So soon?

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A few weeks ago I gave birth to a magical little redheaded baby girl. She’s 20 now, but that is the way the heart massages time…the real passage is hard to measure in ordinary terms. To my arms, the weight of her baby self is still a recent memory, there is still an ache in my shoulders from pacing with her while she cried of colic. I still hum the only song that calmed her, and when I am stressed I remember how the sound of the vacuum was the only thing that soothed her mysterious fretting.

I left her in another city the other day, this baby child of mine. I left her in her own apartment surrounded with the trappings of a new life. No diaper pail, no stuffed rabbits or pastel blankies; instead pots & pans, thrift store dishes and school supplies clutter the space.

She is ready. She is ready to take on the world and be a shining beacon of newness, of hope and promise. She has the confidence, the kindness, the grit and the guts to tackle this new chapter. She is, after a few years of holding my breath, everything I knew she would be. I am the kind of proud there are no words for.

But I am now 5,385 kilometers from her forehead… the forehead I like to kiss goodnight. And it turns out I am less ready than she.

We are genius.

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It has recently come to my attention that I’m a freakin’ genius. No, don’t laugh… seriously! I have mastered a set of skills so highly specialized that many people don’t even know they don’t share them.

You’d think I’d hoard this magic, keep these powers to myself, but you’d be wrong. I WANT to share. I have willingly offered mentorship to anyone who is interested. Sadly, so few are interested… in fact I can say with honesty that, to date, no-one has actually wanted to learn.

So I will remain, for the foreseeable future, one of an elite few. A member of an unarmed group of specialists who know one another on sight, and know impostors in a moment. We are all around you.

We are the brave. We are the powerful. We know how to change a toilet roll, replace a paper towel tube, fold towels, sweep under the edges of the cupboard, sort laundry, close cabinet doors and refill liquid soap dispensers. We know how to empty the lint tray, pull gunk out of the kitchen drain and put a new bag in the trash bin. We understand that milk lives in the refrigerator, that food left out overnight goes bad and that brown bananas taste better. We know how to cap the toothpaste and collapse a stroller. We can tell you where you left your blue jacket and which type of peanut butter you prefer.

We are mothers. We are legion. We are genius. We are tired.

My groceries terrify me.

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I live in the far north of Canada… the real, snowy, wintry  northern lights north. We have a few hardy farmers here who fight for every carrot, potato and head of cabbage they pull from the earth. Permafrost, harsh winters and shallow soil are only softened by summer days when the sun shines almost around the clock.

These farmers know what works here. They have learned what magic can be wrought with seeds, soil, compost, sun and loving care, and they want to protect what they’ve worked for. As an Agricultural organization they are working to ensure the Yukon remains GMO free, and have begun lobbying our government to enact legislation.  Our territorial government however, refuses to consider a ban, saying it’s not their place and that it’s up to individual farmers to decide.

Why? Why on earth would the government of this small territory refuse such a committed, dedicated group of farmers? Why, when nobody has come out strongly (or at all) for the GMO side. There hasn’t been a group of people out marching to promote the use of GMO seeds, though there have been marches against their use.

I think they’ve said no because the government is afraid of Monsanto. I know they’re afraid of big oil… refusing to ban fracking, refusing to ban oil exploration in a tract of protected wilderness. They’re afraid of some potential backlash, some theoretical future legal challenge by these huge companies. Especially now, as Monsanto attempts to PATENT produce.

It’s true, a lawsuit by Monsanto would cripple our territory, but is that where we are now? Do we have to allow any huge corporation who wants what we have to just come in and take it? Why? Does Monsanto have that much power? Is it real, or is it just the threat that makes governments quiver and bend over?

I don’t want to eat GMO food. I am terrified of what we are putting in our bodies. The Canadian Diabetes Association says “one in every three Canadians is projected to have either diabetes or prediabetes by 2020”.  That is the kind of statistic that’s almost unbelievable, and yet it’s true. Obesity rates through the stratosphere, heart disease rates soaring… can we please just stop this?

We know that messing with every single thing we put into our bodies is messing up our bodies. We’ve super-sized and enriched and new and improved and fat free’d ourselves into a situation we can’t escape from. Genetically modified corn, modified soy, modified canola in everything we eat. And we can’t avoid it.

Our family eats very little processed food, but as a working mother there are some products I’ve relied on. Canned or jarred tomato sauce, pureed or chopped tomatoes, corn niblets in a can, frozen vegetables, cartons of low sodium chicken broth, that kind of thing. I’m not talking hamburger helper and squirtable cheese, but real foods that I can use in my workday, weekday cooking.

But it’s all a minefield. Canned tomatoes… BPA in the cans, likely bionic tomatoes. This is even putting aside any worry about pesticides, just thinking about the NEW food terrorism being perpetrated against us by Monsanto and our governments. Just try to buy any vegetable oil that’s not certified organic; you won’t be able to find any corn, canola or other oil that’s not from a GM crop.

It’s a tunnel we’re halfway down, a wormhole we’re already through. Our food has been commodified, modified, & adjusted, with a sticker on every single apple produced. Lab created “Grapples”; apples injected with grape koolaid, nicely presented in plastic clamshells…so many levels of insult to our bodies, to our earth. The garlic is all grown in china, & those sugar snap peas in little plastic bags have more miles on them than I will by the time I die.

I don’t understand it. We have the capacity to produce everything we need, at least all the cold weather crops we need. I don’t mind that we ship mangoes… no mangoes are going to grow here, but sugar snap peas? Potatoes? Garlic?  What is the rationale? Our governments should be investing in farmers, in the agriculture association’s vision for a more sustainable local food economy. Food security… safe food grown close to home, should be our collective goal.

I envy people living in areas with year round markets, access to a full range of organic foods. I buy what I can find, glad I can afford it. I couldn’t always afford it, and that frightens me too…what damage have I already done to my own body, to my children’s bodies?

So I say power to the farmers, the brave farmers out there marching with signs held high demanding our government protect the food we eat. It’s not as simple as allowing each farmer to choose for himself, not as long as we have wind and honeybees, pollen and birds.   We have to insist. We have to demand. We have to march, and be equal to the power of the corporations with the way we wield our dollars.

If you want to know more about the situation in Yukon, please follow these links.

In the US (and eventually Canada), food labeling is worth fighting for. Have a look:

http://www.rodale.com/what-are-gmo-foods

So go on, go shopping. I dare you.

Pocket NINJA!!!

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I know a she-lion of a mother who told me a story about the power of pocket ninjas. When her kids were in school and feeling worried, bullied, anxious or alone she would ask them to think of her as pocket ninja mom… there, just out of sight, and ready to fight evil for their sake.   I love the idea of the pocket ninja. I love the idea of a secret weapon, a tiny little warrior ready to do battle for me if I need a champion.

Our family has a huge collection of Playmobil, and I have a big bag of it at my desk for kids needing diversion while suffering through Mom or Dad’s meetings.  I had, in that bag, a few ninjas and aliens that I have pressed into service throughout the office for various purposes… mostly comical. About a year ago a colleague was very stressed, preparing for a big presentation. It was one of those presentations that would impact someone’s career and life, so she was feeling the pressure of wanting to get it exactly right. Remembering my friend’s awesome mom-ness, I offered her a  playmobil guy to carry in her pocket to her meeting… a genuine pocket ninja, even down to the black clothes and sword.

She took the ninja, made a rock solid presentation and I believe won her case.  She had a little toy in her pocket to fidget with if things got stressy, but really… how anxious can you be when you’re playing with a hidden toy and remembering the goofiness that went along with receiving it?

That ninja has had many subsequent adventures… he has done a series of yoga photo shoots (he’s really quite agile), has been photographed in many exotic locales and has put a few miles under his groovy headband. He has, however, failed to return from his most recent journey… his adventures have carried him beyond my reach and his loss has been felt a time or two.

My colleague, upon hearing that pocket ninja had gone on to bigger and better things (or maybe just fallen behind my office bookcase?) worked a bit of magic.  She surprised me this morning with a new and different, but possibly even more kick ass pocket ninja (shhhh…the other ninja might just be hiding, and he isn’t very forgiving).

THIS ninja has not one, but two swords. A black sword AND a grey sword. He has a groovy removable helmet too, which almost makes up for his inability to do any of the more challenging yoga poses.

As talismans go, perhaps a little plastic guy with a yellow head is not as powerful as some. He does, however, fit in your pocket… more than you can say for some groovy crystals I’ve seen. He also has a bit more street cred than a St. Francis medallion on a chain, and I’ve yet to see a medallion depicting even ONE ninja sword, never mind two (no offense intended).

All joking aside, it’s awesome to have something to carry (or think about, or remember) – a reminder that somebody, somewhere, has your back. It’s great to know that there’s a little army ready to stand up for you, even if it’s a really really tiny army….pocket sized.  Those pocket ninjas are Mom powered…friend powered… and you know they’ll kick ass if they need to!

My baby girls are 20 & 16?!

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What a crazy emotional week for me. My eldest turned 20 years old today and my youngest will be 16 on Thursday. How? How can this be? I swear to you that only a few weeks ago they were little and snuggly and damp, all sweet breath and need and warm cheeks and lullabies.

My first born is preparing to launch… this nest has grown too small for her. She’s off to a real city, a bigger city, a new fresh start…school, friends, the BEGINNING of it all. My youngest is still half mine, half belonging to the world. So hard for me to separate, she is so much more ready than I am. 16 is nowhere near as old as it was when her big sister turned 16.

When your first child reaches a milestone, a threshold, it’s HUGE. 10 is so mature. 16 is SO incredible, so grown up. Since you’ve never been there before, it’s all enormous, especially because the younger siblings seem so… young, in comparison. Now, as my “baby” turns 16, I look at her with shocked eyes and wonder how on earth this young girl can be so near to being grown. How can I imagine letting her do the things I let her older sister do, especially now that I KNOW better!

When I grew up as the eldest of 6, I was the trail breaker. I had to fight all the fights, win all the  battles, break down the door for my younger siblings. Once my parents got through battling with me over every living detail they had lost the will to fight… at least that’s what I assumed. Maybe they just decided they’d best pick their battles and trust in the universe a bit. Either way my younger sisters had it WAAAAY easier than I did.

In my house, it’s the opposite. I was so innocent, so naiive as a mother I let my eldest do things I will NOT allow my younger daughter to do. I know… now I KNOOW so much more than I did then. Poor kid 😉 Her big sister was supposed to clear the way, not alert me to the risks!

Either way I have these wonderful 3 kids, all of them growing up in their own way and following their own rocky paths. I want everything fabulous, magnificent, exciting, scary and exciting for them. I want them to be explorers, adventurers, life long learners, readers, do-ers, sharing kindness and their gifts along the way. Thankfully too, my son’s birthday isn’t ’til Fall, so I have some time to recover before getting all emotional again.

Can they possibly do that without growing up? Without growing away? Without leaving me? Please?  This is a week of joy, of remembering, of story telling… and of being a big soppy sobby emotional puddle. Happens to me this time every year. Hard to avoid; two birthdays in a week… Happy Birthday Emily, Happy Birthday Chloe.  Love you both bigger than sunshine.

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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!