Night Time Rescues

My eyes spring open, they are hot. My eyeballs are actually hot. Or maybe burning, yeah, burning sounds about right. A quilt of darkness shadows the room and my hands instinctively go for the bedroom lamp.  Someone is screaming my name.

My heart begins pounding rapidly once that filmy layer of sleep slips off of my conscience. I listen to her shrieks as though they are the only sound I have or will ever hear. I fumble for some pants, a long shirt, something because my brain is telling me relentlessly that I must get to her immediately.

Jamie rolls over, “what’s wrong” he sees me struggling and I can see the panic and confusion setting in behind the sleepiness of his eyes.

“Sophie is screaming.” I say as I step out of the room. He is behind me within seconds.

We make it downstairs and our daughter is huddled under her blankets. She screams, “MOM!” and the urgency in her voice sends a shiver down my spine.

“Whats wrong baby?” I ask as I snug my body next to hers.

“I had a nightmare.” She says emerging from the protection of her blanket cocoon. She is sobbing and it makes even her words sound wet.

I glance at Jamie, go back to bed Hun, I say without saying anything at all. Everything is okay now. He leans over and kisses his daughter on the forehead.

I don’t ask what her dream was about, kid nightmares are typically the worst. Their imagination is still so unsullied and ripe, even their good dreams are scary as shit. Instead I wrap my arms around her and try to make her feel safe so sleep will come easy.

I really don’t want to fall asleep in her bed because Sophie may very well be the worst person to share a bed with in the entire universe. She kicks and moves and sometimes merely crawls directly on top of you because your body seems to work as a better mattress than the actual mattress.

So I will myself not to sleep. As an alternative I think about motherhood. I think about how seconds ago when my daughter was calling for me it was the only thing that could have mattered in that moment. I think about how the label, “mom” has become synonymous with day to day life but also a sentiment of caring that is far too profound to even try to begin to explain to the layperson.

I think about how the stresses of money and work and all of that day to day hullabaloo doesn’t begin to compare to how I felt in that instant when I didn’t know why my daughter was screaming in the dead of night.

I squeeze her a little tighter and hear her flush breathing of sleep. I slowly get up to leave when she sleepily wraps her arms around my neck and says, “I love you so much Mom. Thanks for rescuing me.”

I want to tell her that her and Lars have saved me, time and time again. Their existence is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced. I want to say that I love them beyond comprehensible logic. I want to tell her that our little family is mine and her Dad’s reason for fighting so hard in this life so of course I will rescue her.

However, I think that may be a bit overkill. Sleep is about to take her again soon so for now I reply with, “Any time my love, any time at all.”

Dream It

It was less than a year ago when The Hot Wire was just a silly idea drifting in and out of two dreamer’s brains. But when dreams become reality; this is the stuff of magic. My husband and I are dreamers you see, we always have been. We sit up late, sometimes drinking beer and eating popcorn, and always talking about the things that may be one day. It is some of my favourite moments with him.

Do you know that feeling that comes over you when you just know that you are on your (and I really mean your) right path? I don’t know about you but it will start out as the faintest tingling in the very deep of my gut. A flood of positivity becomes my brain—waylaying the creatures who say I cannot achieve what I am setting out to do. They are left where they stand, ignored and forgotten–just as they should be. It is a strength that resides firmly in my chest. Said strength moves me to reach further, do better and try harder in achieving my goals. It is a resolve that is impossible to ignore.

And it is one of the very greatest feelings a human being can have.

Some people will live their life telling you to, “get your head out of the clouds” or to, “stop dreaming your life away.” I say NO! Absolutely do not remove your head from that mass of condensed water vapour floating in the atmosphere! Dream and imagine, write it all down and back it up! BACK IT UP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! Then, once you’ve got your game plan, once there is nothing left to imagine, go out and do. Be the dream because as impossible as it may seem sometimes, “there is always a way out” (that was a Doctor Who reference for all the laypeople out there).

Anyways, what I’m really trying to say is please, I beg of you, follow those beautiful, impractical, adventurous, tentative dreams.

There will be shitty, I mean REAL shitty days along the way. There are points in which I worry that we might fail. Maybe we will fail. Maybe we will fail at achieving this dream in this particular way. Perhaps we will have to pack up and begin again. We will have to look for the alternatives and brainstorm and inspire to be better. But that is just part of the game. That is the process. 

Whether you attain what you are looking for the very first shot or you must try over and over again until you get it right—I promise you, it will be worth it. To know that you had only a glimmering of an idea in your mind and to bring that minuscule thing to fruition is a true marvel. It is a striking thing to know you’ve achieved.  

The other day Jamie and I got this little note in our comment jar.

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I can’t really explain to you how much significance this piece of orange paper with words on it holds for me. It WAS me only a few months ago. It was us. Unsure of how to move forward but hopeful that there was something to move forward to.

Now there are so many moments where I find myself silently thanking the forces that be in assisting Jamie, Lars, Sophie and I in what has been our most crazy, uplifting, insane adventure yet. And we will keep on doing what we do. Despite the pit stops and the delays. We will find a way to keep moving on.

And my hope is, that the writer of this note along with anyone else who has ever had a dream can find the grit and guts to do the same.

Life: Open For Business

So going back to work has been a bit of a learning curve.

You know, I really didn’t think it was going to be that difficult to get back into the swing of things. I imagined I would breeze in there all like, oh yeah I’m Queen Bee of working and moming and I am the master of both my domains!

**followed by exaggerated maniacal laugh. **

Except this is not at all how it has been going.

Every day I drag my tired screaming body out of bed and wonder what the fuck I’ve gotten myself into. I think about how easy my previous life was in comparison. I fondly reminisce about all of my worry-free days of stay-at-home mom-ery and I fawn over those memories with longing.

However after a cup of coffee, I punt myself back into reality while I slather on some mascara and get on with life-as does every other person on the planet.

I do the mornings at the shop while Jamie does the long afternoons. I can’t complain. Jamie typically bests my nine hour shifts by two or three hours more each day. He almost lives there. But I do complain, a lot. Not about the fact that I’m tired and I am having a difficult time getting into a routine—these things will come. I complain about the tiny, minuscule things I miss about the ‘before times’.

I miss Sophie’s haphazard and dazed look when she awakens and trudges her way upstairs in search of cereal. I miss the way Lars would hide around the corner of the kitchen only to yell, “GOOD MORNING MOM!” as loud as he possibly can in those wee hours as I myself would be trudging into the kitchen. I miss Jamie rolling over still half asleep, putting his arm around me and whispering that the kids can wait just five more minutes as he nuzzles his cold nose into my neck.

These are the little things that I complain about not getting enough of anymore. And although they are small, the price seems like a big one to pay.

Aside from the mom-things that have been effected, there are a few other aspects of this new life that are quite daunting.

Let’s begin with the fact that Jamie and I are business owners! Do you know how different that is than being an employee?! When I worked outside of the home I always considered myself a pretty star wage earner. I’d show up early and stay late if needed. I went the extra mile. I was always friendly and courteous. I was one hell of a trainer when necessary. And I felt like I treated my position with as much respect as I would if I owned the place.

Except I didn’t. Not. Even. Fucking. Close.

The truth of the matter is, one doesn’t know what it’s like to be a business owner until you are, in fact, a business owner. Before, I never understood exactly how much was on the line if something (anything) happened to screw up. You don’t realize what one bad review of your company could mean. You have no clue how completely and utterly accountable you are until it is only you, you have to answer to.

We’ve done well thus far but the sneaking knowledge that our entire future is riding on this venture is always weighing in the back of our busy minds. It’s a large burden to bear to say the least.

So there’s that.

And about a hundred other things that continue to make me look back on the days before The Hot Wire, before moving, before everything changed, with fond recollections.

How easily it would be to slip back into those days of carefree living.

That is, until I dredge up how ‘carefree’ it wasn’t. Perhaps before the Panini shop (which now feels somewhat like a lifetime ago) we may not have had such *pressing* (see what I did there) issues but we did have issues none the less. We felt like we were standing still and not progressing in the life we were living. We felt like we were teaching our kids to sit and complain about all of the woes in life rather than going out and doing something about it. We felt lost because we simply weren’t doing what we were meant to be doing. We didn’t feel in control of our own lives and there is actually nothing worse than that kind of a thing weighing you down.

Now, those feelings are but a mere story of how we started on this current journey.

I think anywhere we go in life there will always be the learning curve. There will forever be challenges and worries that we aren’t doing right for ourselves and our family. There will be doubt.

It doesn’t matter how far you move, what new challenges you face, there will sometimes be moments of suffocation. There will always be moments of victory. I don’t think any successful human being can have one without the other.

So whatever it is you are doing, keep doing it. Keep trying the new. Keep yourself on your toes. Be scared and excited and thrilled by anything. And do it every single day.

Life is weird and uncertain and totally terrifying at times. But at any given moment it can also be very very magnificent.

 

 

2 Cent Saturday

 

Some days I can do three loads of laundry, make a pancake breakfast, and get a week’s worth of writing done all before nine a.m.

Some days I find myself huddled in the corner of the bathroom with a bucket of Nutella attempting to scarf it down as fast as I possibly can without the offspring locating my whereabouts.

It’s all about balance you see. It’s about having the ability to discover what kind of day you’re going to have before it has even started. Will it be an “I am Wonder-Mom” kind of day? Or, more likely, will it be a pajama pants because you can’t even bring yourself to squeeze into the yoga pants kind of day? It’s about accepting the plight that is parenthood and giving into it gracefully.

Because when it comes down to the nitty gritty we can’t do the Wonder-Mom thing every God-damn day. Well not without a vessel of Valium and about thirty-five martinis that is. And you know how the Granola Moms frown upon that these days. So we are left with having to accept that some days we just can’t do it all.

It is either one or the other—slobby do-nothing Mom or Wondrous Wonder-Mom. Black. White.

Or at least that’s what everyone’s been telling me.

There is this strange mentality that I’ve noticed popping up lately and that is that everything seems to have to be all or nothing. Perhaps it has always been like this and I’ve just been too wrapped up in myself or apathetic to notice. But I’m noticing now, and it’s weird and makes me feel uncomfortable.

As parents we seem to categorise ourselves into these sections. Like “hover moms” “free range parenting” “no preservatives” “McDonalds parents” and we hang on to these stereotypes like they were our first born child.

Let’s get real here people. I try my damnedest to feed the Lars and Soph clean healthy food, however when I’m pressed for time or simply having a PJ pants kind of day they are getting a big ole box of KD with extra ketchup. I let my kids play in the backyard unsupervised because I’ve smashed “stranger danger” into the farthest depths of their brains. However I still go and check up on them every single night before I turn in to assure they are breathing. I’ve been doing this for eight consecutive years now and in all honesty I can’t see myself stopping any time soon.

Picture this if you will: me, sneaking into Lars’ apartment when he is 25 years old and stealthily popping my head over his bedside to investigate whether or not he has breath sounds. It will be when I ever so gently place the small mirror I’ve brought (because I like to think ahead) over his mouth to see the breath in question that his girlfriend at the time awakens. Resulting in extreme awkwardness. For them.

Motherhood is weird and poor Lars will never be able to keep a steady relationship with my crazy shenanigans.

I think as a society we need to expel this notion that when it comes to parenting there is only wrong or right. In most cases at least. Obviously some things are just downright wrong and some things are gloriously right. Like Tacos.

Ain’t nobody gone tell me tacos on their wrong list.

Ahem, Oh look once again I’ve been sidetracked by the fabulous thought of tacos.

Anyway, it’s the ego’s downfall that we are constantly at war with each other over issues like which parenting methods are best and what colour a dress on the internet is-I don’t know why I’m still on that, it was like a million years ago.

If we could for one moment set aside those big pulsating ego’s we could see that in most cases there is a middle grounds that we can all come to reside in and be overall contented with. And if there isn’t? Then allow your self-image a few moments of humility and try to see something from another’s point of view. The stubbornness we exhibit does not progress us as a society. We stay stagnant at an impasse because none of us can agree on what’s best.

If we open ourselves up we may learn a thing or two, moving forward into new potentials.

Or, you know, just go sit in the bathroom and consume copious amounts chocolatey Nutella, whateves.

Yet Another Post About the Infamous Sleepy Bear

 

As mothers we stress. I think it must be something in our chemical make-up. If I told you how many times a day I find myself getting all worked up in the feels about some random thought…Well, I just wouldn’t tell you because it’s embarrassing.

Jamie is a stress-case too, which you would think would make things super awful pretty much all of the time with us both riddled with anxiety. However that’s not the case. My husband is an entirely logical man. He looks at the world through rational and balanced eyes, which is one of the hundreds of reasons why he is so good for me.  So when Jamie stresses he stresses about issues that are right there in front of him and how to fix those things that need fixing.

I stress about different stuff. The stuff that has no real value in this day to day life because if it were to happen it may probably change the course of history as we know it. I stress endlessly about zombie apocalypses and how I would save my brood from an undead army. I stress about that time I said a snappy comment to that cashier and she looked like she was about to cry. I stress about make-believe conversations I might one day have with my arch-enemy. Then I stress about the fact that I actually have an arch-enemy.

I stress about what the hell would happen if we ever lost Sleepy Bear.

This last thought hits a nerve. That bear is Sophie’s world. Literally, her entire existence revolves around one grimy disgusting bear that wears a pink and white polka doted hat.

I’ve tried to teach her that we shouldn’t rely so much on physical things to make us feel happy and content. It is our loved ones and our inner happiness that truly keeps us satisfied. Whenever I say this she just looks at me with a blank look and squeezes the bear tighter as if I am about to yank him out of her little grasp right then and there.

Last night as I was tucking her in I asked her if she was enjoying her new after school program. She said she loved it but she wanted to bring Sleepy in her backpack tomorrow.

“I don’t know if they let you play with toys from home there sweetie.” I said to her thinking that a little time away from the bear may be good for the kid.

“That’s okay I will just have him in my backpack.” She paused but then realizing that I needed further explanation continued, “Mom, I just feel better when Sleepy is with me. Even if I can’t play with her I just like knowing that she is near me. She’s like my kid.” The frankness in her voice was beautiful for a child of five years old and in that moment I had two emotions punch me in the gut.

First, pride. Pride that my little girl could so eloquently explain her love for the small stuffed bear that she holds so dearly. How amazing it is that she can open up to me and effortlessly describe her feelings when it comes to her plaything.

Secondly anxiety. Which brings me back to the stress of losing the damn thing. She referred to it as her kid for the love of God!

And so there it is, just one more random thing to get pushed into my already crammed brain when it comes to things that keep me up at night.

I think life would be a lot easier if I was a normal stress-case and worried about typical things like money and the economy and whether or not Trump is going to one day take over the world.

Whatever type of stress you have it can be a really scary thing. But I think the answer to all of it remains the same. Confront it head on, let it know you won’t be scathed and move forward with confidence.

 

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.

 

Letters For The Past

January eleventh nineteen eighty six a baby was born. She was five weeks premature, had a skull full of thick black hair and even back then was a stubborn little bugger. This baby’s name was Lindsay Rae Sawyer (that’s me!).

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Thirty, can you believe it? It astounds me how quickly thirty years has come and gone. I can remember being a child and thinking about how my teen years couldn’t come fast enough. Once those hit it was pretty much a blur for an undetermined amount of time but once I pulled my head out of my you-know-what I found myself quickly nearing the terrifying twenties.

Turns out this age was way more fun than the teens because you’re legal to do whatever (well, mostly whatever) you want. For a time I took full advantage of this. These last ten years have taught me so many life lessons. I can honestly say, without a shadow of a doubt, my life has so far been exceptional.

And now my family and I have set off on our new adventure. The new place has been painted, the city explored and we have said goodbye to the house that had felt like home for so very long.

I think about the young girl who once stepped into that house, still only a child herself—pregnant and terrified for what the future held and I cannot help but smile. If only I could tell her that it would all work out. If only I could write a letter to the person I was so many years ago, explaining that this is exactly the way that life is meant to be. I would tell her to embrace every moment.

I would tell this naïve and scared person that raising an infant is difficult even in the best of times. However there will be nothing else she does in her life that is more important. Also take pictures; there can never be enough pictures of these moments in time.

I would tell her that despite being young she and her spouse will be strong. They will go through the toughest times she has yet to see in a relationship and only come out of it sturdier than before. And somewhere along the line there will be a realization. After all is said and done, once businesses have been built and entire lifetimes have been lived it always comes down to the two of them. Friendships will have come and gone and the children will be embarking on their own journeys—these two people who so long ago began a journey with nothing more than an infant and a pile of dreams will still be holding hands and venturing off into the sunset together.  It will be a romance that endures the ages.

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However I would also have to say that these next years will not only be sunshine and puppy love. There will be more heartaches and strife than she will know what to do with. Whether it is her parents, siblings, the children, in-laws or friendships—there will be upheaval. After all what is family for? There will be moments when this woman will assume that she will never again speak to some of those she has come to love. The heartache of the matter will be so grand that it will seemingly take up every spare minute of her life. She will discover herself downhearted and glum dwelling over what has went so terribly wrong to cause such turmoil in her life.

These times are painful but entirely necessary. They are there to assist us with the essential growth we need to move on to our next journey in life. And if it is meant to be the relationships we’ve broken will become mended bringing us closer to those we love.

Throughout a lifespan I can imagine how many times we think back and say to ourselves, “if only”. If only I would have said ‘this’ instead of getting angry. If only I could have told them I loved them once more. If only I might go back in time to tell my former self the lessons I have learnt.

Yet it is not really about the “if only” is it?

At some point or another we are all just a terrified person not knowing how we will possibly get through this next hurdle. I think that if we can embrace the scariness that is inevitable in life, we can find peace in knowing that one day it will be something we merely look back on.

And maybe uncovering this knowledge will not assist in comforting a young and scared Lindsay Rae Sawyer but it certainly makes me feel better about what’s ahead for a certain Lindsay Rae Brown and her family.

 

Changes, Happiness and Feeling Alive

20150724_212817As I walk Lars to school this morning it hits. A foreboding magnitude begins to press down on me and the looming feeling of fright is palpable. However there is nothing I can do about it since I’ve played my own key role in this massive turn of events. The only way out is to travel forward.

We’re moving. Even writing it seems surreal. We are moving to a new house, in a new city, a new school district and an entirely new place. We are venturing into unknown territory with two small children and a brain full of hopes and dreams for our future. It is the most terrifying thing I have done since bringing my two small people into this world.

As I write this at my usual spot I look around at the backdrop. I am sitting in the same kitchen we sat in with a three day old Sophie as we watched Lars blow out a wax candle shaped as the number two. It is the place where Jamie proposed to me, right here on the kitchen floor while baby Lars played in the living room below. It is the home, where in the last eight years there have been countless arguments, ridiculous nights of merriment, and so many moments forever sealed to memory. It is the place where Jamie and I have created a family.

While I am walking hand in hand with my son I quietly think about what will soon be changed. They will be attending a new school which means making new friends and building new relationships with teachers. It means saying goodbye to the people they have grown to love here. It means more change than any of us have ever dealt with as a family. It is damn intimidating.

Intimidated—that is the perfect word for how I feel right now. Will I be strong enough to assist my family emotionally in this move? Am I forthcoming enough to make the new friends I know I will need in this unfamiliar place? Will I be collected enough to stand confident even when both Jamie and I experience moments of self doubt? Yes, in the deep of my soul I know the answer is yes to all of these questions. But the intimidation still lingers unremittingly.

I can feel this lump in the back of my throat each time I think of driving away in our moving truck—towards the indefinite. I have never been as afraid as I am in this moment.

And it makes me feel undeniably alive.

This is what we live for. We are put here to make advancements, break barriers, and do something (anything) out of the ordinary. Progress cannot be made by keeping stagnant. This is how Jamie and I came to our conclusion that it was time for us to move on. We want to teach Lars and Sophie that although new endeavors can be daunting, they are essential for growth and fulfillment.

The morning is foggy as Lars and I walk. He grips my hand a little tighter.

“Everything okay sweetie?” I ask.

“I’m just really scared of the fog Mom.” He replies. “We can’t even see to the end of the alleyway. I don’t like not being able to see what’s ahead.”

His comment makes me think about how unclear our own future seems. I realize that this hazy alley behind the only home he has ever known mirrors the anxieties I have been feeling in regards to our move.

“It’s normal to feel scared when you can’t see what’s ahead of you Lars.” I give a gentle squeeze to his hand. “But we know that we have to get to school right?”

“Yeah.”

“Then we’ve got to move forwards. See, as we walk, the fog seems to fade away and the closer we get to the school the easier it is to make out. Fog isn’t that bad when you think about it, you just need to move slowly and carefully through it to be able to see clearly again.”

“You’re right Mom and it makes it better when I have someone to walk with.” He said.

Foggy areas are worrisome; one could even call them terrifying. But when you have the people you love holding your hand reminding you that there is clarity on the other side it all of the sudden doesn’t seem so scary.

 

 

 

The Truth About Bullies

A long time ago, back when I had a toddler and an infant, I was at the park with the two of them. Park play was a lot more difficult back then because I had to be right beside them in pretty much everything they did. Well, perhaps I didn’t but I was kind of a hover-mom back in the day.

Anyways there I am at the park with my almost four year old and my almost two year old. I am pushing Sophie on the baby swings when I notice Lars trying to play with a kid a little older than him. Back then Lars wasn’t as reserved as he is now, so even though the kid clearly didn’t want anything to do with my four year old, Lars was persistent. Funny thing about kids, they don’t really have that insecurity thing going on. I was about to tell my son to give it a rest and come over to the swings with me and Soph when the kid up and pushed him to the ground and began to scream at him that he didn’t want to play. This invoked a white hot rage in myself that I was not actually aware of and for a split second I envisioned myself in a jail cell due to punting a seven year old to next Thursday.

The kid’s mom had witnessed this too and went over to discipline her child, rightly so. Thank God she had seen the spectacle because if I were to have to tell her that her child was the little shit weasel that pushed my son, I probably wouldn’t have been tight-tongued about the issue. No amount of censorship could have stopped the atrocity of words that would have exited my mouth. Admittedly I go sort of ballistic when somebody comes after my own.

After the park incident Lars was a lot more cautious around strange children, never again running up and worming his way into a game of tag. In a way it makes me sad, and I wonder if the bully at the park that day took away a little piece of Lars’ Larsness. Nevertheless it is something that every child will probably endure at some point in their adolescent life, the hard truth is, there are bullies around every corner.

My dad has taught me many things over the years but something that has always stuck is that family must stick up for one another. Maybe that is where the deep seated anger came in when I saw my son being bullied. Maybe it was simply a primal motherhood instinct that I experienced. It wasn’t the first time I’d witnessed a family member of mine being tormented and it wouldn’t be the last. Sadly children aren’t the only people who get picked on by their peers. And each time I see someone I love being hurt by another I can feel that familiar anger begin to bubble.

A girl I know who is much wiser than her years once told me that she feels sorry for the people we as society deem as bullies. Me, being the hot headed person that I am, disagreed with the statement as soon as it left her lips. How could she feel sorry for the browbeaters of this world?

Just hear me out, she said. These people who try to damage others by physical hurt or name calling are so unimaginably broken in their own lives that they must project that misery upon the other people, the happy people.

She was right. It is so obvious and I’m sure that deep down we all know why bullies walk among us and how they’ve been created. The truth is we don’t want to admit it because it is so much more satisfying to meet hatred with hatred. Understanding takes work.

One day in the future I or another human I love may feel the oppressive hand of bullying once more. I will want to retaliate. I will want to meet hatred with hatred. I will want to stoop down to that level of name calling and crudeness.

However then I will bring to mind the words of my friend. I will recall the happiness that is experienced everyday in my family. The absolute love we have for each other and the euphoric feeling of togetherness that we share.

In the end, once the initial anger has flit away, all there will be left to do is feel sorry for the unhappy people. And then maybe we can begin to spread joy and understanding to those who need it most.

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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Removing The Energy From Kids…Or at least trying to.

The kids are bouncing from wall to wall. Their shrieks of merriment are carried easily throughout this otherwise peaceful house. They are currently playing a rambunctious game of hide and seek. Sophie makes her way, rather surreptitiously, into another room to hide but when discovering her ideal spot she continues to giggle explicitly until Lars follows the sound uncovering her location. I’m not sure if this is part of the game or if it is just Sophie’s inability to keep her glee under wraps.

Upon learning her whereabouts, they will both let out an ear piercing screech of surprise and then proceed to run at top speed back to the living room to start the game over again. It looks like fun, but at the moment I’m too exhausted to give it a go.

Yesterday I spent the day at my parent’s house in the garden hilling potatoes. I have the blisters on my palms to prove it. It was hard work but, of course, worth it for that oh so lovely yield that will be soon to follow.

I woke up this morning with the idea that I would tire my babes out today so we could get at least one early night in on these summer holidays. So I decided we’d walk. Enough walking in a day will drain the excess energy from anyone…Right?

We walked down to the lake for our morning swimming lessons. This was a good enough plod in itself not to mention their strenuous half hour lesson fighting against the hammering whitecaps of Sylvan Lake. Well, maybe the conditions weren’t that dire, but the water did look awfully cold.

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Any sane person would feel like this was enough for one day, not me however. I was on a mission and I needed to secure my success. It had been awhile since we had paid a visit to the kids’ granny so I decided we would hike over to her place after lunch. This was an even longer journey than our beach jaunt so I told the kids they could ride their bikes. Now keep in mind this would be our first long ride of the season with Lars on two wheels and Sophie riding her own bike. It was going to be interesting.

We started off on a good note. At least while we were journeying on the bike paths, far away from other human beings and cars and various dangers of that sort it was good. There are three rather long bike/walking paths we take to get about half way to this particular granny’s home. After these paths ran their course however it was nothing but sidewalk—a sidewalk that ran parallel to a very busy street.

Lars is still a bit wobbly on his two wheeler and there was more than one occasion where I was sure that his handlebar was headed straight for the shiny paintjob of a parked car. When there weren’t any parked cars around he seemed to gravitate straight towards the road and the oncoming traffic. Luckily the kid is phenomenal at stopping short when I cry, “LARS HOLD UP!”

Sophie on the other hand was painstakingly laid-back on her bike. Whether it was her seat felt weird on her butt, her handlebars were bugging her or a bird in a tree above us was singing a wondrous princess song and she just had to stop to enjoy the beautiful melody the distractions the girl discovered were plentiful. I actually fear when the day comes that she begins to drive because if her concentration skills while bike riding are any indication of what kind of a driver she will be then anybody on the road in those future days had better watch out!

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Eventually, after a lot of, “HOLD UP LARS!!” and “Hurry up Soph!” we got to Granny’s house and had a wonderful visit.

The way home seemed to actually go smoother since everyone was moving at an acceptable pace. I was sure that the near nine kilometers that we journeyed around town that day would have tuckered the kids out so my anticipation was growing as we neared the house.

However my high hopes have been shattered as it is currently 9 pm and the tiny humans are still at it with the high pitched laughter and hyperactivity. And here I am simply struggling to keep my eyes open and my body from collapsing into a calling bed.

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Moral of this story; children are much too unpredictable to promise yourself a relaxing evening of rest simply over of a few kilometers trekked. Now please excuse me while I fall into a deep and comatose slumber. Until next time friends…

Making Milestones

It appears that in today’s world certain adolescent pressures continue to bombard our children. There are so many milestones to break that simply being a kid is a thing of the past. Nowadays they must be walking by a year, potty trained by three, breezing through Atlas Shrugged by six and out the door to work a 9-5 by ten. Well at least it seems that way.

Don’t get me wrong, I am just as much to blame for this as the next overachieving parent. I wanted to keep up with the Jones’ when it came to my children; no matter what kind of emotional stress it may have caused them.

As the beautiful weather continued to embrace us I kept revisiting the idea of removing the training wheels from Lars’ bike. We had tried last year but ended with little success. I’m pretty sure the experience scarred him more than anything as he had taken a few pretty nasty falls in the process. We were bound and determined to get him on two wheels—constantly telling him how superior dual wheel riding was than his current quadruple conditions (say that five times fast!) Meanwhile we kind of forgot that kids typically sort these kinds of things out in their own time.

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I got to thinking, how old was I when I graduated to a two-wheeler? Probably 6 or 7, that seems to be the general consensus of people my age when it comes to the topic. And in that case why the heck are we all in such a rush to rid our children of their training wheels?

So this year we decided to let Lars choose what the fate of his summer transport vehicle would be. At first he was still hesitant but when I finally backed off and stopped staring at him expectantly he agreed to give the no training wheel option a shot again.

Jamie was elated as he and Lars headed towards the little treed path behind our house. I think for my husband it wasn’t about the success of getting him to ride rather the fun and bonding they had while learning.

Jamie has always said that learning how to ride a bike is one of those memories that will forever stick in a kid’s recollection, so it is our job as parents to help make it a damn happy memory to have.

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Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, that’s a little sappy…” I thought so too, at first. Then I started recalling my own early riding experience with my Dad. We were in a parking lot kitty corner to our three bedroom townhouse. There was Dad pushing the back of my bike as I peddled on frantically for dear life. It wasn’t until I reached the end of the paved lot that I realized at some point ole Daddio had let go and left me to it. ALONE! At first I was livid that he would forsake me like that, but soon after I realized it was a good thing and completely worth it now that I knew how to ride solo.

All of these years later this memory still sits easily in my mind’s eye. What a wonderful thing.

Within an hour and a half of their riding lessons, Jamie and Lars came barging into the house bellowing my name. “Come look, come look! He’s doing it!” Jamie roared. His face was red and hot with exertion but gleaming with pride even so.

It’s funny how two full grown people can get so overjoyed about something as basic as bike riding. As Jamie and I stood on that little path behind our house and watched our son ride off into the sunset I felt pure happiness for him. He was a little wobbly but upright and confident; he had prevailed and conquered. The two of us were cheering and screaming his name. At one point I think Jamie may have enthusiastically thrown his fist into the air above his head. And there it was one of those magical moments that will be held gently in our memory for the rest of time.

And with that Lars Brown was officially the rider of a two-wheeler.

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Most good things in this life are worth waiting for, the happiness I shared with my husband and son that day was definitely worth the wait. It made me realize that the achievement isn’t in keeping up with the Jones’ but the will and determination it takes to get there.

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.

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.

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.

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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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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Embracing the Wild Child

It is always her bedroom that has muffled sounds of mischief radiating from it long after the bedtime rituals are through.

She is the one singing her tune loud and unabashed as I desperately try to hear what my Mother-in-law is saying to me on the other end of the telephone line.

She is thunderous not only in voice but also in spirit. At any given moment her hair flows freely and untamed. And each time she glances in my direction her glinting eyes capture me with a knowing waywardness.

She is my wild child.

On any given day I can recount about a hundred times where I find myself pulling my hair out in accordance to her antics. Maybe she managed to lock the dog in the 1 X 1 square enclosure that is her dollhouse. Or perhaps she has divvied up her play dough and buried it in the many many remote places of her bedroom and is now calling it hidden treasure.   The point is, usually, we live in chaos.

Just the other night I was writing this exact post. I sat propped up in my bed and looked across the hallway to where my daughter should have been sleeping. Instead of doing such however she was standing atop her princess sheets attempting to reach the shelf that hangs over where she lays her head.

“Sophie go to sleep- it is an hour past bedtime!” I say not even wondering what she is doing because at this point I cannot care to.

“I can’t until I lock up the beast!” She screams back at me. She sounds extremely put off that I would even question the very actions of her plight.

“Lay down!” I begin to get perturbed.

“BUT THE BEAST!!” She counters. You see this is the thing with the girl. She doesn’t relent. She doesn’t give in. If she finds herself in the midst of a quest- it is all- there is no nothing.

“Sophie this is ridiculous! It is getting too late to be screwing around.” And this is where we butt heads my daughter and I; because I do not enjoy relenting either.

The next thing I know a four year old is stomping her feet towards my bedroom while her hands are compressed into fists and she wears this scowl that is about to implode an adorableness computing device somewhere.

She parades right up to my bedside and looks me dead in the face and says, “Look Mama. Barry (her huge stuffed bear) has a pet beast. But he needs to be locked up at night because if he isn’t…” A pause- I’m assuming for dramatic effect. “Well, he’ll eat everyone in the house. And sorry- but his favorites are Moms.”

Well there it is. There is that pivotal line that comes discharging out of the kid’s mouth that makes me laugh and suddenly all is forgiven. She peruses back to her room, gets the beast in its cage and seconds after her head falls upon her pillow she is asleep.

She is my wild child.

She lives to push boundaries and play center stage. She is abrupt, forthright and utterly honest. It seems as though trouble follows her and around any corner I could find my Sophie in some sort of mind-boggling shenanigans.

Time and time again I’ve told myself, it’s just a stage- this too shall pass. But as I get to know my daughter more and more with each passing day I realize it is no stage- it is her.

She is free. She is free from the worries that many children have. She could care less what other people think of her. Her mind is of one in its own and does not seem to be easily swayed. She is strong in her resolve when it comes to anything at all.

And it is all of these things that make me realize that I cannot wish away these traits of hers. Yes it can be trying walking into your bathroom with a four year old covered in blush and sloppy mascara lines running down her face. And yeah sure, it is a little depressing when she tells me that she is better at doing her own hair because she likes it in 7 hair clips haphazardly positioned around her skull. The sheer ideas that float in and out of her head are pure genius and absolute absurdity all at the same time.

But when all is said and done- I am going to let her be her. I will embrace the unique human being she is and enjoy the beauty she creates in this world.

Because she is my wild child- and she is my daughter.

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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.

Sorry kid, it’s not my problem you’re bored

“I’m too board to eat lunch.”

“I’m too bored to clean my room.”

“I’m too bored to play outside.”

“I’m too bored to go to sleep.”

“I’m too bored I can’t even watch TV.”

Somehow my daughter has learnt the word ‘bored’. How she learnt this word is beyond me, because since having children I can’t recall one moment where I have felt the sensation of boredom. Therefore I cannot possibly imagine me readily using the saying. To be one hundred percent truthful I would actually relish in boredom these days. But I suppose then, it wouldn’t be called boredom would it.

But somewhere in her circle of hardcore 4 year old friends or the real ways of the neighborhood park little Soph has picked up the jargon.

From my recent encounters of her slurring it in my general direction I believe she thinks the word is used as a form of excuse to get out of things. It seems to me when she is hesitant or unwilling to do something, she will tell me she is too ‘bored’ to indulge in such activity- attempting to put the onus of her discontent on me.

Well if there is one thing I’ve learnt since becoming a parent…Or even a human being in the broad spectrum of things- there is ALWAYS a cure for boredom.

Growing up we never dared mumble the word bored. I’m sure this was the case in many of your childhood homes too. In the off chance we accidentally spewed the worse-than-a-swear-word on a snowy Sunday afternoon, mere seconds later we would find ourselves shoveling our nearly a kilometer long driveway by hand while Dad followed behind us on the tractor to assure we were doing a stand up job of it. And when it comes to physical labor my parent’s standards are through the roof. Say we managed to muster up the courage to nonchalantly swing the B-word out to Mother on a scorching summer afternoon. No quicker than we could say “what did you just do?!” to each other with absolute fear dripping off every word, Mama had us weeding her gratuitously large garden. Every row. Every weed.

So soon it became an unsaid rule that we simply never use the word. Ever. Even now writing this post I find it an extremely uncomfortable topic to talk about.

And as history and parenting somehow tends to intertwine, here I am many moons later about to implement the very same rule in my home.

The way I see it, the word bored could be considered a swearword. It would be about the only one that actually made any sense to censor yourself with.  Bored is a feeling- a sentiment that is completely changeable and duly so.

What my parents taught me, maybe without even realizing it, is that it is a shameful thing to admit to boredom. There I was as a small child with an entire farm at my fingertips. We had small nooks to explore and dogs to chase. We had trees to climb and old decrepit sheds to tell ghost stories in. Not to mention the enchanted forest that was just beyond my back yard. I thank the high heavens my parents did not indulge in my rants of boredom, if they had I may never have attained the wonderful childhood memories I carry today. The looming threat of manual labor literally saved my imagination.

Only those who cannot think for themselves or brainstorm or have the ability to problem solve would confess to dullness in life. To admit boredom would be to admit defeat in day to day existence. And who the hell is going to do that- this life is chalk full of adventures just waiting to be discovered.

I want to show my children how to take a lame afternoon of bedroom cleaning and make it a fun-filled musical number just like our good friend Mary Poppins used to do. Or how a completely unremarkable living room set can almost immediately be turned into a fortress that houses the last remains of the dread pirate Hooks loot.

The possibilities are endless; therefore the sheer idea of boredom is relevant to a swift kick to the psyche. And that is why my parents unintentionally banned the word ‘Bored’ from mine and my brother’s vocabulary.

I intend to do the same for my children. Of course I’m sure for the first ten years or so they will loathe my attempts and become annoyed with the relentless drudgery.

But eventually they will get it. And eventually they will thank their notably clever mother for teaching them how to be, well, awesome. I did.