I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions last year. Not sure why (yes I do), but the best I could come up with was a better attitude. That was harder to accomplish than I thought, but I think I did alright considering the middle aged rage I was stewing in. Last year I managed to eat through rage and anxiety but the result was not good for my overall health. I’m about as unhealthy as I’ve ever been. I was also trying to insulate myself to a certain extent. DH and I just fell into a rut and stayed there.
We moved last year at the precise moment my mother almost died. It was a little like swimming underwater. Muted sounds, holding my breath, my whole being switched into captain of the ship mode. I stand guard, I take care, I manage my family’s emotions as best as I could. DH became my dutiful lieutenant, my fierce watchdog. In times of need, he’s no better partner. Navigating his rage around my father’s visit was a bit tough, but we worked it out. I had to admit to myself that I didn’t really mind the idea of her dying because I had been watching her lose herself for years and I would have been released from that brutal watch. And then she didn’t. Her present state is not too bad, and I am grateful, amazed at her fighting spirit. I tightened the buckles on my guardian suit again. Back to my post. She continues to surprise me.
Boo started a new preschool and I scanned a new crop of mothers looking for a new acquaintance or two for both him and me. Everyone seems so busy juggling their preschoolers and older children. No one hangs at the playground after school. I felt unmoored in a sense, I hate starting over. Trying hard to adapt to a new environment. Away from my beloved endowment lands and flat tree-lined streets, familiar stores of the bourgeois enclave. Here in this suburb (yes, it’s a little grating on me), it’s nice, clean, beautiful mountain views. You can’t take the garbage out til the morning of pick up because of the bears and everyone has a bear in the backyard story. Our home is nicer, WARMER, OHMIGOSH SO MUCH WARMER! The heating is more efficient and less expensive because the windows are from the 70’s, not the 1930’s and we’re sharing the utilities with our downstairs neighbour. Hubby threw up a curtain inside the front door because the doorway (the frame needs replacing) lets in a draft but so far no talk of plastic on the windows. Ha! Everything is on one level, so no rickety steep stairs to do laundry. No yucky basement smell on hubby’s clothes or our towels to worry about it. No more Titanic like boiler going off to roast my in-laws. Not our own home still, the one I’ve yearned for since Boo came into our lives, but I hope we don’t have to move for a long time. Please. Unless it’s into our very own.
I have my Buddhist district. It’s like instant family, really, some familiar faces, some new, always a relief to go to a meeting. Always buoyed by encouragement, positivity, new goals a purpose to fulfill.
May this year bring more travel – including Disneyland and a trip to Toronto and somewhere else. Oh, yes, and I’d like a new car please. And a smaller ass.
Next post will be password protected because it’s about Boo’s birthmother so if you need the password, let me know and if you are a secret reader, please introduce yourself and please bring a low-cal dessert. And wine.
So I made it through Christmas because I BAKED. Yup, baked. That`s my secret weapon to deal with the bittersweetness of it all. To bring the sweet in a way. I know full well my in-laws would rather eat a Pot of Gold of chocolate or something, but I wanted to bake. So I made lemon cranberry scones, sticky toffee pudding and a pumpkin cheesecake. Oh, and gingerbread men. The chances of them not getting fully consumed were quite high, but I knew that I would be alright with that. Because I needed to bake. I wanted to keep busy and fill the house with lovely smells and not think about my mum not being with me because it would have required extraordinary efforts to get her here (and of course, we have stairs). And I would not be with my younger sister`s family either. So buoyed with the memory of having worked as an actor, making my bread and butter as a typist and BAKING, I made it through. My mum always made a special effort at Christmas to decorate with tinfoil decorations hanging from the ceiling and once, she even stole a Christmas tree from a church parking lot (cause she figured the church owed her something). She made turkey and vegetables and rice and potatoes and stuffing and served it all hot out of the oven, she sat down last and she did her best to make sure we had at least ONE thing we wanted among the necessary things. My dad sulked and usually spent the evening in the basement. He was never happy. A fate I always believed I inherited and have fought against for years.
My mother in law made her roast potatoes. With lard. I shudder. Yes, it tastes great. I think it`s possible to make it without lard, but it`s her recipe and her tradition. I tend to buy one brick a year to make apple pie crust from scratch and indeed, I did find it in the back of the fridge just in the nick of time. She brought over the turkey and the ham. I brined it and massaged butter under the skin and roasted it and she baked the ham with beer. I roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and made yams with brown sugar and steamed the broccoli and carrots. I made a bit of cranberry sauce from scratch just for me. I screwed up the boxed stuffing by dumping the contents in a pot of water before putting it on the stove because we were trying to time everything to come out roughly all together. But in the end, we put it in the oven to dry it out and my husband`s buddy remarked it was delicious so there you go. You can`t screw up boxed stuffing. It took all afternoon and between the baking and the cooking, I think I was on my feet for 10 hours in total. I have always found Christmas exhausting in one way or another and I`d rather be on vacation with someone else doing all the work (why is it always the women who do most of the work by the way).
We put out milk and cookies for Santa and even a carrot for the reindeer…even a boot footprint in flour in front of the fireplace. We hid all the gifts until Boo had gone to bed and put them under the tree. The tree decorated in red and blue balls cause Boo wanted Spiderman`s colours. Boo woke up at a decent hour and told us excitedly that Santa had come cause there was now presents under the tree. It was magical and fun because at 4, he truly did believe. The kid was spoiled rotten of course. It was a Spider-man Christmas for sure. I did note however, how overwhelmed he was at the amount of gifts so much so that he opted to take a break from opening gifts. Next year I will try to curb hubby`s enthusiasm. It won`t work, but I`ll try. He loved his Spiderman stuffed buddy and Spiderman clothes and Spiderman pyjamas and Spiderman socks and was not THAT excited about the damnable Air Hogs Atmosphere flying thing. By the way we scoured the Lower Mainland to find it because it was the ONE thing he actually asked Santa for and it was tricky for even a grown man to operate apparently, never mind a 4 year old. In the end, friends of mine found it. Lesson learned. Find out what toy is the Cabbage Patch doll of the year and make sure your kid doesn`t know what it is. Or if he asks for it tell him it can’t be over $20.
Having the in-laws over means we get out for a night to watch a movie. And having hubby home, means Boo is happy crawling all over him and I get to read the paper in peace. 5 years ago all I wanted was a baby and now that baby is big enough to ask that we paint the car blue and red. I took my sticky toffee pudding over to my Buddhist friends and watched their son lick the bowl. I had quiet afternoons when Boo was out with dad. I walked the dog and listened to music all on my own. I drank red wine and slept in. I missed not having mum with us but I focused on the staying in the moment. There’s sweetness in all of that.
My best Christmas gift? This, from my mum. Mum has advanced dementia and has been in a home for almost 10 years and according to doctors should have died earlier this year. I have watched her lose her ability to walk, to read, form sentences, eat solid food, month after month, year after year. Lately, she’s been a surprise for everyone, holding fairly coherent interactions and remembering people’s names. I went to see her this week and this is what I found. A leisure services person explained how hard she worked to give this to me. It wasn’t that long ago she was in hospital jabbering nonsensically and yelling.
It says: to Angela, love you, fr your mum. She’s still with me, knows me. Not that I ever had a doubt, but still…this means so much to me. Thanks, Mum.