Co-Workery

 

One of the most common questions we have gotten since starting up The Hot Wire is firstly, “Do you guys own this place?” Secondly, “Wow that’s awesome, you’re married then?” And finally, “Holy man don’t you guys drive each other nuts working together?” This last question is usually followed up by a, “I’d never be able to work with my wife/husband I’d kill them!”

We laugh, nod understandingly and play along telling them that, “Oh boy it’s come close to that before!” And then we all chuckle in good humour and continue on with our trade.

The truth is, of course it’s not easy working with your spouse. It’s also not easy working with a complete stranger or your best friend or a sibling either. The real damn truth of the matter is that it’s not easy working with anyone because all human beings have their own distinct ways of doing things. Isn’t that the purpose of kindergarten? To learn how to play well with others?

Jamie and I met while working together. It was in a little chicken factory…you may have heard of it  – KFC? We worked together for a few years but then went on to pursue separate things in life. Maybe that’s what primed us for our later years of co-workery (cool new word ‘eh?).

When we first began setting up the shop I worried about so many things when it came to working with Jamie. Mostly though, would there be a power struggle? Well, not really because he knew everything about the industry and I knew literally nothing. That basically determined our roles in the company pretty darn quick. Although most of the time I will still pretend to be the boss and he just plays along because he is a gawd-damn saint I tell you. A knight in shining armour! He often calls me “Boss” and I roll my eyes but quietly tuck away a smile because I know he does it just to make me feel good about myself and my place at The Hot Wire.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not all cutesy name calling and flirty ass-grabbing when it comes to spouses working together. There are days when we’ve had enough of each other. When one of us has said or done something to royally piss off the other one and we avoid each other like the plague.

There we’ll be, Jamie sitting on one side of the restaurant, me on the other, drinking our coffee and not acknowledging the others presence. And that’s okay too. I’ll be the first to admit it. We fight. Sometimes we are in the midst of a big ‘ol snap fest when a customer approaches the door and we turn it off like a magic button has been switched in the aggressive part of our brains and say in our most cheery voice, “Hi there! How’s it going today?” and the person walking in knows none the wiser because that’s just what the customer service industry is all about.

The business doesn’t wait for your spat to be through. The business doesn’t care about your hurt feelings or disagreements. The business only knows good service. Relationships and personal tribulations become secondary to that during regular business hours. This is the entrepreneur’s motto.

There has been too many times to count that I will be angry at Jamie and sulking when I realise I need to talk to him about something business related. Maybe it’s our next sandwich special or something to do with The Hot Wire’s bank account.

99.9% of me wants to ignore the issue and continue giving him the silent treatment but I know that is not an option when it comes to the business. So I deflate my ego a tad and continue on with professional matters. Pretty soon the topic of business will somehow shift our stuffiness towards each other and we will begin to work out all of the things that need working out. Eventually we find ourselves back to him calling me, “Boss” and me laughing at his corny jokes and wondering why we were so angry in the first place.

Perhaps both of us subconsciously know that things just go smoother when we aren’t in a huff with each other. Over the last year it seems to me that, although we certainly do not argue less, we do seem to resolve our disagreements on a much more congenial and timely basis.

Jamie and I were friends before we dated and have been lucky enough to only become better friends since then. We disagree on almost everything, we argue over small details, we drive each other crazy most of the time with our vastly differing opinions but we have the utmost respect for those opinions regardless of everything.

You could say we are friends with benefits. However our “benefits” far exceed the sexual favours that in which the popular saying suggests (although that’s nothing to shake a stick at either). My husband and I are lucky enough to have the benefit of choosing our own path. We make our decisions regarding money, business, family, children and life together. We hold each other up in times of stress and we celebrate as one in times of victory.

Working together does have its trials, but the trails seem minuscule when compared to the triumphs we get to revel in together. These are the days we are building up babes and a business simultaneously and some days if feels as though it is too much, sometimes we worry we have taken on more than we can chew. But we move through those rough patches together and just keep on growing.

I look to my side to find my husband and think about how proud I am of us to have built such an amazing team together. And I know that there has never been a better co-worker for me in all of history.

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They Are The Reason

As my word processing program boots up and blinks back into existence it scowls at me. It’s been a while old friend, I quietly say, as I am hesitant to let people know that I talk to inanimate objects.

It’s been over a month to be precise. But when I say things have been busy, I mean it literally.

The shop is getting busier and busier as the days go by. I’m not complaining because just between you and me I like money. I like it a lot. What I am complaining about is the achy feet, the stiff joints (because apparently I’m 279 years old these days) and the reeling to-do list which accosts the tiny bits of relief that momentarily surface in my brain. Oh the joys of being alive!

This last week however Jamie and I have got a bit of reprieve from the daily grind.  We shipped the small humans up to my parents house to stay with them for the week and by the looks of the photos I’ve been getting they are in their glory. And James and I have gotten a small taste of what it’s like to run a business without having tiny people in tow.

So, I’m just going to throw this out there guys…All of you humans that have no kids, um, what are you doing? Why aren’t you ruling the world right now? How are we, the exhausted parents, not your underlings yet? You are clearly the dominant species and should be prevailing over all civilisation. You surely have the energy for it!

Maybe that’s going a little far but after experiencing this last week, I have a newfound appreciation for ‘the working parent’ that’s for damn sure!

After dropping the babes off and heading back to Lethbridge we were solemn and sad, wondering how we could possibly stand this week without our darling littles.

After day one back to The Hot Wire there we were counting our float with huge grins on our faces, signing;

 

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For the next week we got up early to prep and stayed open late when the customers just kept on rolling in. We seemed to have endless energy! The work we got accomplished was unprecedented. We felt like we had the world by the small and curlies and there wasn’t anything or anyone holding us back.

Now as I am writing all of this there is a tiny screaming voice in the back of my thoughts saying, “there is a special place in hell for people like you Lindsay!” Because really, who actually talks about how much easier and more productive life is without children? It’s fucking blasphemy. It’s despicable. Its ludicrous!

But it is also the truth.

This morning I was in the shower, enjoying the uninterrupted cleansing time thinking about all of this. I thought about how productive life has been these last six days and how thankful I felt that our business was doing well.

And then just like that, discreet images of my two favourite people started nonchalantly dancing around in my memories.  Sophie mopping the floor at the shop while giving me her famous “Sophie look”. Lars, sitting at the table across from the till playing Uno like a pro. The hilarious things they say and the weirdo stuff they do flooded my brain and  it occurred to me that these two small humans ARE the shop.

They are the reason we started this thing up. They are the reason we work so hard to make it successful. Their smiles brighten the place on Saturdays and their presence gives us the drive to keep on going even when things seem impossible.

Yes a week here or there is nice to catch up on the little stuff. We all (including the kids) need a break from the routine now and then. But as I sit here typing my gaze continues to drift towards the clock and I find myself anxious to go pick them up.

Because as fancy-free as life was without them, the real adventure is experiencing the growth and evolution of our beautiful family together. They are the reason for everything we do and I don’t think I will ever be able to thank them enough for that.

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Think Big. Act Accordingly. Stay Humble.

Jamie and I are officially on our Christmas break. We get an entire two days off and I don’t think I’ve felt this much Christmas glee in ages! It is the morning of December 24th and I am enjoying a warm cup of coffee at my computer. I’m not stressed out about getting to work on time to make bread or having to get the kids ready for school. I’m not thinking about upcoming Hot Wire orders or money or anything for that matter. I am just here in this moment and that feels great.

This last week has been a trial. We sort of snowballed when it came to making holiday trays. I put an add on Facebook that seemed to attract a lot of attention and long story short,  over the last three days Jamie and I have made around 500 eggnog flavoured cream puffs. This wouldn’t have been so bad if we, say, had two ovens to work with and, oh I don’t know, an employee or two. But really, what would a business be if it didn’t have some trials and tribulations to tell tales about in the years to come?! And you know what? We did it! It was probably a Hot Wire Christmas miracle but we did it none the less.

This time of year always gets me thinking about life and I am in awe at what we’ve accomplished since moving to this city. The friends and connections we’ve made have been irreplaceable and this experience; simply unbelievable.  Some days I come home and my back is killing me and feet feel as though they have lead pipes fastened to them. A better spouse would likely quiet this fact and ask how her partner was doing. Not me.

“Ugh, FUCK I’m so tired!” I will say in a bitter rage to my husband.

“It feels like I slept for an entire minute last night!” Jamie will rebut because if we are anything, it is on the same page about how close to zombies we’ve become since opening The Hot Wire up.

We persevere though because the shop means life and life is the shop. This is mantra as of late. ZOMBIES I TELL YOU — ZOMBIES!

A few days ago we had a couple of fellows stumble, and I literally mean stumble, through our doors. They approached our patrons asking each one if they would buy them lunch. Of course, once I caught on to their shenanigans I quietly asked them to leave.

“Well who the heck do you think you are little girl?” The one man slurred as the other fell to a nearby seat.

“Look guys, I’m not trying to be rude here but if you aren’t going to buy anything you’ll have to leave.” I repeated.

“Well what can I buy for two bucks?” He asked throwing a pile of change on the counter. I knew what he wanted but I find it difficult to give to those who barge into my life with unpleasant confrontations.

“Any of the baked goods.” I replied.

“What only these things?” he said smudging the display case`s glass with his oiled fingers.

“Yes sir…those things.” At this point he must have picked up on the condescension which was creeping into my tone of voice.

“Hey, so what, you work here or something?” He said as he swayed to imaginary music.

“Yeah, I own this place.” Screw Christmas kindness, I’m done being cordial to this jackass.

“Oooh whoopidity doo!” He replied rolling his eyes. “All of your food is too expensive anyways. You`re a joke.”

“Okay well you can leave then.” I reiterated for the tenth time.

I will spare you the gritty details, because in all honesty this conversation (if you can call it that) went on for another five minutes in loop-de-loops which resulted in nothing other than the man calling me a chubby cow and asking if I was smart enough to count change. All the while I kept a pretty decent cool if I do say so myself. Jamie managed to finally get them out of there by threatening to call the cops.

I could dwell on this. I could worry that I said the wrong things. I could waste so much of my precious time rolling it over in my mind thinking about what I could have done differently and how I can prevent this unpleasantness from happening again. But that would be pointless. The sad truth of it is, these things just happen. Rather than being angry about these two men coming into our shop, harassing us and frightening our customers, I am going to feel sorry for their lack of social interaction skills. I do however wish that if these guys were actually hungry and cold, that they would have approached us differently. We are happy to give what we can and provide a warm place from the cold to anyone in need. And I am so grateful that we have the ability to do so.

I`ve come to realise that Jamie really is my best friend. Together, it seems, that we can accomplish anything. We`ve grown a family, moved to a new city, built a business from nothing and created a life together. We are the epitome of the definition of partners; in business but more so in life. At the end of every month when our numbers get tallied we can see our hard work paying off slowly but surely. Our children are growing up healthy and happy and cared for. Yes we are tired. Yes we`ve had to make huge sacrifices. Yes some days it is difficult to find the wherewithal to go forward. But we will go forward. We will keep moving on with our plans and dreams and hopes and aspirations because that is what those who live in happiness will forever do.

Merry Christmas Friends and Family! I hope this post finds you all in positive spirits and looking forward to a new and exciting year ahead.

We

You and I,

Sipping slop from red solo cups

Signing songs of love and lust

Under a blanket of twinkling gas orbs.

Ablaze with thoughts of what might be tomorrow.

Our bodies curl into each other.

My desires for future days dribble outwards

Into the frigid air of an optimistic summer night.

You speak of daring dreams.

The skin on my arm becomes goose-flesh as you touch me

And the both of us silently wonder

If that was from the chill air,

Or something more profound.

Your heartbeat tangles around mine.

And as though it was of no consequence at all,

The two of us, become “we”.

 

 

Here we are,

What seems to be

Ten minutes later.

Laden down with worries that stop us from breathing easily.

The baby is shrieking for no reason but to hear itself shriek.

A pile of unpaid bills is tucked away in cupboards,

Away from busy minds.

The two year old just shit his pants

Taking no regard to the hours of toilet training we pandered to last week.

We are tired but still

An hour commute is screaming at you

To get a move on.

However, you can see the smog of panic that just set in

Somewhere above my right temple.

It leaves me teetering on the precipice

Of a breakdown.

You don’t want to come home to find me

In the bathtub bawling with a bin of Ben and Jerry’s,

Again.

We wonder if it ever gets easier.

If we will ever find our niche.

We wonder if “we” are strong enough for this.

Can we make it through?

Can we defeat the doubt that begins to creep in from the corners

When the arguments over family, money, work

Builds this wall between us?

Will it wear us down?

Will it ruin us?

 

 

Here we are,

Sullen and sad.

Looking out over sacred green fields

Holding each other close

Anxiously clinging to memories made

With loved ones now gone but not forgotten.

The rigid crackle of leaves upon stone

Reminds us that life is precious.

Life is fast.

A magpie flies overhead and I look up to you.

Your jaw is ridgid, strong.

Your eyes, like always, are soft.

Without looking at me you reach for my hand.

Hours later, after sermons have been said

And our deepest regards given,

We hold our children close.

Despite them being at the age where that sort of thing is frowned upon,

They hold us back. For that, we are always grateful.

 

 

Here we are,

Bones brittle from years spent existing well.

Our hairs have turned like autumn leaves.

Our lives caught up in photographs

Efficiently arranged in a desktop folder

Named, “The Good ‘Ol Days.”

We sip tea spiked with whisky

From bone china once meant only to be looked upon.

We laugh and cry for days sped past.

We wait for the phone to ring,

But not too eagerly

Because we still have each other’s company.

A dreadful thing that nags at our innermost thoughts,

At the inconvenient times.

As I am reading my favourite Atwood story,

While you are looking up some current event

That spiked your interest.

We try not to think about that future.

It is a lonely idea.

Instead we pluck away through memories of

Bringing up babes, career days, accomplishments

The glory days.

I walk over to you and without thought,

You reach for my hand.

I get goose-flesh up my arm

Just like the first time,

The two of us became “we”.

“stop trying to do everything by yourself.”

I woke up last Friday to find that my seven year old’s cheek was the size of a golf ball. It was red, swollen and looking very very painful. I asked him if it hurt and he said, “No but it feels a little weird.” I swear to God if I’d never seen him react to a stubbed toe I would think his tolerance for pain was extraordinary.

Turns out the poor guy had an infected tooth. We got the medicine and I am happy to report that he is well on his way to healing.

The whole experience threw me for a loop. Hello, worst Mother of the year over here, what with allowing my kid’s cavity to get so bad it became infected. We have the appointment booked to get it fixed but not until early November.  Until then, I guess I just have to let this enveloping feeling of guilt peppered with a bit of failure consume me.

Uhh yes the dramatics, hop on board, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the ride.

But seriously, the anxiety as of late, is coming at me from every direction and I don’t know what else I can do to fend this bitch off.

I worry about Lars and his tooth, I worry about Sophie and this newfound teenage attitude she’s dowsing herself in. I worry about school and if I am doing enough to help them along in what is the most important endeavour of their young lives. I worry about the shop and how to bring more customers in. I worry about money. I worry about time, because there’s never enough of it. And each time I conquer a hurdle I am oh so fucking worried about another worry pops up from the shadows. It’s as though it was just waiting there, ready to pounce as soon as I let out the tiniest sigh of relief.

Yesterday I started crying, like, what else is new? I was crying because of this overwhelming quilt of stress that started asphyxiating me. I didn’t exactly know how to remedy it. So I figured after a good ole blubber sesh I’d be able to pull myself together and pretend to be a functioning adult.

Well, the plan would have worked if not for my meddling husband. He was all, “What’s wrong Hunny?” and, “How can I help you right now Lindsay?”  Which was totally sweet, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes a gal just needs to wallow for a little while to get her wits about her.

So with a wrinkled cry-face and on the verge of hyperventilating I told my husband what was wrong.

“I’m just so stressed out Jamie.” I said because I thought it may not be very clear at that point. “I feel like an awful mother. I’m always such a basket case of anxiety, I don’t think I’ve been spending enough time with the kids, I should be helping out more at the school and I just feel like I’m totally failing my family.” My words were barely comprehensible, but Jamie being the star he is, knew just what to say.

“Stop being so stupid.” Awe so sweet. “Stop trying to do everything by yourself. There are two of us you know.” He said grabbing my shoulders and looking into my soul as he does from time to time.

“But what about tomorrow?” I said, “Tomorrow I need to make a fruit platter for Sophie’s class, talk to the office about Lars’ medication, make Halloween treats for the shop, get the kids ready for the Halloween parade at school, AND OPEN THE STORE!” I’m not going to lie, I was hysterical by this time and unravelling more and more by the second.

He pulled me in close and hugged me hard, almost as though he knew that I may explode at any moment and he was merely trying to hold me together. It worked. Once again my brilliant husband held me together. Man, I love that guy.

“Lindsay, you do the things you need to do at the school tomorrow. I will open the store.” He said calmly – not to spook the monster that was retreating back into her hiding spot. “We are a team, we can do this.” He smiled at me, “I fucking love you.”

“I fucking love you too.” I said.

And with the help of my best friend I moved on to the next hurdle that needed slaying.

 

 

The Art of Generosity

My parents are coming, my parents are coming!! This is the single most looping thought I’ve had all morning. They are coming to see me (I guess the kids and Jamie too) and I couldn’t be any more excited. Well, I could be but I have to save some energy for work today.

Colleen and Dan Sawyer are pretty much the greatest parents in the entire fucking universe! The proof is in the pudding (did I just actually use that phrase!?) when it comes to how unbelievably supportive they’ve been through our current year’s life changing events.

As you well know these last few months have been trying. There were times when we weren’t sure we would be able to pay the bills and moments where failure was a precipice we tottered on often.  I would call my sister-in-law and tell her my woes.  I would cry to my brother about how scary this thing we were doing was. I would straight up avoid talking to Mom and Dad because I didn’t want them to see how unsure I was about absolutely everything in our life.

However, like families do, when Dust and Ashley would be over at my parents for dinner the topic of Jamie and I and our panini problems would surely come up. Nothing malicious, just general concern about how we might be doing all the way down here in the thick of the Southern Alberta heat. Literally and metaphorically.

Except Dad, he would hold strong in his resolve that we will be just fine. Dad is and always will be the voice of reason when things start getting dramatic (something that can happen quite often with me and Moms active imaginations). He would say, all they need is to get the word out, it is going to happen for them. It’s all about word of mouth.

One thing about my dad is when he is not dreaming up some outlandish plan of action he can be impossibly logical. He’s wonderful like that.

So the day I phoned my parents to tell them we had to close early because we sold out of all of our food at the shop, the words did not come as a surprise to them.

As I told Daddio how busy we’ve been and how the people of this city seem to be falling in love with our sandwiches I could hear a smile on his face. This was quickly interrupted however with ideas and thoughts on how to keep up stock and prep so closing shop early doesn’t have to happen again. Better to be open and making green than closed because we were not prepared adequately. Oh how I adore that guy!

As usual Mom had a plethora of questions to ask about the shop. From how early I go in in the morning to what kind of characters we meet on a daily basis. My mom, like me, is a junkie for people. Who will they be? What quirks make them tick? She wants to know what fascinating history has brought them to where they are today. And she will indeed get this information out of them, in the most subtle of ways all the while making a person feel like they are undoubtedly the most important human on the face of the planet.

Her enthusiasm when it comes to me, Jamie, the kids and astounds me. She has this unbelievable way of making us feel like we are doing god’s work. Even if it is just pressing paninis for a living. We spoke for hours that morning on the phone. After I hung up I realised that I need to call them more. Talking with them brings me this extraordinary feeling of triumph. An overall sentiment that is better than it was before I heard their voices.

Besides the hundreds upon thousands of life lessons my parents have taught me, one that sticks out as I sit here today is the lesson of generosity. This, they have shown me time and time again. Generosity doesn’t have to come from a bank statement or a wallet. The kind of generosity my mom and dad have so aptly doled out to my brother and me over all of these years comes from a kind and steadfast spirit. That extra push saying that you can and in fact will do what you’ve set out to do. Their generosity has been as simple yet profound as building our confidence up (sometimes to, perhaps, obscene levels) when everyone else is rooting for us to flop.

Generosity is an art. If you give and then immediately feel you need something in return I’m sorry to break it to you but you’re doing it wrong. Generosity is about giving what you can without expectation. It is about being rewarded by the knowledge that you’ve done something good. And true generosity is a beautiful thing. It proves that there is still so much good in this world, in the human race.

Now, as I sit here and read over these words my heart is eager to see the two people who have selflessly had a hand in giving us the strength and confidence to make it to where we are today.

Only a few more hours!!!  421008_561102740585388_1187082580_n

Wednesday Rambles

 

The house has a muggy calm about it this morning. Today is supposed to be devastatingly hot and I’m not entirely sure I am ready for it. I’m not entirely sure I am ready for anything anymore. For someone who used to be chronically prepared for just about everything, I’ve sort of dropped the ball lately.

Maybe it’s the heat. Or maybe it’s my brain being overloaded with menial tasks. Perhaps it’s my brain being overloaded with all of the non-menial tasks that’s getting me down. The worries and what-ifs about the future. I find myself daydreaming all of the time about what’s to come.

Like, I wonder when that multi-billionaire is going to stroll through the doors of The Hot Wire and give us an offer right then and there that we can’t refuse. He will say something along the lines of, “Boy Howdy I do declare this is the best éclair I’ve ever eaten!” or “Well, I tell you what, I’ve never seen a more original and downright delightful sandwich shop in my whole dang life.” I am imagining this person to be from the Deep South with an accent reminiscent to Foghorn J. Leghorn.

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However right here and now I am reminded that none of this has actually happened yet. A wall of heat is currently pressing up against my back and I feel as though I may be slowly melting away into oblivion. I do hope it’s not so hot there.

Usually I don’t mind the heat. I like to bask or whatever. But working in a kitchen when it is 30 above, I’ve come to discover, is most likely the closest impression of Hell that any human being will ever know.

I literally just turned around to see if I could physically see what the “heat” looks like. I am assuming that because it is so god-damn hot in here (at 6 am) that surely I would be able to spot its wrath. I’m really considering stripping down to the buff and going to sit in the cool garage for a few before I head off to work.

Okay by now I’m sure you guys are asking yourselves where in the good and glorious name of Jeebus am I going with this blog post?

Well, to put it right out there; I’ve been a bit of an asshole lately. I’ve pretty much been the assholiest asshole in the history of assholes (but not the literal kind…because that would be shitty. Ha!)

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In these last few weeks I’ve pulled away. I’ve withdrawn because let’s face it, things got scary and things got hard. We were struggling to get the business where we needed it and doubt plus many misgivings were running rampant. I stopped calling my friends and family because I just didn’t have anything positive to say. I didn’t text, and when they texted me I shot back with insincere one word answers.

Assholery I tell you, pure assholery.

Now, it is time for an apology! I’m sorry dear loved ones…I love you all. Love, love, love, love and some more love. Yes, this is in fact my idea of an apology. They’ll get it.

The smouldering and fiery facts—that accompany my current state of sweltering alive—are that I was a little depressed for a brief moment there, and it scared the holy molies out of me.

But then one day not too long ago something happened and although it doesn’t solve all of our “starting a business stresses” it gave me that little bit of oomph I was in need of to get up and get on.

A dude sitting in the shop so very nonchalantly muttered to his Panini one random day, “I love you. I never want you to end.” And in that moment our suspicions about failure vanquished. We realized that we have something here, something good. It was about at that time when grandiose delusions of talking roosters paying us millions to franchise our panini palace came into play.

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Maybe that’s a little much, I don’t know.

What I do know is that I cannot allow the down days to affect the relationships in my life. Our humans, the ones who get us through the everyday, are our everything. There are going to be bad days. Days when the bread doesn’t rise and the cakes all fall. There will be days when the equipment brakes. When the kids act up and lash out. There will be days when we want to tell the whole entire world to just fuck right off.

And then, there will be days when we find a grown ass man telling his panini that he loves it. There will be days when we feel invincible. Some days we will find that we have the ability to do just about anything.

These are the days we must hold tightly to. The days that remind us that we are doing something wonderful and fulfilling.

Some may even go as far to say; these, are the days of our lives.

*mic drop.*

Lindsay Out.

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Helping Our Small Humans

Change is great. Change is healthy. Change is good. These are the things I keep telling myself because if I don’t I will spiral into a pool of self-pity and sorrow. Okay perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic, although, our writer-reader relationship has probably evolved to a point where that doesn’t surprise you.

The Brown household has been feeling the pressure of change in these last few weeks and despite my valiant attempts at embracing it all, I find myself withering fast.

Jamie and I are having to work double time at the shop hoping to have it ready for production by early May. However, even that seems to be a long shot now as there continues to be issues popping up left right and center. This in turn leaves the poor children dangling helplessly over the precipice of neglect and abandonment. Again, with the dramatics.

We’ve enrolled them in an afterschool program which I am positive they will love, however it hasn’t started yet. So we’ve been doing what so many Ma and Pop shops have done since the dawn of Ma and Pop shops. We haul our small humans to the Panini factory and they hang out there until we are done our work. Lars definitely has it better as he is in full days of class so it is rare that we need to bring him, but Soph is still in kindergarten which means only half days. Every morning Jamie and I load her and approximately 700 teddy bears into the car to make the journey across town to work.

We then toil away with whatever is on the chopping block that day while Sophie interrupts us every five minutes. She is very good about keeping us in the know when it comes to her hunger or her boredom or when something smells slightly strange in her general vicinity. Occasionally her left toe is bugging her and when it’s not any of that you can be sure that some other peculiar five year old woe has hammered down upon her.
It pains me to say it but we can see the agitation in her everyday life. She is ornery and short tempered. She continues to try haggling with me for mere sport.

“Mom, I will clean my room if you give Sleepy Bear a birthday party tonight. With cake. And presents.”

“Umm first of all that bear has had like ten birthdays already this year and secondly you will clean your room so it doesn’t develop an army of bug creatures from all of the filthy clothes that are peppered around the place.” This is just one example of our bartering conversations.

Oh and the tantrums. How could I forget the tantrums?

There we were in the parking lot of the school while she was screaming louder than I’ve ever heard any human being scream. Her little face was nearing purple while tears streamed down her cheeks.

She was perturbed that her brother had gotten into the car before her.

As the child stomped her feet on the pavement I reimagined the song Hello, by Adele.

 

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As the lyrics swept through my skull I started to think. I knew that these temper tantrums were stemming from somewhere. Sophie wasn’t inherently angry like this—no kid is.

Other Moms were walking past the spectacle side-eyeing my dilemma. In that moment I felt like the worst parent to have ever walked those school grounds. Although I’m sure that most of them just looked at me with a sad pitying kind of stare. Let`s face it, we’ve all been there.

It didn’t take much to realise what the problem was. My daughter was simply missing me. She has never had to share me with a full-time job and that is a big challenge for our little family. So instead of threatening her with no ice cream after dinner. Or pulling out that notorious whisper-demon voice and telling her to get into the car. I wrapped my arms around my little girl and I hugged her hard.

I did say something into her ear as I embraced her, and that was that I loved her. It took a few seconds but she relaxed, melted into my hug and eventually told me she loved me back.

Change is great and change is healthy and it is good too but we must remember that change can only be all of these things if we take the time to help escort the people we love most through the difficult times.

 

The Crazy/Fun Ones Are Always The Best

So there I was, week two of being moved into our new home and feeling so lonely I could puke. A month before I told everyone and their dog that, “I’d be fine” and, “Don’t worry about me, I’ve got the kids and we will make friends lickity split once we get there.”  Turns out kids are crappy conversationalists and leave little time for socializing.

As the days pressed on, these two small factors began to drive me over the proverbial edge.

One evening Jamie was half an hour late making his usual bedtime phone call to the kids. I freaked. I actually may have momentarily lost my mind. I imagined him dead in a ditch somewhere because there was surely no other reasonable explanation as to why my husband had not answered any one of my twelve text messages. Not to mention why he was thirty minutes late in calling us—his loving family who missed him dearly—just no logical reason at all.

After calling his brother and texting about fifty other people to assure my text messages were getting through, I saw his picture pop up on my cell. He was calling. I answered in a fit. “I thought you were dead Jamie!”

He laughed. He laughed at my misery/psychosis and told me the restaurant had got slammed during the dinner rush and he couldn’t get off the line. However by this point it was too late for excuses.  Between snivels I heatedly explained that he shouldn’t laugh in this situation. I told him he wasn’t the one here in this strange place all alone with two children and knowing hardly anyone, so he just wasn’t allowed to laugh.

He apologized and I got over the initial hysteria that was building up in me. However when I hung up the phone I realized that if this was going to work I had to buck up and find some way to be okay with my husband’s temporary absence.

It’s funny how sometimes the most chance people decide to show up in our lives, exactly when we need them most.

The next day my Auntie Deb called me out of the blue to ask how the move went. Auntie Deb and I used to be very close when I was a kid but over the years and as life tends to do we had grown apart. However she is and always will be one of those fellow humans that once you reconnect it feels as though no time has passed at all.

After crying my woes to her and revealing my loneness resulting in temporary psychotic breaks my aunt told me she was planning to come down for a visit. She said that she too had once been a mother alone in a city where she knew no one- she felt my pain.

Auntie Deb has always been, well, Auntie Deb. Growing up she was the person my brother and I would be thrilled to go stay with because she is so carefree and fun-loving. She is outspoken and spontaneous. She is a little crazy (but in the most excellent way possible). Life was always chalk full of surprises when she was around. I couldn’t wait for Lars and Sophie to get to experience the jubilation this woman brings to those around her.

We all slipped easily into a routine while Deb and her funny pup Maggie were staying with us. The kids fell in love with the energetic Shih Tzu while Auntie and I stayed awake late talking about the old days and catching up on all of the moments we had missed in each other’s lives.

We went walking and I fell about a hundred times on the slick ice-covered sidewalks. Have I failed to mention to you how “graceful” I am in this slippery winter weather? And Oh how Auntie laughed at me. You know it’s a special kind of camaraderie when you are flat on your derrière from a fall and all you can hear are snorts of hilarity coming from your walking companion.

After that we decided to explore the city via car as to save me from another catastrophic nose-dive. We got lost and found our way again—and might I add, if you are going to get lead astray by anybody in this life you’d be lucky to by such a blithe human such as my Aunt. So despite having no clue where we were we simply laughed and ventured forward.

Sometimes, life will cut us a break and send a special soul our way to help us find our bearings and let us know that everything is going to be alright. It is for that reason I will forever have faith that there is something out there leading us in the right direction.

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Distance and Hearts and Such

His voice cracks as he says goodbye to me. If he was some other person or if I didn’t know him better than I know myself I could have mistaken it for a bad connection. However that’s not the case. Hushed tears are now dribbling down my face but I try to keep my composure. I have two children in the basement who I can hear sobbing because talking to Dad reminds them that they still have another five days before he comes home. I have to be strong for them. I have to be strong for my husband, who is silently struggling. He is too proud to admit that all he wants to do is drop every last obligation and run as fast as he can towards his family. I have to remain steady for the humans I love.

This move has taught us a lot about ourselves as a family. What we can endure together and what we must suffer by apart. To give ourselves the best shot at this new future Jamie will have to stay working in Sylvan Lake on a rotational schedule until we establish our new business prospects here in the city of Lethbridge.

The first week wasn’t bad. We had some moments of doubt and a few minor meltdowns but nothing that doesn’t happen on the regular anyways. It was once the tough stuff started getting thrown at me, like troubles at school and “fix-it” jobs that I had no idea how to fix; I realized what I had gotten myself in to.

Ever since I became pregnant with a little lad named Lars Jamie and I have always been in it together. We do everything together. We cook together. We make financial decisions together. We raise children together. We will soon be building an entire business together. I colour coordinate our outfits on date night for the love of God! And many might feel the need to criticize our ridiculously codependent existence—perhaps with valid points. But it seems to work for us so I say, “do what makes you feel right.”

But right now, at this very moment, as I sit in our new home typing on this laptop that holds so many stories of our family I feel at a loss. It has been so 15 days since all four of us have been under the same roof. Typing it makes me feel vaguely silly since it doesn’t really sound like that long. It sure as hell didn’t sound like it would be that long a month ago when we were hashing out this master plan.

It is long though. It is too long for kids who are used to having Dad tuck them in nightly. It feels so very long for a wife who hasn’t slept a full night in fifteen days because every creek and crack of this new house startles her awake. And when she sleepily moves to hold her husband all she finds is a cold pillow. It is devastatingly long for a man who has just been told by his five year old daughter that she doesn’t want to talk to him on the phone anymore because it makes her miss him too much. It is just so damn long.

The children have now settled and Jamie and I have set in to a rather racy thread of text messaging (which I will spare you of). I find myself constantly giddy over the thought of my husband coming home to us. I daydream about the grin he will be wearing and how tight he will hug us as he walks in the door. I think of him asking Lars about his new schoolmates and getting Sophie to show him all of her new drawings that are fastened to the refrigerator. It makes me smile to think of how whole I will feel once he is here with us. And I wonder how other families do this on a regular basis.

Then it dawns on me. Nobody chooses this type of a lifestyle. There is no family unit that wishes to be separated from each other. But we all do what we must to survive in this world. We work away. We distance ourselves from our loved ones. We make sacrifices and go without to achieve what it is we truly desire.

Family is our most important entity and we will forever journey to the ends of the universe for their wellbeing. So once the tough stuff has been conquered and we are reunited with the people who mean the most all of the heartache and strife will have been worth it. And one day when we look back on these moments we will realize that it was the “tough stuff” that made this beautiful life that much sweeter.

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Welcome Home 2016

Another year has passed us by. I can honestly say that 2015 was a pretty big deal for the Brown clan. We learnt, we loved, we lost, and we decided to pick ourselves up and venture out on a limb.

Usually I am not a resolution type of gal; I am typically of the opinion that if I want to do something I will just do it. Why feel the need to resolve to be a better person? Perhaps we should all just actively be better people. However with that said I’ve gotten a taste of something wonderful and I would truly like to live with more of it.

Gumption. That’s right; my “resolution” for the year of two thousand and sixteen is to live with more gumption. Jamie and I have recently taken the biggest risk of our lives by selling our home and moving onwards. We are starting a small business. We are bringing our dreams to fruition.

There is nothing more exhilarating than to live bravely. To not constantly be held back in life by fears of inadequacy and the trepidation of failure. Sure we may fail, but there will always be something else to strive for. It took a long time for us to really believe in ourselves but once we woke up and realized that we are pretty intelligent people it seemed like a no brainer to go out in this world and work hard for what we want. What kind of a lesson would we be teaching our children otherwise?

I want to say yes more and no less. I want to take chances, calculated chances at least, and feel the excitement of doing anything that is new-fangled.

For so long Jamie and I sat on the sidelines waiting for our “opportunity” to be tagged in. Granted we learnt some pretty valuable life lessons, it still seems like wasted time. I don’t want to squander anymore precious time.

Perhaps living with gumption takes more work, for argument sake, let’s say that it does. It means having a certain kind of drive in life that doesn’t give up when times get tough and doesn’t cower when something scary comes along. It means that we must put ourselves out there and wait for the criticism to come rolling in. I have no doubt that it will. When anyone decides to live boldly, someone will have something to say about it. Living with gumption means to make decisions and stick with them. It means to always be moving forward with confidence and common sense.  It means living with conviction about your everyday choices.

That sounds like a life I’d like to live. For so long we have worried about what others were saying about our life choices we somehow forgot that it simply doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

As far as I know we only have this one life, so I am here to make sure that it is the ride of lifetime. By doing so, by living happily and bravely Jamie and I will teach by example. Hopefully not just to our children but to anyone who wants to break free from the monotony. For anyone who wants to stop being shackled down by insecurities and self doubt. I so wish that by living today with as much gumption as I can muster, I will inadvertently possess even one individual to want to live in the same way.

It doesn’t matter if you are a banker, a writer, a laborer, a stay at home mom, a small business owner, a man or a woman, we are all simply humans. And in any case we all deserve fulfillment. Fulfillment is not something that will be dropped in front of us on a golden platter however; it is something we must work for. Sometimes it involves heartache and struggle. Sometimes it means we must work harder than we’ve ever worked at something before. Sometimes it entails sacrifice. But it will always take gumption.

So instead of calling this a New Year’s resolution, I instead will simply say I am going to press on with my resolve for fulfillment. This world can be a magically complicated place but when it comes to the quest for meaning within oneself that is something that is incredibly uncomplicated.

 

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The Beauty of the Season

There was once a time when I loved Christmas. I loved the smell of cinnamon that would waft through my grandmother’s home while we tore through gifts piled high under the tree. The fun my brother and I used to have stuffing ourselves full of turkey and mashed potatoes until we were ready to explode. The laughter that we’d share with the people who we loved was so unforgettable in those days of carefree Christmases. There was just something about that time of year that brought smiles to faces and a feeling of cheer to the air.

But then adulthood hit and the reality of this god-awful month became painfully clear. Let us remember the fact that you will probably be plunging yourself into thousands of dollars of debt in order to achieve the “perfect” Christmas experience for you and your family. Not to mention the high-stress state of affairs that is the “family get-together”. All of the scheduling around each other’s plans can be enough to drive a person bonkers.

And please don’t get me started on the “one-upping” of the Jones’ at this sacred time of year. Right down the street we have our very own Griswold family who seem to think it is appropriate to drain the electricity grid every evening to show off their superb light show. How the hell am I supposed to compete with that? Here I am with a pitiable Charlie Brownish wreath that hangs lopsided off my front door and I am calling myself Martha-fucking-Stewart!

Well, don’t I sound like the Grinch? Before I know it I am going to be growing green body hair and people aren’t going to want to touch me with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole.

Each year when this month rolls around I tell myself that I shall not succumb to the scroogery. However every year once the pressure of Christmas envelopes me there I am yelling at Christmas carolers to get off my porch and telling the children that the Elf on the Shelf was too tired to get into any shenanigans the night before. Ugh it makes me guilty even writing it. Christmas is a difficult time of year and it only seems to be getting more and more complicated as I get older.

I had been telling the kids for weeks that after Lars’ birthday we would put the tree up. This is yet another Christmas event that has become more of a task than a treat. Each year it always seems to be a fight over who gets to put up what decorations and where on the tree they should go and how the proper way to string a strand of lights are and how much tinsel is too much tinsel—you get the point.

So begrudgingly I pulled out the tree from our storage area and began to set up. Something happened however as I placed the synthetic thing together…Some might say my, ‘small heart grew three sizes that day’. I watched as Sophie sorted eagerly through the antique decorations that my Mom had given to me several years back. Any other year when the kids have eyed the priceless bulbs I’ve stopped them in their tracks and told them that those decorations were for adults only, they’d be left with the paper-chains and popsicle stick picture frames they had made in preschool.

Maybe it was the way she ever so gently handled them or the gleam of wonder in her eyes as she sorted through these very old treasures but I decided to let Sophie and Lars do all of the decorating this year. After setting the tree up and stringing the lights (which seemed surprisingly easy when you forgot about the stress of it all) I found a seat on the couch.

I took that time to appreciate the joy that they were getting out of this tree decorating occasion. I played Christmas carols and made hot chocolate—the real kind of hot chocolate that my mom used to make for us.

After all was said and done the tree looked beautiful! All at once I didn’t care about coordinating the colors of the decorations or if the bulbs were evenly distributed, my heart was too warm to feel anxious about anything.

It was then that I realized that it isn’t childhood that makes Christmas a carefree and joyous time. It is having the ability to let go and simply be grateful for the people you love and the delight of the season itself.

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Siblings? Yeah, they’re pretty great.

Today I walked into the kitchen to find Lars gently brushing Sophie’s hair. They were concocting a plan to meet up at recess later that day.

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“When you come outside go right to the twisty slide Sophie!” Lars was getting a bit frustrated from Sophie’s inability (or blatant refusal) to recognize what slide he was talking about. As they nattered at each other I couldn’t help but think back on a time when my own brother and I used to be an oddly unbreakable force.

Dustin and I were close, there was no denying it. We were stuck together on acreages our entire adolescent lives. That’s bound to make two people learn to enjoy each other’s company. Dad worked the oilfields and was gone frequently while Mom was left with two kids and acres of open land. We only had one vehicle back then which Dad usually took to work. So more often than not when I say we were stuck out there, we actually were.

We made due. We journeyed through the back forty’s wood and made blanket forts out of Mom’s plentiful collection of crocheted blankets. We had secret languages that weren’t languages at all but somehow we knew what the other meant. There was always an inside joke being created or chuckled over. And because of all of our cryptic laugh attacks due to nonsensical sentences, people often thought of us as a little strange.

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I can’t imagine why…

Did I care what people thought? Nope. Well, not until I did I guess.

There comes an age in every young person’s life when they begin to take notice of what the other humans around them are saying. We start to recognize when people are talking about us. We begin listening more intently and taking to heart the details in which others perceive. For some reason once this time in our lives comes to pass we begin deeply caring about what our peers think. We will do just about anything to assure that we come off as “normal” to the squad (as the kids nowadays call it).

It was a little after my thirteenth birthday that I stopped hanging out with Dustin so much. I wanted to be with my friends and according to them; it really wasn’t cool to have your kid brother tagging along to the beach with you. So with a heavy heart (that was masked by layers of blue eye shadow and heavy mascara) I told my brother to hit the road.

I wonder about the day when Lars will find himself too cool to hang out with Sophie. Perhaps because their age gap is only a few years apart it will never happen. Maybe they will manage to stay friends throughout those awkward teenage years. For their sake, I hope so. I know looking back I could have used my brother in those uncertain days.

Lars and Sophie are still sitting at the kitchen table, he has finished brushing her hair but she is still mulling over the complexity of her brothers plan. There is something so special about the way they sit and talk, almost as if they know what the other is about to say. Their conversation flows without the complications or worries that are often veiled in so many other aspects of this life.

Once again my thoughts are drawn back to my brother and I realize how special the sibling bond can be. There have been many moments when we have had that same uninhibited conversation. We will talk early into the morning around hazy campfires, recalling childhood memories that only he and I could possibly understand. What a wonderful thing to have someone in this world that can place a value on those early days in the same way you can.

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Lars flings on his backpack as though he’s been doing it for years and his sister follows suit.

As we approach Lars’ school doors Sophie moves towards her brother for a hug. “I love you Lars, have a good day.”

“Love you too Soph, remember, twisty slide at first recess!” He says then runs off towards his classmates.

As we walk towards Sophie’s classroom she looks up to me and says, “Don’t you just love Lars Mom?” I smile and reply in kind.

I am thankful that my children have each other. It is reassuring to know they have a friend in one another—especially for first recess meet and greets at the good ole twisty slide.

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The Arrival Home

The house was dark and still when Jamie and I rolled our suitcases into the front foyer. As we made our way into the house all of its usual smells sprung to memory and I realized that even after a short week I had begun to miss this place. Or perhaps it was just the thought of the small people who lived here that had my heart skipping a beat.

Daniel, Jamie’s brother, was asleep on the couch. The hallway lights were turned off and I’m positive at that moment I had never felt quiet quite like that. The time was somewhere around eleven o’clock at night as I made my way towards the children’s bedrooms.

After all of these years of parenting, all of the frustrations and meltdowns, I really didn’t think a week long break would be that difficult to endure. And believe me I’m not complaining. You know, the sun, the sea, the amazing quality time that my husband and I got to experience in our seven days of childfree time was very much treasured.

It seemed however that so many of the activities we participated in while visiting the Mayan Rivera would remind us of our little darlings back home. As I snorkeled with sea turtles I could only imagine how elated Sophie would be to meet those massive sea creatures too. Or whenever Jamie and I would stumble over one of the hundreds of iguanas that roamed our resort we couldn’t help but think of Lars and how fascinated he would have been with the small reptiles.

Needless to say our flight home was filled with anticipation. We both couldn’t wait to give those first initial hugs and kisses to our babes after what seemed like a lengthy time apart.

As it sometimes happens we got a bit held up in our arrival back to Canada and found ourselves at home much later than we expected. Despite my efforts of “accidentally” waking the kids up by clumsily dragging the suitcases up the stairs and flicking on every light in the place, that evening they slept right through the night. Go figure.

I decided to unpack the suitcases that night, because well, I’m that kind of a type A human being. As I created a mountainous pile of beach wear that needed washing I wondered how the kids’ time away from us went. If you remember a couple of weeks ago  I had poked fun at the fact that they were so excited for us to leave that they couldn’t help but verbalize it in their honest adolescent way.

A major part of me expected that this is exactly what happened. I was sure they had hardly thought about us or our absence at all and they had had the time of their lives while we were away. But I must admit there was a tiny part of me that hoped we were missed.

The saying “distance makes the heart grow fonder” I’ve come to discover is true in so many different circumstances. Here, I realized how our time away from the kids has made me appreciate their beauty and uniqueness in a way that I think we all as parents can sometimes overlook in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But I have to wonder if children experience that same kind of logic and reasoning when away from the people they love?

“Daniel?” Sophie called from her bedroom faintly. I rolled over to look at the clock, 6:30am. Jamie’s brother Daniel had tucked her in the night before and she must have forgotten that we were coming home.  I moved eagerly towards her room.

“Good morning my love.” I said.

“Mom?” She asked.

“Yes, sweetie, it’s me.”

“Mama, it’s you!” Tears began to immediately stream down my daughters face as she jumped out of bed and ran towards me. “I missed you so much Mom! I love you.”

I knelt down to hug her; I too was now crying because of this unexpected emotional response from her—the kid who usually is least likely to show this kind of sentiment. She grabbed my neck to pull me close to her, “I really love seeing your face right now Mama.” Lars then joined us from his room and we all moved towards mine and Jamie’s bed for a cuddly family reunion.

I guess it goes to show that distance certainly does makes the heart grow fonder and that is true for any age group.

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“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.

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An open letter to my well rested family

Now before I set in on the ramblings of my sleep deprived ways, I will start off by telling you all that I love you.

I love you son- who to this day continues to disrupt my good night’s sleep by listlessly collapsing over my legs at all hours of the night. I’m not even entirely sure if you are awake when you do this. I think it could possibly be some strange sleep walking pattern developed solely to annoy me and threaten the very thought of your mother getting a good night sleep.

How naive of me to have boasted upon your arrival to this world of your great sleep patterns. How inexperienced I was when I told the others that I preferred the ‘family bed’ theory as I felt it was important for bonding purposes. How innocent and wistful these ideas once were.

Six long sleepless years later I see the error of my ways. At two I could still see the cuteness in it. My baby boy still needs his Mama, “how sweet” I would coo to my friends over ingesting copious amounts of caffeine to merely get through the day. At four I was beginning to get a tad worried… And now at six years old I’ve begun to question the normalcy of it all, but am too occupied with the girl child’s sleeping habits to deal with any one problem head on.

Which brings me to you daughter- oh how I love you. I love the way you refuse to go to sleep until I have kissed every single stuffed animal you own goodnight. All 53 of them. And then after that ordeal you still proceed to tell me you are too bored to go to sleep. I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you babe but I think you are using that word in the wrong context. But that’s another story.

Furthermore there are the late night lamp runs I have began to concede to. This is when, at all hours of night, you wake and realize you are in darkness…Aside from the LED nightlight I have plugged in an arm’s reach away from your bed (that also just happens to shine into my bedroom and directly into my line of sight). Upon realizing this sort of darkness you begin to scream bloody murder awaking me from the half sleep state that all mothers permanently reside in once acquiring their offspring. I awake with a start but nanoseconds later understand it is just your nightly routine you are yelping about and stumble towards your room to turn on your secondary light source.

I would like to finish there but I must add in your unusually early wake up routine. It seems that just as your nightly lighting issues end I find you standing directly beside me breathing heavily upon my face whispering, “Mama…Mama, I hangry…” I should have never taught you that word. I thought it would be funny coming from a little kid.  In reality it is just annoying. I get it, you are so hungry you’re angry and need your cereal now! Oh…And there is your brother laying atop my now deadweight legs.

Oh glorious mornings!

Finally Husband, I love you too. I love that in the unusual circumstance you come down with a flu bug, every ache and pain that sullies your body during the night becomes a verbal gasp of sheer anguish. But your being sick is a very remote occurrence so I shouldn’t complain about that.

How about the fact that when we first met, you were the lightest sleeper I had ever come across. You would wake from someone opening the fridge door or sometimes you just wouldn’t sleep at all. But almost as if the eerie hand of magic was in tow you now seem to be able to sleep through almost anything. Small children’s cries in the middle of the night? “What? You were up 15 times with them? Wow sorry hun, I didn’t even hear a thing.” Some shenanigan wielding hoodlum comes a knocking on the front door at 3:00am in the morning? “Oh hunny, you shouldn’t answer the door at that time it could be dangerous. Next time wake me up.” Sorry to break it to you bud but you weren’t moving no matter how much I elbowed you.

So there it is, some incoherent ramblings of a sleep deprived Mom. I wish I had a memorable line to end this article with but instead I think I will take this time to steal a nap.

Yeah right.

The Many Faces of 29

Lately I’ve heard much talk about how wonderful 30 is. How once we reach this brilliant age all of the insecurities of our twenties will flit away as though never having been there in the first place. A newfound confidence will wash over us and we will walk with that thirty something bounce that makes all of the awkward twenty year olds green with envy.

I will soon be the ripe age of twenty nine- my very last year as a twenty something. And all I can think about is how much evolving I still have to do before I get to that awesomely self-assured lady of thirty I’ve been hearing so much about these days. I am nowhere near that person that everyone says I will miraculously become once hitting this very specific and very conceivable age.

Many times I feel less like that person than I did when I was a weirdo teenager with no purpose on this earth other than terrorizing my brother and striking unabashed fear into the souls of my blameless parents. At least then I was comfortable in my skin. I was me. Plain and simple. And how beautifully simple it was. How easy it was!

Now on any given day I can wake up being a different Lindsay. Most days I wake up as Mom. I groggily get out of bed swearing under my breath about tiredness and etcetera. I pour cereal and more times than not change a set of peed on sheets before the sun rises. I make lunches and walk kids to school in below freezing temperatures- coffee mug in hand. I plan play dates. I try to decipher what my lisp-y four year old is saying without hurting her feelings. I end my days as Mom and I feel good. I’ve helped. I’ve assisted. I continue to do my part to raise this upcoming generation with love, intelligence and compassion.  And at end of the day that is a wonderful feeling.

I wake up some mornings with the sunshine glistening through the cracks of our heavily draped window. I see my husband’s nose wrinkle in just the way I have learnt it does when his deep sleep is disturbed by morning daylight. These mornings I am Wife.  I will gently kiss his clammy sleep sweaty forehead to wake him for work and as he rouses I will pour him a coffee in his favorite mug. I will send him to work and wait for his arrival home that evening expectantly. I listen to his woes and support him in his decisions. We will make inside jokes and talk quietly about our budding life over wine, mussels and blue cheese on Ritz crackers. We will imagine the future and make plans for what’s to come. We play fight. We real argue. We understand we are opposites but appreciate each other’s ideals. And I will love him, because I chose him and he chose me and together we created two beautiful little human beings. It is these days that I am reaffirmed that I am doing things right. I am doing what I was meant to do.

Other days I wake up with artful words plucking at my fingertips- waiting for that pivotal moment of release. These days I am Writer. These are the days I am invincible.

Some days I wake up and immediately am deemed Friend- I can be a shoulder to cry on or an ear to vent at. Or maybe simply just a friend to chatter with.

I am Daughter. I am sister. I am Confidant. I am Secret Keeper. I am Gossiper. I am Feminist. I am Peace Keeper. I am Trouble Maker.

And with so many different personas that I take on daily I can feel myself being pulled in fifty different directions. There are days when I wake up wondering what Lindsay will be called upon first and I am overwhelmed by the possibilities. I find the idea of coming into ones ‘own’ a difficult to process.

It feels like now more than ever I am a hundred different women just trying to get through the day without falling over that proverbial edge of insanity. Because god forbid we offend the guidelines of what women of a certain age should behave like.

So yes, here I am in my bed typing away currently indulging in my role as Writer. Maybe I will always be more than one woman. Maybe I will always find myself pondering the mysteries of womanhood and life in general. And possibly, that’s okay too.

Maybe it’s not about blindly listening to what we ‘should’ be feeling by thirty but instead accepting the realities of who we truly are and embracing that to the absolute fullest.

New Years At the Browns

I was imaging it would be a quiet and laid back celebration. Possibly involving copious amounts of wine by my lonesome because poor Husband unfortunately had to work the evening and early into the morning of 2015.

So I readied myself with a good book, a few glasses  bottles (who am I kidding) of wine and telling the children we were going to have a movie day.

Well somewhere between not being able to find a new flick on Netflix and coming to the sobering realization that I cannot start drinking at 2 pm I decided that we would have our own damn New Year’s party.

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AND IT SHALL BE FABULOUS! 

So we threw up some decorations- and by decorations I mean we created a pretty amaze-balls New Year’s sign.

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We then got dressed in our finest duds and proceeded to the board-game portion of the afternoon.

Now I will admit that I loath the very essence that is board games but I figured that I will suck it up and play a celebratory game with my children.

It is New Year’s after all.

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We realized as we were putting the Monopoly game away that there was indeed an English side on the reverse and all of that ‘guess work’ for the last hour had been for naught.

Sigh.

After the dreaded Monopoly game of 2014 (that’s what the event shall be called henceforth) we realized our bellies were beginning to rumble.

So the party crew and I whipped up some delightful New Year’s Eve grub.

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‘Fancy’ doesn’t even begin to describe the elegance witnessed here this eve of 2014.

And then came the dessert…

Decadence, pure decadence.
Decadence, pure decadence.

And after we had our fill we danced until our legs fell weak beneath us!

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I will admit things got a little out of control for a while there…

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And the best part?

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I still got some New Year’s smooches!

And after a great night of partying and fun- we settled down.

More than likely due to fall into dreamland long before the clock hit’s midnight.

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But that is just fine by me-

Because it was still one of the best New Year’s party’s I’ve been to in quite some time.  

So from my family to yours,

Happy 2015! 

The Maybes of Life

The house is a mess, fruit snack wrappers and apples cores smear my once beautifully manicured home.  The kids currently occupy my writing time with yelps of wanted attention and I am frantically trying to figure out what to make for dinner.

The vehicles registration has to be renewed, the bills are needing payment and I am sorting through them to see which ones can wait until payday.

I realize I have gained way too much weight over these winter months when I try to tug on a pair of jeans that quite some time ago had been replaced by stretchy yoga pants and an over-sized sweatshirt, and I am nowhere close to being able to fasten them up. My hair is greasy from lack of washing but I figure I can still get another day out of it, if I backcomb the shit out of ‘er.

I need to begin looking into school enrollment for Sophie, and Lars’ special day at school is coming up which I will need to bake some peanut free cookies for.

I sit down at the computer to write, I need to get some columns finished. Recently I have upped my workload by applying to online magazines and with surprised reaction have got several callback’s.  Just one more added stress to this hectic schedule.

I momentarily get up to use the bathroom and upon returning I realize my angelic children have raided the pantry in my 2 minute absence and took more fruit snacks without my authorization.

I begin to yell. I’m not proud of my screaming fit, and as I bellow my disappointment over small packets of sugar filled gelatin I realize I have finally fallen over the edge. I stop in mid-sentence, tell them to think what they’ve done and walk briskly towards my bedrooms on-suite bathroom.

There, I cry. That silent cry of disparagement. I know it will only be a matter of minutes before they come to find me, so I need to get it out now. I cry for all of the days like this. These days when I fall short as Mama. For the days when I know my husband is overworked and under-happy and upon returning home I am in no state to cheer him up. I cry for what used to be. The days when I could pick up and leave, without a trace. When I only had me to be accountable for.

It is after this last thought that I wonder what could have been.

What if I had never happened upon the man I now call my husband? What if we simply passed each other by, and decided never to speak and instead I carried on in life with my original idea of being childless forevermore.

As I sit on this toilet, forehead slammed against a clustered counter top I think about what this life may have held for me.

Maybe I would have fulfilled dreams that now seem impossible, dreams that now seem too far away to even fathom. Maybe, I would have placed all of my love and fervour into a career life, instead of changing diapers and wiping snotty noses. Maybe I could have carried on with schooling and become that individual that I now look at with envy. Maybe, in this alternate reality I could have been selfish and not feel so damn guilty about it.

As this last notion crosses my mind, I look towards the locked bathroom door and see tiny fingers reaching into my sanctuary from underneath. I hear my daughter’s voice, calling for me. It is then that I begin to flashback to the realities of my life.

The first moments of holding my son. The tears that escaped me when my daughter took her first steps. The uncontrollable joy when I discovered my husband on his knee in our kitchens home ready to propose his love to me.

I think about what life would have been like to miss all of these grand wonders. These moments that in someone else’s reality would have seemed ordinary and unexciting. And the thought suddenly is unbearable. 

At this time, as my daughter calls for me and my son knocks lightly on the barricade separating us. I decide to be selfish and not feel guilty about it. And again, I think about the maybes of life.

Maybe, it is not too late for school. Maybe I can continue to be Mom and still look for further opportunities professionally. Maybe I can be the role model to my children that I so yearn to be. And maybe, by reaching for the dreams I have been envisioning for so long, I can teach my children a valuable lesson about never giving up on the things that matter. Maybe my priorities in life have changed since that lifetime ago when I was deemed as ‘just me’, but the original goal of success and happiness still remains. Only now, it means so much more because I have my family to share it with. 

And from time to time, to be the best Mom that we can be to our special people, maybe, we just have to be a bit selfish; if only for a few minutes to take a time out in the on-suite to think about the maybes of life.