Before the clock struck midnight on December 31 I went into the bathroom and washed my face, brushed my teeth flossed. I spent part of the day cleaning the house. I like to start a new year that way.
So, 2013, here’s the deal: I started off fresh, and when I see the end of you I will be more fit, healthier and thinner; we will have paid off our consumer debt; we will have started a couple of projects on this house; there will be more exciting things on the horizon for us.
This year I read 34 books. I had a goal to read more and I didn’t keep track in 2011, but I’m pretty sure I accomplished that goal. Having a great bath tub in our new house helped with my reading time – it’s one of my favourite places to settle in with a good book.
Some of them I really enjoyed, some not so much (Sarah’s Key, and I’m one of those people that hated the ending of Gone Girl – also the characters in it). I read more non-fiction than I usually would, and I’ve got a few more non-fiction books on my shelf waiting for me. I’m also hoping to finally meet with my neighbourhood book club in February when they read Cat’s Table, which is on my to-read shelf as well.
Right now I’m reading two books that will be added to my books of 2013 list – One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson (the follow up to Case Histories, which I really enjoyed) and The Great Gatsby, which I never read in high school. I’m reading Gatsby on my new iPad mini, and while I love a physical book, it’s nice to have some ebooks to carry around with me too.
For 2013 the goal will be more than 34 books, more new authors and more Canadian writers.
What I read in 2012:
Starting the new year off with the three words I will try to use to define 2013 is as good a way as any to remind myself that new beginnings lie ahead. Last year I chose progress, faith and tough, and I’m not sure how I feel about those now.
This year my first word has to be health. My mental and physical health have been suffering bumps and bruises for a long time now and focus strays. I will try to focus on health, my own mental and physical health and that of my family. I will try to get the exercise that I know can improve both and I will make sure some of that exercise is the active play my daughter longs for. I will cut the crap out of my life – the food and things that I don’t need. I will do all the writing, reading, walking, whatever that I need and want to.
My second word will be learn. I want to spend time learning myself and helping my kid, who has her own thirst for knowledge. We will read together and ask questions together. I will get down on the floor and draw with her. I will spell things out for her and answer her questions as best I can. When she asked questions we can both learn something. I will slow down and take time to focus on the work I want to do instead of wasting my time with the aforementioned crap.
My third word is open. Opening my mind, opening my schedule, opening my heart a little more. It’s so much easier to be closed but so much harder to be angry.
Well 2012, all I asked was that you would be better than 2011 and that you certainly were, though there was certainly a lot of change to be had this year. We unexpectedly bought a house. We went to the open house on February 26 and by March 4 it was ours. We moved in May and shortly thereafter I left my job and became a stay-at-home mother – something I never thought was in the realm of possibility even a year ago.
It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, there is constant stress and worry, but then at the same time there is this little girl with beautiful curiosity and a great vocabulary who loves having me around. My rewards for the hard times are the days that we make great memories, like that day that we went swimming and then to a movie just because. Not surprisingly, she continues to be the best thing I have ever done.
I have been so busy trying to take care of her and the house that I have hardly taken care of myself. My health is not at all where I planned on being at the end of this year.
At the beginning of 2012 I gave myself three words: progress, faith and tough. Now that I look at them and try to analyze I’m not sure what to say. I made progress, sometimes, I had some faith and other times felt lost, and I was tough until I crumbled.
I have spent a lot of the second have of this year feeling as though I’m taking two steps forward and two steps back. And then you’ve got Paula Abdul stuck in your head.
At the end of 2011 I made a list of things I wanted to get done in 2012. Let’s see…
2013, we’ve got some things to do.
Some things that happened at your third Christmas that you might not remember:
It was a great Christmas, the first one where you really understood what was going on and appreciated everything that happened. We had three full days of celebrations – our traditional Chinese food on Christmas Eve and then a reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Daddy, a special brunch and then turkey on Christmas, and Boxing Day with the other half of my family. Maybe next year Daddy’s side of the family will get to visit us too, and we can update that family photo now that you look so much different than you did on your first Christmas.
And today, two days after Christmas, your Daddy built you a fort in the snow.
My parents have been separated since I was 3 and so tradition dictated that on Boxing Day my sister and I would head on over to my Dad’s house with my three half-siblings, and eventually their kids, and now my kid.
Three years ago we missed that little celebration.
On Boxing Day 2009 there was a nasty storm. My husband took the long drive to their airport where my mother and sister were set to land that night. My sister was moving back to town, my mother was flying in to meet our new baby.
I was at home with the dog, wondering if they would land safely, if Joe’s drive was safe, and fully expecting to go into labour while I was at home, alone, during a freezing rain storm. I was past my due date and I thought it would make perfect sense for the baby to come at the worst possible moment. She didn’t.
Tonight we celebrated Boxing Day at my Dad’s house, me with my husband and this little girl who will be three in a few weeks. It seems like she’s been here forever.
Her first Christmas we got to spend with Joe’s whole family. They all got to meet her and she got to meet them, it was something very special. Her second Christmas it was just us, the three of us. This Christmas it was my family – my mother, my sister and my grandfather – all gathered around on Christmas morning as she delighted at distributing presents. She got excited about every one, even the ones for other people.
When she opened the gift I had chosen for her from my grandfather she got very excited and ran over to give him a big hug. He was thrilled.
It felt pretty good to watch her get so excited about the gifts I had picked for her, the gifts I had suggested to other people. And when she wanted to play with everything right away. And when she and her Daddy played with the new harmonica and ukulele.
It seems totally unbelievable that the waiting and grumbling I did from my due date to the induction were only three years ago, and that this little person is the one we were waiting for.
When I was about 9 or 10 years old my mother took us on a trip, just her, my sister and me. It was a pretty special thing for my single mother to do for us, saving up the time and money. We took the train to Toronto, we stayed at a hotel right on Yonge St and she got us tickets to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Pantages theatre.
That was the beginning. Since then I’ve seen Les Mis, Cats, Tommy, Miss Saigon, Hairspray, Mamma Mia, Spamalot and Wicked – three times.
I watch the Tony Awards and dream about going to New York and seeing Broadway show after Broadway show, gorging myself on Next to Normal, Anything Goes, Billy Elliot, The Book of Mormon.
There is nothing more amazing to me than these people who can sing and dance and act and pull it all together. I remember a performance at the Tonys from Anything Goes. They sang a bit and then they tapped and tapped and then they started singing again and I didn’t understand how it was possible that they could physically manage it.
When I was younger and I would listen to that music and sing along in my room, how I wished I had the voice and the skills and I could become those characters. I look at women like Idina Menzel and Sutton Foster and I wish I could be them, for just a few moments.
That Joel Grey would call me awesome.
She loves to dance, she loves to sing, these are things she does every day and takes great joy in, and I take joy in watching her. I want her to take dances classes in part because I regret not taking them. If that’s her exercise of choice I will cheer her on. I want her to keep singing as loudly as she wants and never to be shy about it like I was.
I actually asked my mom about voice lessons once and decided against them because I didn’t want anyone to think that I thought I might actually be good.
If my kid becomes a triple threat I will be at every show to cheer her on, whether lead or chorus.
And here I am dreaming for her, and here I am thinking into the future about balancing my dreams and her wishes, pushing and shoving.
I will often send Joe texts with quotes from the kid. I do this because she often says hilarious things. Or at least things that are hilarious or sweet to me and would be to him but that I won’t share with a wider social media audience for fear of becoming one of “those” moms.
Lately we’ve been having potty issues. Training was going well and now we’re seeing a total regression. She’s back in diapers and when I first brought them home she seemed upset because “babies wear diapers,” but then she called my bluff and jumped on board.
While changing a diaper the next morning we had the following conversation:
“Are you scared of growing up little girl?”
Nods. “Sometimes I am.”
“But you’re doing a very good job of it.”
“I know, but I’m afraid.”
And just like that I’m lost again. I spend so much time in motherhood lost, but I’ve learned through friends (online and off) that I’m not alone being lost.
She’s this bright light. She smart and funny and she loves so many different things. She’s full of joy so much of the time and then she throws a curve ball.
I didn’t watch the memorial for those killed at the elementary school last week. I read a little bit about it and I read the President’s speech.
I have no place in American politics, I hate guns and I don’t think anyone needs to own a semi-automatic weapon (and I think it was put very well by Neil Macdonald here).
There will be a fight over guns in the United States. I will watch in bewilderment wondering how so many people have died because of this belief in a right that was never meant to be taken this far, but that is not my fight.
I don’t quote scripture. I couldn’t begin to if someone asked me to. I know bits and pieces of biblical stories.
There was one piece of the President’s speech that stood out above all else for me, one piece that I hope will shape the way to move forward:
For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory.
These were babies. Little children. I still can’t wrap my head around it. It’s so much to think about. These children that never had the chance to do anything to offend this man who woke up that morning and decided they deserved to die.
Please, be worthy of their memory.
I devour the news. When bad things happen I sit and watch, trying to find out the facts. I want to know. It’s one of the reasons I went to journalism school. I was great at breaking news and proud of it.
I felt very lucky to find a job that allowed me to be in front of the news, disseminating. I was glued to what was happening around the world but I was allowed to be – I was supposed to be.
When bad things happen I still turn on the news, refresh Twitter, read Internet news. I want the facts, I want to know what’s going on.
Twitter broke the news to me that something very, very bad was happening. I started gathering bits and pieces and finally turned on the news and I spent the afternoon crying and listening as things in Newtown, Connecticut got worse and worse.
I cried and I hugged my daughter close. My husband told me to turn off the news, but we both knew that was not me. I kept watching as the news became more solid and the panic subsided so the mourning could set in.
I cannot wrap my head around what has happened. I cannot begin to think of sending my child to kindergarten one morning before Christmas and not seeing her alive again. It’s as though we’re meant to fear the world for them.
I feel lucky that my child is not old enough to register what’s going on beside the fact that mommy is sad. I don’t know how I would explain this. I suppose there will come a time when another tragedy forces my hand.
I’m going to wake up tomorrow and remember and cry again, remembering that there are parents who are waking up to a nightmare. There will be no answers.