Surgery again for my girl.
She is braver than I.
When they ask about anxiety before surgery
I forget they are asking her.
Because the answer is yes.
Yes, I do get anxious.
Three weeks from this very moment I will be in Mexico. In the very place you see pictured above. The house there on the left is where my husband and I will sleep, the teenagers in the house on the right. Ahhhhhh. I need to take a moment to let that really soak into my psyche. Three short weeks and my toes will be deep in warm sand, my fingers wrapped around a cold glass, my eyes squinting into the hot sun. Amen.
Doesn’t that just sound like poetry? Sand, sun, water, relaxation, no work, no phone, no emails, no chores. Just 4 teenagers. Wait. Right… 4 teenagers. Better make that TWO hands wrapped around nice cold glasses…!
I’ve reached that point in pre-holiday delirium where every thought is framed by the holiday… need to make sure I buy cat food “for the housesitter”; better call the doctor’s office to make sure I have antibiotics “in case someone gets sick in MEXICO”, gotta get that project finished before I take my HOLIDAY etc.
I’m glassed over. I’m checking the weather in Yelapa, talking the kids through what to do if someone gets stung by a scorpion (as if I have a freakin’ CLUE!). Anyway, we are adequately supplied with Immodium, Benadryl, hand sanitizer and electrolyte replacement packets. We’ll be golden.
The one regret I have, of course, is that I’ll have to come home. When we were waiting in line in Mexico two years ago to come home, a lady in front of me stepped out of line, said “sorry, not ready to go home” to her friend and did NOT go home. How awesome is that? I have had dreams about that for the last two years. When I moved to the north (the REAL, top of the world Canadian north) 22 years ago, my actual intent was to move to Mexico for a year. Yep, I know… went the wrong way. Took a one year job, met a man, got married, had babies, etc. etc.
So each time I go to Mexico, a BIG part of me wants to just…stay. I walk around wondering what the hell happened… why is it that I don’t live there?
Yeah, yeah. I like my life, I like where I live (love it even), and can’t imagine what life I’d be living if I hadn’t taken the path I did but there’s that part of me that wants the parallel life… why can’t I have both? My real life, my Mexico life… I guess it’ll be a goal then. Sell the house here in the Yukon and find a way to live that dream of so long ago. Yes… that’s what I will dream of.
Dream of, work toward, plan for. Pronto.
Adios, amigos. Hasta Luego!
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!
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 new 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.
I was having a drink tonight with a friend, a fairly new friend who is deep in the trench I was in 10 years or so ago. She’s got little ones… 3 and 6 years old. Her life is all about breakfast, school, pre-school, laundry, shopping, her work, play time, sibling rivalry, toys, and bedtime. Her focus has gone so far away from her own needs that she can hardly remember what they are. And she works from home.
That’s such an intense time, when kids are small and needing you so desperately. Never a moment to do much for yourself.
What I didn’t expect was how long the intensity would last. Mine are B.I.G. and I still feel consumed by their needs so often. I work in my office from 8:30 ’til 5 every day, then come home for the second shift; the shift of preparing dinner, cleaning up, taking people here and there, soccer practice, drop off at so and so’s house, shopping, laundry, etc.etc. That’s not unique, I know… Moms everywhere do the same thing every single day. We know it’s part of the deal.
What surprises me is how it surprises me, even after all this time. I’m still looking around for the grown up when life gets crazy or tough or scary…it’s still a shock when I realize it’s ME!
My friend and I were talking about all the things women friends talk about: kids, work, money, marriage, sex, life, health, time, stress, worry. Both of us have had lots of crazy things happen over the last few years; deaths, financial pressures, moves, transitions, illnesses, job changes, etc. etc. Both of us have had what you could call a “difficult year”. The truth is, I don’t know anyone who HASN’T had a “difficult year”. Every year has so much stuff in it, so much good we forget and bad that we remember, that we seem to mostly remember the bad (I am choosing to believe that so I don’t believe that the last few years have been solid bad stuff).
Suddenly it hit me that… crap… maybe it hasn’t just been a rough few years… maybe this is actually REAL LIFE! Maybe it’s just the way it is…always.
I’m not saying every day is dreadful, only that every few months seems to bring another tremor of some kind, minor or right off the Richter scale. Sometimes there’s a chance to recover from one quake before the next hits, but sometimes the tremors just keep on coming ’til your knees are weak and your head’s spinning.
I think I’m going to stick with my first theory; it’s been a pretty rough few years. That way, I know there’s sure to be a bit of a break in the storm really soon. Maybe that’s my Hollywood movie upbringing….rainbows, silver linings and happy endings. Maybe it’s my innate optimism. Maybe it’s desperation…
But all this “stuff”… all these “challenges” that make me strong, make my family resilient & build my character? They’re starting to piss me off.
So reality, take a hike…I’m going to Mexico. And you’re not invited.
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….
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?!
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.
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.
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.