An Enlightened Day at the Beach

We’ve officially participated in our first beach day of the season, and let me tell you, it was fabulous! I cannot begin to explain to you how important these days are in ones mothering career. They go hand in hand with the coffee/play-date, popcorn for dinner and the elusive, “Mom, we are going to play in our rooms quietly so you can get some work done.” These moments may not come often but when they do they are the ultimate blessings in disguise.

I’ve been feeling a great love for my friends recently, not that I don’t always, but as of late I’ve really been appreciating them all. So I decided I would plan a day at the beach where the kids could frolic and splash gaily in the water while we relaxed, watched our babes and conversed over all the weird and wonderful things we do as mothers of small children.

The kids managed to mash up together beautifully. There was no, “I don’t like him!” or, “She’s being a farty butt head…” They all seemed to get on quite, “swimmingly”.  As did the grownups. It is a wonderful thing to be able to sit back and appreciate the coolly self-assured age we all have grown into. Gone are the days of catty remarks behind a fellow friend’s back or simply not being sociable with someone because your current friends don’t approve.  Now, in these mature and confident times we live in, we simply do what we want. Fancy that.

The day was one of the best days I’ve had in a while. There were laughs, snacks and good conversation between like parents. I was just beginning to think that nothing could ruin it when Sophie began walking towards our blanket bow legged with an odd look on her face.

“What are you doing?” I ask her eerily.

“I had an accident.”

Not now. Not here. This had been happening as of recently. For some reason in the last few weeks these “accidents” had been on the rise and it was maddening. The worst part was upon inspection there were no pants involved and the accident in question had smeared in a slapdash mess beneath the flowered sundress she wore.

I lost my cool. I admit it here and now, that the bad mood monkey attached itself to my back and from that point on I was no flower to be around. I grabbed Sophie by her arm and dragged her begrudgingly to the dingy beach bathrooms to clean her up. While we did our business in there I began explaining to her (quite loudly) why she must use the potty every time.

As I sit here writing this I think about my daughter in a few years and wonder what she will think of me writing these kinds of tales about her and Lars for all to read. My finger lingers over the back space button. But then I chalk it up to a little payback and leave it.

It was near the end of my exasperated rant that I realized Carla, one of my newer friends from our play-date group, had made her way in with her daughter to use the washroom. Oh no, I thought, did she hear me yelling at Sophie? This is one of those make or break moments in a new friendship isn’t it? Maybe I’m not as assuredly aged as I had hoped.

We made our way out of the stall and approached Carla and her daughter as they washed their hands. I, perhaps with a sheepish look on my face, moved towards the sink. She gave me a knowing smile.

“Ugh, sorry about that, it’s just so frustrating sometimes.” I said because really, honesty is the best policy in most ill at ease circumstances.

“What?! Don’t be sorry, we’ve all been there! I’ve went through the exact same thing with my kids too. Don’t even think twice about it.”

When regression happens with potty training or any kind of milestone it can make us feel like the worst parents in the world. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, motherhood can be a dangerously lonely game. But it makes it that much easier when we have new and old friends alike to help us through those tough moments. To know there is someone else who understands.

When Soph and I made our way back to the spot where everyone sat on the beach I realized how lucky we were. Surrounded by good friends a beautiful day and contentment. So in the end a mishap made for an enlightened day; and isn’t that all we can ask for as parents?

Examining The Possibilities of Summer

With each day that brings us closer to that magical occasion which is summer holidays I can’t help but feel a certain degree of relief floating around in the pit of my stomach. The end of school means no more scrambling at 8:17am to find lunch supplies for the boy child so I can have him out the door by 8:25am. The end of school means no more 8:30pm battle of the wits to find new and inventive ways to get the kids to go to sleep in broad daylight. The end of school means road trips and not having to work around the school time schedule. It means relaxing with our feet up. It means putting the brakes on for a couple of months.

Or does it?

Perhaps once the pressing matter of school has ended I will once again throw us into a plethora of extracurricular activities and other “must-do” engagements. Maybe I will find myself scheduling every minute of the months of July and August and conceivably we will be just as busy, if not busier, than we were during the school year. So where does that leave us? Scuttling around once again in the wee hours of the morning trying to get ready while the kids whine that they are tired from getting to bed late because, when it comes down to it, who can really go to sleep when it looks like it’s four in the afternoon outside?

It leaves us stressed out and anxious.

I’ve consciously made the decision that’s not what our summer will be about this year. Quite frankly I’m overdue for a break and if I know my children, they are too. I want my family’s two months of summer bliss to be about carefree whimsy.  Because what’s the worst that could happen if we just simply let the day take us? What if we woke up every morning and instead of calculating each and every step forward, we let the day fold out naturally?

I want to picnic at the beach. I want to sporadically pull the car over to pick a bouquet of wildflowers with Sophie. I want to drive remote control cars at the skate park with Lars (I’m not entirely sure you’re allowed to do that actually). I want to bring all of my romanticized ideas of parenting to light this summer because it seems that so far in this parenting game I’ve been too busy planning every upcoming second to do otherwise.

I was a 90’s kid and I loved summer vacation. We usually were living on an acreage somewhere but that didn’t stop my brother and me from doing all of the awesome things that kids always have and forever should appreciate about summer break. We explored. We rode our bikes (a lot). We were private eyes. We built shoddy tree houses to hide in from the monsters that lurked in the wood. We snuck juice powder from the kitchen cupboards and hid out in the tree line while our finger tips were slowly dyed purple.  We had our imaginations therefore we had it all.

I can’t recall my mom ever planning out my summer for me, can you? It actually sounds quite preposterous when I think about my own childhood. Summer was a time to exercise the imagination — so if you were an adult, the only way you were getting in on our play was if you had a pretty darn good idea for a make-believe scenario.

But now with Pinterest boards called, “Summer planning on a budget” and blog posts like, “100 ways to keep your kids moving this summer” it simply seems the norm to map out every moment of the your child’s two months of schooling freedom.

I read an article online a few weeks ago called, “10 Way to Give Your Child a 1970’s Kind of Summer” and I thought it was great. It was aimed to an older age group than my children so of course a few ideas must be tweaked (I probably won’t be dropping my four and six year old off at the movie theater for the day thank you kindly) but the essence of this article was bang on.

I want my children to experience the same stress free summers I did. No deadlines. No “Have to’s”. No set in stone plans.  No monotony. Just what summer holidays were intended to be — a split from the everyday.   This summer, instead of jam packed, premeditated and Pinterested activities; I’m going to teach my kids how to create their own adventures.

The Return of the Renovations

One of the first articles I wrote for my column, Me Plus Three, was about home renovations. This piece explained in detail the hellish ordeal I put my family through when deciding I wanted to revive the joint with a fresh coat of paint. If you weren’t a reader back then the entire article can be summed up in these two sentences: Painting the interior of your home while children still reside there is indefinitely the most idiotic thing a person can do. It will involve many tears and many swear words.

This was me nearly two years ago. Now I sit here with my tumbler glass half full of Cab Sav because, well, I avoid cleaning wine glasses at all costs and I look at the walls I toiled with so long ago. In past me’s defense, they do look pretty darn amazing. I still have to wonder though, was it worth it? Was it worth the constant stress that some little finger would find its way to the wet wall? Was it worth constantly harping on the people I love to NEVER push their chair up against the newly painted surface? Was it worth singlehandedly transforming into the psychotic drill sergeant I did, ordering my husband and all of our helpers about like they were mindless drones in a painting crusade of apocalyptic proportions? Probably not.

So why I wonder did I of sound mind choose to undergo this process once more? Yes you read that right, the Browns had decided to renovate…Again.

You know how I am always poking fun at myself over the hoarded mess in my basement? Well among the piles of random stuff there is a heap of laminate flooring. It has been down there ever since Jamie’s mom put new floors in her home and we decided that we would—in an effort to reduce, reuse, recycle and not to mention make our wallets happy—salvage the laminate floorboards and install them in our home, in due time. Three years later we pulled ‘em out.

Before we could lay down the new/reused stuff we had to rip up the carpet. In all honesty between the incorrigible innuendos  Jamie kept coming up with in regards to this task and the fact that the destruction of it all allowed me to release some pent up frustrations of my own it was probably the most enjoyable part of the entire flooring experience.

It was what came next that began our quick spiral into renovation damnation.  We put the underlay down with little troubles (for all of you flooring virgins out there this is the foam matting you place under the laminate boards, I only relay this information because I was in fact a flooring virgin before this ordeal).

However when we began to attempt to click and lock the first few boards together something was wrong. They weren’t clicking or locking. Instead they were shifting and sliding. It was at this point I hooked up the sprinkler in the back yard for the children—the only place they’d be out of earshot of their fathers current use of colorful vocabulary.

Turns out fifteen year old laminate does not hold up well in dank, cold and moist basements. We had a pro come and look at it for us and he stated what we were all thinking; it was unusable.

We toyed with the idea of painting the sub floor a funky color and calling it modern chic. Or perhaps we could just staple a bunch of layers of the underlay on and each time the kids had a spill we’d tear a layer off! Really the ingenious possibilities were endless. In the end we opted for a perhaps more traditional route and bought new laminate flooring to install. Unfortunately this particular product already had the underlay attached to it so the better half of the following day was spent removing the thousands of staples we had punctured violently into the floor in our attempt at effectively securing the previous (now useless) underlay.

I won’t even start to tell you the hassle we went through when it came to the stairs, one because it is sort of embarrassing if there are any flooring specialists reading today and two I simply do not have a high enough word allotment to begin to get into that horrific turn of events.

Eventually we finished, no worse for the wear…Wait, what am I saying? I think we may be scarred for life when it comes to the home renovation process.

And then an unnerving thought crosses me. Our unfinished basement.

To The Little Tweenage Jerks Who Flipped Me Off Today

To The Little Tweenage Jerks Who Flipped Me Off Today,

Believe me when I tell you that I truly wish I could be the kind of person who would have breezed on past and simply not taken notice of your ruffian behaviour. I wish that I could have neglected the fact that you were riding by on your dumb little BMX bikes, kicking over full garbage cans and laughing as all of the trash flowed outwards to the street. Oh how I long that I was that individual who is too soft spoken or shy to call out to you and ask why you’d do such a thing.

Alas, I am none of these things.

There I was walking my six year old son back from dropping my daughter off at school and there you were a block away zipping along with your little posse of pubescent patsy’s wreaking havoc on my neighbourhood.

At first I heard the sound of the large garbage can smashing to the pavement, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Surely there weren’t young humans committing acts of rebellion right in front of me. Surely they would be frightened of getting in trouble. After all these children couldn’t have been any older than twelve or thirteen with their Justin Bieber haircuts and unreasonably taut cuffed slacks. These were all the things that were racing through my mind as I stopped and stared at the dire happenings you were creating.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m hip and with-it, so I attempted to approach you in a civilized manner in which you teeny-boppers could jive with.

“Um, excuse me fellas tipping those cans over isn’t cool man.” Were my words to you, and yes in your defence, perhaps they were said in a bit of a distrustful tone. But I really did think this would simply do the trick. I can remember back in my day when an adult confronted me when doing something I wasn’t supposed to I nearly pooped myself with that foreboding fear of authority.

However apparently, in this day in age, there is no such thing as fear of authority (or maybe it is just that I do not evoke those types of reservations in your younger generation.)

Now what happened next is a bit of a blur because a blinding rage set in shortly after my sentence ended. You began to laugh and point at me, whooping it up and yelling, “Yeah right, whateves!”

I was appalled. Outraged. And quite frankly my feelings were hurt.

So I did what any self respecting adult would do. I attempted to preserve my influence as the grown-up of the situation by shouting angrily back at you. I told you that you were little no-good ingrates. And that if I was your mother you’d be getting the walloping of your life for taking such a disrespectful tone with an elder.

I was beginning to think that I may be getting through to those pubertal brains since you had “slowed your roll” and were now looking at me as I spoke.

“So,” I paused, “What do you have to say for yourself? Go and pick up those garbage cans and I don’t want to see you doing that again!”

I was feeling good. I was feeling proud of doing something first-rate in my community— after all; it takes a village as they say. Just before my head started to really swell from this deed of good-doery I saw the leader of your pack’s hand move. It was as though it happened in slow motion.

He reached his hand slowly towards the sky, as though attempting to fist bump with the big-guy upstairs but instead he slowly, methodically, raised his middle finger with a vengeance that will stick with me for days to come.

“Go fuck yourself Lady!”

And there ends the tale of me, you and the tipped over garbage cans. I’d like to say I got in a few good come backs before you peddled off into oblivion but I was too horror struck to say anything at all.

I truly hope this was a simple case of “boys being boys” and perhaps you boys had taken it a little too far.

Because if not…If this is what our future generation feels is a suitable way to look after their elders – well folks, come old age, we’re all screwed.

Soccer Mom

Soccer season has officially begun. If I was feeling apprehensive as the days before Lars’ first game approached then I was an all out wreck by the time we arrived to the field the day of. But, like any good mother I swallowed up my nervousness and pushed it down to that same place that houses our inadequacies as parents and the mystery meat I ate for dinner the other day.

There was no particular reason I was brimming with anxiety over a small child’s soccer game, it was just that I somehow knew what was to surely unfurl just before the game commenced. Because though I was worried, Lars was even more so. This is something I’ve come to learn about my son. He gets nervous. Whether it be a bunch of children at the park he doesn’t know, trying out new hobby or starting an extracurricular, tension usually gets the better of him. Jamie can tend to be a nervous person and I seem to get flustered over anything that has to do with the children, so perhaps, Lars has learnt this behavior from us—I’d like to think not, but the possibility is definitely there.

However like most road bumps we’ve learned a few tricks of the trade to conquer and prevail. Mostly the ability for Jamie and me to veil the anxiety we are feeling over whatever anxiety Lars is feeling. In other words, my husband and I have become masters at faking serenity. Or so I thought.

The soccer field was filling up quick and it occurred to me that Lars seemed to be one of the only kids on his new team that hadn’t previously played the game. All of the soccer moms huddled together and the majority of the boys on the team were fist bumping and excitable.

Lars was kicking the ball around when the coach called in the boys to begin. The kid had literally stepped a foot onto the field when he was accosted by a flood of tears and terror (perhaps terror is a strong word…To me it felt like terror.)

“I—I just can’t do it…I’m too nervous!” He was saying between hyperventilating and compulsively tugging at the laces of his cleats.

“Oh you can do it buddy.” Jamie was saying supportively to him.

I had known this was coming from the moment we enrolled him in soccer and yet I was completely unprepared. I should have begun thinking up positive things to say as soon as I noted how tight-knit this soccer field and its patrons were, instead I just stood there rubbing his back uselessly.

I looked around at the other moms. They were yelling stuff like, “Get your foot on the ball!” or “Force them down to the other end of the field!” to their soccer star seven year olds. Hell I didn’t even know what half of it meant. These cheering mothers were sitting on fancy collapsible chairs with makeshift coolers as tables, it made my blanket strewn messily about over the ground seem rather inferior and incredibly novice.

I did the one thing no parent is ever supposed to do when faced with a similar situation. I said to my son, “You know Lars, if you don’t want to do soccer, you don’t have to.” It might have possibly have been the lowest point in my parenting career thus far. The pressure of soccer had gotten to me and I was ready to flee.

Thank God that Lars is the mature one out of all of us though. After the words came spewing regrettably out of my big mouth he seemed to have a change of heart. He wiped away his tears, grabbed a ball from the sidelines then ran in without anymore hesitation.

By the end of the half hour game he was just as enthusiastic as his teammates when someone would score a goal. He bragged for hours afterwards that he had kicked the ball six times (exactly) and next game he would definitely get it in the net. He was ecstatic.

As we drove home Lars said, “Mom, I’m really glad that I decided to stay. I really like soccer.” It was in that moment that I stopped worrying about Lars’ nervousness. I stopped worrying about how I was feeling in comparison. I stopped worrying about our inexperience in soccer and the other soccer moms, and I told Lars how proud I was of him.

It takes a lot of courage to stand up to your own nervousness. That night, my son taught me how to face your fears in the best kind of way.

“Just Keep Swimming”

I had decided to take the children swimming. Jamie was working and I didn’t feel like tracking down any other adults to come with. “No worries,” I said to myself, “I can deal with a couple measly kids at the pool.”  Two kids to one adult; those odds weren’t too bad.

We started out on a pretty positive note and managed to get our swimsuits on without incident, which in itself was surely a small miracle. The kids dutifully walked through the prep showers when asked and we even managed to score a radical floating mat in the shape of a butterfly before hopping in the water.

Once we were in, I noticed that Lars had begun to stare at something. I followed his gaze to find a lady with a considerably voluptuous chest playing volleyball. And, due to an unfortunate serious of events one of her hefty breasts had managed to wrangle its way free from her suit and was hanging out for all to see.

Here was my dilemma. I don’t want my children to be afraid of the body; I don’t want them to recoil in fear when it comes to the sight of nakedness (however awkward the situation may be). So in an attempt at normalcy I acted cool and continued nonchalantly playing the shark game where I chase the kids around making, what I feel to be, some pretty spot-on shark noises.

I continued glancing over at the woman fleetingly though and she had still not noted her boob-out-of-suit situation. The whole damn pool seemed to be letting this poor woman carry on participating in a very “bouncy” game of volleyball with her gargantuan boob flopping footloose and fancy-free. It appeared that everybody was holding their breath waiting for someone to speak up. Or perhaps we were all just waiting for the other one to gyrate loose.

As I waded towards her—because somebody needed to stop the madness—I thought about what I should say, “Um excuse me ma’am your breast is out, (proceed pointing uneasily towards upper torso area) just thought I’d let you know.” Was that seriously the best I could come up with? Thankfully I didn’t have to say anything since she became aware of her slip-o-the-nip seconds before I reached her. I glided right on past and pretended to be retrieving a floating ball for the kids. Smooth, I know.

Now that the momentary mammary was now just a memory we could get down to some serious swimming business.  But like kids tend to do, they were beginning to take things a little too far.

They had turned on me. Sophie was doggy paddling in her lifejacket like a bat out of hell towards the deep end. “I just love to float there Mama!” She was screaming as she tried to make her escape. Lars was terrified to go anywhere near that area of the pool and was vying for me to continue playing the shark game with him.  Meanwhile I had secured the location of Sophie by towing her around by that little handle that is attached to the head rest of the life preserver.

Their ear-piercing screams sounded like banshees as they splashed chlorine infested water into my eyeballs. At one point Sophie jumped directly on my head and nearly drowned me. Lars began crying because he thought his sister had fatally sunk his mother and knowing Lars, was probably fretting about the years of therapy that would ensue because of the incident. I wrestled my way up to the surface and found myself face to face with an old acquaintance. She was as surprised as me, except I was sputtering for air and had a trickle of snot dripping from my nose.

I instantly discovered that the pool is probably the worst place to meet an old friend. You are wearing next to nothing, your hair is almost certainly a hot mess and if you are there with children you are probably running after them; your legs jiggling persistently in the most unappealing of ways. We made a bit of small talk while Sophie tried dunking me again and Lars poured a bucket of suspiciously warm water over my head. She was the one who ended up making a weak excuse to have to leave, and for that I was thankful.

When I decided it was time to leave as well, I bribed the children into the van with enticements of chocolate and candy. Now, they chow down while I sit at my computer and recount the experience. Maybe it wasn’t all that bad, but next time I may try a little harder to get my adult to kid ratio up.

The Famjam Endgame

I woke up this morning with poetic sentences yodeling from the tip of my tongue. Of course, I didn’t have the wherewithal to write them down while snuggled cozily in my bed.  With a six year old sprawled across my legs, a four year old subconsciously fighting him over who gets the cushy area of my hind quarters,   a dog in my face and a husband spooning me, it was impossible to get to a pen and paper. So now the words have been carried off into oblivion.  Figures.

Poetry is too ceremonial for how I am feeling today anyways. Thoughts of family float in and out of my skull as I pound on the keys of this old laptop. My dad in particular. I think of the years I appointed him as my hero, the moments I inked him as the villain.  I think about how on and off the two of us have always been. Since the birth of my children we’ve been on, which, by the way has taken great care on both of our parts as we are perhaps the two most stubborn people I know. Nevertheless, despite all of our shortcomings, I love the pigheaded man dearly.

Now forgive me if the following gets a little sentimentally sloppy, I’m sick with a cold and the Feels have caught up to me in my weakened state of mind. I always tend to gravitate towards writing about my family when feeling at odds; don’t ask me why, I’m not a brain doctor.

When I was 19 years old and about to set off on my first real journey, I hit a road stop before even taking off the parking brake. The problem at hand was that my mean old landlord at the time wouldn’t give back my damage deposit—I needed that money to get out to the west coast where I had decided to start my life, you know, like really really start my life. I cleaned the place spotless and pleaded with him amicably (as amicably as I get, I suppose) but he still contrived reason after reason to withhold the four hundred dollars from me. Back then, that amount of money was worth a small fortune. Hell, it still is!

Many things from my past have faded, now just morsels of memory suspend between conscious thoughts and hopes for the future, but not this. This recollection has always stayed clean and detailed in my mind. I had gone to my parent’s house after a particularly angry yelling match with this blasted landlord and I told Mom and Dad about my troubles. Dad was appalled. No one treats his family like that.

We hopped in Dad’s truck not ten minutes later and drove to my apartment building. With some words of conviction on Dad’s part I had the four hundred bones in my pocket before dinner time, and the next day I was off to Vancouver Island.

Dad is always unthinkably humble when I bring up this specific moment in time. “Oh well, that’s what family does.” He will say, or something textbook like that. He and Mama bear have always been firm believers that one must stick up for their own. “If you don’t have family, you don’t have anything.” They told me and my brother that a lot when we were kids.

Now that I am, admittedly, older and hopefully a little bit wiser I understand what “family” my parents were always preaching about. Perhaps they may not always be blood related. Maybe we fight with them, maybe we butt heads. Maybe we don’t share the same ideas and that can sometimes cause friction between us. Maybe we go months without talking or seeing each other. Families are the people that can participate in all these things and still love unconditionally.

I look at Lars, Sophie and Jamie and I know that they are my family. I can truly see what my mom and dad meant when they talked about family so many years ago. I guess my parents did have some pretty important things to say as I was growing up.  Funny how those like-minded ideas begin coming to light at a certain point in one’s life.

Now however, as I teach my children and help them grow into the human beings they are meant to be I will take this meaning of “family” one step further.  I want Lars and Sophie to know that they can treat anyone like family. To help those in need as though they were their kin, because in some universal way, we all are. Imagine the breathtaking world we could live in if we all had a “that’s what families are for” approach to one another.

sylvancrew

Parenthood Paranoia

Having kids is stressful. Understatement of the century said every parent in the history of parenting. More like once the seed is implanted every minute for the rest of your life will be peppered with what-if’s and Oh My God’s!

The other day as I dropped Lars off at school I noted a forlorn backpack just laying there in the middle of the sidewalk. To any normal human being, a backpack in the midst of an elementary school may not be too odd of a thing to come across. To me however, I think, that’s exactly what the terrorists want you to believe. Or maybe it’s the psychopaths that are targeting my child’s school. Perhaps an unbalanced lunatic freshly escaped from a nearby insane asylum. Yes, an insane asylum, because the mere thought of it is terrifying.

And what of this backpack I wonder as I linger menacingly outside the main doors of the school, not quite able to bring myself to return home. What could this mysteriously lonesome backpack be holding? All sorts of bloodcurdling antidotes begin to accost my mind. Because really, who would just leave a backpack all alone if not for some horrendous ploy of trickery and evil?

I am about to bolt at the thing and fling it out of the vicinity where my son waits in line with his schoolmates when a kid runs towards it and flings it over his back. “Don’t want to forget that!” A passing parent says to the child and the boy smiles back timidly.

I am now flabbergasted that my obsessive worrying was for naught. For a moment a run of the mill backpack had me tormented almost to panic. Was I the only one? Is there something wrong with me? Because I’ve never heard of other parents becoming this freakishly anxious over seemingly run of the mill occurrences.

Of course, this same day I am at my sister Ashley’s house, when I miss a call on my cell phone. It is from Lars’ school. My phone does this nifty thing when somebody leaves a voice message on it, it texts me the message. This is a great feature because I forgot my voicemail password long ago. The text says, basically, that Lars had bumped his head on something and was very upset about it and they were keeping him in for recess.

Strands of paranoia are now cutting off my air supply as I try to dial the number of the school back. My cell phone provider does not like Ashley’s house location however and all I get as I wait impatiently on the line is dead air. I try to compose myself. Deep breaths.

But my baby needs me!!!  This is what the crazy lady inside my head is screaming as I coolly ask Ashley to use her cell phone. My keys are being neurotically fiddled with in my hands to avoid her noticing them shaking. This is worse than the damn backpack incident I think to myself.

I get a hold of the school. I tell them I am Lars’ mom and I’ve had a call from his teacher. At first they aren’t quite sure what I’m talking about because, let’s face it, I am probably acting frantic and not taking the time to explain myself properly. Finally after a bit of edginess on my part and some good ol’ fashion tolerance on theirs they put me through to Lars’ classroom.

Turns out the poor kid basically walked into his open locker and jabbed his eye with the corner of the metal cabinet door. OUCH! I can imagine the kind of scream he laid out for them and I know it wouldn’t have been pretty.  It was Jamie’s day off work so I called him to go and pick Lars up from school. I just couldn’t bear Lars sitting there all sad and hurt with a shiner from the fight he had lost with the edge of the locker.

Upon pick up Lars seemed fine, but I was still happy to have him home so I could inspect the damage, which was actually quite miniscule, one of those hurts that you feel more than see I imagine. It makes me wonder if it will always be like this. Will I always be paranoid of the things we as parents cannot control?

And this is just Lars—my careful and cautious youngster. Wait until I start in on all of the things that keep me up at night when it comes to the wild and untamed Sophie!  Parenting definitely is a stressful endeavor…I think I’ll go and hug my mom now and tell her how amazing she is.

The Room

It is three o’clock in the morning.  My eyeballs are stinging and lack their necessary moisture. The smell of pungent urine assaults my nostrils. I was awoken several minutes ago by a waif looking four year old staring into my soul from the side of the bed. Her hair perpendicular, astray. Her eyes are wild and unpredictable.

“What are you doing baby?” I am hoarse and a disenchanted reality glides over my conscious brain. I was having the most delightful dream that Margaret Atwood and I were chumming it up and talking about all kinds of amazing literary stuff. Tough break Lindsay, she says in the cool way she would as the last of her presence flits out of my mind.

“ Mama.” Sophie is crying.

“What’s wrong?” I ask, but as I reach towards the girl to pull her up to snuggle I feel the cold devastation of pee-pants. She hasn’t peed the bed in months. However the evening prior I was at Red Deer Collage listening to a captivating talk by Margaret Atwood, hence the dream, on the creative process. The kids were already in bed when I arrived home but according to Jamie’s account Sophie was not pleased with my forsaking her at bedtime.

I stumble into her room with an armful of fresh sheets and un-peed-upon blankets. As soon as my big toe crosses the threshold of daughter darling’s room, the soft under skin of my foot is molested by something squashy, soggy, and that possesses too much give on impact. I hear the slight sound of a POP. I look down to find I have ruptured the splatter toy which she often throws at my walls, leaving a darkened stain on the tan paint. The carpet is soaking wet with a fluid from the toy I cannot identify. It will have to wait until tomorrow. I need to focus on more pressing matters at the moment.

In the amount of time it takes me to cross from one side of the room to another, I trip over a deconstructed Barbie house, three Bratz dolls with obscenely pointed features that bite at the already sopping  sole of my foot, and an oversized wicker Easter basket that holds all sorts of half-eaten treasures.

I pull off the bedding and bundle it in a tight ball then chuck it to the hallway. I want to let out a he-woman war cry to vindicate my swelling frustrations but before I let loose, I see something. Sophie’s closet is full, jam-packed really, of odds and ends. I drop the clean sheets on the bed and move closer. For some reason an ominous film darkens my mind and for a second I become overly concerned I am going to see someone eyeing me from the collection of objects in the closet. This is what happens when you’re awakened in the dead of night with residual thoughts of Atwood and her superb story telling abilities circling your peripheral intellect. I don’t see anything in the end, which is okay by me. Instead I note the excess of stuff crammed lovingly all over my kid’s room. Things like old cardboard boxes, thousands of scribbled on sheets of paper, Barbie’s with their heads popped off and those heads peppered throughout space and time.

I turn back to my task, realizing what it is that must be done in the morning hours. I will have to come and clean this place. No longer can I shut the door and pretend my ignorance to this problem of unpleasant proportions.

Sophie stumbles back into the room from the bathroom. Her eyes are beginning to weigh their lids down and sleep will most likely come easy once I finish making the bed. I realize I have forgotten to grab a pillowcase, because yes, the pee has indeed reached the corners of the pillow. I must incoherently say what I need aloud  because next thing I know Sophie is digging through the disaster that is also beneath her bed and pulls out a pink flowered pillow. Of course she had one stashed away, what four year old doesn’t have a reserve head cushion on hand?

I still think a good old fashioned purge and clean would be good for the girl child’s room. I’m a little concerned that next time the dog ventures in there he may just get swallowed up and lost forever.  As I finally am able to close my eyes and return to dreamland I briefly wonder if Margaret ever had to stumble over pointed toys and mayhem messes. If so, she probably wouldn’t have lost sleep over it, so neither will I.

The Locator

The air inside the play house is stale and sour. Perhaps it has originated from a rotten milk cup that has been stashed here days, or weeks even. I cannot worry about such things now; I am on a mission, and I cannot fail. I scan the small area- I know what I’m looking for is here.  I’m positive I saw it in this locale 3 days ago while vacuuming and then stored it in my superior memory bank.

There: Zooming in…Confirming item…Entity successfully located. Mission completed- for now that is.

My name is Mom and I am the Locator. In the scorching heat of summer I am the one who finds the sandal. In the blistery snow-filled days of ice and frost I find the mate to a missing mitten. During the witching hours of bedtime I find the elusive Sleepy Bear. And I also have been known to locate the missing wallet when husband is stressed out and late for work. I am the Locator.

I do not know why I was gifted with this uncanny ability to locate- but I was, and I vowed long ago that I would use my powers for good- to assist the fine people of the Brown household in their everyday lives whenever and wherever they needed something dear to them located.

These are just some of my stories.

“Honey! Honey I can’t find the ketchup!” The grown man yells from the kitchen as I dress myself in my superhero attire- yoga pants and a slouchy pullover.

“It’s in there babe.” I yell back urging him to hone in on his own Locating skills.

“Nope not in there! Did you forget to buy some?” He yells back.

Locating skills: engage. “Move the milk it’s probably behind the jug.” I say as I walk towards the kitchen area.

“Oh my God! How did you know that? Amazing.” He says with a smile as he smears processed tomato product over his scrambled eggs.

I’d like to say, “All in a day’s work for THE LOCATOR!” in a guttural superhero-esque voice but this job isn’t about praise or talking in cool deep voices; it is about finding the objects that mysteriously elude the eyes of others. It is about the self satisfaction I feel when able to place position on artifacts of great value to the ones I care about. It is about location, location, location.

Later that same day Lars tells me that he has lost his library book. Obviously, I first check the usual shelf for said library books and yes, the boy has indeed misplaced it. I ask him if he has looked for it, once more attempting to pass down my unique and proficient skills as Locator.

“I’ve looked EVERYWHERE for it!” He replies.

Locating skills, engage. I walk into the boy’s room and first look in the playhouse- no library book but there is a Sleepy Bear which I’m sure will be in my crosshairs sooner or later- no time for that now however. I then move towards the toy box. “Have you looked in here young Lars?” I ask motioning to the oversized football container.

“Yes, twice, Mom.” He replies with a little too much attitude for the Locators liking.

I establish an EDT (estimated digging time) of the toy bin, not too long, so I dive in. I remove a large item from the top of the container and…Location of library book attained.  A look of pure bewilderment crosses the young man’s face as if to say, “How is this possible? I glanced in that container for a whole of 10 consecutive seconds and didn’t see a darn thing!”

As I place Horton Hears a Who on the shelf where library books belong, it is now Sophie’s turn to beckon the Locator. By this time I am fatigued from a day of locating and would greatly enjoy a relaxing bath and some time to rest my aching eyeballs. No such luck when it comes to the work of a certified finding expert though. I think she is about to tell me she needs her sleepy bear but am mistaken when she asks where the drawing is she painted for me for Valentine’s Day.

The Locator is stumped. Sometimes in rare occasions it does happen. Even super hero’s have their weaknesses- what would Superman be without Kryptonite after all. Or say, the Green Lantern to…er…all things yellow. But not to worry because Mom is a woman who wears many a hat and in this specific situation there is only one person to call…

THE DEFLECTOR!

I am a garbage picker

As it happens, each year around this time of the Great Melt, a plethora of garbage and litter become painstakingly evident along our walks, green spaces and lots. It is the devastating reveal after a long and heavy snow-covered winter. And it gets me in the same soft spot every year.

I am a garbage picker. My mother is a garbage picker. And I’m sure her mother was too. We willingly choose, as crazy and outlandish as it may seem, to pick up haplessly strewn garbage when seeing it lying on the earth. Gasp.

“Um you do know that there are town workers for that kind of thing.” A woman informed me the other day on one of my cleansing missions. I held a rather fat grocery bag of sodden waste dripping from my left hand at the time.

I am aware, to be clear, that town workers get out with their poky sticks at a certain time of the year and in the more travelled areas of town, stab a few pieces of eyesore up and outta there. If you ask me, I would much prefer my tax money going towards a more lofty cause- something I’m not able to easily rectify myself perhaps. What I was not aware of was that it is truly that offensive to want to clean up this place that I live on my own accord.

The war on litter and waste would be a hell of a lot easier to rein in if every resident of planet Earth would be a little more considerate. The toxins from a cigarette butt ill fatedly flicked onto the grass, for example, will undoubtedly seep into our earth and water. Now think about what the areas outside your local bar looks like. Piled with butts and garbage, I bet, and each one of those little chemical stubs will eventually infiltrate our land and lakes.

But we all know that don’t we? You don’t have to be a scientist to conclude that litter and excess waste is bad for the environment. We hear about filling landfills and floating garbage islands every day.  So instead let’s look at it from a different angle- one that people from around my neck of the woods may understand a bit better. Money.

The amount of money we spend in taxes for pointless waste removal from our beach and walking paths is heinous. If each one of us picked up ten pieces of garbage on our walk to work, or the dog park, or wherever our little ol’ feet want to carry us, we wouldn’t be in need of paying these employees to do such for our own lazy and apathetic asses.

Even better, why not stop littering all together? Instead of watching that Wendy’s bag float out of your car like a thumb-up-your-butt-asshole, go and grab it, and shove it in a garbage can.

Our municipal government has passed a bylaw this summer to allow mobile food vendors into our town. Many a tourist passes through these parts in the summer months and I’m sure will be in seventh heaven when hitting up the convenience of some delicious to-go grub.  Of course some of the more environmentally conscious individuals found this worrisome because of the amount of disposable food containers that will be being pumped out of these specific areas. Obviously with this in mind, the fear of even more litter accosting our beach and parks is palpable. The town council put this matter to rest quickly and with ease stating that of course they would be adding additional garbage cans to the areas where the vendors will be present.

I find this a laughable conclusion to come to seeing as how there is already a surfeit of garbage cans around the downtown core, due to excess foot traffic, and still, the good people of town and abroad choose to flip their butts and toss their trash aimlessly to the land.  I’ve seen it many times first hand, our town looks like a dumpsite in the early hours of the morning during those busy summer weeks, sandwich wrappers, juice containers, and pop bottles all sully the ground. However eventually, before the tourists pile in, we pay unnecessary wages to multiple town workers to prettify something we, humanity, should do out of a deep-seated knowledge of simple mindfulness. Yet regrettably that notion has slipped away from many people nowadays.

There is a huge need surfacing, and not only in my meager town. It is the education of the earth and how we must stop mistreating this home we live on, for her sake and ours.

I for one will do as my mother did and teach my children how to recycle and sort as well as how to use a garbage can instead of the ground. It is painfully simple really. I will teach them how utterly despicable it is to allow a piece of their own trash to flit off their person and onto earthen soil; not once thinking about the consequences. And I will teach them there is no harm in picking up a few pieces of rouge garbage as they pass it by, how could there be?

Let’s create a generation of garbage pickers, and clean this mother up.

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When Everything is, “All Our Fault”

I woke up with a start. I was dreaming that in some perverse and twisted universe, my husband’s stinky work clothes had gotten mixed in with my whites. I’d tell you more about it but thankfully memory-loss has dulled the nightmare almost completely from my recollection. At the time however, the sudden awakening made me wonder about my own real life washing adventures. I ran down to the basement while still wiping the sleep out of my droopy eyelids. Perhaps it is a mothering thing, or a pinprick of OCD, but I knew something had gone awry in the laundry room.

Our roommate, as sweet as he was trying to be, had unknowingly swapped a load of my delicates into the dryer.  Some of items were unharmed, some salvageable and others…well, may they rest in peace. I shouldn’t have left them in the washing machine to hang dry at a later time; I should have just finished the job then and there. It was my own fault.

And that exact sentence seemed to become the ongoing theme of my awful day.

I had set out cleaning, doing some really great work on the kitchen floors as we were planning on hosting a get together that night. Lars had a birthday party to attend at one in the afternoon which was going to work out perfectly because I’d be down one kid to go and do groceries for said evening party.

By noon Lars was bugging me almost every other minute, asking when we were to set off to the party. I finally got fed up and walked over to the brightly colored invitation hung on our fridge to show him the time posted on it.

I froze upon opening up the card. It was not 1pm that the party started but actually 11am. It was as though my guts had swiftly moved up into my throat and any sudden movement would cause them to come pouring out of me. Eventually I would have to move- eventually I would have to tell Lars about my senselessness.

We raced to the car and sped to the party locale. We had missed the first half but we were just in time for cake and pizza. Lars didn’t let me forget that I was the one who made him miss half the party and guilt gobbled me up with every side-eyed look I received from the on-time moms. But what was I supposed to say- it was my own fault for being unorganized.

We go grocery shopping after the last half of the party; Lars is still stewing about his loss of partying time. He is being very uncooperative and Sophie has decided to follow suit with her big brother. I have two cantankerous children, a cart with a bum wheel and a dinner menu list in my head that is quickly being pushed out by mounting anxieties.

As I unpack all the groceries at home I realize I’ve forgotten more than half of what I needed. Need I say it? Sure, I’ll say it- it was my own fault; a list probably would have been a good thing.

I decide I can make due however and set in on peeling beets for my beet and goat cheese salad. To top my day off I have just finished wiping down some particularly dirty mushrooms and it seems that the purple beetroot combined with the excess mushroom mess on my fingertips makes for an extremely unpleasing visual. Thank God I was done leaving my house for the day.

Think again.

Lars rushes me while I chop up a rather juicy beet and says, “Don’t get mad- but there is a bead stuck in my ear.”  You’re joking right? No siree- no joke. And it is really in there too, so far back in fact, that it can only be seen if his head is tilted at the perfect angle with a very intense light shining in there.

As we sat in the emergency waiting room I glanced down at my disgusting looking hands. They reminded me of a marker explosion combined with a diaper job gone terribly wrong.  I should have washed them before we left. I should have checked the birthday party invitation twice. I should have been watching more closely so he didn’t stick a bead in his damn ear.

But as Lars lays his head on my shoulder I feel easiness between us. I am here for him now, and always will be when he needs me.  As parents we are going to drop the proverbial ball- let’s face it, with these 24 hour work days and the teeming pressure we face, it’s inevitable.

And even though some days, it seems to be all our fault, I’m just glad I can be the one who holds his hand and tells him that everything is going to “bead” okay.

And he laughs and tells me that I’m the best.

Spring Cleaning

A miniature green and yellow triceratops greets me when I open my eyes. He is plopped on top of my chaotic bedside table and for some reason, upon waking, my eyes move automatically to him. “Well good morning small play thing.” I say, but not loud enough to give my husband a reason to commit me. Dino tells me he is there to remind me of the shambles in which my house resides.

“No, surely you are mistaken dinosaur.” I say calmly- coolly even.

He informs me that I am the one who is mistaken. Even though I did stay up until the wee hours of 10 pm tidying up the crumbs from the counters, the dishes in the sink and the toys from the floor- little dinosaur speaks of a different kind of cleaning this early morning.

Spring-cleaning.

I groan deeply (and not the good kind of groan) in my bed where I lay and I think about the dreadfulness that is spring-cleaning. I think about the undersides of the living room couch cushions and shudder. I think about the cutlery drawer and all of the crumbs and junk that manages to find its way in there and a wave of nausea overcomes me. I think about the awful amounts of dust that would perhaps asphyxiate my pink colored blinds if they had breathing capabilities and a single tear rolls down my cheek.

Each year this moment of realization comes, usually in some surprising and creative way, and each year I’ve learned to fight it vigorously. Spring-cleaning can only lead to heartache and woe.

Let me tell you about it…

A few years back, when spring cleaning didn’t have the same sickening ring to it as it does now; I decided to clean my closet. This was a time when Lars was beginning to potty train. It was a time before I became neurotic about my loathing for all things potty training. I am clearing away the shoes and purses that are stuffed in the back of my closet when I begin to smell something familiar. What could it be? What could that darn smell be that makes me want to stuff tampons up my nostrils. I grab for one of my purses and feel the pleather (I’m classy like that) is sodden and stinky. I immediately become conscious of the smell- later in my potty training quest; I will undoubtedly be able to distinguish it from miles away. Urine- hello old friend. At the time I had thought, due to the dry pull-ups, that small Lars had been proficient in his toilet training endeavors but instead he had simply been using my closet as his own personal pee place.

In later years of spring-cleaning, I would come to discover more unbearable surprises, each year the grossness gauge rising. One time it was poo streaked Thomas the Tank Engine undies stashed discreetly under the bathroom sink. The next year it was curdled milk bottles hidden away in secret corners for later consumption. Apple cores in heat registers. Bread crusts in the Tupperware drawer. My children are obviously terrified that one day I will stop feeding them and they have come to realize they must keep reserves.

And please don’t even get me started on the basement conditions!

So instead of getting out of bed I lay there stock-still and silent. Maybe, just maybe, if I try hard I can forget that the prophesized time of spring-cleaning is closing in. I had hit the snooze button when the dinosaur began his talk with me this morning and now once again my time has ran out and the bleep, bleep, bleep of the device is scratching at my ears.

I roll over to push snooze once more when the dinosaur catches my eye again. He stands on the bedside table with a half drunk water bottle, a bottle of hand lotion, a used sting of floss, and a decorative box that holds all sorts o knick knacks in it. To be truthful I’m not even sure what the contents in that box are.

Again, the prehistoric plaything reminds me about my cleaning quest. I tell him to shut it because it’s my house and it really isn’t as bad as he is making it out to be.

The dinosaur begrudgingly agrees and I feel accomplished for winning a battle of wits with a small inanimate object.

But then the Barbie reminds me, as I step on her head while moving towards the bathroom, that Spring-cleaning probably wouldn’t seem so terrible if I was an overall better housekeeper in the first place.

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Shut it Barbie- what do you know anyways.

Walking on Thin Ice

Sophie 2 editAlthough ‘walking on thin ice’ may be the more readily used phrase, this winter I’ve come to the conclusion that any kind of ice walking is a dodgy endeavor. I think back to a time when I could spritely move across the slippery substance with a cool self-confidence. In light of recent events, I’ve come to discover, sadly, my children have not inherited this trait. And no longer can I myself glide to a sought out destination- I am much too fragile for that in present day.

The children and I decided to take the dog for a walk yesterday. The sun shone its rays of warmth down for us to catch on the ends of our rosy noses. A chinook wind urged us to keep on as we made our way to a local park to play. The beauty of the day was certainly not lost on me and I reveled in the togetherness that I had with my kids and yes, even the dog. As soon as the four of us stepped out of our front door, I could tell it was going to be a great day.

We walked upon a path that lead almost straight from our home to the park. It was mid afternoon so the sun had been shining on it for the better half of the day, which left it sodden but free of slips. It was one of those good refreshing kind of walks.

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We arrived at the park and the children had their play. I read a little on the bench, because yes, I am one of those mothers who read on the bench instead of participating on the adult death trap they call playground equipment. Plus, who would have looked after the dog?

When it was time to leave I spontaneously thought, hey let’s have an adventure and explore a different route home. Amazing. Ingenious. Spectacular!

Stupid.

I didn’t stop to realize that the road less traveled was also shaded by large buildings and trees. It also didn’t occur to me that there was a surplus of construction projects yielding a loss of travelable sidewalk on this particular route. Moreover, logical reasoning seemed to slither away when I managed to forget the difficulties that occur when trying to do anything at all with two small humans and a sometimes-ornery shih tzu.

“OH MY GOSH- this is ridiculous!” Were my overtly censored feelings as I tiptoed gingerly across the uneven surface. At this exact moment I was holding on to Sophie by the underarm- basically dragging the child along because as it seems she is extremely challenged when it comes to keeping herself upright on said slippery surfaces. I hold the dog leash in my alternative hand but even the canine is having troubles keeping himself vertical.  Lars holds tightly onto the back of my jacket and I am positive he is doing absolutely no legwork (literally) to assist our cause. Instead, he holds his grasp tightly and slides upon his grip-less boots from the propellant of my efforts.

We fall about half a dozen times within a half block radius and I am about to say, “Screw it” and risk the oncoming traffic to make the rest of our journey when I see an escape. There in front of us, as though a beautiful mirage in the middle of a heat stricken desert- is sidewalk. And to titivate the situation even more, it is clean of ice and slips.

I feel like a football coach in the ending minutes of the big game. I am cheering my people on, in a we-can-do-this kind of attitude!

“Okay guys, see- we just have to get to that sidewalk, walk carefully, we’re almost there…” Sophie has begun crying for no reason other than she is “bored” of walking on the ice. Lars still slides eagerly behind me but I can feel the sloppiness in his stature, which isn’t helping my balancing act. We are 3 feet from sanctuary when it happens- he sticks his foot out and it lands between my shuffling fur-lined boots. I trip. We all fall. Sophie screams. Lars begins crying. I say a string of curse words I shall never repeat.

These days it seems that when it comes to winter roving, choosing the path more travelled is by far the much safer choice. As for the rest of our trip; we ended up making it, but just by the hairs of our fur-lined boots.

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Storytelling

Have I told you about my two little parrots? I’m sure I’ve mentioned them in an article or two- I have come to quite enjoy their antics you know. These two little parrots currently reside in my home but once upon a time (at different times of course) they set up residence in my uterus, which is probably why I can never manage to get too angry when they start in on their tricks.

“Um Mama?” Lars begins in a tentative, treading softly sort of voice.

“Yes Lars.” I reply.

“So umm,” he pauses to gather his thoughts, “well I have some bad news.” This is never something you want to hear come out of your 6 years old’s mouth, I think immediately. “So you know how sometimes the toilet gets plugged?”

“Yes I am aware of that.” I say, desperately hoping I’m not actually hearing the sound of drip drip dripping water in the background.

“Well,” another long pause, this time I’m sure, because he does not know how to move forward in our conversation without getting in trouble. “Well, you see I didn’t realize it was plugged, and well, I flushed it.”

“Okay.” I say in a long hopeful and drawn out sort of way.

“Well the water started going up, and then up some more…” His eyes are wide now and I can blatantly see the pure exhilaration the ordeal has caused the small human. “And Mom it suddenly just went flowing over the sides of the toilet! It was like a waterfall Mom and it just kept coming and coming!” He is using grandiose hand gestures now- a telltale tale sign that one is at the heart of a great story.

I know I need to move. In truth, I should have been running towards the main bathroom as soon as he began telling me his restroom account. But it’s not really a restroom at the moment now is it? Seemingly, judging by my sons version I should begin gathering coupled flora and fauna, erecting a vessel and preparing to wait out a lengthy downpour. But perhaps in our specific case: we could call the trouble an Outpour.

If I am about to walk in on that kind of tempest I must have my wits about me. So I sit. I collect myself within the frame of a second or two. I cannot take longer than that because if I do I will have soggy floorboards to contend with and God knows what the contents of that seeping toilet water contain. My son has managed to keep such details behind his yapping gums.

Husband, with clearly a snappier reaction time than I, grabs an armload of towels from the linen closet and with words that are appropriate for neither a Day-Writers description nor the ears of a child, stomps his way to the bathroom.

I follow close behind him because I cannot be the weirdo spouse that does nothing except dwell on the utter horror of the untimely situation they’ve been put in. Well, not so much put in rather than pandered too. Who lets their kids hang out and create shenanigans in a bathroom anyways? So I get up and walk towards the mess.

“What can I do- is it as bad as Lars said?” I ask.

“There’s a lot of water- I just don’t understand how it could have came from the toilet. It is all under the sink and not even close to the toilet. I don’t think the floor slants that much.” This is an inside joke that we often mull over- referring to the shoddiness of our homes structural integrity.

“Lars are you sure it came from the toilet?” I ask realizing both of the parrots are right behind me.

“Well…” and it is not long before I find out the truthful story of how delightfully mesmerizing it was to watch Sophie fill cups of water from the sink and dump them upon the floor.

So you must be wondering where the parrot part comes in- yes often I call them parrots because unfortunately they seem to pick up on the less than lovely (albeit inspired) words I spit out in times of frustration. However I’ve also coined the phrase for the two because each day they exhibit another trait that I too can call my own.

Some may call it fibbing, but when you do it with the kind of flair Lars had this evening, I can’t imagine naming it anything other than polished exaggeration- and hell, there are a lot worse things in this world than a good story teller.

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A Late Valentines Post

As the kids made there way home from school, bellies filled with candy hearts and suckers made from red dye No. 5, I began to wonder about the inevitable. The inevitable being when they would finally realize that their father and I abstain from the remarkably popular holiday which falls on February the fourteenth.

I know what you are thinking, we’ve been getting the same accusatory statements for as long as our relationship has existed. “Well he is just too cheap to do anything for you on Valentine’s Day obviously.” Or “That’s just a cop-out, an excuse to be lazy.” And so on to the power of ten.

Because truly the only people that are supposed to veto this jovial day of Cherubs Arrows and lusty lover-boys are the singles that are loud and proud to be alone or the devastatingly elderly that don’t know the difference between their spouse and the left tit they refer to as Sherman. And let’s not forget the too-cool-for-school hipsters that simply go against anything that happens to fall into the realm of normal.

The madly in love couples; the boyfriends, girlfriends, wives and husbands, they must be celebrating this esteemed holiday of paper roses. We, the people in love, must embrace the Valentine’s Day merriment- it is the Day of Love after all.

Are you aware who Saint Valentine was? Because I wasn’t until this evening when I decided to write an article on Valentines days and actually looked into the man himself. It turns out he was not some horrific human being that ripped the hearts out of the innocent, like I had hoped, that would have obviously made for a much more interesting post.

The year was somewhere around 270 AD, the place- Rome, and under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, and cruel he was! During this time the emperor believed that there was a lack of soldiers because men were hesitant to go to battle with wives and children waiting at home. Which doesn’t make much sense…But whateves I won’t argue with ol’ Clauds right yet. (Perhaps Valentine should have done the same…But we wouldn’t have story then would we.) To rectify this problem he placed a ban on all marriages and engagements in Rome.

A holy priest named, you guessed it- Valentine, thought this was downright despicable and secretly continued to perform matrimonies- rebelling against his punishing and probably insane emperor’s rule. It didn’t end happily my friends. On February 14th 278 AD Valentine, later named a saint, was executed by order of Claudius the Cruel. It is said that while awaiting his execution he wrote one last note to the jailer’s daughter, as they had become friends, and signed it, “From Your Valentine.”

Oh my God just like the ones that we hand out in school!

Well aside from one palpable variance- we aren’t getting beheaded moments later. Okay okay so it is a pretty romantic back story in Valentines Day’s defense. And if you want to celebrate it don’t let my catty and sarcastic remarks shake ya.

For those of you who love the day the great news is you can actually celebrate it more than once a year! There were actually quite a few Saint Valentines on the Roman Catholic timetable so go ahead and Google your little heart out and take your pick- it is a fruitful yield for such topics. Each one has a pretty great backstory that I’m sure you could relate to love and adoration in some way or another.

I digress and will spare you anymore derisive bullshit. You’ve got your jabs at me for not celebrating and now I’ve stooped and got mine in too. Poke me parched- I’m done.

Valentine’s Day is an interesting idea, and I’m sure at some point in time it was even commendable. But now, here, I think that the meaning of love should be more than a few red roses because the calendar and Radio DJ reminded you to.

Love shouldn’t be made through the terms of a datebook. Adoration is about the deep sanctity of togetherness. It is standing in a pit of obstacles and knowing you will never hurdle over them but with the company of another you can plow the fuck through.  Love is taking a chance on all of the things you hate about someone. Love is mundane and terrifying and exciting and usually pretty damn random too.

Which is why love, and all of the thousands of definitions that can explain the emotion, should not be designated for celebration to one single day.

I cannot believe in a day vested to celebrating love- because that day should exist each time you open your eyes to see the person who sleeps next to you. It should exist in each waking moment you know in your heart that there is another person out there that adores you- each second you truly know that you have that same kind of love for another. Devotion is not made in one-day-a-year offers so why should it be celebrated as such?

It is the everyday splendours that reaffirm our love. The small and sensitive gestures that keep a relationship strong and healthy.

If you celebrate Valentine’s Day for its true meaning and pay homage to the man that once sacrificed his life for young men and women to marry then I commend you my good man! If you are using this day as a reminder to stop by the closest Grab N’ Go off your evening commute to get some cheap tulips and a card that announces your undying love for your partner then please re-evaluate yourself before you devaluate yourself. (Yep- that just happened)

For me, no amount of fancy dinners in packed restaurants or cheese filled greeting cards can trump the awe inspiring eccentricity that my husband and I share with each other in some small way every single day. And if it that is an odd and outlandish way to celebrate ourselves…

Well then, I guess we are just a couple of weirdo’s.

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The Infamous Mom-Bash

If I were to tell you that I’ve never bad-mouthed another mother’s parenting style I would be a dirty, stinking, no-good storyteller. I admit here and now that I have, and to make myself sound even more disgraceful- whilst doing so I enjoyed every minute of it.

I suppose it goes back to the rudimentary definition of bullying which is hurting others to make oneself feel superior. And man alive does it ever!

Each time I roll my eyes at the mother in Walmart that is spanking her bratty kid I can feel my awesomeness grow by leaps and bounds. Or when I gossip endlessly about so and so and her innate obsession with all things sanitizer I feel this floating air of supremacy that encircles me like the first radical effects of a psychedelic drug.

(Not that I would understand what that feeling is like…Pft.)

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Eventually the high ends and it is in the aftermath of Mama-Bashing when the cool claws of guilt begin to skulk into my quickly blackening soul. I will be sitting there, for once, minding my own business and begin to think about what others are saying about my mothering skills.

The God-awful fact that I spew mine and my children’s dirty laundry all over the place for a few chuckles and some possible fandom.

The absolute horrors of my home and it’s constantly dirty floors. OH HOW I HATE DOING THE FLOORS!

The wretchedness that is me when I get exasperated with the tiny humans I call Lars & Sophie.

The Dishonor of my loud and proud approach when I am out with the girls and yell to the world that I am ecstatic to be rid of the kids for a few hours. The fact that I do this without shame.

I wonder what the other moms, the strangers who do not know me, the people who only identify with me through the words I write and even my best of friends, think of me in these times of frenzy. It occurs to me that probably as I am screaming at my children to “pick up the damn toys in the living room” my neighbors have already set in on the topic of how terrible of a mother I am.

And I wonder if this is why we all try to be so fucking perfect?

As I write, a concept if you will, floats somewhere between a to-do list and the finishing of this blog post. It begins to take shape and with it a new realization is haplessly coming into view. I don’t know if I will enjoy the execution of my brains pioneering idea- but in times like these- we cannot worry about such superficial things such as enjoyment. This is mothering we’re talking about.

It is a vicious circle- the mothering effect that is. We do our best to be the moms that we mentally showcased in our fantasies while pregnant and still utterly wistful. But somewhere between the fetid smell of infant feces on your cheek and the awful reality that this is only the beginning we start to play this thing called parenting discordantly rather than cohesively

Do we hurt each other- call our fellow mothers down- for mere sport? I desperately hope the answer is no. I hope for us, the people raising this next generation, we have not stooped to such a level.

I am starting to believe there is a pattern when it comes to this mom bashing thing…

I think we indulge in the act when we ourselves desire something more in our child raising regime. Perchance we knock down the ‘faults’ of our fellow mothers to mentally take the strain off what we are worrying about in our own routines. But why are we worrying in the first place? Well, simply put, there is a catty eyed mom peering at you down the produce aisle just waiting for you to fuck up so she can go and gossip to all her friends about it.

Vicious. Circle.

But what if we step back, focus on ourselves, our families and our own well-being before looking in on the lives of others? What if we uplift instead of criticize? What if we support instead of censure? What would happen if each time we had the urge to bad-mouth each other we instead put forth an act of love and understanding?

I don’t know. I don’t know what the answers to these questions are- maybe there is no one answer to any of them.

I do know that appearance means little when it comes to the mothering condition. I cannot control what anyone else thinks of my choices. What I can control is how happy my children are, how content my family and I feel together, and how I treat the other women I share this beautiful label of Mom with.

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Thoughts From Sophie on all Things Sandwich Related

  • “You know I’m kind of hungry…And I can’t stop thinking about SANDWICHES!!!”
  • “Mama did you hear me? My favorite thing in the world is SANDWICHES!”
  • “I could eat a sandwich for every meal…As long as it was a different one each time.”
  • “I JUST LOVE THEM SO MUCH.”
  • “Ahhh Sandwiches…”
  • “…Maybe you could go make me a sandwich?”

“But it’s only 9 am Soph? Don’t you think that is a little early for sandwiches?

  • “It. Is. Never. Too. Early. For. Sandwiches.”
  • “Now my mouth is watering for a sandwich Mom…”
  • “I’m so excited you’re making me this sandwich. Make sure it’s a good one okay?”
  • “Thanks Mama, this is really what I needed this morning.”

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Do You Remember the Days of an Interruption-Free Life?

060It seems to me that telephone use and/or important work of any kind must give off some kind of high frequency pitch that only dogs and children can hear. Dogs, because dogs seem to be able to hear things of this nature.  Kids, because well, have you ever answered an important phone call or tried to work on the computer in the close vicinity of a child?

The idea of this high frequency pitch has been tickling the back of my brain for a while now. Each time I spend the better half of the morning wasting time on Facebook, perusing around the house doing not much of anything or say, watch a show on Netflix, the kids seem to forget about me altogether. “Mama who?” I can usually get one and a half episodes of Orange is the New Black in before one of them are telling me they’re hungry- and that is just short of a miracle because recently they seem to be a never-ending chasm of consumption. I can walk past the bedroom where they play 27 times before they note my presence and begin questioning what I am doing. There was this one time I read an entire short story without having to break once- that was one in a million however.

Yet as soon as my body gets close to a telephone or laptop it is all, “Mama, I’m hungry.” “Mama, I’m bored.”

Today we had a fabulous day. We woke up and I got in a quick work-out while the kiddies ate their breakfast and watched Pokémon. We then got ourselves readied in our finest threads and met some friends for lunch at the local Boston Pizza. I had the roasted peach and beat salad and it was the most fabulous salad I have ever put in my mouth. Throughout lunch the kids were angels. Well as close to angles as kids can be. There may have been some crawling around on the floor and table licking going on but we can’t ask for the world right?!

After our outing we took the dog for a walk and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine. Oh we laughed and talked and laughed some more. It was a glorious afternoon filled with magical moments.

It was when we got home that things took a hairy turn for the worst.

I was prepping for dinner when the phone rang. It was my sister-in-law Ashley. The kids seemed occupied with a game of Monopoly for the moment so I believed I was safe to answer. As it generally happens we had become engrossed in our conversation and as usual at the worst possible time Sophie decided to begin screaming at the top of her lungs. I had no idea though what she was screaming about. There were no tears visible and she was not physically hurt. I gave her one of the silent but deadly arm waves accompanied with the famous mom fiery eyes. 

The sheer terror of the mom fiery eyes would stop Lars in a jiffy but not Soph- never Soph.  She barreled through my obstinate waving and continued to scream that she was hungry. Or maybe it was that Lars called her a tattletale. Possibly she had lost her sparkly Sophia the First lip-gloss and thought I had stolen it from her. Who really knows with that kid?

I eventually had to tell Ashley I would let her go because I know better than anyone how annoying it is trying talk to someone on the phone when there is some little brat in background ranting and raving.

After hanging up I explain to the girl that it is unacceptable to scream at me when I’m on the phone and unless it is an emergency she can wait until I am done. I realize as she is walking away though that her emergency and mine are probably very different circumstances.

When it isn’t Sophie it is Lars. The boy has learnt that attempting to get my attention while on the phone is not a wise decision- he probably considers it child’s play. His aim is to bombard me each and every time I open my laptop to get some work done. It is like he knows the difference between screwing around on the web and being on a roll with a great set of prose. He always chooses to find me when I am smack dab in the middle of the latter. So quite some time ago the decision to leave work to the early morning hours or long after the children’s bedtime was made.

I’m pretty sure I’m on to something with the high frequency pitch of a phone or laptop but even if I am what are you going to do?

I suppose at this point in the parenting game it is a matter of sitting back and appreciating the time we do have with those special little humans. While secretly dreaming of the day when we will not have to lock ourselves in the bathroom for two minutes of peaceful telephone time.

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The Death of A 20-Something is lonely

Hello my bloggy blogger friends!

Remember to please take a second to pop by my brand spankin’ new blog

The Death of a 20-Something

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And it isn’t only for 20-Somethings as the title may suggest.

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It is for anyone who wants a fun spin on thoughts about growth and maturity.

So feel free to follow the link and check it out!

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