No one told me that somehow when you grow a human being in your uterus, the physical changes are not just stretch marks, extra-belly skin, sagging breasts and dark circles. They are also extra laugh lines, and somehow a weird physiological change that somehow makes your tear-ducts more sensitive.
My husband (then my boyfriend) once commented on my lack of emotion, pointing out that I don't cry at sad movies. For the record, I have known my husband almost 17 years and have NEVER seen him cry, so the whole "people who live in glass houses..." (BTW - after being together 17 years I now am ofter called "crazy" "dramatic" and "overly-emotional" so I have lost my tough-as-nails reputation.)
Besides, I argued, I did cry when I watched Black Beauty. Remember at the end when the boy is riding the cart by the field? And the horse recognizes him even though he is all grown up? And the old horse starts running as fast as he can to catch the boy (now a man) and get is attention? Totally cried!
But as a mother, something has changed in me, and now I can cry anytime, anywhere. Technically, I should consider acting 'cause there is no need for fake tears for me.
Things that make me cry now, as a mom, that didn't affect me at all before include (but are definitely not limited to):
Terry Fox. Just thinking about him makes me cry. I don't know if it is in amazement at his story, his courage, his strength or that he didn't finish his run but we all remember him and know what he did for cancer. Every September when the kids come home from school and talk about Terry Fox, I open up one of our books and start reading about him and just cry and cry. Silent hot tears thinking about him. Summer of 2009 when we drove up to Thunder Bay, we saw where he ran his last mile and had to stop. OK. Tears starting....
Remembrance Day. Starting in high school I bought and wore poppies because I took the subway to school and had to walk by those veterans every day. My school was right near Queens Park, and for a few years when I was in the choir I actually sang at one of the government buildings. I can still sing, "In Flanders Fields" and "Abide with me." Now, I want to cry when I see an aging veteran, so few of them around, their hands shaking as they want to pin your poppy to your coat, right over your heart. I think about everything that they went through, and wonder how they don't cry every time they put a poppy on some stranger's jacket.
Now don't even get me started on our Highway of Heros and the repatriation ceremonies.
Finally, a few weeks ago I sat mesmerized with the rest of the world watching the Chilean Miners. 69 days! Trapped underground. I was just so happy that they were all OK and all finally out. Tears of relief and joy for them and their families. And when their kids saw their dads?
The latest was this morning, watching this video on YouTube . OK. I didn't actually know that Rick Mercer and Mark Tewksbury were Gay.
There are so many things that touch me now as a mom that I think I just didn't notice before. It is like being a mother is an open wound, susceptible to all of the pain, hurt, love and joy that others feel. Like a major empathy nerve.
Here is a story that can also make me cry - to all of the moms out there who always have a Kleenex shoved up their sleeve:
"Mom, why are you crying?" he asked his mom.
"Because I'm a woman" she told him.
"I don't understand," he said.
His mom just hugged him and said, "and you never will." Later the little boy asked his father, "Why does mother seem to cry for no reason?"
"All women cry for no reason" was all his dad could say.
The little boy grew up and became a man, still wondering why women cry.
Finally he put in a call to GOD. When GOD got on the phone the man said, "GOD, why do women cry so easily?"
"When I made women she had to be special. I made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world; yet, gentle enough to give comfort.
I gave her an inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times comes from her children.
I gave her a hardness that allows her to keep going when everyone else gives up and take care of her family through sickness and fatigue without complaining.
I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all circumstances, even when her child has hurt her very badly. This same sensitivity helps her to make a child's boo-boo feel better and shares in her teenagers anxieties and fears.
I gave her strength to carry her husband through his faults and fashioned her from his rib to protect his heart.
I gave her wisdom to know that a good husband never hurts his wife, but sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him unfaltering.
I gave her a tear to shed, it's hers exclusively to use whenever it is needed. It's her only weakness; it's a tear for mankind."
--- Author Unknown ---
I am a pretty secret voter (no comments here on the election yesterday in Toronto) but I think it is important for my children to understand that we are lucky to live in a democratic society, and we need to exercise our right to vote.
My 8-year-old easily understands the role of mayor, and after a discussion those of the coucillors and even the school trustee. He also understands that he has 10 years before he can vote. The younger two understand that the "mayor is in charge of the city" with the help of the coucillors, but really they both just want to be mayors and run Toronto.
The polling station was close and in a home for the elderly, so up we walked after school. The seniors were all clustered around the front entrance, greeting all voters with smiles and waves. My children are always friendly, and a got a kick out of being asked over and over again if they were voting. Daughter even tried to hand in a folded piece of construction paper as I handed in my ID and voters card.
Unfortunately, while talking about voting, democracy, "running for office", Mayors, candidates, councillors, trustees, etc. I neglected to mention that most people like to keep their votes PRIVATE! So while I connecting the arrow behind a little cardboard screen (and the kids were recapping the sharpies wondering aloud why the voters didn't recap their own) Son One was reading over my shoulder.
Yes, thrilled that the kids can read. What a mile stone, rah rah! HOWEVER - darn it! - weren't those days easier when you could just spell out "S-A-N-T-A" or "T-R-E-A-T"?
Never mind Son One announcing to the entire poll, "Hey! You voted for .....!"
Daughter is having her first school-friend playdate today.
But she has informed me that, "it is not a date!"
There is a boy in her class, from SK in her JK/SK split. After school last week they were playing together, as they have since the first week of school. He came over to me and asked where we lived. He then told me that I should write it down on a piece of paper and give it to him the next day so that he could come over.
Yes, pretty forward for an SK. But he does have a twelve-year-old brother who will be 14 in November (seriously! When kids talk, you just can't make this stuff up!)
His mother and I emailed back and forth and made arrangements for a playdate today after school. When I informed Daughter, she replied, "It is not a date! Just a play."
Of course! She is 4 - and she is not allowed to date until she is 18... or maybe 21. Her father and I are still negotiating that one.
Anyway, this morning I decided that I should warn her to keep her clothes on. She is a bit of a nudist, and her brother's friends are starting to ask why she always seems to run around without clothes on. And the last thing I need is for a "let's play doctor" incident on my watch. So I warned her to keep her clothes on, and she started laughing at me!
"No honey!" I said, "I am serious!"
"I know!" she answered, "that is why it is so funny!"
The two of them are now playing upstairs in her bedroom. Yes, the door is open, and I have casually gone up to check on them three times.
I never had these worries with the boys. Then again, my boys have never wanted a girl over for a playdate.
Last Friday I took all three kids to buy Halloween Costumes.
Son One, obviously the most enthusiastic about all holidays, had been bugging Husband and I for a while.
Back when I was growing up, my mom would talk to us about what we wanted to be, and then painstakingly design and sew three costumes. Every. Single. Year. Be it Raggedy Ann, an angel, a devil, little Red Riding Hood, little Bo Peep, or my favourite - three different colours of matching crayon costumes for my sisters and I, they were home made.
Now costumes are so cheap (relatively) to buy that we've lost the homemade ones.
So, instead, we went to the party super store north of Evans past Islington.
Walked down aisles filled with so many gruesome displays that I had to carry daughter to the back of the store with the eyes squeezed shut and her head buried in my shoulder.
The back of the store, to where they have wall upon wall of pictures of costumes. You pick, right down your size and number, and look for help.
We had a wonderful woman help us, allowing me to try the kids costumes on over the clothes (the line-up for the change-rooms was long) and running to the back to get me different costumes or sizes as necessary.
Daughter, of course, is a pink princess. However, her dress lights up. Son Two is a Golden Dragon Ninja. He didn't know what he wanted to be, but seems happy with his choice. Son One really wanted to be a hippie, but they didn't have a prepacked version. So instead he found 20's Gangster.
Of course they all insist on coming home and wearing their costumes around, "for Daddy." Already Son One's tommy gun is broken and Daughter is losing some of the lights.
Now I just have to keep reminding them that it is far to early to carve the pumpkins. Of course I am also putting off the Halloween candy purchase, no matter how tempting, because I just know that I will have to run out the day before anyway.
This weekend was a wonderful Thanksgiving for me and my family. As life gets faster and busier, I like to focus on family time and appreciating each of my children more and more. And appreciating Husband more, too.
Daughter, starting JK, has become such a little girl! But a big, little girl. She has outgrown her size three clothes, grabbing her snack and backpack and heading out the door with her big brothers each morning. She is still the little delicious girl, small enough to carry everywhere! And now also getting big enough to be more independent.
A few weeks ago, on one of the rainy morning before school, I dropped all three of them off at the gate. It was Daughter's first school day with rain, and I asked her brothers to introduce her to the rain-day-protocol (through the main doors, to your classroom before the bell). The two boys BOTH offered to take her to her class, shared the responsibility (one holding her hand, the other carrying her backpack) and off the three of them went. That was a teary mom moment for me, realizing my good kids, how the three of them have one another to rely on when they need to.
Son Two has entered Grade One this year. He takes school more seriously than Son One, but doesn't say much. Bringing home his perfect spelling test each week, I marvel at his beautiful printing. He is quiet and reserved, but is going through a phase where Dad and I are actually allowed to hug and cuddle him lots. I am so lucky!
Son One is in Grade Three. According to him, he is quite "famous." You see, Son Two is in a spit, so the Grade Twos want to hang out with his big brother, thus making Son One think he is famous. Love it! I actually like him developing some self-confidence as he has a tendency to get down on himself a little too easily.
I am so thankful for my three wonderful children. Yes, they are definitely not perfect. But I adore them anyway, and they mean the world to me. Happy Thanksgiving!
OK. I'm bad. Here is the coles notes version of my September:
Kids started school
Daughter loves JK
Nana broke her leg at school
Lost all health cards
Son Two - first major allergic reaction
Daughter hates JK - carried into class kicking and screaming
Hockey Select Tryouts
Grandparents go to Greece
Stepped in a nail
Needed a tetanus shot
Grandparents return from Greece
Son Two's First Cavity filled
Kids started hockey
Moms started hockey
Cousin Birthday Party
Dad started hockey
Wait - still soccer
Swimming lessons - sons
Swimming lessons - Daughter - wrong pool!
Allergist Visit - yes, we should get rid of the cat. MEOW!
I always used September as the ramp-up month, but this year I had to really hit the ground running, and without much success. At this point I am already thinking about Christmas presents and my snow tires. Somehow, I am forgetting Halloween and the costumes, candies and preparation.
Tomorrow is back to school. For the past two weeks I have been wandering around singing with a huge grin. The Staples ad with the dad and the song, "it's the most wonderful time of the year" ? That's me.
Son One goes into grade three (dreading the EQAOs), Son One attends full day grade one, first time eating lunch at school, and Daughter starts JK.
Daughter, being the third born and a January birth date, has been ready for JK for the past year. In fact, last fall she was hangin' on the playground with last year's JKs lamenting, "yeah, my mom hasn't signed me up for school yet." The day after her fourth birthday she grabbed her knapsack and stood in the school yard hoping that they would take her.
She has been counting down the days, shopping for supplies, memorizing her teacher's name and generally very excited for school to start.
Complete melt-down at dinner when Husband asked me to make sure to take the camera (he cannot make it, and this is the first time he has missed one of the kids first days of school) and I mentioned that we would be walking, not driving, tomorrow morning (we live 1.8 km from school, so not a close walk, but parking is always awful on the first day.)
Crying, tears, wails, "I don't want to go to school!" Even her brothers, who have done nothing but complain about going back to school at every opportunity all summer, stepped in to talk her down and try to convince her that is was fun, both boys agreeing that the first and last days of the year were the best!
I had been so excited about school. Both because finally I would have all of them in school, and because I have always loved anything "new."
Until Daughter started melting down, I hadn't really thought of the fact that my baby, the last of my bunch, was starting school. She waits on the precipice. All of her innocent days of lolly-gagging and lazing about soon to be replaced by school. That's it. The game changes. Daughter will go tomorrow and become a child who attends school. No longer will she be this baby who I carry around, dote on and indulge. She will be an independent little school girl, making her own friends, having adventures and experiencing new things every day without me.
At the dinner table she climbed into my lap. Crying real tears that dripped onto my shirt. Her nose running right down her lip and into her mouth. Her lips, pouted in the perfect bow that is so unique to her where they meet in the middle without touching on the sides. She doesn't want to go to school tomorrow. She really, really doesn't. She couldn't be more sure that she definitely did not want to go to school or learn to read EVER!
I picked her up and carried her into the living room and a more comfortable chair. As daughter snuggled up, crying into the crook of my shoulder a neck, I actually started question whether or not I really needed to send her to school. What would the harm be of staying home with me for one more year? She and I are so close, she is so connected to me. I love the weight of her in my arms, the softness of her cheek and hair when we cuddle, and the way she looks me straight in the eyes about a hundred times a day to tell me that she loves me.
Wait. I need to snap out of it. She needs to go to school. And after 8 1/2 years of committing myself daily to my children, I need the break.
She fell asleep in my arms and I lay her down in her bed.
Now I am back in the kitchen humming, "the most wonderful time of the year" to myself as I pack snacks and lunches. Good luck tomorrow, fellow Mommies!
We have been spending some time this week rearranging the boys room. The boys share a room, and we had bought bunk beds that also work as separate beds a few years ago.
Son Two, thinking himself mature as he enters grade three, has asked for a desk in his room. The idea of sending him to his room to do his homework instead of fighting with him to do his home at the kitchen table while I am making dinner, really, really appeals to me.
We spent a few minutes searching through the IKEA catalogue and online, and decided on the Micke Desk with shelf and the Moses chair.
Today we ventured to IKEA to make the purchase. First, we waited in the longest line-up that I had ever seen at IKEA for lunch. And they no longer serve chicken buddies as a kids meal.
After lunch we walked around, and around, and around until we came to the desks and chairs. Then Daughter needed to pee, and needed to go all the way back to the IKEA restaurant for the washroom.
Looking at the desks I decided that the Micke with the top part looked too small and childish. Instead, I picked out the Micke large two person side-by-side version which actually seems sort of perfect for both boys. I then told them that the only chairs that would work with with the desk were the cheap ones, but they could each choose a colour. They also each chose a garbage can on their way out (luckily only $2.99 so I didn't really care that they couldn't agree on a colour.)
We are home now, and the desk is sitting in the back of the minivan waiting for Daddy to come home from work.
The boys, however, have brought in their chairs and put them together. Completely by themselves without my help.
Now, there are many adults I know who are afraid of the IKEA directions and their lack of language, but the boys worked together (shock of shockers) and had the chairs assembled in less than 10 minutes. I just had to remind them to put the plastic in the garbage and recycle the cardboard.
Soon they will have a lovely IKEA desk set up in bedroom. And soon they will be back and school and back to homework.
I've fallen in love a few times this summer. No, this isn't a secret from my Husband. He knows that I am a hopeless romantic, and fall in and out of love with the seasons.
This summer, I have fallen in love twice.
First, I fell in love with knitting. There is something amazing about creating something beautiful and wearable with my own two hands. I have my Nana to thank for teaching me to knit 31 years ago. I was probably a lousy student, but I have that desire to create and so I came back to knitting, and now am spending far too much time planning future projects. So far this summer I have knit a scarf (yes, summer...) a baby blanket, and two hats (yes, summer! I know, I know...)
Unfortunately, not only have I fallen for knitting, but I have fallen for purchasing yarn online. KnitPicks. I've learned that there is knitter slang, "SABLE: Stash Amassed Beyond Life Expectancy." Stash, for those of you who can't guess, is the yarn. Yes, this actually means that you have so much yarn, and so many projects planned, that you couldn't possibly finish them all before you die... Pleasant thought.
My other new summer love is tea. But not just any tea. Life Long Oolong from David's Tea. Again, in the spring if you would have told me that I would amass a stash of tea that I may not be able to drink before death (or before it goes bad) I wouldn't have believed you. In fact, I didn't even own a kettle a month ago. Seriously!
But now it is tea and knitting, knitting and tea. Iced tea. Hot tea.
Tea whilst knitting.
Currently, I am using some "stash" to make a dress for Daughter. For the record, because I tend to be a "loose" knitter (no comments, please!) it took me no fewer than 9 tries to get going on the dress! Now I am finally on my way. She wants me to finish so she can wear it to the first day of school. Hate to tell her, but it may not happen...
Ah, summer love. Question - will you still be there for me when the leaves start to fall and the sky turns grey?
Today the kids and I attended a Hasbro Holiday toy event. The kids were invited to take a look at some of the new toys coming out this fall for Christmas. Yes, somewhere, someone is already thinking of Christmas shopping (and someone really crazy may have already even started their purchasing!)
My first thought when we were invited was to say no. Not because I don't like attending events with my kids, but they have been crazy this summer and I was concerned that they could follow the "rules" of the day.
For days I have been preparing them:
No fighting (yes, always on the list at least twice)
Yep. Lots of "NO"s. Perhaps a better parent would have been focusing instead on the positive, what they could do, not what they couldn't. But I really just wanted them to get out of their without wrecking the place and embarrassing me. I did try to make them think that playing with toys that weren't even in stores yet was pretty neat, but we settled on it being an opportunity to write an early Christmas list. Very early.
My plan was to leave extra early so that we were not in a rush. Of course, we were rushed. And I was confused about parking downtown (almost parked in a tow-away zone that turned into street parking at 6 pm.) And the kids don't walk as fast as I do. And I wasn't sure exactly were I was going, though I had the address and had googled and mapquested it. Twice.
But we arrived, on time, slightly out of breath, and sweaty.
The representatives were amazing, and the kids loved playing with all of the toys. Son One even loved the preschool toys and girl toys.
Daughter, predictably, latched on to Baby Alive, and decided that I needed to make sure that her Christmas list asked for two. The boys liked this crazy Nerf machine gun thing, and an amazing Tonka Monster Ricochet Truck.
I will review some of the toys that I loved and I think would make great gifts this Christmas in another post. Yes, I took notes.
Daughter, aged four, was the only one of the three who really complained when leaving because she just didn't understand why we couldn't just buy the Baby Alive now. I mean, they were new and just sitting there in their boxes! She "pleased" and "pretty pleased" and even "por favoured" all of the women there at least 20 times. I am sure another 20 and they would have caved just to get her out of there.
They did leave us with a goody-bag. The kids were thrilled. And I was please that we made it through the morning without reining supreme chaos on a downtown office.