Tuesday, February 27, 2007

This is the Moment

This morning, I was making my way through the milling rush-hour crowds that the Yonge & Bloor subway station - late as usual. I honestly don't know how working mothers get to work on time. It's a skill that I have yet to master, and it's been a year. Anyways, I was stuck behind this tall guy wearing a furry hooded jacket who was walking v e r y s l o w l y, feeling very much like Princess Leia behind the Wookie. (I know I'm showing my age with that reference, but that quote still cracks me up: "Will someone get this big walking carpet out of my way?". Hee, hee!). Turns out this guy was walking so sluggishly because he was busy checking his IPod. Not only is this a pet peeve of mine, but there are few better ways to set off my already fractious morning temperament. I think that people should focus on the task at hand. I'm all for "stopping to smell the flowers", but you're more likely to hear me say "walk like you have a purpose". You can stop and smell the flowers when you get there.

After my temper cooled a bit, I stopped to review. Why was I so angry? Why does it bother me when people put on makeup while driving, read books while walking, or talk on the phone when they're in the loo? I am a multi-tasker at heart, it's part of what makes me who I am. How can I criticize others when I'm not happy unless I'm doing seven things at once? In fact, much to my dismay, I've come to the realization that I'm guilty of multi-tasking when I'm with the Boy.

Last night, I was pretty much at the end of my rope. I had a bad day. I got through the Boy falling and hitting his face on the corner of the table, struggling through the snowstorm with the stroller, angry people yelling at me at work, and my boss interrupting a client call to tell me that I was wrong. I had had enough. The thought of picking up the Boy should have filled me with excitement, but instead I was dreading the energy I would have to spend entertaining a toddler for the next few hours. I just wanted to crawl in a hole and sleep. For a few days. The only way that I could get through that time was to do other tasks simultaneously. It calmed me to know that once the Boy was in bed, I could just crash, instead of doing the multitude of tasks that I do on a regular basis. He watched while I shovelled snow. He ate dinner while I did dishes, he stuck stickers on his shirt while I got things ready for bed. I was not being the best mother I could be. But what hurts the most is not what happened last night. I did what I had to do to get by. I'm not proud of it, but I'm not ashamed. What I am ashamed of is that I do things like this on a regular basis. It's so easy to make phone calls while the Boy is playing. To fold laundry. To check emails. To check blogger comments. To not be there for the Boy. To not be in his world. To not be in the moment.

Now, I don't think that you have to "be there" every moment of every day. Especially not if you're a SAHM who is there all day long. Kids need to learn to play independently. They also need to learn that while it might be fun to play all day, that there are chores to be done that are necessary to make home life run smoothly. But I'm not a SAHM and my time with the Boy is even more precious. Do I use that time to focus exclusively on the Boy, or do I continue on my day as if I was there with him all day long? Is there a happy medium? I'm not sure. For me, it's kind of a slippery slope. I'm either completely Boy-focused, or I do one little thing. And then another. And then another.

I think that I need to realize that this is the moment. Every moment that I let slip away is not going to come back. And these are the moments worth living for. The moments to be proud of when the day is done. I should listen to my lovely little Boy whose new sentences include "Mummy play a bit" and "No, sit awhile." Or, to quote Mr Earth's favourite composer, William Finn, "The living was the prize. The ending's not the story."

Friday, February 23, 2007

Acts of Lèse-majesté

One of the things that I like best about the blogosphere is the fact that I get to read other peoples blogs. These incredibly intelligent people help stave off the "mummy dummies" with their insightful posts. They also bring to my attention issues of which I might have been otherwise ignorant. The other day, Her Bad Mother posted about a rather, um, interesting article. If you haven't read it yet, have a look. The gist is that us naive and, well, stupid women "fall for the motherhood trend, hook, line and pacifier, and are bewildered when the experience does not live up to (our) expectations." I'll save you from the majority of my problems with this article. HBM said it much better than I ever could with my limited literary skills, and you can read her post here. Suffice it to say that, as John Cage would put it, this article troubles me.

I won't go into the fact that this article is written by not only a woman, but a mother. I won't delve into how deeply insulting this article is to women in general and mothers in particular. I certainly won't go into the fact that someone who writes such hateful material obviously has deep-seated issues of her own. I will mention briefly that while motherhood is the most rewarding, and the most challenging, venture I've ever undertaken, I don't love all aspects of it all the time. And I resent the fact that to be considered a good mother, I am required to love every minute of every day and never once complain. It's human nature to complain . It doesn't mean that I don't love motherhood, or that I regret my choice to become a mother. Keeping things bottled up inside you is when you get into trouble with a capital "T". And that rhymes with "P" and that stands for "Poop". If you want to know what I really think about this article, that word pretty much sums it up. Poop. Juvenile, admittedly, but strangely appropriate. Motherhood is too complex to say that it's good or bad, fun or boring, fulfilling or draining. It's all of these things. It's vital. It's alive. It's human. It's not perfect, it's human. That's what's so great about it.

But what I really wanted to talk about is the author's assertion that motherhood is not cool. And that we're stuck in hell because we can't put the baby "into the Goodwill bag with the 80s hypercolor T-shirts and the side ponytails" when we realize that it's not the trendy new accessory that we thought it would be. Granted, I'm not the best person to discuss what is cool and what is not, but I have to say that Stajic really missed the boat on this one. In no other aspects of my life am I allowed to get away with the things that I do while I'm being a mum. I can walk down Bloor Street pushing a stroller singing "Here comes Peter Cotton Tail" at the top of my voice. I can laugh like jolly old St Nick in a posh food store. I can scream at an imaginary lion. I can eat pretend cookies from a book. I can say goodbye to cereal boxes, and goodnight to the Great White Shark bank. Where else in adult life can you do these things without looking nutty? Some may consider these acts of lèse-majesté. I consider them acts of love. And that, my friends, is pretty cool.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Because he asked MeMe so nicely...

Mr. Earth was very upset when he found out that there was a meme going around the blogosphere about our better halves. I think his actual words were: "Why aren't you writing about how great I am? Where's the love? Love me!". So, to that end, I'd like to introduce Mr. Earth:

His age: 34

How tall is he: 6'1

How long have you been together (married): 5 years in May 2007

How long did you know each other before you got together?: Started dating about 2 months after we met and dated 4 years before getting married.

What physical features attracted you to him first?: He has sexy, long, lean legs. He should be a runner.

Eye color: Blue or Green depending on his mood, or his shirt.

Hair color: Somewhere between brown and blonde - what is that colour called?

Hair style: Short. But he would like to grow it long, Jesus-style.

Normal Outfit: Slacks, button-down shirt (tucked in), dress shoes. He would look nerdy if he wasn't so cool.

How did you meet: We met in a production of Godspell. He was the policeman and I was the prostitute. It was fate.

How serious is it: I'm hoping it's pretty frackin' serious, or someone's in big trouble.

Are you "in love": Duh, obviously! Although we are best friends, too, and sometimes that's even better.

Do your parents like him: Well, they took us on a trip to Italy with them, so yes. Actually, on that particular trip, they insinuated that they would rather have Mr Earth there than me. Long story.

Do his parents like you: Hard to tell. His mother is British and rather non-demonstrative. His father is mercurial, and it could go either way.

Do you trust him: With my life.

Would you share a toothbrush with him?: Yuck! No thank you.

Would he let you wear his pants?: Sure, but I doubt they'd fit. He's very tall and a lot thinner than I am.

Do you have a shirt of his that you sleep in?: No, but I have worn a shirt of his when I was preggo. That was nice.

Do you like the way he smells?: Usually. When he wears cologne, absolutely. Purrrrrr.

Can you picture having kids with him?: Too late to ask this, but yes. Actually, one of the nicest parts of his proposal was that he said he wanted me to be the mother of his children. Sounds hokey, but it really worked in the moment. Mr Earth is a master of phrasology.

What bothers you the most about him?: He has a nasty habit of repeating the question you just asked v e r y s l o w l y. And not actually answering the question. He thinks it's funny. It's
v e r y a n n o y i n g.

Does he have a temper?: He's pretty easygoing. I'm the hot potato in this duo.

Are you happy to be with him?: Yes.

Does he embarrass you in public?: Always, but it's very endearing and you can't help but laughing. We have a George and Gracie act going that kills at the local WalMart and Home Depot.

Does he smoke or do drugs?: No, and he wouldn't have married me if I did either. We're quite the "anti" couple, considering that many of our friends indulge.

Does he have any piercings?: No. Too George Michael for me

Any tattoos?: He would if I asked him to, but not my name. That is the Kiss of Death to all relationships.

Does he have any scars that you know of?: Gosh - you'd think I'd know the answer to this one. No??

Is he a Party dude or Stay at home?: Stay at home.

Is he Outgoing or Shy?: If you've met him once you would never ask this. Quite possibly one of the most outgoing people in existence today.

Does he love his mama?: He's a total mama's boy.

Would he hang out with you and YOUR friends?: He has on occasion, especially now that some of my friends have kids too.

Sing?: All the time. He's very good. The hard part is to get him to stop singing.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dead Bunnies and Hot Monkey Lovin'

AKA: How We Celebrate Valentine's Day at Casa Earth

It's true. I've never been a huge fan of Valentine's Day. Why? I'm not entirely sure. Maybe it's that I've spent too many February the 14th's sad and lonely, desperately wishing that I had a boyfriend. Maybe my brother's constant diatribes against the evils of capitalism has finally had an effect on me. Maybe my heart is just two sizes too small. The bottom line is, I don't like to feel pressured to do anything. I would prefer to say "I Love You" when I feel like saying it, not when the calendar dictates that I should. I would prefer to buy Mr Earth little presents throughout the year "just because" instead of having to come up with something wildly creative on the 14th. I'm obstinate.

All this being said, I do expect a present on Valentine's day. Or at least, some kind of acknowledgement. (Ahh, the ironies of life with NoMo...). It's pretty much a no-win situation for Mr Earth, and I appreciate fully the difficult position I put him in. He has risen to the occasion magnificently at times. Our first Valentine's Day in fact, he spent an afternoon sifting through M&M's so that he could put together a jar containing only the green ones. (Green M&M's being the only colour worth eating, in my opinion).

This year, I was worried that my anti-Valentine view would have a negative effect on the Boy, so I decided to embrace it to the best of my limited abilities. (Note: If you want to see Valentine's done right, go see Beck's post here - she the Queen of Holidays) I got the Boy some special Valentine's Day clothes, and sent him to daycare with presents for his friends:

Who doesn't want a little monkey love? I ask you.

Mr Earth had already decided that he was going pay for me to go to my beloved salon to get my hair coloured and cut. This man knows the way to my vain heart. Flowers? Peh. Chocolates?? I could buy them any day. And I do. A lot. But finally getting rid of my roots??? This man deserves some applause! Especially when he brought this home:

Yes that is a "hare" who has been "cut", "coloured", and then dyed.

I love you Mr Earth. You still rock my world.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Just Because..

Just because...my head is so full of coursework, that I feel I have nothing interesting to say (unless you want to discuss the future of theatre in Canada, or the merits of Lovecraft's writing style...Takers?? I thought not).

Just because...I want to remember how easy it was to get outdoors when all I had to put on the Boy was a light jacket, shoes and a sun hat.

Just because...I'm tired. So tired that I feel like I will never be fully rested again. So tired that I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, or with a drop of alcohol. So tired that even when I do have time to sleep, it's a restless slumber, waiting for the shattering alarm clock. So very, very tired.

Just because...I want to feel what it's like to be able to joyously run down a forest path with nary a worry other than whether or not there will be a snack at the end, and if there's someone to carry me when I get tired.

Just because...this picture makes me happy.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wall of Weird

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled programming to bring you this update. NotSoSage tagged me to let you in on you six weird things that you don't already know about me. My greatest trouble was how to choose only six items. Apparently, I'm a freak...

This may not be all that weird, but I include it here because of the immensity of my aversion. Not only do I not like to be around snakes, but I can't even look at a picture of a snake. Snakes and Ladders? No thank you. Snakes on a Plane? Fuggedaboudit. I don't care how good that movie was supposed to be. The Boy's cousin, Golden Girl, had an animal handler at her 4th birthday party a few weeks ago. I had to sit in a room a few feet from an actual snake. Then he took it out of the box. I think I threw up in my mouth just a little. He asked me if I wanted to put it around my neck. My answer was a bit snappish.

One summer during university, I had a sleepover with a couple of my classmates at my parents house in Hamilton. My parents were at the cottage and I was afraid to sleep alone. In fact, I spent most of that summer being a cranky half-drugged insomniac. Despite this, I am not imagining what happened. I went to sleep and about an hour later, I woke up in a start because I was certain that a man was standing at the end of my bed looking at me. I sat up and immediately turned on the light to see who was in my room. My friend asked me what was wrong, and I apologized for waking her. She said she had been awake for a few minutes before I turned on the light, because she thought that someone was in the room.

Yes, I am in my early mid-thirties, and I have already been in a commercial for a natural hormonal supplement for menopause relief, Estroven. What's more, I did this commercial when I was in my mid-twenties. Granted, I was the daughter in a mother/daughter combo, I had no lines, and most of our footage was cut because the woman playing my mother was ridiculously bad at taking direction, but still! As if it's not embarassing enough that I am a "non-practising" actor, but I have to explain to former classmates that one of my few professional gigs had to do with hot flashes? My only consolation is that I got paid VERY well for essentially no work. Gotta love them US commercials...!

No matter what happens, no matter where Mr Earth and I lay our heads for the night, I must be on the side of the bed that is farthest from the door. Without exception. My theory is that if some intruder comes into our bedroom, he's going to get Mr Earth before he gets me, and at least I'll have time to wake up and face the intruder before I'm attacked. (I'm a good wife, no...?). The first four months after giving birth, I slept on the opposite side of the bed so that I would be closer to the bassinette. I swear that I did not sleep easily one night in those four months and it had nothing to do with the fact that we had a baby. My body audibly sighed in relief when we switched back to our normal positions. I don't know who I think is going to attack me. Most people either ignore me, or don't know I exist. I'm just plain crazy.

I love cats. Cats suit my disposition perfectly -- I am a bit of a loner who accepts affection only when I'm good and ready for it. I also like playing with furry balls. (But I digress...) However, cats I have loved have all met an untimely end. Shadow had some rare bowel disease and died a few weeks after birth. Blancmange ran away. Smudge visited the farm that she came from while the family was on vacation, and was never heard from again. Peekay and I had irreconcilable differences, and he found that he liked living with my parents better than me. Rocky had an undetected heart condition which caused his untimely death. Willow, our current cat, is safe and healthy only because I can't stand her. She skulks around the house, runs away from anyone other than Mr Earth, constantly leaves us "presents" to show her displeasure, and has not accepted the Boy's presence in the house eventhough he has been living there for over two years. In short, my love kills and my hate is life-giving. Yay! Don't you want to invite me over for tea now??

For some unknown reason, I am unable to type the word verfication correctly when commenting on blogs. I. Can. Not. Do. It. Period. I have spent a disproportionate amount of time resolutely trying to type in the correct letter. Am I slow-witted? Am I finally going blind?? Suffice to say, if I haven't commented on your blog lately, it's probably because I gave up on the word verification in exasperation.

I'd like to share the weird with NoodleMonkey and Metro Mama. Show me what you've got! Please..? I'm feeling very "weird" out here on this ledge all by myself.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Arrivals and Departures

I picked the Boy up at 4:30 the other day - almost an hour earlier than usual. My class ends at 4pm, and there's no way I was going to go back to the office just so that I could pretend to work. Apparently, an early departure was not in the Boy's plan. Everyone was having their snack, and they looked at me like I was an alien. I had to sit there while the Boy ate multiple crackers, and kept asking for more. The new kid deposited his half-masticated banana in my hand and proceeded to climb on my new coat with his unwashed banana-hands. (Yum! Who are you again, kid??). Then the Boy would simply NOT put on his winter gear. He kept standing, sitting, walking, sleeping and performing the "dead fish" move on me. It took half an hour (!!!) to get out of the damn daycare. Bad times.

This morning, I had to walk to daycare in the minus-gazillion-with-the windchill weather. Mr Earth was conducting interviews in Waterloo, so the Boy and I had to make do with the stroller for transportation. The Boy helped put on his "po-pants" (snowpants, for those unused to toddler-speak) by lying back. He actually allowed me dress him in full winter regalia, hat, scarf, mittens (!!!), and boots. The only whisper of complaint was that he wanted to put on the boots before the snowpants. I got him into the stroller and out the door in record time. I was even allowed to use the heretofore forbidden windshield and plush Winnie blanket. Have I mentioned how ridiculously cold it was today? By the time we arrived at the daycare, the windshield was frozen in place. The Boy's little voice, buried under many layers, piped up "I stuck!". I couldn't remove the windshield, so I tried to get him to duck under it. That didn't work, but he spontaneously pulled the "dead fish" move, and slid out from under it. I had never appreciated the versatility of that move until today. Good times.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Boy's First Report Card

I used to think that giving report cards to toddlers was a little bit silly, but I have since been grudgingly won over to the idea. It only makes sense that the teachers who spend five days a week with the Boy have an opinion with regards to his development. I still jealously guard the idea that I know him better than anyone else, though, and I defy people to convince me otherwise.

However, we all know that kids behave differently at school than they do at home --Stephanie from Degrassi, does this ring a bell to anyone? So, let's see what they have to say (and because I can't just say nothing, I'll add my comments too):

The Boy is able to communicate with short sentences by using one to two words to get his point across. He enjoys circle time and expresses himself with body language or sing-a-longs. (He is actually using up to six words in a sentence, but averages about three or four. I'm not surprised that he uses one to two words normally. He's learnt how to get what he wants with the minimal effort. He got that from us. Smart Boy!)

The Boy is very interested when viewing pictures or books and focuses during story time. The Boy likes to respond to questions that are asked by his teachers. He can remember all the names of the other children. He can also recognize all animals and identify what sound each one makes. (I've said before that the Boy is freakishly good at remembering people's names. He met a girl in the park once, and spent the rest of the week screaming "Lila" at the top of his lungs whenever I said we were going to the park. He can also remember the names of each of his grandparents' pets - five names all counted. Freakish!)

The Boy uses a lot of fine motor skills. He loves to play with playdough, cars and building blocks. Outside he is able to climb alone on the toys with some assistance of the teachers. In the playground he rides the tricycle and kicks or catches ball. (Hmm. Now this is helpful. I agree that the Boy is especially good in the area of fine motor skills. I thought that his gross motor skills weren't as advanced. Maybe we just don't do enough of these activities at home? Something to ponder...)

The Boy tries new foods during lunch and snack time and eats very well. At nap time he will fall asleep with no assistance. He will sleep for approximately one and a half hours per day. (Who? What?? Tries new foods??? Clearly, this is a comment meant for someone else's kid. Either that, or he is really susceptible to peer pressure.)

The Boy is a very friendly child and interacts with his peers and teachers. He understands the teachers and follows the routine of the classroom. He is also very comfortable with Rob Joy, the music teacher, and engages himself during his music class with sing-a-longs. (Yes, yes, yes! This is the Boy that I know. He loves the days that Rob comes in, and can't stop talking about him. I love when he tries to sing the songs to himself on the way home. I have no idea what he is saying, and he generally sticks to one note, but he always makes me smile.)

N/A. (Not sure which "inappropriate behaviours" we're talking about here. The Boy is practically perfect in every way, but like any two-year-old, he has interesting ideas of what is appropriate behaviour. Right now, he thinks the words "OW!" and "Stop, please!" are funny, and they are no deterrent whatsoever.)

The Boy is comfortable with the staff in the room and his friends as well as other parents. He is always involved in trying new activities in the room. Keep up the good work! (That's my Boy!)

Good job, kid, you're fantastic! We'd love you no matter what they said, naturally. We still know you best. Love, Mum XO