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Category Archives: Oversharing

Perspective & 5AM

You know that feeling you have when you’re with someone you totally love and adore, and they begin to share with you about how they feel inadequate, inferior, unworthy, and generally like the biggest loser you’ll ever meet?  Your eyes grow wide with surprise and shock, your jaw opens, and your lips form words like, “Are you kidding me?”  And, “You are so totally awesome – how can you not see that?”

I’m sure you know it.  It’s happened to all of us a few times in our lives.  And likely, you’ve been the one confessing your loser-dom to someone who thinks you’re the best thing in the whole universe, and they’ve said as much in response.

I think we all go through this, to some extent.  Life can be harsh; we take our experiences and we distill them into irrefutable facts about our selves, and thus: low self esteem is born.  I have spent the better part of the last15-20 years sorting through all of these so called truths and discarding those that do not serve me.  It’s a process full of pain sometimes, relief, fear… and ultimately wonder.  I thought I had it all sorted.  I faced my deamons and beat them.  I re-wrote my truths, and life was good.

Then I became a mother.

Turns out, I had only resolved part of my issues.  Who knew?!  Certainly not me.  And you can be sure too that the past 9 and a half years as been full of early mornings, late nights, wet beds, midnight feedings, middle of the night fevers and so on that I really haven’t had a chance to delve deeply into these newly surfaced “truths”.  It was only after coffee with a friend a few weeks ago that I decided that it was time to bring my issues to the forefront.

This is a fairly new friend, although I’ve known her for about 5 years now.  We’ve just started making the time to get to know each other, and as you do, you share your foundational stuff.  You know, what your job was before kids, how you met your husband, and so on.  It was during this “discovery” shall we call it, that I said, “I never wanted kids.”

She was shocked!  Her eyes were wide, her jaw hung open and she said, “Wow!  But you’re so good at it!”

Then it was my turn to be shocked.

Really, I know this parenting thing is tough.  I look at all the people around me with kids and I know that they are doing the best that they can for them.  I do not judge them, I accept them where they are, and honour their struggles.  I do not afford myself this compassion, however.

In fact, it’s been coming to light for sometime that I don’t afford myself much compassion at all.  I see my faults in glaring harsh light.  I count my failings continually.  I am fretting over the current interaction I’m having, hoping that the person I’m engaging with won’t run screaming when they realize it’s me they’re talking to.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You’ve got to get out of your own way”?  I have heard it a few times, and used it myself in fact.  Recently, others whom I respect and admire have said it to me, and so I’ve been pondering what it means and how to take it’s advice.  I asked a few people what it meant, and what came back usually was something about making excuses.  I asked MOMD – since wordsmithing is his craft – and he had an explanation that really resonated for me.  He said, “Having the awareness of the patterns and behaviours that prevent you from success or attaining your goals.”

Huh…  The key for me in that is “awareness”.  Have an awareness of your patterns and behaviours.

And so: I began to think on all of the instruction and teachings I’ve received over the past 5 or so years.  What do successful people do?  What patterns serve them to achieve their highest and best?  How do people who feel good about themselves behave?

How do I tell myself that I love me?

Which brings us to the 5AM Club.

The jist is that successful people get up early.  They spend the first hour or so of their day focussed solely on serving and nurturing themselves.  No emails, no texts, no phone calls.  No reports, no letters, no research.  They exercise.  They meditate or pray.  They read for their own personal growth and development.  They spend the first hour of their day caring for them.

Two days ago, I joined the club.  They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and I am committed to this for that long at least.  When I was practicing yoga yesterday at 5:20AM, I had a salient realization: I had nothing to think about but me.  I knew where the kids were (sleeping), they didn’t need anything from me, no one was expecting to see me for another hour at least, and I could set it all down and care for me.

Sure – I’ve taken a day here, a day there, to relax and rejuvenate.  But really: over the past…  really 10 years, I haven’t had a moment where I was not concerned with someone else’s needs, someone else’s expectations of me.  In that moment, that unexpected moment at 5:20 in the morning, I drew in a deep breath and cared for me.

In doing so, I am telling myself that I love me.  I am supporting myself so that I can stretch, reach and achieve my personal highest and best.  I am inspiring me to greatness.

And that….  that is awesome.

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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Oversharing, Self Love, Sickness/Wellness

 

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Should Have Known

When I woke up this morning in a neutral mood, and MOMD left the house without saying good bye and I noticed that – before coffee, even – I should have known.

When – at 8:45AM – I was saying to my kids, “I have a very little amount of patience today.  And what you are doing right now has spent almost all of it.  I haven’t been out of bed for 2 hours, and I am all ready at the end of my rope.

“Excellent Behaviour is required today.”  I should have known; they should have known.

When we were traipsing through stores purchasing what we need for next week’s camping foray and I almost bought a metric ton of chocolate in each store, I should have known.

When we got home and I made lunch, and the kids didn’t come when I called them, and I didn’t call them again but rather put it on the table and left, I should have known.

When my (newly) 5yo said, “Ellie’s crying,” and I responded with , “I don’t care,” (yes, I really did. *guilt*) I should have known.  I think the kids knew at that point.

When I started wondering, “Why am I not drunk yet?” at 11AM, I probably had an inkling, but c’mon, I shoulda known!

And when I went to pilfer that same 5yo’s chocolate only to discover the entire bar – the WHOLE THING – was gone and I called MOMD to accuse him of theft and causing “a watershed moment” (my actual words) I was grateful that I had figured it all out.

Because man: these kinds of hormonal swings and shifts are exhausting.  It’s tough being a woman.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2013 in Oversharing

 

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Healing through Daughters

So, today as I drove across the city (well above the flood lines, thank you) this amazing song came on. And as so often happens while I’m driving alone, I had time to process some thoughts; specifically around parenting a girl child that have been percolating for some time now.

When E was born, just over a year ago no, a friend said, “Daughters heal you”.  I thought that was an interesting idea; as I thought about it, I determined she meant that having a daughter brings to the front all those things that are issues I have or things I struggle with about my own womanhood, so that I can address them and move forward.

Last month, I had the honour of being invited to a friend’s commencement from Queen’s University.  I was the only member of her “love lines” family; I was seated with her Mom, her Dad and her Aunt Mike.  We had a great time together, watching this right of passage…  the little girl I have known for so long was suddenly – irrevocable – Grown.  After the ceremony we lunched, and then the rest of us left the graduate with her Dad for a few days vacation together.

As we left, I commented on how the father-daughter relationship they have really baffles me.  He speaks to her as though she is a child; he treats her like a delicate treasure, prized over everything else in the world.  She adores him and hangs on his words as though they actually feed her…  Her Mom, my dear, dear friend said, “It’s very special, the Father-Daughter relationship…”

And then today, the song played and tears pricked my eyes.

I’ve been watching how MOMD treats our E since she was born.  Watching their connection blossom, their relationship develop.  Outwardly, there are no differences between his relationship with the boys and the relationship with her.  There is something though, intangible, that is different.  Deeper, more open, more… Just somehow more.

Listening to the lyrics Lenny Kravitz lays out, all of these thoughts and “noticings” came together and crystallized.  “You are my highest high, you make me feel alive, all I can do is smile, when I look in Little Girl’s eyes”.

I’ve heard it said so many times that a girl will marry her father.  I’m sure you’ve heard it too – it’s ancient wisdom.  I for one, did not marry my father.  In fact, the very reason I fell for and chose to change my whole life plan was because MOMD was precisely the opposite of my father.  Because of this, I decided that the ancient wisdom was wrong.

Because of the coalescing of thought from today, I think I understand that statement more now.

The father – in one way or another – teaches the daughter how she deserves to be loved.  He sees her value, and he teaches her what her worth is.  He honours the Godess within her, and calls her to be all she is meant to be.

Now, when I hear in my memory “Daughters heal” what I understand this to mean is this: the way that I see MOMD loves E, is a reflection of how he loves me.  Of what I needed from the primary male in my life.  Knowing how blessed am I that the primary man in my life loves me this way is overwhelming.

And yes, Sebrina: Healing.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Family, Oversharing, Raising Kids

 

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What No One Tells You

First: full disclosure.  This post is going to be embarrassing   For my eldest.  I’m not going to use his name, not that I think it will make that much difference, when it’s all ready spread through this blog like salt on popcorn, but still.  It provides a modicum of a shroud of decency.  Right?  If nothing else, it will make me feel less like a bad mom for sharing embarrassing things about my children.

(I think this is something that all of us parent bloggers deal with, isn’t it?  Surely I’m not alone.)

#1 (what I will call my eldest throughout this post) will be 9 in 13 days.  NINE.  I have no idea how this is even possible.  In so many ways it seems like just yesterday I was falling asleep at the table when MOMD&I were celebrating our 5-years-of-meeting-anniversary.  It feels like moments ago when I was holding my belly, crying, and dancing with the baby within, that the doctors said I would never carry.  It feels like a couple of days ago when MOMD started his parental leave and I went back to work…  and yet.

He will be 9 in less than 2 weeks.

There are a lot of things that prove this, aside from the calendar.  He’s taller, and he’s getting lanky.  Just the other night he said to MOMD, “Dad, it’s ok.  I think I’m too old now for bedtime stories.”  And the adult’s hearts both broke a little.

The real sign of #1’s impending manhood though came the other night.  Well, morning really.

The routine in our house for some time has been that I get up to pee around 5:30, and usually his lights are on (yes, that’s 5:30AM). MOMD gets up for the day at 6, and the boys usually arise with him.  They breakfast, then he comes to get dressed for the day and wakes me up.  About 2 weeks ago now I got up to pee around 5.  It was earlier than usual, and I noticed that #1’s lights were on.

“Hmpf,” I thought. “Another day where he will be tired.  I hope his teacher isn’t left wondering why he’s crying again…” and I stumbled back into bed.

Next thing I know, MOMD is in our room saying, “So, for a switch, #1 wet the bed last night.”  I sat up right away.  “Did you check?  Because I bet it wasn’t pee.”

“Wha?!” says MOMD.  “No way. If you are suggesting it’s a wet dream, you’re crazy.”  Or something like that.

I was adamant though.  I mean: this is the kid who yes, took a long time to toilet train.  Once we tried at the right time though, he was trained in a day.  And from then on, he has wet the bed possibly 2 times.  That’s 2 times in 5.5 years.  So you know, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t regressing to that point and wetting the bed.

And possibly I was prepared for this more than MOMD was.  I have been watching and waiting for the signs of his budding puberty.  In part because I was blooming by the time I was 11, so I expect him to be early too.  And perhaps I’m just attuned to his physical attributes.  You know, Mother’s Intuition sorta thing.

Anyway – MOMD did check, and he was surprised to find evidence that I was correct.  He said to me, “So I checked and it looks like it was option B after all…”

“Whadda ya mean?  What are you talking about?  Oh!  #1!  Wet dream?”

“Looks like…”  MOMD – bless him – was incredulous.  And I get it, I think.  He has a really special, close relationship with #1.  They are two peas in a pod, watching comic-based cartoons, loving cinnamon buns, early risers and all that.  What will this change mean?  What will this step towards adulthood bring to their relationship?  Only time will answer these questions for certain, but I suspect they will remain just as close because they are friends.  This is what I was like with my Mom, and we always stayed close even when discovering my independence.

But: to the title of the post.

Did you catch that part in the story where I mentioned his teacher contacting me because he was crying in class?  It’s true: she did.  She was concerned because it’s not like him to be emotional like that.  She said that he’s always very even-keeled, and happy to continue to find the right answers when he’s wrong.  He gets frustrated, but he has a strong sense of resiliency that she really admires in him.  Which is why she was so shocked when he was crying in class.

That incident was about a month ago now, I guess.  At that time I had notice too that he was more emotional around the house, not dealing well with his siblings, and generally flying off the handle.  I had no idea why because, like his teacher noted, he’s always been an even-keeled kid.  I asked him what was going on, was there something happening at school, did he want to talk and he did share with me.  There was a story about Red Rover at recess and how he wasn’t called to come over and it left him feeling left out.   There were more elements to the story, and somehow I got it in my head that perhaps he was being bullied, maybe this was the start, and then the note from the teacher.

I shared my concern with her, and she promised to check it out.  She let me know that she finds generally he makes good choices in friends, and that she would be surprised if bullying was the issue.  Later in the week she got back to me that it was not looking likely.

Now I get it.  Now I know why.  He is being emotional because his hormones are surging, and his body is changing and he doesn’t know how to deal with all of it.

How come no one ever talks about this?  So many of the media and parent resources take great pains to present balanced approaches (boys and girls) to the changes our children go through equally and fairly.  In fact, in my quick google search, I found a lot of resources geared to kids, to boys and to girls.  Thing is, most of what I saw for boys talks about physical changes.  Very little is mentioned about emotions.  I mean, sure: they talk about boys and them being embarrassed about their voices changing or their acne or waking up in a wet bed.  What they don’t address is the emotional instability.  The rampant mood swings.  Those are solely the domain of girls, it seems.

This post has gone on for so long, that I hesitate to open this can of worms.  But I will, because I want to put a bookmark here, to address the inherent bias shown here for another post.  Even when they’re little guys, they still aren’t allowed to be emotional.  I find that so sad.  How are we going to raise fully developed, emotionally present and available people when we can’t even acknowledge that they have a full range of emotions?

I am here to tell you:  My boy is in the throws of puberty and he is not at all embarrassed.  He is emotional, he is weepy, he is sporadic.  If you have a son, expect that what the experts say about girls will happen to the boys too.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Family, Oversharing, Raising Kids

 

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Twenty-Two Questions!

Twenty-Two Questions!

Why hello erstwhile stranger!  Yes, yes it has been some time since we last met.  What can I say?  Life with a baby, a 4-year-old and an almost 9-year-old can be hectic.  Not to mention all the “from home” work I do.  And then the lapse seemed so long that I got uncomfortable and I thought, “how can I go back there?”

Do you ever get yourself worked up like that?  Me too.  And you know what I realized?  I can go back there simply by…  writing.

And then Rocker Mom posted this questionnaire and I thought, “That is the perfect reintroduction to blogging.”  And so here you have it: 22 random questions about me.

Where were you born?

In Toronto, in East General Hospital at Coxwell & Mortimer.  I lived my whole life in the City, until MOMD & I got married.  We moved out to the East Coast of Canada to his old stomin’ grounds, the seaside city of Halifax.  While Halifax had it’s charms (among them the Brewers Market) I did not settle in.  It was the longest 6 months of my life, and on April 1, 2001, I moved home.  MOMD followed with all of our worldly possessions 4 months later and I vowed I would never again leave Toronto.

The lesson here?  Never say never.  🙂

Were you named after someone?

Two someones, actually.  Well 3, actually.

  

From left to right: Nana Scrimgeour, Anna Margaret Huffman, Nana Keenan, Margaret Lillian Kelly and my Mom,
Susan Margaret Keenan

My name at birth was given as Margaret Michelle Scrimgeour.  The story goes that my Dad was having coffee with my Mom’s Mom (that’d be Nana Keenan) in her kitchen, and pronounced one day that the name of his first child would be Michelle.  My Nan, without missing a beat, responded, “Well here’s hoping it’s a girl.”  By the time I was born, Nana Keenan had lost her long fight with breast cancer.  She passed away a little over 2 years before I was born.  And since my Dad’s Mom’s name was also Margaret, and my own mother’s middle name was too, it was decided that I would also be Margaret.  Trouble was, my poetic parents didn’t think that Michelle Margaret sounded as nice as Margaret Michelle.  And so, I have spent my life answering to my middle name. (And to boot, I doomed my own daughter to the same fate!  I’m sure she’ll love it too.)

If you have children, how many do you have?

Yes, despite predictions to the contrary, MOMD and I have been blessed to shape and mold 3 little people.  Our first is Connor Glenn who will be 9 (NINE!) next month.  Second is Samuel Francis who is 4.5 and last but certainly not least is our darling daughter, Catherine Elise whom we call Ellie Belle.  She is almost 8 months old.

How many pets do you have?

BoosterRight now, we have just the one.  The cutest little dog that you ever did see.  He is a labradoodle, whom we rescued.

MOMD and I have never been dog people.  In fact, we actively made fun of dog owners.  “They’re children that never grow up!”  “The expense of boarding when you want to travel!”  “Walking them….  in the rain!”  Oh how we laughed…  and then, one day a friend of mine sent out a pleading email with a picture of the most adorable little puppy you’ve ever seen.  Before I knew it, I had responded to the message saying, “I’ll take him.”

And then I had to call MOMD and ask how he felt about it!

It was  a tense moment or two, but once he too saw the picture he knew this puppy belonged in our family

The lesson here?  “He who laughs loudest laughs last,” is a pretty accurate proverb.

What was your worst injury?

I’ve been fairly lucky in my life to have very few injuries.  And really, it’s not because I didn’t try or anything; I tobogan down tree-lined hills, I road my bike at break-neck speeds down insane hills that were gravel roads and ended in a sharp turn and I’ve even been in my share of car accidents.  Perhaps it’s simply that the sooner you get your hard knocks in, the sooner you learn you don’t like them?  I dunno.  What I do know is that I was 8 when I broke my arm.  I was skating at our local rink with my little sister and I fell.  I’m sure I was showing off or something; I don’t remember those details.  What I do remember is the rink guard taking me off the ice and into his office where he inspected my arm and pronounced it not broken since I could move my fingers.  Broken or not, it hurt like a son of a gun and I got my sister off the ice and we went home.  My parents distrusting in the medical knowledge of a 16-year-old rink guard, took me to the hospital where it was determined to be a pretty serious break.  I had a cast from my finger tips to my shoulder, on my right arm, for EVER I’m telling you.  It was so frustrating not being able to use my dominant hand…  I remember crying about it in the school office.  Anyway, eventually it came back and my arm has been as good as gold ever since.

Do you have a special talent?

This sounds like a trick question; maybe vaguely suggestive even.  Perhaps that’s just me.  ~ahem.  To the answer then!  I have a couple of talents actually.  One I get to practice here and another one here, and the other one I just practice where ever I happen to be.  I love to sing, you see.  And I sing pretty much wherever I am, when the mood strikes.  It’s just one of my many charms, don’t you know.  :p

What’s your favourite thing to bake?

I think I could no sooner pick a favourite star in the heavens.  Seriously – I love to be in the kitchen.  But if you’re going to force the issue, I guess I’d have to say that I love to make cakes.  No cookies.  No, wait: pie.  No, cupcakes!  GAH!  Why do you make me choose???

IMG_3963    IMG_2484        100_4857 IMG_1420

What’s your favourite fast food?

You’re totally going to judge me.  I know it, and I’m ready for it.  When I want fast food, only one of two things will do: McDonald’s fries with their barbecue sauce or a Crunchwrap Supreme from Taco Bell.

God it feels good to have that off my chest.

Would you bungee jump?

No.  No I would not.

What is the first thing you notice about people?

Their smile.  Does it light up their face?  Do they seem genuine and joyful?  Do I want to be around them?  You can tell so much from a smile, aside from good dentition.

When was the last time you cried?

This morning, actually, as I watched this video.  I cry fairly easily actually.  Like if I see beautiful expressions of love.  Or a new person (like a baby, I mean).  Or for utter joy.  Of course I cry for sadness and greif too, but mostly for the other reasons I mentioned.

Any current worries?

Well, I’ve started this baking thing and while I had a lot of success in the previous 2 weeks, I don’t have any orders for this week.  And while that doesn’t exactly scare me, it has me wondering about how to make the work a little more consistent.

Name 3 drinks you drink regularly.

Arbonne Tea in Kiara's mugI always have a cup of water on the go.  I drink 8 oz before I have anything else in a day.  I love water.  After my first cup of water, I brew my Arbonne detox tea, mixed with 1/2 a pomegranate fizz tab and 1/2 a citrus fizz tab.  And then the 3rd one…  gah, I don’t know!  5 months ago my answer would have surely included coffee.  But since we figured out that it was causing my breast milk to be acidic, I cut it out.  That said, now that Little E is eating more and more food, I am having a cup here and there.  So maybe coffee.  But then, my favourite drink is a gin & tonic.  So maybe that?  With a slice of lime?  Or just a great glass of wine…

Are you starting to figure out that getting me to pick a favourite can be a little tough?

What’s your favourite book?

Again with the favourites, you guys!  So tough.  Because I have so many books that I absolutely love and can’t imagine my life without.  But if you’re going to force me to pick just one, then…  the I guess it will have to be The Mists of Avalon.  That book started my life on the course that brought me to who I am today.  And if I’m perfectly honest with you, I absolutely love my life.

Would you like to be a pirate?

Ummm…  no.  I’m not a taker!  Or a theif, or mean or violent in anyway.  I’m a peaceful giver.  A lover, not a fighter, to turn a phrase.  Although I would love the jewellery…

What are your favourite smells?

kok1) the smell of a Greek bakery.  I grew up in Toronto’s Greektown, just a little south of the Danforth.  My Dad would sometimes take me for walks to pickup stuff for dinner, and we would almost always wind up in a Greek bakery.  I loved those walks, and to this day when I walk into a Greek bakery, I see myself as a little girl, letting go of my Dad’s hand to press my nose to the display case of koks (image on the right).  2) the smell of freesia.  So sweet and beautiful!  I love love love freesia.  Yellow ones.  3) mens cologne, just a hint of it.  I love it.  Any cologne.

Why do you blog?

Initially I started to blog here because I wanted to know that I was more than just a mom.  Which may sound patronizing in some way, I know.  Thing was, my life went through massive transition and I was lost.  I felt like I was walking around in someone else’s skin, living their life.  I needed to find me, to confirm that I still had thoughts and opinions that I could express effectively and that other people might relate to.  And so I started here.  You’ve all been so warm and wonderful, and really: this blog saved my sanity.  So thanks for reading, and reminding me that I do in fact love my life.  xoxo

What song do you want played at your funeral?

GOD so many!!  Not that I think about my death all the time – I don’t, I’m not that morbid.  I do however attend a lot of funerals and viewings (no idea why that happens, but there was a winter where I had 14 funerals in a 3 months period.  True story.) and so I’ve given a lot of thought to my own celebration of life.

And that, my friends, is what I want: a celebration.  A big party, with a DJ, open bar, and excellent food.  A mic where people can talk about their memories of me, and share how I lived.  I want “Into the Blue” by Moby at some point; I want Bach’s “Air” played on strings, in the key of G; I want something by Sarah McLauchlan.  I want Finlay Quaye; Bob Marley “No Woman No Cry”; so many songs you guys.  I love music, and I”m sure there’s a soundtrack to my life.  I just have to sort it out.  Good job I have some time, huh?  😉

Name something you’ve done that you never thought you’d do.

Well, get married for starters.  True story!  When I was growing up, I always aspired to be the crazy aunt with a high-flying career, taking my nieces and nephews on jet-setting trips, living a life of dreams.  And then I met MOMD and he ruined – positively ruined – all that by being so perfect for me that I had to dream a new life.  And here I am, doing many things I never ever thought I’d do.

The lesson here?  Be open to change when opportunities to better yourself come along.

What are your favourite things to do?

Honestly you guys?  This is going to sound so lame, believe me, I know!  I love to put on my nasty old paint-stained track pants, order a pizza and sit on the couch with MOMD and watch something.  Just him and me, on our comfy couch, in our cozy “house pants”.  I also love a pedicure, border runs with my girlies, and of course, cookin’ up a scoff.

Any pet peeves?

Don’t you DARE leave the toilet seat up, that’s all I’m saying.

What was the last thing that made you laugh?

I laugh a lot you guys.  I can’t even remember what the last thing was that made me laugh because I’m sure I’ve laughed since then!  My kids are hilarious, the synchonicity of life often amuses me, and gin always befuddles my mind.  But here: this is the last thing on the internet that really made me laugh out loud:

188204_482649418449272_918876804_n

It’s SO me!

And there you have it.  My, summed up in 22 questions.  If you decide to take some of all of this for fodder for your blog, tag me in it so I make sure to check out your answers too.

It’s good to be back!

Me and my hunny in NYC in December 2010

Me and my hunny in NYC in December 2010

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2013 in Oversharing

 

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Parenting… It’s Tough!

The other day, Connor came home with a birthday invitation.  Normally this occurrence does not cause any concern, other than “what are we going to get for a present?  What do you know about them?  Do they have any wants?”  You know, the usual sorta thing.  This invitation was different though.

It was an invite for a sleep-over party.  And the birthday celebrant is a girl.

I like to think of myself as a fairly modern woman, easy going and adaptable.  I try to be an engaged parent, who’s friend enough with her kids that they want to talk to me, and spend time with me, while at the same time being the authority figure.  I like to be seen as reasonable, supportive and accommodating.  When I read that invitation though, all thoughts of  fun and openness flew out the window.  “Some hussy wants to spend the night with my baby boy??? I don’t think so!”

Okay, not quite.  But you know me: I do have a mild flare for the drama.

It did put me into a minor state of alarm though…  these kids are 8 year-olds, for the most part…  Is it acceptable to have co-ed sleep-overs, with people to whom you are not related, when you’re this old?  So I did what any reasonable person does when faced with a dilemma: I posted it to facebook.  And what a flurry of commentary that brought on!

Before I go on, I feel that I should share something very personal with you.  Here’s why: it fully colours my perspective and influences my thought processes around parenting.  Even more so when considering the “co-ed sleepover” type questions.  I am a survivor of sexual abuse.  My first offense happened when I was 6.  So to be honest, I was surprised when we had “the talk” with Connor recently that he didn’t know what sex was.

There’s a fine line, I think, between responsible parenting and imposing your own experiences on your children.  It’s not that I think because he was invited to a co-ed sleepover at the age of 8 that he will be molested, or made to do something that he doesn’t want to do.  It’s not that I’m worried about the parents of this little girl treating my son inappropriately either.  When I posted my concern about this invite to facebook, a friend of mine who has some shared history with me made her position clear: do not send the kid, kids are into “show me yours, I’ll show you mine” and he will be…  for lack of a better word, unsafe.

Because of my history, I know what she’s talking about.  I’m not worried about the adults in the host-home for the sleepover, it’s that there will be other children there, who may have had the terrible misfortune of experience like mine.  And once that train is out of the station, there is no turning back.  Abused children instigate these games because they are innocent and are unaware that what they are suggesting is highly inappropriate.  I know this because my first offender was not the picture you think of when you think “child abuser”.  My first offender was a child, who was engaging in play with me the way someone else – likely an adult in a position of trust – had played with him.

Ultimately, I am likely to allow Connor to spend the night.  What’s important to me is that there is another boy attending because I think that will make him feel a lot more comfortable.  I know that Connor has a very strong sense of himself, is not easily swayed to do what he is not comfortable with (have you met MOMD?  Connor is so much like his Dad) and he has a very firm grasp on privacy and his need for it.  I do not think he will engage in inappropriate behaviour.  I trust him to be a perfect little 8-year-old boy.

The 6-year-old girl in me is very proud of him, and is working every day to let him go and live his own life.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Family, Opinion, Oversharing, Raising Kids

 

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I’m here, I swear

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  And really, not for any tragic or dramatic reason.  Nothing’s happening…  except that it’s May.

I’ve started a few posts in the last week, but only one of them made it to your screen.  The most recent draft was full of complaints – so much so that I actually titled it, “No One Likes a Complainer”.  For realsies.

I’ve been on myself about this…  why am I not writing?  I’m sure I have something to say.  And I’ve got a few minutes to bang something out too, so..  why not?  And then it hit me:

It’s May.

You may be wondering what the month has to do with anything.  Well, really: May’s a big month for me.  In fact, it’s not really the whole month, but rather just a couple of days in short succession.  To be sure, there’s good and bad in those days.  But still; it’s a lot of emotion to process in 3 days.  Generally it takes up my whole month.

On May 18, 2002, I was at a friend’s house, playing board games with a bunch of other friends.  We had a great night, and when all was said and done, MOMD & I went home to our apartment to call it a day.  We were tucked in bed for the night, and about to be asleep when the phone rang.

It’s never good news when the phone rings at 1:00 in the morning.

It was my parents calling.  They were at our life-long retreat (it was a trailer on Rice Lake, north and east of Cobourg that we always called “The Lake”) for the long weekend and were now making their way back to the city, following the ambulance that was carrying my brother.  Could we meet them at Sunnybrook?  Umm… yes.  Yes we’ll be there.

We hung up the phone and called my sister who lived a few blocks away from us.  We got a cab, went down to get her, and then all 3 of us went up to Sunnybook to meet my parents and my brother.

It’s funny the things you remember… moments of that night seems so clear to me.  Like still photos in an album, except with emotion attached to them.  The 3 of us (MOMD, my sister & I) got there before my parents, but at about the same moment that my brother arrived.  We had been nervously joking in the cab that he had probably broken another bone, obviously seriously since he was being rushed to Toronto, and that all he really wanted was some attention.  “That’s younger siblings for you,” was the overall tone.  Because you see, we didn’t really know what had happened…  My parents – who can blame them really – could not tell us the extent and severity of the accident.  You know, I’m not even sure that they knew what had happened at the time.

Anyway.  So we get to Sunnybrook and I overhear the emergency triage nurses talking about a patient who just arrived via ambulance, and I hear them say that his blood type is B.  “HA!” I said to my sister, “Mom lied to everyone!  I bet you’re type B too,” I said with a laugh.  Why his blood type mattered, why I said my mom lied, is another story.  I just remember this moment so vividly…  so clearly…  and I think it’s embedded in the fabric of that terrible morning because I was not grasping the severity of the situation.

Eventually my parents arrived, along with various and sundry cousins, aunts & uncles.  No one knew what the outcome would be, but I think that some of them had a better idea than I did.  It was 2:35 in the morning when a chaplin and a doctor came to the waiting room to talk to us.  They saw everyone there, and decided to ask the “family” to come with them.  So we went – Dad, Mom, Amanda, me & Mitchell.  Actually initially Mitchell stayed behind: it was just my parents, my sister & I.  Then my Dad said, “Go get Mitchell, he’s family.”  So I ran back to get him.

Never has a hospital corridor seemed so long…

We were taken to an operating room.  Glenn was there, lying on a table.  I think he was in a hospital gown, although I really do not remember what he was wearing. This is where the night moves from a photo-like memories to images trapped under water, shimmering and shifting, with sound sometimes penetrating the barrier.  I imagine this is the effect of shock.

His face was bruised, and his eyes were protruding so badly…  like they were trying to get out of his head.  The doctor – a neurologist – said a lot of things.  I remember him saying phrases like “sustained blow to the head”, “swelling on the brain”, “not reducing”, “fatal”.  I remember my Mom standing alone, stroking Glenn’s hand…  I remember my sister falling to the floor, sobbing, clinging to my Dad’s legs…  I remember that I did not know what “fatal” meant when the doctor said it.  I remember at some point Mitchell moved to my Mom’s side, put his arm around her…  I remember we didn’t want to leave him.  We wanted to stay in that room so that we could wake up.  So that we could leave this awful dark place and return to our honest and real realities.  Because this?  This was hell.

We didn’t want to go back to the waiting room.  We didn’t want to have to see all those loving faces, fear and knowing in their eyes, and tell them that Glenn was dying…

We didn’t wake up.  It’s been almost 10 years now that he’s been gone.  We know this reality now.  That our kids will only know who he is from our telling of him, from pictures, and sometimes we’ll see him in them.  That’s probably the hardest, good thing about genetics.  Although I don’t know what I’ll do if this baby I’m carrying is born with his eyes…  that might be a little much for me to handle.

Although there was a time when I would have said loosing my brother would be more than I could handle.  And 10 years later, I’m still here, handling the situation as best I can.  I suppose that if she has his eyes (which, incidentally are also my Mom’s eyes) then I’ll get through that too.

I started out telling you that there are good things in May: there are.  On May 18 one of my longest and dearest friends was born.  On May 19, my brother died.  On May 20, I married MOMD.  So you see, there’s a lot of emotion packed into May.  You’ll forgive me, I know, if my posts are erratic and then emotionally charged when they do happen.  Because really: it’s just May.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Family, Oversharing

 

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