Passover and Out

Today, Jews around the world, including myself, are coming down from a self-induced Passover high (my friend says we should change the name to Passout), fuelled by carbs and wine and giddiness, and as I nurse my hamishe hangover, I am doing what many good Jews are doing, and kvetching about it reflecting.

Well, not really reflecting – I did that a few years ago and it made me sad, and that was when I still had a father. I just don’t feel like going to that place right now; our meal was heavy enough. I’ll keep it as light as the matzo balls were supposed to be.

Our Seder last night was fun – like, really fun. We brought a sweet kugel that the girls and I had made, and Bee could not remember what it was called. At various times during the evening it was referred to as: a gaful, a kafawd, a google and a dinner cake. We sang too loud and ate too much and we acted out and had props for 9 of the 10 plagues (not the last – we don’t talk about that one in front of the kinder), and as the Haggadah counsels, we asked four important questions. The youngest members of the family are supposed to ask the questions, but both of my loud, showy kids got shy, so my poor, question-beleaguered little sister had to come out of retirement to ask them.

So my sis asked the questions, and we all answered them, adding, of course, our own unique perspective to make things more interesting: Why do we dip our parsley into saltwater? To represent tears that the Jews shed when the matzo balls came out too hard! Anyway, yes that is the type of Jewish education I am giving my children. It’s ok – my righteous Gentile husband always corrects us when we mess up the details.

Anyway, today, with nary a piece of brisket in sight, I am reflecting. I have my own questions to ask, and I’d like answers:

1) Why do my kids only wake up an hour and a half early on days that I know are going to be ridiculously long and filled with sweets?

2) Why does my mother buy my children Passover colouring books to help keep them busy while we are still pigging out lounging at the table, only to forget where the hell she put the crayons?

3) Why do people keep suggesting that maybe my sister and I should ease up on the Jewish song medleys? Who doesn’t love Diaynu presented as a round, interspersed with Hava Negila?!

And finally…

4) Why does every Passover dessert taste like either a brick or a sponge, and why did I eat so much of it anyway?

Oy. The Passover bloat. Next year, remind me to pass over the farfel, kay? Oh, and by the way, sis? I saw you drinking Elijah’s wine.



Of Loving and Leaping

Tuesday morning, Dove stopped moving.

I mean it – she put her hand behind her head, lifted her leg, started crying, and stopped moving.

And it was a scary cry. A pain cry. Did she bump herself on the way out of bed? I picked her up immediately, and she tensed. I tried to look at her, ask her questions, find out what happened, but she maintained her stiffened pose. I finally got her to tell me that her neck hurt, and to adjust her body slightly so that her head was on my shoulder, one hand still behind her ear, the other tucked under her body, left leg raised high. No doubt she could feel my heart beating double-time, as I tried to figure out why the hell my two-year-old was in so much pain and had stopped moving.

I rubbed her back and her neck, trying to ease her muscles into relaxed submission, but if I moved her in any way, an anguished cry. After about 45 minutes with no change, I decided to call Telehealth.

They’ll just tell you to go to the hospital, Chris said, It’s probably just a muscle spasm. Muscle spasm? My kid is two. Two-year-olds are practically boneless. She wasn’t moving her head or her leg.

It’s probably MENINGITIS, I shot back, panicking just a little.

Chris looked at me. It might just be a growing pain, he suggested.

It might be a TUMOUR, I responded, and picked up the phone.

The Telehealth nurse was reassuring, saying that sometimes this happens, but suggested we go to the hospital to check it out. Okey dokey, I told her, rushing around to find some pants.

Two hours later, we were back home. It was a muscle spasm, one that actually eased up while we were sitting in our room waiting for the doctor. One minute she wouldn’t move – not even when the nurse was listening to her heart and checking her oxygen levels – and the next she was squirming in my lap, asking for her water and trying to see the TV better. (We were in a peds room; Treehouse was on).

The doctor had been great, telling me what to watch for, reassuring me that she would be ok, understanding why I had been so scared, and joking that part of the parenting contract is to be available for the odd coronary at the hands of our children. Glad he could joke about it.

It took about a day and half a dozen phone calls home that afternoon to our nanny to finally ease my adrenaline levels back down to (my) normal. People were actually laughing at me as I told them the story of my Tuesday morning. My brother accused me of being paranoid and neurotic.

And I guess I am. I guess I am paranoid and neurotic when it comes to the health of the people I love most in this world. I’m actually good at handling the minor stuff; I don’t run to the doctor for sniffles or tummy aches; I’ve only ever had to fill a prescription for antibiotics once since becoming a parent, and between both kids, this is only the second time I’ve gone to the emergency room. I still think we are lucky and healthy.

But in my head…

In my head, I am expecting catastrophe. In my head, everything I’ve experienced; everything I have read about; everything I am afraid of becomes a possibility, a probability.

And I always think it’s cancer, but that’s just the Jew in me.

The thing is, we’ve all had bad, scary, sad experiences. Those are not the ones that should influence our everyday thought process, but they are the ones that take me from muscle spasm to meningitis in 10 easy seconds.

And not to minimize anyone truly suffering from an anxiety disorder, but I don’t think I have one. I mean, I carry Rescue Remedy with me, but y’know, that’s only because my purse is too small for a bottle of gin.

But I should try to calm down; try to keep in mind that so much of my role as a mother is making sure my kids do things like eat organic vegetables and get exercise and stay away from chemicals and pesticides and negativity and Max and Ruby, although to be fair, that last one just kind of annoys the shit out of me.

I do a lot to keep my kids safe and healthy and although I know I can’t control everything, although I know that sometimes shitty things happen anyway, I will try to skew positive.

Next time, maybe, instead of jumping to conclusions, I will take a deep breath, and a leap of faith.



Not At All

Not at all.

That was my answer. And it surprised me.

The question had been, So, do you want another?

A coworker asked me the question, as part of a casual conversation – as casual as it could possibly be, since we were having it in the women’s washroom – and the rapidity of my response surprised me even more than my answer.

Not at all. I do not want another baby.

We had been discussing the fact that our youngest, our babies, were really, no longer babies. Hers is three, mine is now two. Not babies.

And for the first time in a very long time, I do not feel the need to mother a baby. To be pregnant. To give birth again, even though my second birth was in no way the birth I had been hoping for, and for a long time I thought I deserved a do-over.

But I no longer want it. This is big, people, as big as my belly ten days overdue; as big as my baby lust has been for over five years. I had no idea that the baby lust had deflated so significantly, until my coworker asked me a casual question in the bathroom at work and I answered in less time than it takes for Sarah Palin to say something stupid at a press conference.

Not at all.

Crazy talk for me. It must be the lack of sleep deprivation talking. Or maybe it’s the bras I can finally fit into again now that, for the first time in 66 months I am I am not pregnant and/or breastfeeding. Maybe it’s the jeans I can do up, now that my body is growing accustomed to not needing to hoard calories since – did I mention? I am not pregnant and/or breastfeeding for the first time in 66 months.

The truth is, life is getting easier. My kids sleep. Finally. Yes, sometimes they still sleep in my bed, but I can handle that. And now that it’s not both of them, every. Single. Night. I actually enjoy it more. The girls play together, mostly peacefully, all the time. It’s adorable, it’s what I had hoped for, and it frees me up to get to the glamourous stuff, like reading a magazine or folding laundry.

We went on vacation a couple of weeks ago, and it was awesome, but I can’t fathom how we would have managed it with three small children. I mean, sure, stronger women than I will do it successfully, but the logistics were mind-blowing with only two small kids. Add a broken stroller (seriously) on the way there and a broken carseat (SERIOUSLY) on the way home, and I’m pretty sure I would have had a full-on meltdown if I had also had to stop in the middle of the late-night chaos of the airport to breastfeed a baby.

There’s almost no question of us having another baby, anyway. And as much as the reality that, at barely 35, my childbearing years are behind me, is sometimes a sad pill to swallow, we actually made the practical decision not to have any more kids a year and a half ago, when Chris valiantly went through The Big Snip.

But I still had a baby at that point. I still had huge boobs and could barely fathom being out of baby-hood, let alone the emotional reality of never being in it again. Today, like my coworker reminded me, I’m all out of baby.

And like I said to her, much, very much, to my own surprise, I am a-ok with that.




Kgirl's Book Shelf

Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-In-Training
Tom Jokinen

Tom Jonkinen left a job as a producer for CBC radio to become – what else? – an undertaker. Fascinated by the business of death, Tom decided to dig right in (wakka wakka) and find out what happens between the time that someone dies and the time that others formally say goodbye to the deceased.

I asked Random House to send me this book in particular for review because 1) I am morbid and morbidly fascinated by the details of death and 2) because 1) doesn’t mean that death doesn’t scare me. It does. To death. So I watch/read/ingest a lot about death in the hopes of not being as scared of it, I guess.

Anyway, Tom Jokinen is a good writer of this book. And by that, I mean that he writes about a touchy subject in a way that is both funny and sensitive. The only time I ever felt uncomfortable while reading this book was when Jokinen was describing, in surgical detail, his first foray into embalming a corpse. Incisions and drains and veins make me queasy. Luckily, stories about dead people don’t, so I was able to read on.

But I do think that this book would have been ok without quite so much of the clever. Clearly a coping method (probably in all aspects of life), Jokinen found something cute – and mainly self-depreciating – to say about pretty much everything important that happens in the book. It got a little exhausting at times, and I wish he would have trusted the strength of his writing to stand on its own every now and then. However, that is a minor criticism.

Curtains is mainly about an experience in a working-class, Winnipeg funeral home, so I know that I shouldn’t have been looking for a more culturally inclusive story of death, but I was. As a Jew, I was hoping to get more props for the way we traditionally implement a more ecologically friendly burial (no preserving, no fancy clothes, no chemicals, no fancy casket) – a major need in the traditional burial business, apparently. And, as a Jew, tales of huge gas ovens make me squirm, so I had to skim the cremation bits.

This was a nice alternative to my normal death-industry fare – and by that I mean Six Feet Under and CSI reruns – and I know a few other morbidly curious people that will enjoy this as much as I did. I’m certainly glad that it didn’t get buried on my bookshelf for long.

Curtains is available for pre-order now, shipping March 9, 2010



Ten Decent Things About Working In An Office

1. My snacks are always at hand

2. I’m rarely lonely

3. Nobody spills my drinks but me

4. The pictures of my kids are much quieter than the real things

5. I make all the decorating decisions

6. Industry swag, three-year-old Christmas cards, early versions of product graphics and the ‘organic’ stickers from fruit pass for decoration

7. One ironic magnet makes you cool

8. I don’t have to water the plants

9. Nobody tries to come into my stall when I’m peeing

10. I can hold almost an entire conversation in acronyms