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How does a mum get a day off around here?

The BC government finally came to its senses last year and gave the province an official day off to celebrate “Family Day”.  They should have called it something else really but you know how politicians like to believe they are doing “families” a favour.  They don’t report to the legislature for over 200 days but yes, you can have a “family day” years after all the other provinces have one.  It’s basically a made up holiday to break up winter.  So anyways, I was planning to go to Mount Seymour to do something fun like toboggan in the snow and have hot chocolate but of course, it pissed down rain that day and we ended up doing something I truly hate.  We went to the pool.

Now hubby and my son adore the pool, but I couldn’t care less.  Lately, I’ve been pushing myself to do things out of my comfort zone, so last month I took Boo to the pool twice in one week!  Not wanting to get a bikini wax just so I don’t scare a man with an errant hair, I dragged the kid to the mall to buy a pair of swimshorts and a matching top.  On sale supposedly, but still overpriced, but I got one and then off we went to the pool in West Van.  There is one closer to us, but this pool is so warm it’s crazy. That’s one reason I will submit to it.   And there’s a separate family hot tub so the kids can go in without disturbing the old(er) people who frequent hot tubs all day long.  And there’s a huge slide that starts at the top of the building and safely deposits your kid at the bottom.  It’s usually not open during the week, but Boo just loves to grab a paddle board and go down the “river” while I traipse after him looking like a complete geek in my 1930’s swim outfit with a bathing cap stretched over my head.  All I’m missing is my parasol. Did I mention we’re the only black people in the entire pool? (Cause it’s Black History Month and I’m enjoying myself.) Now I know that’s not always the case – later that week I spotted an Ethiopian (Eritrean?) family in the changeroom.  I wanted to talk to them but I think my outfit scared them off.

Back to the pool.  Like I said, Boo loves it!  We have put him in lessons since last summer and now he really likes going into the water.  He still can’t swim but he’s much more comfortable.  It’s great to see him enjoying himself and he’s willing to show mama the ropes. But I can’t swim.  And I’m very uncomfortable in the water.  I won’t even submerge my head.   It takes everything in me to plaster a smile on my face and pretend I’m enjoying myself.  Oh, I’ve taken lessons before, years ago now.  (After 2 sessions, I managed to learn how to float, not actually swim. I also had goggles and ear plugs.  So attractive.)  I go down the “river” with him, pretending to be a monster but really I feel awkward inside because I can’t relax cause I’m afraid I will be swept off my feet and bash myself.  I play mommy monster and chase him and do knee squats for most of the time.  That time being mainly 90 minutes to 2 hours.  What I won’t do to see him smile!

Well, on said family day hubby was with us, so I had some time to sit in the sauna for 10 minutes but after 2 hours, I was officially done and left hubby and Boo to get out and get dry.   And then I felt exhausted.  Eventually,  I went to bed super early only to wake up in the middle of the night with heartburn and a sense of impending doom and the chills.  And doom it was because I spent most of the next day in bed feeling like a lead balloon.  No nausea, just exhaustion.  Flu? I don’t know.  I even paid a sitter so I could spend more time in bed yesterday as I had a very important meeting at the Buddhist culture centre to go to.  More on that later.

I’m feeling much better today and Boo is yelling at me to get up, so off I go. Thanks to hubby for coming home early and bringing me soup in bed.  I may have to have a relapse again so I can get some more “time off”.

More grey hairs

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.

 

 

Trying not to suck

Work-wise, November is slower that I thought it would be.  I was first choice for that role I hoped to get, but they couldn’t make the schedule work.  Figures, once a year I go away, and that’s when somebody wants me for a good role.  Sigh.  I wouldn’t have made enough to warrant cancelling the trip, so… moving on.  I have a couple days of typing coming up so that’s something.  And of course, my little boy’s 3rd birthday.  He’s excited to have a party and invite his friends.  I’ve arranged to rent a place for his party as we don’t have the room to host one at home.

Hubby and are I getting along better, we’re both making more efforts to be gentler with one another.  I’m reaching out more, it’s tough, but I’m trying. One night I was freezing so I actually slept snuggled up next to him and he was absolutely delighted.  Such a simple thing but it meant so much to him.

I’m still dealing with a lot of anxiety when it comes to things like visiting my mum and staying at home all day with the Precious.  Seems like my little guy could spend all our rainy days just watching the Lion King and The Wild and playing with his cars.  I have to practically drag him out of the house on non preschool days.  Correction, I have to chase, yell, threaten to call dad, joke, negotiate, bribe him to get him to put on his boots and coat.  This can take anywhere from 10 – 20 minutes.  This means I’m supremely aggravated before 9 am in the morning.  Sigh. This child is designed to teach my patience apparently.  On occasion, I just pick him up like a sack of potatoes and put him in the car without shoes or a coat.  At least, he knows I’m not kidding around when I say we have to go.  He does not do this with his dad or his grandparents,oh, yes he saves this delightful game for mum.  It’s just routine he wants.    I kiss and hug him more and tell him how much I love him and I remind myself to lower my expectations of what I’d like to get done during the day (and in the order I’d like them done).

I  read a post the other day about a mother experiencing difficulty with her child wanting constant interaction with her.  Heck, I once even googled “my kid won’t leave me alone”  and found dozens of women who were desperate for answers.    I could understand, it can be overwhelming, parenting 24/7 can be mentally and physically taxing.   I  learned the importance of structure and routine and different ways of interacting.  For example,  I let my son help me make scrambled eggs, as long as I don’t micromanage the way he does it and accept that it will be messy.  I would prefer a brisk  1 hr walk through the woods with the dog with music in my ears, but that’s not going to happen, so we meander a couple of blocks and walk through a local boardwalk through a bog.  I have also let my son know that everyone (including the dog) needs quiet time.  Most people find it quite distressing to be physically tugged on most of the day.  I haven’t met a mum yet who has not admitted eagerly anticipating naptime or bed time or to clock watching, waiting for hubby to come home.

Then I remind myself that  no matter how depressed or miserable I feel on any given day, I am still responsible for loving the heck out that little boy, and not just in the way that it is easy for me to do, but in the way that he needs.  In my core, I can recall my childhood need for unconditional love, and suddenly it is crystal clear to me that  hormonal mood swings, fatigue or anxiety can make my days seem like I’m walking through water so I need to take care of myself as well.   Still considering meds and when I get more money, I’ll go back to counselling.

My sisters or I did not grow up in a loving, peaceful atmosphere.  We were not encouraged to show our true feelings, we were to be seen and not heard for the most part.  My parents did the best they could, but they were busy working and trying not to get crushed by the man.  But my mother fought to give her girls the best she could.  She was a fighter.  Oh, yes, I witnessed her degradation and her breakdowns, but I also saw her get up every time.  She kept all my crappy artwork and threw me birthday parties.  Right up until the time she had a stroke, she would call me on my birthday and sing me happy birthday.

So I owe it to myself and to my kid to try and do better every day.  I kinda hate being smooched and hugged as my husband’s family can attest.  It drives me nuts that they gotta give cheery good mornings and hugs and kisses before bed time or when they walk out of the door.  My family barely touches each other even when we say goodbye at airports.  But I smile when Boo walks in the room and I hold his hand when we cozy up together and I kiss him even after he’s stepped on my last nerve.  As a matter of fact, this has also been related to me as Buddhist guidance for my husband.  Mmmm. I’m not going to lie, I’m no Suzy Homemaker.  I don’t find creativity in all things domestic, unless it’s a domestic red if you know what I mean.  I am however, finding creative ways to be present in my parenting, staying true to my word and cutting myself some slack.

Jail time

I was having some further email conversations with Luna and something occurred to me.     She commented that she still feels that a bit of sync with the other mothers, despite having both a child she adopted and one she gave birth to.  I’m a mother of an 2 and 3/4 year old now.  A mother.  Even when I’m gnashing my teeth in frustration, I’m still grateful.  This child, my child, is  an AMAZING human being, even when he accidently head butts me when I’m trying to grab him to get his socks on.  Yet whenever I’m around other mothers, I still feel a bit odd.  Is it my age?  Mmm, a little bit.  I can’t say I enjoy the combination of perimenopause and toddlerhood.

I think what makes me feel different is that though I no longer wander around silently screaming please don’t ask me if I have kids!   I still feel that I lost a huge chunk of time trying to achieve something that I did not, could not.  The Lost Years, so to speak.  And occasionally, especially when I am at the kid’s preschool, surrounded by a sea of mothers, babies and strollers, I feel a little out of place.  Yes, I reply, when asked at the playground, he’s my only child.  And then some witty repartee about why mess with perfection, blah, blah, blah.  And I think that’s what Luna is referring to.  Those years that have been spent in mourning, loss and pursuit of parenthood on top of all the regular life hazards isn’t erased when parenthood finally does find you. It’s like this secret you don’t or won’t share with other mums.  You just babble on about naps and toilet training and stuff like that.  You just feel a teeny bit like an imposter. As if you had been in jail or something.  Hah.

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By the way, I had a callback for that part.  No I didn’t get it and yes, I feel like crap about it.

Motherhood and guilt

I had a perfectly lovely Mother’s Day weekend! No cooking required!  Saturday morning we got breakfast sandwiches from Tim Horton’s, and then dinner was takeout from one of my favourite Caribbean restaurants followed by a mini Blizzard!  I actually jumped for joy!  Then Sunday was a spectacular brunch on Granville Island with friends.  We had an outside table overlooking the harbour – it couldn’t have been a more beautiful day weather wise.  Warm – ah! – the lovely sunshine, mimosas and a nearby grassy knoll for the kids to run off their steam.   And finally sushi for dinner and wow – Dairy Queen ice cream cake!  Whee! So much for the budget this weekend. Hubby warned me about the cost of the brunch (my friend’s hubby made the reservations so of course, it was a matter of saving face) and I did have a mini-rant.  But I suppose I’m worth it.

Then I woke up Monday in a snit cause it was back to my “work week”, guilt took over after pigging out all weekend and the kid was in full whine mode.  He seems to have problems transitioning between fun weekends with Daddy and then the horrible woman who wants to change his diaper, make him eat, and go to activities all on her timetable.

Good news is that I actually dropped him off at his All On My Own Class! It’s a class for 2 year olds to learn to play with their peers independent of their parents.   Victory!  This after two weeks of sitting in the mummy chair in the corner because he would have meltdowns if I tried to leave.  90 minutes of sheer giddy freedom!  Except this time, I realized I had misplaced my phone and I ran back to the car hoping to find it inside on the seat only to see it on the ROAD!  And of course, they were paving the main road in the middle of the freaking day and there were no right turns except where the community centre was so of course, 50 cars had probably DRIVEN OVER IT!!!!  I picked up it, the protective hard case still intact but the screen smashed.  REALLY smashed.  I drove to the Telus dealer who tried to download the data unsuccessfully and handed me a card to a repair store.  That was it.  Thanks for nothing.  My beloved Galaxy Nexus.  They wanted $500 if I wanted a new phone.  Yeah, I was fucked.  Of course, it was then that I noticed the sign for the extra protection plan they had. Insurance for your phone that I’m damn sure DH would not have taken.

Well, I had time to pick up a coffee and head back to pick up the kid.  I had had glorious plans to walk to the nearest Starbucks to work on my study material for a Buddhist meeting.  At least my laptop is still working.  My other lifeline.  For a while there, I thought it was toast – the fan was making aircraft noises and I feared the worst.  Seems like something was rolling around in there, hubby fiddled with it, blow compressed air into the ventilation holes,  even tried to take the cover off and get to the fan, but that didn’t work out very well. I switched it to eco utility – to save power – and somehow the noise went away.  Oh, my laptop is my work and also my companion.  Of course, hubby said we’d get a new one cause I needed it for work.  Frankly, it would have been cheaper than a new smartphone. Sigh, you know, I never NEEDED a smartphone until I got one.

Needless to say I chanted for my phone.  Hubby is going to take it to see if it can be saved.

Anyway…. at the brunch, one of the women in attendance  is 5 months pregnant.  So I chatted with her and asked how her pregnancy was going, and how complete strangers will now invade her life to talk about her child.    I nodded my head and smiled, not knowing a bloody thing of course about being pregnant, other than hearsay.  No, I did not touch her belly, I’m not really into that.  I have only touched one pregnant belly in my whole life and that was a close friend and only for a brief moment.  Then when the other women chimed in about pregnancy, I withdrew from the conversation.  It was a little like the old days, that awkward moment that even as a mother now, I can’t relate to.  But it’s only that, awkward, and everyone knows my story so they didn’t go on and on.  Not a big deal.  Not anymore.

I was more verklempt because my own mum was not there. I was going to go see her later, but it never happened. I just sat in the backyard with my kid and a glass of wine and watched him play.  I could have left and driven downtown to see her briefly before dinner but I didn’t.  I could have gone after the kid went to sleep.  But I didn’t.   I had seen her on Friday and Saturday and brought her a musical card and sang to her while I greased her hair and cut it.  She was so agitated (ie. loud keening noises and a bad mood) that the nurse couldn’t even give her the medication to calm her.  I managed to do it a few minutes later after she finally begrudgingly relented.   I sang Bridge Over Troubled Water to her.  She used to sing that to me when I was a child.  It soothed her.  She chimed in, and for a brief moment, her strong voice came back.  That was our time, just me and her.  The days of fancy lunches and drinks and presents are done.  It’s tough.  This dementia thing, it’s a bitch.  I’m not sure about what kind of life a person has living like that.  Yes, it’s life and it’s sacred, but really, to see her like that…..   It’s been 8 years, I’ve never not been with her on Mother’s Day until this year.  I felt guilty but I am trying to let it go. She’d want me to be with my family, but she’s my family too.  And that’s precisely why I didn’t make it to see her on the actual day.  I KNEW it would just gut me.  I just wanted a pleasant day with just twinges of guilt rather than a depressing and sad end to my nice day.

Oh, man, what is it about motherhood that makes guilt such a regular occurrence in life.  The why can’t I just be the perfect mother and daughter and wife and wage earner thing.  Bah, there is no such creature, but we keep trying to be somehow.  Or is it just me?

Kudos

Kudos to the Pacific Post Partum Support Society who included adoptive mums when raising awareness for post partum depression.  I went to a fundraiser a couple years ago and I found it very interesting. I originally went to support a friend of mine who had experienced post partum depression after the birth of her twins.  Now of course, since I have never given birth, I thought out of whack hormones were largely to blame for post partum.  I was surprised to hear a brief mention about adoptive mums.  I remember when Lavender Luz talked about it on her blog as post adoption depression.  I don’t think I ever had that.  Any blues I’ve ever had are more about the stuff I’ve always struggled with before adoption but were now of course compounded with the demands of motherhood and my apparent inability to be a super happy super achieving super skinny woman.   Um, err, maybe I did.  But those feelings were not associated with how well I bonded with the Precious.  Let’s face it, he was pretty darn easy as an infant.  He slept well, he ate well,he wasn’t sick, and he only cried when he had a obvious reason to do so.  What I was depressed about was how people (you know who you are) still thought I could keep a 1500 sq. ft apartment orderly, walk the dog, cook, AND take care of the Precious. That’s just crazy talk.