Category Archives: parenting

The Magic and The Misery of Turning 11

2956539243I sent my 10-year-old to spend a few nights with her cousins.

Tomorrow I’ll get an 11-year-old back.

Nothing has really changed in the course of a day. You’ll be pretty much the same kid you were before. This growing up thing is so slow we barely see it. Over the course of this day and the next and the one after that… and pretty soon 365 days of barely noticeable changes leave their mark. This year, more than any other before, you will grow up.

Ten was a great year! You were still young enough to enjoy silliness, and insist your Dad piggyback you downstairs to bed each night, and draw pictures for me to put on my mirror, and tell me every detail of every thing that happened and how you felt about it and what you thought. You were old enough to watch interesting shows on TV I actually want to see too (like “Get Out Alive” and “Top Chef”), and make us laugh with your sly wit, and talk about things like the evils of marketing and consumerism and fair trade (or at least pipe in with a few thoughts before rolling your eyes). I’ve always thought of myself as a baby-person, but I think I enjoyed you as a 10-year-old, more than any other age!

I hate to say it, but… it gets complicated from here on out.

Don’t worry, this isn’t another “beautiful-changes-your-body-is-going-to-experience” talks (I know how much you enjoy those). That’s definitely part of it, but there’s more. Over the next few years your relationships – with friends, with your family and, yes, with boys *shudder* – will get more and more complex. Your choices and opportunities and temptations will get bigger and more important. Your feeeeeeeeelings…. oh, all the feelings… will get stronger and louder and more confusing and more exciting and more all-consuming. It’s horrible and wonderful all at once.

You’ll probably think I don’t understand and couldn’t possibly know how you feel and am so out of touch I don’t have any good advice left under my belt. Sometimes, you’ll be right.

But no matter what…
No matter how frustrated we are with each other
No matter how long we’ve talked circles around each other
No matter how busy, and distracted, and overwhelmed I am by all the other things in life

YOU are important to me!
One of the MOST important people.
One of my FAVOURITE people in the whole world.
And that’ll never change.
Because
nothing and no one can love you like I do!

So bring on 11. We’re ready for you.

Bring on the emotional intensity – because that’s something we already have in common. It’s exuberance, which makes us fun to be around… aaaaand it’s temper and overreaction, which is slightly less fun. Bite your tongue. Take a deep breath. Respond, don’t react. I’ll try to do the same.

Bring on the laughs and the silliness (because the best people never outgrow that entirely) and the subtle wit that comes with age (and all-around general awesomeness). Of all the qualities you have, your sense of humour is one I’m most proud of. It’s more than just fun – it’s an instant connection to other people and it’s an important coping mechanism when life inevitably gets hard. I’d just as soon send my children out into the world naked, than have them tackle adulthood without a decent sense of humour. One piece of advice about our favourite form of humour: sarcasm is like a strong seasoning; apply lightly and skillfully and it works, but too much, in the wrong time and place, leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. You are the Queen of Snark; wield it well.

Finally, bring on the social butterfly. You are already the only extrovert in a house full of introverts (since the 3-year-old doesn’t really count yet). I’ll admit, this isn’t something I understand or relate to. Much like you don’t “get” why we all like to stay home, or sit quietly, or be alone. On the other hand, you’re ALWAYS looking for a party. I’ll try to remember that you NEED a lot of people time and a lot of talking time… and a lot of me-listening-to-you time. At 11, I’ll enjoy the fact that you’re still happy to party here, at home, with us.

Bring on 11, with all the feelings and all the fun. You’re going to love it!
Happy Birthday!
Love Mom

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And now… a letter from Dad:

Dear C,

I’m writing this letter the night before your birthday, but you’re not going to receive it on your birthday. That’s because, for the first time ever, we’re not going to see you on August 20.

You’ve been away a lot this summer: camping with P… a week at summer camp… staying at Lake Okanagan for five extra days… and now a couple nights at Opa and Oma’s as you take on the role of Junior Leader for the second time this summer.

You’ve been reminding me all week that you only have a few more days of having to order off the kids menu at White Spot. But the truth is, you don’t have to remind me. I can see the evidence all around me: you are not a little kid anymore.

I see it in the way you care for the little ones – S and B, yes, but also your younger cousins, and the kids that you’re helping with at all these summer camps.

I see it in the jokes you tell – no longer silly kids’ jokes that I have to pretend are funny, but the kind of dry, sarcastic wit that I actually find hilarious (and that I like to think you got from me).

I see it in the books that you read, and in the movies and TV shows that we love watching together. I see it in the clothes you wear, and the wild colours in your hair.

I see it in the pictures that you draw – already easily the best artwork produced by any member of the family. I see it in your hip hop moves, and your courage in enrolling in the dance class that you don’t want to take, so you can take the one that you do.

I see it in the hours you spend texting your friend on your iPod – already.

When I see the young lady you have become and are becoming, I see my pride and joy. I see passion, I see persistence, and I see love. I couldn’t be happier with what I see.

Happy Birthday C!

Love,
Dad

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The 3 Year Old

6003559370Every year on their birthdays, Glen and I write a Birthday Letter to each of our kids. What they were like that year. What strengths and talents we see in them. What words of wisdom we have for them.

Someday, they might even appreciate the gesture.

From Mom…

I write about you ALL the time! This past year you’ve hogged the ink in my journal and the word count on my blog. Sometimes I wonder if I’m overdoing it. If one day, you’ll look back and shake your head at all the gushing and worrying and over-analyzing. Will I embarrass you?

A decade from now, I can practically guarantee it. But right now, you don’t know the meaning of the word. That might be the best part of being 3. Especially a 3-year-old YOU!

You are wholeheartedly and unabashedly yourself. You have no use for limits at all…

Not social conventions.

Not medical diagnoses.

Not the laws of gravity.

Not fences or child-proof locks or boundaries.

And while this tendency can be both exhausting and terrifying for us, I hope you don’t lose it entirely.

You are my exuberant, half-wild, but entirely charming boy! This year we will try to keep our wits and keep you alive, without taming you completely. If you need to run, run toward us, not away. If you need to climb, chose somewhere safe. If you need adventure, take us with you.

You are a fearless explorer in perpetual motion! Right now your most common phrase is “I GO TOO!” as you race as fast as your little legs can go toward your next adventure. You were not made for sitting still. Or staying in bed, apparently, which has caused no end of late night power struggles and overtired shenanigans. I know it’s hard for you to downshift from your high speed lifestyle, but trust me, sleep is good.

You have one of the happiest natures I’ve ever seen! While your moments of frustration are impressively loud and passionate, once the tantrum has passed, that toothy grin comes back in full force. Happy is your default setting. And you’re always eager to share the sunshine. Our Child Development Worker coined the phrase “aggressively affectionate” to describe you. Not all your friends and cousins appreciate the full-body tackle-hug the way we do, so this year we’ll work on reading people’s cues and showing love in other ways. If all else fails, know that Mommy is ALWAYS up for one of your tight-squeezy-whole-body-melting-into-it-Hugs (ALWAYS… like, this offer will not expire during the teen years or adulthood or, you know, ever).

You are an adorable chatterbox! This goes against all the boy-girl stereotypes, which shouldn’t surprise me, since I know how you feel about staying in bounds. Without a doubt, you are the most talkative child we’ve ever had. This time last year, you only had a handful of words, which you rarely used, but you’ve blown us (and your speech therapist) away with your progress lately. They call it a developmental leap. I call it, Unleashing Your Inner Announcer. Wherever we go, whatever we do, your cute little voice gives an enthusiastic running commentary.

I’m not going to lie. You keep us hopping. I’ve reached heretofore unknown regions of exhaustion this past year. But chaos has never been so fun.

I love being your Mom!

Happy Birthday 3 year old!

From Dad…

Dear S,

When I wrote your birthday letter last year, I barely knew you. We were still just figuring out this whole daddy-son thing, and you had just had your entire world turned upside down. New home. New family. New food. New routines. Everything – new.

One year later, we’ve all come a long way. We’ve learned to anticipate at least some of your moves, and you’ve learned how to play us to get your way sometimes too.

If I could sum up the past year in one word, it would be RUNNING. You, running, always on the move, finding ways to escape just when we thought we had you locked down, creating danger where we thought we had ensured safety. Us, running, trying to keep up with you, attempting to even get one step,ahead… occasionally.

You’ve forced us to become more creative and resourceful. If we’re not trying every strategy under the sun to keep you in your bed at night, we’re divining inventive ways to make it impossible for you to climb the deck railing and fall into the backyard two stories below.

You’ve forced us into action. For a family that loved their peace, quiet and a good book, the addition of a hyper-energetic little dude who can’t sit still for a second was quite the adjustment. It’s been good for us.

Most of all, you’ve forced us to love. Not that we didn’t love before, and not that it was against our will. But you, my son, are undeniably lovable. Sometimes we get frustrated by your latest escapade, but then you flash us that ear-to-ear grin and instantly transform our righteous anger into laughter. It’s really not fair. But it’s probably going to get you out of all kinds of trouble over the years. Because who can resist?

So here’s to you. Happy Birthday 3-year-old! And just so you know, I’ve been working on the assumption that by the time you’re four, our life will be slightly less frantic. Do you think maybe we can make that happen… please?

Love,

Daddy


The Worst Feeling in the World

Most people who’ve spent time as the Responsible-Adult-in-Charge-of Keeping-Beloved-Child-Alive-and-Accounted-For will eventually feel this feeling, even if only for a few seconds. Of all the ups and downs of childcare, this is the worst.

Worse than answering the same question, breaking up the same fight or issuing the same clear direction for the 9,837th time. That day.

Worse than labour and delivery.

Worse than endless government paperwork.

Worse even than cleaning up after a violent stomach flu, one that explodes on both ends.

2219056224It is that moment of sheer, undiluted panic, when you turn around and your child is Gone. Out of sight. Missing.

Your entire body is on high alert. Stomach in your throat. Heart pounding. Adrenaline pumping. Your brain instantly replays every single missing child crime show you’ve ever watched. For a moment you look around and call their name and try to stay calm. Then any sense of dignity or propriety is discarded as you frantically search and come up empty. Your entire being narrows to this single task… Find. My Baby. Now.

Usually, this dissipates quickly. You turn around and there they are… right behind you. Around the corner. Under the bench. Playing with a friend. You heave a sigh of relief, chuckle at your overreaction and carry on.

But we all know, not every story has a happy ending. So the panic is genuine. Every time.

Today at soccer camp my son’s coach turned around to help the other kids. Just 30 seconds to untangle the parachute. And when she glanced up, he was gone.

One of my favourite things about our church’s soccer camp is the huge number of dedicated, enthusiastic volunteers who run it. Practically everyone between the ages of 11 and 85 pitches in, in some way or another. There are hundreds of kids at camp, but there are hundreds of leaders too. It’s well-organized and safety conscious.

Everyone in the area dropped what they were doing when S went missing. Instant search party, right in the middle of camp. With so many adults all around, it seemed amazing that anyone could slip through. How did such a little guy get past everyone unnoticed?

Just last week I met with our social worker and filled out a Needs Assessment for our boy. We put an extremely high mark for “Safety Concerns.” He is fast, agile, impulsive and has absolutely no sense of danger.

The week before that, I met with his new preschool teachers to discuss his needs for the fall. He is bright and engaging and loves a group setting, but he needs CONSTANT supervision. I must have said it a dozen times, “You can’t take your eyes off him, not even for 30 seconds.”

This is our biggest worry: That our rough and tumble explorer will come to harm. Child-proofing can only do so much. He has super-human determination and a flair for creative problem-solving.

We have child locks on the doors. A fenced and double latched yard. A puppy “backpack” that is actually a leash. A one-on-one helper for Sunday School. “Watch the boy” is on the task list for any family outing.

“CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” is our motto.

Today… I was his coach at soccer camp.

So here’s me, still a little shaken after a heart stopping 10 minutes of drama. He had ducked down in the ditch right beside us to play in the rocks. He was close by and safe all along. But it’s a 10 minutes I’ll never forget.


The View From Over There

I shamelessly eavesdropped accidently overheard a conversation at the park this morning. It was between mother and daughter as they watched the kids play. The daughter (who was also the mother of the kids – clear?) was unloading about her son’s social problems, dealing with teachers at school and the struggle to incorporate speech therapy into his life. Grandma “hmmm-ed” and “uh-huh-ed” throughout. At the end she suggested that it would be a good idea to carve out just 15 minutes a day to play speech therapy games with the son. Nothing too strenuous, just a chance to spend some time together and improve his communication skills.

“What a difference that could make in the rest of his life!”

“It’s only 15 minutes.”

That one there. That’s what got my blood boiling. I mean, does she realize how HARD it is to carve out 15 minutes EVERY day. Does she have any idea how tired this poor woman is? Overwhelmed? Discouraged? It sure is easy for someone else to suggest adding this or that to an already over-packed schedule. Does this mom really need ONE more person adding to that burden of guilt and obligation? What she really needs is a hug. And a hi-five. And an assurance that she’s already doing everything exactly right and shouldn’t change a thing.

I could be projecting.

Because that woman said “Good idea Mom. I’ll give it some thought.”

Here I was ready to have her back (and who doesn’t need some creepy, eavesdropping stranger leap to their defense?). The truth is, Grandma is probably right. She wasn’t unsympathetic or demanding or guilt-trippy (cause then I WOULD have jumped into all that with a vengeance). She just saw something important that might make life easier in the long run. She’s on the other side, beyond late nights and concerned teachers and feeling like it’s all too much for one person to handle; where needs and problems loom large, because they are close up, all the time.

She sees what’s important. She sees what she regrets and what she doesn’t. She sees the big picture. She’s outside the eye of the storm.

Maybe the view from over there is worth considering.

viewpointSo here’s me, in the midst of it all, where it is so much easier to react and survive. We could use a little more strategic parenting up in our neck of the woods. Now to try and figure out what my new 15 minute habit should be…

5minutefridayFive Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..


This is Our Song

songThe frantic buzz of the strings – busy, busy, busy boy.

The lilting chime of the bells – sweet, charming girl.

The rock ‘n roll squeal of the electric guitar – dramatic, fun girl.

The delicate dance of the woodwinds – gentle, beautiful girl.

The deep thrum of the bass – steady, brilliant man.

The every-changing melody of the lyrics – clumsy, passionate woman.

This is our song.

The syncopated beat of everyday routine

The discordant strains of conflict

The lighthearted whistle of totally adorable

The crash of tantrums

The faint hum of grief

The trill of humor

The every-changing tempo of life

And always, the counterpoint of

purpose

prayer

joy

This is our song.

It’s the only one of it’s kind!

So here’s us, in this Five Minute-ISH Friday. Not exactly by the rules, written one line at a time throughout a morning of errands and border waits and toddler chasing. But I loved the prompt – SONG.

5minutefridayLinking up to Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday post

1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. Be generous and leave an encouraging comment for the person who linked up before you. That’s the best part about this community.

And if you don’t have a blog, feel free to leave your five minutes of writing as a comment. And we’ll love on you there.


The WORST Best Lesson in Life

It’s a game we play, and replay, a lot at our house.

“But it isn’t FAAAIIIIR!” they whine.

I act Alarmed. Affronted. Confused. “Who told you life was fair? How dare they!”

It’s not entirely an act. I happen to think that teaching our kids they are entitled to a life of ease and comfort is irresponsible, possibly cruel. Someday the real world will come calling. If they haven’t had an opportunity to build important coping skills, they will likely to fall to pieces. The small, everyday disappointments of life are an important curriculum.

stuff happensYou won’t be able to watch that movie tonight, because Dad is watching his team lose the Stanley Cup.

There’s a hole in your favourite hoodie (the only thing worse than this is my suggestion of sewing on a patch, apparently).

Your sister has a sleepover tonight and you don’t. You’ll have to hang out with your mom instead.

I’m sorry, but your sister ate your homework (true story).

All valuable lessons, if handled correctly. Somewhere between “Vlad the Insensitive, Destroyer of Dreams” and “Schmoopy the Rescuer, Enabler of Dysfunction” lies good parenting.

My parents certainly didn’t subscribe to the “protect-at-all-costs” parenting philosophy. In their mind, suffering builds character, even for kids. They didn’t push us down the stairs or pinch us when we smiled too wide. But they didn’t apologize for the reasonable disappointments life brought our way – doing more chores than any of my friends, wearing second-hand clothes, bypassing the candy aisle, bringing lunch instead of buying… a whole lot of making do with what we had, without complaining.

This wasn’t easy to swallow as a child. And if I’m being honest, it’s still a struggle. Although I wasn’t raised to believe my life SHOULD be easy, I still feel somewhat surprised and ripped off when it isn’t. “But God, it’s not FAAAAIIIIR!”

Because it’s really not. Life isn’t fair.

Lessons I’ve learned from Disappointment:

Perspective: As I write this, on my personal laptop, in a warm house, dressed in a new (second-hand, but still newly bought) shirt, after eating a filling lunch, while my healthy son naps and my well supported children attend a well equipped school nearby, I realize that whining about life being unfair is pretty, well, unfair, to the billions of people who could only dream about a life as good as mine. Nevertheless, my small disappointments gave me a taste of suffering and dose of reality. Life is like this. Bad stuff happens (the slightly less poetic, but much more child-friendly truism). There’s not always someone to blame. No one is entitled to a trouble-free existence.

Health: How many of the worst patterns/habits/addictions we hold are attempts to escape or numb the pain life brings our way? I can personally attest to the tranquilizing effects of too much food, which I begin to crave whenever things start going wrong. One of my children asked if it’s true that ice cream is medicine? Ummm… A healthy person is learning to accept this discomfort and process it in a healthy way. Cry. Pray. Laugh. Create. Throw socks at the wall (really, it works).

Selflessness: Selflessness is learned in the hard places. After we process the disappointment, we have a choice. Where will my focus be? Will I wallow in my misery? Or will I think beyond me and what I want? Without a doubt, the instruction most often handed out, but not always followed by myself is: “It’s okay to be upset, but it’s not okay to make everyone around you miserable just because you are.”

Gratitude: What comes easy is often taken for granted. When I’m familiar with disappointment, then getting what I want/need/hope for is a gift and I will truly appreciate it. Our daughter B was born the year after we buried her brother Simon. Although her diagnosis with Down Syndrome threw us somewhat for a loop, it paled in comparison to the glorious fact that she was ALIVE and healthy.

Compassion: Disappointment is very real to the person feeling it. Whether anyone else understands or not, there it is. Someone who has faced their own disappointments may not be any better equipped to understand a unique sorrow, but we are open to the experience. Where it would be more convenient and comfortable to stuff our own pain beyond conscious reach and whitewash over the pain of others, the student of disappointment is not afraid to go there.

How to Grieve: My small disappointments have prepared me for the devastations in life. Not entirely. Nothing can. But it’s a start: the basic skill to face the hurt, work through it, find the joy in the midst of it and reach out to others regardless.

Disappointment isn’t lethal.

Disappointment is a natural part of life.

Disappointment is a good teacher.

I believe it and I want to live it… but doling it out as a parent is a lot harder than I expected. Perhaps it is my generation. Perhaps I’m just a pathetic softie. It’s hard to say no. It’s hard to watch those sad little faces. It’s hard not to jump in and make everything fair and smooth out the rough edges and bribe them back to happy.

So, I’m thankful for the times we really can’t afford it. Or there isn’t enough time. Or enough energy. Or it just really grosses me out (see: pet snake argument).

There is nothing wrong with WANTING to give your children everything. There IS something wrong with actually giving it to them. Unless you’re hoping to raise spoiled, greedy, miserable brats. If so, then by all means, appease and rescue and avoid disappointment at all costs. You’re on the right track.

So here’s me, hoping we’re all disappointed just enough to build strong character and no more.


That’s My Future You’re Raising

That’s my future you are raising. That’s my children’s future and my grandchildren’s too. That is the spouses and friends and employers and employees and neighbours who will populate our world for years to come. That is the community we are making for ourselves.

mothersdaySo, to all the mothers, and the mother-ing, we wish you well. We think you are heroes! We appreciate you! We pray for your success and courage and energy and patience and unwavering love.

I know the job is rewarding, but overwhelming. I know that you are tired more often than not. I know that there never seem to be enough hours in the day to do it all (because there really aren’t). I know that most of you are doing your best, and all of you want to do better.

I know that you have beautiful dreams for your children. I know that you are haunted by fears for their health and their safety and their choices and their one day learning to pee in the potty (or maybe that’s just me). I know that you have good days when you see their eyes light up with discovery and are struck speechless at their sweetness and brilliance and beauty. I know that you have bad days when you wonder how you are going to survive this endless nightmare (granted it’s only been 45 minutes, but at 2 am, it feels pretty damn endless) and are equally speechless with frustration and exhaustion and despair.

I know it’s not easy, not for me anyway. But I know that it’s important. Not just for me and my children, or you and yours, but for all of us. That’s our future you are raising.

So we thank you.

THANK YOU for . . . every night of interrupted sleep, for every unnoticed menial chore (especially the smelly ones), for every second of patient listening, for every warning and inconvenient discipline, for every slobbery kiss and sticky hug you lovingly received, for every “but why?” you’ve answered, for every hormonal tirade you’ve diffused, for every teeth gritting smile while they make their own mistakes… for every sacrifice of your time, your energy, and your own plans.

This is love.

To love another person, as much as we love ourselves, is the most important job God has given us as human beings. I can’t think of a better here-and-now example of that, than a Mom.

So here’s to the Mom’s at the grocery store and school parking lot and splash park and church nursery and all around the world.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Excerpts of this are taken from my article on Family Life Canada


To the Other Mothers on Mother’s Day

May 2013 061 The week before Mother’s Day and the holiday is officially on. A large display of sappy, overpriced cards in the mall. A coupon in the mail for extravagant flower arrangements. And a messy painting project underway on our back deck, as we corral the littles into creating one-of-a-kind cards for the many moms in our life.

One more made up holiday to fill our life with saccharine rituals and construction paper crafts. It’s a lot of effort (and often expense) in our already busy lives. But it’s all worth it, because Mom doesn’t get to be the star of the show most days.

Most days it’s about everyone, and everything, else. Most days no one says thank you, because no one even notices all the little things that keep life moving. Most days it’s a grind, nothing glamorous or exciting or worth posting in a Facebook status (not that we don’t post it anyway). And most days, we do these selfless, thankless, menial tasks quite happily, because mother-love is the most practical love of all.

So you bet we treasure our gluey crafts and roses-are-red-and-so-is-your-hair poems. We eat Cajun-style toast and undercooked eggs off our laps in bed. And we grab our pink carnation on the way out of church like it’s a badge of honour.

We take our turn in the seat of honour for a change, and it feels good.

But not all mothers are celebrating with us. For a hundred different reasons, there are those who feel the pinch of this holiday. The celebration is like salt in a wound, and every sugary sweet second of it burns.

I remember that.

My first Mother’s Day after giving birth, I went home to an empty house. I was a Mom without a child. And I wondered if it still counted. If, on this day, I counted.

I hadn’t changed any diapers. I hadn’t soothed fussy cries. I hadn’t agonized over cloth or disposable diapers. I hadn’t taken 1,000 pictures of the exact same pose, because it looked like he just “might” be smiling.

I had changed my plans. I had cried myself to sleep. I had agonized over cremation or burial. I had taken pictures of the tree we buried our son under, because I wanted to watch it grow over the years.

That year there were two families in our church who had new babies. That Mother’s Day, our church family called both myself and my friend Cheryl up to the front and gave us each a keepsake in honour of our children. They made sure we knew it counted. That we counted.

This Mother’s Day I wonder how many other women are asking that same kind of question. Is Mother’s Day for me too?

For the women with empty arms. For the women who are waiting, longing, and hoping to be called “Mom.” For the women who did not give birth or sign adoption papers, but pour themselves into the children around them. For the women haunted by a twisted version of motherhood. For the women filled with regrets. For the women who are grieving and hurting and just trying to survive.

I think it is. Maybe especially so. It’s impossible to understand the gift of Motherhood without acknowledging the pain and the struggle. As a child is born, so is a mother. In pain. In giving. In supreme effort.

Not all mothers are born in the labour and delivery ward. Some are born during a long wait, intrusive home studies, and stacks of paperwork. Some do not hold their children in their arms, but in their hearts, with a love that is not diminished by the loss. Some give birth, then give again so their child can have a better life with a grateful family. Some suffer the long wait, wondering when their turn will come, going to extraordinary lengths for their children-to-be. Some instead wear the title “Auntie” or “teacher” or “nanny” or “friend” but give unconditional love, and time, and energy, beyond normal boundaries.

All mothering is done in the same way. In pain. In giving. In supreme effort.

All women who are in the labour pains of being or becoming mothers represent us well. Mother’s Day may not be a Happy one for you, but it still counts. You still count.

So here’s some cheesy affirmation and bad poetry, just for you:

May 2013 064

So here’s me, so grateful for all my children this Mother’s Day: the ones here with me and the ones in heaven. Also for the other mothers in our life, the foster-mother and birth-mother and birth-grandmothers, who’ve given us so much, at such a high price.


It’s the Little Things

Sometimes it’s the little things.

That tiny little detail, on top of a mountain of craptastic, that sends you falling to your knees.

Literally. “God help me, I am circling the drain.” On my knees.

strawIt wasn’t the 3 hour getting-out-of-bed, running around and refusing to sleep marathon. Despite our removal of all toys/books/stuffies from the room.

It wasn’t the severe lack of sleep after a wakeful night “sans Daddy.” I never miss him more than during that 2-5am stretch of horrible.

It wasn’t trimming the littles’ bangs going horribly, horribly wrong. C warned me, “Moooom, not a good idea…” Perhaps people will assume they did it to themselves. What kind of Mom would do that to her own child?

It wasn’t the salt shaker malfunction adding an unexpected Cup of seasoning to the dish. So much for meatloaf.

It wasn’t B peeing, through her pullup, on the McDonald’s play structure, dramatically showering the table below. Nor even the fact that a family from our school was there to witness our fun evening. Nor S immediately running through the puddle of urine.

It wasn’t the double melt-down on the way out. Not S’ supersonic screams of indignance (granted, he wasn’t the one who peed on everyone, but nevertheless we had to leave). Not even when B started her I’m-so-mad-I-could-spit… so-I-WILL trick, interspersed with dramatic shouts of “NEVER! spit NEVER! spit NEVER!” while I dragged her out.

Today, the only thing I couldn’t handle was realizing my flannel pjs were still in the wash.

I’m not difficult to please. I don’t ask much of the universe. After surviving a day like this, all I ask is to recline in comfortable fuzzy pants. That’s it.

It seems silly. But it really was the last straw.

After a mini-meltdown I realized that lo and behold, I had another pair waiting for me. Like a gift from God, fresh from the dryer. And that made it all better.

Sometimes it’s the little things.

So here’s me… not a day I’d like to repeat, but at least it makes for a good story. We have a lot of those lately. At least my prayer life is on the upswing.


little mirror, little me

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When I look at you
 I see myself
undone...
 potential untapped
 brilliance undiscovered
 creativity unexplored
 vacuum sealed in the 
cellophane of childhood.

When I look at you
 I see myself 
unveiled...
 impulses unedited
 words unscripted
 feelings unrestrained
 the stark honesty of an 
undiluted soul.

I see the me I wish I was.
 The flesh and blood reflection of all
 my could-haves
 and would-haves
 and should-have-still.

I see the me I wish I wasn't.
 The pint-sized mimic of all
 my fearfulness
 and mindlessness
 and my selfish will.
little mirror
 little me
 Be better than I am,
 Better than I could be.

little mirror
 little me
 Like me, but so much more
 Extraordinary.

So here’s me, waxing poetic for National Poetry Writing Month.


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