I looked out the patio doors and saw a magpie perched on the railing. He was quiet as he looked around. Then with a gentle step towards the feeder he pecked up a piece of suet and flew away.
The crowded planters with their tiny seedlings sing their praise for the first frost has passed. No longer a deep chill to quench their growth. No longer the ominous clouds that threaten snow. They gleam with morning dew. Their tiny leaves speckled with the overnight droplets and reflecting the morning sun.
It is still quiet outside, my slow breathing and the distant sounds of crows cawing the only rhythm I hear. Here I think about the day, in the stillness and tranquility that only crisp early mornings can bring.
I calm my anxious mind, telling it to think in portions of wonder, advising it to seek out synchronicity and recognize wonder. I meditate this thought as though it is the only worry of the day, the only worry of life.
Soon the children will wake, their tired eyes will squint open, their arms stretching out like the tiny seedlings in pots. Their tummies will rumble with morning hunger and their fierce little scowls will denote morning confusion. They will race through the house, in an anxious swirl of activity, recounting the nights dreams in fast talking excitement. Their eyebrows will raise and I’ll look at them with wonder, How do they know so much?
Their small arms will gather around my waist and they’ll nestle their heads in my belly, I’ll tickle their necks and kiss them their morning greeting.
The silence for the day will be over then. The moments of reflection will have passed and in its place something tangible and loud. I can grasp a hold of this and never let go.
I’ve written before at how remarkable my children are-who hasn’t written or spoken about their kids with pride and love ?
Still it never ceases to amaze me, that in one moment Mr.T and Little A can be in a death match over a piece if Lego and the next Mr.T is kindly helping his little brother get dressed, and asking Little A about his preferred type of superpower to save the world.
Mr. T says he will be a scientist to create ‘anti-venom’ to cure cancer AND rabies.
Brothers. So different yet so similar.
Little A often poses questions that are support the fact that he’s three.
Common three year old Questions
Why do we need to brush our teeth?
Same reply day in, day out.
Why do I NEED to get dressed?
Still, this confused even me, so I sit back and barter with him.
How are cars made? And Engines?
Ask your Dad, I can tell you about the alphabet or how to make shades from a few paint colors.
Will IT hurt?
‘It’ being anything, everything and sometimes even nothing.
How come we have snow ?
Proceed to explain precipitation and also spell CANADA, s-l-o-w-l-y.
Why do we have belly buttons?
So you could eat when you lived inside my tummy.
How did I get in your tummy? Did you eat me?
Yes, I ate you. Get your pajamas on, please.
Mr. T on the other hand asks similar questions but tends to add his own , whatchamacallit ….
Common Mr. T questions /Conversations
What does snot smell like? could we use it in an experiment?
Gross. Smell your nose and no, we can’t, your head will cave in (I think this is scientifically proven).
Mom, I don’t want to go to school today. I want to stay home with you and paint all day and write stories. Please?
Why do I need to go to school?
You’re lucky to be able to go to school. You’ll learn all kinds of things, and play with your friends.
But, isn’t that what we do at home? I learn more from you.
No. Get your underwear on.
Are there birthdays in Heaven? I hope so.
I think whatever we love is in heaven buddy.
I had a complicated day, I don’t feel like talking. That’s all I do alllllll day.
He continues to rant.
Why can’t I have video games?
Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.
Mom, why can’t I play video games?
Because, your brain will shrink, we want to spend time with you, use your imagination, read a book, play with your toys, paint, make a craft, play a game, play with play-dough, use your chemistry set, solve world hunger, clean your room,match socks, build a Lego city, build a fort, go skating, swimming, to the park, ski, kick a ball, dig in crevices in the sofa for treasure……..
Ok, ok mom.
My favorite of all…..
If God made people, people build cities, right?
So, people build things?
So, if God is God, then how come he wouldn’t just do it all for us, and then there would be no pollution. Right?
I suppose ….. But then we wouldn’t learn to appreciate or learn from our mistakes.
But then people are just wrecking the earth?!
Yeah buddy, people are.
We should go to the dump and use the junk to make robots to fix things!
Well, bud it doesn’t really….
Lets go to the dump!
Ahhhh conversations with My David Suzuki/ Dahli Lama/Rumi child…..
If you happen to see me picking through a pile of your garbage, point out the stuff that’s useable please. I’ve run out of logical answers.
Not because the world is apparently going to end again, this December 21st, 2012, mark your calendars (which, if it does I will be hugging the heck out of the ones I love as we fall into oblivion), but because as my little men get older I want them to understand kindness and compassion without anticipating something tangible in return. I have watched them for the last few years develop into these tiny little wonders; people with their own ideas and own ambitions. I have listened to them ask questions from the simple, “how do you make play-dough?” to the more exploratory, “If God is real, and we can’t see him, how do we know he’s there?”
I have quietly watched on the sidelines as Mr. T helps his little brother on the potty, praises his accomplishments and pats him on the back. I have let little tears of my melting heart slide into my soul as I have sat and watched them play together, each of my children reenacting what they see in their day to day lives. Love. Kindness. Compassion. Trust. Art. Freedom. Anger. Frustration. Hurried attitudes. Sadness. Confusion.
They mimic me,their mother, and their father, and what they see in the world around them.
I want them to mimic the kindness and love that protects them. I want them to teach others with their own actions. I want them to be the pebble that creates the giant ripple.
I want them to understand the fulfillment in giving without receiving, although they will receive, as I have. We start small. We start at home, with one another.
I can tell you this feat is not easy, it isn’t the one thing that will change their lives inevitably, but it is a start.
We made our lists, we checked it twice, and decided to give to those who are naughty and nice.
To those who suffer, to those in pain
To those who love and those in vain.
We decided to write, to paint and create,
to give a piece of ourselves, with no reason or date.
We decided to show, the ones we love most,
the reason to give, the reason to host.
We looked at our list, we picked our favourite ones,
and flipped through the phone book, and it had begun.
We decided to learn, decided to try,
to be the pebble, that keeps rippling by.
And we will, not just this December, but all year long. We will try our darnedest to create the ripple, to be the pebble. If there is just one thing to leave, to give my children, it would be this. This alone, tells them everything I have been trying to say.
With that, I begin to extract the portion about my novel. IF the world suddenly unravels (further) and we are facing the Apocalypse, I would at least like to have finished my novel, among other things. Just in case, if the next species can read in English, they will have something interesting to read, and forgo the hieroglyphics on rock walls, and perhaps write their own story.
I bid you Adieu.
Watching my boys play with their father is always a heart warming moment. Through the tackles, tears, tickles, squeals and giggles, I’m reminded why I choose the perfect partner in life. Is there anything more attractive than a man who really adores his children, and actually plays with them, and wants to do things with them? I lean towards no, but that’s my own opinion. Aside from being able to scrub a toilet once in a while and cook a meal, I think a man who is comfortable enough to play with his children, or push a stroller without his partner around, is sizzling in my books.
Why the heck am I writing this you ask?
Because, for the past 11 months or so, I have been unable to do most of these things myself and while my husband has always been like this, I have never really had the opportunity to just sit and watch. Mostly because I was partaking in the shenanigans myself.
“Window Watching” them play together, or snuggle, or do anything together, makes me thankful that I have a partner who isn’t chauvinistic and thinks this is a “woman’s thing”. I’m blessed that he enjoys his boys, and has big plans for the things they will do together. I’m blessed that my boys look up to their father, because he spends this quality time with them. I’m blessed that my husband is a good role model for them, and they view him as firm, loving, gentle and incredible.
It gets me to the core when he comes home from work and the boys race down the hallway shouting, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” and smother him with mini man hugs and lather his face in kid kisses. He deserves it, every small and every gigantic minute of it.
Ladies, Gentlemen, Children of all ages, if you have a Father like this, squeeze ’em, love ’em, and be so very thankful that he’s yours.
I’m often reminded how touching the journey of parenthood is.
When I was a teenager and even in my early twenties, the thought of mother-hood was daunting and sacrificing. I loved children, but during those years thought it was best to leave it to the “professionals”.
Even after meeting my husband, we were both convinced we made a better Aunt and Uncle, rather than thread on foreign territory.
It wasn’t long after we were married, that something changed. What was it? I don’t think I will ever fully understand, but we both knew that we wanted an extension of ourselves, we wanted the pitter patter of little feet scurring around our house and, we wanted the slobbery kisses on our cheeks.
Along came Mr.T
Spirited, sensitive, insightful and the deepest little thinker at five that I have ever met.
We struggled. We laughed. He cried, we cried. He had fits, and God only knows we wanted to throw ourselves on the floor as well.
He questioned me, inquisitive from an early age, about life, death, God, and everything in between. I have tried to answer his questions with honesty and knowledge. I still pray that I have.
Somewhere in between teething, potty training and sleepless nights, we decided that Mr. T should have a sibling. We decided that another set of tiny feet scampering around would add to the happiness in our lives, and give Mr. T someone else to lean on, share with, teach, learn from and of course, fight with.
Along came Little A.
Full of vigor. Fiesty. Sweet and incredibly loving. Fascinated by all that life has to offer, and a brute contender to Mr. T in sibling brawls.
For me, it isn’t the fact that I am a mother that reminds me of how touching this journey is.
It’s the combination of everything that touches my soul, feeds my own curiosity of life, and the fact that, yes I do get rewarded with slobbery kisses, and mini man bear hugs.
It’s also conversations like this, that make me wipe the tiny tear from my eye, hug my boys so tight, and thank God for the most incredible gift of all, my children.
Mr.T – ” Mommy, I don’t want my five birthday.” He frowns.
Me.- “How come? You’re turning five…it’s your cool lego starwars five birthday!” I have an excited tone and my eyes light up.
Mr. T- ” Mom, look. If I have a birthday, that means that you’re getting old. Soon, you’ll be an old lady and then you’ll die.” Big sad eyes looked at the floor.
I sigh. He’s right.
I stroke his chin and lift his head up gently. Big brown eyes look at me, worried.
I look back at this sensitive little man, kiss him on the forehead, cup his face in my hands and hug him gently.
Mr.T – ” I just love you so much mommy, and it’s so big, but it fits in my little heart.”
I bring him in for a tighter hug, look out my kitchen window, and wipe the secret tear away.
They love us so much, it’s always Mother’s Day.
I had a terrific conversation with a friend last night. She is ten years older than I, and that much wiser too.
Topic of conversation? When your children leave for college, you see her daughter is 18, so I had no advice, only what I would imagine my life to look like at that point. I didn’t feel lost in translation as we spoke, but more compassionate and fearful of what I will eventually be like at this phase of my boys’ lives and my own. She talked about how difficult it will be to do things for herself. Up until this point she had literally dedicated the last 18 years of her life, to her daughter’s life. She ensured all her decisions were centered around what was best for her child, and what the impact of these decisions would be. She built a strong relationship with her daughter, based on love, respect and now maturity.
I couldn’t help but comment to her as she spoke to me about how lost she felt. I told her that l thought she should start this second chapter of her life thinking it wouldn’t be difficult. Who am I kidding? When my boys leave home, I am sure I will be a blubbering idiot, tears and all.
What I was trying to convey was, that I thought that this would be the first opportunity for her to really just do things for herself, make decisions based on what her needs and wants are, rather than catering to everyone around her. She lets me know how hard this concept is already, nevermind putting it into action. The idea that she could somehow live to fulfill any of her dreams is daunting and no longer in her repertoire. She says she will try.
We laugh as she tells me, that she anticipates that she will feel so lost that she will be offering random strangers her childcare services… I laugh as I tell her that many would probably accept, including me (see previous post, Date Night).
I imagine if I were in her shoes I would feel lost, or like I had forgotten something important in a foreign country. My children have become part of me, part of who I am, not just a task or responsibility. They have become part of my routine, and my decisions are for them not because of them. I have made them my priority because I wanted to, not because I needed too.
It’s interesting to think that there are some parents out there who feel their children are burdensome, while others see them as little incredible blessings, as a part of who they are, and extension of themselves. So when I say to start a new chapter when the kids leave home, I am clearly talking out of my lack of experience, I have no idea how difficult this is, yet.
For all you parents who have children leaving the nest, I say…God Speed. My heart goes out to you for the heartache you will endure, the worry, the restlessness, the loneliness and the anxiety you will suffer.
I also high five you, chest bump you and fist pound you, because I do know you will find some moments to read a full book, finish your coffee, finally buy a piece of furniture that will not get destroyed, paint the hand – printed walls and enjoy frequent long baths in silence. I know, in time, you will be ok, and I know when it’s my time, I will eventually, someday, somehow, be ok too.
So to my friend, pack your bags and head off to Thailand, send postcards.
Today is one of those days. I woke up at a sharp 5:45am, my eyes were still half shut as I made my way to the bathroom. I tripped over a pile of laundry (clean), a four and a half year old and staggered into the bathroom in search of my toothbrush.
As I cracked one eye open, I noticed that the puffiness under my eyes made me look more like a puffer fish under attack than a sleepless and exhausted mother of two. I dread mornings, like a two year old dreads sharing toys. There is something about sleeping in until the warmth of the sun wakes you up, and when you finally toss your legs over the bed to get up, puffer fish bags, rats nest hair and cotton-ball breath seem to melt away. At least for me.
I digress, I was brushing my teeth, (twice for good measure) and Mr.T was standing behind me watching me. I suppose I must be a rather interesting sight at this disturbingly early hour of the morning. He was just gazing away, without saying too much. When I gracefully spit my Colgate into the bottomless pit, the little man spoke,” I love you Mum.” and then his lanky arms wrapped around me for a tight squeeze.
You’re still wondering why I hate mornings?
After the wonderful snuggle and sincere moment that only I was privy too, my alarm clanged its annoying sound to remind me that I had to get myself looking somewhat appropriate for work. I really enjoy my job, no, I really do. I love what I do, and I enjoy the organization I work with. BUT, I will always love my family more.
Even though I have moments of “UGHHHHH! Pick up your toys! Brush your teeth! Stop hitting your brother!” and while I feel like a Raffi CD on repeat, I still hold and cherish these little moments, that to me, are so much more enjoyable and meaningful than any terrific job.
So after my snuggle, my gentle little kisses, I was disgruntled and annoyed. I would have preferred to be in my soft warm bed, while my two little munchkins hoisted themselves up and under the covers for morning snuggles. I would have preffered to cracked my eyes at 8 o’clock and peered over at a snoozing Mr. Hubby with his jaw hanging open like he is staring at Eva Mendez, and nestle into my duvet for just 5 more minutes.
Staggering through my bedroom at the crack of dawn in search of toiletries, is like sleep walking for me. I will never fully be a morning person, no matter what the salary is, or how terrific the position is. I will, however beam a morning smile when either of my sons, gives me just what I need to start the day.
xxx Hugs xxx
My friend Murphy, is of Murphy’s Law. If anything can go wrong, it will. If anything cannot go wrong, it will anyway. If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which something can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
Here is my list from the last 6 weeks of my experience with Mr. Murphy (who I blame entirely for everything).
Week One to Present Day: My healthy, fit husband decides to get his knee looked at, after suffering from on and off pain for the last several months. Presumably, from a ski accident. The doctor says, “it’s a bakers cyst” and the need for physio therapy becomes apparent. A couple weeks later, the pain intensifies until he can no longer put so much as a pair of socks on. Into the ER he goes, and after convincing a less-than-concerned doctor for more tests, a DVT (blood clot) the length of our two year old is discovered. No baker’s cyst. A series of events follows. This happens as I am beginning my new job.
We think about the seriousness of this incident and how thankful we are we caught it in time. Recovery process begins. We start to clear our heads.
Week Two to Week Four: My beautiful sister-in-law flies out from no-man land to come and visit and help us with Mr.T and Little A, while I am starting work again and am dealing with hubby’s condition. All is well in the world. We are being lavished in her company and the boys are enjoying their Aunt.
I am in my second week of work, it is a warm Tuesday afternoon. I decide to check my cell phone and discover while it has been on silent mode for the better part of the day, that I have missed six phones calls, seconds and minutes apart. Far from a pocket dial, I sense something is wrong. I call my husband, and in his hysteria he has informed me with confusion that his sister has suffered a seizure and is on the way to the hospital via ambulance. I shudder, a seizure? He spins by my office to pick me up and we frantically head over to the hospital where she has been rushed.
Several hours and hysterical phone calls later, we have a diagnosis. She had suffered sudden death syndrome. This effects less than 1% of the population, and less than 1% survive the sudden cardiac death. She is only 36, but she made it.
After surgery and an emotional rollercoaster, she begins to mend and returns back home to her family a few provinces away, this is on a Thursday.
I return to work on Monday.
Week Five to Week 6: Saturday morning we receive a phone call letting us know that my husbands’ father has been taken into emergency and has suffered a stroke. We give it a few days as the nurses recommend to wait it out and see how he will fair. By Tuesday, he has suffered another stroke and we decide it is time for us to make the drive, as he likely won’t survive. Wednesday we leave, and halfway through our 14 hour drive, he passes away. We spend a week recollecting ourselves, and dealing with the aftermath of not one, but three intensely upsetting events. On the looong drive home, we were delayed for 9 hours because of two serious avalanches, seriously we just wanted to get home!
We return home. All is well in the world.
10 things I have learnt in the past 6 weeks, thanks to my friend Murphy.
#1. Be prepared to face tribulations, even when things are looking pretty swell. I have learnt that thinking positive goes along way-BUT being realistic is a necessity in survival.
#2. IF something just doesn’t seem quite right.…GET IT LOOKED AFTER. My wonderful hubby waited from March 2011 until December before he checked out his knee, he lived with a serious DVT and increased his risks exponentially.
#3. If you feel like you should do something because time is of the essence DO IT. There is nothing like feeling regret in a tragic situation.
#4. Say “I love you” in the morning, and in the afternoon, “I love you” in the evening, and underneath the moon. Say it, Mean it, Live it. Life is unexpected, too short, too precious.
#5. Don’t put off what you can do now for later. Later may never come.
#6. Laugh a little more. In all the tragedies, crisis we have faced in this miniscule time frame, we have learnt that the power of a gut busting laugh, is as healing as a good solid cry.
#7. That being said, CRY. Even if you want to be strong for someone else, strength comes from compassion and empathy. It’s ok to feel what someone else is feeling.
#8. Keep thinking positive while realistic expectations prepare us for what may actually come, positive thinking prepares us with how to deal with it.
#9. It’s ok to freak the “bleep” out. Calm composure is only good when you need to perform CPR, freaking out let’s you be human.
#10. Above all else, think about what you want to leave behind. I say this often, but what legacy, story, memory do you want trailed after you? I know it wasn’t my husband and sister-in-law’s time, but they would have left us with something amazing, can we all say the same for ourselves?
What is family for? We all take each other for granted every now and again, thinking we will always have each other to laugh with, share a meal with, cry with, or call for endless conversations about how random life can be. We know how much we love each other, we even speak the love words when ending conversations, or we follow it with emoticons in virtual conversations. We do realize how much we love each other, right?
I think we do. But here is the thing, we love each other for more than just hereditary qualities, biological glue or familiarity. How often do we tell our family why we love them?
When was the last time you said to your brother or sister that you love talking to them on the phone because they make you laugh or because they’re a good listener? When was the last time you told your mother or father that you enjoy visiting them because they comfort you and make you feel loved and at home? When was the last time you told your son or daughter that you like them and love them? We are all pretty good at saying “I love you” but we aren’t all that great at letting our loved ones know why we love them.
Mr.T, I know I reference him often, but he is a genius you know, always asks me how come I love him so much, how come I love Little A, or how come Daddy loves me so much, or why does Uncle love Auntie so much?
Rather than looking shallow, I look dumbfounded for a few moments. I always find an answer for my little therapist. I do know why I love him and his sidekick Little A so much, and I tell him.
Because you’re you (I’m sure every kid who has ever heard this is rolling their eyes, but wait I’m not finished.)
Because you’re you, you are smart and silly. You have a soft and thoughtful heart that speaks to mine. You are amazing in the way that makes you one of a kind. You make me laugh when I need too, you make me think deeply when I should, you ask me questions that stir up my soul and make me look at you with understanding. Because you touched the hearts of so many people with your quirky, loving, and exuberant personality. Because you are a bigger part of me than even I know yet. You, Mr.T and you Little A are outstanding reasons to love.
When he asks me why Daddy loves me so much, I have to think. I know there are endless reasons (I am tooting my own horn here, bear with me) but I haven’t asked him in a very long time, not since we had one of those deep conversations while we lay in bed and one of us was asleep and the other was contemplating everything from the formation of the universe to the reasons why we love each other. I tell Mr.T it is partially because I have ‘back eyes’ which every mother has, this makes good sense to him, so I leave it at that. But ultimately, I know it’s because I am incredibly awesome at being me, take it or leave it.
I tell him the reasons why I love Daddy so much. He thinks mainly it has to do with how very cool his father is, because he drives a work truck and climbs on tall poles and uses big tools. I tell him that is only part of the reason, but that because Daddy touched my heart with his soft hand and showed Mommy how to love and be loved, because Daddy is very good at making Mommy feel safe, comforted, and secure. I tell him that Daddy is also very goofy and makes me laugh even when I feel like being mad and that Daddy is very good at making sense of things, especially when Mommy is feeling vulnerable and confused.
He doesn’t ask more, but I find it necessary to continue on this “why i love…” path.
I tell him why I love my family, like his Aunties. I tell him (and he probably stopped listening at this point), that I love his Aunties because they made me their sister and took me in and gave me friendship and love and sister-hood. Because we have private talks that sometimes have no purpose, no beginning or ending, that because we can be strong for each other and feel scared with each other. Because sometimes it’s just a look, a subtle change in our voices and we just ‘know’. I tell him that there is sometimes no better friendship, than the ones right under our noses. This is too much a metaphor for him, so I explain.
So, in case you didn’t know, my friends out there here is why I love you; we are on the same page even when we haven’t spoken in months, our conversations diverge like a labyrinth and still we find multiple routes to keep us going. You make me think about life, about being a better person all the time. Because you are strong, and you inspire me, and because you are always there to I lift me up and always there to let me do the same for you.
Tell the ones closest to you why you love them, it’s different from ,
“I love you.”
While war isn’t breaking out between Mr. Loin Cloth and the popular web head, there certainly is a bit of competition, at least in my house.
Little A has a strong like for the vine swinging, gorilla loving hero and Mr. T still loves spiderman and his ability to cast webs from his wrists as he dangles from unimaginable heights.
Little A has taken to wearing underwear around the house, his refusal to wear any other item of clothing is strong. His claims are adamant as he says with conviction, “I am a Tarzan!” A determined frown accompanies this claim.
Mr. T on the other hand wears his Spiderman costume, even thought it is now much too small and tight on his lanky frame. He jumps from couch to couch and falls with spidey grace as he shoots invisible webs at the unsuspecting Tarzan. Tarzan becomes increasingly frustrated by these transparent webs and finally I have to step in and use my stern mommy voice, “That’s enough boys!”
I attempt to dress Little A, or Tarzan rather and this results in high pitched squeals, shouting and flailing of tiny chubby arms and legs. Tarzan prefers his loin cloth, or Thomas skivvies.
Mr. T asks if he can watch a show. I know what this means, he will try to convince me that he is old enough to watch Spiderman, I will for the thirteenth million time, say , “No.” he will ask for the old cartoons ( less violence and better language), I will say i will think about this. He is in a heap on the floor, the only thing missing from the scene is his pleading on his knees.
In two minutes Little A is shouting Tarzan and Mr.T is yelling Spiderman. I tell them there is no show, until they can agree on something.
I personally prefer Tarzan to Spiderman any day of the week. Maybe it’s because Phil Collins does an exquisite job of the music and lyrics, or maybe it’s because Tarzan isn’t a supernatural hero. Tarzan in my opinion had to adapt to survive more than Spiderman, who was fortunately bitten by a spider and became a superhero. Tarzan, not glorified, Spiderman, heroic icon. Mr.T would cringe if I shared this opinion with him, so I won’t. Who wants to argue with a four and a half year old lawyer anyway?
They ask again for a show. I feel like subjecting them to Barney, the gigantic purple loving dinosaur. Maybe then they would wear clothing, sing and stop competing. For now, I will endure the many attempts of trying to get them into more than one small item of clothing, and keep breaking up disagreements between toddler and pre-schooler about who’s better.
Mr.T and Little A, you’re both remarkable in my books.