"The Tightrope Walker"

"The Tightrope Walker" by Jean-Louis Forain

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Birthday Ingrate.

Yes, I'm saying that I am a Birthday Ingrate. Not that I don't enjoy the celebration, but I have come to HATE the gift question. "What would you like for your birthday?" Somehow it has become a loaded question. If you answer with the typical request of books, clothes, or gift certificates the gift-giver replies with a, "That's what I always get you! Don't you want anything else?"

From here there are two choices: 1) The unexpected, but still typical gift request, "Yes, I'd like a new frying pan/toaster/bed linens/etc." Which invariably leads to an item that isn't quite what you had in mind and only adds to the "stuff" being crammed into every corner of your home. 2) The honest, and just-for-you request, "Yes, I would love a romantic weekend with my husband/a day that is child free/an uninterrupted Sunday in my pajamas reading a good book/a vacation/etc." And of course this leads to a whole array of interesting responses including, "That's not really a gift!", "Aren't you asking an awful lot?", "What do you mean? You want the girls to sleepover?", "Don't you want to spend your birthday with your daughters?", and on the list goes. (A side note: Of course I want to celebrate my birthday with my daughters, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't enjoy some adult time without them.)

And, here lies the true problem. Why is the gift-receiver responsible for motivating and stimulating the gift-giver's creativity and thoughtfulness. Don't get me wrong I appreciate that my family and friends want to give me gifts that I will appreciate, but I don't know what their budget is, if they understand the value I place on spending time without the responsibilities of my children, or if they even want to make a commitment of time rather than money. Why is it that birthdays, Christmas and other special holidays always have to include a gift of "stuff"? Why don't we spend more time giving gifts of home cooked meals, time, companionship?

In making my argument I recognize that I'm being a hypocrite because I'm no different than most other gift-givers out there, but I'm thinking maybe its time for a change. Maybe instead of asking what you would like for your birthday; I'll surprise you with a homemade cake and a night on the town without your kids. Or better yet, the pleasure of my company! ;-)

So be warned, if you ask me what I would like for my upcoming birthday I might just say, "Two consecutive nights of babysitting!"


Two weeks and 2.8 lbs gone. Modest progress, but only 7.2 lbs to go with a little over 6 weeks. I might just make it if I don't fall off the food wagon. The true test will come next week when my husband is working nights again, and I'm left alone at night fighting a battle against self-sabotage. I see lots of cups of tea in my future.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sometimes the small things....

....mean the most. My favourite hug from my husband happens when I least expect it. Washing dishes, prepping dinner, making school lunches...he sneaks up from behind for a hug and neck nuzzle. I love that because the quick cuddle is unexpected it feels more genuine. These little hugs mean a lot.

I'm emptying the dishwasher, my husband is eating breakfast and we are chatting about our plans for the day. I eventually sit down to eat my breakfast and when I get up to put my dishes in the dishwasher I find my huband's sitting on the counter. He did JUST watch me empty the dishwasher, right???

You know that moment when you are just barely awake, your brain is feeling fuzzy and you sense a good dream coming on. That's usually when my husband reaches over to give my hand a squeeze. One last little touch to say, "I love you" before drifting off. A favourite of mine.

Laundry is done and folded. I've put all my husband's clothes into one hamper and filled it - he had a lot. Then the hamper sat, and sat, and sat. The laundry sat folded for so long that the next two times I did his laundry I was able to add to it. Why did it sit so long? It sat there because my lovely husband said he was going to put it away. I reminded and asked a few times, but not wanting to be a nag I let it go. I let it go for FOUR weeks, until finally I dumped it all on the floor on his side of the bed. I needed the damn hamper back!

Neck kisses, back rubs, a wink across a busy room, a small and unexpected compliment; they all make me love my husband more.

Snoring, asking "What DID you do all day?", never going grocery shopping and then saying the fridge is full of nothing; they all make me leave the room with a grimace.

All the small things, both good and bad, can mean so much. The bad ones add up and add up, until I loose it (like dumping laundry all over the floor). The good ones add up and up, until you think maybe you can't love any more. Somehow there is always one more small thing...and it always means a lot.

P.S. To My Husband - When you finally read my blog know that I love you, even when you drive my crazy. And yes, I realize for every one habit you have that drives me crazy I probably have two. S

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Slow and Steady Wins the Race.

I'm telling my self slow and steady wins the race, slow and steady. But really I'm just lying to myself. It's been two weeks since I publicly shared my goal to lose 10 lbs before my birthday, and I haven't lost anything (except for a little sanity maybe). The good news is that I haven't gained anything either. In the last two weeks I have been productively, and effectively, making excuses. It's Easter, I don't have the time, I'm too tired, it's too much work with my husband working nights, and blah blah blah. Secretly I've been telling myself that no one is reading this, and that means that no one knows I've set a goal. This is the worst excuse I've used yet! I know I've got a goal and that is all that matters. Time to show myself that I can do it!So enough, is enough. I've got physical activity scheduled for the next two days plus one day on the weekend, I've got all my old weight loss program stuff out, and I'm ready to go. I want to be aggressive over the next week in committing myself to my goal, and then settle in to a healthy weight loss pace. Ready, set, go....


I've been thinking about how parents take the happy with the sad, the good with the bad, and in the end we share a million bittersweet moments with our children. My youngest daughter, my baby, is 10 months-old now and I find myself eating up every second with her. I have an overwhelming desire to hear every giggle, catch each smile, and experience all her firsts because I am so acutely aware of how quickly she is growing up. This past week she has learned to clap her hands. She takes great pride and pleasure in clapping when you ask her to, and is overjoyed when you cheer her on. It is one of those firsts that seems mundane and ho-hum to an outsider; even my 4-year-old replied with an "I know Mom" when I asked her to watch her sister clap her hands for the hundredth time. But for me it is one of the firsts that I want to experience over and over again, because it is just that "a first". Once it has happened the moment is gone and she is on to her next first, her next milestone, and so very soon her first birthday. I am of course happy to see her exploring and learning about her world, but I am sad too that my baby is speeding towards toddler-hood.

I look at my 4 year-old and try to remember all her firsts too. Some of them are clean, crisp memories; while others are foggy or even lost forever. My heart breaks a little to realize that I can't remember when my oldest daughter first clapped her hands, and I'm trying very hard to forget that she will be 5 years-old this fall. Right when I'm thinking how sad it is that these moments pass us by so quickly she says something about wanting to be in the Olympics, a teacher AND a pet doctor when she grows up. I smile, realize this is another one of those bittersweet moments, and give her 150% of my attention. So here I am reveling in the bitterness of moments lost and all the sweet ones to come!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What's in a name?

Recently I had a conversation with a good friend of mine about being called "Mom". (I hope she doesn't mind that I'm writing about this conversation.) She is a relatively new mother and explained to me that she felt strange when her partner called her Mom. After all, their newborn doesn't really know the difference. We chatted a bit about this first time experience of hearing your partner refer to you as Mom, and since then I've been thinking a lot about it.

I don't remember the first time my husband called me Mom in front of my daughter, I have no recollection of the first time I called him Dad, and I couldn't tell you when we fell into the easy habit of calling each other Mom and Dad all the time. I don't mind when my husband calls me Mom, after all that is who I am. The most important thing is that he still calls me by my name during adult conversation or when we are alone, because I'm still that person too. It is important that he calls me Mom and I call him Dad because that is how we teach our girls that we are their parents, that we are a pair. We are a team, we love them, we respect each other and we all have an important role in our family - I think calling each other Mom and Dad teaches all of that.

But I have other names too. I have my regular name, my teacher name, plus I'm a daughter, sister, granddaughter and friend. Having all these names helps me to have an identity, to draw a line and keep some balance in my life. Being called Ms. at school lets me take off my "mom-hat" and worry only about the classroom of children in my care. But being called Mom at home lets me turn off the teacher and worry only about my daughters. Having multiple names allows for my "multiple personalities" to take turns when needed. It isn't that I'm not whole or that I'm someone different at home, work or play. It is just that each title helps me to focus on the tasks and priorities at hand.

My names have become a tangible tool for maintaining balance and keeping my brain from going into overload. Being called Mom helps me forget about the things that happened to Ms. at school today and focus on parenting. That simple little name helps me give my daughters 100%. I'm happy to hear my husband call me Mom because we are a team - Mom and Dad to the rescue! (Even when he is working nights.) So Mom-it-up.....until the girls are sound asleep, and we are finally alone or until one of my long-lost girlfriends pours me a glass of wine! ;-)

All By Myself.

This week my husband returned to working rotating shifts, and I am quickly remembering why I admire single parents. The last 48 hours have been a whirlwind!

6:40 am, get cleaned up and organized before girls are up.
7:00 am, nurse baby.
7:15 am, get dressed, make-up, and everyone downstairs for breakfast.
7:40 am, babysitter arrives out the front door.
8:10 am to 3:15 pm, working.
3:35 pm, out of work clothes and gearing up for another night on my own.
3:40 pm, get everyone's clothes ready for tomorrow, cleaning kitchen, tidying living room, start dinner, quick email check, chat with husband, baby up from nap, change diaper, still working on dinner.
4:15 pm, sit down for a few minutes, say good-bye to husband, feed baby.
4:50 pm, dinner, clean-up, make lunches for tomorrow and play time.
5:30 pm, everyone in the bathtub, story time, and early bedtime.
6:30 pm, shower for me.
6:50 pm, baby needs cuddles and back to bed.
7:00 pm, pack up treats for school party tomorrow, collect library books and pack school bag, wash bottles, run dishwasher, and send oldest back to bed multiple times.
8:00 pm, silence, vegging in front of TV.
9:15 pm, Tylenol and bed.
Sometime after 3:30 am, husband home from work, in bed and snoring. I lie awake and listen. Until I can't take it anymore! WHACK!!! Silence.

6:40 am, Let's do it all again!

When my husband works nights and I work too the days blur together. I can't remember if I hugged the girls today or said, "I love you.". I'm sure I did, but I still can't remember. And, when was the last time I had a drink or went to the bathroom? Lunch time at work (I think), and now its 10pm. I'm lucky enough to have a partner, I don't work every day and my girls are very well-behaved. Now I imagine what life would be like if I did work every day or I was single. Wow! I feel overwhelmed, exhausted and on the verge of tears just thinking about it. And yet, there are parents out there who are on their own EVERY day and do it VERY well. Hats off to them, and keeping my complaints in check! I am grateful!