Tuesday, 15 November 2016

I will not accept hate in my country. I WILL NOT.

Last night a swastika was painted onto a Rabbi's front door in my city, my Capital of Canada.

The story is here.

This shit has happened before, and I've always been dismayed. But, unfortunately, I've never been as fucking livid as I am right now.

So I decided to do something. I wrote a letter to my elected representatives, at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. I encourage you to do the same.  In fact, your can copy and paste my text if it appeals to you.

I don't know what I will do next, but I will do something. I will.


To my elected representatives and candidates:

As you know, a hate crime was committed today against a Rabbi in Ottawa. I suspect you agree, a swastika is not only a revolting violation, it is a distinct threat. I have a hard time believing this hatred wasn't incited by the horrendous, racist, misogynist, bigoted rhetoric being normalized by the recent US election.

This type of hate is not unprecedented in Ottawa or Canada, but it is perhaps often considered an isolated incident - an incident that we "condemn" but actually do very little to prevent.

However, in the rude awakening of the US election, I sense that some Canadians are becoming aware of how easily things can go awry; how quickly hatred that spawns in cold, dark places can find strength.

So today I want us to do something.

I can no longer accept my own or others' apathy. Empty "stances against" can no longer be the go-to response. This cannot continue; it cannot be shrugged off. In this country, in this community, in this national capital - or anywhere - hatred cannot stand.

And so, I need your help:

Could you describe how you extinguish the spread of hate in Canada? What specific actions will you take to support minorities, to educate and build cultural competency, to bring communities together, and to foster a dialogue that will strengthen multiculturalism in Canada? What organizations do you fund or support? How can constituents build on what you're doing? How can constituents get involved?

Sickness is catching / Oh were favour so.

But favour can catch. I implore you to use your voice, your platform. I implore you to speak loudly and with pride to those you represent and those you work with; to communicate widely about how we, as a collective, can fundamentally and consistently reject hatred in Canada.

Thank you sincerely for your time and consideration,


Saturday, 22 October 2016

Dear Fraggle, Don't Ever Let Me Stop You From Being Who You Are

Dear Fraggle,

You are generally a polite and cooperative little person. But every single time we ask you to go to the bathroom, you squawk and resist with ferocity.

Once you eventually concede, you spend 15 minutes doing god knows what in there. It doesn't seem to matter how often we ask you not to play in the bathroom, you are not deterred.

I think it's because, most of the time, your play isn't "play." Your play is work. You're working on something. You're practising, observing, exploring - and doing so in the most direct, linear way possible. The way a surgeon practises sewing up dolls.

So tonight, just after you went to bed, you got up to go to the bathroom just one more time "Because... In the middle of the night, if I *really* need to go pee, I can. Yeah I can. It's ok Mama."

You were in there for a while, but Hubby and I didn't pay much attention.

And then, just now, when I came up to bed, I found this on my bathroom counter.

A handful of about 50 sheets of toilet paper. Individually separated and stacked in a perfect little Fraggle pile.

And I've never been so happy.

Because this is YOU my darling. Quietly working in the bathroom and then toddling off to sleep on your own.

I love you. You are my joy.


Saturday, 24 September 2016

How to be good at chores in 16 easy steps

Parenthood is an unrelenting barrage of chores. It's a barrage of other things too, but the chores - good god the chores.

Now, to be clear, I don't really care about chores. My house is not one of those pristine magazine houses. On a good day, it barely passes for hygienic. My house is a solid tolerable, and often in some state of repair or renovation (thank you Hubby).

Generally my house borders on embarrassing, but can sometimes look like at least I turned on the robot vacuum.

However, I still do chores. A fucking endless, painful, surprising series of chores that keep my house precariously perched on the fence between "hmm what's that lingering stench?" and "holy shit we gotta call someone my socks are stuck to the floor wait is that poop of course it is what else would it be."

So today I had a single chore goal. Usually, I have zero chore goals. Each day passes with a three-year old yelling and running and making all matter of messes (including, but not limited to, playdoh on the table, milk on the couch, rice on the floor, and paint in her hair) as well as a six-month old who actively spits all of his saliva, food and breastmilk on any and all surfaces.

Whatever chores get done in between all that are a miracle. On an average day, the dishes don't get done and piles of clean and/or dirty laundry become excellent floor pillows for Hubby and I during our best "yes I'm parenting even if I am laying on the floor with my eyes closed" moments.

But this morning, Fraggle marched into our bedroom at her precise 7:17 and announced that her nighttime diaper had leaked into her pants, and therefore into her sheets.

Enter: chore goal.

Today's chore simply had to ensure that I am a good enough parent that my kid doesn't have to sleep in a possibly pee-ish bed.

Chore goal failed, as I'm sure you predicted. Because life.  Fraggle napped in her possibly pee-ish sheets this afternoon.

BUT - I did not allow myself to be deterred. I swore, tonight I will be a better parent than I was this morning. Tonight I will change those godforsaken sheets if it kills me.

And kill me it nearly did.

After washing windows, making dinner, sorting closets, and then feeding, bathing and bedding the baby, this is what it takes to complete a single chore goal in my house:

Step 1 - Strip the pee-ish sheets.

Step 2 - Realize you don't have a clean sheet.

Step 3 - Go down to the main floor to retrieve the clean laundry hamper, for the clean sheet.

Step 4 - Return upstairs, put away those clean clothes, spread out the clean sheet but then realize you don't have a clean towel to lay under the sheet to protect the mattress from other pee-ish nights.

Step 5 - Go down to the basement to retrieve a clean towel from the dryer.

Step 6 - Fold all the laundry from the dryer and put it into a hamper.

Step 7 - Put the wet stuff from the washer into the dryer.

Step 8 - Put new stuff in the washer.

Step 9 - Carry the hamper up - wait, stop - scoop the kitty litter.

Step 10 - Wash hands.

Step 11 - Carry the bag of cat feces up to the garbage.

Step 12 - Take the recycling out because it's overflowing on the back deck and Hubby keeps ranting about it.

Step 13 - Wash hands.

Step 14 - Return to the basement to retrieve the clean laundry hamper, dig out the clean towel buried at the bottom because fucking idiot.

Step 15 - Heave the clean laundry hamper up the stairs and make the child's bed.

Step 16 - Put the pee-ish sheets into another hamper - wait, stop - all the hampers are already in use fuck that - launch the dirty pee-ish sheets over the stair railing.

Oh, and, you have to do all that silently because - duh - sleeping baby.

There it is.  Now you, too, can be the best mediocre parent. You're welcome. Pass the beer.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Two days later

Two days past, and a hazy sadness lingers.

The Tragically Hip's 30 years of music is still playing on a desperate loop in my house /in my heart /it's in my pockets and in my eyes /in my blood.  The poignant conclusion to their final tour on Saturday - culminating in their (and my) hometown of Kingston, Ontario - has brought with it a sweeping sense of grief.

"I understand now how you feel about them.  I hadn't paid any attention before. I'm a fan! The whole thing is really hard to put into words." -- My mother-in-law, emailing to see how it all went.  She has captured the crux of this particular beast, hasn't she.  This idea that we all get it, even if you didn't before.

Try watching commentators and journalists grasp at thin straws of what this has meant, this swan song tour and its final show.  Yes, The Tragically Hip is quintessentially Canadian.  Yes, there is a simple pleasure in the mention of our hometowns in a lyric. Yes, the band has been around for 30 years. And yes, Gord Downie is a poet, and a nice guy. And yes, he is dying.

But it's more than that, isn't it.

It's pride. And I suppose a form of awkward, indefinable patriotism (as patriotism often is). There's new appreciation for the band and their accomplishments, even though they have, until recently, been avoided or gently ignored by many and sometimes considered inadequate by others.  Now, The Tragically Hip is hoarded and held closely to our collective heart in a "you can't have them, they're ours" kind of way. Now we all finally get it. Now we all endear them, as we should. (Although, those who always did will happily prove it.)

It's talent. True, impressive, undeniable talent. The uncommon kind of talent that can be legitimately referred to as art in its uniqueness, its composition, its performance, and its literary prowess. A conscientious, intentional, intelligent - while imperfect - talent that often goes unnoticed until all of a sudden we notice it.

It's longevity.  Thirty years, the same five guys, consistently touring the country with our favourite soundtrack and a few new tunes tossed in.  The reliability of "Well, I saw them last time, so maybe I'll skip this one and see them next year." Each song and show with its own story to tell, and a dedicated crowd competing for who knows them better.  Songs that everyone knows, even if they don't, and with an endurance that most artists work their entire lives to achieve.

Add to all of that the profound sadness that our glorious, always recognizable frontman is dying.  He's dying, and somehow, as some unbelievable gift, he has offered us the opportunity to reflect on what he and his band have meant to us - and we've finally caught on. We've followed their biggest tour yet and then watched across the country with 11.7 million tv, radio, and internet feeds, of course on nothing other than the CBC.  He, and we, have been given the chance to /bask in the golden light/ one more time.

And this is the most intensely heartbreaking part: That Gord Downie's cancer will take his /world possessed by the human mind/ away.  And that it took this for us to really consider how much he and his band meant to us - even if we already knew it meant, well, a lot.  But he hasn't left us yet.  Not before we sang with him, collectively, simultaneously across the country, one last time.  Not before we figured it out.

Ultimately, it's this series of contradictions that ruin me.

It's the irony.  

It's the irony of our patriotism for a self-described non-nationalist, our new or revived appreciation for his talent, the end of what seemed like an endless loop across our country, and the dripping, cascading empathy for his diagnosis.

I can see now why it hurts so much - because irony is the surely the fiercest and sharpest ache in anything so definitively tragic.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

I think my daughter is moving out soon

My daughter just turned three... and how does the rest of that story go...? She just turned three and then she got a car and then she graduated and then she had her own kids and then I died.

Ok, so maybe it isn't quite as abrupt as all that. But it feels like it.

Fraggle just turned three and she continues to remind me - in endless, hilarious, and infuriating ways - how quickly she's growing up and getting ready to leave me.  She's quickly becoming a not-so-small person.  She has (mostly) logical expectations and (usually) an effective method of articulating them. She has impressive skills and abilities. She's figuring shit out you guys. And it scares the hell out of me. I'm pretty sure I could leave her alone for, like, three or four hours and she'd be totally fine.  She'd probably make me dinner.  She'd at least wash the floor.  

This child has an astute memory and level of determination that rivals most adults. Not just the regular adults - the bold and feisty ones.  Months ago, when asked what she wanted for her birthday, she was quite clear: a(nother) pink stuffy cat, a teddy bear, and a big bucket of animal "guys" (to accompany her existing collection of no less than 80 miniature animals of various types).

When asked the same questions on subsequent occasions, she'd sometimes add something new ("And a train, Mama. And a dog. And a tv.") But despite these additions, her commitment to the pink cat, teddy bear and bucket of guys never wavered.  So of course we obliged, and she was not at all surprised.  She did, however, ask why she didn't get a train.  (No matter that her favourite gift was actually one she didn't ask for - a collection of fake food that she sorts and hoards like she's preparing for the apocalypse.)

This child is also very self-sufficient, and she knows how to use it to her advantage.  Each night after we jump through the 35 bedtime hoops, she says goodnight, all tucked in and ready for sleep.  And three minutes later she emerges to announce that she has to pee.  Again.  For the fourth time in the last hour.  She walks herself to the bathroom, turns on the light (pulling the ribbon we've placed for her), carefully (and quietly, so as not to wake her baby Warner Brother) places her stool, pees, wipes, washes her hands, dries them ("I dry dem berry berry way-o so I don't get all my fings wet"), turns off the light, and returns to bed.

Now, you may say that's great - and it is - but it's also frightening.  This is a prime example of my daughter very strategically working the system.  This child knows we will not - nay, cannot - say no to pee. She knows she gets to leave her bed, no matter what, and that we have to like it.  She knows. She reads it in our eyes.  And although her voice says "I have to pee, ok Mama and Dada?" her eyes respond to ours with "Yep I'm going pee.  Right? You're not gonna do anything about it, are you? Nope. See you in a few, suckers."

There are a million other examples of this little three-turning-thirteen masterpiece that are equal parts impressive and terrifying. She breastfeeds her baby doll. She finds the exclamation points in her books. She spells CAT. She weeds the garden. She climbs the rock wall at the park and swings on the big-kid swing, by herself. She knows the name of our street, city, province and country.  She dances at weddings.  She even watches Full House.

On the bright side, she may need me for a few more years - at least to help her pronounce anything with a second consonant after an S, and possibly to log her into Netflix.  So at least there's that.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

We all know Gord Downie

This morning I woke at 6:30 to the sound of my new baby stirring in his bassinet.  When I brought him downstairs, I looked at my phone.  There was a single notification.  It was an email from @TheHipDotCom announcing Gord Downie's diagnosis with terminal brain cancer.

It took only a single breath before my mind flooded with the weight of this news; the weight of Gord Downie's voice in my life.  I was overwhelmed with how much I love this music, these lyrics, this band.  I'm what you call a true admirer... I'm a fan.

One look at twitter today and it's obvious that the rest of Canada feels exactly the same way.  The Tragically Hip is an emblem of our nation, a worthy representation of our pride.  Even if you're not a "fan" you hear this music wherever you are.  Gord's Downie's lyrics and unmistakable voice float in your consciousness.

Everyone who was struck by this news today - kicked in the stomach by it - knows Gord Downie.  He's our comrade.  We have followed him and his band for 30 years.  We have been to his shows and have sung alongside him.  He has written elaborate, honest, enduring stories about our hometowns, and we have walked with him on our streets.  We have heard these songs on our radios every single day, some of us for our entire lives.  Gord and his bandmates have driven across the country with us, they've strummed with us by the cottage campfire, they've lulled our babies to sleep and hyped them up for living room dance parties.  These songs are quoted at our kitchen tables.  These lyrics have become a national narrative, a collection of lore.  They literally tell the stories of our lives.

I have seen six Hip shows, including four in my Hometown, which is also their Hometown; two benefit concerts for someone else's cause; two in an arena perched on a street named for them; three standing in the grass on warm summer days; one at the National Arts Centre in fancy theatre seats that nobody sat in and that Gord walked across the backs of into he crowd; and one standing all by myself when Hubby got lost looking for beer.

These musicians are my neighbours. I have seen them at my movie theatre and been too shy to say hello. They have sat in the halls of my high school.  They have been awarded honourary degrees from my university. I danced the last dance of my wedding, in our Hometown, to their song.

Gord Downie's voice plays in my mind as a backdrop to my life.  His music is coming home. I feel like I know him, as we all do, and I am so, so sorry this is happening to him.

But let's not act like he's already dead.  His voice is still singing on every radio station and in every house in this country, and soon on as many stages as he can manage.  I intend to hear it.  I intend to add to my collection of powerful memories set to the tune of his music, with renewed appreciation; with will and determination, and grace, too.

A photo on my fridge for almost a decade.  

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Easier doesn't mean easy

When I was pregnant with this Warner Brother, several of my friends told me how easy the second child was.  Less anxiety they said.  Less stress they said.  More knowledge, more tolerance, more confidence, they said.

All of that is true.

However: More or less of something does not equate to all or none of something.

Newborndom is certainly less anxious and less stressful this time around. I don't panic as easily regarding his well being.  I don't worry as much because I sorta have the hang of this.  I know when he's hungry, I can tell when his cries are gas, I have an idea how to teach him to nap, and I totally knew as soon as I saw his first real smile.   I don't have to learn as much, so I can enjoy more.

Although I feel tremendous empathy for the first-time parents in my life who have not yet caught up to my level of experience, I still want to be completely clear:

This is not easy.

I am not one of those parents who "forgot" how hard it was.  I remember the misery of newborndom. I remember walking her around the mall trying to get her to sleep.  I remember standing over her bassinet with my pinky finger in her mouth for endless minutes, maybe hours.  I remember the fear associated with her breastmilk intake - nipple shields, pricey consultants, painful boobs, and cold washcloths on her bare, sleepy back.  I remember late-night cluster feeds, kicky gas legs, and crying on the bathroom floor (me, not her).  I remember whisper-arguing with Hubby and assuming we'd be divorced by the end of the day.  (He would have called a lawyer if he didn't have a sleeping baby on his lap.  The survival of this marriage is attributed to a long nap and a rescue visit from @msfreshfish.)

After all of this, though, I also remember that IT GOT BETTER.  I remember drinking coffee while she peacefully napped, visiting with friends, playing in the sun, smiling above her on a yoga mat.

So, when we diligently weighed the benefits and risks of a second baby, I was not operating in a hormonal or sentimental illusion. I knew precisely what I was in for.  Disaster at first, and generally ongoing heartache and exhaustion in one form or another for the foreseeable future.

Until my friends confused me.  They somehow convinced me this would be effortless.  They claimed "It's so easy this time!" And sure, by comparison, it can be... easy - but only in relation to last time.  Not standing alone.

Standing alone, this experience is just a different kind of impossibly hard.  I still only get two hours of sleep at any given time, except I also have to entertain a toddler most of the day.  I still have a baby who won't allow me to set him down, but I also have a toddler asking for my help to reach the soap/put her socks on/play in her tent.  I still spray breastmilk all over the house, except I also spray it into my toddler's dinner.  I still have to whisper and tiptoe all day long while he attempts to sleep, but I also have to make a toddler whisper and tiptoe while she attempts to play live.

I still have the hard parts - albeit minus some of the anxiety - but with a whole other whack of shit to fill its place.

I still have to take off to the children's hospital when my infant seems to have a fever (with the same unnecessary panic attack). Except this time, I have to do it by myself while Hubby stays home with our other precious child who just wants me to tuck her in.

The constant competition between opposite emotions is staggering. Parenting is wonderful. It's bliss. It's joy. It's pride. It's a gift that we are ever-grateful for. It is an incredible satisfaction, a surprising sense of purpose, an indescribable love.  But it is never easy.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

You don't have to read this, either

Nearly three years ago I posted my Fraggle birth story on this blog. You didn't have to read it; it was for me. Same with this post, which is also for me - because if I don't write it down I may later doubt that it ever happened.


Monday morning. 5:00 am. Contractions start. But they've started and stopped several times in recent weeks, so I figure who am I kidding? This baby is never coming out. 

Ok 5:30 and they hurt. But they aren't exactly regular. I wait and see. 

Alright. 6:00. I wake Hubby. I'm in labour. Yes for real, maybe don't just ignore me and go back to sleep this time. 

We decide to take Fraggle to daycare early. I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth. He wakes the sleepy (but surprisingly happy) toddler. 

Oh. Ouch. That's a lot of contractions isn't it. Or is it just one big, long one? It's impossible to tell. That can't be a good sign. I take a tooth-brushing break, leaning over the counter like women on tv often do. 

6:30. I ask Hubby to please page the midwife. Yes, now. 

Hi, midwife? This fucking hurts. No, contractions don't really stop, there isn't a break. Yep it's starting again. Ok, I'll see you at the hospital. 

Hubby feeds Fraggle. I walk downstairs. One. Step. At. A. Time. 

We have to go. Yes, now. 

Oh look. I got my boots on. Who needs socks. 

Fraggle screams because she doesn't get to finish her breakfast. The beginning of several disappointments resulting from this baby, honey. I'm so sorry. 

I walk to the car by myself. Win. 

Wow the car is cold. Hubby starts it. I try to wash the frost off the windsheild but there's no washer fluid. Better than no gas, like last time

I look at the clock. 7:17. Contraction. Yelling isn't an option so I breathe. I chant. "It's ok... It's ok..."  I wait. 

7:18. Contraction. Uh oh. "It's ok... It's ok..."

7:19. Shit. "IT'S OK..."

Hubby gets the kiddo in her snowsuit and into the car. Longest three minutes of all time. 

Hubby suggests maybe we drop Fraggle at daycare and then go to the hospital. Not gonna happen my dear. Drop me off first. Thanks for not asking if I'm sure. 

Hubby drives in the wrong direction. No, the hospital is *that* way. I wish yelling was an option. 

Fraggle's very quiet but asking where we're going. I'm answering through my breath. Hubby can't even hear her, he's too busy scraping the frost off the windshield with his credit card at the stoplight. I praise his ingenuity. He doesn't hear me. 

Oh good the hospital. Fraggle asks where we are. "At the midwife's office" seems like a good answer. I walk out of the car, wishing in retrospect that I'd had the capacity to remember to say goodbye to her - a fuck up for which I may never forgive myself. 

Hubby starts to walk in with me, but he can't leave her alone in the car. It's fine. I walk in on my own like a soldier in a trance. 

7:24. I pace into the main doors and request/demand a wheelchair and a ride to the birthing unit from the poor old hospital volunteer man wearing a blue vest. He wheels me upstairs, nice and slow. He asks if I think the baby is coming this morning. I tell him the baby is coming right *breath* now *breath*.  When can I yell?

He wheels me to the birthing unit triage. They know who I am thanks to my midwife who called ahead. It's a good thing because I couldn't tell them my name anyway. I thank the nice volunteer man (A simple "merci" is all I can manage in French at the moment), and I wait for a nurse to help me. No midwife in sight. 

I tell the nurse I'm scared and all alone and yes the baby is coming. I climb on the table and yell for her help. Yelling is finally an option. I vaguely remember arriving here last time and never getting checked by a nurse because six other poor women kept coming in ahead of me, yelling. As I've always said, yelling gets shit done. 

She returns and tells me I'm nine and half centimetres. I get wheeled to a room, leaving my coat and wallet and phone in triage. I don't know where my boots are. I might still be wearing them. 

I tell them that Hubby's coming. He's kinda tall, thin and blonde. His name is Hubby. 

Several nurses help me climb on a bed. I'm loud now, this fucking hurts and it's the worst and YOU HAVE TO HELP ME. Yes I want gas. One nurse asks another nurse where I came from. She answers that she doesn't really know, I've been here for four minutes. 

I tell every nurse to stop telling me I'm doing a great job and distract me with questions. Some of them ask questions and I nod or shake my head. Is this a boy? *Nods* Do I have another child? *Nods* Is Hubby tall? *Nods/shakes head* (Translation: Yes, compared to me but no, not really.) They eventually run out of questions and revert to telling me I'm doing a great job. I hate them. 

Midwife! Thank god. I very slowly and deliberately move my eyes to her eyes. She seems to want me to calm down. I don't, and I kinda start to hate her too. 

She asks a nurse to help her. She rushes around (much like the poor nurse last time but far more competently). She says we'll just need to break my waters but we'll wait for Hubby.  I - with gas mask locked firmly on my face - shake my head NO with fierce insistence that cannot be mistaken. 

Do I want more gas? Hmm. Is it helping? *Shakes head, shrugs shoulders, can't move muscles in face, shakes head again*

Ok. Not waiting for Hubby. Waters broken. I can start pushing if I want. Oh, ok. 

And then I scream bloody murder as I feel a human person's small-but-not-small-enough head move through my body and I can't seem to stop screaming even with three or five nurses trying to calm me the fuck down. THIS IS WHY I WANTED AN EPIDURAL YOU SHOULD NEVER DOUBT MY JUDGEMENT. 

I look up to the right and there is Hubby's glorious face through my scream. Relief like I've never felt. 

The baby falls out. 

Even more relief. 

One push, and a very long scream, and holy fuck what the fuck. 

It's 7:49. 

I whimper for a while. Do I want skin-to-skin? *Nods vehemently.

Hey look a baby. 

Now, god knows how long I endure body repairs by a midwife with very little patience for my complaining and even less interest in updating me on her progress - but a Hubby with remarkable patience (guilt? pity?) for my complaining and incredible tolerance for me squeezing his hand too hard. 

And yet there's a precious (although unnamed) 7lb 3oz baby boy on my chest which seems to make it all ok. 

A couple hours and some rushing by the midwives and we're home by 11:45 texting pictures to everyone we know. 

What is this life? 

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Dear Fraggle, My favourite little girl

Dear Baby Fraggle,

Except you're not a baby anymore.

When I was pregnant with the Warner Brother, another mom told me that when she left for the hospital in labour with her second child she had a little toddler at home.  But when she returned home with a new infant she had a giant child waiting for her.  In those few hours her baby had become a life-sized person.

This is what you are, my darling.  A person, the size of life.

You have big finger-paint handprints and a big grownup head that you squeeze through a 3T shirt hole all by yourself. You tell jokes. "I am going to... put DoDo Cat in the toilet! Nooo!"  You play. "Ine just tryin to be funny!" You run away from a Mama Monster. You hide and seek (mostly hide and then reveal yourself shortly thereafter.)

You elaborate. "When, when, when it's Friday? When it's Friday, I stay home and watch *whispers* Peppa Pig and I can have branna cake and when it gets womma out we can, we can play with my water table. You remember my water table Mama? And we can put bubbles wit soap in dare."

You sing full songs with perfect pitch.  "Down by the bay.  Where the watermelons grow.  Back to my home. I dare not go. For if I do. My Fraggle would say.  Have you ever seen a ducky, driving a fucky? Down by the bay!"

You help.  With everything.  "Can I HELP?" Laundry, dishes, dinner, washing the cupboards, washing the table, and now bathing and changing the Baby Brother.  You totally understand his existence. You know that he was in my belly, but now he came out ("You push him out yike dis uhhhh and now you can bend over and put my boots on.") You know Baby Brother is crying because he can't talk.  And he sleeps a lot.  And baby brothers will poop, and baby brothers will cry, "and you better watch out or he pee in your eye!" And he loves you; you know he loves you.  

And my darling, when I was in labour - major active labour - waiting in the car to drive you to daycare, you were so patient and calm.  You were quiet, but not too scared.  You just wanted to finish your breakfast, but there wasn't time.  You knew what was happening.  You are so smart my dear, so clever, so understanding.

You are such a lovely person.  I am so proud of who you are.  I sincerely adore spending time with you.  You are a joy.  You are my joy.

I miss you so much right now, two weeks into newborndom.  I am pulled toward two little beings for whom I have unimaginable, aching, heartbreaking, all-powerful, knee-weakening love.  Two beings that I want to be with, want to be for, every single moment of every single day.  But life doesn't work that way, does it? As I'm always telling you, sometimes we can't have what we want.  And that fact makes me want to scream like you do when things don't go the right way.

I wanted you both so much. I wanted this big, full family that I didn't have when I was small.  Now I have you, but I can't quite have enough. I sit here with tears down my face because I am in so much love and there just isn't enough of me.

Wait for me, my lovely.  I will come back.  I will always, always, do everything I can to be there for you, even when it isn't enough.  Ultimately, we will all be here, all four of us, together in this life.  I love you my baby.  My favourite little girl.

Dear Warner Brother

Dear Warner Brother,

Welcome to our family, my darling boy.  I am so happy you are finally here.  After just over 40 weeks of pregnancy, just over an hour of labour, and just under two years beforehand wondering if we'd ever be ready, you have completed our family - a family that was previously miraculous, but not quite done. 

Now we're done.

You've joined our family with unexpected seamlessness and fulfilled a gap that we knew was there but didn't know if we had the strength to fill.

Before you arrived, I couldn't quite imagine what you would be like.  To begin with, we could not for the life of us find a name that suited you.  We had 35 names that may have been acceptable but none that were exactly right.

Although this time I was able to picture what having a child would be like, I wasn't exactly able to picture you.  In my mind you were maybe a girl (even after we knew you weren't) and you didn't have a face, let alone a personality.  You were a mirage, sitting on the floor in my mind's eye, playing with blocks - but you weren't yet a real person.  I think I knew you would be completely different from Fraggle, but I didn't know in which ways.  Honestly, my darling, you felt a little like a stranger coming to live with us.

Until the day you were born.

On the day you were born, I truly loved you.  I began to feel that well of emotion that is "supposed" to come with a new baby (which I don't think the panic of newborndom permitted the first time).  You had a face, you had a voice, you had a tiny little hand that waved at me.  You were ours, and I was so... grateful to have you.

Within one day, we got to know you.  You had a name and a definitive personality. You became real.

Like your dad, you furrow your brow.  And like your mama, you cry when something isn't right - but I can usually tell what the un-right thing is.  You don't scream, not anymore (although you do have a strong dislike for cold diaper wipes).  You can always be calmed when we hum near the top of your head. You don't crunch up your hands or grasp our fingers with that normal newborn grip, you prefer to stretch and wave. You already love your big sister - you never cringe at her toddler screams and you always let her hug and kiss you. You have a very strong head and neck that leads us to believe you'll actually like tummy time and that you'll crawl before you walk. You don't like to be bounced, you'd rather lay still, dangling weightless in our arms. You want to be nestled, you want to be hugged. If you could choose, you'd breastfeed all the time.  You would stay cuddled there for hours if I let you, and you're growing like a prized pumpkin because of it. You make contented wimper sounds when you're feeding that make me believe I can keep you warm and safe in my arms forever.

I can't wait to nestle you for the rest of my life; to protect you from anything that makes you unhappy; to support you, wrap you up, calm you, and keep you tucked in my arms for as long as you'll let me.  I love you my baby boy. Welcome home.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Goddamit, New Year. Gimme a break.

Happy New Year!  And sincere apologies if you, too, are in the process of readjusting to the throes of Real Life.  

Having 10 days of vacation during the Christmas holidays is a blessing and a curse.  What we actually need is 10 days off beforehand to prepare all the things (Sorry Gram, I haven’t mailed your gift yet but I still love you.), and then 10 days off afterward to recover.  

If you’re like me, you run yourself ragged before and during Christmas (Sure, let’s make lunch for 15 people on Boxing Day.), and then spend the remaining holiday sitting in your pajamas eating Lindt chocolates and watching Downton Abbey.  


Until the return to Real Life, where all of a sudden it snows two feet, and shifts from a balmy, non-winter 16 degrees on Christmas Eve, to a painful, colder-than-a-witch’s-titty minus 30 degrees the Monday I return to work.  

This is all miserable for most people, I’d venture.  For me, add a toddler who needs to wear nine layers of wool and can’t zip up her own snowsuit because her giant mittens turn her arms into little, useless, puffy snowman sticks floating off the side of her body.  Plus:  A tiny human growing increasingly cumbersome in my abdomen, making it near impossible to bend, sit, stand, breathe, or otherwise function.  

It’s all a bit much.  

Then today happened.  Still minus 30 degrees, still a floating arm toddler, still a breathless mess, and – wait for it – stuck in a snowbank.  

Driving away from daycare, I misjudged (read: didn’t look at) the width of the poorly-ploughed residential street and drove into a pile of snow/ice boulders and couldn’t move an inch.  I don’t know if you’ve ever floored your car in reverse, but if you’re stuck, nothing happens except a big cloud of exhaust.  

The whole situation left me hunched over the front wheel, seven months pregnant, sad and tiny yellow shovel in hand, ridiculous pashmina scarf in my face, hacking away at the bottom of my already demolished bumper.  At minus 30.  With the gas light on - because of course it was.  

Fifteen minutes and several cursey rants later, I managed to rock my car free and make it to a gas station in time to pump 17 dollars’ worth of over-priced gas at a freezing, windy gas station.   

I’ll take my year on maternity leave with no sleep and a screaming baby now, thanks.