A Return to Breathing

Posted on October 27, 2014

When Jonah jumped freely, with open arms toward me from the edge of the pool and as he clasped his arms around me tightly & lovingly, I finally realised just how much he’s changed in the last year. I watched my son tonight, play with my husband in the pool, Jonah was bright, unafraid, kind to others and adventurous. This, on the tail end of a weekend where my son transitioned seamlessly to a toddler bed, took a shower standing up “like daddy” and actually thoroughly listened to both his daddy and myself, I felt like I was finally in a place long awaited, feeling peaceful. Some of the constant “worry” of parenting faded away tonight and I let myself enjoy my son. Watching my husband play with him filled me with such warmth – I’ll probably remember this weekend for a long time – and it will become my strength in future trying moments.


I’ve had a long period of absence from writing this blog. There were moments where I knew I should come to write, there were moments I needed to sit down and write, and there were moments I tried and nothing came. The frustration of the last few months completely clouded over my will to write, and it drained my creativity and because of that I felt even less like myself and I became lost emotionally. It felt like I was a puzzle but my pieces were miles and miles apart from one another. I couldn’t be collected. I was never whole.

As the stress piled up on me and I couldn’t deal, I spent a lot of time just telling people “I felt overwhelmed,” not really going into detail about the nights I spent awake, trying to quiet the of feelings of failure, loss of hope and the emptiness inside left by lacking a creative drive. It began to strip me bare of my sense of self.

I was still working out issues with going back to work, trying to find where I fit in, and how to be a “working mom” but when Jonah started to really flex his muscles in his “terrible twos” I started to feel so tired, yet the worry was so great I couldn’t sleep. After weeks of dealing with insomnia at night, and exhaustion during the day, and trying to take care of a kid who screamed “no,” 24/7, made messes everywhere he went, couldn’t be left alone for a single second, and who refused to behave in public … I started taking pills to help me sleep, but funny enough, the drugs made me feel worse and during the day I had no fuse left to burn. Jonah and I had a few months where we bumped heads because he is my little mirror after all.


Yet, it isn’t like it was all bad, all the time. In fact during those months where Jonah’s attitude tanked, Jeff and I experienced a kind of renaissance in our marriage. I said to him several times that I felt more in love with him than ever, so while Jonah threw tantrums on the kitchen floor before us, Jeff and I some times barely noticed because we were acting like teenagers in love. We got through it because we both individually did the things each of us needed to do for the other to survive. Jeff became more communicative than ever, and I just chilled out. Somehow we pulled together and for some reason that wasn’t something I expected to happen – I suppose I still have a bad habit of expecting the worst, in people and in life – maybe that’s what finally defeated Jonah the Terrible. He saw our united front and feared our bonded power.


It may be too early to say the tyrant my son turned into is defeated, but I feel a shift in the energy in our home. Jeff had a theory that we should just keep treating him like the adult Jonah seemed to think he was suddenly. So, during the day I tried to relax the rules, we let Jonah try to imitate the way mommy and daddy do things more often (even if it makes doing any task take thirty minutes instead of five), we started potty training, and most recently we’ve taken the plunge and converted Jonah’s crib to a toddler bed. All of this combined effort seemed to quell our little T-Rex, enough for us to see that our son is really growing up and making huge strides in his development.

For now, anyway, it seems the storm has passed on. Maybe there is another one brewing but for once, I am not focused on it. I am writing again, and I am going back to work over Christmas with a contract until January for a company I fought hard to be employed by for the better part of a year. My son is in a happy place, he’s healthy and becoming an avid swimmer/thrill seeker. We are seeing him begin to take after his dad a lot more – he’s quite solitary and needs independent playtime more and more. Jonah is speaking two and three word sentences, understanding instructions and is finally becoming more loving and trusting of his mom and dad. With Jonah we really had to earn his trust, and that to me was fair enough because I am just now learning to trust myself as his mom.

When he jumped off the ledge tonight and into my arms, it was the first time in a long time I felt his devout trust in me as his mom. It was also the first time in a long time he clung to my embrace and didn’t immediately try to finagle his way out of my arms. It sounds strange but it kind of feels like now he would choose me as his mom if he had been given the choice at the start. My love for him grows exponentially daily, and today I found myself thinking that it is scary how much I have the capacity to love him.


Somewhere in the struggle of raising kids you find the best and worst parts of yourself. And, somehow that has been the most rewarding therapy of my life.

Dear, “Not Qualified to Make Soap”

Posted on June 2, 2014

A couple weeks ago, I had one of those epic breakdowns; an emotional outburst that catapults you to the brink of insanity even without the help of several glasses – maybe a bottle – of wine. Yes, a breakdown so bold, you can’t decipher the point to life anymore, and in between the briny tears, your eyes give up trying to obtain clear vision and blur beyond comprehension and then they add insult to injury by making the unflattering choice of puffing out, adorning themselves with red around the edges and then no matter how much you try and blink it away, they begin to sting like the dickens. Finally, as you wipe tear after tear away, you realise you’ve adopted The Ugly Cry Face; an expression you can’t remove, there is no help for it, and an expression that is not an Urban Legend – so keep it to yourself, it’s not for public consumption – You rub your wet nose into your shirt as you snort back up all the mucus your body seems to think it needs to dispel right then and right there, but, to no avail.

And so, you kind of just lay there. Quivering. Be it cowering over the toilet, or passed out under the bed, or if you’re me, sprawled out on the kitchen floor amongst the pots and pans your two-year old had retrieved and placed around you supportively.

So if you’re wondering where I’ve been, there you have it. Earlier that day I had finally received word. Word that: No. In fact, Mrs. Huyghebaert we regret to inform you that indeed we believe you are not qualified to make soap. Best-fucking-wishes in your search, yours truly, Company Inc.

Since October, I’ve probably written nearly a couple hundred resumes and cover letter, specific to the ads I would see in the paper, or on Craigslist or on company websites. I had made countless phone calls inquiring about potential positions, or spent afternoon cold-calling places in the hopes that they had openings they hadn’t put out ads for yet.

By January, it had already been heart-wrenching to hear yet another straight-forward “no,” or to be told to call back at another time, again and again, or worst of all was to hear nothing at all – which was most of the time – every form of rejection, each one harder to swallow than the last, but in my mind at the time, all survivable failures.

I knew I had a sticky wicket of a situation being a stay at home mom, already out of the job circuit for two years, with very tight scheduling needs and availability, but I figured after all the searching, all those calls, all the individually written letters … something was going to come of it.

Well, in April I figured I found it. Finally something came up that I thought was the right fit for me. A beginning as in not only a place to start, but the right hours, not a terrible commute, no experience necessary and best of all, room to develop and move up in the company in order to end up doing what I should be: Writing.

Writing in some capacity, with a company I actually liked, all too good to be true – and I knew it – but I barreled ahead anyway, guns blazing, because to me it was Mecca, and I said this in my opening communications with the company – I belonged with them – little did I know much of this was going to fall on deaf ears.

I had politely pummeled them with emails during their routine of mindlessly flipping through resumes, to remind them that I was still there, still interested, still qualified, dedicated, enthusiastic, loyal … until someone finally bothered to reply one month and one week after I attended my first interview.

A simple form letter informing me of another failure, not unlike any of the other short emails I had already received, in detail, but as for importance? This one took a big swing and delivered a hard blow.

And so, the day that I finally heard the “no,” I already knew was coming, before I told Hubby or Bestie or anyone I had a little – cough cough – one epic cry. It wasn’t until then that I had this thought, this one thought which has troubled me ever since.

As far as I remember there was no interview process to become a mother. No room full of well-dressed applicants filling out paper work for the position titled “Mother”. There is no inquiry, no vote, and no email registration or selection process. Supposedly, “the most important job” in the world has no system in place that demands a process of filtration, that inputs all the potentials but only spits out the very best, most qualified, most deserving few like every other job application process known to man. No as a mother, frankly, you can be anyone. It’s on the “honour system” that we operate, believing that you don’t suck as a parent and end up vacuuming up your kid like a hamster.

This job called “Mom” comes at you whether you are ready, experienced, qualified or any of the above. It is handed to you no questions asked. No one follows you home and gives you weekly progress reports; there was no on-the-job-training, or power-point presentation to get you comfortable in your new position. There was nothing. Nothing. And then suddenly, there was a little something looking up at you with big eyes that were pleading, saying, “Please tell me you’re the most qualified one they could find to mother me.” Sorry kid, I know as much as you do. I’ll try to keep you away from the paper-shredder?

It just doesn’t make sense to me. You’re telling me, I am qualified to be a mother, one of life’s most difficult undertakings but I am not qualified … to …. make … soap?!

Every rejection letter I get in my inbox makes me want to send a slap upside the head email saying something like …

Listen up dickwad, Dear Job Recruiter and Organizer person, whoever you are. You don’t get it. Not only am I qualified to make fucking soap, you frigging ass-monkey, I am more than qualified to do your fucking job. And you want to know why? Because being a mother means learning true dedication and because of that my experience far outweighs anything you’ve got under your belt, trust me. Considering you don’t even have the wherewithal to return an email with even a witless reply, I’ll break this down for you, nice and simple. Unlike the job position you hold – we don’t know how – the job of motherhood means no weekends, no overtime pay, no breaks, no end of day and no clocking out. Maybe being a mother is a blessing but it isn’t an easy one and when the job isn’t easy I can’t call in sick or just fuck the dog waiting for my shift to terminate. I have to be there, present, every hour in every day of every week. Invested. I have to work through injury, exhaustion, sickness, frailty and weakness of heart. My job takes stamina, creativity in the face of adversity, and endurance the likes of which you can’t even begin to fathom, yet I show up every day, one hundred percent because someone deemed me qualified. Finally. Qualified. But somehow, to you I remain under-qualified to do the most menial of tasks like serve your guests, or stock your shelves or make your soap and patronize all you think your blessed company stands for… still, to you I am just a nameless, faceless applicant pleading for an entry-level job you couldn’t give two shits about because you’ve forgotten what it’s like to struggle. Struggle to be heard, be seen, get a foot in the door, or struggle to be given one single frigging chance to say, “Look, I am the most qualified person you’re going to see apply for this job,” because I know what it takes now to be the kind of employee you need. And, maybe I can’t find a way to tell you in the interview because you wont do me the decency of looking me in the eye, but I am your candidate. And I hope you know that when I do get in the door and finally get that job, you better fucking understand that I’ll be gunning for you and your job. I will never overlook someone like me, because I believe in taking chances on the people who exhaust all options, never give up and understand the true meaning of persistence.




Jonah’s Mom

Me, The Fatterfly With The Wicked Arse Pimple

Posted on April 10, 2014

Recently I’ve been living in a parallel universe. A place where I am a portly – but beautiful – social butterfly and I have this weird desire to fill my weekends up with social engagements until both Saturday and Sunday are positively brimming with people, places … big purple dildos, far-from-sobering sangria, live theatre tickets and plates upon plates of proud, perky benedicts. I am talking busy to a point where I don’t even see my husband or my kid; I just harass them via text message while living the glitzy, jet set life of a socialite. Sounds grand doesn’t it?

It’s exhausting. There is a reason why I am not “this” girl. After three weekends of shenanigans just like those I described, I was out of money, depressed and listless. Why do people do this? Make friends, go for drinks, eat, drink more drinks, eat again and talk talk talk like they mean something but never say anything at all? I knew I wasn’t missing shit in high school by not being popular. Being a social fatterfly is downright misrepresented to the anti-social public and not for me.

Oh all right, that’s just me stretching my bitch muscles, my serpent’s tongue and tapping into my talent of stringing one word on to the tail of another … this past few weeks have not left me that kind of bitter. For one, the people I was eat, eat, eating with and drink, drink, drinking with are friends, both old and new, but I did find myself feeling a tad strange and out of place a handful of times.


In the end, or each time I walked back home from a friendly brunch or a neighbourhood sex toy party, I felt the inner stir of emotions that I ceaselessly try to keep deep within. Currently, I am surrounded by people who are living lives nothing like my own. It used to be that I had a community around me that was living similar to how I was constructing my own cobblestone path. Friends back home were getting married, having babies, raising kids and so on. I hadn’t realised moving to the big city meant a change in community mentality. People out here tend to be a bit more adventurous and ambitious, maybe consciously choosing family and kid later on in life. It is not a hard and fast rule of course … just something I perceive from where I sit and watch but because of this, me living like a lone wolf out here, when I find myself in the centre of a bunch of single girls living more freely than I can just now, I turn the observation inward.

It’s never a question of being unhappy with being a mom and wife. I love my life. But it is impossible not to be seduced by your friends’ open schedules, new adult careers, expensive apartment accoutrements and new sexual relationships. Yes, I have the golden ticket of marriages and really, my point is not to disparage that fact. It’s just some times, on some days, when faced with a temperamental mini Thor who think he runs your life … you escape and think “what if …” what if there is more than just this?


There was one moment in particular that really got inside my head and fucked with me emotionally for a few days. You wouldn’t expect that during a heart warming meet-up with old friends that you would uncover a sore spot, a hotbed of emotional turmoil but pah-ha! No, that’s the perfect platform for life to have its fun and give you a swift kick in the metaphorical lady brass and bring you down a peg. But there it was, cropped up in the middle of an innocent chat, like a blemish on date night (or for us married folk, like a blemish blowing up on your arse on your pre-established, kid-free doing-it night.) All my life since David Bowie’s greatest hits 1969 – 1996 album and my American Graffiti record, music has been my mecca. You could ask anyone, and they’d all tell you the same. I not only knew my music trivia, I knew the history and I knew all the relevant acts of the moment. It was my first love; my pride, it went with me everywhere and made up the integral elements of my personality. Not to mention got me through adolescent struggle, solidified an adult relationship between my dad and I and more than once saved my life … but that is a story for another blog.

Over our beers, my friend heard me say something about Canadian music and mistook it for me insinuating that Canada didn’t create much listenable music – something which I couldn’t think is less true – but as I was bombarded with questions, I found my usually sassy sharp tongue lagging and my brain too exhausted to give the kid whiplash with my epic musical knowledge. In one moment I was reminded I am not that girl anymore. I used to spend my last red cent on a new album, stay up late listening to radio stations from the UK, and researching bands online till my eyes bled, but for the last almost three years of my life? I have been reading mommy-how-to-books (and clawing out my eyes) and singing, not Vampire Weekend but the theme song to Jelly Jam the kids programme. He spouted off all these bands he assumed I had never heard of and made it look to others as if I was a musical neophyte! Little did he know that yes, I knew of these bands, they were on my iPod and were the lyrics I lived by, the songs I had Jonah listen to while he was still swimming in my stomach … I just sat there paralyzed with apprehension, thinking that if I spoke I wouldn’t be able to keep up. It reinforced how motherhood had begun to sideline me from the things I used to be so entwined with it was impossible to separate me from them.

I fell into a short lived but intense depression for a little while after my weekend forays into the social world. Coming home to my boys buoyed my spirits each time I returned, but the emotions that had been stirred continued to rot my happiness from the inside out.


Until tonight. A late night coffee with my two best girlfriends got me to stop drowning in the dark with the negative and back into the light looking forward. We traded war stories and laughed, pushed each other to the edge of tears, and angry outbursts but by the time the cups were empty, cold and begging for more coffee I was truly uplifted. I saw that having a social life for the sake of having a social life lacked true and tested genuine friendships. I found it exhausting because I let people who I perceived as “having it all” make me feel like being a stay at home mom meant nothing special. That it meant I was nothing more than a breeder with no other facets to me at all. It isn’t anyone’s fault, and I don’t believe my new social circle think any of that … this is just what I do – to myself – when I decide to live like the other side does once in a while. But three weekends was enough to earn me a break methinks … I am looking forward to this weekend when I can get back to the basics.

Bacon, Bowie and arse-pimply lovemaking. That is all the social life I need.


Jonah The Destroyer

Posted on March 18, 2014

My Bestie gets a little scary when you don’t do what she says right the hell then, when her mouth still hangs open from releasing the instruction and the words still reverberate. Recently, she’s been pointing out that my title, as Mommyblogger, should be revoked as I now mostly “mommy” and I don’t “blogger” as much as the title demands.

At first it was a text here and a text there, “Hey, I just blogged. Your turn.” Well, all right that’s acceptable best friend behavior… but then she tried being kind – something that sticks in her craw because it is not her nature to force kindness instead of just kicking your ass – “Oh, my blog is just frivolity, wine and a talking cat. Yours is a beautifully rendered emotional bounty! You must write!” Uh huh. I called bullshit and so that didn’t work either. Needless to say the here and there texts got a little more aggressive and often times weren’t friendly in the least. All the while she continued to bang out posts on her blog no problem – which let me tell you is more spattered ink on fresh parchment because I don’t know where she finds time. Also? She’s one of these people we hate, why? She manages to not only blog but keep a skinny figure by working out every day. Every day, people. Ok? Yeah. Grab your pitchforks and your torches. I feel like burning a bitch – cough cough – I mean witch, tonight!

All right, all right. I digress. As much as I worry her next “nudge” will be carrier pigeons with letter bombs … I can’t tear Bestie a new one because she’s only – in her world – doing me a solid. And, frankly it is better coming from her because I can take her jabs. After twenty years, I am used to them. They only cause pain not soul crushing defeat, the kind I would bear if my Dad even mentioned my spotty blog record. But see, the difference there is that he knows better and I am not afraid of him. No, I’d definitely tear him a new one …

Anyway my darlings, I don’t know why I go on and on about this issue every time I manage to sit down and write. It isn’t fair to shoulder guilt over having other responsibilities; and responsibilities that come in baby form are at the top of the heap, because as I hear, if you ignore them, don’t feed them and so on they grow up to know one thing: How to deploy a can of whoop-ass.

As you can well imagine and if you have toddlers of your own, at the end of the day I am beyond any descriptor of “tired”. When hubby gets home, I am so devoid of human emotion I can’t even think to write, and the thought of trying to create ingenious word treasure under the duress of a screeching nineteen month old makes my synapses misfire anyway.

It is a damn shame in any case because the reason I am so exhausted is because the range of emotions we go through as moms on a day to day basis is getting not only extreme but is probably a danger to our aging hearts and cardiovascular systems. For everything astounding Jonah is achieving these days, he is coupling each one with a major piss-off. I spend way too much time sorting out how could something so cute, a kid so capable of heart-warming gestures be the same ugly knee-high brute that throws your phone into the bathtub? Hubby denies his spawn had malicious intent but I still remain steadfast in my belief that he was trying to electrocute me. Silly tiny thing has no idea what it takes to take down Rome … yet watching my cell phone sink down to the bottom of the filled tub, well, it hurt Rome. Rome cried.

Still, I am not defeated. Why? Because the smarter part of me knows that Jonah hasn’t brought out his Trojan horse quite yet. I know the juice spitting, isn’t the horse. I know the haphazard slapping, ain’t the horse (though it ain’t no pony either), no. I know that even the public tantrums or the war against all high chairs, and booster seats; none of it is the horse. Frankly, I don’t even fear the horse … I fear what happens next after the belly of the beast splits open.

I wrote a lot of notes to Bestie in History class … so don’t tell me how it ends.


Post Script – Hubby tells me Rome and the Trojan horse are not related. Apparently I’m thinking the Greeks and Troy … Well, excuse me. I am a writer not a bloody historian. All I know about the Greeks is that I like their moussaka. It begins and ends for me, at food. That is all.

Captivity & Selfishness

Posted on February 11, 2014

Twenty months ago I was big, round and glowing. I was at once experiencing the elation of the highs and navigating the deepest trenches of the lows. Pregnancy was this amazing chance to reflect – however emotionally straining – on the life I had led thus far. It was unbound time to reflect upon the things I had achieved and the things I hadn’t yet achieved. Pregnant with my first child, and being home with several weeks of early maternity leave was a gift that gave me the time to accept the changes I was experiencing in my life – both the physical and metaphorical – in these beautiful long expanses of time, completely unencumbered by any of life’s necessary annoyances.

This is the only time in a woman’s life where she can spend as much of that time as she desires, alone. Completely. And, even though I was laden with pregnancy in every way, it hadn’t come to pass yet that I would realize that such a time as that would never again be a presence in my life. Nor would it ever be an option. Even now, sitting in this coffee shop with a mere hour to myself, my mind is at home, with Jonah, split up between worry, planning and organizing … It sounds like an uncomplicated truth that I should have known, I know. This is motherhood.

After baby came, I wasn’t me anymore. I was “Mom”.  And now eighteen months later, I am remorseful that “Mom” can’t seem to carve out any time for that young girl who always needed time to be by herself completely and unencumbered in order to survive. This “Mom” character doesn’t even remember that girl’s name.

Being a new mom comes with it many challenges, some of them expected and some you wouldn’t see coming even if you were a prophet sitting next to a psychic watching a movie of your life on a loop. But still, I should have seen it coming that I am the type of woman that might slowly grow bitter over her time being constantly predefined by someone else’s needs. (Just deliver my mom of the year award to the back door, thanks.) There are times in the day where I know if I could only step away for an hour, that I would be a better mother by at least ten-fold. But with no money for daycare, no other friends with babies and a husband who is already doing all that he can to alleviate the stress, I can’t make moments like that exist. And, remember? I only have one kid and no part time job, and plans to have second one sooner than later, yet here I am complaining and mourning that old life that I chose to divert my path from … this puts me in mind to agree that I am that selfish bitch as someone once called me.

I have too many thorns in my side that are so close together they are rubbing the skin gathered between their points raw. I know that when Jonah dumps out the entire bathroom shelf and shuttles everything water-weary into the shower, that I am not crying and yelling because he is doing something horribly unexpected and not totally toddler-normal, I am simply already in a state of emotional disarray. Really, I am projecting the thorns outward and blaming their pointed sting on him.

Is someone like me supposed to be a mother? Isn’t it about sacrifice and acceptance of your new normal not bitter resentment of times gone by? Didn’t I choose this path for myself and what must my son think of me when I am in total bathroom floor breakdown mode?

It’s only been eighteen months and by all accounts from friends and family, I have an angel as a son … so this is why I end up here writing this letter to the ether. Better out than in, they say and better inflicted upon the anonymous readers who are at least able to distances themselves from the sometimes train wreck of a mommy-blogger, than it would be to let Jonah peel me up off the floor after another epic moment of losing it.

The reality is that any time I write and contribute to this blog/journal/complaint register/time capsule/free therapy or do anything else that doesn’t involve my mom persona … I am on borrowed time. Someone else’s time. Because there just isn’t a recess or coffee break from parenthood and even if there was it is impossible to divorce yourself from who you are, even for fifteen minutes. You are mom, and the mom part of you and that girl from your past are one in the same. And it’s not about us anymore. So it is time to stop being allergic to the responsibility it takes to parent.

Though, that being said, it is therapeutic to write a post like a petulant child. Try it some time.

You’re On My List, Kid.

Posted on January 22, 2014

I am at that point where I’ve neglected my blog long enough now that so much has happened with Jonah that is worthy of an update except all the memories are bleeding together making themselves tricky to articulate. The mentally filed away stories are backing up and the endless parade of words in my head are forming sentence after sentence, back-to-back, thirty miles long and my fingers are jerking nervously and cramping up with anxiety over the sheer weight of responsibility they have of typing all this mismanaged, chaotically organized, mental calamity of material down. I don’t even think my brain can recount half of what I want to be immortalized in this, this sorry attempt at self-publishing glory … Can I get an amen? Parents?
photo 1

I’ve said this before, but it warrants repeating (If not for you, dear readers, then for my fingers. A warm-up typing exercise, something familiar to bang out before all hell breaks loose and the real rapid key tapping begins.) Somewhere around Jonah’s twelfth month everything just started to rev up and change. Rapidly. And not all the change has been fun happy times. No, and to this end, I ask you what is more entertaining to read than a mother deciding to use her blog and her supposed writing talents to air her grievances and point the metaphorical witchy-poo finger while complaining via the interwebs with unbridled vigour? Sounds like your Tuesday night dream scenario, doesn’t it? Let me oblige you, my dear ones.

List of Grievances:

One: What the frigging frig is with my eighteen month old son’s favourite word? “No.” This little gem comes in many forms:
The crying no – “No. No. no, no, no, … no-no-no-no-no nooooooooo…” and cue total meltdown.
The adamant no – “No!” followed by the throwing down of whatever it was that displeased Prince Jo. Usually messy, like a masticated blueberry onto unsuspecting/undeserving white linens.
The questioning no – Asking him a question you know he knows the answer to and getting the inevitable, impish “No…?” and then the turd turns and runs away from you. Every. Time.
The repetitious no – Jonah repeats my “No. Don’t touch that.” with his “No.” FOUR HUNDRED TIMES but continues to do the thing I asked him not to do. This one is my favourite.

Two, three and four: My son’s hatred and refusal to sit in a stroller for any amount of time, followed by grievance numéro trois which is his refusal to walk on his own while holding onto a hand, and then our grievance number four, his reaction to being guided on his direction – while not holding a hand or listening – that reaction being “No!” or screaming indiscriminately. Banshee screaming. Until we give up and let him walk off the sidewalk, into walls, off into traffic, or straight into a stranger’s path.

Five: Scratching, biting, and clawing. What. The. Hell. Jonah is really into monkey-see-monkey-do. But when I scratch, bite and claw daddy, kid. I’m just trying to remind him who is boss … or we are practicing making another YOU. Time to learn not to repeat everything mom and dad do. Really, this will only serve you well.

Six: The I-am-almost-two-going-to-show-you-the-kind-of-hell-you-can-expect-from-me tantrums: … yup. I have no words.
At the end of the day though, there is what you might liken to a settling of accounts. I might be tired, weary and scratched up when I crawl into bed, but still, I take part in my usual nocturnal ritual without fail. I flip back through all the pictures on my phone that I take during day and every night I realize the same thing. In between the meltdowns, the screeching, the fluctuating appetite battles, the nap wars, the mess, the stress, the worry and everything else that parenting demands of us … there are these amazing milestones he’s reaching for and surpassing. They are numerous and plentiful, they are each amazing and precious and serve as a reminder to me that my son remains a happy, full of life creature that is absorbing life with a vivacious thirst for discovery that I hope he continues to keep even if that means he will always be a mischievous little explorer and boundary pusher.

photo 2

Every morning he calls for “mommy” and the list of grievances is wiped clean. And you know, it’s probably designed this way … because I know my kid has his own list of grievances with his mama but every time he finds comfort in my hug and I dry his tears, I know he’s clearing his list too. Who knew this relationship would be all about give and take, even this early on.

An Ode to an Aunt – Who is Owed so Much

Posted on December 25, 2013

I meant to write this the day we left. But like usual, we were in such a hurry to hoist all the boxes out in an orderly fashion, trying to make sure we left things the way we found them – a total failure on our part, our one year old and pets have each left their own delightful and unique mark – and even though at the time the move itself felt all-consuming, I still detected a sadness stir as the boxes shifted from one place to another. We were, once again, packed and moving. Leaving yet another home. Not terribly unlike the moves before, but still this was different enough to know in my gut that this home had come to mean much more than any of the others, and at the end of it all, it wasn’t easy to leave.

When it finally sat empty, in the back of my mind I could see the imprints of the memories that remained: Dramatic scenes, like Jeff and I on our couch that first November both sick with pneumonia, cuddling because we thought ourselves lovers only inches from grim death. Hilarious memories, like me at seven months pregnant, naked and spread-eagle on the floor crying dramatically over my oversized baby-belly. Romantic memories of the nights filled with long conversation between my husband and I, making our marriage ever more solid. Even memories of unconscious quirky habits, like watching to see when my Aunt’s bedroom light would turn off, just like she said her mom used to do when my grandmother lived beside her in that very same apartment.

This apartment was my grandmother’s last home. It was Jonah’s first home. And for Jeff and myself, this apartment was more than a rent-free roof right in the heart of Vancouver … we made some of our biggest strides within it. Jeff graduated university, we had our first child, and Jonah lived out his first year with family by his side. We never paid a hydro bill, we never saw a maintenance account, we never had to worry about anything you would think two thirty year olds should have to worry about. My Aunt said, “It was what your grandmother would have wanted.” And, while I think to some extent that is true, I think there is more truth in saying that I have an Aunt that lives by one creed: why take when you can give. And that barely begins expresses properly how over the last three years she was a mother to us both. All at once she was a protector and provider. She was supportive and present. She gave advice and she kept us company. She was there when Jeff and I were down and out and she showed up every time without complaint or reservation. She was and continues to be the guard in our corner, our ace in the pocket and a guiding light in our little life … and these are only to name a few of the generosities she bestowed without giving anything a second thought.

A deep feeling of gratitude lies within me when I think about how my Aunt embraced my husband as part of the Mapleton clan. Unlike my mother and I – two women who tend to clobber wildly and loudly with our boisterous love – my Aunt is a very gentle creature. A quality I’ve admired about her since I was a little girl, because I have sadly always been a tad too rough & tumble. And, to this day I tend to be a little manic in my mood swings and emotions, and in the past I’ve worried over whether Jeff had anyone around that was just more his speed, a bit more like him. A gentle, quiet and sensitive soul my husband carries within and some times life among the Mapletons – well, we worry can be a little more overbearing than such a soul can bear. Whether she sensed it or not, it has never mattered. My Aunt was the one that made a conscious effort to make Jeff comfortable in ways that were just perfectly his speed. And, because of this she made a connection with Jeff unlike any of the ones the rest of us had managed. Jeff found a friend and confidant next door that seemed to really understand him on levels many fail to even realize are there and she took the time to see him for who he is … a brilliant but quiet man. My Aunt found ways to bring the best out in him and I know from experience that my husband only shows his true inner self to a select few, those he trusts implicitly and respects immensely. My Aunt’s warmth, kindness and wisdom truly built a sanctuary for my husband. She contributed crucially to his well-being just by being his confidant and the day she moved away and was no longer right next door, Jeff turned to me and said, “But what will I do without Marjorie?”

In writing this and upon reflecting I realize now what her contributions to our lives really mean. I always liked to think that it was your duty, or your chance in life to make your mark upon the world. Change it, better it, leave your legacy and get into the history books … but the world as I know it has been marked by many and I wonder now if that is what we are meant to do in this life. I don’t know if I’ll ever change the world for the better … but I know how to change the lives of the loved ones around me. It’s just a matter of following my Aunt’s example: give more and take less – and you will change the world – their world.