My older daughter, J, loves nothing better than to explain things, and her soliloquies are often so amusing that I wish I could capture their essence on the blog, but I appear unable to recall conversations well enough to portray even their gist.

There is one from a couple of weeks ago that is staying with me no matter what I do:
It was early, and J thought I had snuck off to work, as I sometimes do, without waking her. I overheard her explaining to her sister that Mama had gone already, and Mama has to work, “and sometimes she needs to work extra hours so that she won’t lose her job. She has to work extra hard so that she won’t lose her job, that’s what that means.”

She continued, after an interjection I couldn’t hear by her sister: “Losing her job means that she won’t be able to go to work anymore, and she’ll need to find another place to work. Yeah, well, she tries really hard but she needs to try really hard, because she has to keep her job to look after us. We have to understand, because Mama is needs to not lose her job.”

That was about four repetitions of “lose her job” more than I wanted to hear. She’s a sensitive soul, and takes things to heart, but I had sort of hoped she hadn’t internalized ALL of the angst that is going on around here – as I try to progress from contract to permanent employee. So much for that faint hope!

Naturally, she has her own understanding of what is going on. It probably helps her to verbalize it to her sister.

I have no idea what A thinks of all this. J keeps things inside, but eventually speaks about things. A, in contrast, acts out. And she’s been doing a fair bit of that lately. So I am concerned. Though both of them seem pretty ecstatically happy most of the time, the dull ache from worrying about next year’s job is accompanied by its twin, the worry for the girls’ well-being in the face of family life frought with uncertainty and stress about the future.

Things are good right now, but it is only now that I can look at my family’s year. I’m hard pressed not to be really scathing with myself about it. However, I take one big breath and another and realize that only by chipping away at my fears can I build a future worth having.

Meanwhile, A is getting better and better at speaking, J seems to have more confidence every day, and well, we’re just a family moving forward.


Conundrum from workplace trenches

It is no longer safe for me to use the bathrooms on my floor.
A trip to the washroom is rife with candy landmines – Halloween goodies – prominently available for the taking on my route. Since I have no willpower, my safest option is to go up a floor, avoiding my level and the storey below me, with its cafeteria smelling like fabulous fresh muffins (damn them!). But, that puts me into Executive Territory and forces me to change into full office dress. I hate wearing hose and heels, and I am very happy slobbing around my floor in my runners and socks all day when I don’t have any external meetings. It is usually close enough to noon, arrival or leaving time to pretend I just arrived and haven’t yet changed. But on the exec floor, well, that’s trickier.

Being as I am lodged in a cubicle these days, making myself presentable means going to the loo to put on hose. At some point. So you can see where this is going. Yep, right past the candy again.

And it is good stuff – chocolate, not just suckers or something.

What’s a girl to do?

Halloween survived

This year, we got the pumpkins a week ahead, carved them a day ahead, lit them an hour ahead, and generally had things under control.
Nobody decided to be something different an hour before trick-or-treating, nobody complained about their costume. J stood very still for her make up, and was virtually unrecognizable as a witch in green face paint. A was the same blue fairy she was last year, only with fewer outdoor clothes on top. About the same time the girls could no longer contain the urge to crack their glow sticks into light, our friend came over to man the door at home so we could venture forth to demand treats from our neighbours. The glow sticks ignited and attached to costumes and bags, and flashlights in hand, we set out as merry a band as every you’d see.

We ran into a boy from the neighbourhood who used to be in J’s class, and assimilated our little group with his, catching up on news with his Mom and Aunt. The boy said absolutely nothing, but J more than made up for it, explaining all the details of neighbour’s names, families and, oh everything, to him and his mom. Nobody panicked at the sight of the Aunt’s little dog – although A continuously told him, at the top of her lungs, as she climbed down steps from front porches with her growing stash of treats: “You can’t have any!”

The weather was mild and pleasant. We managed over an hour outside, and with the many long driveways in our neighbourhood, the kids earned their few treats before bedtime, and fell fast asleep even as they tried to mumble again that they weren’t even the slightest bit tired.

At our house we had a grand total of 3 groups of treat seekers – for a total of maybe a dozen kids, including ours. We have enough candy to last us till New Years.

My daughter made me a flower in ER yesterday.

I got home from a long work day at 7 last night. By 8 we were at the hospital. J tripped on a blanky she was wearing as a cape – while running. The little grooves between the hardwood planks opened her chin when she crashed to the floor. The cut, although small, was deep, and flappy enough to warrant stitches. I did the rocking and cuddling with icepack, and BH looked up care options, which turned out to be:  back to the hospital I nominally work for, or to urgent care, which might turn us away as they often reach capacity before closing time.
I chose the Children’s hospital, and I’m glad I did, after seeing the skill that the doc employed in cleaning, taping and gluing the wound. J will have only the tiniest of crescent scars, with any luck.

She was a trooper. I took her in and talked to her about what was happening, and what we could expect, and she was much more concerned about what was happening to the other people around us. There was one huge man, bigger than my (sizeable) BH, with a much smaller woman. I wondered where their child was, or if maybe it was his little sibling (her younger child, I guessed) who they were there for. Imagine my surprise when the big man said he was 15 years old! We made friends with 2 babies and their families.

Then, J’s dad joined us around 10, having put A to bed and found a sitter. The nurses put some freezing on J’s wound, and we waited some more. Eventually we were seen by a doc, but in the meantime one volunteer gave J crayons and pictures to colour, and another gave her a flower and showed her how to make one from tissue paper and a pipe cleaner. J, by that time, was worried about her sister, and decided she would give hers to A, and that I could take the other one and put it on my wall at work. She loved her hospital bracelet, so we told her she could leave it on so she could show her friends at daycare. We had time to reflect on the yin and yang of things – had it been any worse, we would have got out of there sooner.

While we waited, we sat, and cuddled, and BH and I chatted about the real estate magazine he brought in with him. J only complained a little about being tired a few minutes before we saw the doctor, and once when we had to wait again in the procedure room for the exam table to be cleaned. But, mostly, she was soaking up all the new things, and enjoying the full attention of both parents.

A strange way to find some family time, but you take what you can get.

Expect the unexpected

This week I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of a delightful baby boy, age 3 months, and get re-acquainted with his lovely parents. We’ll soon see more of them – they are all moving back to this part of the country! I’m really looking forward to our families bieing friends.

In enjoyed holding the babe, which pretty much goes without saying. It was really interesting, talking to his parents about their recent, and our not-so-long-ago, experience of birth, nursing, and just having a baby in the house.  Our discussion reminded me again of  our great good fortune in having generally healthy, happy pregnancies, births and babies. Honestly, it is just that, great good luck. We talked about how little I felt inconvenienced by pregnancy and breastfeeding. After all, Iwas just so thrilled to have it happen, expected it to be my last chance, and had experienced most of the various unpleasant side effects before. The various drawbacks, even combined, were pretty much as expected.  Having babies and little kids in the house has been tiring, frustrating work, intermingled with moments of pure joy.

I believe  that childbearing and for that matter, childrearing, thus far, has been one big lesson in acknowledging both our lack of control and the miracles among us. That point of view, where learning gratitude is entwined with adjusting ones expectations, was really well summed up in this quote from Ellen Painter Dollar published in the Literary Mama Blog:

I recently came across one theologian’s description of people without any obvious illness or disability as being “temporarily able-bodied.” There is such truth in that. All bodies break, all bodies fail. The power of childbearing does not lie in our bodies’ ability to do exactly what we want and expect them to. My body has never done exactly what I wanted and expected it to, especially when it came time to birth my babies. The power of childbearing, rather, lies in our bodies’ ability to bring forth something exquisite, miraculous, and imperfect (as all human beings are) from its own exquisite, miraculous, and imperfect depths

I struggle to remember that all of life is a series of surprises and our attitudes make it what it is.

It’s snot impossible…

Seriously, where does all the mucous come from?
BH thought I was kidding when I asked. He pointed out that it is pretty much concocted on-site (the implication being: after all, it isn’t an operation that can be out-sourced overseas or anything). Thanks for the help, honey.
I mean I understand that the mucous membranes create it, but who thought they could produce this much. I mean really!
Sorry, it just is a topic that is pretty much front and centre in my mind these days. I’ll step back a bit:

My early tentative good feelings have been borne out:  Spring has come a month early to these parts. We had a magnificent Easter, the sun came forth and pulled flowers out of the ground in front of our very eyes!
We had our first annual Easter Egg Hunt (held on Good Friday – all about the chocolate, nothing about the liturgy) with a great turnout of littles, bigs and in-betweens. That worked out fabulously – everyone contributed: my best friend supplied not only good cheese, great and abundant chocolate, but also fabulous white sangria! (have I mentioned that’s our summer’s project at the Treehouse? Sangria perfecting? Ah, yes, we have lofty goals!) The rest of the weekend passed in a blur, with more sunshine and a visit from darling brother and his dog.

Then, the coughing started. The kids had it first, of course, but man, when it got to me, it hit hard. The kids trouped off to their new daycare, and I collapsed. Hours at a stretch of exhausted sleep – not a moment of luxuriating with a good book or anything.  How do single or stay-at-home parents manage? I struggled through the weekend, thinking I was getting better, only to collapse again on Monday. If there wasn’t someone to take the kids for a while I don’t know what I would have done. After that,  I worried about work so much while I was off that I possibly came back prematurely. But hey, I sound so awful I get a lot of sympathy on conference calls. This may or may not be balanced by the alarmed looks at in-person meetings while I hack up a lung.

In other news, Monday BH is orchestrating the possibly final part of our move, with professional movers (!). I don’t recommend the convenience of having two houses for an extended period. It makes moving  pretty much death by a thousand cuts. I would rather we had found the time to just devote to the move and have it done. Although I must point out,  I’m not doing any of the move, just trying to set up the usual household systems etc. However,  I am loving living in our new house, love the light and space, and trying to track the kids down in the far reaches of the garden. (Note to self: dark or green clothes, no matter how fetching, will no longer be purchased for fear of losing the littles amongst the greenery. Everyone should have my problems. )

My only real problem with the new place is not as I expected, that I feel out of place due to snootiness of neighbourhood (turns out, I have a very strong “fuck-em if they can’t take a hick” attitude) but guilt. I have always been priviledged, I know this. I grew up with great advantages, education, health, oportunities etc, but this, this new place is ridiculous. I wonder if I can get over the need to apologize for my good fortune?

Last night the girls got haircuts. J is cuter than a button with a short bob that shows off her heavy tresses, while A’s fine hair makes her look remarkably like the kid in Les Miserables posters – except possibly better fed. When I woke J this morning, I couldn’t help exclaiming again over how grown-up she looked. She reached up and felt her bare neck and said “and its still there”. Yep, it wasn’t an elaborate haircutting dream sequence, honey.

Back at work, I continue to try to string together effective sentences while my synapses are clearly mired in this gelatinous goo. On Fridays, my workload seems doable. The rest of the time, I feel like I may or may not make it to the end of May. Perhaps I could find someway to hang on to this hopefulness the rest of the week?

Big Dog Gone

On Wednesday, Beloved Husband (BH) and I took our dog to the vet, we consulted, and then held him while he drew his last breath.


RIP  – 1999-2010

If there is a good place, he is surely in it.

We are a different sort of family now. Smaller, and bereft, but managing. It is just the myriad of tiny reminders that take me aback. I had made my peace with the whole idea of losing him, and thought I’d prepared for the obvious, but the little things are problematic:

 I brace myself getting out of the car when I arrive home because I know he is not there to greet me, but then I get floored by the question: “what am I supposed to do with half a bag of dog food?”

 When I think I hear a knock at the door, I look around to see what his ears are doing, and remember again.

 The kitchen floor needs sweeping more, I expected that – without a dog to pick up after me,  a preschooler and a toddler-  but I was at a loss for a moment over what do to do with the remnants of the kids’ yogurt.

 I find myself listening in the night, still, to check how he’s breathing, and can hear only the sounds of the house and us humans.

When I told the girls that the dog wouldn’t be here when they got home Wednesday,  A said: “I don’t want Louis Dog to die”. J said: “I want a cat.” Everyone has their own way. The girls don’t really seem to mind, they are so young.

Things are just different. Right now, I feel adrift, missing my former status. I am no longer a dog owner. It’ll take time to get to know this new me.

What I’ve learned

Work in general: If you lug home 4 files over the weekend, you need a fifth to do the work.

Physical fitness: Any woman can have the body of a 21-year-old. She just has to buy him enough drinks first. (It was pointed out to me that the above is a direct corollary of the fact that everyone gets cuter in proportion to how close it is to closing time. However,  I prefer to think of it, instead, as a fresh, charming thought – and perhaps hope for the future!)

Conspiracy theory: There is clearly a diuretic in hand cream. Otherwise why do you need to use the toilet (and thus wash your hands again) as soon as you put it on?

It’s all about timing:

  • My phone is programmed somehow not to ring unless and until I am in the shower or otherwise unable to answer it – particularly if I’m waiting for a call.
  •  The children know that the best time for crises is when mom is in a rush. 
  • Computers like to get your attention in a similar way. Crashes are in direct proportion to how badly you really need the material right away. 
  • Any communication confusion between my husband and me is pretty much guaranteed to occur when my patience is at its thinnest. (gee, I wonder why?)

[There are correlaries to this last: 1) Ergo, I attempt to remain silent, though deadly, when feeling frayed.  Which often leads to a point  where really, all that is left is 2) quiet hallway sex: passing one another in the hall, muttering “fuck you”.]

AND – perhaps most important of all:

Growing older is inevitable.
Staying immature is an art form.

Words to live by.