Monday, November 29, 2010

THIS is what a Christian looks like

I'm typing on my laptop, so there's going to be typos. I'm old school and need to type on a raised keyboard to have it turn out decently, that and the fact that I'm a terrible typist. Anyhow! The point.

I'm puttering around on Twitter and I see someone retweet a message from Wondercafe. For those who don't know what retweeting is, it's like forwarding an email. Anyhow, Wondercafe rings a bell with me, and then it hits me, it's the online campaign for my church, the United Church. So I follow them, then I think for a minute "Oh wait! Then folks will think I am Christian or something." Then "Ummm Joy, you ARE Christian." Then "Yabbut, I don't want people to think I'm one!" And then I asked myself why.

Really, I can list a million reasons...well, a dozen, but all good reasons. I don't want people to think I'm some raging homophobic asshole, I don't want people to think I'm someone who follows the Bible blindly, someone who never questions faith, leaders, congregations. I don't want people to think I'm some stuffy thing who sits through boring sermons because of some matter of duty, rather than them actually being meaningful in my life. The brand that is Christianity, really, isn't a pretty one. We have a bunch of wingnuts on one end protesting funerals, screaming about gays and lesbians, preventing safe sex and forcing their moral code on everyone. On the other end, we have a complete snorefest of boring people, boring church, boring songs and nothing at all interesting. The middle ground isn't marketed very well.

Well, I'm Christian and I'm interesting! I am dammit! You wouldn't be reading this blog otherwise. I'm also progressive. I believe wholly in issues such as same sex churches! Condoms are a necessity, not abstinence, a woman's body is HERS. I'm pretty sure by all the dinosaur gear we have, I support the theory of evolution and I have an utter disdain for the words "Because I said so!" (unless, I'm the one saying it) so blindly following is not in my agenda.

What I do believe though is that a man walked the Earth many years ago. He embodied true love, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, social justice, all the good stuff. I believe that we all are capable of those qualities and that every so often God sends us a reminder in a big way of those qualities. It could be Jesus, it could be Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, the local volunteer who gives selflessly. Jesus was the man of the time and so we, or maybe just me, use him as my brand. (looking for lightningbolts in case I'm horribly wrong and being blasphemous big time). Nope, still here. I don't know if I'm right, I hope I am though.

My brand of Christianity is putting your money where your mouth is. It's one thing to bemoan the plight of others, it's another to volunteer or donate, praying for them is nice, but tangible help is a big thing with me. My brand aspires to avoid judgment, it's something we all do, (seeing how I called a bunch of people stuffy and wingnuts in this post) but I at least try to step back for a minute and figure out what the heck is going on before judging. My brand doesn't like to focus on negative things like who is going to hell for loving someone, or believing in something else. I have friends of many paths and don't intend to lose them by being an ass.

Maybe I'm picking and choosing all the good parts of the Bible and avoiding the bad parts. Is that necessarily a bad thing though? I mean, is it wrong to think of God and Jesus loving me unconditionally like a parent and no matter how much I mess up, that love is still going to be there. Is it wrong for me to try and aspire to that in my life and with other people? I don't think so, I hope not. If it is and I reach the pearly gates and I'm in the wrong, there is going to be a hell of an argument.

I know plenty of Christians like me. The problem is, we're really drowned out by the noisy lot, but we're there. We need to work on being noisy, social media and getting our brand out there. Our marketing plan is usually leading by example, which don't get me wrong, rocks, but we need a two pronged approach that lets folks know that Christians aren't all cut from the same cloth and that my brand of Christianity is out there, and we're pretty freaking awesome. And no, I'm not trying to recruit you, though if you are inclined, I have a friend who needs more volunteers on her fun fair committee.

So I'm going to try and not be so frightened to market my faith a little bit. Not in the form of proselytizing, or begging you to come to church, but simply by not hiding or making excuses. To celebrate my faith as loudly as I do anything else (God help us). I will try to volunteer or donate what I can, try hard to be a good person, raise good little people and work on that whole judgeypants thing. I acknowledge that I am imperfect and in my brand of Christianity, that's A-okay. I'm a cool person, and I am Christian and I endorse this message. :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm thinking its working

I'm cautiously optimistic, but I'm feeling better, much better! I'm also going to say that I've been taking antidepressants. It's interesting because it's created a lot of discussion among friends who range from knowing every pill on the block to not knowing anything about it, to actively being antidepressant. It wasn't an easy decision for me to make, I was worried about the side effects, becoming dependent on them, using them as a crutch without addressing the real issues, being numb, but in the end me spinning out of control with my emotions, thoughts and feelings pointed me in that direction.

So I've been on them for roughly three weeks. The first week had little effect, I was on the minimum dose, so my doctor upped it. The next day after taking the dose I'm currently on, I was a zombie, just dead tired. I fell asleep on the couch in the middle of the day. The day after, I was awake, I was up, I was ready to go take the boys to the Science Centre. I OUTLASTED the boys at the Science Centre. They were pooped, I was kinda sad we didn't get to see the next round of exhibits. Anyhow, for the next little while I've experienced a surge in energy, a calm mood and my ability to process issues without it snowballing into a big thing.

The test was last night, when we had Parent teacher interviews. The guys were doing great, I expected as much (no bias lol). But we started discussing Mr. Ninja's school options once he completes his final year at this school, and my stomach went up into a knot thinking about our choices and what we might have to do to get what we wanted. My mind has been whirring off and on about the topic and I've need to talk it out with Dearest a couple of times to burn off that nervous energy. However the point is, I've been able to compartmentalize it. Sure I'm stressed about it, very, but everything else is A-okay. I'm not grouchy, I'm not weepy, I'm a little on edge, but have been working that out through baking with the boys, cleaning up the disaster area afterwards and I'm about to make a soup.

It is such a RELIEF to be able to be stressed about something and not have it snowball. I've been worried since feeling a bit better about some stress issue popping up and me going kaplooey. But so far, so good. I'm even returning to my belief that I have to have faith that things will turn out in the end, I'm not completely believing it, but it's a process. *G*

So, to do the meds or not to do the meds, that is the question. The answer is personal, no one can make it for you. For me, it was the feeling of spinning out of control and seeing the tension and fear on my family's faces, in addition to very scary thoughts entering my head that sent me to the doctor's office practically begging for a prescription. I guess my only thoughts about it are is if you feel out of control and nothing is working to get you back, you might want to consider talking to your doctor, if even just to get some referrals to therapy if you don't want to do the med route. I'm glad I went, I'm way happier, my family is relaxed again, I'm looking forward to Christmas and actually have energy to burn on it and I know I can handle stress again without it sending me into a crisis and that is a great feeling.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Beauty for Women

My thoughts today are about women's beauty. I know we focus so much on building young girls self esteem and making sure they don't feel the need to be a size 0, or telling them that the don't have to look a certain way (big tits, tiny waist, pretty ass) to make themselves popular or attract mates, and that attracting mates isn't the be all to end all, but what about grown women? Day after day, we're obsessed with avoiding wrinkles and sagginess and fat and greys. I'm not one to judge, my colourist knows me better than my husband and I admit to once spending 5 hours in the salon, but when I step back to think about it, the messages women are bombarded with is just as much if not more and there is very little messages towards women 30+ that it's okay to look your age.

Look younger, tighter, firmer, prettier and you'll be happier! Hell, they've even turned Ellen to the dark side. I saw a picture of her next to some make-up thing or another in the supermarket, and I thought to myself, she sure as hell doesn't look that way on her show. Not to pick on her or smash her, I think she's awesome, but that picture was not her, and I want my real Ellen portrayed on the advertising dammit! Why? Because she looks great as she is!

What's wrong with looking your age? I'm not saying that we should set up a big bonfire for our lotions and potions and hair dyes right now, although it would probably save us a bundle, but maybe we need to examine the reasons why we need these things to make us feel better about ourselves. Look at plastic surgeons. Yeah, they make money off of boob and nose jobs for teens and 20 somethings, but where do you think their real bread and butter comes from? I don't want to be lining those guys pockets, I need the money for grandkids, vacations, the fund I'm building to take over the worl...Nevermind. Anyhow, I don't want to buy into the machine that tells me that a wrinkle is the end of my life. Quite frankly, I'm afraid! I'm not a Goddess, much as I like to think I am, I can be programmed too.

So what's my solution? Burn your products!!!! Oh wait, errm no. I don't have a solution. I just want to open a discussion. What is beauty at our age? I'd like to think and hope that by the time I'm 50, beauty is what I define it to be, by a woman who has seen some of the world, raised her children and booted them out of the house to their own adventures, made good friends, had good laughter, shed a few tears. Where it's okay to have some grey or wrinkles and a body that may not look great in a bikini. I'm hoping by the time I'm 50, I'll realize there are a lot more important things in life than worrying about looking younger.

I'm in my 30s, again, I don't see myself giving up my salon any time soon, but I can start taking steps to focus more on a healthy beauty, which comes from the inside, both physically and figuratively. Good food, good wine, plenty of water, good wine, sunscreen, good wine, friends, good wine, you get the picture. My body has done 5 years of hard labour in creating three beautiful children, it has oodles of stretch marks, lumpy spots here and there, a claw mark courtesy of my 3 month old Wolverine, not so perfect breasts and a butt that is sucumbing to gravity at light speed. But I think to last night, making Christmas cookies with two of my three boys and none of that matters, we were just having a great time and not once did what I look like (and I'm a messy cook, so you can believe it was scary) ever creep into my mind. So by the time I'm 50, I hope I'm too busy for regimines of lotions and potions, looking beach perfect, looking 10, 20, 30 years younger. Because in the big picture, my beauty comes from my life experience and I'm hoping that at 50, I will be filled to the brim with beauty.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

SAHP Guide

A friend sent an email asking a bunch of SAHM how to relate to their SAHP. It got me thinking about how I've noticed a lot of the SAHP complaints are similar and wanted to write about it, in case anyone is ever interested to forward onto their mate, for SAHP validation, to staple to someone's head as a way of getting a clue. That said, a lot of this can be applied to any parental situation.

1. Don't mess with our routine. It's not easy finding a groove and once we have it, we likes it! This was a huge complaint on one of the SAHP boards I visit, that when working parent stays home, they like to tinker with the day. Nope, don't do it. We don't come to your work and tell you how to operate, this is our job and while constructive feedback should be received, time and place are everything. Not during the routine though! Try after dinner, when kids are in bed, over a glass of wine.

2. Don't undo our work. Know a good way to tick off a SAHP? Go through that mountain of laundry they folded and piled, and destroying it. Whether you're searching the bottom of the pile for gym shorts or throw a bunch of other clothes on the pile looking for school uniforms, you've just undid a lot of work. And it's not like laundry is fun. It's like me coming to your office and deleting a braindead, but soul sucking document you've been working on.

3. If you don't like dinner, be gentle about it. Even awesome amateur chefs such as myself *g* has a recipe flop every now and then. Chances are if you don't like it, I'm not liking it much either, but that doesn't mean I didn't put effort into it and am probably way more disappointed than anyone else that it wasn't the dinner I ordered from the catalogue.

4. Don't interrupt "me time". SAHP get so little of it, and I can guarantee you that if anyone over 5 comes and bugs me while I'm trying to blog, they get a growl. If your SAHP is looking after little walkers, chances are they don't even  get to pee alone, so a quiet respite is pretty precious. Extra brownie points if you take the kids to the park for an hour.

5. Don't interrupt "me time". I just had to say it twice.

6. Get couple time. It is so lovely being able to stay at home with one's children. To be able to play and explore and help them make cookies and talk current events...well scratch the last one. Adult time isn't always easy for SAHPs to come by. When the kids are in bed, and even if you're tired, you've got to dig down for that last reserve of energy (Dearest has been known to down a cup of coffee at night) so that your SAHP gets to talk to someone about something other than dinosaurs, animals, Dora, Fairy princesses and cookies. Unless of course, you want to come home to find your SAHP actually believing they're a Doodlebop.

7. Lend a hand with the housework. You're either going to get a SAHP or a housekeeper. Now SAHP does involve housekeeping, but you wouldn't hire a nanny and expect the house to be spotless while she's taking care of your kids. Same dealie with being a SAHP. Everyone needs to pitch in. On a good day, laundry can be completely, dinner on the stove and the house in perfect, but that requires the stars in perfect alignment and the children to be sick with the flu, parked on the couch and watching movies all day. So help pick up, or bring home flu bugs every week.

8. Be proactive. Some jobs are too big for just one person, so if you get your SAHP to agree to help you organize the office, go and get the filing cabinets, the files, the labels, the shelves-install them, so that when your partner diverts some time and energy from that tantilizing load of laundry, they are all set up and ready to go. When you get home, throw in that load of laundry.

9. Give them sick days. This is a biggie. SAHPs don't get sick days as a rule, and many SAHPs use this as a badge of honour (Why? Because they're crazy!) but every once in a while, the kids bring home a plague so fierce that our built up immunities have no chance. Special attention goes to SAHPs who are battling a chronic illness or are pregnant since those immune systems are often out of whack. Most SAHPs will work through a nasty cold or worse, but if your partner is battling a fever, infection, serious stomach upset, it might be wiser to use a sick day of your own to get them back on their feet before they get really ill. I rarely get sick, but when I was pregnant with Baby D I couldn't shake off a chest cold, neither could A Dude. We finally went to the doctor and A Dude was near pneumonia and I was well on my way. Thankfully treatment and some serious rest prevented it from getting any worse. But I was fighting this for two weeks, so should have taken care of myself sooner.

10. Praise, praise and more praise. This is a hard job, we gave up careers and/or earning potential, lunches with work chums, opportunity to use our working part of grey matter, potty breaks. Chances are your SAHP worked to get to where they were before they came home to look after the children. It's a hard job, with bosses who run the gamut of happy squealy things to raging psychopaths and there's no HR department or union to back you up. Sick time is nil, lunch time is nil, naptime is often nil, downtime is a hard thing to wrangle. Society doesn't really value a SAHP's job like it should be valued. You're measured by the size of your paycheque and that's not in our job description. So you've got to be the cheering section. Think about what it means to you to have your partner stay home. Think about what they've given up. Think about the impact they're having on the wee ones and yourself. Remind them frequently what a positive thing it is for the family. Praise can also be accompanied by gifts, big or small, but they should be thoughtful, a book your partner has been meaning to read, a date night, a voucher for a cleaning service, laundry completed, car cleaned, you name it. Remember, we have pint sized tyrants of bosses, we'll take all gifts so long as someone put a second of thought into them.

So the baby is napping and I have to go be creative with dinner and put away some laundry. I am uninspired and quite tired, but by the time 6pm rolls around, dinner will be served and it will be yummy and the laundry should be put away, barring any curveballs, then all bets are off, but that is just part of the job.

It's like that *fffftp* and then it was gone

Sorry for taking Kevin Spacey in the Usual Suspects way out of context, but the blue funk, Dark Passenger, Kaiser Sosay has taken off, just like that and it's so freaking weird and annoying. I spent Tuesday night and much of yesterday crying, upset, praying for strength. Dearest pretty much dragged me out of the house to go with him to pick up the kids. They were getting their school pictures back, I stayed in the car while he sorted out the details. He ended up getting the most expensive package, but I can't say I blame him, our kids are pretty cute! The picture brought me a little happiness.

Dearest, stopped by our usual Starbucks, got the guys a cookie and us a pair of lattes and then we zipped over to the grocery store where I wandered in to get some eggs. I remember getting out of the car and feeling bad, then walking up to the store, then walking up the aisle and in the aisle, I noticed how heavy my legs felt and how sluggish I felt. I gave myself a little more gas and it dissapated. And then, like that I felt better. It was weird. I got into the car and said to Dearest "I feel better!" I was shocked and he was most visibly relieved. It's insane, an hour ago I was on the couch crying my eyes out and now I'm back to normal.

It came as a huge relief to me as well, it's just frustrating and annoying as hell to snap in and out of these moods. Hopefully I won't be snapping out of this mood for a good long while.

Right now I feel as groggy as hell and my body feels like it's been boxing with a grizzly, but at this point, it's an improvement. Normally I'd get started on all the things I have to catch up on, but I'm going to try a different strategy of taking it easy. I still have things to do, but instead of running around, I think I'll hole up in here today and putter around. Hopefully that will prolong the good, or tired mood that I'm in.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dear world

I have post partum depression/mood disorder/whatever the hell you want to call it. Basically there is a chemical imbalance in my head that coupled with my history and what have you is making me feel like shit. That's the technical medical description.

I have happy periods, I have anxious periods, I have angry periods and I have major sad periods. Those are my moods, no inbetweens anymore. My doctor worries I might be bipolar. I'm not terribly worried since my happy periods basically mean I don't feel like offing myself and can get the house clean.

Yes, there are times I feel suicidal. I refer to my sad period as my Dark Passenger-it gives me a laugh to be cheesey, however unlike Dexter's Dark Passenger, it's not concerned with wrapping the world up in plastic and stabbing them through the heart. Unfortunately for me, it tells me all sorts of things like I'm worthless, that my family would be better off without me, that no one values me, that I have no value. It takes over at a moment's notice, often when I'm feeling unsupported, not valued, and not considered. However unlike normal times when I can shrug it off and deal with it like a normal person, the Dark Passenger comes and offers that as evidence as to why I'm such a crummy person.

This is what I deal with. The other part of my brain is wired for survival against this character who is bent on self destruction. That means my energy is nil, it means I might not be the most perky happy go lucky person in the world, which sucks, truly it does around Christmastime. I understand you want to be happy and my moods are impinging on that, but guess what? So do I. I don't like being like this. I don't like crying myself to sleep eagerly awaiting my tranquilizer to take effect so I can sleep and escape the pain I feel. I don't like spending my nights praying to God to give me the strength to weather this. Believe me, I want to be happy, more than you do right now, I guarantee it.

I'm also dealing with the guilt that I am not being the happy person that everyone is counting on, but there is one part of former me that exists and it's pissed. She saying that I've done a pretty good job at supporting people through their times of stress, depression, angst. I've never told them to snap out of it (in not so many words) or pressure them one way or another to be happy and make the most of it. I have a laundry list of times that I could mention where people's moods have made my life hard, but I sucked it up, because sometimes when a loved one is sick, that is what you do. And yes, I feel sick. I don't feel like myself and I can't control it, which scares the hell out of me.

So if I'm not being the perfect wife/daughter/friend/brown Martha Stewart/mother-I put mother last because this is the area I will focus on first, I am sorry. From the bottom of my heart I am sorry. I want you to be happy, I truly do, and I am working on making myself better. I am trying to put myself in happy situations, writing for therapy, taking meds, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, you name it. However for the next little while, I will not be the MamaJoy you are used to, and I know you have complaints, the line up is to the left and the regular Joy gets dibs. However please try to remember that I have been a support to you at some times, I have been the strong one, I have kept my frustrations and complaints to myself and have weathered the storm with you, it wasn't easy, so I wouldn't wish it on my loved ones, but here it is. I am asking for your love, support and understanding and I promise, some day when "you're not strong, I'll be your friend, and help you carry on". Sorry, cheesey makes me happy, that I will not apologize for.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Diaper in the teapot

Can you even stuff a diaper in a teapot? Ewwww!

Anyhow, there is a growing discussion around the issue of diaper donations. Some folks are the YummyMummyClub are getting together to organize a diaper drive with some tips and inspiration from Huggies. The diapers going to foodbanks to help low income parents keep their babies in dry behinds and allowing the parents to spend the much needed money elsewhere. I think this is great. I want to get involved!

However on the other side, some folks who cloth diaper are like "Wait a minute! What about cloth diapers? You can re-use them. They're better for the environment and babies."

Well first of all, for those who haven't researched the price of cloth diapers, they're expensive. An initial purchase of $100-$500 is a HUGE amount of money to someone who is low income. Even gently used cloth diapers don't come cheap. The larger your stash, the more you pay. There was probably once a year in my family where we had a couple of hundred dollars to blow on anything. Income tax refund time. And we usually spent it on silly items such as much needed shoes, replacing a pot that had broken 6 months ago, bus fare etc. So I'm not sure where folks are suggesting people get the initial investment money, unless they of course are going to donate their stashes to cover a child for their entire diapering lifetime.

Then there is the issue of laundry. Most people I know who cloth diaper do a wash every couple of days or so. Those who have huge stashes, maybe eke by with once a week. Let me tell you something. Weekly washings are not a reality for everyone. Most people receiving these disposable diapers, they don't have washing machines and are at the mercy of private commercial operators who can and will kick you out if they don't like what you're doing.And they're free to do so.

Anyhow, a brief run down of the clothing situation when you are "po'" you come home, you change out of your "school clothes" you wash your underwear and maybe socks in the tub at the end of the day. Your play clothes can get dirty as all heck because you only have a pair or two, but your school clothes are to be maintained in working order. This is assuming the parents have a system. Every couple of weeks or so, your family hauls a couple of garbage bags of stuff that needs to be washed to the laundromat-the good one was a few blocks away, spend an afternoon there and you have clean clothes. No one I know who cloth diapers washes once every couple of weeks. Of course everyone I know who cloth diapers has a washer/dryer and some extra money. I reckon the poor could spend what's left of the time they're spending working and trying to make a living, washing diapers by hand, but come on. Low income parents like spending time with their kids too, who is anyone to tell them that they shouldn't spend that 1 hour they have to spare a day working with their kids on homework or vegging with them outside.

I think a lot of people are coming at this from a place of privilege and need to really understand what the day to day life is of a parent who is using a food bank or social agencies to feed and cloth themselves. We've relied on them growing up, it's not a picnic, it's hard, so very hard and so very complicated and I think asking folks to add one more layer of work and figuring out how to make things work to their already tough lives is kinda ignorant, or "ignant!" as we'd say back home. I know some folks are sitting here thinking "Geez Joy, it's just friggin laundry, it shouldn't be THAT hard or THAT expensive." But really, it is. That $5.00 in laundry money can go to a bag of milk, it can be bus fare for a day for a student, it can be a bunch of hamburger which makes a couple of meatloafs. Seriously, if you can't think of ways to spend the equivalent of a couple loads of laundry on several necessities, then you haven't been there and you need to consider what right you have telling people how to live. The alternative is getting free diapers and no extra laundry costs, which unfortunately don't fit in the ideal world of some folks, but it is bonanza to those who need it and who are we to criticize?

What we need to criticize is the system where there are people who are barely squeaking by while others are doing quite well. In Canada! We have people living without clean water, garbage collection, heat, food, necessary clothing and what have you, and we're arguing about diapers? You don't have to like how some people chose to donate, how some companies decide to give back or operate, but you also need to give back too to be in that position. If you don't like the diaper drives or Huggies, well, as we'd say back home "put your money where your mouth is" and pony up. Go talk to some folks who work in these communities, see what necessities are needed (be prepared it might not align with what you deem necessary) and how you can contribute. I can hook you up with a marvellous organization serving Regent Park and other downtown communities.

Ultimately, I think we need to look at this problem not from our places of privilege, it's easy for us to sort out all the problems of low income folks if they just did this, or just did that. I might think my donation of an uber expensive double stroller might be worthwhile, but the money I could get for it on craigslist might be better received. Disposable diapers are a necessary evil for many people, those who don't have the time and resources to be running back and forth to the laundromat and doing laundry frequently. It's reality, and if you'd like that changed, great! So would I, so would a lot of people, so lets find a way to have at it, but I can guarantee you, diapers is not a productive hill in the giant issue of poverty in Canada, to die on.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Give yourself a break parents!

Do you ever do this? You have a bad day and your kid choses that time to be a little beast so you're snapping at them? You're so distressed that you're not even bothering with sentences or two words, it's SIT, EAT, BED, NOW!!!! It doesn't even have to be a bad day, just a crazy situation like an indoor play park where the kids have the run of the place and they're running amok and you're trying to make sure they're not clobbering themselves or other kids. Anyhow, at the end of the day when you're lying in bed taking stock, you feel like a heel because you could have been a little less grumpy or snappy with your kid, not that they weren't being a monkey, but you could have handled yourself better.

Anyhow, today we had a party for the children of the staff at the company Dearest works at. It was great, at a really awesome indoor playground called Kin-R-Gee if you're ever in Richmond Hill. The kids were running wild, having a blast and the parents were able to mingle knowing their little guys were safe and sound. However as I was walking around, I heard the "Glenn, No!" "Adam, Sit!" "Nancy, knock it off!"-actually that was me telling three boys to stop roughly rough-housing. And I thought to myself, it's not just me being a crab, or the kids being horrendous, it's everyone! The kids for their part, shrugged it off and went on their merry way once they listened to their parent direct them.

We all have bad days, and we all have times where our direction or our marching orders aren't wrapped up in love and kisses and age appropriate 5 minute long explainations about why Mommy really doesn't think it's a good idea that you sit on your brother's neck because you might hurt him and he might have to go to the hospital and you wouldn't like that would you? Sometimes it can't be that. Most parents are juggling several things at once, whether it's work/house/kid, kid/kid/kid, kid/dinner/house, kid/insane traffic, kid/sanity. Sometimes we just want to have a conversation with some other adults and you just need your kid to go and run and not kill themselves or someone else for 20 minutes. And sometimes we're just human and get cranky. So we bark at our kids. However I noticed all the kids shrugged off the barking, because like most parents, I'm sure the other 99% of the time, kids get the hugs, the kisses, the 5 minute long explanations, the quality time and attention they need and deserve. So when you're lying in bed worrying about how you've scarred your child because you barked at them today, and you weren't on your normal A game. Don't give it a second thought, because your kids aren't.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I've been bouncing around on what to write today, so many ideas, so little coherency! But as I was walking around the supermarket for the umpteenth time this week, I started to think of how insanely privileged most of us are in the west. This isn't to say that we don't have poverty and people are living in squalid conditions and we should pay attention to that, like, immediately. I've been poor, I've been po'! Homeless, hungry, living in roach infested apartments, cold you name it so I know and I don't want to diminish the needs of those people. So if you consider yourself fortunate enough not to be in that situation, please read on.

I was just thinking about how easy it was for me to go get food. I decide I need pineapples for dinner, they don't grow here, but they're shipped here. I hop in my super cushy car complete with seat warmers and drive to the supermarket. I walk in, it's clean, bright, people greet me with smiles. I get my pineapples, which are already presliced even. Go to the cashier, hand over a piece of plastic, I don't even have to go get the money to pay. Finish my transaction, walk out, back to the cushy car and am home in about 20 minutes. In another part of the world, assuming someone can afford to feed themselves, there is no car, the market is a good hours walk or some sort of insane commute. What I paid for the pineapple can in some places feed someone for a week. What I spent in gas to get to the store, another week's worth of food.

If I am sick, I go to the doctor, I get a prescription, I go back for a follow up. I've been struggling with depression and that's exactly how my doctor's encounter went. Many people in the west don't even have that privilege, heck many people in Canada can't afford to go to the doctor because they live in the middle of nowhere and don't have money for gas. I go practice some self care in having a hot bath. The water in my tub could sustain people for a week. The energy it takes to create that water, could probably sustain them for a month. I bragged about buying a super fancy tea kettle which is programmed for 6 temperatures, I can't even begin to know what it would mean to people. My phone? My beloved iPhone, there's probably a body or a rape attached to that phone. Do folks even know this? There is immense civil unrest in areas like the Democratic Republic of Congo, for many reasons, but one of those is fighting over territory that covers the mines that mine materials for our phones. This violence has a huge focus on women and girls for some reason and rape is abundant.

It just boggles my mind sometimes to think of how privileged we are and I feel bad that I don't notice it enough. I'm on my save the world spree again so I'm sure some of you are rolling your eyes. I guess in the end, right now since I'm kinda busy getting my head screwed back on straight, is to be more mindful of my purchases, my actions, my life and what it might mean to someone else. Sadly there are people suffering right in our backyards so if you are inclined to do something to help, you needn't look far. I think however by simply thinking about what we consume and what it takes to produce them and what it might mean for someone else, we might be more inclined to help others. Hopefully once my head clears I can think of some meaningful way to do so.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sanity Saving

I don't know what true sanity looks like anymore. I've long forgotten civilized mornings with a quiet coffee and a newspaper. A relaxing afternoon with tea, my cross stitching and a good line up of mindless TV, or a quiet evening at home in front of a fire with a glass of wine and some quality chocolate. Mornings are now pancakes and mopping up syrup from the floor. Afternoons are endless battles of getting the kids to stay in their room for mommy quiet tim....uh, kids quiet time. And evenings are a balancing act of nutritious and kid friendly meals, PJ madness and collapsing on the couch, if I somehow make it back downstairs and not falling asleep propped up against a change table. I am however an expert in stolen moments of sanity which has become the lifeblood of this SAHM of three.

Naptime is a good example, however lately scheduling and coordinating three naps is increasingly difficult. Two big guys at school and little one occupied is another example, except I am the little one's chief toy and occupier. So how does a mom get a minute for a coffee and a blog and her sanity? Basically by letting chaos take over. By throwing chopped veggies, chicken and some starch at the big guys, slapping a fresh diaper on the baby and putting him in his bouncy chair, sloshing a coffee into the cup, drink it black, because you don't want the kids to catch on to your plot and hiding in a room, barricading the door for five minutes and cursing your computer for the 2 nanoseconds it takes to load your blog page. "HURRY UP DAMMIT! DON'T YOU REALIZE HOW LITTLE TIME WE HAVE???"

When I get out, the baby will be crying, possibly have spit up all over his bib, the boys will have destroyed the place and have gotten their dinners on the ceiling, in the duct work and up their noses. The living room will have looked like a bomb went off in it, there will be noise, like Vuvuzela noise...scratch that, Vuvuzelas have nothing on my kids. One of my big guys will have a new bump or bruise from trying to jump off the couch using a cape as a parachute and the Backyardigans on the TV will be so shocked, they'll be holed up in a cave, rocking themselves repeating "The horror!"

However I'll have emerged from my mom cave aka office, relaxed, calm and able to cope with the mess, the noise, the chaos, the anarchy and I'll be able to triage with expertise the toys scattered out like they've been hit by a hurricane, queue Adagio for Strings (music from Platoon), the boo boos, the tears, the food crammed in orifices, the therapy for the Backyardigans (I am a therapist after all....stop laughing!), all because I carved out ten minutes of sanity and let the place go to piss. To other moms ready to tear their hair out...and I literally came within a hair of taking a pair of shears to mine today, I highly recommend the run and barricade method of sanity saving. It's expensive in the monetary world of household chores and madness, but you know what? We're worth it!

Blogging is so simple

I think of what my grandfather would think if he saw the technology that we have access to today. He died in the early 80's when I was just a wee thing. He was a WWII veteran.

The technologies that exist is one thing, the freedom to do this and blather on from my day to day, to politics is something altogether different and so very valuable.

All over the world, battles are still being fought, soldiers dying, principals like freedom of speech, the ability to vote, the ability to go get some water without being shot, maimed or raped do not exist. The world can be a very ugly place and people can be insanely inhuman. We live in a country where for the most part people are civil to one another, our freedoms were defended vigilantly and we're in such a state of relative safety, we can afford to send our soldiers elsewhere to put their lives on the line.

Canadian soldiers of the past, present and future. Thank you for your sacrifices. Time with your families, your safety, your well being and sometimes your lives. We come upon the hour to remember, and sometimes I take what I have for granted, but am thankful of this day to remember that what I have, where I live and how I live is precious and that you will and have fought and defend it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Wow, it's been a while. The last week and a half has been bumpy. I went through an "episode" (how old fashioned does that sound?) aka, a psycho weepy point where my entire world felt like it was collapsing. The good thing is that somehow through that I have made an appointment with my doctor, whom I will be visiting with in a few short hours.

The good news is, I am a fully licensed driver in the province of Ontario. I started to learn how to drive 10 years ago! Really! I took lessons, but slacked off and never did get my G2-which for those who don't know, allows me to drive alone, even though not fully licensed. So I've depended on someone for a ride for a very long time, which in most of Canada is a BAD thing. Weather, distance, schlepping ten tonnes of parcels. It never became a huge issue until I had children and I even got by when it was just one. I could easily fit a stroller on the bus and walk where I needed to. Which pretty much limited me to a 2km hike to the mall. Serious grocery shopping was limited to weekends or whenever Dearest was available, which cut into quality time.

I started to take driving seriously though when A Dude was about 6 months. I had taken lessons from other instructors and it never really sunk in. I bit the bullet and the pocketbook and signed up for Young Drivers. There is a reason why they're so damned expensive, it's because they got through to me! I had a great instructor and after two failed attempts (I'm really not that bad a driver, really!) I ended up with my G2, which was good for 3 years. So I set on my merry way, smiling for a month every time I set off on my own. Dearest basically didn't see me for a month, every time he came home, I rushed out the door just to go for a drive. I forgot all about parallel parking and backing in, and pretty much shoved everything I learned out of my head as I evolved into "Manic Granny" driving style.

Then a month ago, a notice came that my license was about to expire and I'd be busted back down to a G1, which meant I couldn't drive alone. Not good! So in my fragile ego state, I booked my G2 exit exam, which includes a highway test and sweated bullets for a couple of weeks. Yesterday as I literally shook my way through the exam with the nastiest piece of examiner on Earth, (Seriously MTO, tell your examiners to kill the snarky comments, I know making or breaking drivers is the only source of power in some of their lives, but being an unprofessional jerk is going to come to roost when they rattle someone so badly someday they drive into a telephone pole...jussayin) I somehow passed. I was shocked, I thought I failed, all his nasty comments jarred me, I wouldn't have called that my finest hour in driving, but I made it. I never have to take a test again. I never have to back into a spot, or parallel park if I don't want to. Best thing is, I never have to worry about it again.

So I'm back to driving with a grin on my face for a month. I never thought 3 years ago that I'd be able to move and groove on my own accord. Don't believe me? Ask some of my buddies who comment on my blog, they know. It's funny, how car dependent I've become, but I think it's a vital skill to have and can't believe I put it off for so long. So to all mamas out there, to all women, get a license. If you plan on living in the downtown core for all your life and walk to wherever you need, great! Get a license! You never know when life, work or a roadtrip with the galpals comes up and the ability to get behind a set of wheels and go is so liberating!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Okay, blog attempt take 3

This is my third try at writing this post. My first was a lot of navel gazing. My second was an overkill attempt to make up for the navel gazing. Basically, I'll be honest, I'm feeling kinda crummy again. My anxiety has been up and now that I've exhausted that, I'm feeling blue again. I've been meaning to write something, but I don't want to write just for the sake of churning something out either. However writing when I'm feeling like this isn't easy because I don't want to scare folks away by being a female version of Eeyore, but it's hard for me to fake peppy all the time. I did find something though that somewhat ties into how I'm feeling.

At the Fodder Forum as I call it, there was a discussion a SAHM started. She was wondering how unfair it was that her husband who works out of the home, late hours and contributes little to her down time or family time, has signed up for gym classes. Well the discussion predictably devolved into a SAHM/WOHP debate until the moderators came in and launched virtual tear gas. As usual, extreme points on one end, extreme points on the other and some good common sense points in the middle. However I can say as a SAHM some of those extreme points did get my nose out of joint. It also got me thinking about this job and yes, I refer to it as a job. Much has been written on the topic, how hard, how thankless, how unrecognized it is, but honestly, it's not exactly making me feel better, and I suspect it's the same for a lot of SAHMs. We know it's honourable, it's thankless, it's isolating, it's unrecognized, so freaking what? I want someone to tell me it's going to be alright.

Anyhow, I'm going to tell anyone who's a SAHM and might be reading this what I want to hear and I'm hoping in sharing this, if you're feeling down about the job, this might perk you up a little.

Your kids will be potty trained! You won't be changing diapers forever.
There will be days when all the laundry is washed, folded and put away.
There will be days when you won't have to run to the grocery store.
There will be days when someone else takes care of the meals.
There will be days when all of these happen at the same time.
You won't be isolated.
You won't be ignored.
You won't eat alone.
You will be a priority.
People will learn that you are allowed to be happy that you're a SAHM, but also want something more for yourself.
People will learn that you are interesting.
Someone, people will look up to.
Someone, people will admire.
Someone, people will recognize as a person who knows more than where the homework or ketchup is.
You are beautiful.
You are special.
You will have your time in the spotlight.
At some point, you will get time to yourself, meaningful time, where you can work on meaningful things.
At some point you will be seen as valuable by others, even if you don't bring home a paycheque.
At some point you will be recognized as important.
At some point, someone will really reflect on what you do and all you have sacrificed and say thank you from that place.
Give yourself a hug, hold on, these crummy days are short and you will come out on the other end, a stronger, better woman.