Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I choose tradespeople the way I choose bottles of wine.  I go for the prettiest ad (or label, in the case of wine).  I will admit up front that this is mainly because I don't really know any better.  And I've met some pretty great tradespeople this way (not to mentio n consumed some excellent - and sassily labelled - wine).  And then I decide whether those tradespeople can come back for repeat work based on in part, the work they do, but also in part, how they treat Boy-o.  No joking.  Boy-o loves people with tools.  He calls them worker-dudes.  Total worship.  And so, when 'worker dudes' come to hang out at our home for various jobs, he gets pretty excited.  And chatty.  Very very chatty.

We've had some pretty amazing kid-friendly people come by to do work for us.  Boy-o's favourite is still Freeman the electrician.  Freeman (PT Electrical, if you`re curious) saved our butts (possibly from an not-beyond-the-realm-of-possibility electrical fire) and talked to Boy-o the whole time about the jobs he was doing, tools he was using, etc.    It was above and beyond and super sweet.  Win/Win.

We have also had some serious duds.  The guy who came to change our oven element last week steadfastly ignored every question that came out of Boy-o's mouth, acted as if he wasn't even there, and then as he was leaving, looked at him and said: "You talk too much."  Never, never, never will the jerk from Accurate Appliance Repair be coming into this house again.  Ever.

The other day, we had the first (of several, we thought) company reps come by to give us an estimate on replacing some windows. Not only did he not pressure us to replace more than the four we can (read: can't) afford to replace, he was awesome to the kids. He patiently answered every one of Boy-o's rapid-fire questions, including (but not limited to): Do you know Diego?. . .Can you speak Spanish?. . . HEY! Do you have a penis?!

Um, yeah.  So much for estimates.  We pretty much hired that dude on the spot.  They`ll be back in June for more questions about windows, Diego and, more than likely, penises.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


My mommies are coming!  My mommies are coming!  I shout in 'girl-ish' squeal.  

Tonight - the reinforcements arrive.  Two grammas, hungry for some grandkid lovin', ready to sit on the floor and play, nurture, listen to every word that comes outta their mouths, read and snuggle and babysit. 

Oh yes.  L. and I will get a date.  A date-date.  Grown-up time.  I'm going to go out.  I'm going to get a haircut.  Maybe go shopping.  Or take myself and my laptop on a date to a coffee shop.  I'm going to listen to CBC in the car.   I'm going to tune-out.  And oh -man.  Do I ever need to tune out

This morning, (at just before 6 a.m., if you really want to know) as the children were jumping all over me, wild as mini barbarians, grabbing each others' toys and alternately screaming at each other and laughing maniacally, Girlio trying to wrench up my shirt... my eyes started welling with tears and all I could think was: *this is not my life.*   Now I think we're all pretty clear that this, you know, actually is my life.  But I am way depleted.

Tonight - the reinforcements are here. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

We do not compute

My phone rings, while grocery shopping this afternoon.  It's Boy-o's new school principal.  He sounds, well, grave.  Immediately, I'm a bit on edge.  Did we lose our spot?  No, but there does seem to be a problem.  

"You are Boy-o's mom?" he asks me. 
"One of them."
 "Um, so you are a part of an, um, same-sex couple?" 
"Yup."  (I'm getting slightly more worried now.)
"It seems that I can't, um, figure out a way to fit you into my system...."

Say what?!?

We do not, it seems, compute.  Translate.  Fit into their computer system, which demarcates one parent as "mother" and one parent as "father".  

Apparently, we are the first same-sex parents this liberal school for the performing arts school has seen. 

Say what?!?

He is all kinds of apologetic.  They will work on changing the system.  But until they do, one of us is going to be listed as Boy-o's "father," on all school communications.

I am pretty good-natured about it, I think, though I do ask them to clarify that they will, in fact, change this system.  But I nevertheless get off the phone feeling a little bit heartsick and a little bit weary.

Boy-o wants to know why his new principal called.  I don't know what to tell him.  The explanation is just too.... big.   So I lie.   "I wrote your middle name too messy on the application, buddy.  They just wanted to make sure they had it right."

How can it possibly be that no other queer parents have sent their children to Vic? 

How can it possibly be that yet again, Boy-o will be the only one?

It's just letters, I tell myself.  Just a few mislabelled letters until they fix it. (Presuming they fix it).

But of course, it's not just letters.  It's not just mislabelling.

It's just one more reminder, in a string of constant reminders, that we do not fit.

The most common irritating response to: "I write a mommy-blog"

Ha!  Ha!  Your kids are sure going to need therapy when they grow up!  Ha!
Ha.  Ha.  Aha.  Ha. 

Yes.  They might.  But I'll let you in on a little not-so secret.  I'm the child of two non-bloggin' therapists.  And I've been known to partake in some therapy now and again.  (Find me someone who isn't in some way carrying one trauma or another from their raising, and I'll find you a liar-liar-pants-on-fire).  

The aforementioned ha-ha gets me (well, in addition to the fact that it's not actually, you know, funny)because, letting you in on a bigger not-so-secret: This blog is not meant to be about my children at all.   I DO talk a lot about motherhood,  what that means for me, how it morphs and changes, how it has shifted and shaken my foundations, how it has made me struggle and grow and grow some more.  The key word in all of that is me.  This blog is meant to be about me.  This is entirely purposeful.   The first and most fundamental reason for this being: oh dear god, I need space for me.  Somewhere.  Space where I can say what I want, be who I want, swear, vent, delight in and otherwise explore my thoughts and process.  Space where I can be selfish and unapologetic and honest.  Just space.  It isn't perfect.  It isn't uninterrupted.  But it's mine.

I do talk about my kids - their successes and challenges (and my challenges and successes in the raising of them).  I try very hard to do so mostly in generalities, as opposed to the specifics of their lives.  My goal is to keep the nitty gritty details, the really private stuff, out of bounds.  Part of the reason for keeping the focus firmly on my process, is that they can't tell me yet what is and isn't okay to share about them, their selves, their lives.  One of the funniest blogs I ever wrote (in my humble opinion) was about one of Boy-o's trips to the doctor.  I subsequently deleted it, because in hindsight, even though L. and others disagreed with me, I felt it was just too personal.   So I guess maybe the ha ha is annoying in part because it assumes that I write about my children without considering the consequences.  I do not.  As with everything else in my life, I can assure you, I think (and worry) about it too much.

Moreover - sometimes I wonder if this whole, pervasive 'mommy bloggers are invading their children's privacy by writing about their lives' business is just an extension of maintaining the ideology of the 'good mother.'  Good mothers put up and shut up.  They put their own needs last.  Always.  They don't talk about it being hard.  They don't talk about the days when children more closely resemble monsters than darlings.  They don't talk about how many times a month they think about tendering their resignations.  And they certainly don't talk about negative or conflicting maternal emotions.  The good mother script.  It's a killer.  Still.

So yup.  I'm a mama.  And a mommyblogger.  I care about my kids.  And I care about me too. 

And you know what?  It's my job to do my best to pay for their therapy later on, whether it's blog related or not.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Okay.  So I know that I want to do it.  I found a department that would be a good fit in terms of scholarship and available supervisors. I know I can do it.  I just don't know if I can do it and still be a reasonably present parent.  Can we have a household in which one parent has a full-time (+), pretty consuming job and the other parent has a full-time (+) PhD program, and still have kids that are nurtured and (more than) adequately cared for and about?   Can we strike that balance?   One minute I'm filled with hope and ethusiasm and I'm sure it's possible.  The next minute I'm equally sure it's the nuttiest plan I've ever come up with.

Does someone have a magic 8 ball they could lend me?!  


FAME! (I'm gonna live for-evah!)

and I'm gonna learn how to fly! HIGH!

This is an update on the blog I wrote about Boy-o's school interview for the school for the performing arts. 

We're in like Flynn!  They would be 'delighted' to offer us a place in the program.  And I'm so excited that Boy-o will have a place to grow and learn that continues to nurture his love of music and art and performing. 


(and now I can commence worrying that the program won't be as good as I've hoped... ;)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

family-makin' magic

We have so many friends right now who are building and growing their families right now.   One set of friends just finalized their second adoption last week.  Another set had a baby last night.  And yet another set of friends are due any day now.  And another set of friends just started the process to adopt a second child.  Kids and babies everywhere.  Stinking beautiful gorgeous kids and babies everywhere.  And of course, these occurrences turn our hearts to total mush, because we love our friends so much, because growing families is so beautiful and miraculous and magical, and maybe a little bit selfishly, because seeing others growing their big queer families makes us feel less alone, less different, less isolated, too.

On the heels of all of these wondrous and soon-to-be wondrous occassions, we got some mail from our AART clinic in Halifax, where we still have a few vials of the good ole donor on ice, so to speak.  They want us to pay up for another year of storage, or donate the vials to research, or have them destroyed.  Shit or get off the pot, so to speak.  And wham - the heart (so previously sure we were done) hits me with a sucker punch that chants 'baby! baby! baby!'.  It doesn't help that Boy-o has begun asking for another sibling (a brother in specific), which makes me feel all kinds of guilty that this kid is the only boy in his family (this is silly and irrational, but let's think about who we're talking about here).   And my dwindling egg supply starts dancing that 'try and see' dance.  And those two vials feel like desparately unfinished business.  I hate, hate, hate loose ends.

And my head knows how ridiculous this urge is.  I haven't slept in years.  (Almost two years, to be exact).  I'm tired of breastfeeding.  I need to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  I need to be more than just 'mama'.  It's possible I'm not so great at that with the two I already have.  I'm kinda fried.   I"m a puddle of worry.  Car pool turns me into a raving lunatic.  (Okay - so many things turn me into a raving lunatic). And not to sound more narcissistic than, you know, usual, but my face has aged in the last two years of sleeplessness.  Like, a lot.  And I'm just getting close to fitting all of my pre-pregnancy clothes again.  We can't afford a mini-van.  We can't afford the kid costs period.  We don't have room in our house.   Post-partum depression and general nuttiness really sucks.  It would be nice to get to a place where L. and I could focus on our grown-up relationship a little more often, not just our parenting relationship.  Take some trips.  And we're probably way too old for this.  And would it be fair to the two great, amazing, stupendous kiddies we already have?  This list goes on and on and on. 

But by God, I loves me some family-makin'.  I love being pregnant.  I love giving birth.  I love them babies and kids.  And that's before we even get into considering the idea of adoption, which I've tossed around a lot, too. 

And it's hard to let the idea of growing go ... no matter how long the list of cons is.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nap snatched!

My dear Boy-o napped in the afternoon every day until he was four. Four years old. God bless his little napping self. I had at least an hour to sit and regroup and charge the mama batteries while he and Girlio dozed. Then he decided the nap was not for him, and we had quiet time play (read: I let him watch tv so I could still - sort of - recharge my batteries while Girlio slept). But now we have a new unfortunate turn of events. At the tender age of 21 months, Girlio, our resident sleep hater, is showing all signs of giving up naps. I cannot get this child to sleep for more than 20 minutes in the afternoon, and even this has become a stretch. I've tried not letting her carnap on Boy-o's school mornings. I've tried letting her carnap (and whichever sleep expert touts this 'sleep begets more sleep' business has not ever met a child like mine!). I've tried letting her cry in her crib until an appropriate amount of naptime has passed. And believe me when I tell you that 15-20 minutes of napping and 40-45 minutes of screaming toddler does not a battery recharge make. I could drive and she would probably fall asleep - but this would be heinously boring for Boy-o, sucky for the environment, and still not address the battery issue. So there we have it.  

I'm in mourning.  I'm flummoxed.  I'm incredulous.  I'm outraged.   But none of these things seem to be doing a bit of good.   The kid is just not a sleeper.  I can kiss my afternoon blog or run time goodbye for good (insert prolonged period of whining and kvetching here).   Apparently I just need to invest in some super-mama powers (lithium batteries?).  Because friends - the nap - it's been snatched.

And I say in my best Maria voice "oh HELP!

Hatin' on the telephone

Look-y! Look-y!

I read this article from the NY Times with some relief, as many many people mock and/or resent my great (and growing everyday) phone reluctance. There are a very few people that I can talk to on the phone comfortably. I much prefer electronic communication where I can control when, how and if I will respond.  For that matter, I much prefer forms of communication that don't ring shrilly at naptime or bedtime, waking up my painstakingly just-asleep children.  Then, via a multitude of available electronic methods, I can make dates with the folks I actually want to see in person, as opposed to stumbling through disjointed, disembodied phone chats, which unless you are my mom, my wife, my kids, or my bff, I have a ridiculously hard time pulling off.  (Moreover, my kiddos hate the time I spend on the phone, limited though it may be).

And, as this article deftly points out - I'm not the only phone phobe out there! And I'm not nearly as silly as people think (well, at least not for that reason).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sunny Came Home

I have this beautiful version of Sunny Came Home, and it's been a bit of my go-to song of late.  Yesterday, as I was driving around trying to get one feverish nap striker to sleep, Boy-o said to me: 
"Mama?  Mama?  You don't have to worry.  The world isn't really burning down.... That's just an expression." 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

c-section confusion

Sometimes during the last week at school, Boy-o found out about c-sections, due, it seems, to a child in his class explaining that her new sibling was coming via caesarian.  Boy-o has been asking questions here and there about c-sections - Why does the baby get cut out of the tummy, does it hurt, etc.  But nothing our parenting senses really saw as out of the ordinary.

Last night, we had a kinda hilarious conversation with Boy-o, stemming from questions about whose belly he grew in, I grew in, L. grew in, etc. etc.  It was funny.  I wish I'd recorded it for posterity.  But then we also had a lengthy conversation about how babies come out.  We talked about vaginal deliveries and c-sections.  He hung on every word.  (You should've seen the look on his face when we told him that he came into the world via my vagina - priceless).  And then we discovered where all the questions had been coming from. 

Poor Boy-o had spent the better part of the week being terrified that someone was going to cut open his belly and pull out a baby.  Poor little dude.  We gently explained to him that he couldn't actually grow a baby in his belly, and far from being dissapointed, he was WAY relieved.   Palpably.

Turns out c-sections might be a bit, um, much for the junior kindergarten crowd.  And - thus begins our search for queer appropriate 'where do babies come from' type books. 

(Wish me luck with that one!)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

and back to the breast

I'm not really an attachment parent.  I've blogged about this a bit before.  I'm more like a whatever-works parent.  I co-slept a bit.  But I like a little separation too, so the co-sleeping didn't last too long.  I breastfed both my kids, because it was important to me.  Boy-o self-weaned at 15 months and I so wasn't ready for him to be done yet.  I craved that time that was just ours, the snuggles, the closeness with my toddler baby who was the kind of toddler who was wayyyyy to busy being busy to snuggle.  And just a few months back, when Girlio was 18 months, I wrote a blog talking about beginning to feel a lot of external pressure to stop breastfeeding her.  At the time, I argued that I would breastfeed until she and I were good and god-damned ready to stop. 

And - here we are, three months later.  I have a 21 month old who still wants to breastfeed as much as some newborns.  And I have begun in earnest to crave having my body back in my own possession.  That I love this connecting time of breastfeeding has begun to be outshone by that Jesus Christ - get off me feeling.  And I do still love connecting and having a breastfeed here and there.  But I'd like to not have to connect quite so often and quite so on command.  As in, I've begun to feel like a dairy cow.  So I've begun the process of trying to cut down the number of times a day Girlio breastfeeds, from anywhere upwards of 10 times, to,  let's say, 4 ish times a day.  My hope is that once we get this first cut-down under our belts, the eventual weaning will be simpler, gentler, easier on both of us.  This process is not without some guilt. (read: a lot of guilt).  No parenting decision is, really.  But this is especially so when the decision is made for the comfort of the parent, to the 'discomfort' of the child.  Selfish mama.  Bad, selfish mama. 

Lately, I've begun to be particularly irked by the pro-breastfeeding camp, whose literature cries: Breastfeed!  Breastfeed for longer!  Your babywill be smarter! Thinner!, More well adjusted!  And then the studies are parroted from here until next Tuesday by every pro-breastfeeding site across the globe. It's not that I don't understand the need to encourage breastfeeding. I do. I get it.  But what irks me about the breastfeed/extended breastfeed dogma is that the rhetoric is all about the children, and not always so much about the mothers whose bodies are doing the feeding. Believe it or not, I am not just a vessel for my child's growth and well-being. I'm an actual person.  A person with breasts, raising children.

The rhetoric around the decision to breastfeed or not breastfeed, and/or how long people should continue to breastfeed, I believe, is damaging.  When people who breastfeed feel it is their right to follow people who bottlefeed and question them about their choices, and conversely, when people feel it is their right to ask breastfeeding women to leave public spaces and/or question them about their choice to breastfeed or how long they choose to breastfeed, it is abundantly clear that we have a problem on both sides of the coin.  It's one damn judge-y coin, no matter how you flip it.  People who breastfeed feel judged.  People who do not breastfeed feel judged.  Everybody feels judged.   Likely because everybody is judged.  The mere sight or suggestion of a bottle/formula feeding should not be offensive.  The mere sight or suggestion of breastfeeding should not be offensive.  And yet....

That judge-y old coin makes us all more reactive than we probably need to be. 

Case in point.  Some friends and I and our respective progeny were hanging out at the Muttart Conservatory.  We run the gamut of breastfeeding choices:  one mama's babe is adopted and not breastfed, one mama is desparately trying to find ways to gently wean her not-quite two year old, and one mama is committed to extended breastfeeding, child-led weaning and still breastfeeding her three year old.  Three wonderful, beautiful, thriving, happy children.  Three different parents and perspectives.  And while my friend was breastfeeding her daughter, and I was simultaneously trying, with some difficulty to distract my babe who kept shouting at me (and the rest of the Conservatory): "milky! milky! milky!", some dude starts up a conversation about how he and his wife believe in child-led weaning and breastfed their kids for four years apiece. 

Now - for my friend breastfeeding on the bench, this was a lovely conversation to have, and rightly so.  There is lots of pressure to wean kids early, and sticking it out with your kids requires lots of patience and commitment.  I don't know how these kinds of comments make people who haven't (for whatever reason) breastfed their kids feel - I'll have to ask my friend how she felt about that.  But I can tell ya - it made this trying-to-wean-and-feeling-tired-and-guilty-about-it mama feel like wiping the floor with his ass.   I reacted.  Bigtime.  Like blood reaching boiling point, hair standing up on the back of my neck, reacted.

Because it felt like congratulating my breastfeeding friends' choice inevitably meant putting my choice down.   I also reacted because who the hell is this dude trying to kid?  He didn't freaking loan out his body for eight years to breastfeed anyone.  I was also wondering if maybe he wasn't just trying to make conversation so he could check out my friends' boobs.   Me- I'm not so trusting.  I managed a tense smile and barked out a "your wife is a better woman than me" and I moved on fast before I could muster anything else (And yes - I probably said it witheringly.  My filter ain't so great these days). 

Anyways - I reacted so strongly because, no matter what choice a mother makes, someone's always going to be there to tell you, or at least insinuate, that it isn't the right one. 

So - as with so many other things - we need to cut moms some f*cking slack.  Give the information in non-judgemental ways. (Note here that pronouncing from the rooftops that breastfed babies are less prone to obesity*, less likely to flunk out of school, go to jail, most likely to attend Yale, bladdy bladdy blah is not, in fact, non-judgemental.   Not to mention the rather obvious flaws in studies like these that look at one tiny factor in a childs' upbringing and pronounce it all-encompassing).  

And we also need to recognize that ultimately, what's best for mama is also best for baby.  There are so many many ways for parents to nurture, love and, yes - attach, to their children.  How kids get fed is such a small part of the equation. 

I believe in my feminist-mama-head that my toddler will be a happier toddler when her mama feels less like throwing her off every time she grabs for breasts, yelling "milky!  milky! milky!"  

But my feminist-mama-heart finds itself so easily subsumed by the guilt messaging about what makes a 'good parent'.

As always, this parenting business is a mine-field.   

* which, of course, pisses me off for reasons entirely unrelated to breastfeeding

Friday, March 18, 2011

Barbie's Brazilian

So - I got it hot off the press of Perez Hilton!  Mattel has just realized a doll (a werewolf girl - for real!) whose raison d'etre is plucking, shaving and waxing away all of her bothersome body hair so she can be "scarily fabulous."   Reasonable outrage and uproar greets the doll and Mattel.   Yes, it's right up there with 'math is hard Barbie'. 

While of course, plucky-shavy doll is all kinds of wrong, I almost want to congratulate Mattel for at least producing a doll that has body hair to start with.  Unlike those tippy-footed, weird Barbies who come (and remain) brazilianed for all eternity.  Anyhoo.  The doll sucks.  The concept sucks.  Mattel still sucks.  I'm not really finding in me to muster the outrage, but mostly because I'm not in any way surprised.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

night-time love

One of the most lovely, (bitter) sweet daily by products of parenting happens after the kids fall asleep at night.  When I sit there and watch the rise and fall of their chests and listen to their sighs and breathing and feel the day's running around and chaos and mess and frustrations get farther away.  Dimmer.  They don't disappear.  But the edges feel somehow softened, less intense.  And I hope against hope that tomorrow I will do better.  Be more patient.  Take more time.  Be as close to the mama they deserve as I can. 

Because their little sweet sleeping selves are the most perfect things that have ever graced my imperfect life. 

Never fails.   Gets me every time.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

happy thoughts happy thoughts happy thoughts

spring * picnics * sundresses * flip flops * Girlio's belly laugh * pink lady apples * Boy-o's dance moves * Mission Hill Pinot Grigio (mmmm Napa) * a good writing day * L's arms around me * the first five minutes of clean house * carnaps (Girlio's not mine) * art * Girlio talking up a storm * warm wind * beach * imaginary vacations * feeling brave * kitchen dance parties * coffee with friends * Boy-o's enormous heart * more flip flops * downtown market * sunflowers * getting flowers * growing flowers * lovin' * pink pjs * family snoogles * Saturday mornings * folk fest * the smell of freshly ground coffee * peaceful moments * peaceful world * clear starry night * that sexy feeling after a new haircut * flirting * being flirted with * someone telling me they like my blog * visits from afar * forgiveness * lipstick * new clothes * planting the garden * fresh pesto with garden basil * hearing an old, familiar song * the good paths on memory lane * Sunday soup making * walks to the park * bossy cat cuddles * Newfie dogs * sleep * making change * road trips * painted toe nails * heels * good book * good think * good run * time alone * time together * getting lost in thought * sunshine * puddle jumping with the kidlets * spring

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The radical act of the mommy blog

My rad mama bought me the best present ever. It's a collection of essays called Mothering and Blogging: The Radical Act of the Mommyblog, edited by May Friedman and Shana L. Calixte. (and it's available for purchase here, at this fabulous site, Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement or MIRCI, which, if you are a mama-nerd like me, you should spend some time perusing). I will definitely more about said book when I finish (so, like, sometime next year).

But- I did manage to read the foreward by Judith Stadman Tucker, in which, among other things, she discussed the idea of 'computer-mediated self'.  During this discussion, Stadman Tucker includes a bit of a blog that discusses this idea, as follows:  "But were we to meet on the street, I don't think you'd really like me....This is a one-dimensional medium, and we all pick or choose what we reveal about the Blogosphere, we can be best and the brightest version of ourselves.  All the time."  (BlogRhet, "Persona," June 21, 2007).

And after I picked myself off the floor and managed to stop laughing my ass off, I reflected that I must have missed that particular day in mommyblogger school.

I would like to assure you all now (justi n case you were now worried that I was more of a basketcase than you initially thought) that you do not get the 'best and brightest version' of me.  I seem to adhere to the opposite theory of mommyblogging. I like to confess all my parenting transgressions, foibles, worries and fuck-ups.  Lots and lots of foibles and fuck ups.   I find it all MUCH more cathartic that way.

Navelgazing about Passion

M-kay.  This is a repost of a blog I wrote last year.  Or maybe the year before.  And bizarrely enough - I started writing pretty much this exact same blog this morning in my head, while driving around for Girlio's carnap, in between points A, B and Z.  Until I started to realize that my 'a-ha' moment had already been 'a-ha'ed.  By me, no less.  So, I'm reposting the original. (This is all either proof that 1.  I'm apparently really not moving forward - or possibly in any other direction in my life, or 2.  I was struck by the exact same clever thoughts twice because they're just so, like, insightful.)


Lately, I've been feeling like I totally get the middle-aged housewife running out and doing wild, wacked out, out of character things. Shoplifting, having an affair, becoming a raging alcoholic, whathaveyou. Now, just let me qualify before I even begin, I am about to embark on none of the above examples (Read: nobody get their knickers in a knot).   But I think I undestand some of the desire behind the temptation of those actions. I think it's about passion. Lust for life and lust for oneself. (And I'm talking about more than sex here people, but sexiness and sexuality is part of it too.) I'm talking about attractiveness - both what makes us attractive to other people, but more importantly what makes us feel attractive ourselves. I'm talking about life - what makes us feel like we are fulfilled, and living up to our "potential" or making a difference in the world around us. It all boils down to passion. Passion for ourselves. Passion for and in the world.

Stay-at-home mom-ing has been an amazing journey in so many ways.  But it can be isolating. Really isolating. And while most people get to see themselves reflected in the responses and actions from people around them in their day to day existences outside of the home: in the harmless office flirtations and crushes, in the work that they do, in the conversations and lunchdates with coworkers, in their performance reviews, etc. etc. - the stay-at-home parent does not have these same external reflections of self. Okay- so that's not exactly true. I see myself reflected in the eyes and faces and actions of my children. And I cherish those reflections (at least when they reflect the good mother moments!).  But that reflection is always the same. Always mama. Always the domestic sphere.

And sometimes I feel like yelling: "I used to exist outside of these four walls!" I used to be able to see myself reflected in others, in the work that I did outside of these walls, in my academic writing and research, in my work at women's shelters, coordinating cross-Canada research projects, in flirtations  (harmless and otherwise - and yes wifey, the latter is you!), and lunchdates and empassioned conversation with friends and coworkers. I used to have multiple identities. I used to have passions. I used to think about heady, exciting, academic stuff - outside of the house stuff (and yes, I am aware that I am a nerd. What of it? Nerdy girls are super h-o-t.). And so I've been realizing lately that I've begun to feel dulled. Filed down. Dowdy. Unempassioned. (If that isn't a word - it should be.) Disconnected. Not just from the world outside my four walls, but more importantly from a sense of being myself.

Awhile back I posted a review of the movie "Motherhood." And though the movie left a lot to be desired, there was a monologue that really resonated with me, in which Uma Thurman, as a stay-at-home mom, tried to explain to her husband the feeling I just described above:

It's just that every day from the second I wake up till the second I pass out cold, my day, like the day of almost every other mother I know, is made up of a series of concrete, specific actions. And they're actions that kind of wear away at passion, if you know what I mean. The actions are petty and small like... Like refilling coffee cups or folding underwear. But they accumulate in this really debilitating way that diminishes my ability to focus on almost anything else.

And I think, like Uma said (or rather like the sage screenplay writer said), I've been focussed for too long on those same repetitive concrete tasks that follow a singular path.  The last three+ years of my life have been spent taking care of others, sometimes (oftentimes) to the detriment of my own needs, wants, desires, passion.   To the point where I've actually started to feel, well, unattractive (and not just in the physical sense, although that too).   

And if one's attractiveness is based (at least in part) from their engagement in the world around them, if I feel unengaged and disconnected from the larger world around me (because I'm plenty connected to my inner circle :-)  - then I've begun to wonder with no small amount of trepidation - how do others see me? Has the way I've presented myself in the world changed? Was I more attractive when I was a smarty-pants grad student?   Was my identity any less singular then than it is now?

And - if I have indeed lost my mojo, which I suppose is still up for debate, how do I go about getting it back?  

Monday, March 14, 2011

one of several bad mama moments

I know it's wrong to resent my kids because they won't give me more than 10 minutes to sit down and write and have a reasonably satisfying moment inside my own head.

And yet...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

You can dress the mama up...

but can you really take her out of the house?

Yesterday, I had the occasion to go out.   Yes.  That's right.  Leave my house. (I know, right?!)  In fancy clothes (scrounged from the back of the closet from pre-pregnancy clothes, which miraculously fit again just for said outing.)  To hang out with other grown-ups, most of whom I did not know.   And none of whom were stay-at-home parents like me, which throws in a bit of an extra kink.  (All of whom turned out to be very lovely, in case you were wondering...). 

Now for those that know me, or have followed this blog for a bit, you'll probably know that: 1. this happens rarely,  2. I tend start out under the assumption that people don't like me/won't like me, and thus such outings scare the living crap out of me, and 3.  Hanging with grown-ups who have grown-up, responsible-citizen-kinda paid jobs adds an extra bit of anxiety in there, because I'm more like a broke-ass-three-pairs-of-jeans-owning-wasting-my-potential-angst-carrying girl who'd someday like to be a grown-up responsible kinda citizen again. You know, with pretty clothes and a job to pay for them.  (Or at least not having to check off the 'I'm a dependant' box on the old tax return.  Because that's great for the self-esteem, let me tell ya). 

Leave the house, wishing desparately I wasn't driving and could have a glass of wine to relax.  I gave myself a pep-talk all the way there.  Yes, something along the lines of, "you are good enough, you are smart enough, you are cute enough, and gosh darn it..."  I listened to P!nk's "F*cking Perfect," and tried to believe it.  I got there.  I did not drive away.  I took a deep breathe (okay, maybe several).  And then I dove in.  And I survived it.  I might have actually even had fun, but don't tell anyone.  We wouldn't want people to think I've become a social creature ;)

But here's the thing, fun or no fun:  I struggled mightily to find other things to talk about than my kids. This is difficult.  My kids are my kids.  And my kids are my job.  And I log a lot of hours at my job.  It doesn't leave me with a lot of time (moreover a lot of energy) to do other things that I might talk about, like read interesting books or take classes or whatever the heck else interesting people talk about.  What do other people talk about?   And am I even remotely interesting anymore?

I also found myself wrestling with the innocuous"and what do you do?" like it was a hungry-assed alligator.  Sometimes I felt like the gator was winning.  Sometimes I had a slippery hold on the upper hand.  Because despite all my I'm a queer-feminist-housefrau bravado, those little voices are always present in my head, whispering: you're just a housewife*you're just a housewife*you're just a housewife*.  I can intellectualize the importance of the work, I can know the importance of this work in my heart and feel it in my fingertips and in my bones... but that knowledge doesn't always do much to quiet the whispers.   And sometimes the whispers are louder than others. 

So there it is, I guess.  You can dress this mama up.  (And boy did I realize how much I miss my inner - and outer - pretty grrrl). 

You can take this mama out.  (I'll panic - but apparently - I can panic and have a good time simultaneously). 

But this identity business.  Whooo boy.  (I wish here that I knew how to type a long, low whistle). 

It's some tricky, tricky shit.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

scholarships for white dudes who feel oppressed by privilege?

I'm throwing up a little in my mouth.  For real.  Right now.

p.s.  The Douchebag Decree is only one of many, many reasons to love Bitch mag.  Subscribe.  You won't be sorry (and no I don't have paid spnsors ;)

schools and such

L. and my Boy-o are, as I type, out at a school 'interview.'  Not a parent-teacher interview.  An interview to get into a public school for the arts for their kindergarten program.  A kindergarten entrance interview.  I can barely type it because this feels so wrong for so many reasons.  I can almost hear my Winnipeg peeps teasing me for being "bougie" (that's bourgeouis, for those not fluent in Winnipeg).  It is bougie.  Terribly, terribly bougie.  It's also weird.  And kinda wrong.  Weird and kinda wrong to expect a 4 year old child to be thrown into a new situation, in a new space with strangers (and other kids because it's a group interview) and give any accurate reflection of who they are, what they're all about, what they can do.  Especially a 4 year old like mine, who for better or for worse, like his mama, has anxiety and a tough time with new situations and people. 

So then.  Why the bleepity bleep am I sitting here kvetching while my kids out there doing said interview?  (After filling out a ridiculously extraneous application form, complete with references, art work and a 'statement' from Boy-o, and a letter from us explaining why we 'support' his application?)  The thing is this: Redneckville has a shortage of schools where, in my perspective, the child of queers will be anything more than tolerated.  (I've said it once, I'll say it 100 times.  Tolerance is not a goal.)  

So - he currently attends one of the two schools I like in this city.  It's great.  He loves his teachers, he's thriving and happy there.  But - it's also expensive.  It's also also far from our house, so Girlio spends an inordinate amount of time in the car.  And a few of those private school parents kind of freak me out. It's preschool, not pre-Yale folks.  (Though you can bet your bottom dollar L. and I make a few of them pretty bleeping nervous, too).  Anyhoo...

And so when we found an alternative, a school for the performing arts no less, with music and dance and drama built into the curriculum.  And it's public school.  And it's closer to our house.  And it goes all the way to grade 12, so if it works out, we won't have to consider another school for him.  And it's apparently full of queer kids.  And talks about inclusion (not tolerance) right in the curriculum.  And it has a kick-ass anti-bullying policy.  When we had talked about the school to Boy-o at first, he was steadfastly against it, insisting he would stay at his old school.  And then we went to the open house.  Where there were big kids busking with guitars in the hallway.  And people singing in a choir.  On a stage.  He danced to the busking.  He danced in the aisle while the choir sang "Pocket Full of Sunshine."  And then he decided that maybe this new school might not be such a bad idea, after all. 

So that is why I'm sitting here, trying to keep an open mind about this interview business.  While feeling anxious on my Boy-o's behalf.  And feeling stubbornly indignant about the whole acceptance process, which as I have already mentioned is 'bougie,' weird and kinda wrong.  And wondering if my kid will be 'accepted,' and what that acceptance will mean for all of us. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why international women's day matters - ShamelessMag link

Just in case you were wondering.  Click it.  You know you want to.

Talkin' bout my girl(io)

It is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. There are so so many things that need to change in our world for real equality, real parity to be achieved. But today is not the day I want to talk about those things. Today I want to celebrate, to venerate, this gorgeous, vibrant, wee (and yet not wee), take-the-world-by-storm, go-getter that is our Girlio.

Holy crap, my baby is growing up! At 20ish months, our little moppet is sporting a shaggy haircut (which she will not let us cut, brush and which requires committing bloody murder to wash). Hence, this particular 'do may be named 'the stubborn streak'. But the 'drama queen' also makes a good alternative.

And while we're on the topic of stubborn... whew! We thought Boy-o had a stubborn streak, as do both L. and I, but it appears as though Girlio will be giving all of us a run for our money! She's got firm beliefs that one.  And they will serve her well.

And she is fast. Holy jeebuz. Her current favorite activity consists of bat-outta-hell sprinting (whilst laughing and yelling, 'I run! I run!' or 'I FAST!'). On wobbly yet surprisingly speedy toddler legs. And most especially in dangerous places where falling would involve scraping off vital body parts from the floor, sidewalk, precipice, whathaveyou.

Like her brother, Girlio is quite enchanted with the concept of performing, and as such, the phrase "WATCH ME!" often escapes her lips. Singing, dancing, and general booty-shakin' is a favourite pastime. Naked booty-shakin' is, of course, especially fun. Just today, she serenaded us as dinner with P!nk lyrics. It's true. Went something like: "Na na na na na na na, na na ROCKSTAR, na na na BOOTS, na na na na na..." Makes a mama proud, I tell ya. She is the proverbial character, our Girlio is.

She still hates to sleep. Like hates hates it. It is her personal challenge in life, it would seem, to outsmart tiredness. And so far, she is doing an admirable job. You gotta hand it to her - kids' got a helluva lot of perseverance! She much prefers cuddling to sleep, any day of the week. She will grab you tight around the neck with her chubby little hands and proclaim "squeeze!" I defy anyone not to melt in the Girlio 'squeeze', (and will admit with some chagrin, this melty goodness occurs no matter what time of night.... little bugger).

And - this kid is clever. She's talking in sentences already, and has a wildly large vocabulary. I say this with some surprise, given that she is the sadly neglected second child. Thus, her big brother and her natural ear will get all of the credit for this, and I will get none! Her mispronunciations never fail to make me giggle, like wino for rhino, or awelcome for your welcome, yoguck for yogurt, and eye-peam instead of ice cream....My very favourite is when she pops out of 'hiding' to yell "APRIZE".  And of course, we are always suitably surprised :)Now I know you're not supposed to encourage mispronunciations in littles - but I'll be mighty sad when she outgrows them.

Our Girlio - she's not be for the faint of heart, and we like it that way!  And boy oh boy are we ever stupid in love with her little tireless self. (Now if only we could keep up with her...).

As my own mama is fond of saying of Girlio: "Bring her again, Governer, she makes me laugh."

Here's to you, baby girl.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The "Harper" Government

Good old Stephen Harper has attempted to rename our country's government.  Yes.  That's right.  Change the government's name.  Like, officially.  Harper has replaced "Government of Canada" to "The Harper Government."    To which and many other smart Candians shout back:  "by the people for the people, Prime Minister Harper."  Some people also add the words 'you so and so blankety blank' in there, or some reasonable facsimile.  I know I do. 

Anyhoo - for more details on the misguided actions of our esteemed Prime Minister, check out I Am (Not Stephen Harper's) Canadian.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

the week catches up

My poor sweet Boy-o is a mess today.  Laughing one minute, a puddle of tears the next, followed by Mount Vesuvious.   The poor little dude's week is catching up with him, big time, and it's partly my fault.  I forget sometimes, how empathetic, how intuitive, how much of a sponge Boy-o is.  All kids are, of course, but he is particularly sensitive to things like environment, change, and the feelings of his parentals. 

So - throw on top of this fact, two incredibly upset parentals who had some bad news on Monday.  And who were still reeling from said news on Tuesday, when the poor little dude gets scalded at a restaurant.  Add to this the fact that Tuesday also included a trip to a new school we are looking at, and the dawning of the realization that he will not be in junior kindergarten, with his beloved teacher, forevermore.  Throw on top of this the rest of the week of parents awash in concern for their burned baby, and outraged at the circumstances that lead to the burns, and those that followed the burns on the part of the restaurant in question (which are now hopefully being dealt with).  And being dragged around to Dr's appts. and having to deal with ouchy, burnt paws.  And THEN, as if that wasn't enough for the poor little dude, his parents took him to a McDonald's with a playplace for Friday dinner for a special treat because his week had been so desparately shitty, where some sonofabitch big kid proceeded to punch him in the face.  For reals.

So -  my poor sweet Boy-o is a mess today. 

After a week like that, who the heck wouldn't be?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Stories and Songs a la Boy-o

This morning, Boy-o made my week (which was the crappiest week ever!) so much brighter with a story and song writing extravaganza.  Below is his story, followed by three songs ;)  Bless his little musical heart.

Music Dan and His Three Dads

Once there was a boy who loved music very much. He played it every season of the year and every day. He thought he was a rock star. One day when he was playing music, his three dads decided to call him Music Dan. One day when he was playing music something strange happened. Dan ran away. It was a hurricane. It blew Dan off! He went bounce. He went bounce again. And then he ran inside. Then Dan's musical instruments blew out the door! So Dan ran back outside and rescued his instruments. And then he played blocks. And then Dans hurricane got put out by the firefighters. It took a long time.
The End.

My Bicycle's on Fire!

My bicycles on fire
I'm running around
Put on protective gear
My bicycles on fi-yah!
I'm running all around
A firefighter helped me
Now let's get it out
Ringa ringa rum
Fiyah! Fiyah!
Ringa ringa rum!
I'm putting out the fiyah!
Mom I'm all done !

Firefighter song

My telephone is ringing
Suit it up
suit it up
Protective gear
Oxygen mask
Don't breathe in the smoke
Bonga binga Heya hey
Put the fire out
Bonga binga heya hey
Put the fire out!

Me and my Sister.

It's me and my sister
It's a musical story
Ch ch ch ch ch ch
It's musical story
Singing and a dancing
Ch ch ch ch ch ch
She walks in the rainforest
She walks in the rainforest
And it's so far away
And it has bugs in it
Ch ch ch ch ch ch ch
Now my sisters in the rain forest
Now my sister is being eaten by a bear
Ch ch ch ch ch ch ch
Lets stop the bear today
Tell the bear to eat some fish
Mr Bear eat some fish
And put some protective gear on
Ch ch ch ch ch ch ch

(That last one cracks me right up.  Not sure if the protective gear is for his sister or the bear!)

Texas GSA debacle

I received this email earlier from, where I am a susbscriber.  The letter details the struggle of a young woman attempting to create a gay/straight alliance in her school, and the continued attempts of the administration to thwart her efforts.  Please read and sign the petition this morning if you get the chance. 
"When Nikki Peet recently asked for a safe space for students to meet and discuss issues like anti-gay bullying at Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, she expected the support of her school district.

But instead, Dr. Julia Carbajal -- Flour Bluff's Superintendent -- decided to cancel all extra-curricular clubs in order to prevent Nikki’s "Gay Straight Alliance" (GSA) student group from forming. It's her way of getting around the federal "Equal Access Act" law mandating simliar access on school grounds to student groups, regardless of their politics or philosophy.

We know what happens when schools fail to address the bullying of LGBT kids: depression, isolation, and suicide. So we need to help.

Please click here to sign the petition to Nikki’s school administrators, calling on them to approve her Gay Straight Alliance group -- and reinstate all extra-curricular groups.
Nine out of ten LGBT students experience harassment in school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. At least two-thirds feel unsafe in the classroom. LGBT teens can be up to four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers.

In just a few days, nearly 4,000 members have signed the petition supporting Nikki, sharing the story on Facebook and forwarding emails like this to their friends.

This Friday, Nikki and members of the Corpus Christi community are organizing a major demonstration outside Flour Bluff High School. At the protest, Nikki and her supporters will be delivering petition signatures to Flour Bluff administrators, sending a strong message that it’s time to provide a safe, caring and effective learning environment for all students -- including LGBT youth.

The superintendent's outrageous actions have garnered attention throughout the U.S. Students, parents, and school officials everywhere are watching to see what happens -- and the outcome in Corpus Christi will have reverberations across the country.

Sign our petition today, so Nikki can deliver the signatures of as many people as possible this Friday in Texas:

Thanks for taking action,
- Eden and the team"

And thanks from me, too -

XO Mama T

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Burns, baby

We were eating out last night when Boy-o needed to use the washroom. He did, and got scalded by the hot water (in mere seconds). Now water that is accessible to kids (not to mention the elderly) shouldn't ever be hot enough to do the damage seen below. And I'm trying very hard to get the restaurant in question to change their bathroom water temps. Regardless of how that works out (and between you, me and the lamp post, I suspect I won't get very far) - think of this as a wake-up call from our bad experience : check the taps before your kids wash (even your big kids!) 


Mama T

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bitter pill

This blog could alternatively be titled after Cyndi Lauper's 'money changes everything', because, well, it does.

We moved here, to Redneckville, to the province of milk and honey, to this place (lovely and fabulous in-laws notwithstanding) that we never in our wildest dreams would have chosen, so that L. could follow her dream of doing something she felt was worthwhile with her law degree.  We knew the cost of living bump would be a killer, even with generous help from our peeps. 

But, we also reasoned that with a government job, though not a goldmine, we could be reasonably assured that it wouldn't be uncomfortably tight for too too long. And woah boy, wasn't that a cosmic joke on us. Enter the austerity period in Alberta, where the phrase 'wage freeze for senior management civil servants' somehow translated to wage freeze for entry level crown prosecutors. And the period of uncomfortability stretched, and stretched and stretches still.

I've never, not ever in my life been in a situation where money was comfortable. So you would think I would be used to it by now. But I still get a slightly nauseous feeling everytime I have to buy groceries, or clothes for the kids, or realize that L. really does need another suit for work. 

So, you'll just have to imagine with me the feeling of lightness I felt when L. called me from work last Thursday to tell me HR had realized that she was entitled to an experience based pay raise, with 7 months of backpay to boot.  It was pretty incredible.  Now don't get me wrong - I didn't have any delusions of grandeur.  No new clothes or vacations.  I did, however, begin to imagine a lack of nausea when buying groceries and going slightly overbudget.  I thought about that big girl bed Girlio will be needing.  I thought about our house full of windows that need replacing.  I thought about our last-legs furnace.  That raise was the difference between struggling all of the (f*cking) time, and sorta kinda making it work.  I'm not sure I fully realized the toll of the struggling part until I felt the utter relief of the idea of sorta kinda being able to make it work.  I felt.... relaxed.

And then - four days after we found out about the raise - we found out the raise was in fact, a mistake.  A decidedly and profoundly human error.  An ooooops, as it were.  HR giveth and HR taketh away.  Ed Macmahon was just joking - he wants the sweepstakes cheque back. etc. etc. etc. blah, blah, blah.  We can't fault HR - the money they're taking 'back' wasn't really ours to begin with.  That doesn't seem to make it suck any less.  (It's a bitter pill in other worky politic-y ways, too, but that ain't fodder for my blog - so... 'nuff said). 

Goodbye windows and/or furnace/and/or big girl bed.
Hello again shopping nausea. 

Hello again reality.  (You're kind of overrated).