Cheering for the Good Guys

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I have daughters; two of them. Beauties both…stunners in fact, and that’s a blessing and a curse. Or maybe that’s two blessings and two curses? (I’ll research the mathematical grammar or grammatical mathematics on that and get back to you).

Either way, my two daughters are as smart, funny, clever, witty, bright, sharp and amazing as they are gorgeous (yeah, I’m that mama…modest, humble, blah blah).  That means they attract a fair bit of attention from the opposite sex. Weird thing though; they’ve both had some pretty bad luck with guys.

But something unimaginable seems to have happened lately…they have BOTH begun tentative relationships with (shhhhh) NICE boys. I know! Can it be true? Can they really both have found boys who understand how to be kind, respectful, gentle, NICE, at the same time?! Are there actually TWO nice boys in this little town? Amazing!

Young boys don’t always seem to know a girlfriend is kind of a privilege; not just standard issue with your first job and your learner’s license! I’m sure there are plenty of nice young gentlemen out there, but recent experience suggests a generation of x-box cussing, rap video influenced, “homo” bashing gangstas have contributed to the low expectations of my daughters and their friends. What a shame.

It’s so beautiful to see them start to shimmer now. What a cool thing to see them honored. How wonderful to see them with young men who would rather talk than text, who take them on dates… dinner, a movie (even paying sometimes), and who aren’t looking to hear the punch line before the joke… As a mom, it’s so nice to know that someone besides me and their Dad is telling them they are beautiful, funny, smart…amazing.

These relationships might or might not last. You can be sure their impact will be lasting though. These “good guys” are going to raise the bar; they’re going to set new, higher standards for my daughters. It won’t be easy accepting crap treatment after being treated like a prize… and I’ll always be grateful to these young men (and their families who raised them well) for raising my girls’ expectations.

Cheers to the good guys!

Of COURSE you’re my favourite child!

I love all three of my children equally, all the same, completely alike, except totally different. And sometimes it feels more like frothing rage or teeming frustration but really, it’s love… great big shiny gulps of love taken in deep breaths or short gasps.

It ain’t always a picnic, as we all know, but damn, it can be fun.  I can’t get over how every phase for each kid is still totally newImage to me. I remember that from when they were little; when our second was born, we thought we knew what it meant to raise a child…we were pros. HA!! They keep teaching you, again and again, that you don’t know much after all.

And I keep learning. My eldest is off on a date…that’s kind of cool once I stop obsessing.  I can’t ask for the guy’s vital stats now that she’s 19, and technically an adult. My son is… well, I can’t give you a certain answer on that since he was gone when I got home from the movie but hey, he’s 17. He’ll be back soon as he can’t cook and has no money. Youngest gal, home on her own when I returned had cleaned the kitchen. Yes. That’s what I said… cleaned the kitchen. Did I ask her? Nope. Was there any form of bribery? Nope. She wanted to be nice… aaaaaaaahh. That was a great big shiny gulp, right there.

How cool is that?  Today was her turn to inspire that little glow of parental satisfaction. Maybe tomorrow she’ll be the one making me tear my hair while her brother makes me laugh like a fool and act like a dorky kid… he’s good at that. And big sister makes me shine from the inside when she talks about her plans for school next fall… where she’ll live and what she’ll do.

I can look any one of them in the eye on any given day and truthfully, in that moment, declare them my favourite. And they CAN all be my favourite, in their own way. My eldest is my perfect, cherirshed first born. My son is the best boy I could ever imagine having, and my youngest is my favourite youngest, the darling baby of the family.

And I know I am the best mother in the world… no really…that’s what the Mother’s Day cards all say, so I know they must mean it, right? I’m their favourite Mom, and that’s pretty great.

Vacation Planning Intoxication Syndrome

I have developed a serious case of VPIS. This happens to me about this time of year every couple of years, and it has a significant impact on my ability to perform my normal day to day activities. I am often dizzy, heart racing, flushed, distracted and prone to long periods of time I fully cannot account for. 

VPIS, or Vacation Planning Intoxication Syndrome is pretty much my favourite malady. Around Christmas I begin considering options, tossing out destination ideas to my family and seeing what bounces back. This year I started with Istanbul…”Hey!!! Let’s go to TURKEY!!!!!” They looked at me like I was mad. I went on about the history, the friendliness of the people, the complete “other-ness” of the experience, etc. etc.  The girls wanted to know if they would be allowed to wear shorts or if they’d get arrested for doing so. Hmmmm. I’m feeling a bit dizzy now….

Okay, how about a week in Paris, go through the Chunnel for a week in London then fly to Rome for a week in Italy?! Awesome, said the girls…eyes glazing over like Mom’s as they anticipated gorgeous Italian boys on vespas and the romantic possibilities of such a holiday (VPIS is contagious) Husband looks baleful and comments on the weather in March… not hot. Son says something like “I don’t speak French. Let’s go to Mexico”. I reminded him he doesn’t speak Spanish either. He says “but if I don’t know what to say at least I can go to the beach”.  Valid point. So now I’m a bit woozy….

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The eastern most tip of Isla Mujeres, stunning, fierce and so beautiful.

So it’s Mexico. I adore Mexico, have travelled there 5 times and am happy to return. The selection of a country however does not a vacation make. So…. where? At last we’ve made our decisions, planning to fly to Puerto Vallarta, stay in Bucerias, Yelapa and Sayulita. Lots of beach time, lots of family time and lots of relaxation. Flushed, heart beating out of my chest… sweaty palms… we’re GOING TO MEXICO!!!!!

And every day, I’m online researching. Researching condos, activities, restaurants, modes of transport, possible day trips etc. etc. etc. I can talk of little else. My husband, who never complains, concedes I am driving him the tiniest bit mad.

Fair enough. I will wade through the dizzying options myself, relish the flutter in my chest that comes so regularly when I consider the possibilities, imagine myself in the VERY SPOT that stunning photo was taken from, and remember the feel of the gorgeous Mexican sun on my winter weary face. 

And the countdown begins in earnest… is it too soon to pack?!

*#$@!*!! Swearing

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I curse like a sailor. No, not quite true. In my HEAD I curse like a sailor, and occasionally, around a select few friends I will let the f-bombs fly with heady abandon.  Around my kids I would like to think I am more restrained. Yeah. I’d like to think that. Then I remember the swearing jar my then 5 year old daughter insisted I pay into…frequently. She ran a tight ship. “MOMMY!!! That one was 5 dollars!!” she’d say, hands on her hips and a stern look on her little face.

When my kids were younger and would use strong language (I don’t know WHERE she picked that up!), I would caution them that those are power words; use them too often and they lose their power. That worked, for a while. I strongly believe that upon stubbing your toe, nothing makes you feel better than a loudly hollered “DAMMIT!!”

Now, they’re all teenagers. I have a reasonable tolerance for moderate cussing, but I have never before lived with a boy who learned to curse on X-box live. Words I have only ever THOUGHT (with my eyes closed tight and my heart racing) drop out of his mouth like nothing, rapid fire, casually and without context or meaning. These aren’t power words… these are facial flatulence, and I’m tired of hearing them.

You could say it’s my fault, and you may be right. If you are lazy about swearing or have a potty mouth yourself on occasion, I guess you reap what you sow.

But there’s something new in this internet age, something so careless in our kids. Here they are, more open than ever to all kinds of exposures and influence and they are almost inured, immune to what shocks the living daylight out of me.

I guess that would be me too if my earliest exposure to “porn” hadn’t been a well worn copy of Judy Blume’s Forever , passed from girl to girl in my grade 6 class (falling open to the good parts of course). Words my parents never spoke in front of the children are all over the TV (and not bleeped like when I was a kid).  If I were a teenager now, I could accidentally trip over hard core porn searching for Christmas craft ideas online, or by following the friendly comment on my instagram feed.  Swearing is… well, so ordinary. No big deal.

I know my kids are smart. I know they’ve read books, traveled, been exposed to big ideas and thoughts but they still curse like fishwives. To me, it’s a sign of a really weak imagination…a small vocabulary.

Having said that, you can be sure I’ll have a purple glow around me the next time I crack my knee into the computer desk. Is it hopeless? I sure as #X@!** hope not.

Holler, kiss, & kick that can

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New Year’s Eve 2012… the next year about to begin, the old not quite used up…gasping its last. What a helluva year. Do you know anybody who can’t say that? It seems like 2012 was quite simply one helluva year.

We survived it… twice we expected to be on the other side of the apocalypse, but here we stand, champagne on ice, ready to holler out the old, kiss in the new and start the next kick at the big can.

My kids are all getting spiffed up… all heading out to their respective cool parties. Aged 15, 17 and 19 they have little need of us this evening save as designated drivers should the need arise. The husband is having a snooze, and I’m trying to decide if there’s something subversive about going to the movies alone on New Year’s Eve.

Whatever 2012 brought you, I hope there was more good than bad. I’m sure there were some crappy days but I’m willing to bet there were plenty of good, even great days in there.  I’m going to try to gather up the good and great days, hang on to them and let them carry me into 2013.

I’m trying to keep my resolutions to a minimum… resolve to do more of what I love, more of what makes me happy, dwell less on the things that don’t.  I hope to grab hold of the last few months with 3 kids living in my house, enjoy them while they’re all home. I think that’s enough, really. All the rest of the things I might add to the list should flow naturally if I work on taking care of my own happiness.

So go on you, celebrate. I’m going to be thankful for what I have, put to rest at least some of the burden of worry I cling to and try to love just a little bit more.

Happy New Year… bring on 2013!

Hello Again, Hospital

Bedside again, watching her sleep and waiting for the doctor. Post operative complications have overshadowed our Christmas, though we were home for Christmas this year.
I fix her pillow, adjust the bed, fetch a blanket, fuss at her and generally drive her mad. As much as she loves me and relies on me, she is still a 15 year old girl and I am still mom.
It’s a kind of prayer, this fussing… a kind of promise keeping. I can’t fight the infection she is battling, can’t take the pain away or make her stronger. I can brush her hair back from her eyes, I can bring her water and do those small things anxious mothers do. It might irritate her as much as it helps her but I can’t help myself. She is my job. Whatever else I am in the world outside this curtain, in here she is my only work.
And she gets it. She understands and is so patient with my fluttering, my over helping. She thanks me, lets me adjust and smiles at me, almost always. And she lets me kiss her forehead as often as I need to.

For the Nurses

My daughter and I have been keeping company with some pretty wonderful nurses in our general hospital this week. It amazes me, what they do. They poke, prod, cajole, encourage, insist and assist. My gal has come through a pretty painful operation and is recovering slowly, and the nurses have been great. I would love to say the same about her surgeon…. I can’t.

It’s fascinating to observe the God Complex in action, up close. It truly shocks me that even today some doctors prefer patients (and presumably patient’s mothers) who do not ask questions. I was treated to a fabulous display of petulant rage yesterday when I asked the doctor a question…he took it to be (I guess) an insult or assault on his skill. It was the first time I have seen a surgeon yell in a hospital room. Lovely, and so good for patient morale, don’t you think?

Which brings me squarely back to the nurses. I imagine it can be incredibly challenging and sometimes draining to deal with sickness and death, with interfering and emotional families. I think it must be enormously difficult to have to be the liaison between difficult doctors and their patients. Our surgeon has a reputation for his atrocious bedside manner….pity the nurse who must step in afterward to clean up that mess.

So to all the nurses working 12 hour shifts on hospital wards with patients who don’t always cooperate, families who don’t always understand and doctors who don’t always give a damn, thank you. You help in ways you’ll never know.

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Watching her sleep.

My daughter, at 15 years old, has had 17 surgeries. That’s as of this morning….it surely won’t be the final tally. She is a beautiful and talented actress, a killer soccer player and an awesome volleyball player. She also has the shittiest luck medically. I won’t catalog her issues, but just know that she is ALWAYS the one in a million….the worst case scenario.

So I am watching her sleep off the anaesthetic now, face cold and pale. I realize we could be facing the impossible possibility of spending Christmas in hospital for the second year in a row. I wonder why karma has it in for my beautiful beautiful girl. I wonder if and where I will find the courage to tell her the truth about her medical future. I wonder, again and again if, somewhere along the way there was something I missed, something I could have done differently, something that would change where she is now.

When she wakes up I will have to find a path toward the truth, but for now I will watch her sleep and kiss her forehead as many times as I feel like it.

Nothing that matters

When I was a teenager I used to go with my friend Sonia to Gastown, Vancouver’s historic, cobblestoned tourist Mecca. We would poke through shops, sip tea and generally act cool. One shop captivated us with its wall of small drawers…an antique cabinet filled with curiosities. Each stubborn old drawer revealed another odd, creepy or comical surprise; spare parts for dolls, mini whoopee cushions, fake vomit and vintage postcards. We spent ages systematically opening and closing each drawer, only disappointed when we came across rare duplicates or an empty tray.

I stumbled across the same shop this summer on a solo morning stroll through Gastown. Though the shop has changed hands at least once, the antique treasure trove remains, and I gleefully began the nostalgic opening and closing ritual. It’s rewarding to discover some things really do stay the same, even after so long.

As always, I left the shop with a small bag containing an inexpensive treasure; this time, a beautiful box of oversized matches. The box was creamy white with a lovely botanical print, all lavender flowers and butterflies. I was living in the city this summer, and savoured every opportunity to celebrate the simple beauty of a bouquet of fresh flowers, or a pretty candle on the mantel of my apartment.

I am the mother of three teenagers. My home is less decorated than reclaimed…it is a constant act of sheer will to ensure sanitary conditions and uncluttered thoroughfares. There is no decor, per se….rather a kind of chaotic visual thrum that can lead to maternal mumbling and gnashing of teeth.

The tiny act of purchasing a beautiful box of matches to light my scented candles was an act of defiance…a statement that even for me, even in my life, beauty matters. I have lit each of those matches with a kind of reverence. These matches were special, and once home in my chaotic Yukon home, I was reminded each time of the peace and pleasure the summer away brought me. I have used those matches solely for the purpose of lighting my candle…rationed them and kept them on my dresser, mine alone.

And then winter hit, and it was time to light the fire in the wood boiler. My husband spotted the matchbox….perfect! Extra long wooden matches! When he forgot to put them back, my son spotted them in the kitchen…perfect! Excellent for firing up his….glass sculpture he thinks I don’t know about.

I found the box, crushed and broken, containing two matches, on the counter. My reaction was out of proportion to the item’s significance. I was so SAD! No one understood. I took the box back upstairs and reverently lit my candle, breathed the scent and tried to recall the sense of peace.

Tonight I found the empty box discarded on the hearth, a fire roaring and the Christmas tree lit and decorated. My husband apologized, said he couldn’t find a lighter. My son looked at me like I had two heads. Mom….it was a MATCH! What’s the big deal.
I can’t explain it. It just was, to me.