Wednesday, March 26

leaving little doubt

If anyone still doubts that I have a parenting book problem, I present my current collection of library books.

non-parenting books:

parenting books:

Supernanny is going back. It sounds good on paper and we even tried a few of her "tricks", but there are much better books (my current favourite being the one directly above Supernanny). I am attending a parenting class through my therapy group and some of these were recommended, others caught my eye or deal with things I'm dealing with (baby sign, eating woes, baby play) and one is there just for Andrew (Dads & Daughters).

As for the other books, I got two on housekeeping and the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People - it is a book I've always been curious about, when Sebastian picked it off the shelf I took it as a sign that it is time.

Sebastian got a heap of sick-day DVDs - though he's taken a turn for the healthier (unlike his poor mother who feels like there's a cactus stuck in her throat) - I think he'll watch some of them anyways this afternoon, give me a chance to make a nice dinner (meant to do slow-cooker chili this morning, but now will just make it on the stove) and start reading.

Tonight I'm gathering with some other women to watch America's Next Top Model at my friend Corey's pad. I am looking forward to the pop-culture injection, since lately I've been holed up in the 90's watching Buffy and listening to the music of my youth. I am also looking forward to showing off my new haircut. I'm looking far less dowdy, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, March 25

horray for boobies!!

You ever get to that place where you can see how seriously you've been taking yourself? Do you get to that place and laugh?

I haven't been laughing much, not out loud, anyhow. Sure, the constant and amusing banter my mind maintains* has still made me smile and given me comfort, but nothing's made my belly ache in a while. Life's been constant and inconsistent - a life-sized roller-coaster, complete with unexpected turns and plunges.

When you stop being too scared, you can take small moments to enjoy the act of riding a roller-coaster. Once you get beyond the fear of malfunction or mishap, you can enjoy flying through the air, you can take in your surroundings as the whisk by.

If, however, you completely lose your fear, the ride gets boring. Think of the last time you went on a ride meant for young kids. *yawn* Choosing the easy route is like that.

I have moments where I fear everything will break down. That I will end up miserable, for any number of possible reasons, and that will be my life. That I might become one of those miserable old people yelling at everyone.

I respond by trying to control every nuance, every outcome. I try to deny that chaos can exist in my perfect world. I expect a payoff where there is none, because this really is an un-winable battle.

I mean, I could brainwash my kids, make them quiet and compliant. Wouldn't that be perfect? Kids who do exactly what they're told, never fight, never question my authority, or any authority... who need me to help with the simplest of decisions... who are incapable of creative thought... who follow the herd... oh yeah, wouldn't that be awesome?

As some of you know, I'm getting treatment for postpartum depression and anxiety. This treatment has been of incredible benefit, I am on this incredible journey to find myself, without the backpack and stinky sandals I'd always associated with the trip.

Adulthood snuck up on me. One night I went to bed believing my journey of self-reflection was ahead of me, and one morning I awoke deciding my chance was gone. I resigned myself to my life, trying to figure what this Kate as wife-mother-creature looks like. I am an avid reader of parenting books, enough to have contemplated creating a book club devoted to parenting books. It started as a desire to find the instructions, people have been doing this thing for years, surely someone's figured out how to do it.

I am happy to report that they haven't. Their best guess is that if we love and respect our kids and model the behaviour of self-directed adults. They will, in turn, grow up to be relatively well-adjusted and respectable. Makes sense? Doesn't it? I mean, I could have told you that without a book, I just did.

So I decide to do this, I decide to model to my son and daughter the kind of adult I hope them to be, I tell myself that I can do that and that I owe it to my kids to show them how to respect others and themselves. Easy. Right?

Yeah, no. It has been a steep and scary climb, and every day there's a moment when I just want to set the rules aside and tear a strip off him**, I have no idea where I'm going half the time. But I am enjoying myself. I am enjoying my family and my life, I am smiling and laughing more.

Well, I was, before TMB^ set in. It is tied to my menstural cycle, though there's more to it than that. It comes during the last half of the month, when the freshness of a new month has faded, bills are due, rent is coming up, most of the things I'd planned to do sit unfinished, things for the coming month start coming in and suddenly it is just too much. I burnout, my house gets hit by the toy tornado and I just can't do it.

In every month since I started therapy, that time of the month is where I would stumble back and lose some of the ground I'd gained. I've picked myself up each time and carried on, and as each month passes, less and less ground has been lost. I am becoming more patient and agile in the face of that misery, I'm gaining more confidence in my actions and decisions. But I still get too serious about it, I still fight against circumstance, I still wonder why, oh why, oh why??

The past few days have taken me close to my breaking point. I am this big ball of miserable and I just want to whine and complain about it. I want to curl up and eat chocolate (which I did on Sunday), I don't want to plan a birthday party (which we did tonight), I want to stay in bed all day, not brave the insane Easter Monday crowds at Science World, I want to yell at my son and ignore my daughter, but that wouldn't be me. I'm mom, I do those things I'd rather not because it isn't just about me, is it? But it isn't just about them, either. It only works if I can also do things I want to do, like enjoy sitar music and Indian food at a cozy new restaurant.

It was at that restaurant, tonight, that I had my first full-body smile in a week or so. Life is hard, life is good, roll with it.

Thursday is Sebastian's third birthday. Family and friends will get together at my Dad's house for finger food and cake. It will be really fun. He's also having a kid party, but it will be low-key and isn't until April 5.

*everyone does this, right?


^Total Maternal Burnout

Monday, March 24

of all the things

Of all the things I should be doing right now, sitting on my ass putzing around the internet is not one.

I'm feeling absolutely drained after a badly thought out trip to Science World this morning. We chose to take the bus, rather than drive so we would get some fresh air, a little perspective, and some exercise. We had a good time, but stayed too long (in the hopes of meeting up with a mom who had said she would likely be there too). The part that really sucked, though, was that school is still out and therefore the place was just packed. On more than one occasion, I had to set aside panicky feelings and simply find my son.

It was messy and my sleep-deprived self was just barely able to hold it together. As we were leaving I set the traditional bag of overpriced popcorn on top of a trash can as I searched for my wallet. A gust of wind blew the whole thing away as my distraught child looked on. Because it was entirely my lack of forsight that led to the impromptu birdy buffet, I sprung for *another* bag of popcorn.

Our bus trip home was a longer-than-necessary trip in a bus that reeked of urine and urban decay. Every stop we seemed to wait a minute or two, and at one such layover, my very thirsty son accidently dropped his popcorn. So there I was, baby strapped to me and a miserable child beside me, and what do I do? I hand the kid a water bottle and get down on the floor and pick up as much of the popcorn as possible. A thoughtful fellow passenger gave me a bag to put the popcorn into as well as napkins to wipe fingers and noses.

Happily at homee, now, I have to get a snack out (technicolour eggs, anyone?) and sort something out for dinner. I am hoping for an early evening - same as last night, but an unexpected babysitting gig and the accompanying two cups of coffee allowed me to stay up far too late last night. Tonight promises to be rather uneventful, and to keep it that way I think I'll be scrrening my calls.

Sunday, March 23

spring swing

This weekend, while listening to the CBC, I heard a radio clip from way back in the day. The clip was from a show for women that talked about things such as entertaining with a little history thrown in. This clip was from an easter-time show and she was explaining the history of the Easter Bonnet. The way I remember it, it had to do with starting spring off fresh, wearing new clothes.

What really struck me about the show was that it wasn't lame or patronizing, it was interesting and informative. The prevailing theory seems to be that anything about "housewifery" and the joys and struggles housewives experience is a little lame. Dorky, even.

Maybe it is just me, I didn't do much of anything before I had kids. I don't have a career to "go back to", I don't even have a figure to get back (been thick and squishy for years), I really didn't have much of anything going for me. What I did do was have fun. Well, I suppose it was fun, I watched movies, smoked pot, ate junk food, occasionally did something artistic, but enjoyed talking more than doing, I shopped a *lot*... Really, I was just passing time before my next big thing (apartment! marriage! kids!) and then as soon as that thing passed I would start waiting for the next one.

That waiting rarely included cleaning, or cooking, or even bill paying. I did those things only when absolutely necessary, they weren't fun and I just wanted to have fun and be happy. Not that I was happy much, but I certainly was lazy.

But now? Well now I am a different person. It started with a very conscious, very difficult quieting of my lazy voice, it took a while, but eventually I replaced lazy voice with responsible voice. Most of the time. Eventually, I would trip up, get a call because I missed this payment, get annoyed because I felt under-appreciated, lose sleep to try and get caught up, fall further behind... fall down the rabbit-hole and return to the lazy way. Let things get so large that I didn't have a choice but deal with them.

It was like a swing, where manic perfectionism was one side and self-absorbed laziness was on the other. Most of the time was spent somewhere in the middle, but constantly on a path to one of those two ends. You know where you were a kid and you would try to swing as high as anyone has ever swung? You remember how where you'd really get going you would feel a jolt and a slight panic would take over in that brief moment where it felt like the swing might just break and send you flying? And then you would begin to fall back down, your bum safely cradled in the rubber and metal of the swing?

Well, that's how the ride felt. And in all my years of swinging, I never did stop trying to go higher. As though if I just tried a little harder, I could break free and actually fly. A funny thing's been happening, though.

When I got sick, when I got that horrid flu that is kicking every one's asses, I had to step off the swing and simply make it through the days. Everything fell away as I simply tried to keep myself as well as possible and meet my family's basic needs. Historically, it would be a situation just like that one that would send me to my lazy spot. But this time, well, this time I just held it together. I knew if I let go of everything, it would be too much to catch back up. So, I asked for help, I did what I could, and I concentrated on getting better.

Once we were well again, we still had a pile of things to deal with, emerging new behaviours, social responsibilities, minds and bodies to nourish, dishes. The day to day stuff. And I am not going to lie to you, it was a hell of a lot of work, but I trudged through. I am still trudging through.

I think what I discovered was that there is no end. Not any time soon, at least. My children will always challenge me, my husband will often frustrate me, life will never be fair or make sense, there will always be something to clean and something to be done. AND THAT'S OKAY.

Really, really.

So, now, I guess I feel more like I'm sitting leisurely on that swing. I can't say I'll always be able to resist the push to see how high I can go, I can't say that I'd want to. What I can say is that I am done spending every moment frantically pumping my legs in the hopes that I'll be the greatest. It will never happen, there will always be someone out there who is better at something than I am. Well, not always. No one will ever be as great a mother to my two kids, a given, yes, but not one I intend to take for granted.

If in my 28 years I have ever had a "calling", this is it. I want to be an incredible mother, not to the causal observer, but to my kids. It sure won't be easy, but it should be exciting. How's that for dorky??

Wednesday, March 19

feeling blue

So, after a long week of steady progress, I am feeling slammed today. Luckily, things with Sebastian are still going well and so it is just a matter of really monitoring my own reactions to things and remembering to take those vitally important breaths before I go and do anything I'll regret.

Mid-month tends to be stressful for me, bills are due and suddenly it feels like the month is gone. Top that off with a trifecta of occasions the require preparation and planning and you have the ingredients for one overwhelmed Kate.

So it is funny that, while I feel quite whelmed, I do not feel overwhelmed. It hasn't been easy, and it hasn't always been pretty, but in general I am proud to say I have been able to maintain my composure while getting shit done.

Okay, today I feel overwhelmed, with the preparation of food for a dinner tonight and with some budgetary crises to avoid, but I know I can handle it all.

I think.

Tuesday, March 18

i'm back?

Quiet time. An hour or so, every afternoon, where I can clean, cook, bake, read, shower and relax. This window is something I fought so hard for, my son and I pitting our massive wills against one another. He, fighting for his right to decide whether or not he still needs a nap; me, fighting for my very necessary right to a break. It literally "just clicked" one day. We were engaged in our usual naptime routine, I had gotten him into bed and closed the door, only to have it open 30 seconds later. I braced myself for the confrontation I didn't want to have happen, and then something strange happened. My son went poop, wiped, flushed, washed up, and went back to his room.

He didn't even look my way. Surely if he can act that responsibly, I can let him decide what he wants to do about napping. I decided that on a trial basis we would have quiet time. The first three days were tough, he screamed in his room, he threw toys around, he tried escaping. My mantra was this: "ignore him as long as he is in his room*" followed by "stay calm, don't make eye contact," when he did leave his room. It has been one week, today, since I introduced this idea and we're both catching on.

Heck, it won't work every day and some days I do hope that he gets some extra sleep during that time, but for now this is working for us. In general, life around here is nice. My husband is hot and sweet, my kids are adorable and sweet, the sun is shining, my house is dirty, but because I am anal, no one could really tell but me. I am beginning to come to terms with those "negative" aspects of my personality and use them as best I can.

For the first time in too long, I have real hope.

Friday, March 14


"20x2 is an ongoing project that exists to showcase the creativity that lurks in each of us. Writers, musicians, filmmakers, web geeks and other bon vivants are asked to take two minutes each to answer the question of the day. The results can be as varied as the emotions and reactions they evoke."

This is one of the answers to the question "What's the Difference":

20 x 2 : What's The Difference? from photojunkie on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 9

be the change

This mothering thing is hard. One minutes you think you've got it and then something happens and the rules of the game change.

I, for my part, have been hard at work on myself. I have learned so much in this past short while, my son and daughter are excellent teachers.

I apologise for my recent internet absence, I don't know when or if I will return to "blogging" nor do I know what it will look like when/if I do. I do know that right now is a really amazing and changing time for me, full of glorious highs and difficult lows.

This has been a really incredible month - an incredibly challenging and rewarding month. It is with great sadness that I say farewell to my therapy group. I have been blessed to share a special connection with five other amazing women. It is with great joy that I begin to reconnect with my friends and my life outside of the house. Even the friends who think (erroneously) that time spent with them is nothing more than a drain because of the challenges they're facing.

I am learning so much right now, I get the sense that I am shedding my skin and becoming something more. All my past, all my mistakes and trials have led me to this spot - I am beginning to forgive and understand, not just in my mind, but in my soul. I am also beginning to see more clearly what my role as parent really is (guide), as opposed to what I think it is supposed to be (trainer).

There is still so much to learn, but the path is long and I have time. Knowing who I want to be and where I want to be is only a small part of this, I can't believe it took me until now to see that. The larger part is being the person I want to be. Acting with integrity and faith in myself.

Who knew it was so simple? Who knew it could be so hard?

check out what we've been up to lately on flickr