Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Love this

Her name is Lizzi Miller. Check out the story on this beautiful photo here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thank you... and then (of course) More...

Yes, so, first THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR OUTPOURING OF LOVE AND SUPPORT! I am continually amazed at the absolutely incredible tribe of women I have somehow lucked into! Seriously, your love and authenticity with me is the wind beneath my wings...

Secondly, I need to clarify one very key word in that last rant. Okay, here's what I said: "But what I truly need is for somebody to come and relieve me." The key word being "somebody". I didn't actually mean you, or anyother somebody... Here's where I was actually going with that...
The way I see families and our culture and our world as a whole really working in this new age (acknowledging that things worked a lot different back when we were tribes, living communally, never being separated by walls or lot-lines or doorbells...) is for each family unit to find a way to thrive together. So the somebody I was referring to was actually my husband, and truly only my husband. I've been told before that we can't rely on our husbands for everything. I agree. Stay with me here, I apologize for the discombobulation of this post, but really want to get clear on this and there are a lot of thoughts racing around in my head.
Here's the thing: I could absolutely do this on my own. On the days when I know from the beginning that Brent will not be coming home before bedtime, I am more than fine (the key is not to be angry about it -- if I'm upset with Brent, then absolutely nothing goes right in the entire day, so assuming I'm totally accepting that he is working til all hours of the night, I am fine). The kids and I get into a rhythm together, we conserve our energy and our patience, we get to the end of the day far earlier than if daddy was expected, we have our nighttime cuddles and the day seems quite easy. If this was the norm every day, and there were no daddy in the picture (how sad would that be?! I can hardly type the words, truly) it would be a completely different story. I would have completely different expectations of myself -- hell, the world would have different expectations of me! There would be no promise of relief coming at 6, no 6:30, no maybe 7, no for sure by 7:30, oh, hopefully by 8, oh crap, it's just not going to happen tonight, thing, you know? I am NOT saying that it would be easier or better in any way, no, just that it would be DIFFERENT. There would be no subconscious ideals in my head about evenings spent playing catch with daddy or riding bikes as a family or playing a game on the living room floor or popcorn and a movie, only to face the actuality of having time only to brush teeth and go to bed unfulfilled.
The story I am working on is thankfully not a single-parenting story. No, what I'm dealing with is the potential for all my ideals, but the disappointment that one key person somehow is absent from the picture tooooo much of the time. My disappointments come from knowing that he somehow chooses this. Our frequent talks about it reveal that he wishes things were different. He would like to be home every day by 5, with an evening with his family bright and shiney ahead of him. But he hasn't got things nailed in quite yet at work to make that happen... market downturn, staff issues, owner expectations, etc. etc. Relevant? absolutely. Helpful in the heat of things? not at all. Listen, Pedar, I know you are really angry right now and I know a cuddle would help tremendously, but everyone's hungry, the sauce has just exploded all over the kitchen (i seriously need one of those handheld in-pan blenderizer things because hot sauce + blender = explosion and i seem to have one about every week... urgh!), Heidi just woke up from her 20 minute nap and is yelling for me and there's a dog outside chasing the alpacas. Daddy would be home, but Mr. K (owner) wants some reports by day end, two of the accountants have just declared they're pregnant and a homeowner wants to know why blah blah blah. Do you feel better now, honey? No? Me either. Please let me wipe the sauce off your feet and go read a book and don't need anything else from me until I call you to dinner or I might need to go outside and scream on the deck again and you know how much the neighbours love that!!!
And I think the fact that he wishes things were different makes it harder for me! Because I don't believe in wanting things one way yet living things another (which is what I'm doing right now and why this is all causing so much angst...) I believe in living an empowered and powerful life, of making real what our desires are, of manifesting the best life we can imagine,,,, and all that.
So what's in the way? Well, that's one thing I'm trying to sort out. Not just on a surface level, but in a heal-the-planet kind of way. Our culture simply does not put family first. I keep telling my husband that he could be the trend-setter, the refreshing change at work, the one who has as much integrity with his family as he does with Mr. K. He could be as unwilling to be "late" to us as he would be for a managers meeting. Somehow he doesn't buy it. You know me, I am not a weak woman (I've actually never met a weak woman. I don't think it's evolutionarily possible, honestly). But truly, life is almost as good as life can get. I am continually amazed at how blessed my life is. But I am also not one to sit back and let things be almost anything.
My best life is chock-full of goodness, I admit that. My best life is not the easy-way-round. My best life is homegrown food, fabulous dishes made from scratch, clothes hung on the line washed in soap you could eat, house tidy, lovely and smelling of lavender and windows clean and sparkly, of disasters cleaned up quickly, gifts made with love by hand, gardens full of inspiration, air filled with birdsongs we can identify or fantastic music with a good groove, close nurtured-with-love relationships with family and neighbours, etc. etc. People keep telling me that if I'm tired, I need to give up something. Like what??? I keep saying NO WAY! Why should I have to start cutting out slices of my best life so that Mr. K can have not just the best bits of my husband but far more than his share of my husband? Why can't he have him 9 or 10 hours a day and let us have our share of him too!!! I keep imagining calling him up and having this very frank talk with him -- he's a reasonable man, I'm sure I could get him to see the light. But that's when I realize that he is a very reasonable man and he probably already does see the light and I realize that this is not about Mr. K or the homeowners or the staff or anyone but my husband, in the microcosm and about the pressures of our culture in the macro. He chooses to pour himself like this into every job he does. He somehow needs the approval and admiration of knowing he is working very hard, certainly not taking it easy and never ever slacking off. Cultural taboos, yes?
I remember my uncle having a very frank talk with Brent one day years ago, telling him that he was at the prime of his life and needed to "hit it hard" and sacrifice "everything" (meaning needs of family, spouse, self) in order to "get ahead" now so that he wouldn't find himself an old man still needing to work. He painted a picture of Brent building this empire in his youth, to be enjoyed in his latter years in the form of riding his motorcycle around the country, travelling anywhere his heart desired, buying anything his family/wife wanted, etc. I remember being repulsed and intensely angry by this conversation. I don't think of it often, but I do wonder if all this now is the fruit of those seeds planted years ago. THAT is what our culture preaches. You've really made it if you are "somebody" in the corporate world. You've succeeded if you have a large bank account and investments flung across the globe. Children? Family? Marriage? pshaw.
So. That's how I see it. That's what I'm up against. It is what it is. My husband is busy building his empire. The other men we know who are completely wrapped up in building their empires have wives who are either obsessed with their own careers or have made it their career to be very very fabulous in their physical space. Their children are heavily involved in extra-curricular-everything, are breathless when they tell us how many plays they're currently starring in, how many races they've recently won, etc. etc.
and then there's me.
Known to toss phrases around like "boredom is the key to imagination which is the key to brilliance." Me, with the children who run to pee on their favourite tree when they feel the urge, knowing that urine is high in nitrogen and is our version of fertilizer. Kids whose trophies come from their own gardens in the form of cherry tomatoes and perfect crowns of broccoli. Me, the only one who wonders aloud how crazy our world is when husbands are more concerned about their investment portfolio than the wellbeing of their own offspring. And the thing is, I KNOW that I'm different. I'm fully aware that I am far more difficult to accept than they are for me. I am filled with wonder when talking to people from the other side of the culture -- at how they find fulfillment, how they connect with their teens and all that.
The clash of two cultures is what it is, isn't it?
And so, I guess it all boils down to this: I'm searching for a way to completely embrace what is instead of what could be...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Down Side (Rant)

When they were asking
do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?
and all that...
why oh WHY didn't I have them add:
and do you solemnly swear that you will not give so much of yourself to your work that you have nothing left to give when you come home?
and do you solemnly swear that you will work no more than 8 hours a day, 5 days a week?
okay, 9 hours?
last offer, 10 hours?
oooh! what a deal that would've been! 10 hours a day would get him home by 3:30 every day, including commute time! But way back then, 10 hours would've seemed ridiculous. 8 hours seemed 'normal'. Why does 10 seem like such a deal now?
Or at the very least, why didn't I get a signed contract? I got him to sign one saying he wouldn't watch TV sports during dinner! (his dad does) It took some doing, but he did sign it! And I still have it.
But why would I have ever thought it necessary? His dad worked 7am until 3pm longest, and took every Friday off! And Brent always said he didn't want to be one of "those" men who lived for work and lived uninteresting lives because they were obsessed with work and money. We moved to Vernon because he was being fast-tracked into upper management by the developer he worked for in Calgary. Slower pace out here... wasn't expected that you'd work crazy hours... ski when the snow was good, and all that...
Somewhere along the line he's changed his mind and it's affected all of us. He is "one of those men" he once pitied. And I am a cranky-pants.
I think the biggest thing for me is that the kids will in the future remember that he was an amazing dad. Couldn't have been better. and all that...
Because he IS amazing. For 1.5 hours of their waking weekdays, on good days, and only for the weekends on the weeks when things are crazy. And at least he IS here on weekends. every weekend. And that's what I keep telling myself. It could be so much worse. He could work Saturdays too! Lots of men do. and all that...
And I keep telling myself it is what it is and every single night when I go to bed after having grouched the kids into bed I think starting right now, I CHOOSE this. tomorrow will be different. it has to be. tomorrow I will embrace motherhood with my wholebeing and NOTHING will pull me off track.
Oh, I'm not always grumpy. Most of the day I'm engaging and fun and full of patience and energy and loving and everything I want to be. But somewhere along the day,
of everything.
I hear myself lose my patience, being sharper than necessary...
I hear it, but I can't seem to stop it.
I am just empty.
The kids will likely remember me as that. Empty. Life as a grind rather than a groove. Cranky. Impatient. Yelling.
It's not what I ever wanted. It makes me cry to think of it. I've tried everything to stop living this regretful way... exercise...diet...deep breathing...reading...writing...calling a friend...locking myself in my bedroom... But what I truly need is for somebody to come and relieve me. And so as much as I can temper my frustration, the resentment shows and it's making for a regretful life... the one thing I always said I would NEVER do.
Not many people "get" this. Most have husbands who are home more, or have less demanding jobs at the very least. Some somehow worked through it way back when and either don't remember or somehow found a lot more strength doing it all on their own than I've managed to.
I want to know how. I want to know how to do this motherhood thing, for 12 hours a day after sleepless fever-filled nights, without regret. I want to fulfill my vision of myself as the soft-spot-to-fall, the never-ending-patient, calm, loving, never-snappy, never-grabbing-an-arm-too-hard, never gritting-my-teeth, never-wanting-to-truly-run-away MOTHER.
I've wondered if I need to let go of my 24/7, 365 day ideal?
Would school help? I can't imagine it -- getting empty kids back in exchange for 6 hours to myself?

Here's how my day started out:
8:10 doorbell rings. I pull myself out of sleep to find tree-cutter-men (2) at door to give me quote. My throat is so sore that I can't talk (laryngitis) plus the fact that I haven't spoken yet and had to wake up Heidi to answer door with me... I get outside and realize my shirt is on inside out and the zipper to my skirt is undone and I didn't take the time to pull on underwear. Lovely.
9:00 boy arrives to cut weeds. I still haven't changed or brushed my teeth and he looks a little scared to be dropped off HERE by his mother. I don't blame him.
10:00 racing off to doctor, praying all the way that Brent really does show up for this appointment. We're 5 minutes late. He's not there.
Neither is the usual receptionist who loves my children and knows us well. eeek!
I begin prepping Annika for watching Heidi (who's going through severe separation anxiety at the moment) for me in the waiting room.
This is only the second time I'm seeing this doctor (who took over for my long-term-doctor), who's just emigrated from England, and who is FAR too handsome to be performing the impending breast exam and pap smear!
I'm called into the exam room, and Heidi immediately throws herself on the floor and begins sobbing and calling "mama! mama!"
I decide she has to come with me so I pick her up and take her into the exam room. One look at the table full of shiny instruments and I change my mind. She'll have that tray tipped onto the floor tuit suit. No go.
double F@#$!
I call Annika and tell her, just take her, breathe deeply, relax your body and sing to her.
Right. Absolutely!
It's just exactly what I need to do, but isn't going to work on this one year old who has completely relaxed her body, become a dead screaming weight in her big sisters arms and is now screaming louder than any of us predicted possible.
I break the world record for undressing and putting on the lovely blue paper 'gown' (who the hell ever decided to call it a GOWN?) and call Annika back in, thinking maybe I can hold her during the exam. No. She screams louder. I think maybe Annika can hold her on the chair and I'll sing to her during the exam. Nobody can hear me over her screaming.
Doctor pokes his shocked-looking-not-nearly-so-handsome-face-now through the door asking if this is going to work.
NO! it's not going to WORK.
2.5 seconds later all is absolutely quiet.
Doctor says he asked receptionist to help with baby.
I think he's bloody brilliant.
Until his next statement.
So! This could be rather interesting as I haven't done one of these as yet in this office, and have never done one on my own! (no less terrifying said in his lovely English accent!)
Somehow I'd forgotten that they have their helper standing there handing them instruments, adjusting the light, wiping the sweat off their brow and holding their frigging hand through the laborous procedure! CRAP!
There I am, legs splayed, most vulnerable bits of me open to the world, English doctor flayling around trying to reach the swab, trying to reach the tray, reaching above his head for the light that's way too high for him to reach, muttering that he can't find my bloody cervix, switching speculums, flayling again above his head for the light (I finally pulled it down with my toes! okay, that bit does make me giggle even this early into the horrific memory of the entire experience), etc. etc. etc.
My face is brilliant red.
I'm actually amazed at how terribly embarrassed I am by all of this.
I pull my clothes on fast as I can whilst making sure skirt zipper is firmly UP, shirt is most definitely inside RIGHT and race out to see where this new receptionist I've never seen in my life has gone off to with my children. They're on the street! Pointing at cars as they drive by, pointing at helicopters in the air (fighting the local fires), everyone having a gay time.
We pack into the car. I take the 15 seconds to text my husband (not pretty), drive over to Midian to get frozen carmel lattes to deliver back to doctor and receptionist, take a deep breath and we're off to the next appointment.
THAT is a mother's life. Plain and simple.

Men don't get it.
How could they, really?
Not just the being alone with 3 children for a pap, or the strange embarassment even at 40 at having a pap done by a strange male doctor... But just the whole thing about being a mother. My husband does not understand why I'm empty or cranky. Ever. He knows I get precious little sleep at the best of times, he knows how full on it is having the dynamics of 3 kids around allllll the time. He knows that, but he doesn't get it. He's tried. He thinks he gets it. He doesn't get it.
And lest you (or I, in my darkest hour) think my husband is simply just not that into me or us, I assure you that he is. People who really know him, know that he is absolutely dedicated to us and completely in love with us.
So why does he pour himself into work like this?
Why does he choose to do what it takes to get the job done right at work? but not so much at home?
Is it because I am so bloodyhell capable? Does he know that somehow I CAN and WILL get through a pap on my own? Or dinner prep? Or a throwing up kid? Or all 3 throwing up kids? Wilst throwing up myself?
Does he have more confidence in me than he does in the idiots he employs at work?
Would it behoove me to be less capable?
But we can only be who we are.
And who I am is capable, absolutely, but not thriving being on my own with my 3 amazing kids this many hours a day, this many days in a row... Who I am is feeling a lot less capable after the annual exam saga today... Who I am is searching for answers just now...

Friday, August 07, 2009