Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Ok. So I'm watching cartoons with the littles this morning. Bugs Bunny, in fact. (The new, not old Bugs). And Daffy Duck, having been fired from yet another job due to laziness says:

"I'm not cut out for work. I should just be a stay-at-home mom!"

Oh. The laughs just keep on comin'.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

evolution confusion

Somehow, after not one but two conversations about evolution, my son believes that the world was created by a magic man driving around in a big truck.  Who created many construction workers, worldwide.  These construction workers created life as we now know it.

Me thinks I need to find a better way to explain evolution.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stephan Colbert on product placement in The Lorax

bits of goodness

February has been a hard month over at the home of Mama T and co.  But - in the hopes of maintaining some positivity in said home, I'm going to use this blog to remind myself of the small, but not insignificant, bits of wonder and fun February brought.

So - in no particular order:

1.  snow forts
2.  sparkly diamond snow
3.  ginger sparkle cookie baking
4.  an outdoor running lesson in a blizzard, which sounds craptastic, but was remarkably enjoyable.
5.  watching blowing snow and blizzard-y goodness swirl across a frozen lake from a huge cabin window.
6.  a visit with a new friend
7.  good chats with good wine with good friends
8.  dancing in a saucy outfit
9.  many kitchen dance parties with the littles
10. good book club reads

So - As it turns out - February wasn't a wash after all :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

10 Things you will need during a separation...

1.  an umbrella.  Keep it up at all times.  Shit will fall on you when you aren't expecting it.   Trust me on this.

2.  an endless supply of friends.  You will lose some.  Guaranteed.  And you will need a stockpile of folks who can tell you, quite earnestly, that you are not an incarnation of Satan.  And who will help you through the inevitable lonely days that are to come.

3.  a good therapist.  Self-explanatory.  Really.  The biggest gift you could give yourself, bar none, post-separation.

4.  forgiveness.  You aren't going to get that from other people, because it's much easier to hate someone than to try to understand their choices and what lies beneath them.  You will be surprised at just how much easier this is for people.  So you'll need to be able to forgive yourself.  Or at least give it a good try.

5. a mirror.  Use it to deconstruct all the labels you and others might place on you.  Homewrecker.  Selfish.  Slut.  Quitter.  Bad mother.  Bad wife.  The one who gave up.  The reality of course is that you are none of these things.  The reality is that the human heart is too complex to be shorthanded into such tiny compartments.  So you will need the mirror in order to practice telling yourself over and over that you did what you had to in order to survive; that there was nothing else for you to do.  You will need to look in the mirror and try to see yourself as that wildly irreducible being you know you are.

6.  a notebook.  this will come in handy to chart your progress or lack thereof.  To make note of the passage of time when the days loom long and unforgiving.  To write letters you will never send, in self-defence and self-flagellation - both of which are guaranteed to come in turns.

7.   resourcefulness.  The ability to pull money out of your ass is a definite bonus.

8.  a stetson.  Black or white, depending on who left whom and how.  (Mine is black, of course - at the end of the cowboy flick, I'm the one the posse is coming for with a noose, looking for the nearest sturdy tree).  People like to have a bad guy and a good guy.  It helps them make sense of things, this notion that there is only the right and the wrong.  In reality, of course, we need versions in many shades of grey, but this will be of no comfort to you when your hats gets handed to you, decidedly coloured.

9.  a roadmap of separations gone before you.  Friends, relatives, so many people have all gone through this before you, and will have landmarks to share to help guide your way.  But you will likely need this map only to throw it out the window.  Take the wisdom as it is intended; as shortcuts meant to prevent you from having to take the long way around.  But recognize also that this journey is, and has to be, uniquely yours.  Your feelings, your actions, your process will be a foreign country to others, no matter how well-travelled they are.  You will need to chart your own course, decide your own speed limits, tackle your own changing terrains.

10.  a sense of humour.  Preferably a dark one.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Poems - For the Queer Girls who Dream of Drowing (Lindsay Miller)

So I had a shitty day yesterday.  Job rejection.  Feeling like nothing ever works.  But by evening, I found myself sitting in a coffee shop, sipping a London Fog tea and surfing poetry on-line.  And I managed to regain some equilibrium.  Below are two of the many, many poems I found.  

For the Queer Girls who Dream of Drowning


Fast forward ten years. The first thing you will notice is that you are taller. Not necessarily farther from the ground, but closer to the sky. This may at first be dizzying, especially if you never learned how to breathe. Practice. Meet your lungs. Take note of the way your skin fits, how your bones have grown into your skeleton. Your shoulders are perfectly balanced at the top of your spine. Your arms are long enough to reach your hands. This, you will discover, is what people who know anything mean when they say beautiful.

Investigate the body you are in. Reach for both horizons at once and discover your wingspan. Crack your knuckles. Lick the gap between your teeth. Place your fingers against the underside of your wrist and feel for a pulse. If you have one, it means you’re lonely. That’s good. This is a good world to be lonely in. Explore the space you take up, the way your body displaces air in the shape of: calves, hips, belly, chin. Trace the path of tingling from lips to nipples to between your legs. Notice that your skin is the color of new skin after the old skin has peeled away.  Feel underneath your sternum: there. A scar. Your body has opened up, allowed egress to something it no longer needed, like an appendix. This was painful once, as doorways always are.

Excavate yourself. Turn inside out like a pocket and examine what falls to the ground. There should be just enough coins to take a bus to anywhere. A pressed flower with a breath of purple left in it, the exact shade ofI will always remember you fondly. Keys meant to open something old and worthy. Lint. The lint means you have been places, smelled dust, shaken off dead cells. A piece of paper with a name on it. Nothing sharp: you don’t carry razor blades under your fingernails anymore.

The suitcase you packed before leaving your parents’ house is here, spine-creased books and a one-eyed stuffed dog. The green dress that made your collarbone a lie. Your first lipstick. Jeans that will always have the stain from that night, an empty whiskey bottle.  Spread them out like tarot cards on the pavement: the past, the present, the wish. Where the tenth and final card would be, place yourself.

Practice listening to sounds other than the grinding of your teeth. Songs are a good place to start, especially songs with piano accompaniment and lyrics about changing seasons. Listen to crickets. Learn how to divine the temperature from their chirps. Listen to the ground underneath you. Gravity will keep you here until you are ready to leave.

You can still recite those sad poems from memory, but they don’t resonate in your chest the way they used to. You can walk across a bridge without counting the seconds between your bones and the concrete below. There is an ocean, but it is far away, not filling up your mouth. There will be people who want to touch you gently. You know that you can still feel pain, in your eyes and hands especially.  But in this moment, all you know of your body is open arms.
Published in Muzzle Magazine, Winter 2011

Advice for the Newly Single - Elaina Ellis

Advice for the Newly Single


Be a fierce dragon lonely queen,
Emma. Be a drunk barren

crowbar. Be a cocktail waitress heart-sewn
tease. Be a desert plant, Susie,

succulent. Need no water at hand.
Be an empty-fridge sale salad

scrimper. Be a sharp-tongued solo
chef. Anna: watch TV on a lonely moon

through the static of milky way
reception. Concentrate

on falling asleep. Slut,
Mona. Slut your book open.

Keep your legs open.
Do not write any name but

your name on those acre-wide
pages. Be hollow,

Sally. Keep canary-singing
in a thirsty well. Be a singing

flighty bird with open beak.
Don’t try a cushion,

Mary.  Don’t swallow soft.
Chew only sticks: carrots, twigs.

Sit on your bones.
Sit on their bones.

Don’t try for dreams.
Don’t try for dollars,
Leah, this is a coin job
for you. Turn out the light.
Tear out your eyes. 

Published in Muzzle Magazine, Winter 2011

Monday, February 20, 2012

Making the case for anger - a repost from May 2010

This is a repost of an old blog, for my friend J, with whom I was discussing mommy anger over some fantastic red wine last night...


Now and then in my writing life, I've been "accused," subtly and not so subtly, of being too gloomy, disgruntled, biting, sarcastic and well, angry, about mothering and my experience as a mother. This is supposed to be a bad thing, because to call a mother angry is about the kiss-of-death in our cultural perspective.

*Mothers aren't supposed to be angry.*

 They are supposed to be good-natured and sweet, endlessly patient and kind, loving and cookie-bakin'. And ya know what?  I can sweetly, kindly, lovingly and patiently cookie-bake with the best of 'em (and my cookies kick ass. Really, you should try my Ginger Sparkles.  Just sayin').

But I also want to make a case for anger...

Let's start with all the things that being angry does not mean:

1. it does not mean that I am not insanely grateful for this beautiful family of mine;
2. it does not mean that I do not love my children immensely;
3. it does not mean that I do not find my life in many ways fulfilling, rewarding and generally fun.

So what then, might you ask, is putting the proverbial bee in my bonnet?

1. that unlike Julie from Julie and Julia fame, no one is reading my blog and raining down publishing contracts on my sad, sorry (and broke) ass;

2. that finding a balance between being able to nurture and sustain my family and being able to nurture and sustain myself often feels impossible;

3. that parenting books dealing with gentle and loving solutions to the extreme tantrumming problems we've been facing at home do not ever, ever, ever mention how to deal with said problems whilst at the same time gently and lovingly caring for a small baby;

4. that the sleep expert books dealing with gentle and loving solutions to the extreme baby sleep problems we've been having do not ever, ever, ever mention how to deal with said problems whilst at the same time gently and lovingly caring for a spirited pre-schooler;

5. that doing both of the aforementioned tasks is freaking impossible for so so many reasons, not the least of which is that I am chronically exhausted and depleted;

6. that I have managed to do not just one, but all of things I said I would NEVER do as a parent while attempting the aforementioned tasks;

7. that I regularly end my days feeling like an utter failure as a parent;

8. that I am inundated with helpful and loving (unsolicited) advice, which more often than not, makes me feel like even more of a failure as a parent;

9. that I passed over starting my PhD even though I really, really wanted to do it for me, because it was the right thing to do for my family;

10. that more often than not, books about feminism and parenting often refer to stay-at-home moms as being duped by the patriarchy;

11. that talking about post partum depression and post partum anxiety is still taboo (and that as soon as I mention PPD/PPA any un-fuzzy feelings get written off as merely 'hormonal');

12. that there are little real social supports for parents but plenty of judgement;

13. that the work I do is totally invisible;

14.  that I chip away at household tasks that by definition can never be completed.  There will always be a pile of laundry, there will always be a new sink full of dishes, there will always be new dust bunnies replacing the old ones;

15. that I really can't have it all;

16. that there's never enough time in the day, in the week, in the month;

17. that celebrity moms repeatedly drop soundbytes about how constantly and delightfully fulfilled they are with motherhood, while neglecting to mention the army of nannies, yogis, personal trainers, housekeepers, gardeners, drivers, poolboys and tutors that make such consistent joy and fulfillment possible;

18. that I get judged for kvetching about my kids (if I were a work-outside the home mom bitching about my bosses, no one would think poorly of me. Yes- I love my kids. As far as kids go, they are wonders and joys. But as bosses, they can also be really, um, challenging. And I'm gonna talk about it...);

19.  that not only is there no outside affirmation for the work that I do (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), but the most common response to my 'job' is poorly stifled surprise, pity and sometimes even disdain;

20. that I live in a world, country, city in which homophobia (both official and unofficial) will make the lives of my children more difficult;

21. that I live in a world with increasingly everpresent violence and hatred of all kinds, making me constantly worry about the welfare of my family and my children;

So yes. Yup. Uh-huh. Sometimes I'm mad. Pissed. Kvetched. Annoyed. Cheesed. Angry. I'm mad because parenting experts write theories that are fucking impossible to put into practice, resulting in me feeling like I'm a complete failure; I'm mad because mothers are held up to these impossible to fulfil standards; I'm mad because my kids live in a city where queers still get gay-bashed, where words like fag and dyke will find their ears. I'm mad because I mourn the pieces of myself I've had to give up. I'm mad because in order to be a "good mother" I'm not supposed to talk about the pieces of myself I've had to give up. I'm mad at myself for not being the parent I want to be.

I don't think it makes me a bad mother. I don't think it makes me a bad person. I'm going to go so far as to say I think it even makes sense to be angry sometimes.  There are many other moms, other parents, other people in general who rail against such expressions of anger and frustration at the catch-22 (or rather the multitude of catch-22's) of mothering.  These defensive responses, I think, only serve to emphasize the cultural muzzle we place on mothers speaking in real and honest tones about the complexity and difficulties inherent in their experiences.

In one of her many famous essays from Sister Outsider called The Uses of Anger, Audre Lorde wrote:  "Guilt and defensiveness are bricks in a wall against which we will all perish, for they serve none of our futures."

I couldn't agree more.

I'm mad.

Why aren't you?

Friday, February 17, 2012

The young mademoiselle requests

Girlio, having just woken up from a nap, was grumpy. And hungry. Neither of which is a rare post-nap occurrence.

So, I went about trying to ascertain what the wee bear would like for a snack. We go through the snack cupboard. To no avail. Raisins, crackers, fruit bars, cranberries - all completely unacceptable, and are met with resounding 'no's!'.

'Mama!!!' she bellowed with no small amount of exasperation, 'I want something COLD!'. As if this were somehow commonsensical. (parents really are morons sometimes ;))

So - off to the fridge we went. Cheese? No. Sandwich? No dice. Carrot sticks? Uh-uh. Girlio is now getting supremely annoyed with me. 'Those are not my choices Mama! I do NOT choose those!'

'Okay baby - what do you choose?' I queried, getting a bit frustrated myself.

And what is it the wee grump happily chose for snack today, you might wonder?

A giant bowl full of olives. Yup. That's what she chose.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

words for Friday

almost * anticipation * break * clean * wondering * art * wine * sleepy * work * hopeful * vintage * searching * jeans * patience * reward * wandering * self * quiet * writing * reading * music * home * recharge

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

dreamy chats


Boy-o, half asleep, has this to share:

Mama?  Did you know that in Spanish, the moon is Luna?
I love Luna.  I really love her.
I mean, I don't love her like you love your mama.  She's not a real person.
But she is just so bright and shiny....
Annnnnnddd..... asleep.

Man, I love those moments.

a little lost

Kid #1 is a mess.  A mess of anger, resentment, anxiety and the kinds of behaviours that go with all of these things.  And it's not that I don't understand, fully, where these feelings and actions are coming from.   His family is altogether changed and his entire foundation is shifting underneath of him.  He has little control over this, and is trying to exert some at home.  It makes all kinds of good sense.  But the fact that it makes perfect sense, this out of control-ness and wild emoting, does not make it an easier to navigate.  And I am lost.  There is no map for this.  We talk about feelings.  We talk about the separation and its effects.  We have elicited the assistance of a child psychologist.  And still, here I am, stuck in the middle of the muck of it, and feeling helpless.

Yesterday, the bathroom was flooded, the shower was broken (and the important fixture piece thrown down the sink drain) and the shower curtain was ripped out of the wall, rod and all.  How to describe my reaction?  On four hours of sleep (in a long series of nights without sleep), and days on end of this kind of stuff, I hit my breaking point.  In short, I lost my shit.  I screamed.  I yelled.  I cried.  Yup.  Not so pretty.  (Have I mentioned that there is no road map for this stuff?)

Later on in the day, after asking the same child to get in his car seat several hundred times, and attempting to put said child into his carseat, to no avail, I burst out with: "Will you just get the fuck in the car?!"  Yes.  Really.  Classy, mom.  Really classy.  Throw another hundred bucks into the therapy fund, how bout...

I am so depleted right now.  Just weary.  I have no job.  I have no daycare.  No place to live.  Because I need a job to secure daycare and a place to live.  And when and if I do secure a job, it could take a zillion years to actually secure said daycare.  I didn't even know if I would be able to go to my job interview today because I couldn't secure childcare until the 11th hour.  The house is in shambles.  And being the cute helpless femme (note somewhat derisive and highly caustic tone here) - I have no effing idea how to do things like fix shower curtain rods or a hot clue what to even look for in Home Depot to make the shower work again.  Independent, me.  Real independent.  None of my money is actually, you know, mine.  (Yes, yes, I'm a good feminist and all that shit.  I know it's mine, too.  It just doesn't feel like mine.)   I got accepted into my Phd program for the fall.  With funding.  And I should be so bloody excited.  But all I feel is tired.  And full of doubt.  If I can't even manage to keep my house clean, look for jobs, find daycares and housing - how can I possibly hope to manage the rigours of Phd work and kids and a household?   A mystery, that.

I guess I'm feeling fresh out of resources.

And trying so hard to trust the big ol' Universe on this one.

(Some days, this feels easier than others.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012


i wander through mazes
of clutter, stumble over stray toys
that talk back to me & over bits
of lego that bite at the soles
of my feet, unprotected
by socks worn thin.
tumbleweeds of dust &
slinky cats wind up
around my ankles, willing me
to trip & fall.

i forget to look behind
me, eyes fixed & straining to adjust
to the glare of horizon stretched out
ahead, oblivious to missing
bank cards & pennies & shiny
trinkets strewn out in
my wake, a jumbled path.
fairy tale breadcrumbs & notched
trees, a faded & unreadable
roadmap of the places
I've been to &

i lose my words to crevasses
of raw nerves, exposed &
tap-dancing around
voices on the other end
of phone lines & dinner tables.
falling prey to the pitfalls
of leaning against speech
where such trust is unwarranted.
(in)capacities of language hang still
in the air & the slippery
divide between tongue &


i'm clumsy like that.

Friday, February 10, 2012


So, I was chatting with someone last night about our pet peeve mispronunciations.  Mine include libARY and FUStrated, and her list was topped by EXpecially.  I've got others, but those are the two that make me want to crawl under the table.  It makes me very, well, frustrated.

Anyhoo - it got me to thinking a bit about the way my kiddos say some words incorrectly.  And about the fact that I freaking LOVE this (a hypocrite, me).   For example, Girlio is fond of saying hostible instead of hospital.  And Boy-o says McChemicals instead of chemicals.  (Perhaps I should cut down on his Grey's Anatomy ;).   There are a few others too, but those are the most frequent.  I can't help it.  I find it rotten-stinking cute.  And so I don't really go toooooo far out of my way to correct them.  (And when I try they don't really believe me anyways!).

I know I should probably be giving a little more of a concerted effort to correcting them.  But honestly, I'll be kinda sad when they figure out that hospital and chemicals and other corrected pronunciations are the way to go, because, among other things, it'll mean they're getting all grown up on me.  And I'm fairly confident they'll figure it out themselves prior to adulthood.

In my own defence,  both my 2.5 and 5 year old can correctly pronounce library, frustrated and especially.  (And use them in a stellar sentence or two.)  So that's gotta count for something.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mental Health Words We Like to Throw Around...

Words like panic attack (Like, OMG, I just totally had a panic attack when Peter talked to me after class) and anxiety and depression (I'm just soooo depressed!)  are words/phrases that tend to get tossed around colloquially a bit too often.   How about crazy?  Nuts?  Insane?

For people who actually live with anxiety, panic attacks, depression and all kinds of other mental health issues, these things can get a little, you know, annoying.  It leads to all kinds of misunderstanding about what really living with mental health issues is actually like.  It leads to furthering the 'why can't they just pull themselves up by the bootstraps' attitudes.  And it just generally makes light of something that is extremely challenging and life-altering for many, many folks.  So, for the record, there's a pretty hefty difference between getting sad about something, like a death or a break-up and being depressed (you know, being unable to function for days on end for no good reason...).  There's a difference between being worried and having actual problems with anxiety.  Further to this, there's a large difference between being anxious about something that's reasonable to be worried about and having a full-on, big old ugly-assed panic attack.

See, I have this issue with anxiety.  Everyone on here already knows this, but I like to talk about it because this shit needs to be talked about more.  Lots more.  Ad nauseum more.  And it's been on my mind, lately, because the anxiety has been more of a struggle than usual, of late.  Probably because my life is in flux.  And change and uncertainty is scary at the best of times.  Throw a 'wee' issue with anxiety into the mix, and things can really get interesting.

So there's been some generalized anxiety, which sometimes (thankfully not always) gets followed by panic attacks.  You know, like a few.  Okay.  Maybe a few-ish.  Ever had one?

So- in case anyone wanted to know, this is how my anxiety tends to happen, though I would surmise that this process can be different for everybody.   Again, I think actually talking about the nitty-gritty of what these things look like is important, because it helps to debunk some of the ways words like anxiety and depression and such get used from day to day.  Alrighty - back to me, then.

1.  It usually (but not always) starts with a trigger.  My triggers are mostly other-people focussed, because my anxiety is largely of the social variety.  This can vary - it can be something as benign as being in a large group and feeling out of place or being unable to situate myself in group dynamics, feeling like I've said 'the wrong thing,' (which incidentally, I feel often), that someone is angry at me, annoyed with me,  a funny or awkward encounter with someone, worries about friends etc. etc. etc.    These triggers are of course exacerbated by other variables going on in my life:  external and internal stressors, whether or not I've managed to remember to take my meds, getting enough sleep, and getting enough exercise (my four biggies).

2.  Everything gets quicker.  It's like Mama T on speed.  My thoughts, my speech, my gestures, my pace, my heartbeat.  Everything races.  (And you'll just have to trust me when I say that I am not the sort of girl for whom speed is at all useful!  I move so fast in non-anxious mode that speed would make me supersonic. Perhaps this is my latent superhero power ;))

3.  My heart starts to pound.  This is usually my cue to 'get the hell outta dodge' or seek refuge in the bathroom or a quiet place if this is a possibility.  If it isn't a possibility, or I'm stuck in a social situation, I will get very, very quiet and withdrawn (all the while feeling internally like a speeding train wreck, which is a mighty odd juxtaposition).  Because if the pounding gets stronger, I'm on my way to a panic attack.  And if the pounding gets stronger, it will be the only thing I can think about, because I will swear it is beating right out of my chest.  Sometimes, on the good days, when my heart beat quickens, when I feel like 'Mama T on speed', I can stop things before I reach the level of panic.  Things like consciously acknowledging the anxiety (which is not always as easy as it sounds, in the moment) and naming the trigger, if I'm aware of it, out loud, trying to stop and ground myself (like physically planting my feet into the ground and forcing myself to stop and focus), and deep breathing.  And other times, this practice is useless.   I catch it too late or it just plain doesn't help.

5.  Next, my breathing can get effed up:  shallow, ragged, and really ineffective.  It will feel difficult to get enough air and my ears will start ringing.  I can get dizzy, but this doesn't always happen.

6.  My eyes might start to water or I will start crying and not realize it at all until afterwards

7.  I will temporarily become completely consumed by the feeling of panic.  Heart beating out of my chest,  Almost entirely unable to breathe.

And then somehow, in variable amounts of time passage, it will subside.  I'm not really sure why, or how.  The panic will settle down and leave in its place overwhelming exhaustion, frustration, and small bits of beating myself up for 'letting it get the better of me'... again.  I don't always go through steps 1-7.  But steps 1-3 are pretty usual for me.  It happens quite a lot.  You'd think I'd be a total pro at it by now, these trips to crazy-town (and yes, I can use that word to refer to myself.  And no, you can't call me crazy).  Oddly, given my vast amount of experience with it, it never does get any easier or less visceral.  Crazy-town just plain sucks.

It's hard to explain to other people what living with this kind of stuff is like.  It's hard to explain why you might seem to be acting oddly or withdrawn or a little bit nutters (yes, I can use that word to refer to myself, and no, you can't use it to refer to me).  It's hard to explain why you are easier to trigger than other people, more sensitive, more prone to negatively reading social cues that may or may not actually exist.  It's hard because you know deep down that you are more 'work' than other people, and you will likely often question whether or not you are worth it.

And it's hard, hard, hard shit to talk about, especially in our current culture which continues to see mental health as a luxury and not a necessity.  Casually throwing around words like depression, anxiety, panic, crazy etc. etc. when one doesn't actually have a real sense of what these things mean or feel like doesn't make these difficulties easier.

But I guess, if you're out there reading this, or something else like it, and you struggle with these things too - I encourage you to blab about it.  Blab, talk, announce, shout, sing your crazy to the world.  The more you do it, the easier it gets.  And the more voices we can add to the chorus, the louder (and less crazy) we'll be.

Be my valentine

Love.  The difficult word.  Where everything starts, where we always return.  Love.  Love's lack.  The possibility of love.   - Jeanette Winterson

Okay - so the big V-day is coming up.  And it tends to make some people very very grumpy.  Usually non-partnered people, who grumble about the hallmark-y-ness and commercialization of relationships.  There is/was a part of me, even when I was partnered person, who agreed with this sentiment.  It is Hallmark-y.  And people do all kinds of things like buy highly non-creative (and often wilty) bouquets of red roses filled with far too many ferns and baby's breath.  Or even worse, bouquets of carnations filled out with far too many ferns and baby's breath.  And heart-shaped boxes of crappy chocolate.  And bad, bad Hallmark cards filled with annoying and poorly written rhymes about lurrrrve.   (One could also make a very strong argument for Valentine's day being a celebration of normative couplings and heterosexuality as well, but I'll save that for another day).

Oddly, it is as a non-partnered person that I have come to appreciate Valentine's day more.  We live in a world filled with a whole lot of capital H-hate.  Intolerance.  Violence.  Greed. General yuckiness abounds.  Every time we turn on the television or read the news, someone is hurting someone else.  And we become so accustomed and inured to it that it seems, well, normal.  And expected.  So in this light, it occurs to me, at least of late, that a day designed to celebrate love is actually pretty fucking radical.  We do very little to really celebrate our capacity to genuinely touch other people and be touched by other people, in lovely and positive ways.  

It doesn't have to be a Hallmark day.  Leave that to the boring and unimaginative, which you clearly are not.  Whether you are partnered or alone or somewhere is the murky spots in between -  why not instead use Valentine's day as a reminder to take out that heart of yours and dust it off.  Open it.  Share it with someone.  Share it with yourself.  Your kids.  Your dog or cat or rabbit or iguana or guinea pig, whathaveyou.  Remember how precious and rare it is, this business of loving. Write a love letter.  Write it to yourself first, and then someone else, if you feel so inclined.  Listen to fabulous love songs.  Take yourself out for a run or a latte or whatever tickles your fancy. Wish on some stars.  Imagine things differently.  Help your kid write out their valentines to every single classmate, and their teacher.  Buy yourself some wine and a bunch of flowers.  (Though here, I might urge you to look beyond red roses and carnations with ferns and baby's breath, but that's just my massive flower snobbery coming out).  Use the day to remind yourself to be kinder to yourself, and to other people.  That we don't, can't and shouldn't live in a bubble by ourselves.  That we have to nurture relationships; friendships, lovers, families, pets and most importantly, ourselves.  

Use this day to remind yourself that all that hatred and violence and generally abounding yuckiness is not, in fact, a natural state.  We can do better.

Much, much better.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

face-crack addicts unite!

"Oh my god!  Do you just sit around on Facebook all day?!"
"I wish I could spend my days hanging out on Facebook instead of going to work."
"You sure update your status a lot/post a lot on Facebook."

Yup.  I spend a lot of time of Facebook, and the computer in general.  I'm probably a bit on an addict and I'll be the first one to admit it.  (Hello, My name is Mama T and I'm a face-crack-head).   HOWEVER, and this is a big however,  I kinda hate the undertones of the above statements.  Beyond the "I'm-cooler-than-you-and-have-much-better-things-to-do-with-my-time" insinuation,  there is also (particularly in the second statement, which I tend to get most often) intrinsic assumptions about what life as a stay-at-home mama looks like.

Just as an example of my days:  Today's work day started at 5:15 a.m.  And - aside from lazing around on ye olde crackbook, I have also: made breakfast, cleaned up from breakfast, washed, dried, folded and put away four loads of laundry, cleaned and tidied the kitchen and living room (twice, because some little buggers promptly messed them up again straight away), changed several diapers, interrupted and mediated several screaming matches and a few fisticuffs, got dinner for tonight (my night away and L's night with the kids) prepped and simmering on the stove, bathed the children, made them lunch, packed Boy-o's bag and snack for school, helped him with his home reading assignment, read several books to the kids and got the boy off to the school bus.  Before 11:30 a.m.   You know, just another lazy face crack day.  (There may or may not have been some bonbons involved, naturally).

Moreover, I sort of see Facebook as my way of having interaction with the world.  I've said it once, I've said it a million-zillion times: being a stay-at-home mama is holy-hella isolating.  I don't come into contact with many (or on most days, any) adults in my daily on-the-job life.  Think about how many conversations around the water cooler most work-outside-the-home people have had by, say, 11:30 a.m.;  how many co-workers they've run into and casually asked how they are, or shared a juicy tidbit of gossip, or had a wee bitch session about their boss.  That's an impossibility for me.  No one asks me how I am in a day, or shares gossip, or a bitch about their boss.  I don't get to ask other people how they are in a day, or share gossip, or bitch about my bosses (those cute little tyrants!) .... except on Facebook.  You see what I'm getting at here?

I do update my status a lot.  And post a lot.  It's my way, I think, of being out in the world when I can't actually, you know, be out in the world.  And the people that tend to comment a lot on my statuses and posts are my other stay-at-home mama friends - trying to be out there in the world, too.

So yeah.  I'm a Facebook addict and I'm o.k.  It makes me feel less invisible and less disconnected.  And for the record, though I shouldn't need to say it, even once, I work bloody effing hard.  My work days average in at well over twelve hours most of the time, and often run into the overnights.  (And as an aside, YES - I chose my job.  Why do people say things like that to parents when they talk about parenting being hard?  Did they not also choose the job they bitch about?  Don't most people choose their jobs?).

Anyhoo - please don't insinuate that you work harder than me because you spend less time online.  It makes this stay-at-home mama  all riled up.

And if that happens, you know what comes next...

 I might have to post about it on Facebook ;)


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Muppets - Mama (Bohemian Rhapsody ) - Otherwise known as what my day sounds like! (Without the last few seconds, natch!)

sage babes

This morning, Boy-o wrote me a ticket.  You know, like a speeding ticket or a parking ticket.  Except this ticket was because "You and mommy don't live in the same house anymore."  Gulp.  Yeah - I guess I've earned a ticket for that one.

Anyhow - this began a conversation that we have a lot.  In fact, I'm surprised that both kids don't know it off by heart.  About how grown-ups sometimes realize that they can't live together anymore, and it doesn't mean that they don't love each other and it certainly doesn't mean they don't love you.  About how we will always be a family, no matter where different members of our family lives, and that sometimes families change and grow.  And we chat about this for quite some time.  Which is followed by a pause, where I look at them intently, trying to figure out if they've reached the saturation point.

After a moment or two passes, Boy-o looks at Girlio and says:  "We carry our families' hearts with us wherever we go."  And Girlio replies, without missing a beat: "Yeah, because they're our peeps!"  (Which, is a funny thing to hear from your two year old, no matter what the context!)

Sage little wonders, these babes of mine.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bless her heart

So - I should've done the grocery shopping this weekend when I was kidless. And for all kinds of reasons, I didn't. I got caught up in weekendness and fun and cleaning up the wreck of our house. Anyhoo - the long and the short of it is the larder was bare and I had to venture out to replenish supplies. With BOTH kids in tow. Not overly heinous when you only have to pick up a few things. But when you have to do a down-and-dirty-I-ran-outta-everything-shopping-trip with two kids.... you have to be prepared to come out of said trip a temporary shell of your former self. Today was no exception. By the time I make it to the the checkout line, I'm frazzled, covered in Yop, and just plain done in. The children are wild wild hellions and look, I'm sure, to others as though they have been raised by amateurs (though, aren't all kids raised by amateurs, really?!).  And I may as well have been speaking to them in Hungarian for all the good my words did.  I feel tears pricking and stinging the back of my eyes and I shut my eyes for a moment, trying to regroup and ignore the fact that both children are perilously perched on the shopping cart, trying to kill each other, and very, very loud.  (Oh, how I just loooooove being stared at in Superstore!)

And then, older woman in line touches my arm and starts to speak to me. I brace myself for something that will make me feel super shitty for being frazzled and at the end of my rope, like: "oh enjoy this, they're only this age for such a short time," or "they're such blessings" or, "they're just being kids!" because this is the normal route such conversations take.  And while of course, each of these things are true, they only serve to make me feel like a big creepy jerk for feeling near tears and slightly homicidal.

But instead, she smiles knowingly and says, "I'm so glad mine are older now.  It really gets so much easier when they're older.  Hang in there."

And then I do cry a little bit.

But mostly out of the overwhelming and immense feeling of gratitude I feel towards this lovely and kind (and honest!) stranger.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone



Sunday, February 5, 2012


Life after separation is proving a strange beast, as it turns out.  Surreal and kind of lonely and full of slippery footing.   Of course, this is as it should be, one surmises, when trying to figure out what the world looks like after 13 years of marriage (which was immediately preceded by another long-term relationship).   So - alone-ness is very, very new.  And challenging.  And there is so much grief over failing at marriage, feeling like I've failed someone that of course I will always love in many ways, and at the realization that those many ways of love are not enough.  There is intense guilt over the impact of my choices on my children, who are also struggling, and my own battle to remain focussed on them while attempting to sort my shit out.  And let's be frank: flux and uncertainty are hard.  Really fucking hard.  

But - I also think - despite this being a time of great flux and uncertainty - this time has also been one of gifts and possibility.  So this blog is about gratitude;  something I am perhaps guilty of not acknowledging enough.  

So here goes my list of gratitudes:

1.  I've been trying really hard to make new friends, which I find hugely difficult.  And many of these people are proving to be most lovely additions to my life.
2.  Discovering new ways of being with old friends, who seem to love me still.
3.  Paying attention to reconnecting with friends from other provinces, who've been all kinds of lovely and supportive.  Rediscovering the art of the phone date.  
4.  Spending time with on-line friends, many of whom I've never met in person, who have rallied around me in ways that I find so bloody amazing and wonderful.  Pooh pooh internet connections all you want, but these folks are solid and loving and really helping to sustain me,
5.  Concentrating on trying to let go of some of my own (possibly slightly unreasonable) expectations of myself.
6.  Finding moments of reflection.
7.  Re-evaluating what my life could look like, and reacquainting with the idea of possibility instead of feeling mired by impossibility.
8.  Book club.  So awesome.  Reading and having an excuse to 'have to' read feels decadent.  Meeting with swell people to talk about the books once a month - super fabulous.
9.  Thrift shopping.  Holy fuck I love finding pretty bargains.  Makes me stupid happy.
10.  Finding new musical crushes with which to dance alone in my living room.  FUN!
11.  Re-committing to myself, and figuring out how to reconcile who I feel like I've become with who I'd like to be.  This one is big.  Super-hella-freaking big.
12.  My therapist.  Seriously folks - this woman is fantastic.
13.  Rediscovering my inner flirt.
14.  Making an effort to be more playful and less serious.
15.  Trusting that the universe - and my own instincts - will get me/us through this transition.
16.  Finding hidden wells of inner resilience that I had no idea existed.
17.  Becoming more assertive.
18.  Nightly piles of purring warm cat cuddles.
19.  Morning piles of giggling kid cuddles.
20.  Wishing stars.  And glimmers of hope.

Many, many things to be grateful for already.  And with any luck - many more to uncover.


Friday, February 3, 2012

A friend posted a link on FB this morning to an interview by Sinclair Sexsmith with Jack Halberstam for Lambda Literary, talking about, among other things, Jack's most recent book The Queer Art of Failure (Duke U Press, 2011), which I am, of course, dying to get my grubby little paws on, as they say.  The book looks amazing, and the interview was pretty good too, touching on queers and academia, pop culture and other fun stuff.  But my particular favourite part of the interview was Halberstam touching on issues of parenting, posted below...

 I’m looking forward to reading that. I didn’t realize you were a parent! Is this new?
Four years. I got involved with someone who had two kids, so that’s how it works. When I met her, they were quite little kids. They’re now 6 and 8. So they’re now a more user-friendly age, you can actually interact with them. [Laughs] We have a very queer setup, my partner’s ex is also in the picture, so they have a relation to their dad and to his partner. And that’s what it means to be a family, you have a lot of pieces, and sometimes we all hang out and sometimes we don’t. People are there for you in different ways, and one person doesn’t do everything for you, there are many people. I think that’s a good model, personally. I’m a big recommender of divorce for that reason, because with divorces come more parents.
To this I say, "huh.  interesting..."

There’s a study going around about how lesbian parents produce a child abuse rate of 0%.
Wait and see— there’ll be a whole generation of lesbian-raised kids who will tell you otherwise in ten years. That’s the experience of being a kid, you experience the world in a profoundly undemocratic way, your opinion is not always solicited, things happen to you that are not of your choosing, and parents are generally tyrannical because they have to be, in all kinds of situations, simply to get through the day. And that means a lot of what we call parenting in families are vectors for the transmission of forms of power that are tyrannizing. So inevitably there are people who down the road are going to feel hard-done by it. And they will eventually find a way to link lesbians to certain forms of abuse, but the real problem is not lesbians, the real problem is parenting itself, and that we live in a society that gives parents very few options. This is particularly true of poor people, people raising kids without adequate resources, there’s no safety net in this country, and there are really no good ways for people who are making under a reasonable amount of money a year to get a break. That’s the setup that creates bad parenting, it’s not whether you’re gay straight or trans.
Now, can I just go on the record as saying, I hate this study and how it gets parroted by every LGBT group on the planet?  First of all, the premise is shite.  Of course there is not 0% abuse on lesbian headed families.  I know this for a fact.  I've seen some.  That's life.  I'm sure some of my behaviour has been at times abusive.  Because I'm pretty fucking fallible, and we are all at times abusive.   And there is nothing (and I do mean nothing) that will push you to the furthest recesses of your limits than kids.  But because I have more resources and support than some lesbian headed households, my borderline behaviour is just that, borderline.  You know, at times iffy.  Those with less supports... well, you figure it out.   (By this, I don't just mean income either folks - I'm talking all kinds of resources here, both internal and external).   So - premise of study, and findings of study.  Phoeey.  At least that's what I have to say about it.  ;) 
And secondly, the way 'we' use the study is a problem.  The "see, we're as good of, or better parents than you so we should have parental rights too" bit is both misguided and misleading.  That isn't the reason we should have parental rights (or any rights) for that matter.  It capitulates to the framework that one way of being is inherently better than another, and seeks to claim a place in that more normal or better way of being.  It's like saying fat people shouldn't be ridiculed because they've 'tried all the diets in the world and they just don't work'.  In other words, 'I know I'm defective, but I've tried so very hard not to be, so you should love me for trying to be like you.'  (Another close to home example for me).  You see what I'm getting at?  
Anyhow - super interesting article about super interesting book.  You should read 'em both:)

Shit People Say to Femmes