3.30.2007

Oh, It's Such a Perfect Day

Wanna hear something fun?
For the first time in almost two years, I have the house to myself. For the whole day. With no child or husband due for hours and hours. Bliss.

So what am I gonna do? Well, not much. Having the house to myself for the first time in two years triggers a condition in which I am completely blind to the Mount Everest-sized pile of laundry sitting on my bedroom floor that desperately needs to be folded and put away; causes me to be incapable of noticing the couscous that spilled on the stove last night and was never cleaned up, and renders invisible the various half-baked projects around the house, like our attempt at cleaning out the basement so that it can finally be Bee’s playroom, or any of the myriad of crafts that languish in my craft corner. (that’s code for, in a bag on the floor in the basement that hasn’t been cleaned out)

So far today, the biggest decision I have had to make is whether to watch A Baby Story or Dawson’s Creek. Don’t be daft – of course Dawson won. Who’s your favourite? I’m a Pacey girl myself. Well, I like Jack too, but that’s just a throwback to my hag days. Dawson? Blech. Wuss. I prefer my Creek boys tall, dark and sarcastic. I won’t even get into the ‘where did you go katie holmes, you cruisified freakazoid?’ because, you know. Cliché.
See how much fun a day off is!

After bad ‘90s teen drama ends, I may read blogs for a while, pet the cat and perhaps shower at some point, but only because I will be leaving the house for the only reason I would leave the house when I have it to myself – to go meet my best friend and go to the beauty parlour together! And then we’ll go out for dinner, and by time I get home, Chris will have Bee fed, changed, in pajamas and ready to give me a big smooch goodnight before he goes and cleans that couscous, folds the laundry and organizes the basement, pausing only long enough to make me a cup of tea and play with my new fabulous new hair for a while.

Too far? Ok. I’ll settle for everything up to that smooch from Bee.

Gotta go now – looks like I’m almost out of coffee, and I’ll have to make some more before I watch You Are What You Eat, even though Zoboomafoo and Go, Diego, Go are on. Heaven.

3.28.2007

I Think You Think I Think

Sometimes I pause before I hit the ‘Publish’ button on my posts. I wonder if maybe I’m divulging too much information, or conversely, if I’m holding back and not being honest to myself or anyone that takes the time to stop by. I wonder if anybody besides me understands what I’m writing, or for that matter, cares. I wonder if I sound like a lunatic. I wonder if my words resonate with anyone or make anybody laugh. I wonder if anybody thinks about my words once they click away.
I hit that button anyway, and I feel good doing it, but still, for a moment, I wonder.

Well, I doubt anybody will be making a You’re Not Such a Lunatic! button, or starting the What the Hell Were You Thinking When You Wrote This Post Awards, so that kind of feedback will just have to be left in comments. But they do make a Thinking Blogger award, and someone thought of me. Canape, whose own blog is chock-full of thinky goodness, (as a thinker, I think of new words all the time) thinks that I think! Who woulda thunk it?

So Canape, thank you for thinking that I think. I will now put away my draft post on the 50 best fart jokes and start on something smarter.

But you know what the best part of this award is? That I get to now bestow it on others! I must say, this was not an easy task. No, sillies, not because you’re all a bunch of dumbasses, but because many of you have already, deservedly been thusly honoured. However, much to my delight, I do get to pass the title on to two of my favourite, thinkingest bloggy friends out there

Cinnamon Gurl
Cin is spice-coloured goodness. She writes the most descriptive posts I’ve ever read, and takes crazyawesome pictures to boot. When she’s not writing the most beautiful letters to her little Swee’pea, she’s taking us with her on an eye-opening adventure to a divergent land where she still manages to see beauty everywhere.

Crazymumma
A wonderful, vivid mesh of photography, poetry, parenting advice and soft core (you heard me), you never know what you’ll get from Crazymumma, and trust me, you’ll never be disappointed. Oh, and she has a firebird. I dare you to find a cooler mom in the t-dot.

I think I'll go celebrate with a fancy coffee.

3.24.2007

kgirl's bookshelf

My friend Metro Mama thinks that I'll do this book meme just to show off. Well MM, cut me some slack. It's not like I'm ever going to be able to blog about my toddler sleeping through jackhammers.

Anyway, here's how I break down a list of what the 'general public' considers to be the 100 best novels ever written. You'll notice there is no section for 'I read these over and over' because, well, The Story of O was not on the list.

Top Shelf (once is enough, so it’s ok that I can’t reach them):
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolsoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Second Shelf (I might read these again):
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)

Eye Level (just looking at the spines makes me happy):
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)

Fourth Shelf (still pretty happy):
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)

Fifth Shelf (I’m intending to read these):
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
45. The Bible
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)

Bottom Shelf (Bee can play with them. I won’t be):
1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Rowling)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) – much to my husband’s dismay
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling) 58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
73. Shogun (James Clavell
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)

They might be on my book shelf if I had ever heard of ‘em:
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
76. Tigana (Guy Gavriel Kay)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)

So are there any that should move from the bottom shelf to the fifth shelf? I'm open to convincing.

3.22.2007

Counting My Blessings

I lived in Israel for about 8 months in 1998. It was an experience that I have actually never tried to communicate via the written word, although millions describing and remembering it swirl in my head all the time. My year in the Middle East was my coming-of-age year, most definitely. As such, it helped mold my personality and my views, and guided me from a carefree youth to a tiny-bit-more-responsible adult. I think the fact that I am a bit of a weirdo can be directly traced back to the incredibly influential time I spent with people whose first language and culture was not my own. (Trust me on this – being a Jew in North America is nothing like being a Jew in Israel. And not in the ways you would think. In fact, probably the opposite.)

Mostly, I carry with me the things that I learned, about life and people and the way the world works. I think these things have made me a better person, and I try to apply them to my life here.

Like, never sweep around boxer puppies, as they will wrestle the broom out of your hands, but not so that they can finish the sweeping.

And, if you want cute boys to talk about you in their native language, you can’t disclose the fact that you actually understand that language.

And, only black scorpions can kill you.

And, don’t trust a 5-sheckle haircut.

And, staying up all night to watch really bad Israeli rock bands and drink Maccabee beer when you are expected to be cleaning floors in the dining room by 6 am is not a good idea. The only upside to this is that no one else will know that you barfed all over the dining room floors since you are the one cleaning them.

But most importantly, I learned that people who live in a war zone do not live like they are in a war zone.

I’m afraid that lately it has seemed like my life is a depressing tapestry of darkness and woe. (Of course it does, k – you’re posting about miscarriages and bad news and more bad news)

Here’s the thing: I really don’t spend my entire day dwelling on the bad circumstances that have crept into my life as of late. I go to work, I play with my baby, I make dinner and I watch Survivor. Usually I’m not thinking about sad things as I do.

I laugh. Quite a bit. I kiss and hug my daughter and my husband and my friends and I talk about serious stuff, but I also talk about incredibly frivolous, unimportant things, like how my friend is getting crazy hair extensions and how proud I am that I watched all of Casino Royale in one sitting and how we want to start a bowling league, and I want my shirt to say Gladys.

It’s funny, I never ever thought of myself as unlucky. I know people that are unlucky. They are people who lost both of their parents before they were 16, or people who lost their job and then found out they were sick, or people who have struggled with infertility for years or have suffered the heartbreak of losing a pregnancy over and over and over again.

But that’s not me. Yes, I have had some bad news piled on top of bad news lately, and a couple of years ago things were pretty low as well, but holy crow, there is so so much good stuff in my life too.

So I feel a bit disingenuous posting the bad stuff and extracting your sympathy. It feels good to post, it helps to post, but I feel weird about it. As I have said before, I really tend to gloss over ‘tragedy’ in my life. I shake things off. I dismiss them, and don’t readily or easily talk about them. It’s not even a matter of being stoic. I’ve always hated drama, never wanted it, and this all feels too dramatic for me.

Life goes on, is what I mean. And that I don’t want to miss the really good stuff, just because there’s some bad stuff going on too.

Why don’t you guys just shoot me a ‘screw you, crybaby’ every once in a while to strike a balance?

Or hey, even better, I’ll just write about happy stuff every now and then. Because I think I can keep my war zone at bay.


This is how I know the sun still shines

The Results Are (Not) In

I was going to edit my last post to thank you all for the hugs and well-wishes, and to let you know the update we got yesterday, and then I realized that my edit was just turning into a post, and posting feels good, so here it is.

First, the update:
The doctors were not satisfied with the results of the biopsy they did on my dad's pancreas. They feel that they have not pinpointed the origin of the cancer, and now want to biopsy his spleen and ct his lungs. This means that he'll be in the hospital even longer (he's been there for 13 days now), and that he'll have to go through even more painful procedures. And I'll have to delay my trip to see him. That's because:

My dad is VA. He is a Vietnam Vet who spent 4 years in the Navy relaying code to ground troops. My dad's sense of pacifism is only outweighed by his sense of responsibility, which is why he didn't high-tail it to Canada four years earlier than he did.

This means that he can only be treated at VA clinics and VA hospitals. My dad lives on the east coast of Florida, near Orlando. There is a VA clinic near his home, but the VA hospital is in Tampa, 2 1/2 hours away. I have nowhere to stay in Tampa, and I can't afford a hotel for a week right now. So, as long as they keep him in Tampa, I can't be there. We have no idea if he'll be able to be treated closer to home, as that means outsourcing medical care, and of course, who wants to pay for that. My dad does have a patient advocate, and she, as well as the oncologist, believe that it is in my dad's best interest to be closer to home. However, we have no guarantees that the powers that be will agree. I have also heard that VA benefits expire at age 65, which is how old my dad will be in June. Don't know where we'll go from there.

This is by far the most frustrating part for me right now, and I am trying to keep in mind that my dad is actually one of the 'lucky ones' - he doesn't have to pay for his medical care right now. As a Canadian, the unfairness of the health care system in the US boils my fucking blood like you wouldn't believe. I also try to keep in mind that if it were not for the Clinton administration overhauling Veteren's Affairs, my dad would not be one of the lucky ones. Fucking ridiculous.

So today we'll find out when they might schedule the ct scan and if they can even do another biopsy. (Apparently it is difficult to biopsy the spleen. I don't know what the alternative is right now.)
My dad remains in good spirits, which is characteristic for him, and he is enjoying flirting with the nurses who come every day to give him a shot of morphine for the pain. He's not even complaining about hospital food yet.

There are so many of you who have said 'I know what you're going through.' I'm sorry for that. But you are helping. Several of my very best friends have gone through this already. You will all keep me sane. I'll take your advice, your encouragement, your hugs, and I'll just keep positive and keep going.

And for Chris - bureaucratic. Ha.

3.21.2007

It's Always Something

So, I’ve been a bit preoccupied lately, which is to say, emotionally drained, which is to say, there is bad stuff afoot.

I feel like I haven’t been back to the blogosphere long enough to have (even more) depressing news, but this is my space, and I need it. I’m sharing only if you want to hear. If not, click away and I won’t be offended. I won’t blame you at all – it’s early in the morning. Who wants bad news before coffee?

My dad is sick. We found out only recently, and it’s bad. We will find out just how bad later today, but we pretty much already know the deal.

My dad is sick, it’s bad, and he lives far away from me.

My dad is sick, it’s bad, he lives far away from me, and out of 4 children, I’m the one that will most likely have to deal with the horrible practicalities of this horrible reality.

My older sister lives on the other side of the country, and is on her way back home after spending a month even further away with her my niece. She could be a tremendous help, although I might have to keep things organized. She is a wonderful caregiver and a supportive sister and it would be good if we could be there together, but they don’t even know what’s going on yet, and she will probably have no money to fly to Florida once back.

My little brother is 23. He doesn’t drive and he has no money, and like most big sisters, I feel the need to protect him. And though we’re close, the combination of the two of us is the most likely to be tense. I will be too bossy, and he will be too defensive and together we could possibly make a rough time rougher.

My little sister is a 21-year old student. She doesn’t drive and she has no money. And like most big sisters, I feel the need to protect her. If we were to go together, she would be an excellent caregiver, a wonderfully supportive sister, but I will have to deal with all of the other responsibilities and my yearning to protect her would weigh heavily.

So, while I will have the help and support of my dad’s brother and sister who live near him, and have thus far been his (and our) amazing allies, I will probably be going to Florida alone, the only burden I’m scared to shoulder on my own, the emotional one. I am good at dealing with beurocratic trivialities, I know I can extract the answers and the next steps from the myriad of doctors and experts and administrators that I will have to. All of these things I can handle, and in times of crisis, usually dive into – kind of a welcome distraction. My only hope is that alone, I can give my dad what he needs, both physically and emotionally. My aunt and uncle will of course still be close at hand, but I think they will tag out somewhat once I’m there, or worse, bulldoze me into making decisions that I won’t be convinced are best for my dad.

I will probably leave for Florida on Saturday, and stay a week. And I feel guilty for having waited until even now to go there, and I feel guilty that every day I’m not there I get to live under a thin bad-news shield, and I wish I didn’t have to step out from under it. For so many reasons.

Does this all seem shallow? Does this seem selfish in the face of the real issue, which is that my dad is very sick? I just – I just am not ready to comprehend the magnitude of that reality and what it means to my future – my dad’s future – yet. I feel like, as long as there is ‘work to be done’ and ‘plans to be made,’ the focus, the reason for this work and this planning, can stay in the shadows. At least for a tiny bit longer.

3.16.2007

Shazam! I've Been Hit!

Chris used to say that if you wanted to know what was going on in my life and my head, you had only to look at the magazines I was reading. And he was right; I have a regular roster of mags that I can’t pass by, and though they may have changed over the years, generally they are my steadies – when Sassy gave way to Jane I switched to Bust (I have every issue since #2, yo), and Details gave way to Walllpaper which I ditched shortly after Tyler Brule did in favour of the occasional Dwell or Martha Stewart. (yes, I often choose between the two for the same areyoufuckingcrazy – I mean, aspirational, reasons.)

But it’s the specialty mags that tell my stories best. When Chris and I were engaged, wedding and bridal mags were stacked throughout our apartment. And they’re expensive, and we had a two-year engagement, so I probably could have paid for a good chunk of the wedding with the magazine budget alone. But they were fun, and me and my sisters liked to pick out which dress we liked best on every page (a throwback to a game we used to play with the Sears catalogue).
A couple of years after the wedding, we started looking for our first house. Enter the interior design/DIY mags. Loads of them, each one elevating our already lofty dreams of what we could achieve in a starter home to the realm of the sublimely ridiculous.

Fittingly, I got pregnant two minutes after we bought the house. Before I got pregnant, I had fantasies of taking the test, seeing the positive result and in my glowing, zen state, purchasing a few baby and pregnancy magazines to leave on the coffee table, thus communicating our good news to Chris. Uh, not quite. I don’t know about you, but when I found out I was pregnant, I freaked out and paced back and forth for two hours, waiting for Chris to come home and shaming myself for wanting sooooo badly to do the one thing I knew I would never do again – smoke a cigarette. Anyway, eventually pregnancy, parenting and health magazines relegated home improvement rags to the back of the closet, for inspiration at a later date. Right. But I got over the baby mags pretty soon, not being one for convential thought on parenting. Only Mothering made the cut.

Now that I have a mortgage and a child and bills to pay, and little spare time and a blog, the few magazines that I still subscribe to remain unread for months at a time. So, how does one now know where my head’s at? No, no, don’t bother asking me. I will shrug everything off and ask you if you want to go for brunch or play scrabble or something. Instead, just check out my most-played songs on itunes, or look in my bag to see which CDs I’m shlepping to and from work everyday. And now my point –

Motherbumper tagged me for a meme that I was jealous other people were doing. I’m giving you all a look into my bag…


Snow (Hey Oh) – rhcp
Oh, Anthony Kedis. So vulnerable. So emotive. You’re deep, I get it. Hey, when did Will Farrel join the band?

Soul Meets Body – Death Cab for Cutie
‘You’re the only song I want to hear.’ If I were 16 again, that would be the quote on the first page of my diary. Ah, Seth Cohen was right.

Stay or Leave – Dave Matthews
Say what you will about Dave. I love him.

Fix You – Coldplay
I’m a sucker for power endings.

Zion – Lauren Hill
I think she’s a bit of a crazy loon these days, but still, this song pretty much says what it means to be a mother, no?

Expectations – Belle and Sebastian
The poor girl in the song can’t catch a break – she’s destined to work some bottom-level job, the kids tease her, the teachers look up her skirt. It’s all very sad. But such a catchy tune.

Constellations – Jack Johnson
‘nuff said.


Ok, my turn. I want to know what
Cinnamon Gurl , Crazymumma , Not So Sage , NoMo And Jen are rockin out to these days.



*

3.13.2007

Of Mice and Men

‘Karen, don’t move.’

If ever there are words that I do not want to hear at 1am, those rank near the top.

I scream-whisper, so as not to wake Bee, who has climbed in to bed between us at some point. “What is it? What is it?” I mentally scan the room to locate the phone and plan our escape route, which I’m sure we’re gonna need, since I’m sure that we are in the throes of a home invasion or zombies or something rational like that.

‘I think Miko left us another treat.’

Oh, that. My panic sinks, but my stomach rises to my throat. Nooooo, I whine silently, noooo, I don’t want to deal with that. Not now. Groooooooossss.

My eyes zero in on the object on the bed. Wow, it looks bigger than the last one, and holy crap, its tail is sticking straight up. Miko must have struck quickly. My pride in my normally lazy cat’s accomplishment is short-lived, when I realize that, once again, Chris’ involvement is going to go only as far as alerting me to the issue, and perhaps, jumping onto a chair and covering his eyes.

Fuck, fuck, fuck. ‘I’m going to turn on the lights,’ says Chris from his perch, on the other side of the room. ‘No! – you’ll wake Bee.’ Oh yes, Bee, our daughter, nestled cozily, bum up, inches from a large (at least in this light) dead creature that the cat sacrificed. For our love. Sweet, actually, and we really should go praise her since she did this for us and –

Bee shifts and I snap out of my stupor.

‘Chris! Help me!’

‘No way – this is your gig,’ Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Again, I wonder how I got stuck with giving birth and disposing of dead critters. But there is no way that I can manage hauling the big winter duvet downstairs all by myself without, uh, disturbing, the dead thing.

‘Help me!’ I am practically hissing. Chris moves slightly forward as I formulate a plan.

‘Ok, ok, lets fold this side over, ok yep, now lay it down gently…’ We are half expecting the thing to spring back to life as we lower the top third of the quilt over it. Next, we fold the bottom third over the top third, and then work our way in, Chris from the left, me from the right in the same manner, until we have a neat square padded coffin for the beast confined within. Good! We each take a side and begin our journey down the stairs with our package. I am praying that we have the whole mouse in the quilt and will not find any little gifts along the way (I found a headless mouse on the porch last autumn, compliments of a neighbourhood tom, and headless mice, mocking me, have haunted my dreams ever since). We put the death chamber down in the kitchen and ponder the next move.

‘Let’s just put it in the backyard and forget about the whole thing.’ (My suggestion.)
‘Gross, no, let’s put it across the road by the parking lot where we put the other ones.’ (Chris.)
‘Let’s just throw it out and buy a new duvet next year and go back to sleep. (Me.)
‘No! Let’s take it across the road.’ (Chris.)
‘Fine, but I’m just going to leave it by the butterfly garden. It’s March break. There’s no kids, and by time they come back, some other animal will have picked it up. (Me.)
‘Or your daughter will have picked it up. Since she plays there every day.’ (Chris.)
‘Fine. But you have to help me.’

And so we head outside and across the road to the gully between the fence and the parking lot of the school, where no child ever roams. What a sight. I pray that none of my neighbours have insomnia and are looking out the window at this moment, because we look like we are dumping a body. Which, I realize, is accurate. Oh god.

We make it across the road and lay the blanket down. Gingerly, still expecting to see an angry mouse leap out at us from beneath the layers, we start to unfold the blanket.

‘Slowly,’ I coach, ‘Let’s not let it roll out, because I’m not touching it. Slowly!’

We undo the first three folds and take a breath, readying ourselves for the reveal.

We peel back the last layer, and take our first good look at the beast.









I turn abruptly and head to the house. ‘You know I’m blogging this, right?’

Chris nods. My hero.


*

3.05.2007

Mummy Do It


At rise:
(A living room in a house in Toronto, late on a Saturday afternoon in early March. CHRIS, early thirties but armed with boyish good looks, cleans up the remnants of a snack that BEE, a petite, freakin adorable, but potentially challenging toddler, just shy of 22 months, has abandoned. MUMMY, a tiny bit later early thirties, not as petite or girlish as she used to be, though she has her moments, is a blur of activity)

Chris
Let’s change your diaper Bee

Bee
Mummy do it! Mummy do it!

Chris
I can do it, c’mon over here; I’ll do it.

Bee
No! Mummy do it!

Mummy
But love, I’m already folding laundry and chopping vegetables while the rice cooks and the cat wants out and the phone is ringing and I’m trying to find your sippy cup and I haven’t peed in six hours.

Bee
No! No! No! Mummy do it! Mummmmmmmy doooooooooo iiiiiiiiit!

(Chris tries to wrestle Bee onto the changing mat; Bee wriggles, flails, spins and kicks Chris in the face repeatedly. Each blow to the kisser is punctuated with caterwauls of, yup; you guessed it, MUMMY DO IT!)

(Mummy indeed does it, and peace is restored. Curtain.)

***
Mummy Do It
That is the directive that, these days, is taking up the most real estate in my daughter’s ever-expanding vocabulary. Well, except maybe for, ‘Miko doing?’ (she likes to police the cat’s activities), and ‘No!’ but, given No!’s monosyllabic efficiency, it’s an easy one to fall back on.

But while No! certainly incites in her mother its share of frustration, impatience, negotiation, and yes, even laughter, Mummy Do It translates pretty much into one thing for me: Sheer exhaustion.

This is really uncharacteristic of Bee. She’s usually very easy going, and we’re trying to figure out why it is exactly that Bee will not let any other adult in the entire free world be her bitch except mummy, because it is a special designation that is wearing itself very thin, very quickly.

And listen, it’s not like mummy has a magic touch – all things being equal, all things are equal. Daddy is just as good at changing diapers, cutting up food, affixing bibs and changing play clothes for pajamas as I am – and, god love him, is willing to do these things with little or no prompting from me – but Bee just. won’t. have it. It’s got to be mummy. It’s got to be mummy to change a shitty diaper, put on slippers, rock to sleep, put in and out of booster seat, put in and out of car seat, put in and out of winter gear – you name it; if it’s gotta be done and mummy’s around, mummy’s gotta do it.

And the only exception to this rule is almost as bad as the Mummy Do It proposition: Sha-ha Do It.

(Sha-ha being what Bee refers to herself as; it’s a weird piglatin-ish hybrid of half her name, and I think it’s so funny and cute that I never try to get her say it the right way).

Sha-ha Do It is employed, it seems, pretty much only during the times that I actually want to enforce Mummy Do It. Like when I’m clipping Bee’s nails, or cutting up her food or walking down an icy path. And Sha-ha Do It is expressed with the same determination, stubbornness and urgency as Mummy Do It. And shockingly, she won’t relent. But unlike with Mummy Do It, I often will not give in to path-of-least-resistance parenting when Bee asserts, Sha-ha Do It. How could I? We are talking risky situations for a toddler to spearhead after all. Nope, I don’t give in, I simply give up, and we abandon the task altogether and move on to an activity that’s a little less controversial for a child to navigate, such as having a tea party or
using a blowtorch.

As the bags under my eyes get a bit little bigger and my store of mommy-patience gets a little bit smaller, Chris and me are trying to figure out what triggered this weird and tiring dictatorship. All kidding aside, we are concerned that Bee is reacting to something that we have not been sensitive enough to transition her through properly. You see, after almost a year of being together daily, Bee’s partner in childcare is exiting our situation to stay home with his mom and new baby brother, and we are easing a new little boy into the mix. Bee, for all reports and all that I’ve seen myself, appears to be handling this with her (usual, characteristic) grace and calm, but maybe that’s a daytime act, a survival tactic, and once I’m home her insecurity presents itself in the guise of a pint-size dictator intent on asserting her control over something, namely me.

Or maybe she is being sensitive to the subtle sadness that has crept into our house, and the heart of her mother of late, even though we truly do not dwell on such things, and laughter and happiness are still abundant round these parts.

Or maybe it is simply the will of a toddler, the test of a parent and just the way it is for now, and we’ll just go with it. Because, for every diaper that needs changing, for every story that needs reading, for every strap that needs buckling, there are hugs to give, kisses to bestow, hair to smooth and boo boos to fix. And easily, happily, gratefully, Mummy Do It.

3.01.2007

Near to Bursting

My heart, that is.
Because sometimes we have to struggle through things on our own, alone, afraid to give light to a darkness that smothers, shames, paralyzes.

And sometimes we don’t.

Like I said to the wonderful
Cinnamon Gurl, mother of spice-haired sweetness incarnate, taker of sublimely poignant photos and giver of perfect posts, a bazillion thank yous, wrapped in flannel, because y’know, it’s chilly out there.

It’s good to be back. Real good.