Saturday, April 30, 2011

Love Letters to Feminism: New Call For Submissions

Love Letters to Feminism: New Call For Submissions:  (note the 'I' here is Carolyn Jervis, not me!)

"I am pleased to announce that I am now accepting submissions for the latest incarnation of Love Letters to Feminism. The text and word art received, along with the existing Love Letters from its three previous exhibitions, will be exhibited at Women's Worlds 2011 in Ottawa.

Have an expression of your relationship with feminism shared with over 2,000 conference participants from across the world. Here's how:

We want to know what kind of relationship you have with feminism:
Are you in a long-term relationship?

Is it unrequited love?

A love triangle?

Do you have a crush on feminism?

Perhaps you are having a lovers’ quarrel?

Submissions to the exhibition should include:

An artwork/letter that has a maximum size of 8.5x11 inches.

Your name, mailing address, email address, and a short bio on a

separate page.

*Please include the appropriate extra postage inside your envelope if you want your work returned.

Maximum 3 works per person.

Deadline: June 30 2011

Work will be exhibited at Women’s Worlds 2011 Conference, Ottawa, July 3-7, 2011, and will join the Love Letters Collection for future and online exhibitions (unless you indicate otherwise)

Mail your love notes to:
Love Letters to Feminism
c/o Carolyn Jervis
10433 – 85 Avenue
Edmonton, AB, Canada
T6E 2K2

These are a few of my favourite things....

A totally brainless post for a totally brainless day -

1.  Book (okay, had to separate this one up, b/c that's just too hard!)
fiction: Sula - Toni Morrison  (with too many runner-ups to even mention)
nonfiction:  Revolting Bodies - Kathleen Lebesco or maybe Brazen Femme - Chloe Brushwood Rose and Anna Camilleri
parenting: Bad Mother - Ayelet Waldeman

2.  Poem
'Helen of Troy Does Counter Dancing' - Margaret Atwood (from morning in the burned house)

3.  Colour
Purple, maybe?  Or Red.  And sometimes pink.  (Decisiveness has never ever been my strong suit).

4.  Song (again - too hard.  Favourite song this second ;)
'Locked Up' - Ingrid Michaelson

5.  Car
Suzuki Sx4...but only in baby blue 

6.  Movie
The Princess Bride (followed closely by The Sound of Music, as this post's title will attest :)

7.  Drink
Pinot Grigio's with pretty labels (yes, I'm a simple, simple girl)

8.  Article of clothing (can't just have one.  and have to include coordinating footwear.  Issues). 
Toss up between sundresses and flip flops, and well-fitting jeans paired with heels.  Happy making.

9.  Place
Tough one.  Probably Halifax.

10.  Place in Edmonton
Yet to be to suggestions for contenders ;)

11.  Latte
London Fog or Vanilla Bean (very mood dependant, caffeine is)

12. Album (Too hard. Must have 2)
Everybody - Ingrid Michaelson
Hymns from the 49th Parallel - k.d. lang

13.  Comfort food
Chocolate.  Unequivocally.

Friday, April 29, 2011

I'm shrinking Gilbert...

Okay.  So the 'blog for another day' in a nutshell.  I'm used to being a fat person.  I wrote a very wordy thesis full of fat-bodied, frisky theory about fat-bodied, frisky performers and the complexities and contradictions that arise between living and performing in fat bodies in a fat-loathing world.   Being fat, presenting as an unruly, fat, frisky, fashion-lovin' girl and giving ye olde finger to the fat-hating world has been a big part of my identity for a significant chunk of my life. 

Thing is, I'm not so fat anymore.  I'm not thin and I'm not fat.  (Fat-ish??)  And to be clear from the outset, I am not (not, not, not) seeking or desiring of congratulations for this fact.  The congratulations make me feel weird.  And uncomfortable.   I've lost 30 pounds in just under four months.  For all kinds of good and all kinds of bad reasons (Yes. Bad reasons. Contrary to popular belief, weight loss doesn't necessarily equal goodness.  Wild, right?)  And if I knew someone who lost a big whack of weight in a short amount of time, my first response would be something along the lines of:  Are you okay?  What's going on? 

I'm putting this out there for a few reasons.  The first is this - out of habit- I keep referring to myself as 'fat'.  And though lots of fat-phobes would still label me enormous, at my current size, I can access all kinds of things many fat-bodied folks cannot (like reasonably priced clothes and reasonably comfortable plane rides and not have to worry about fitting into seats in movie theatres and restaurants or losing out on jobs solely based on my body size.)  I am less likely to have abuse hurled at me on the street because of my size.  My doctor's likely still gonna hassle me (and right in the middle of the old pap test, just to make me feel extra comfy and bee-ooo-teee-fullll), but the fact remains that I have at my fingertips some of the business of thin-privilege.  Uncharted waters for me.  Very.   But given that in my thesis, I gave someone a scolding for getting much thinner and still referring to herself as 'fat', I guess I'd better walk the walk. (Cause fat is a little bit contextual, and also a lotta bit about lived experiences of very visible otherness, often which lead to discrimination).  So - whether or not my brain comprehends it or not, at the moment, this old body of mine isn't exactly 'fat'.  (I'm sure it probably will be again - but for now - and again for a whole host of reasons, that would be both boring and extraneous to discuss, it's not). 

And the other reason is: holy cow, are people ever talking about my body all of the sudden.  All over the place.  It is seriously weirding me out.  I can't remember the last time I felt so on display.  It's one thing to talk about this stuff with family and close friends, but even people I don't know are offering their two cents.  Like a grandma of someone from Boy-o's class, who announced across the crowded room full of other parents: "You've lost SO MUCH weight!  I've been watching you."   Ack!  And then my neighbour (good old drunk Joanie) passes by walking her dog, and whilst gardening with my ass unceremoniously  in the air, similarly announces something about my smaller body size and how good it looks now.  Sweet Jesus and Holy Crap that shit is some creepy.   Why are you watching my body?  Why?  Why are you telling me you're watching my body?  It's weird and creepy and all kinds of creepy-weird.

Now I'm not saying I'm against a little bit of gratifying objectification in the right context.  (And um, preferably from my peers).  You think I have a great ass?  Fabulous.  Tell me.  Probably make my day.  But in the context of a weight loss discussion, the body admiration just leaves me cold, cold, cold.  (You'll get no love from me.)  Partiularly because such bodily admirations in the aforementioned context do the backhanded compliment-y thing that I hate, hate, hate with a blood-curdling passion.  There's an implicit (maybe even explicit) insinuation that I looked like shite before.  I was hot before, goddamit.  Fat-saucy-me-kinda hot.   Moreover, the more weight comments I get, the more worried about my body I get, and the less hot I feel. 

So.  I guess what I'm trying to say is this - I'm shrinking.  I know I'm shrinking.  If you do happen to be watching my body, for whatever reason (with the noted exceptions above, naturally ;) - please don't stop me on the street to tell me about it. 

Because it makes me feel like grade A Alberta beef. 

And because no matter what my body looks like at a given time,  I'm still gonna be flipping the birdy at, and being real mouthy about the ridiculousness of our fat-hating, body obsessed world.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Don't you know how lucky you are?

Oh I do. I really do. I really, really do.

Maybe, to some folks, it might sound as though I'm a whiner because when I'm having a hard time I put it out there, and because I'm kinda critical of the mothering machine. And I talk about the hard stuff. Okay - I talk about the hard stuff a lot.  Possibly ad nauseum.  Maybe I'm even a one trick pony.  Anyhoo...

From time to time, someone actually finds the kahunas to ask me if I'm aware of how lucky I am to have these beautiful, amazing tots of mine.   Not too often mind you, and generally in a sideways sort of manner, but the jist of the question remains.  But more often than this (thankfully),  I hear folks make insinuations and judgements that all kinds of other folks must just not appreciate how blessed they are to have children.  (Do they even like children?  They just complain so much, etc. etc.

These questions and insinuations are 1. unfair, and 2. meant to silence.   They are a part of a larger cultural atmosphere that makes it unacceptable for parents, and I'm talking mothers in particular here, to talk about the ambivalence, the anger, the dark and twisty bits (yes, I stole that directly from Grey's Anatomy) of parenthood. Because we are supposed to at all times present a script which proclaims 'I am so blessed to have procreated so marvelously and fabulously and am so darned fulfilled by it all.'   (Or else keep our mouths shut).  And should we deviate even for a moment from said script, a prompt (and often gooey) verbal atonement re-proclaiming our commitment to that script is required.  

Now - as you may or may not already know - I'm fairly lousy at the business of shutting up.  I'm mouthy.  As Gaga would say (and Lord I hate that song) - I was born this a-way.  And I'm apparently not so good at maintaining 'the good mother script' either.  But, all things being equal, neither am I immune to the considerable and sometimes unrelenting pressure to atone for one's mothering transgressions and deviations from the script. 

So here's the thing:

I am hugely aware of how lucky I am to have these little beings in my life.

Being a mother is the only thing I have ever been certain of wanting.  And way back about another lifetime ago, when L. and I got together, (at the age of 23 years old - was I ever that young?), I let her know in no uncertain terms that children were a deal breaker for me. No babies, no me.  Fortunately for both of us, she hopped on board.  (I'm told I can be pretty persuasive :)

It took us a long, long, agonizingly long time to get pregnant with Boy-o.  Two years of rollercoaster. Two years of hope.  Two years of agony.  Two years of living life in two week intervals, vascillating between hope and increasing desperation, sometimes despair. Two years of wanting to be happy for friends who started trying after and got pregnant before me, but not really being able to.  Two years of fertility clinics and doctors poking at me and in me and fertility drugs and stupid acupuncturists who poked me with needles and gave me strange shit to drink and said things like: "Why plant the seed if the garden is barren?" (Oh yes. Yes, she did say that. And yes, yes I did cry all the way home.) Two years of listening to songs like this, that turned me into a mess of tears every time and yet totally unable to stop myself.  Two years of waiting and hoping and imagining and making all kinds of bargains with the universe.  Girlio's conception was half of that time, and more bearable, perhaps because we knew we'd been able to struggle through it once.  But our desire for her, our wanting and hoping for her no less intense.

So yes.  Yup.  Uh-huh.  I am acutely aware of how blessed I am.  It is the awareness of how lucky I am, of how amazing the gifts are that my children bring to this world, and to me, that make me so hard on myself, so fearful of failing them, so reluctant to put myself first, so ashamed to admit that I need more.   

And it is the combination of my awareness of how lucky I am, and of how damaging the script of 'good mothering is,' that make the aforementioned questions and insinuations so insanely frustrating.   The 'script', and the cultural insistance on maternal perfection, is damaging.  Like really, actually damaging.  And when we hold ourselves up to the ideal mother, who does not exist; and correspondingly, when we hold others up to the ideal mother, we participate in the very thing that negates our real experiences and the complications and intricacies of our lives.  We hold ourselves to ever increasingly impossible ideals and when we fail them (when, not if, because they are not, in fact, possible), our frustrations mount, our anxiety grows, we lose our shit a bit, and our parenting actually gets worse because of it.  Enter vicious cycle. 

So - I'm a bad mama.  Possibly also a bad-ass mama.  I'm a whiner and a complainer and besides all that - this shit continues to be hard.  The most difficult, most challenging, most emotionally charged thing I've ever, ever done.  Probably the most difficult, most emotionally charged thing I will ever do.  Maybe it's this hard because I'm not cut out for it.  Maybe it's this hard because it's actually just this hard.  Doesn't matter.  I'm gonna keep talking about that.  And while I'm sharing with the world (read: my fab 48 followers ;) just how much of a stir-crazy, frazzled, emotionally-wonky, train-wreck this mama is sometimes - I'll stand firm in my belief that none of that will ever negate the fact that I am so fucking lucky to have these little people in my world.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My blog, the musical - Part II: Songs that make me think of mothering

These songs are different in tenor than the last set.  My feelings about my job as a mama are very different than my feelings about my gorgeous and amazing tots, I suppose.  Anyhow - these are my mama songs.  Some dark, some not. 

House of Gold - Andy Stochansky

Joyful Girl - Ani Difranco

Mountain and the Sea - Ingrid Michaelson

Landslide  - (any version, this one's Fleetwood)  (Yes - I know this one is terribly predictable and makes it sound like I think I'm ancient.  But it's a mama song through and through.  And I love it.  A lot.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My blog, the musical Part I... songs for my babies

Okay- so I'm departing slightly from my voice and rambling for a few days and doing a few musical numbers.... Be sure to stay tuned for tomorrow's edition - My Blog, the musical part II - The parenting songs, which are, um slightly less upbeat ;)

These are my top five songs that make my heart swell in kid love/mama pride.

Love is Simple - k.d. Lang

The Littlest Birds - The Be Good Tanya's

All This Beauty - The Weepies

Fix You - Coldplay

Fuckin' Perfect - P!nk

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

TODAYMoms - Want another bedtime story, sweetie? Here's one: 'Go the F@#k to Sleep'

Aha! Ahahaha!

I wonder if he could write a sequel entitled, "And stay asleep," followed close on the heels of "and stay in your own f#cking bed!"

Too good.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dear Universe

I am putting it out there.  Out there, out there.  No, I haven't been reading 'The Secret.'   I'm just sort of hoping that if I put it out there (yes, out there, out there), I will squish all the insecurities that make me stay put and really get going to make it happen. 

So - here it is.  I want out.  Well - a little bit out, anyways.  Just enough to reclaim some of the formerly me of me. 

I want - hmmmm - I think I want that old PhD.  But because I didn't figure that out in time to actually apply for this year, it seems that I will have to chill for a year and want something a little different.  (Insert repeated ass-kicking here).

So, dear Universe.  How about a part-time job?  Preferably sometime late this summer.  One that lets me use my brain.  And my skills which are of the general nerd/researcher/writer/project coordinator/sex-health educator/social service-y type variety.  (Yes - I am aware that this is an odd variety.  Anyhoo).  And yes, one that pays me.  And then I want a daycare.  A wicked cool (accredited!) daycare that has amazing programming for Girlio, and possibly Boy-o, depending on the hours of said job.

And I want to go out more.  (And not in that insipid 'mom's night out' business.  What is with that term, anways Universe?  We schlep shit and do shit-work and laundry and dishes and wipe noses and asses and for this get granted the occasional outing, dubbed 'moms' night out'?  I freaking hate that term.  Makes me twitchy.)  Anyways, as I was discussing prior to losing myself in rant, I'd like to talk to my wife more (about topics sometimes of the non-child-rearing-variety).  Talk to friends more (about topics sometimes of the non-child-rearing variety).  Go to gallery opennings and bookstores and coffee shops and bars and river valley walks.  This will require the discovery of a golden, reliable, lovely babysitter (who does not come up on the criminal record or child abuse registry checks, please!) for my beautiful, delightful (and sometimes exhausted) babes. 

I know I'm asking a lot, Universe.  I'm not asking for it to fall into my lap.  I'm not asking for all at once.  I'm not asking for perfection.  I'll work for it.  I've already started.  I was just wondering if maybe you'd, you know, be willing to partner with me on a few things.
Because I think I might be worth it.  It's just sometimes a little difficult to think of the reasons why these days.

Yours in gratitude,

Mama T

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Clever Religion Post in honour of Easter

Now,  you didn't think this post was going to be written by me, did you?  Nope - religion isn't my strong suit.  But I did stumble across this article on by Michael Coogan, author of God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says, about the Bible and 'family values.'  It was a refreshing take, I thought.

So - Happy Easter all (and I mean this in the most secular, cute-little-Easter-bunny-and-chocolate-kind-of-way).

Saturday, April 23, 2011


What if: one is reading?
...what if people are reading?
...I don't say the right things and the smart things?
...I really am alone out there?
...people think I'm a total idiot?
...people think I'm a total basketcase?
...I say too much?
...I don't say enough?
...I'm not political enough?
...I'm too political?
...I'm too queer?
...I'm not queer enough?
...someone gets mad? 
...I have nothing to say?
...I have lots of things to say but I'm too chicken to say it?
...people think I'm the worst mother in the world?

What if ....

Friday, April 22, 2011

raising critical thinkers

"Mom - I don't think you're doing a very good job because you're not being very nice right now," Boy-o informs me, looking me dead in the eye, matter of fact.  My eyes are bulging out.  I can feel them. There's a vein throbbing in my head.  I probably look pretty freaking scary.  But he stares me down - undaunted by my freaky-mama-madness.  Little bugger.  It takes everything I have not to throttle him. 

I've been at him to do this, that and the other thing and he has pulled the magical four year old trick of super-selective-hearing.  TV, he hears just fine.  Me on the other hand, I sound like the Charlie Brown trombones, wah wah wah wah wah.  At any rate.  I hit the point of no patience.  I hit the point where cajoling gets ridiculous, where I have repeated the same request easily 10 times.  So I did the time-honoured yet not terribly useful thing.  I scream and yell.  I may have even stomped my feet.  I tell him I would cancel our family trip to Jasper because kids who ignore their parents perfectly normal requests shouldn't get treats like family trips to Jasper.  I say most of the ridiculous, ineffectual things that parents say when they get frustrated to the point of no return.  They are empty threats, kinda mean, and he knows it.  And he calls me on it.  And it's freaking  frustrating!

And you know what?  The kid was right.  I wasn't being very nice.  I also wasn't doing a terribly good job.  And he was responding exactly like I'm trying to raise him to respond.  This is the difficult (read: crap) side of trying to raise kids who think critically and are emotionally literate.  You want them to question authority.  You want them to think, and then respond thoughtfully about what feels right and wrong to them.  You want them to be able to question you, and tell you when you're doing a bleeping bad job.   Shit-bugger-damn. 

So I breathe.  And we do a "restart".  (This is a technique where we all pretend to go back to bed and start the day over.  From time to time, this works magic at our house).  And then I tell him I'm sorry for yelling and throwing a grown-up tantrum.  I also tell him how frustrating it is for me when he ignores me.  And he tells me he'll try to be a better listener.  And we continue packing up for our Jasper trip.

(I'm not holding my breathe on this one.  Kid listens exactly like a four year old should.)

Raising kids who are critical thinkers and emotionally literate is a delicate balancing act between being enough of an authority figure so that kids have parameters that make them feel safe and secure while also allowing your kids to question your judgement and actions when warranted.  I know that more often than not, I struggle mightily with striking said balance.  But I hope that in the long run, my attempts at struggling through this process will serve these kiddos well.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dear Canada (or, while we're on the topic of Stephen Harper)

Dear Canada,

I am a patriot (even though my national anthem says that girls aren't included in that patriot love business. Ahem. Maybe we could do something about that sometime, hey?). I believe in you, Canada.   Really, I do.  You've done some shitty things in the past, (and the present can look a little dicey sometimes too, frankly). But I still believe in your potential to be a great country.

But by god - if you elect Stephen Harper to be our leader in a majority government- you will quite simply break my heart.

And my dear Canada, while we are discussing the breaking of my heart, do not, do not, do not speak to me about how you are voting for Stephen Harper because of his sound financial policies.  I cannot stand it when people say this kind of shit.  We're talkin' stomping, red-faced, all-kinds of angry and personally offended. 

Notwithstanding the program cuts and absolutely devastating effects his financial policies have to people who live in poverty, and his plans to build Walmart prisons to deal with the ensuing social problems, Stephen Harper is a SOCIAL conservative.  Are we all actually clear on what this means, exactly?  A not-believing-in-evolution-kind-of-social-conservative.  A-women-shouldn't-have-the-right-to-control-their-own-bodies-kind of social conservative.  A-gays-shouldn't-have-the-right-to-get-married-and-adopt/foster/otherwise-make-children-and are-gonna-burn-in-fiery-damnation kind of social conservative.  

Might I remind you, Canada, that this dude came to power campaigning that my family (my family folks...those very people I love and write about all the time, you know, them?) should not have a right to legally exist?   (I wonder how much of Canada would feel as comfortable voting for a a man that argued against legalizing interracial marriage in his campaign?!  Would they protest, OH! But I'm not a racist, it's just that, you know, his fiscal policies are just so very spot-on?).  

I respect democracy.  I do.  Get informed and then vote how you gotta vote, Canada. 
But if you choose to vote for the homophobe, you don't get to ask me and the other queers to respect you in the morning, alrighty?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

breaking up with SH

I had the amazing opportunity the other day to be a part of a breaking up with Stephen Harper video.  It was very cathartic. It was made by amazing local filmmaker and library goddess Tanya Driechel.  You can watch it and share it from here:  

Anyways - to get in the mood, I wrote our old PM a good old fashioned break up letter.  So, here goes:

Dear Stephen,

I'm just going to rip off the bandaid from the get go, okay?  I'm going to be honest.  I don't love you. Truth is, I've never really loved you. 

Because you've never been good for me like you swore you would be.  And you said you'd be good for my children, too, right before you stole our daycare money. You took money from women's organizations (and children's organizations, and anti-poverty organizations, and...).  Status of women, schmatus of women, right?!  You know, I just can't keep dating a guy that doesn't believe in a woman's right to choose. 

**Do you even like women? **

Settle down now - I'm not asking if you're gay - because you've made it abundantly clear that you don't so much like the gays.  

It just seems like you aren't so keen on women either.  Or poor people. Or kids. Or students.
Or people exercising their right ot protest.  Or pretty much anyone who disagrees with you.

Yeah - you're kind of a bully. 

And you're totally shifty.  And the dudes you hang out with are super shifty too. You should have learned by now that us gals don't really respond well to shifty.  We need openness, honesty, transparency, reflexivity.  Fancy words meaning we like the straight goods, Stephen.  We like to know where we stand, you know?  I feel like you have an agenda that you're not sharing with me, Stephen.  Maybe because it isn't exactly in MY best interests.  

And as if that all wasn't enough, I'm really uncomfortable with some of the people you've been getting into bed with.  Now I'm pretty open-minded, but I'm sory to tell you that's one tea-party this girl just isn't going to.

There's so so so many more bones I have to pick with you, but I don't want to kick you when you're down.  (Well, maybe just a bit).

You know, I just can't get behind your social-program-decimating-Walmart-prison-building-down-with-freedom-of-speeching-media-muzzling-tax-breaks-for-the-richest ass.  And climate change?  What climate change, right? 

You and I - we're done.  Through.

Canada and I, we need a nice, clean break Steve.

Regards (but not high ones),

Mama T

Boys and dresses ...

Boy-o likes them a lot of late.  He gets that from me, not his mommy, who wouldn't be caught dead in one.  (And if she were caught dead in one would look like a dead person in drag).   And as luck should have it, we have a closet full of hand-me-down dresses which are a bit too small for him, but he manages to squeeze into anyways.  Todays' ensemble was a purple velvety number with sparkles.  Very good twirl in the skirt part, too, which is important.  It's a fun, properly twirly dress.  With bling.  And my Boy-o rocked it.

At any rate.  He hasn't asked to wear one to school yet.  He's worn them to play in the yard.  He's worn them to hop on over to Zeller's for an errand. (Looking resplendent with the addition of skull and crossbones puddle boots, might I add).  But not to school.  I'm waiting for it.  And, though I could care less whether he wears a dress or blue jeans or both at once (which is a rather snappy look ;), I'm holding my breathe a little.   It's some tricky shit to navigate for any parent, but maybe particularly so as a queer parent.

As a queer parent, I couldn't give a rats' arse what my kids wear, nor do I think (at this particular life juncture, anyways) that what my kids choose to wear says anything about them, other than you know, fashion sense.  Boy-o choosing a dress and heels no more means he is or will be queer or trans than Girlio rocking blue and a pirate hat.  But there's that whole stinking weird cultural thing around boys trying out 'girl stuff.'  And it's some heavy cultural baggage.  Baggage I wish my babes didn't have to contend with, but know better. 

And as a queer parent, I'm also hyper-aware of pressure to produce gender "normal" children, who grow up to be good, heterosexual citizens.  Every time there's some jack-ass crabbing about how those homos shouldn't be allowed to parent, the queers trot out some study or other demonstrating how 'normal' and well adjusted and socially responsible our gaybys turn out to be.   That's a lot of pressure to put on our gaybys.  I know - I've got two mamas, and am aware of the pressure to be one of those kids who 'turned out well'.  But I turned out queer too (thus, I am bad for statistical purposes).  And then procreated, all queer-like.  And seem to have spawned a boy-child (at this particular moment in life) who likes to hop around in dresses.  (Again, bad for statistical purposes). 

I am also aware that sending my Boy-o out into the world dressed in dresses (I refuse to call this cross-dressing, because I don't see why dresses are gendered anyways) would probably be more educative if he had nice, cool, straight parents who could sway people in their world with their open-minded, unabashed acceptance of their child's difference.  Us - it's just going to look to others as if we're trying to 'turn our kid queer.'  Frustrating doesn't even begin to describe the feelings this brings up for me.  Not by a long shot.  But you get the jist.

I desparately don't want to send my kid out into a world that's going to be fucking mean to him.  He's already got queer parents to contend with, living in this rednecky town full o' Harper love to boot.  But I also refuse to discourage my kids from being anything other than who they are

So - for now we tread the fine line - gently explaining from time to time that some people don't think boys should wear dresses, but that we believe that if something makes you feel 'happy in your heart' and feels good and right, it's A-okay.  I'm sure this talk will have to become a bit more serious if he does decide that he wants to wear one to school. 

I guess we'll cross that overly gendered bridge when and if we get to it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Conceiving Family: The Story of Gay Adoption" - Fundraising!

I just got to watch the trailer to an amazing Canadian documentary on the experiences of several queer Canadian families adopting children.  The trailer can be seen here. After you watch it (you should TOTALLY watch it!), see the information below about fund raising to help get the film completed and distributed.  These are important stories about some of the ways in which we are making our queer families - and it would be so sad to lose out on those stories because of funds...

the birthday creep

It's creeping up, this birthday of mine. I am a few short weeks shy of turning 36. Thirty-six. I've never been that girl who freaks out about birthdays and aging in general. But given that I seem to be embarking on an early-ish midlife crisis (I say early-ish because I'm not prepared to die at 72), I guess it's fitting that this particular birthday is totally wigging me out. I'm wigged, friends.

This wigging is occuring in large part, other than the seemingly sudden onset of some pretty dedicated crow's feet around my eyes (amazing what two straight years of sleeplessness does to your face!), because I can't really pinpoint anything significant that I've achieved, nor can I pinpoint exactly where it is I'm going.

Yes - I have actively participated in the making and raising of two gorgeous and feisty little humans. They are lovely and clever and really gorgeously feisty.   But I'm only partially responsible for their fabulousness.  They're growing and taking on the world with all kinds of bravery and gusto they didn't get from me!

Yes - I wrote a clever master's thesis. It might have actually made a contribution to scholarship, you know, if I'd actually done something with it. As it stands now - I'm the only one it made any smarter. Also - it looks very nice on my bookshelf, all blue with shiny gold lettering - very pretty.  (Moreover, despite my current determination to get to that old PhD, I have this nagging anxiety that my recollections of my MA are kind of like a bad movie starring me as the high school football star who blows out their knee, loses that college scholarship, and spends their days selling insurance and reliving the glory days. It's possible that four years of not using my brain has robbed me of my brainpower. It's also possible I'm remembering that brain power as better than it actually was.  It was small, small pond, that M.A. program of mine).

Yes - I've even had fun, cool jobs here and there (sex educator, peer support trainer, crisis shelter worker, research coordinator) but they're so diverse they make marking out an employment niche more than a little tricky. Which is perhaps a gentler way of saying that I'm not really qualified to do much of anything (capable and bright and lovely though I may be).

And therein lies the angst of this particular birthday creep (you know, aside from the physical aging related angsty garbage that people, particularly women, have to deal with, which is, you know, also there). 

Thirty-six is going to be a year of change for me.  And change is tough.  But necessary.  (Really, really, really necessary).  I am simultaneously excited and terrified.

But - given that people- both in bloglandia in and in real life- have been giving me a great deal of flack of late for being too hard on myself - I guess the project of year 36 is going to be taking on the great wall of me.  Being braver.  Getting outside the comfort zone.  (Getting outside the house!!).  And giving myself a break.   Okay - trying to give myself a break.  Baby steps, people.  Baby steps.

So I'm ending up with an old favourite song, Precious Heart, by the fantastic Veda Hille.  It's been my go-to song for those scary life-changing times for years now. (Many, many years.  Not to belabour the point or anything).  Hope you like it as much as I do :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Family vacation amnesia

When L. suggested a weekend away in Jasper with the kids, I jumped on it. I've been crawling out of my skin lately and all existentially angst-ridden. So some time in the mountains, away from the ugliness that is winter/early spring in the dirty concrete jungle of Redneckville sounded like just what the doctor ordered. We got a one bedroom suite at at cheap Jasper Inn that had a pool. All was good.

But then, as we headed out of the city in the midst of the most craptastic spring snowstorm, I remembered. Our last family vacation. The one that ended with us proclaiming never again. How had I forgotten? The sleepless children. The cranky out of sorts children. The meltdowns resulting from the tired from the sleepless children that totally pooched our trip to the Calgary Zoo and nearly pooched Calaway Park too? That exhausted feeling. That never again feeling? Drinking wine in the hotel bathroom from plastic cups because we had been too broke to book a suite and the freaking kids were finally asleep?? WHY WERE WE DOING THIS AGAIN?! In a seemingly province-wide snowstorm, no less? Were we just paying money we can't afford to be locked up in a Jasper hotel? It did have a pool, I reasoned. We gad fallen prey to family vacation amnesia!

We would survive. And then, just as we crossed over into the Provincial park, the snow stopped. We saw herd after herd of beautiful wild animals, clear skies, mountains everywhere. No concrete in sight. We checked in. We swam. We explored. We kept the kids up late and then got to drink wine (in actual wineglasses) in our bedroom instead of the bathroom. And then, the little dudes slept in!

No matter what today's events bring - I guess maybe some vacations are just better than others.

We're gonna make it. It might even be fun.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hot mess on the school run

So I got this new haircut last weekend. And new glasses. And a few bits of new clothes. And awesome new value village boots. You could say I've been feeling a but, well, kicky. I've been taking care of myself- making time to blow dry, hauling out the flat iron, taking more time with my make up. I've been feeling enervated, getting out the door on time, with reasonably groomed children to boot. I starred thinking that I'd finally gotten it together (you know, now that it's April!)

But that was Monday and Tuesday. It's Wednesday now folks, and the hot mess returns. I've got lopsided hair, slapped on make-up, and remnants of the children's oatmeal on my pants. Said oatmeal also graces the children's faces. (And much of Girlio's hair. Hey! You try getting oatmeal out of someones hair. That is some sticky shit!). And Boy-o's hair could give Corey Hart a run for his money. And it took both L. and I to load the traveling gong show up this morning.

So friends - you can dress her up in good boots and new hair - but she's still a hot mess on the school run.

(and, just in case you were wondering about my priorities, we got to school a bit early - miraculously - so I could've at least attempted to clean up the little mess brigade. But then - I would've lost my five seconds to write about it all, and where's the fun in that?!)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Best tea party ever

When we first brought Girlio home, as in love with her as we were, we were terrified that we had ruined the equilibrium of our happy home.   Because Boy-o was miserable.   Mad.   All kinds of out-of-whack.   He did not want a sister.   He did not need another baby.  And he felt quite strongly (and vocally) that we should agree with him on these points.  "Put the baby down" and "Put the baby on the floor" were the two most common phrases heard from him.  She was a tough freaking sell.  Things got a bit better after the first three months, and we settled into a period of him ignoring her presence altogether.  And then she started to crawl around and get into his shit.  Not a particularly good sibling period there either.   Things got ugly.  Often. 

I envied (to the point of bitterness) the experience of other parent's whose older siblings "just loved the new baby."  I wondered what we had done wrong, and if Boy-o would ever accept this interloper as his own.  And I spent a lot (a lot, a lot, a lot) of time juggling the very competing interests of my two smalls. 

Then somewhere between 18 and 19 months old, Girlio started to get more interesting to Boy-o.  He started laughing at her (not in the ridiculing way, but more like in the holy-crap-that-kid-is-funny-way) and finding her entertaining.  It wasn't all of the time, or even necessarily often, but there were some moments in which Girlio was beginning to be tolerable.  L. and I began to wonder if the tides were turning.

Girlio is 22 months old now.  And she has really, really worked freaking hard to win her big brother's affection.  And it is a testament to her charm and character that she seems to have fought the good fight and won!   The sibling friction still definitely occurs - and it's still challenging because both my babies are hotheads - (no idea where they get this from).  

BUT - yesterday, I turned around from whatever I was doing on the computer (likely Facecrack, because I have no life), and my kids were sitting down on the living room floor.  Together.  Having a tea party.  At the same time.  With the same toy s. In a sharing and cooperating sort of way.  In an enjoying each other's company kind of way. I just about cried.  (Okay, I might've cried just a little).  And it lasted a full five minutes before someone clobbered someone else.

So - it took almost two years- but maybe there's hope that I won't spend my days constantly pulled in two competing directions. 

And maybe - just maybe - we didn't ruin anyone's lives.

Monday, April 11, 2011


It's an odd thing, this blogging business.  When I first started out, I was totally anonymous.  And that felt pretty liberating.   I could say what I wanted and not worry about the consequences, beyond being flamed by some stranger who I pissed off.  Not too scary really.  But times have changed a bit.  My blogs' still pretty low-key as far as blogs go.  I don't have a big following, nor have I tried to cultivate one.  But I certainly don't have the same anonymity as when I first started out a few years ago.

Making connections through blogging has been kind of neat.  I've made friends through this blog!  I've connected with people who have used the same donor as us, which is pretty amazing, and may really be great for my kiddos down the line (or not - s'up to them).   This part of blogging has been really wonderful. 

On the flipside -  having people who know me, or who kind of know me read this blog has been tricky too.   I never quite know who reads the blog.  Given that I'm kind of a, you know, gut-spiller, it's possible (more like plausible) that acquaintances and even some friends know wayyyyyyy more about me than I do about them.  Moreover - I never quite know exactly who knows what about my life.   And the not-knowing makes me sit there and wonder.  Have they read the blog?  Do they already think I'm a basketcase?  Do they think I'm self-indulgent?  Inarticulate?  Boring?  A terrible parent?  And so on and so forth.  These little anxieties can crop up.  (I'm sure this comes as a surprise).   Sometimes people will say: "Hey - I read your blog on _______."  And then I can kind of assume that this person does already know I'm a general mess ;)

There's also the added dimension in actual writing of the blogs where I've started self-censoring due to anxiety about what people will think of me.  I try very hard not to do this.  And sometimes, my determination not to self-censor has apparently resulted in people being rather pissed off with me.  Not always welcome by-products of blogging, but by-products nonetheless.  Knowing that friends and family read this, and not wanting to write things that will offend or shock has definitely arisen the less anonymous the blog gets. 

Basket-case-ish, self-indulgent, messy or not, this blog is kind of like an old friend, and unflaggingly me, and I don't know how I'd live without it.  Negotiating anonymity and/or lackthereof is just one of the by-products of blogging - and I'd much rather have to do that than not write at all. 

(Though just for the record, I think in real time I might actually come off as a little less of a mess.)

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I've hit the wall. (and Christ, it is brickish).  To flagrantly steal from Wally Lamb, she's come undone.  And now she's admitting it.

I feel as though someone is holding a pillow over my face and smothering me with it.  It hasactually come to that.  I can barely say the words, write the words, without choking on them, without tears.  It feels so traitorous, and so diametrically opposed to my blogs' opening mama-festo.   But there it is.   I cannot be a full-time stay-at-home mama anymore.   I need something else.  For me.  Outside the walls of my home.  And I need it pretty soon. 

I face this upcoming process of change with the terror of a someone who has spent the past four years employing no other skill than her ability to love.   And I'm not dissing myself here - you should be so lucky to be loved by me.   But in this process - I have forgotten what I love about myself.  I have forgotten why it is that L. must love me.   Those things that might  make me smart, sexy, funny.   I have forgotten the bits that make me separate from those little miraculous beings whom I love more fiercly than anything, who both make me and unmake me.

I am all kinds of afraid.

Afraid that I have no marketable skills.
Afraid of not being good enough.
Afraid that this is horribly selfish.
Afraid that I will fail those exquisite babies of mine.
Afraid that I will fail myself.
Afraid that these feelings mean I don't love my kids enough.
Afraid that they aren't ready for these changes, whatever they will be.
 But more than that, much much more than all of that, afraid that we will discover in this process that I was not what was best for them.

I don't know what happens next.  But I am putting this in writing because something needs to happen.   And if I tell all of you, maybe I won't let the fear overrule the action. 

A kind of promise from me - to me.

Friday, April 8, 2011

kids, gendering, Sociological Images

M'kay.  So, I think it's a bit of no-brainer that kids toys are ridiculously gendered and reinforce problematic traditional definitions of boy-ness and girl-ness.  But the folks over at Sociological Images have provided a visual demonstration of this, and it's pretty darned telling.

And in other, really angry-making news, how 'bout this little tidbit:

You just can't make this shit up.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


To whom it may or may not concern:

Carpool is slowly sucking out my soul.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

making the grade

I am, it would seem, the kind of person who needs a lot of outward encouragment.  (Though I suspect most people are... maybe I just talk about it -and everything else- more than other folks).  Anyways.  We've had a stomach flu floating around our house and it was my turn for the fun the past two days.  Which meant that L. had to do my job.  The kids, the wrangling, the carpool, the cooking, whathaveyou.  And yesterday, my lovely wife's facebook status was: "I feel like a rookie."  Which made me almost perversely pleased. 
I have this (possibly pathological) urge to excel at everything I do.  We're talking the bigs things here, not the little detail-y things (like say housework, and returning library books on time.  Here I am apparently content to fail abyssmally, time and time again).  It is difficult to 'excel', or perhaps more specifically to have any markers of doing well, when one's occupation is stay-at-home mom-age.   At school, I did scads of research, worked diligently on papers and thinking and writing.  I nerded out.  For this I was rewarded with some A's and some +'s and a finished sparkly thesis.  (I like the letter A.  It is a good good letter.)  Parenting, it seems, cannot be nerded out.   I know.  I've tried.  The list of parenting books I've read rivals the bibliography on my masters' thesis.   Parenting is too messy, with constant permutations and many, many pitfalls and booby traps.  (Also parenting books seem to really, really suck).  Even at the end of the day, when you'd like to feel satisfied that you made it through, there is always something unfinished, a sink full of dishes, seven loads of laundry, a nightmare to soothe.   And my 'research' subjects - they are slippery little suckers.  Just when you think you have a handle on them - they go and grow and change and shift and surprise you some more.  And you begin anew the process of struggling to grow and learn and keep up with them. 

So hearing that two days of doing my job made my wifey feel like a rookie? 

I'll take that as my A. 

(Though it's probably more like an A-.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

frivolity, femininity, fatness, fashion, frustration (and feet)

I had a great shopping trip the other day.  The kind where everything fit and some of it, you know, mighta kinda looked good.  (And the fact that I did not have two shopping resistant children around and could actually, you know, try stuff on instead of grabbing something and hoping for the best, didn't hurt either).  The greatness of said trip is a kinda a big thing - because no matter how much I've try to be a 'rock-your-body-whatever-body-you-got' kinda person - shopping always channels back those old, deeply ingrained anxieties.

Growing up I always wanted to be that pretty, slight, girly-girl who looks smashing in everything.  (If I'm being honest, I probably wouldn't turn down a chance to try on her shoes now, either).  You know,  the one that everyone in the room wants to simultaneously take-care of/throw over their shoulder caveman style.  Yeah.  Not so much in the cards for me.  (Not saying that there aren't people out there that think I look reasonably good.   Just that those aren't the type of responses girls like me tend to elicit.  S'okay - that script of femininity is kind of, old and tired -and heinously sexist-anyhoo...)

I was raised by a decidedly not-girly strong (beautiful) feminist mama, who wore a dress to her own wedding only because my dad insisted, and picked it out for her.  She dressed me in baggy brown overalls and my brother's hand-me-downs and pooh-poohed girly-girl-ness and feigned girly-helplessness (and to this day is absolutely baffled at how I became a make-up wearing, dress loving, heels coveting kind of person).  And so I watched my delicate cousins and friends flounce around in beautiful, poofy dresses and Mary Janes with all kinds of unbridled envy.  (I still have a massive love affair with Mary Janes.  Big, big love).  

Unlike lots of queer girls I know, I did not spend my adolescence developing mad crushes on the beautiful, glamourous women I saw on television.  Nope. ( I wasn't really all that into girls until I discovered butchy girls...and then... h-e-l-l-o.  Doo-dee-doo, digressing now.)  I did watch the gorgeous tv women with longing, not because I wanted to date them, but because I wanted to be them.  And lots of wistfulness, because even at a really young age, everything pointed to the fact that I wasn't ever going to be tall, slender, or glamourous.   

Fast forward to grown-up time.  I get to pick my own clothes now.  I'm not tall.  I'm sure as hell not slender.  Probably not glamorous.   BUT - I'm tough as nails.  I have hips that can carry a 45 pound kid on one side and a 25 pound toddler on the other.  I gave birth twice with no drugs.  I can fix things (if I have to.  But L. does it for me and I'm much happier that way).  I'm pretty damn scrappy.  I can pitch my own damn tent and light a campfire in the rain (in regards to the latter, in case you were wondering, a squeeze bottle of Muskoil can come in very handy).  I don't really need or want anyone to take care of me.  I'm not the kind of girl people are gonna throw over their shoulder cave-man (woman?) style.  And I'd probably kick the shit out of them if they tried.  I'm a still that girly-girl I wanted to be when I was younger.  I'm just a queer-fat-take-no-prisoners-brick-house kinda girly-girl.  Or at least I'm working on the take-no-prisoners part.  Funny how things begin to shift when we drop those dominant versions of femininity. 

And I still love the pretty stuff as much now as when I did when I was younger.  Fashion does not make this easy.  The stores that carry the kind of clothes I want to wear aren't generally the stores that carry the kind of clothes that fit my body. (How exactly is one supposed to pull-off being a hot, fat chick when the clothes and designers will not cooperate with your obvious hotness? *and yes - that is me poking fun at my own bravado*. Also - I'm broke and generally have no childcare - factors which can frequently combine to kill the joy of shopping.)  And then there's the not so trifling matter of my feet (shakes fist at the sky).  Finding gorgeous shoes to fit my Barney Rubble feet is, well, difficult.  (Makes for a whole lot of  Cinderella's ugly step-sister moments).  These feet are a cruel joke of nature.  They shoulda been given to someone who liked workboots not kitten heels.  Anyways...

But all that background aside - I had an amazing shopping trip the other day.  I bought nothing sensible.  It was terribly frivolous and unpractical of me.  And a whole lot of wonderful.   I might even do it again, brokeness be damned.  (No, really brokeness.  Be Damned!).

Clothes to leave the house in - check.  

Events to leave the house in said clothes, babysitters, more bravado -  a work in progess. 

(And as a total aside -  if you happen to want to check out some awesome writing - Tasha Fierce is a blogger (RedVinylShoes, Sex and the Fat Girl) currently writing for Bitch Magazine about a variety of topics re: fat chicks and sexuality.  S'good stuff.)

Monday, April 4, 2011

a sick day musing

I wonder if it's too selfish to admit that I've rather enjoyed this morning home with my sick Girlio?  That in between cleaning up vomit, back patting, comforting, plying with Pedialyte, breastfeeding, I've managed to read (re-read, actually) an entire book* with her small, sick body sleeping on my lap?   That I haven't been able to do that in ages?  That it feels entirely decadent to be able to nurture us both at once?

I guess I'm saying it anyways.

*(and in case you were wondering, or even if you weren't, it was: Brazen Femme: Queering Femininity, eds. Chloe Brushwood Rose and Anna Camilleri, Arsenal Pulp Press, 2002.   Said compilation includes writing and artwork by some of the amazing gals behind the now defunct Toronto activist performance troupe, Pretty, Porky & Pissed Off.   Clever, clever girls, them.  Other good stuff too - but those are my faves.)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Taking leave...

They're gone again.

I've pulled over on the shoulder to have the requisite post airport cry and feel grateful for the wonderful visit and grateful that this goodbye time the kids aren't here, so I can just worry about my own psyche for a minute or two (okay, maybe three).  My centre of gravity is always slippery, shifty post-leaving. I lose momentum, forget where I was heading. It takes a few days to push past it and remember.   (And it will take a few days to get Boy-o back together, for this is a loss he always feels keenly. Like mama, like son.  And for Girlio to stop being confused about where her people suddenly disappeared to.)


(It is a backwards glancing and forward thinking kind of pain. I am keenly aware in these moments that I am pouring my love into my babies so that they will grow up as whole as possible in this life. And so that they will be strong enough to leave me.  A simultaneously beautiful and horrifying thing.  A thin line between selflessness and masochism).


(How is it that we managed to end up living in the province with the set of parents who are retired and can afford to travel more, instead of the ones who take a hit every time they come visit from the costs of travelling and lost work hours?)  


Goodbyes are a bitch.

Time for a kitchen dance party with my babies.  A moment to regroup.   Recollect.  Pull together. 

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dear Virginia

Dear Virginia -

Don't get me wrong. I'm not comparing our voices or intellect or circumstances. But you really weren't shitting about that room of one's own business.

mama t

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, April 1, 2011

on tantrums

Let me begin by saying that I hate the word tantrum.  Tantrums.  Tantrumming.  It gets bandied about a great deal by parents and parenting experts and what people usually mean by this is: kids stomping their feet, whining, screaming, wailing, whathaveyou, and generally kicking up a fuss because they don't get what they want.  Ignore this, the experts will tell you.  Give them a time-out, say parents.  Don't allow them.  And so on and so forth.

I don't know what else to call the emotional outbursts I have dealt with.  I hardly know how to describe them.  I know they are not these things other parents describe as tantrums.  They do not occur because my child is trying to get his way and doesn't.  Because he wants a toy at the check-out.  I can see them coming from miles away.  They build.  Grow.  Intensify.   Bits of tired here.  Bits of anger there.  And then they pick up speed.  And then they explode all over me and anyone else in proximity. 

I knew one was coming.  We were off kilter.  I could feel it all day.  His sister got nailed.  I got slapped (and in case anyone's wondering whether I have a flight or fight response to getting slapped, I can tell with you certainty, I wouldn't recommend it.  I had to use everybit of deep breathing I have not to put up my dukes). 

And then, during bathtime - eruption.  A tiny thing, out of place.  A hairtrigger. 

And then 10 minutes of holding the naked slippery child as he rends his head backwards, slamming into my jaw, my forehead, trying to keep a hold on him, trying to keep him from damaging his body, his bedroom, me.  His small bedroom fills up with the overwhelming sense of this little body trying to run from it's own huge, collossal feelings.  And I am overtaken with the almost unbearable need to make it better for him, and wonder, for the millionth time in the past four years if my heart will hold up, if I am strong enough to bring him, me, us through it.  Breathe baby.  Breathe baby.  Just breathe with me baby.  I chant this again and again, while ducking, dodging, holding it all in/together.  I'm not sure how it ends.  But finally it does and we curl up on the floor together.  I finally remember to breathe too.

I fucking hate the word tantrum.