So we’re moving – as of March 1st. OMG, I’m moving again!! There is a sigh of relief that the search is over, but dread coming that we’ve got to sort and purge and pack and unpack. I’m assuming it will be a tad easier because Boo is older now and will be easier to manage – right? RIGHT? I’ve talked to him already about moving and of course, he wants to know why? How come? I said that our house is too old and we’re moving into a new house. He then said, “Then we’ll stay in the new house until it’s old and then find another new house.” We’re moving about 15 kilometres away to the North Shore -meaning I will have to go over a the most congested bridge in North America and be closer to the mountains. More snow and rain but let’s face it, we’re in Vancouver and it rains a lot no matter where you live. There’s already a tenanted suite downstairs, but we will have 3 bedrooms with master walk in closet (not huge American style), 2 full bathrooms, bigger living and dining area, our own washer and dryer and even a deck. The kitchen is unremarkable, but plenty of cupboard and pantry space. No yard, but that also means no more lawn mowing and leaf raking. Shops and restaurants are only a 5 minute drive away and there’s a nearby elementary school. Did I mention it’s cheaper? Goodbye tony west side with its tree lined streets,dog friendly Endowment Lands, and overpriced crappy old houses. Hello North Shore, big box stores and bear proof garbage cans. Oh, don’t worry about me, the liquor store is a also a 5 minute drive away.
I was telling a friend yesterday that I am feeling much better these days…lighter. It was only a few short months ago when I could barely see straight – I was so fed up, drowning in emotions I haven’t felt since I was a teenager. You know, when you kinda wish your parents would disappear and leave you the house and lots of money? I read this article in More magazine and couldn’t believe someone had actually written this down. “Being a widow is to have control over your life again.” That was it, in a nutshell, I felt as if I had no control over my life. I didn’t make the money, my debit record revealed precisely where I spent money. So if I wanted to buy a pair of extravagant earrings or a L.elo vibrator, I had to surreptiously use my personal credit card and live with the guilt that I didn’t buy food or an educational course for my son. I didn’t want a husband to ask me if I had done this or that or comment for the billionth time that I make a lot of mess when I cook dinner. I was tired of picking up dog shit, empty poo from the potty and listening to outrageous farts. TIRED. So, yes, it occurred to me that life as a widow might just give me the respite (and new wardrobe) I desired. Have a laugh and read this story.
After a nice restful Christmas and a vow to have a better new year – we have started looking for a new place to move to. And my anxiety has gone through the roof. I’ve been dipping into my ativan supply. Now I had always imagined that getting older would bring me serenity, wisdom and a certain degree of security, confidence and strength. I’ve got wisdom up the wazoo and I have no doubt of my strength, but what I didn’t see coming was a degree of vulnerability that I feel, particularly with motherhood. Or maybe it’s just my age, my mid life crisis or even my life condition. Motherhood has revealed a whole new level of insecurities that I never knew I had. Entrusted with the care of this amazing child, I feel confident that I can feed him and keep him alive (ha! more on that later), but I’m not sure I can be the well dressed mother of grace and giggles that I assumed I’d be.
So far, what we’ve seen in housing has been an education. We are trying to pay less rent and get more space which in this city means moving further away. I’m trying to keep my husband’s commute to work by transit manageable and also find a neighbourhood that provides me with nearby community centres, a place to walk my dog and sidewalks that lead to a coffee shop and a liquor store. Believe it or not, I’ve never lived in a place where I haven’t had this. I’m stubborn. I keep thinking I can get this for a reasonable price. I’m afraid I have champagne tastes on a beer budget.
Our present home has been challenging on a few levels, but we prefer not to go through another winter here. Compromises are going to have to be made. I’m just afraid of making the wrong choice. We saw a house that was really nice, but the basement was going to be rented out as well, and it was located near the bottom of a very steep street which would prove problematic. We drive a lot but we also walk an hour in the the forest almost daily, walk to nearby playgrounds and parks and to Tim Horton’s and Dairy Queen of course. And sometimes we just walk around the neighbourhood with the Precious riding his bike. I don’t have to cross a highway. We have sufficient street lights. Time to chant for a new home.
Also to chant for my kid’s safety. I know, I know, kids break bones, get scars, etc. Five minutes into a walk and of course, the kid had his hands in his pockets (and we keep telling him not to do that) and he was running, tripped and fell on gravel and loosened his front teeth. Screaming, blood everywhere I try to calm him down and assess the damage. I carried him home piggyback style. Thank goodness, we weren’t that far from home, my back groaned but didn’t give out. I cleaned out his mouth, and gave him a popsicle and all seemed to be well until I insisted we go out again later. Really, it was such a gorgeous day and I was absolutely did not want to spend the rest of the day in the house. He threw what the Brits like to call a “wobbly”, (i.e. a defcon 5 fit) and 10 minutes later, he fell fast asleep in my lap. That fall took more out of him than I first realized and I gave him some Tylenol when he woke up to ease the pain. I got a dentist appointment for him a couple days later, and luckily the dentist didn’t remove his teeth. I just have to put some antibacterial rinse on his gums (there was some damage to that little bit under the top lip) and hope his teeth firm up in a month. Holy cow, I worried myself into a tizzy. Not sure I can make it til he grows up. A cut knee I can take, but anything that takes dental surgery (I HATE dentists – not personally – but I’m the type of person who sweats through a cleaning) makes me want to take to my bed with the vapours. Of course, what does hubby do a few days later? Takes him to a gymnastics drop in with his buddy’s kids – after I explicitly told him NOT to! His teeth are still wobbly! He needs them to for a couple more years til they’re good and ready to fall out. This kid has a wee overbite so when he falls over or runs into something cause he leads with his HEAD, he almost cuts his lip. Sigh. Pass me the bubble wrap.
No, no, no, he’s not going to be a hockey player. PLEASSSSSE, NOOOOO! I couldn’t take it.
I sometimes forget that my husband doesn’t look like my son. I never really think about it until someone else points it out. In fact it took me a long time before I could say I was his mother without some sort of explanation. I felt like a fraud, like I was passing as his mother, I always felt like I had to add the prefix adoptive. After all, I was an infertile. I had plenty of experience being that, none of being a mother. When my child was placed in my arms, I didn’t feel like I had “won”. It was more like a woman was giving me her child for safekeeping. One day I didn’t have a child and the next I did. I walked out the hospital feeling vaguely suspect. I held my breath the entire time we were away and only did I walk through the doors of my home, did I start to truly comprehend my new reality. There had been nothing but obstacles along the path to parenthood. I had to keep recreating my vision of myself. Everyone kept saying “just adopt, but there was nothing “just” about the whole situation. Still, I was madly in love and spent the wee hours drinking in his scent and marvelling at this tiny life in my arms.
I knew others would automatically think he was “mine’. I was uncomfortable with the whole race issue in a way I never had before. What would my husband know about raising a black male in this world? He was white. My husband had never been in the minority, had no idea of what it was truly like. I was black and female and was taught how to talk my way into and out of things, to charm and to make people at ease, to not get angry even when I was offended and hurt and made to feel less than. I had been followed around in malls and been called sullen and angry and difficult because I wasn’t smiling, just thinking about what to have for lunch. I had been refused jobs, housing, been socially isolated, etc. I don’t view my life through the same racial lens as a lot of African Americans do. Probably being raised in Canada in a metropolitan city has a lot to do with it. Yet when I started travelling outside of my own social circle and into the larger world, I learned some hard lessons.
When hubby and I first started travelling together, he would incredulously remark how people would turn and watch us as we entered certain establishments in certain places. I would tell him that people were just struck by our collective good looks. He wasn’t amused. I was amused when we visited my sister who used lived in Atlanta at the time and we went to an all black church and when we took a bus in Toronto (the passengers of which were 99% black) to the subway. I giggled as he realized he was in the minority for the first time in his life. You should have seen his face. He looked – how do you put it – ENLIGHTENED – and …. outnumbered. How was he going to react if his son was slighted for racist reasons? When I met him, I was impressed with his ability to make me feel safe and protected. He was a prison guard and had developed a certain demeanour that few tested. I managed to dissuade him once when a mentally disturbed homeless person uttered a racist slur at me.
The whole time waiting we were expecting a mixed child, and since a lot of our friends were interracial, we certainly would not have stood out in any conspicuous way. Of course, we were already conspicuous, so those modules in adoption education were laughable to us. Still when it came right down to it, when we received the profile and booked our trip to meet the biological mother, I simply didn’t care about what I had pictured anymore. It just suddenly didn’t matter. I just wanted to be a parent. Someone once told me that my child would find me. For a woman like me, that was hard to believe. Until the day it happened.
So in our circle of beloved friends and family, we still enjoy a protective bubble, but as our child grows and enters the world with us by his side, we are reminded every now and then by curious glances, outspoken remarks and queries, that indeed we are a “conspicuous” family. The Precious knows that Mummy is chocolate like him and Daddy is well, white chocolate.
The same, but different.
Happy New Year! A new year, a new look, and hopefully a better attitude. I, for one, am glad 2012 is over. It was hard, y’all, my spool unravelled and I struggled with all that I had and all that I didn’t. I didn’t even know I could be THAT tired. So tired I could barely think straight. But I’m getting better. Thank you for being there, listening to my private, crazy thoughts, ramblings, disconnected, jumbled, non linear and grammatically incorrect sentences. Your comments, better than dark, organic, chocolate with sea salt or ginger bits. Seriously.
I’ve spent the last little while (like a lot of you) seriously considering giving up blogging for the usual reasons, like lack of uninterrupted, focused time. Apparently, a woman my age can’t do it all without losing her every loving mind. Not for free anyway. I’ll keep hanging in there though cause being in this space makes me feel good and that I am making a positive cause. And right now, that’s not something to be taken lightly.