What kind of mother are you?

I have noticed I have a few drafts that I never got to finish – interruptions you know.

 

My neighbour gave me some back issues of Chatelaine and I came across this article yesterday.  This particular passage evoked a strong response in me.

One night, about 10 weeks in, Rob came home late from work and found the baby shrieking and me in tears, the two of us having a big ol’ bawlfest, keening, wailing, two hot, puffy red faces, snot and tears everywhere.

He called a nanny, who started the next day. A couple of weeks after that, I was back in my home office, writing full-time, which was a much easier transition than I’d worried it would be. I love my baby, you see. But I also love my work. Returning to it was a huge relief to me — though admittedly it helped that my office is next door to my son’s nursery. I also napped. A lot.

Many of my friends who are mothers told me they couldn’t imagine going back to work as early as I did after having my son, that they “just weren’t in work mode” for at least a year after giving birth. If I’d had corporate maternity benefits I might have felt the same way — but deep down inside, I doubt it. I’ve spent so long writing every day that it felt alien not to do it. I was happy to concede my work for the first few delirious weeks with my son, but after that I wanted my life back.

 

When I read that part, I have to admit, I was jealous.  She got to go back to work.  After 10 whole weeks.  She got to nap, dammit.  Her husband actually called a nanny and whammo, she got her life back. That would not have happened in our household.  I have a lack of a f/t career.  Oh that.    I once spent $30 for someone to watch my kid for a few hours because I was so drained from having a bad cold and if I couldn’t lay down to rest  without having to get up every 2 minutes, I was going to lose it.   I might have had a nap. I don’t remember.

There was just a few comments after the article, one was supportive and one was more from the “that’s what’s wrong with society” camp.

And so I am left thinking about this whole motherhood bag and what a journey it is.  There are those who are closer to the let’s all sleep in one bed, make everything from scratch and carry their kid around for 6 years and then there are the 9-5 super moms who have calendars for everything and in between there are the SAHM who are entrepreneurs who look wicked in yoga pants, there are the overwhelmed moms who drink too much and give their kids Frosted Flakes for dinner and have no idea that there kid is a menace on the playground… and so many others.  And everyone has an opinion about them.  Does fatherhood merit this kind of scrutiny?  According to what my mum said to me years ago,  my dad never beat or molested me, so he wasn’t all that bad.  Wow, what a benchmark.  From Peter MacKay to your MIL, everyone has a say in what kind of mother/woman you should be.  And if you’re not a mom, well, you’re opinion doesn’t count.  Unless you’re O.prah.

I had an opinion about mothering, based on how my mother raised me, both negative and positive aspects.  And just when I needed her the most, she had a damn stroke and left me with a ton of questions she could never answer. And if you don’t have a reliable template that you can relate to, then you research and read books and manuals (and there’s a ton of expert parenting books to sift through). Then you have to get your significant other to follow the same template.  Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.  And if you’re married to a man, then you really get to see another side to their view on womanhood.

There have been times when I wish there was a support group for mothering.  And the time to go to it.  Or would we just turn on each other?

The beginning and ending of things

 I read my last post and I wonder what the hell was my point.  I went from sharing a nightmare to my anxiety attack on a great day with my son at a park and then to being annoyed that my husband doesn’t know what I order from a sushi joint.  All over the place, but anyone who knows me knows I talk like that anyway.  This is what my life looks like these days.  When I titled my blog, I’m not sure I realized then how appropriate it would be for the years ahead.  It started out to be about the indignities of infertility, then my foray into adoption and then motherhood with a dash of infertility (cause that shit really doesn’t go away).  Occasionally, I felt balanced and grateful and threw in a dash of Buddhism and now…. a Woman My Age is about…. a woman my age.  I have an amazing 4 year old son on the cusp of kindergarten (please teachers’ strike be over very soon), my career is improving and I’m battling depression and anxiety.  Oh yeah and peri-menopause.  What an amazing opportunity to transform my life!  I hope I actually do!

Someone asked me what a mid life crisis was and I tried to explain it.  I tend to think of it was an extreme peak that begins and ends in a certain amount of time.  It’s like waking up and thinking ohmigod what have I done with my life, this is the shits and if I don’t run away, I’ll explode. And then you get over it somehow.  Somehow as in you have an affair, get a divorce or give up all your shit and eat, pray, love yourself for a year until you run out of money.

How this is different from perimenopause I have no idea.  If anyone would care to share, now would be the time to do it. It certainly seems that one minute I was perfectly happy and content and now I’m searching for scraps of joy throughout the week to keep moving forward. Some days I have it, some days I fake it, and some days I’d rather just stay in bed.  Of course, I don’t, but I have fantasized about it.  Hormones, the evil tendrils of depression or both?  Or maybe I’m just recognizing my own limitations?

 However, with my career doing much better these days, I am booking a sitter as often as I need during the day.  I am back in class and it feels great to be working out my creative chops again.   My son is 4 and is a lot less demanding than he used to be (of course, that’s relative) and he is always up for a new adventure. Of course, this is all temporary, as time and money is running out, hubby’s job is going to be done by the end of October and after that, we have no idea of where the money is coming from. 

Which brings me back to a woman my age. Both the person and the blog.  I may have to put the blog and my beloved ALI world on hold while I get my shit together.  To try something new.  It’s been my security blanket for so long, a thing I just can’t manage to quit, but perhaps I should try not escaping into your worlds, but deal with my own world. I may not be strong enough to support others at the moment.  It’s like someone saying there is no more wine left.  Scary.  And the woman that is me, is not doing so well right now.  I mean on the surface, I’m great, but the anxiety is slipping through and I need to chart a path of self care. As my husband pointed out I go through this every 4 years or so and why is that?  I don’t fucking know but I’m sure that I don’t have money to give a therapist for 2 years to find that out.    I have this amazing fucking kid that I love so much it hurts.  I can’t possibly give him anything less than a whole, healthy woman to be there for him.  I still have my mum to care for and the days slip by without me being there for her because I’m too fucking exhausted.  And yes, I owe it to myself.  In Buddhism to slander (to put down, to not respect) yourself is the greatest wrong you can do.  And if that’s my biggest problem, then I’ve had it my whole life in one way or another. 

 

 

Holding it together

Nothing like a dream where I’m in a movie hanging out in extras holding and suddenly I can’t find my sides (it has the scene schedule and dialogue) and then when I do find them, I’m not in anything all day and I can’t find my travel mug and then all of a sudden I can’t find my way out.  I’m being penned in with equipment and people keep telling me I can’t get out whatever door I try to use.  It’s not the first time I’ve had a dream like that but it never fails to freak me out.  It feels like my identity is being wiped out.

I went to the naturopath last week.  I had drag Boo along cause I didn’t have anyone to mind him for me, but he was great as usual.  He stayed in waiting room occupying himself with his tablet while I talked to the doctor. We talked for an hour going over my concerns and first up is hormonal testing.  Just the thing I was laughing at my friend about last year.  I’m not even going to tell you how much that costs, but I’m in for a penny what’s another 10 pounds, right?  She gave me a discount though and also let me pay in installments for the test.  Now I just gotta wait til Day 19 of my cycle for the spit collecting to start.  Luckily it’s just for one day.  Just listening to the instructions stressed me out. Oh yeah and a food diary starting today.  So last night I ate ice cream and sweet/salty popcorn.  Good news is that I can have full fat Greek yogurt.  Plain.  With raw honey and fruit if I like.  Baby steps.  Oh yeah and B complex.  I can do that.  Easy peasy.

The next day I got a playdate with Boo’s friend and I took them to a nearby waterpark.  Of course, there was a festival going on and that mean limited parking.  I had to drive around and around looking for parking.  Not so easy when you’re driving a F150  that I couldn’t parallel park with cars waiting behind me and I felt myself getting more and more stressed, but finally a diagonal parking spot opened up and I slid in.  I almost cried with relief.  Yes, I’m grateful we even have wheels at all but I will be thrilled to get something more manageable.  I ran into my naturopath at the waterpark!  I know she is a fellow adoptive mum but I didn’t get a chance to ask her about her experience as I was set up in a mini shelter on the lawn (with my purse ensconced inside and had to get back to it.  That’s what I told myself anyways, but in truth I was battling a lovely  anxiety attack and had to get back to my deep breathing and chanting.  I hope I didn’t act like a rude idiot.  She looked so pretty and so put together and here I was trying to simultaneously relax and keep an eye out for the kids without actually hovering over them.  I couldn’t possibly have a  decent conversation with her while keeping an eye out for them, my stuff and deep breathe at the same time.  Her child was gorgeous and he looked happy and engaged with other kids so I slipped away.  Back to deep breathing and calming down and keeping them in my line of vision.  I’m not sure how they did it in the old days. Oh, that’s right, Valium.

The boys had a blast and I managed to feed them, toilet them and bundle them all back in the truck and get them home.   I knew I just had to stop doing any more stuff though.  Hubby called me and wanted to know what was for dinner.  I told them it was up to him as I was not cooking.  I got home just after he did and he proceeded to tell me to order sushi and he would pick it up.  Frankly, at that point, I wasn’t even going to do that.  I was done and was hot and tired and wanted to take a shower and grab a beer.  So I just told him he had to order. To which he replied that he didn’t know what I wanted.  Now folks, we usually order the same thing about 98% of the time.  I certainly know what he likes, he has heard me order it a million times.  Ohmigod.  Yet I told him what I wanted and then got in the shower.  I’m not sure why he has this thing about not ordering food, but he rarely calls in a takeout order unless absolutely necessary.

By the way, I had just seen a segment on Dr. Oz about saying no to people.  What a great reminder.  Practice makes perfect.

 

 

 

 

Gin & Tonic summer

So not too much to say, other than I think I’m so hormonally challenged, I’m going crazy.  Crazy mood swings, my middle section ever increasing and if I could manage it, I’d lock myself in with cartons of Haagen Daaz salted caramel gelato.  I’ve been keeping busy, taking Boo and Juju out here and there.  Yes, even to a pool.  Long, summer, hot days…… Boo and I biking along Spanish Banks, hanging out at the watering hole in Lynn Valley, walking at the rocky waterfront, yelling at the dog to stop eating seaweed.  Ah, summer.  Wishing I had more energy…or more cold beer…desperately pushing the cranky back so I can enjoy my kid and this delicious summer.

I’m going to a naturopath tomorrow.  Can I tell you how much I hate naturopaths?  About as much as I hate doctors.  We do have insurance for it so thank goodness for that. I’m going cause if I go to my family doctor I kinda know what she’s going to say, lose weight, exercise, your cholesterol is going up and you’re going to get diabetes if you’re not careful.  That I already know.  And then if I bring up my crappy, irritable mood  that makes me not want to do anything, she’ll start the talk about anti-depressants.  She wouldn’t be wrong in any of that of course. I was pretty darn close to suggesting it myself.  It seems every month  just before my period I slide into a hole where I want to set fire to the kitchen and run away to the circus.  We’ve had that talk in the past, I ended up in counselling which helped a great deal and now I’m back at the beginning of that same circle.  Now I’ve made a bit of money, I can invest in another route, one I haven’t done since infertility days.  And that’s probably why I had such a problem with naturopaths. 

The last time I went, I didn’t get what I wanted.  Which was to get pregnant.  All I got was a restricted diet which made me crazy, a pimply face from B-12 shots, and I still had to go to a doctor for my fibroids.   I tried another one years later and got a 2 hour appointment  full of strange tests terminating with a long and expensive list of supplements.  I’m cranky and cranky people don’t have a lot of patience, but if I can give six weeks for a anti-depressant to work and give me a bunch of weird side effects than I can certainly give a naturopath another try.  I got a good recommendation so I’ll let you know how it goes. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Or gin and tonic, one or the other.

 

 

My new ride!

Just to make life even more interesting, our car died.  Technically, it’s an alternator issue.  We have a Mazda Tribute with a Ford engine which means you practically have to disassemble the freaking car to replace the alternator so the cost is about $400.  There are other issues wrong with the car so we’re really looking at putting $1500 in to put the car safely back on the road.  We have decided that we don’t want to throw any more money into the pit.  The car isn’t worth $1500.  Luckily, our friend has given us the use of his vehicle for as long as we need.  I have sat in his vehicle precisely once before actually driving it.  I can’t even parallel park it.  It’s a Ford 150 Harley Davidson pickup.  Yup.  I drove it to set.  Straight highway driving and then parked it in a huge gravel lot!  F150-Harley-Saleen-Supercharged.02It’s not really my cup of tea but when it’s free, I’ll take it.  Yes, it holds 1 booster seat and 1 dog (rather awkwardly) but it’s been about a week and I’m afraid between the dog hair and the kid crap, hubby’s dear friend won’t want it back.  We’re also experiencing a heatwave and with its leather seats and black interior, it’s friggin’ hot.  I plan on using the air conditioning on long drives.

I’m going to need another gig…or 10.

 

 

On set again!

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, but my mind has been on other things lately, namely my friend’s stepson. Luckily, there’s been some incredible news there.

I landed a supporting lead in a movie.  Now, now before you get all excited, it’s not that big a deal.   Well, it is —  to me.  It’s for a H.allmark TV movie and I play a nanny in a community where there’s been a recent spate of robberies and a dashing and handsome detective goes undercover and meets the charming and beautiful lead nanny and together they solve the case.  The good news is that I got 6, count ‘em 6 days on it and puts me in the category of breadwinner this month!  The not so good news is that the money was not that great, no front credit and I also got stuck in a crappy trailer.  The even better news is that I didn’t get too crazy over that and have been having a wonderful time with a terrific cast and crew!  They are amazing! My last day is tomorrow and I’m going to be very, very sad to say goodbye.

I managed to keep my insecurities in check (we had a little tussle and some bitching slipped out but Buddhahood prevailed) and allowed myself to enjoy this time.  I prepared my big scene with a friend so I could be cool, calm and collected (and it’s been stinking hot here) and felt connected and in the moment when I needed to be.  I had been feeling ignored, unappreciated and undervalued in my home life, but when I am  at work, I feel so different.  And I don’t mean because people are kissing my ass either.  The costume designer, hallelujah, has managed to find me some clothes that I can actually feel good and look good in.  When you’re not a size 2, it’s amazing what uninspired tents they can find for a fuller figured woman.  This woman found me some super cute, colourful outfits(though not my personal style of dog hair covered Lulelemon), I would actually dare to wear outside. I have amazingly talented hair and makeup people.  They are experts at what they are doing and I feel calm and serene.  I feel pretty.  Pampered.  We’re talking about all sorts of things and I thank them profusely for their efforts.  On the day of my big scene, one of the ADs gives me a bigger, nicer trailer, and I thanked him cause it made me feel great to just have a door to my toilet.  I had a chair and  a table to eat lunch with and I didn’t feel penned in and “small” for once.  I don’t actually spend much time in trailers anyway, but it’s a nice perk in lieu of a bigger paycheque.  I remind myself that it’s about my work and not the place where I get dressed that matters.

It’s been a bit crazy trying to juggle Boo with sitters and hubby take time off work and the in-laws were supposed to come and help and then they didn’t.  Arghh!  In the midst of all this, our SUV breaks down.  It wouldn’t start and then I called roadside assistance only to discover it was an alternator issue and had to tow it to the mechanics.  And with it being a Ford engine, replacing the alternator was really expensive and intensive.  Then we found out even more was wrong with it.  Our mechanic actually advised us not to bother pouring more money into it. Hubby and I finally decide to let it go.  It’s presently sitting out back awaiting its fate.  DH had been using a friend’s vehicle on the weekends and now I had to drive it to set the next day.  I have never driven a pickup in my life.  In fact, I’ve only sat in this truck once.  Can you picture me driving a black F150 Harley Davidson?  Yeah, I couldn’t either until I did.  I’ve yet to try to parallel park it.  Or get it in and out of underground parking.  Grocery shopping should be interesting.  With hubby’s job winding down, buying a car tomorrow is not in the picture and I can’t even buy a reliable vehicle with what I’m going to make this month.

Hubby was getting all discouraged and miserable about how we seem to take one step ahead and then get knocked back two.  I went for a long walk with the dog just to clear my head and realized that we could not afford to get all down and miserable and turn on each other.  Life is still good.  We have so much to be grateful for.  (Not the least of which is good friends who give us their cars to use.) I just made up my mind that we will get the perfect car for us, maybe not by tomorrow but soon!

Meanwhile, I’m just going to enjoy summer with its long days and an icy cold Corona!

House envy

Sometimes I wonder what it would like to be a homeowner.  And by that, I mean just settled in a place where I am in control of  the paint colours and landscaping.   I’m getting on in years and retirement age is closer than I’d like it to be and one of the things I had assumed when I was 30 is that I would own my home by now. Of course, I had also assumed I would have given birth to a couple of kids before I was 40 too and be starring on a hit show. Maybe it’s because my parents were immigrants who placed owning a home as being the number one symbol that one had achieved success and stability.     Or maybe it’s because I’m idealizing what it would be like in the same way I did about having a child.  Everybody else has got one, why don’t I?  Why am I always the late one to the party?  I get to look on FB and see postings from others about their new places and even hubby was all depressed because his stoner buddy just bought a place in Squamish.  Like, even THAT guy can somehow manage it.  Of course, his mortgage is more like our rent, but we’d have to move an hour up the highway and that’s just not us.  Sometimes it’s just a bit much, you know?

Years ago in the TTC days we got pre-approved for a mortgage and went looking for a place. We looked at one development and talked about how many bedrooms we really needed, how the elementary school and day care was conveniently located across the street, etc.  It was pretty exciting.  It was a little off-putting to look at a place from a model, but that was the trend (and still is).  We even found a house that we thought was just perfect for us except the yard was super narrow and it was way out of the city.  Unfortunately, a couple months later, hubby was laid off from his so called secure government job and that was that. Better jobs came along, but IVF treatments and adoption expenses took care of our little nest egg. I didn’t really need a house if I didn’t have children, right?

I’ve often blamed myself for not having a more thriving career or even a regular 9 – 5  job to soften the landings from the economic blows.   However, I did make it clear from the beginning of our relationship that I would always be in a creative field whether it was acting or directing or whatever.  Trust me, sometimes I would pray to wake up wanting to be an accountant but it never happened.  I still had my p/t notetaking business that paid well but it was never steady.  And I disliked it enough to never try to build a f/t business out of it.  I’m a highly social person and typing for hours one end in silence is a little stultifying. Living with an actor  is always cool when you’re working but not so much when you’re not.   I had fought long and hard and sacrificed so much to not be like everyone else.  We have had many fights conversations about this over the years and at one point, I was willing to give up my career for a more stable full time job.  Oddly enough, I could not seem to get a regular job.  I remember filling out retail applications and never even getting called for an interview.  And when I did find one, it was for minimum wage and it involved shift work and hubs told me to forget about it.  He enjoyed having me around too much for our spontaneous trips to the movies and whatnot. Yeah, mixed messages for sure.

Once I realized that Boo would start school soon, I just felt that ache to want to fit into the community and put down some roots.   Maybe I’m just watching too many home renovation shows, it kinda gets to me.  (I also used to watch all those parenting/baby shows too. I’d imagine the terrible things I’d utter once in labour and the first moment I would get to hold my baby.) Even when we were in our first long term apartment, I wanted to paint and put in new lighting fixtures and hubby would have no part of putting our money into someone else’s property.  It’s tough living in this city.  Years ago, I lived in a condo and this lady would ignore me just cause I was a “renter”, not an owner.  Right after people ask you where you live, it’s do you rent or own?  It’s quite common for people to ask you how much you pay in rent!  A few years ago, one snooty neighbour actually said, “Oh, this is Deathstar, she lives in Ms. Blank’s apartment.”  Seriously, you ass, that’s not how you introduce someone!   shouldn’t call him an ass, but he’s dead now and I found out his family owned his condo, not him.

It’s the strangest feeling to want to pull up bushes and plant something else or put up a fence.  We have conversations like, “Well, if this were ours, I would get rid of that and put ___ there” or “I’d never put in such cheap, flimsy tile…”  Renting certainly does give you some insight on what NOT to do in home renovations.  We don’t foot the bill but we certainly live in the consequences.  We’ve moved 3 times in 4 years and it’s been financially tenuous since the recession.  DH’s job situation continues to be precarious and certainly if we did own a home, we’d be SO screwed.  I am so grateful we don’t have to deal with that!  The median price for a detached house around here is just under a million or maybe $800K for a fixer upper.  And I’m not talking about a fancy estate either.  If you want a modern space with fancy appliances that will cost over a million for sure.  With both of us being self employed, there are no guarantees.  And if hubs is stressed out now, imagine how much more he would be if he did have the responsibilities of a homeowner.  We would have killed each other by now. Right now we are spared the property taxes, maintenance costs, plumber fees and renovating costs.  We just make a call when there’s a problem.  And right now, none of these things are OUR problem.

I think it will happen one day, somehow, some way. I think I’m more motivated now to really make that happen.  I’m more realistic now about life in general.  And I do realize that nothing is permanent, things come and things go.  It’s just stuff.  I already possess the best things in life. My health, my practice, my family and my friends.