of getting a different job.

I was surprised that few people responded the way I did to the post. Instead most jumped on the "yeah, technology sucks!" bandwagon. Does Matt Good as a musician and a person owe me an online interaction? No, he doesn't. But I thought it was really cool of him to do it, and while it may not be what he signed on for, it was a sign of his respect and love for his fans. It was really cool, and I'm sorry to see it end.

As for how social media has impacted communication, well, I think the backlash is kind of funny really. Especially since much of it appears in comments on blogs, Facebook posts and even Twitter. The way we communicate has changed a lot since the days of letters carried for weeks, months on horseback to reach their destination. Like most nostalgia, the truth is that we don't really want to go back to that. The truth is that it sucked.

The social media backlash is just another example of hipsters trying to go against the grain. By and large, social media and the internet in general have enriched my life and brought me new friends and the chance to reunite with old friends.

Maybe we could all stand to unplug a bit more and talk to each other, but that doesn't mean internet interactions are meaningless or cold. There is room for both in my life.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Doernbecher and Decisions

Today is Nolan's cleft team visit. We're down to yearly visits now thankfully - he is doing so incredibly well. I like to say Nolan is the poster child for cleft repair and I don't think that's exaggerating. His speech is excellent and he has had no therapy at all. His hearing is good although he has had a few problems with ear infections. His lip and nose look so good most people have no idea he wasn't born with them.

But he remains under the supervision and care of a team of the best craniofacial experts Oregon has to offer, and I may flatter them a little by saying perhaps some of the best in the country. I have seen many, many cleft repairs and Dr. Kuang's work is definitely top-notch. It has been my great pleasure and great amusement to tell people who comment on how cute he is that he has a fabulous plastic surgeon. You should see them attempt to assimilate this information and figure out what on earth it could mean.

Though he is doing amazingly well I am nervous about today. For one thing his recent trips to the doctor have brought out the worst of his defiant tendencies and he already declared this morning that he doesn't want to go. Packing emergency supplies in the form of Halloween candy as bribes to hopefully keep him going. He sees five different experts this afternoon. Not sure if the pediatric dentist is on tap for today...better hide the candy if so.

For another thing he always seems to have nightmares after a visit to Doernbecher. Everyone says babies don't remember their cleft surgeries. I think he has some sort of sense memory tied to that hospital that causes him to unconsciously know something painful happened there. I suspect the awful smell of the hand soap they use as the culprit. Scent is powerful. Seriously, read Jitterbug Perfume.

And finally, I am wondering about another surgery in the near future and the worst part is, Shaun and I have to make the call. His plastic surgeon stated a year ago that if we wanted to do another rhinoplasty to straighten his nose and round out his nostrils, we should do it before he starts kindergarten.

I waffle on this. Everyone says he looks great, and I agree. He does look great and over time his nose has become less flat. His nostrils are still oddly shaped, but his lips are very good. It's not that I care about imperfections in his face, they are as dear and as loved to me as every part of him. He is perfect now just as he was perfect when I first saw him and his cleft.

I am not willing to pretend though that everyone will always see him as I do. And I know that as he grows older the kids will get crueler. I have been there. Kids don't need much excuse to make fun of someone, and when there is an excuse they are all over it like adorable little thoughtless vultures.

I don't want to put him through a surgery he doesn't need, but I want him to be happy and I want to avoid as much of the pain and struggles of the teen years as I possibly can. I know I have been over and over this; I am sure I have already blogged about this. But I am still there, in mommy limbo. And the decision needs to be made soon, before open enrollment ends for health care this year; if surgery is on tap we need to consider higher coverage levels.

I laughed the other day while telling my sister in law, who is pregnant with twins, that the worry doesn't end once the pregnancy is over. It goes on and on. I know that my mom still worries about me; she's probably worrying about me right now. It's what we do. So whatever decision we make, there will be worry. Worry about surgery or worry about future teasing? I don't know.

What I do know is that I love my little guy, in spite of the fact that he is probably about to put me through a miserable afternoon of feeling like a failed mommy and being stared at by other parents whose kids aren't refusing to get on the scale or whatever it is he will be defiant about today. I just want what is best for him, like we all do. But what is that? Does anyone really know?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

New and Improved

It only took five months or so, but here I am. Hope everyone enjoys the new site, new name and new look. Actual blogging will commence soon! And stay tuned for the new cocktail blog Shaun and I are working on!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Upcoming Changes...

So here's the news...this blog is going down. Not surprising since I never ever write here. But I am not giving up, no...just moving on. This blog was doomed for a few reasons, the main one being that the name no longer applies - there are no more diapers in my house!!! Plenty of shit, but no more diapers.

So coming soon to a computer screen near you - no, in front of you actually - my new and improved blog! New name, new domain, new format...oh the excitement!!! I am sure you are all out of your minds with anticipation. Or whatever.

At any rate, stay tuned. Your friendly neighbourhood mother/writer/lush/Canadian speller will be back in business soon!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Why I am not celebrating Bin Laden's death

I feel the need to speak further on this subject than the little snippets a Facebook post allows. It is too easy to be misunderstood.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me, but this is my space, my place to express myself, and so here it is. I'm not celebrating the death of Bin Laden.

It's not because I don't believe he was an evil man and the cause of much suffering and death. It's not because I don't think he should pay for what he did. It's not because I don't support the troops.

Let's get to that last one for a minute, because I have about had it with the opinion that anyone who is against the war - against war in general - does not support the troops. My own opinions of the military machine aside, soldiers are people. They are people who are doing a job, one that is incredibly difficult and requires them to risk their lives on a daily basis for what they believe in. No matter what my feelings about the military as a whole or the war, I have great respect for that. I support the troops as people, which has nothing to do with supporting the war.

Here's another analogy that might help. I have a dear friend who is a criminal defense attorney. I support what she does 100%. Does that mean I support those of her clients who might be guilty of crimes? Of course not. I support her for doing her job, a job that is a fundamental part of the criminal justice system we have designed to make sure everyone gets a fair trial and no one is convicted unfairly and without due process - even if that system is imperfect. Of course some of those people are guilty of crimes, some of them terrible. But does that mean no one should represent them in court? Just as I support the defense attorney without supporting crime, I also support the troops without supporting the war. Ok?

Now back to Bin Laden.

Was he a murdering asshole? Yes, absolutely. Did he deserve to pay for his crimes? Without a doubt. But is his death a cause for celebration? I guess that is where I fall away from so many others and apparently piss them off in the process. Because I can't celebrate his death. I am glad he won't be able to hurt anyone else. And if his death by any measure brings peace to the families of those he killed, then that I am glad for, because they have suffered enough and deserve what comfort they can find. But I am not celebrating his death, because the entire decade of war, death and the pursuit of vengeance just makes me sad.

The problem with vengeance is that it is not the same thing as justice, although it is often seen that way. As humans our history with trying to achieve justice is spotty at best, a nightmare at worst. The trouble lies with an endless difference of opinion as to what constitutes justice; moreover, what constitutes crime. Justice in theory is supposed to provide some form of reparation for the damage that was done by the commission of the crime. For some crimes, this is possible. Money stolen can be paid back. Property damaged can be repaired. But for other crimes, the damage can not be repaired by any act of the criminal justice system, and it is for these crimes that justice becomes almost an impossibility. It becomes instead vengeance.

The desire for vengeance is a natural one. The instinct to pay back to someone who has hurt us all for the pain they visited upon us. I have acted out of vengeance in my life. Done things to "get someone back" for what they have done to me. It never did a damn thing, because at the end I was still hurt and what was done to me was not undone. Some of those things I live with still to this day. Vengeance is not justice, it is simply the only thing we can think of to do because we feel that we must do something. We can not let some acts go without response. Nor should we. But vengeance, when achieved, rarely makes anything better and is almost never something to celebrate.

Vengeance is also a vicious circle, especially when you are dealing with people who have a contempt for human life and who find pleasure in destroying it and are more than willing to give their own lives to see another destroyed. People who are willing to invent excuses to kill are sure as hell going to take the opportunity presented by the killing of one of their leaders to strike again. They are not mourning the death of Bin Laden, be assured. They are simply growing a new head to replace him and planning vengeance of their own. More people will die. More violence will ensue. We can keep taking our revenge, and the death count will rise.

So we have our revenge on Bin Laden. He has paid for his crimes, for the terrible events of 9/11 and for many deaths before and since. He is gone from the world, never to kill again. And we are still here. The families of those who died are still staring at empty places at the dining room table, still waking in the night wondering if maybe it was a dream. That they will roll over and find a husband next to them, a wife, sleeping there peacefully. That their father or mother will be there when they get out of bed to see them off to school. That brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, cousins, friends, neighbours...might not have died and might still be with them. But they are not. They are dead, and now so is Bin Laden. And I don't feel like celebrating.

It is good that one source of evil in the world is gone. But his evil deeds are not undone. There is no justice for the innocent dead. And there is no end to the killing. Death, death and more death. No. I don't feel like celebrating.

If it brings you peace, if it brings you joy that this man is dead, then good for you. I am glad you can find something in it to celebrate. As for me, all I see is the waste. I heard of his death and all that flashed before my eyes was the television footage of 9/11. Story after story of the war in Afghanistan, and the war in Iraq. Report after report of death - both soldiers and civilians. All I saw was ten years of killing, and beyond this day, who knows how many more. We could say that we have now killed the man who caused it all, but everyone knows it's not that simple.

I am sorry if it offends some people that I see no cause for celebration here. I assure you it's not because I don't care about the people this man killed and the destroyed families left behind. Or that I don't care about the soldiers who have been hunting him and those who died in the process. It is entirely the opposite. It is for them that I grieve again today, for all the people who are now re-living their pain. And for the knowledge that for those people, there can never really be justice. I do hope though, that for them vengeance is enough. It isn't enough for me.

So I am not celebrating today but instead mourning. Not for Bin Laden, no. For humanity and for our inability to stop killing each other. For our never-ending search for a justice that I fear does not exist. For all of the people remembering loved ones who will never return, and the pain in their hearts that will never heal. For the hope of peace that I know in my heart is something we will never see, because we are incapable of valuing human life above all else, and choose instead to kill in the name of religions, politics, nations and other things that in the end, just don't matter. For my children, for all the children who will one day have to learn these horrible truths. For the children who already know them because they have faced them already in their short lives.

I do hope good comes of this. I can be glad of a little less evil in the world. But I can't celebrate death. And I can't believe that vengeance is justice. I just feel sad. And if that offends or confuses some people, so be it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Holding on to the Happy

As a parent with absolutely no clue as to what I am doing raising these two kids, I read parenting magazines a lot. I subscribe to two, and have discovered over time that they are both generally useless. They publish pretty much the same stories over and over again, and provide very little information that I didn't already know.

So, they are useless, but they can be entertaining sometimes. So I keep reading them, but I usually just scan for interesting material. Sometimes, with life being so busy, I have a new issue sitting around for a long time before I get a chance to read it. The May issue of Parenting arrived a little while ago. I have yet to open it, and yet one of the cover stories has been stuck in my mind.

The story is titled "Habits of Happy Kids." Or something to that effect - that is the part that stuck.

I realize that many of us struggle daily with the challenges of parenthood. I sure as hell do. I struggle with temper tantrums, food battles, bedtime stall tactics and general discipline. Sometimes I struggle with teaching them important concepts. But it has never, not once, occured to me that I need to teach my kids to be happy.

See, the thing is, kids are naturally happy. Little things totally make their day. A dollop of whipped cream on their breakfast pancakes. A friend coming over to play. Bath paints. Really loud farts. Or maybe that last one is just my kids. The point is, kids are happy. Happy comes to them as naturally as breathing. Happy is their normal state of being, when they are not tired or hungry in any particular way, and even then they can still find the happy pretty easily.

I haven't read the article on teaching my kids the habits they apparently need to be happy. I might, eventually, but don't expect it to contain any revelations. Instead, I will offer the one revelation of my own that just seeing that title lying around my house has brought to me.

It's not our job as parents to teach our kids how to be happy. It's our job to not let life crush the happy out of them.

It's our job to make the happy last for as long as we can, and to let the happy be what it is without allowing all of the things that have sucked the happy out of us get to them. No, we shouldn't protect them from every hurt or every disappointment. But we should support their joy and make it our mission to see that the world doesn't take it away too soon.

The world is full of unhappy. Full to the point where my heart can barely stand the thought that my boys will one day have to understand it. Full to the point where I have to remind myself that my boys are lucky to have all that happy. They are privileged to have never encountered true unhappiness. Unhappy to them is not getting a cookie after dinner or a friend cancelling a playdate.

There is no need to teach my kids habits that will make them happy. They are already there. What I do need is help teaching myself to get rid of the habits that might make them lose the happy before their time. To stay calm, to keep my bad moods from affecting them, to let them be kids for as long as possible.

And to one day remind them of the happiness they grew up with, and to appreciate it for the miracle it really, truly is.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I have been rocked, again

I was supposed to be working, and I took a break to pop onto Facebook, only to see that a friend had posted for the first time since her grandmother passed away last week. I had been thinking of her so much, I put aside my work and read the blog post she posted over to her Facebook page to share.

And was rocked out of this chair, out of this day, out of this year, and back, back to 1998 and the hospital room where my grandmother died. You see, she died in the same way. My father and his brothers and sister made the call to take her off life support knowing that she was not coming back. We gathered around her in the private room the hospital gave us for the purpose after removing her from the ICU. We waited.

When it ended, it was not the quiet slipping into oblivion I had thought it would be. She sat up. She opened her eyes. Those blue eyes that could bore a hole straight through you and make you tell her all of your secrets. Those blue eyes that are mine in the mirror.

What she saw, I don't know. She didn't see us. And then she fell back and was gone. I slipped from the room to tell the nurse it was over. I didn't go back in.

She didn't see us at that moment, but I believe she knew we were there. My grandmother who would do anything for her family, who was known for the fierceness of her Scottish (by God don't call her Scotch, that's whiskey you idiot) temper and also of her love, devotion and loyalty. Who raised her four children with the determination that she gave to everything, in spite of the end of her marriage.

I was rocked tonight. Rocked by that memory, rocked by the love and the grief that never ever goes away, the loss of someone you love with every ounce of your being, who is a part of everything you are and will ever be. But also rocked by the realization again of what everything is about.

My family, at the end of my days, will stand around me like that, I can only hope. That my sons, their sons and daughters - maybe even if I am lucky, their grandchildren, will be there too. That I will leave behind a legacy in the only way that really matters. In people. In love. In hearts.

My dear friend, my heart breaks for you, and it breaks again for that day long ago when I lived the same moment. You are your grandmother's legacy. And I don't know her, but I think it's safe to say she would be damn proud of you. I hope that my grandmother is proud of me.

PS. I love ee cummings.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Buy The Damn Flowers: A Man's Guide to V-Day

So here it comes again, that day of disappointment, that looming beacon of romantic expectation and overpriced gestures, the day women dream of and men dread, while the single mock it and those who celebrate it: Valentine's Day. Yes, the big V-Day is upon us again, and the stores are already filled with excessive amounts of pink, bad boxed chocolates and flowery sentiments on greeting cards.

Valentine's Day. Ah, how we women have a love-hate relationship with this day. We know perfectly well that there is really nothing special about it, and unless we are one of the lucky few there will be no heartfelt expressions of endless adoration from the men we love. Logically, we know it doesn't matter, because overpriced flowers and bad candy do not prove love. Of course they don't. But no matter how much we deny it, deep down inside we really just want the gesture.

Here's the thing guys. We love you. We get that you aren't into romance and you think V-Day and all things associated with it are cheesy and dumb. We even know that they really are kind of cheesy and dumb. We know that you prove your love to us in a million different ways every day, from getting up with the kids in the morning to remembering to DVR our favorite show. The thing is, V-Day isn't about proving how much you love us. That's where the confusion starts. We don't expect the flowers, the card, the romantic dinner or the chocolates because they prove you love us. Love isn't about those things. Romance and love, they are two different things.

For most women, romance is something we grew up with. A million different fairy tales, movies, books and love songs taught us that grand romance wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket of undying love was out there for us. And when we found our Prince Charming we would live a beautiful life filled with music and flowers.

Then, reality. The same reality that sunk in when you found out that we were not going to wear 5 inch heels every day and own more worn out cotton Hanes panties than shiny satin thongs. But every now and then, we pull out all the stops and slip into something slutty and completely uncomfortable just for you. It doesn't prove our love, but it sure proves that we get you.

Valentine's Day is the slutty lingerie and porn star heels side of the female coin. Once a year, we just want a little romance. We'd like it a little more often, but most of us don't get it. Maybe a little on our birthday, perhaps the anniversary. But Valentine's Day, it is the one day of the year when romance is practically required by law and you, boys, are out of excuses.

Only you do make excuses. It's so overpriced. It's a Hallmark holiday. It's all just a big commercial hype designed to make money for florists, candy companies and greeting card companies.

Yup. Yup, it is. But unless you start buying us flowers and giving us a little romance year round, come Valentine's Day you are going to have to suck it up and buy the damn flowers. Unless you want to make Valentine's Day unnecessary by celebrating romance at other random times where the V-Day marketing machine is not involved, you are going to have to deal with the inflated prices.

We'll make you a deal. You go buy the damn flowers. We'll put on the damn lingerie. And we'll both pretend for one day that reality never did sink in and we have never heard each other fart, never had an argument over who ate the last cookie, and never fallen asleep in front of the television with popcorn on our laps on a Saturday night instead of snuggling in front of a roaring fire on a bearskin rug sipping champagne. We'll have a little fantasy, ok?

Or, you can just buy the damn flowers, we will say thank you, and life can go on. Until next year. Either way, if you want V-Day to go smoothly, there's a florist in your future.

And by the way, if she told you she doesn't like flowers, agrees they are overpriced, and they are a dumb gift because they die doesn't matter. She still wants them. Trust me.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ladies, let's be honest

We all do it. We all talk about other women behind their backs. Whether it's just a comment on a friend's clothes or hair cut to another friend, or a full on vent about how so-and-so just drives you crazy, we all do it. We like to pretend that some of us are above it, but it's a lie. We all do it.

Mothers do it to each other: they talk about how other moms raise their kids. They talk about discipline, what another mom feeds her kids or fails to feed her kids, and milestones. They talk about other moms from just about every angle.

Single women do it to each other: they talk about promiscuity or prudishness, fashion faux pas, who drinks too much, smokes too much, talks to too much. They talk about strangers and they talk about friends.

Working women do it to each other: they talk about other women in the workplace and how they do their jobs, how they got that promotion, that raise. They talk about what female colleagues wear and what they do after hours.

Married women do it to each other: they talk about whose marriage is floundering and who is fighting with whom, who is in financial trouble, who is a terrible housekeeper and who is an obsessive neat freak. They talk about who has the nicer home, car, husband, family, anything and everything.

Women talk about each other. It's what we do. And there is not one among us who is not guilty of it. My husband likes to tell me that although women swear we don't like drama, we actually live for it. And I hate to admit it, but in many ways he is right.

Gossip, the latest news, rumours and judgement - it's what we talk about. We have an opinion on just about everything any other woman could possibly do, say, wear or believe.

And here's the kicker: it's not that we dislike these women. It's not that we want to hurt them or we want to tear them down - at least not in most cases. Often, we are talking about our friends, and we have no intention of losing those friends. We just can't seem to help ourselves.

So why do we all do it? Partially because we as women have been set up to be in competition with each other. We know that we are being judged by other women just as we are judging them. We know that other women are checking out our new handbag or shoes, our haircut or lipstick, whether we are too fat for those leggings. We know that they are watching the way we deal with our kids and judging us for it. We feel, on some level either deeply buried or close to the surface, that we have to better in some small way than another woman in order to be worthwhile.

What are we in competition for? In some cases, jobs or promotions. In some cases, men, their attention, their love. In some cases, a completely imaginary, nonexistent title as the Better Mother, Better Wife, Better Housekeeper. Most of it is just pointless competition with no real measurable winner.

So then, back to the question of why. Why on earth do we all feel we need to compete with each other? Because society has taught us that this is how we achieve some sort of status as women, wives and mothers? Maybe. Maybe it's just programmed into our genes. Nature versus nurture? I'm not sure. But I lean towards nurture on this one.

I recalled a moment to my mother a few weeks ago, from many years back. We were at a family gathering at the home of my aunt, my mother's sister. My mother and another of her sisters were standing together, and the other sister reached up and ran her finger over the top of the hostess' entertainment unit. She held up a dusty finger to show my mom and they both snickered. My aunt had failed the housekeeping test. That moment sticks in my mind as the moment that I knew I would one day be judged on how my home looks. Sadly for me, I doubt if many of the judgments are favorable. I'm a terrible housekeeper.

That's just one small example of the ways in which we as women judge each other constantly. And it's not out of spite; certainly my mom and her sisters love each other and don't want to hurt each other. And yet they are in constant competition with each other. Any new gadget one buys, the rest must have. They compete over everything; from who got the best deal at the mall to who has the most grandchildren. It's ludicrous. It should be hilariously funny; and in many ways it is. Generally, the competition is a family joke and no one gets hurt by it.

Still, it illustrates the point that we all do it. We all compete, talk about each other and judge. Even the other women who mean the most to us fall victim to it. We can't seem to stop it, even when we are aware of it. And the trouble is, sometimes people do get hurt.

I'm not saying I have any answers. I am no better than anyone else and have certainly been guilty of judgement and gossip. But at least I don't pretend to be better than all the other women doing the same thing. I doubt if we will ever see an end to the cattiness that is part of womanhood. But the first step is admitting we have a problem.

So say it with me ladies.

Hi, my name is Leslie, and I am a catty bitch.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

If there is no LOVE it won't work!

No, I'm not talking about marriage. I am talking about exercise.

This morning as I was sweating my way through a series of roundhouse kicks it clicked. I LOVE kickboxing. It's fun. It gives me a sense of power. It lets out stress and it makes me sweat. When I turn on that particular DVD, I am psyched and ready to go. I can't say that for the elliptical machine, or the Jillian Michaels DVD that, while I admit is an effective workout, makes me want to lie down and die more than get up and moving.

A few months ago, a member of my mom's group arrived at a playgroup event really excited about some exercise move she had done that morning. She was so excited she wanted to demonstrate it to us. Being that most of us are not particularly enamoured of exercise, and that this particular mom is one of those people the rest of us women envy because she is in amazing shape and is totally dedicated to staying that way, we made fun of her. Partially because she is a skinny bitch. Partially because we didn't get it. We couldn't imagine being so stoked about exercise.

There are as many ways to lose weight and get in shape as there are women dying to drop 20 lbs and look great again (or look great for the first time!). There are trendy workouts that come and go. There are thousands of dollars in fitness equipment sitting in garages and basements collecting dust and there are plenty of people watching money leave their bank account every month for a gym membership they never use. There are stacks of workout DVDs each with a different purpose and different uber-fit woman on the cover. Or man, but mostly women because let's face it, much of that stuff is marketed towards us - women.

We buy it, we try it, we hate it, we forget it. We do it over and over. Because if you don't enjoy doing it, if you are forcing yourself to do it, it simply won't ever become the habit - the essential part of your life - that it HAS to be in order to work long term.

Just because a particular work out helped your friend lose weight doesn't mean it will work for you, and yet we all run out and sign up for the classes or buy the DVD. And when it doesn't work, when we give up on it a week or two later, we feel it's just us. We just aren't as motivated, don't have the will power. We will never be "that person". The thing is, you shouldn't be that person - you should be THIS person - who you are. And you have to find the method that you can love.

I have a friend who lost weight doing Zumba, is now in great shape, and teaches the classes. It's not for everyone, but it works for her. I know people who love to run and people who love to swim. Almost everyone I know who has been successful in getting in shape and making exercise part of their life successfully got there doing something they really love. None of them dread working out. Sure, all of them have days when they don't feel up to it, but because they love what they are doing, they find the motivation. They find the time. It's something they do because they WANT to, not because they HAVE to. It's the difference between success and failure.

I used to take kickboxing classes and I loved them. I had a DVD I haven't looked at in a while. I pulled it out the other day because I lost my Jillian Michaels DVD - and I remembered how much I love it. Every punch, every kick, is therapy to me. It's fun, and I was sweating like crazy but not wishing it was over. It isn't the first time it has occurred to me that kickboxing is something I really enjoy, or that I could probably stick to it better if I focused on doing what I enjoy. But for some reason I didn't connect it with that moment at playgroup. It didn't really, truly, break through to me. I kept trying all these different things because they worked for others and I thought maybe it was a better workout.

There might be workouts that burn more calories or build more muscle, but it makes no difference if I don't actually do them. No workout works better than the one you actually do.

Now I get it. And I am sorry for laughing at my playgroup friend who was trying to share her passion. Although, she is still a skinny bitch.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Trying this again.

Ok. So it is time to make a decision and here it is: I will try to give more time and attention to this blog, whether or not anyone reads it (and thanks to everyone who does) because I feel like it's the only thing that I write for me. Work, well, that's words for pay and 90% of the time the topic is of no interest to me. Here I can write about what I want when I want. And there's the catch - it has to be about me, or why bother?

So, for starters I am going to commit to a weekly post and hopefully increase it to two. I am going to make a few changes though, around here. I am not going to hold back any opinions, and I am going to write whatever I feel like writing. My life mostly revolves around my kids, so you'll likely hear a fair bit about them. But I am not one-dimensional any more than anyone else, mother or not, is; so you will probably hear a fair bit about some of the other issues that are important to me as well. Sometimes, you might just hear about what I had for lunch. But I promise to make it as entertaining as I can in that case.

There will also be a new name coming soon for this blog. Since we are getting close to potty training Aaron, the name isn't going to make much sense anymore. So, I have some brainstorming to do for new ideas. Perhaps I will sing that Imagination Movers song and see what happens (if you don't know the song, you probably aren't a mom of young kids). At the very least Nolan and Aaron will be amused, maybe even sing along.

If you are ever offended, feel free to tell me so. I won't apologize for my thoughts or opinions or for expressing them, but rest assured none of it will ever be intended in a mean-spirited way or meant to hurt or offend anyone. I just have to be who I am. It's time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

So I officially suck

At blogging that is. Over the past month I have been going back and forth trying to decide whether to attempt to rededicate myself to blogging here or to just delete the whole thing.

Part of the problem is that I am so busy, but that's not a good excuse. Part of it is that I feel like I have to have something important to say, or why bother? I don't want to be one of the many dull-as-dishwater bloggers out there telling everyone what I had for lunch. First of all, no one wants to know. Second of all, I don't need to admit to all of cyberspace (well, ok, the like 5 people who actually read this) that I ate the kids leftover mac and cheese right out of the pot like a famine victim who hasn't seen food in months.

And part of it is, I guess that I feel like it's a bit pointless. I mean, few people read it. I am mostly just talking to myself. I guess I could try to see it as a cathartic experience, but the trouble is that I am often not as honest in what I write here as I could be or maybe should be, and that is somewhat less than cathartic. But some of the things I think, that I feel would be a relief to get out might offend people. Which I shouldn't care about, really. Only I do.

So. To attempt to make something of this blog or let it go? It's been a year since I started it and I have barely managed a post a month on average. That's pretty sad. Can I really rededicate myself and make it happen? Or should I just admit failure and give it up? I guess I am still not sure.

So, if anyone is actually tuned, I guess stay tuned...I will make a decision soon.