That’s Better

My last post was awfully mopey and I felt better not long after posting. It reminded me of those terrible days when the kids went to school feeling so poorly and I was left at home worrying only to find out they were fine by gym class or recess or a pizza lunch.

And now on to lovely things.

  1. Driving in horrible snow yesterday to pick everyone up and unable to find traction on the road but able to find the Backstreet Boys on the radio.
  2. Buying treats at the grocery store before 10 am. I used PC points and bought tulips, new conditioner, a Pokemon essential guide for William and a graphic novel Rory has been pining after. Pokemon is a new interest around here, brought on probably by the upcoming movie. I miss the days when the kids were small and would pour over those big guidebooks, so this makes me happy.
  3. Making delicious cornbread to go with homemade chili. I got Julia Turshen’s newest cookbook from Scott for Christmas, there are so many good things. Her podcast is also great.
  4. Finding an old hour and a half long interview between Emma Straub and Ann Patchett that I paid $6 for from Google audiobooks.
  5. Walking my dog with a secret stash of Mini Eggs in my pocket.
  6. Starting the fourth installment of the Lane Winslow mystery series and discovering it’s the best one!
  7. Giving myself permission to read all the books I can before I go back to work.
  8. Remembering that on May 4 I have tickets (nosebleed, but still) to see Michelle Obama in Toronto!
  9. This blog post that made so much better – thanks Kerry Clare for sending it.
  10. Scott. Just everything.

The Falconer

I just finished reading “The Falconer” by Dana Czapnik and it may end up being my favourite book of 2019. It’s about a seventeen year old girl figuring things in New York in the 90s and that’s about it. She has a crummy best friend she’s also in love with, an amazing friend she hasn’t quite figured out yet, and loves basketball more than either. This is isn’t a YA book. The writing is solid and gorgeous and heartbreaking and I related to her. Not from when I was seventeen, but now as she tried to figure out what would make her the best woman she could be. In the end she figures she should be curious, kind (as in making attempts daily to be good and not just ‘not bad’) and without giving a fuck to what most people think.

I go back to work in about a month. Actually April 1st is the date, which obviously is horrible but I think it will work, that we will be able to manage. Things are ok, but still fairly unpredictable. Most days right now I’m on my own, everyone else and work and school. It’s been hard knowing how to fill these days, what their purpose is. When the caregiver role is taken away (most days between 9:15 and 2:30 ) I’d be lying if I said I haven’t felt lost. I wonder who I am during this time. No, I wonder who I should be during this time. I’ve tried jumping into it as being for me, to write mostly but that pressure is too much. Some days I write and it’s all that matters and it’s lovely and other days I think nope, I’m 42, it would have happened by now if it was going to. Which is ridiculous and boring, but there it is.

I don’t want to clean the house, take up a new hobby or work out. And so I read, a lot. Of course I clean and do everything I need to in order to keep this ship floating. That’s why I’m home. I listen to podcasts and walk the dog, but things I loved yesterday (a podcast called the Aria Code all about opera for beginners which is glorious or the idea of starting up this blog again) falls away a week later leaving me like a picky toddler with the blueberries I’ve tossed scattered all over the floor.

I want to go back to work (which is only every part time) and I don’t. I miss my friends but I crave the quiet. The most consistent thing right now is the constant worries about how the day went and what the night will hold. And maybe that’s ok. It’s not a holiday or a break, but no longer a crisis. It’ s a funny floating space. I have put so many rules on this time, expectations on myself that result in guilt – you should swim, no write, no blog, no exercise.

But I’m going to read. And be curious and kind – more than ‘not-bad’ – and just be.

Hotels Dreams

That’s what I’m thinking about this week. Everything about them makes me so happy and we’re going to be staying in two this weekend when we go to Toronto. I love everything them. I love choosing a hotel, going through all of the options, hoping the one I book will be perfect for us. I love the days before, buying a new bathing suit for someone (this time for me and the kids!) and deciding what will be the best book to bring (I take this decision very seriously and this time it might be Elizabeth McCracken who comes along). I love buying chocolates for the drive, maybe chips to eat before bed after a swim. The idea of using the tea bags and tiny kettle and taking a steaming cup into bed. I wonder if the free breakfast will have the excellent waffle maker the kids love and hope there will be strawberries and not just melon. Who will eat the most fruit loops? Or instead will we splurge and order poached eggs and pancakes from the menu! I remember the time I turned my back on the kids and they sent pastries through the toaster and started a mini fire.

I might break out my favourite shirt or wear earrings. It’s the promise of something different. The excitement of getting a break after days and weeks of predictability. It’s the moment we park our car and head into the front lobby that I look the most forward to, the tiny space filled with nothing but the hope of making my family happy. Excited for whatever is about to happen next. The possibly everything will go well and everyone will have a wonderful time. Maybe there will be something as wonderful as the first time we hit the rooftop hot tub at the Grand Hotel and had it all to ourselves while it started to snow.

While driving to pick up my kids from school today, I listening to a story one CBC about hotels and movies that take place in them. I’m not sure which program it was but they played a scene from “Lost in Translation” which got my head spinning of other movies with perfect hotel scenes. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” of course sprang to mind, but I think my favourite is from “It Could Happen to You”. Oh, the scene before everything falls apart and Bridget Fonda is falling in love AND discovers there are bathrobes in her hotel room. Perfection! And of course I thought of Amor Towles’ brilliant “A Gentleman in Moscow,” and entire world and life constructed from within the confines of a hotel.

It’s the chance for something different and surprising to take place. The CBC program spoke of how hotels can force people to behave, hide their fights behind closed doors and not necessarily be their true selves. But I think I’m often my best self in hotels, just so happy to be away and I want to do everything! I’m ready to make the perfect dive and swim all those laps, to stay up under the fluffy white duvet and read the best book all night, to eat something exciting and maybe we’ll have milkshakes! And if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll wake up with glamorous, non- frizzy hair for once.

Let’s Talk

This #bellletstalkday is a hard one for me. I was going to post this yesterday but I didn’t, I overthought things, which isn’t the point.

The cynic in me however, rears it’s head when hashtags like the one above appear. Sent from an cooperation which has become such a monopoly and has failed so many people, just read about Jan Wong. Why is it them who tells us to speak of this when and why. And this one day a year thing. Please.

But when Bell started this yearly campaign to ‘end the stigma’ I thought fine, let’s talk, for sure! Words and talking are the way to go, but as we know also, celebrities on twitter telling us ‘it gets better’ sure as shit doesn’t get my son out of bed in the morning when his anxiety is so bad he holds his head and is stuck, for hours.

But it’s like everything these days. The people who get it, really get it and there is goodness and the people who don’t, never really will.

Maybe I should just be happy for what help there is, before Doug Ford gets rid of it all too. And I’d help, I know it’s pointless to sit and yell insults from the sidelines and maybe someday I will, when my kids are better and we’re not all so tired.

When our son first got ill it was unbelievably hard to get help. People expected him to talk it out, tell what was wrong, advocate for what he needed. But instead, he spent weeks in bed, often just screaming in pain. It was hard to carry a fighting ten year old to doctors, to counselors, to clinics. But we did, of course we did. Now, I’m only saying this because we finally (sort of) got help. But we were also turned away so many times – I’m not kidding – with the words, “I can’t help, sorry, nothing I can do” from professionals. As petrified as we were as parents, we knew the path we had to take, and we fought, we still do. We’re smart, educated (already having had experienced mental illness in our families), we didn’t have to worry much about paying ourselves for help, and do I have to say, we’re white? We have jobs that allow us to be at home, take time off. So our biggest takeaway from this was and still is, how the fuck do families who are unable to identify what is wrong with their child, unable to know how to fight/advocate for them, unable to be off work, unable to read/research, unable to pay for help – save their child or loved one?

We’ll get through, we’ll more than get through. But other parents without the resources and luck we have, but with the same huge parenting hearts and love for their kids – they’re the ones who need more than a goddamn hashtag.

The Negatives

Or the spaces we hide. Stories we don’t want to tell. I’m thinking of the moments that aren’t captured and posted because they aren’t bright enough, happy enough or easy enough. Who would post these? Who would want to see them? Of course no one.

But it doesn’t mean I’m not thinking of how I would capture them and it doesn’t mean I want to lose them. They make us who were are. When things hit and one child feels so bad and can’t get out of bed, I notice the spot of sun just touching his cheek, brightening his freckles. Or when the other son is so frightened that his eyes shine and he looks so much older and younger to me at the same time.

These moments are just as beautiful as a silly picture of us smiling in the snow or swimming somewhere. They are us, they keep us on our toes and make us stronger, those spaces in between.

Keep Moving

These are early days for this blog. It needs more focus but for now I have a goal – to keep moving. To keep writing, to keep moving.

There will always be sun.

It doesn’t take much to keep moving. One day at a time. We say that often. You get up and make something different for breakfast, in our case, it was an apple Dutch baby yesterday. So good! You hope everyone’s well enough in your home and then go for a morning walk in the snow on a Sunday morning. You wear the best winter hat you’ve ever had, thankful to be warm and healthy. You enjoy making four cups of tea at a time now instead of just two.

And of course you read, and you read and you read. You collect words and images and wear them like armor when the days are most difficult. And you celebrate and are grateful for tiny surprises like hearing from others that your own words are being enjoyed.

Better than Flowers

A week and a half ago, Scott’s back went out and it was really bad. He was in bed most of the time, trying to get marking done for his classes with walking (hobbling) breaks around the house to keep moving. Then Rory came home exhausted, with a fever than turned into one night of throwing up which became what still feels like a never-ending cold which William now has as well. In the past two weeks there has been only one day without someone home sick or sore. The most relief I felt was rereading last year’s diary entries for January (I write each night in a 5-year diary) and saw that it was pretty much the same last year, weeks with kids home sick. One kid says we relax too much over Christmas and then getting back to work and school is just too much. I buy it completely and might even say it’s worth it.

By Thursday night I was getting pretty low. Scott brought home flowers and chips and dinner which helped along with a super amazing episode of Workin’ Moms.

But this morning, Saturday, William was finishing up an assignment on the history of dance throughout the eras (which was very fun to hear him talk about 90s hiphop and disco) when he asked if I wanted to hear a poem he’d written for school. Everything felt like it got really quiet and calm. He read it for me and everything just fell back into place. It was beautiful. Everything that is important to us and to me was suddenly right there again shining away. It was more than the feeling of getting spring flowers in the winter – it was the head of the first snowdrop pushing itself up from under the sludge of leftover winter slop. It as a reminder that even though our days had been filled with far too many video games and snotty Kleenexes and not nearly enough vegetables or sleep I could lose, maybe, some of the guilt and feel inspired and excited about all the surprises that are always just around the corner.

It’s amazing when your kids remind you of who you are.