Friendship and motherhood

They say confession is good for the soul.   Since becoming a mother almost 7 years ago, I’ve come to admit that 1) I should have stayed working (had I had an actual job/career that required me to be elsewhere most of the week) 2) I’m crap with toddlers and 3) I’m quite good at keeping another living being alive.

Here’s a new one.  Over the years, I’ve made friends with many other mums (mainly stay at home ones) because our children go to the same school or activity.  But I can’t honestly say we’re real friends.  Do you know what I mean?  We’re more friends out of convenience. There’s a certain lack of depth and it’s bothering me.

It’s difficult to have deep, meaningful conversations when you’re watching out for hazards to your kids well-being on the playground, or when you’re constantly interrupted, or pulling out treats, bandaids, kleenex for snotty noses and the like.  There’s nap times, grocery shopping, dinner, laundry, whatever always pulling at us.  I’ve noticed a certain desperation, loneliness that comes with motherhood.  At first,  I thought I was the only one.  I used to hang out with this  one mum in our old neighbourhood and she always seemed so blissed out, so content with her days.  I admit it.  I was BORED OUT OF MY MIND.  She was always telling me to leave Boo with her if I needed to, always talking about what her kid ate, his sleeping habits, his developing personality.  Hell, it was a while before I got out of her that she was a botanist!  Not that I would have understood a bloody thing about that, but it took months to get to know her.  And then I moved, she had another child and that was that.  I was supposed to go visit her and the new baby, and en route, she texted to say she didn’t get any sleep and was cancelling.  Considering it took weeks to arrange it to begin with and I had dropped my son off at preschool and driven like a crazy woman to even attempt a short visit before I had to return, I was a little miffed.  Not in the how rude of her way, but in the omigosh, there is no way I can maintain this relationship with a woman who lives 40 minutes from me.  I now have to deal with her new schedule.  And I didn’t hear from her again.   So what was the point of that?

These friendships are not usually based on the things the things the women have in common.  They’re more about whether the kids get along, proximity and similar parenting values.

Another example.  I’ve been friends with a woman who lives nearby and she actively sought out my friendship a couple of years ago.  Our kids became great friends. I liked her, she was funny, we had dinner at their place, the husbands got along.   Late in the school year her son was having trouble with the other kids at school and I was getting pulled into that.   I actually had to pull the plug on their playdates because I was tired of hearing about what went wrong and she thinks her kid is always blameless. (On a side note, I also stopped having playdates during the week because some kids were just plain problematic to have over and I had to drive others back home at the same time dinner had to be prepared and it was not working for me. I actually had a play date with one kid and though I adored the mum, my kid did not want to hang out with the boy anyway.) I just told her bluntly that I was tired of their play dates ending in tears or recriminations and sometimes kids aren’t friends forever.  It happens.  It doesn’t mean they’re enemies, it just means they’re moving on. I was sick of hearing about who took whose marble or rock or whatever.  She’s a good mum but she’s bit of a helicopter parent who prides herself on her kid telling her everything.  Yes, I believe the term “tattle-tale” applies here.   At this age, kids start to tell lies or don’t tell the full story and their parents don’t always see it.  I dislike kiddy drama.  I refuse to be dragged into little boy shenanigans like it’s the Cold War.  Trying to “parent” another kid is a losing battle.  She also has a delightful little toddler.  So she has her hands full.  I understand what it’s like to be sleep deprived, I get it.  She certainly has taken my kid when I was running late or had to go to an audition; I tried very hard not to overuse her kindness. I’ve taken her son when they had to take the baby to hospital and I’ve also tried to be a good friend to her.  But let’s face it, when you have 2 kids entertaining each other, it’s easier cause then they don’t bug you!

So I have only seen her once this summer when she took me out for my birthday.   I keep trying to arrange a mum’s night out with her, but it hasn’t worked out.  I do get the occasional text from her saying she misses our chats and I am truly fond of her, but it’s another one of those situations where I feel like I’d be sad if she moved, but life would go on.   I’ll be seeing her soon enough when school starts up again in a couple of weeks, I guess.

I met another mum who had adopted as well and the one time we had a playdate, I felt like we could really be friends and I was always so happy to see her, but you know how that went.  Her kid went into another class, she got a job and that was that.  She’s also incredibly sporty and I am well…not.

I swear it’s like dating!  Oooh, I really dug that guy and we had such a great first date, we bonded, made out and then he never called me.  Or this guy keeps calling and so we go out occasionally but I’m not that into him.  Or he likes me more than I like him.  It’s crazy!

So what makes a true friendship?  Shared experiences and on ongoing regard for one another despite life circumstances?  A 50/50 give and take balance of exchanged baby sitting?   What if your husbands don’t like one another or one can’t stand the other?  What if you don’t like their kids?  What if you rarely see one another? And the more important questions, what if they don’t drink?

I’ve found that as a grown up, it’s already difficult to maintain a good friendship over the years.   Then factor in if you’ve moved from one city to the next, if you have children, if you live far apart, different religions even.  It always takes time and effort and time is at a premium if you’re the one who is taking care of the kids, the dog, the household, and a job.

As Boo is getting older, the playground politics (among the women anyway) is getting a little more complicated and I’m not really digging it.  As much as I’m ready for school to start again, I’m not missing the gossip about that family or that kid or how well their kid is doing in school or whatnot.

 

 

Microblog Mondays – A Vacation from my Vacation

This past weekend was the first time I actually turned down going to visit the inlaws.  We had the weekend marked on the calendar for quite some time as there was an model airplane show in town.  My FIL builds and flies model airplanes.  All I could think was oh wouldn’t it be nice if I just said no thanks you guys go on ahead.  So I did.  Hubby and son were supposed to go just til Sunday but ferry traffic was so bad they didn’t actually come back til this morning.  Can I say “Yay!”  or maybe even a little “squee!”?  I couldn’t talk hubby into taking the dog but they were taking the car and that has no air conditioning.

So I luxuriated in some glorious alone time. And by that, I mean I cleaned the house, vacuumed and bought groceries.   I did a 3 hr chant Saturday morning with some Buddhist buddies and then aside from the usual errands, I did SFA.  (Sweet Fuck All)  Loved it!  I also had a massage and facial. I stayed up late and slept in!  No one was dropping crap all over the floor and expecting someone else to pick it up.  I fed myself and the dog.  No one complained. No one asked anything of me.   I didn’t have to drop what I was doing on anyone else’s schedule.  I can’t tell how restful that was.  I highly recommend it.

Oh, and yesterday was my mum’s birthday.  I bought her flowers and toasted her with a Corona.  My Buddhist friend said I should chant for her new emergence in this world with great parents and better circumstances, ready to start her kindergarten in a way.  I saw her all fresh faced, with smooth, greased plaits and all attitude.  She was happy.

I miss her.

Microblog Mondays – Back to reality 

It was a brief but lovely getaway.  It was a lot of fun but also a lot of work trying to entertain and feed two kids at regular intervals. Actually it wasn’t that difficult cause  all they wanted to do was go swimming at the beach and play.  It was great to spend time with my bestie and catch up and drink wine. We also treated ourselves to a massage.  I had an awesome therapist who was quite knowledgeable about frozen shoulder and relI even my constricted muscles.  

Shhh. I’m pretending I’m still there.

Microblog Mondays

I have to admit, I’ve been in a bit of a funk.  I mean, life is good, life is fine.  But I’m not doing much acting.  A ton of auditions and only one day of work.  I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is to get all these great parts to audition and only booking a tiny part.  I have to admit, I’m feeling so discouraged.  I was in acting class and getting coaching and I believe I’m doing good work, but nothing. I have checked up on a couple of the shows I auditioned for and found out they hired Americans and actual stars for the part I wanted.  This is annoying since it’s not like they were huge parts but they are only obligated to audition Canadian talent, not hire them for the principal roles. Seems like others are doing so well and ….yes I know, I know, comparing myself to others who are doing so well is the worst possible thing I can do to myself.  At this point, I don’t even want to audition – what’s the point?

It feels like I have to reinvent myself and I admit I’ve lost my drive to ACTUALLY DO IT.  I seriously have to reinvigorate my life, I’m boring myself to death.  I’m going on a vacation with Boo and my gal pal and her little girl tomorrow.  Off to a cabin resort place for a few days and I’m really looking forward to it.

It all matters

To say that there’s a lot going on in the world these days is an understatement.  I wrote earlier that I had to take a few days off of Facebook since the shootings of not only Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.  I wrote a short note saying how I just wanted to lay down and cry but I knew more violence was coming.  And unsurprisingly, it did.  Policemen were now dying and people started tearing each others throats out on the media  The Black Lives Matter vs All Lives Matter debate ensued as if short catchy hashtags would make a bloody difference in all of it.  Them vs. Us.  I read a lot of opinion posts and videos and did not make comments on Facebook, just shared some stuff I thought was interesting and should be read by those I’m acquainted with.  At least people were talking and thinking.

I had a Chinese Canadian friend of mine call me up to ask if I was okay.  As I listened to her message, she sounded like she was in tears.  She is one of my closest friends and she’s also the most politically correct woman I know.  I called her back to let her know that yes, indeed, we were all fine, just sad.  I spoke to my sister in Toronto (briefly) and she was just beside herself, upset and angry.

The silver lining in all of this was that I had some great conversations with my husband.  My white husband.  The father of a black son.  I like to joke that my husband is a bit of redneck cause he’s from Edmonton.  He hates pretty much everyone.  If you’re in his inner circle, you’re good and if you’re not, you’re suspect.  His best friend and business partner is black.  We’ve been together for about 20 years and we’ve travelled quite a bit.  Even he concedes that it is only me that gets pulled over at airports, not him.  Ever.   At American customs, I was told to stand behind the line when we approached the counter, and we had to explain that we were together. No matter what country I’m in, I’m usually the one who gets the extra pat down and double check for ID.  Sad to say, I’m used to it.  One time, I get pulled over by a black security officer and I actually said out loud, “Really, dude?  Random?  Why am I always the random search?”.  I’m the one who stopped my husband from going after a street person for making a racial slur (Native guy actually; apparently they don’t like us either?), I’m the one who doesn’t blink while heads swivel as while we walk through a Denny’s in Montana.  I just pretend people are awed by our striking good looks.  One time we were pulled over for speeding late at night on a lonely stretch of highway by a state trooper.  I tried not to be afraid and hoped fervently that the cop  was not a racist when he peered into the car.  Cause if he was, hubby would not put up with it and then who knows?  You see that’s just it.  I’ve been raised to keep my mouth shut and avoid conflict.  Whether that’s because I’m female or because I’m a black female, it doesn’t matter.  Dress nice, speak nicely and  keep money in your pocket or otherwise they will think you’re stealing.  That’s what my mother taught me.  And unconsciously, I’ve been training my son to do the same.

It’s not like there’s no racism in Canada.  Getting pulled over for a DWB (driving while black) is a saying for a reason.  Even one parent at our school has told me that they were afraid of me at first.  Why?  Is my size or demeanor intimidating?  I’ve even trained myself to smile when my face is in repose.   We all make assumptions based on appearances, I’m no different.   It’s just a matter of perspective and so what frames that perspective is important.  Most people think that if there’s no burning crosses in their neighbourhood then racism doesn’t really exist anymore. That’s just not the case. I’ve had apartments and job suddenly disappear when I show up, been followed in retail stores, been ignored and disregarded by service people because of my colour. We’re just more polite and sneaky about it in Canada. We leave the vitriolic name calling to the drunk and disorderly.

I certainly felt grateful for the umpteenth time I don’t reside in America.  And it’s not cause I don’t like Americans, I really do.  Generally speaking, they are the most generous and friendly people I’ve ever known.  But fear does things to people whether it’s justified or not.  My sister used to live in Georgia and she used to say that even when you’d like to give assholes a piece of your mind, you’re very careful because people there carry guns in theirs cars. A Confederate flag is not a benign sign of Southern hospitality and pride. To us, you might as well be flying a swastika.   I remember that feeling of unease, a type of fear that exists between white and black people that keeps you feeling on edge.  Hubby and I went to Georgia when my nephew was a baby.  We went to her Baptist church.  He was the only white person there (among other places).   I have to admit, I loved it.  How does it feel, honey?  To be the only one and have eyes pass over you?  What do you perceive?  Warmth?  Curiousity?  Indifference?  Or something else?  To never know how you are going to be perceived or treated when you walk into an store, a gas station,  a neighbourhood is incredibly exhausting and demoralizing.  When you’re very being is perceived as a potential threat, it’s kind of hard to relax.

More times than I care to recall,  I’ve met white people (both Canadian and Americans but Americans do it way more) who feel the need to tell me within 10 minutes of meeting me that they know a black friend or have you seen that Morgan Freeman film about civil rights?  Or they take up some version of “black lingo” to chum up with me.  I’m not sure if they’re trying to reassure me or themselves that they’re not afraid of me. I’m always amazed that people haven’t figured out what to say, they should just talk about the weather.  That’s always good.  Or how great I look.  I don’t want to be questioned about my hair or answer questions about it unless you want to book an appointment with my hairdresser, and if I see your hand coming to touch it, I pull my head back. Maybe I will explain, maybe I won’t cause I’m tired of explaining.

The same way I’m tired of explaining why black people take it personally and get angry and protest when they are killed for traffic violations by police instead of getting a ticket. Or even shot while laying down on the ground with their hands in the air.  Retaliatory violence in the name of justice or bad mental health is not the answer.  It’s a deadly symptom of dire illness.  I don’t condone innocent men or women (uniformed or not) being killed.

My son is getting taller and is going out into the world without me by his side for the better part of the day.  He’s only 6 and I’m already thinking about his safety if he gets pulled over by the cops when he starts to drive.   I want what every mother out there in the world wants for their son :  to have him come back home, safe and sound.

I could go on and on, but I have a life to live and a kid to pick up.  Life just keeps on.  Let’s just keep talking people with an open heart.  Let’s not wait for aliens to attack us so we can unite.

 

 

Equanimity

Oh, so much is going on in the world and each Monday, I write a blog in my head and it never makes it to the page.  Sigh.  I had to take a few days off of Facebook.  I’m grateful I don’t get CNN so I can watch and re-watch people getting murdered in the name of law enforcement.  I’ll write more later.

Just an update.  I didn’t tell you, my dear URL friends that I had a bit of a scare with my breast health.  Found a HUGE lump in my right breast ON THE WEEKEND of course, went to a walk in clinic on Monday (cause I couldn’t get in to see my GP) to get a requisition for a breast ultrasound.  Of course, I started thinking about my dear friend who had passed away from breast cancer and all the other women that I know who had it and how could I have missed such a big lump before? (Maybe because I barely even consider my breasts AT ALL?) I was responsible for booking it only to find out I couldn’t get an ultrasound until August on the North Shore.  Seriously, folks?  So I started to call around in the city, (reached a private clinic that could do it the next day, but no my pitiful extended health does not cover it) so I called the BC agency that books mammograms (it’s literally like the Breast Centre) and I got an ultrasound the next day.  Whew!  Then I picked up my previous scans since I moved to the North Shore to bring with me.  I had to take Boo with me but he was great, he waited patiently until I was done.  Of course, I sneaked a peek at the image and then when I got home, I Googled it.  Of course I did.  When faced with an unexpected obstacle, I will seek to control, usually by googling and researching information.  By that point, I had already chanted and was pretty calm about it.  I was pretty darn sure it was a cyst.  And yes, to cut a long story short,  it was a cyst.  A big one, but a cyst that did not need further treatment.  Heavy sigh of relief.  Serious relief.  And perspective.

Now all of this was going on when I was dealing with the sister not signing the waiver and release thing.  Now the great thing about being a Buddhist is that instead of freaking out I can go chant with someone.  So I did.  So in the space of a few days I had gone to defcon 5 with anger and frustration, then rode a wave of chanting into all this crap will pass and I don’t need to kick anybody’s ass.

Today, the lawyer’s office told me she had signed the release.

 

Bring it *&&(!

Lately, I’ve been trying to finish up as executor of my mum’s estate. After completing a bunch of paperwork, file taxes, etc. I’ve had my lawyer send out the required statement of accounts and division of assets to my sisters.  My younger signed it.  My eldest sister has cut off all contact.  Not a whisper.  We’ve both called and texted, no reply.  Radio silence.  So if she doesn’t sign, that means there will be no early distribution of money. It’s a nice chunk really.    I had planned on buying a much needed family vehicle (used).  My younger sister would like to move her family out of a tiny one bedroom apartment they’ve been living in for years.  My eldest sister owns her own home, and has all her adult children living with her.  So you can see who thinks she has the upper hand.  Now the funny part is that my  mother had no intention of leaving her anything more than $500.  But she died without finalizing her will, so therefore the law requires that all assets be split 3 ways equally.  Yup.  I’ve known that for years.  Didn’t like it but there you have it.

Now I haven’t written about all the shit that she put me through with my mother’s funeral for a reason.  I just didn’t want to make a cause I was going to regret.  However, that may still happen anyway.

I suspect that my spiteful sister thinks mother should have more to be left for her.    In fact, when the first time I was told a couple years ago that Mum was going to die, that’s what she asked me.  What happened to all her money?  Never mind the fact that she has never cared to ask me about how Mum was doing for a decade; no Mother’s Day cards, no birthday cards, no flowers, no phonecalls.  Nothing on her 80th birthday.  She came twice in a decade for a week.  The first time was right after Mum was in the home.  My Uncle Cami came over from England for 2 weeks and we put them both up in my mother’s condo that she had bought just before her stroke.  My Uncle Cami loathed her.  The 2nd time she came for a week, her whole family came, made a big show of buying dinner for everyone, gave my mother suffering from dementia a digital photo frame full of pictures of them on vacation WITHOUT her.  Note to family of dementia patients:  you might want to give them pictures that they actually experienced or were included in.  Then went to Seattle  for the weekend to go shopping.  The 3rd time her own daughter had to convince her to come because we all thought she was dying and she stayed 2 days!  That’s when she dared to ask me what had happened to all the money from the sale of the condo.  I blasted her for bothering to ask me anything in a decade of neglect.  Eventually I did tell her most of the money was spent on storage fees, legal, accounting and additional personal care but the bulk of it remained.

Perhaps she objects to me charging the executor fee. Which was actually lower than what I could have charged.  She also has no idea I have to pay tax on it as well as pension deductions.   She has no idea that I never charged a dime on any of the accounting I had to do for the provincial trustee’s office on my mother’s behalf for 12 years.  It was overwhelming for me but I figured but I wanted to save her money instead of paying an accountant $100 per hour. She never spent hours and hours wading through boxes of junk that mother packed ON HER OWN before she moved. Did I mention my sister lived a 7 minute drive away from her mother?

Perhaps I’m wrong about all of this.  I’d like to be.  I really don’t know what she objects to because she hasn’t bothered to communicate what her problem is.  I already know they think I am doing all of this for the money.  I always thought that was amusing since she hasn’t contributed one dime to mother’s care.  She was never there when my mother was in hospital for 2 months crying in confusion and despair.  She was never there for all the emergency room visits, the care conferences, the funeral arrangements… she never asked how I felt when mother used to call me 20-30 times a day begging for me to take her home.  She wasn’t there to talk to when I had insomnia,  when I could barely move with swollen ovaries from fertility drugs but I still went to see my mother.  She wasn’t there when I put on a mask to visit my mum when the home had a viral outbreak.  She wasn’t there to take my mum to jazz concerts, get her hair done, comb her hair, rub her feet.   I’m sure she thinks she has a valid bone to pick with me.  I don’t care.  Cause she’s keeping it all to herself.

I vacillate between pure rage and pure pity for her.  No matter how much money she gets, it cannot replace what she never had with her mother.  It will never be enough.

Not sure who my sister think she’s dealing with.  We’re a formidable lot, the daughters of Ada, oh yes.  But if being my mother’s caretaker, infertility, depression, toddlerhood and the acting business hasn’t taken me down, what makes Big Sis think she can take me down?  I pity the fool.