There are days when everything seems hard. I try to focus on something and end up cleaning the bathroom. I plan an activity for the kid and she bails after a few minutes.
Joe tells me I dwell on the bad things. My doctor tells me to write a gratitude journal.
Sometimes I feel as though I have an expiration date. That we’re five years in to our marriage and I’m now incapable of being a good wife, that it’s been a year that I’ve been home with the kid and I can’t handle it any more.
Those overwhelming days when you wonder when you last did the right thing.
There are things I’m grateful for, the love that I feel for this little girl that can make me teary just thinking about her, the opportunities I’ve been given, the husband who for some reason decided on me, the house that keeps us safe and warm, a dog who is always willing to cuddle up when it’s time for a nap.
Things are good and then, it seems, there’s me.
My city just announced that Paul McCartney will be playing a concert here in July.
I have been a Beatles fan for a couple of decades now, since my mother gifted me with the movie Help! for one of my birthdays. I bought myself A Hard Days Night soon after and then started buying all the albums. I read books about them, watched shows about them, learned about them. When I was in college we had one class where the objective was just to write and I submitted a paper about the ‘Paul is Dead‘ conspiracy.
I still remember a lot of the ‘clues.’ (Seriously, read up on it, it’s kind of fascinating).
It pains me somewhat that I never got to live in a world that had all four Beatles. John Lennon was shot dead three months before I was born. And then George Harrison died and we were left with Paul and Ringo.
Ask me to name my favourite Beatle and Paul would place fourth. Ringo was my favourite when I was younger – he’s the funny one – and as I got older I wished to be the artist that John was. George was just quietly excellent.
Paul, as far as I’m concerned, is the ego that caused the break-up. Keeping in mind that these were four men who probably just needed to get away from each other after so many years, and that this break up happened about 12 years before I was born.
Meanwhile I’ve been reading Moranthology, Caitlin Moran’s collection of columns, and coincidently read her interview with Sir Paul this week. She surprised herself by crying when introduced to his bass.
The fact is that he may be my least favourite Beatle, but he’s still a Beatle. He’s the man who wrote Yesterday and Hey Jude, Got to Get You Into My Life – one of my favourite songs to belt out – And I Love Her, Eleanor Rigby… It just goes on and on. He’s not my favourite but there’s no saying the guy isn’t great.
In Moran’s interview, Sir Paul tells her that he still plays his classics because if he were a fan and went to see Paul McCartney in concert and didn’t hear his favourites he would be pissed. That’s an attitude I can appreciate. Also, he was my mother’s favourite.
(I highly recommend Moranthology and Moran’s other book How To Be A Woman).
Lately the kid has been using more and more words again. She pays close attention, listening to us talk, the TV, the radio, and she picks things up, always has.
She has an app that allows her to speak to Pocoyo and he repeats back what you say to him. She has not yet figured out he’s just repeating and this lead to her yelling “You’re a jerk! No! YOU’RE A JERK.”
When Joe asked me where she picked up that language, I pointed out that he often tells me not to be a jerk.
Over the past few weeks she has called things stupid and she has said she hates things and Joe has told her those are not nice words and not words she should be using.
Here’s the thing…
I try not to disagree with the way Joe does things and what he tells her when she’s standing in front of us because if there’s something that’s more important to him than to me we need to talk about that. This language thing? I know lots of parents tell their kids not to use the word hate, and I know that telling someone you hate them or that they’re stupid can be really hurtful.
That is why I tell my daughter the following: People can DO stupid things but you shouldn’t call the people themselves stupid.
As for hate, I don’t know where I sit on hate, but it seems silly to ban it from her vocabulary. Like it or not she’s going to get to an age when she’ll declare that she hates one or the other of us. I have no real issue with her saying that she hates the taste of something or she hates a situation, so long as she’s not declaring that she hates a person without really getting to know them.
I can’t ban her from hating people because I haven’t been able to stop myself from hating a few. There are grudges I still hold and people that still boil my blood. I think – so long as a bad feeling about one person because of an action they’ve taken doesn’t turn into a bigger hatred for a group of people, including some that you don’t even know but hate just because they share characteristics with that one person – hate is okay. It’s a legitimate feeling.
What words do you ban in your house?
Before the kid was born I bought several prints to hang in her room with different sayings on them, including one that says ‘You are so loved.’ These are the things that I want her to know and remember.
When she was born I was overwhelmed by the love I felt for this child – I still am sometimes – and it was difficult allowing other people to hold her and cuddle her. She was my baby and I just wanted to stare at her.
Soon I realized how wonderful it is to watch her with other people, to see other people who love her too, to know that other people realize what a wonderful little person this is.
Every Friday the kid goes to daycare and every Friday she fights about it and then has fun and doesn’t want to leave. This morning she told me that she doesn’t love her daycare provider, she loves me.
There is no reason for my daughter to have as much trouble opening herself up to people as I do or telling people that she loves them.
You can love me and her too, I told her, so many people love you and it makes me very happy to see it.
I want her surrounded by love, with all different people giving her all different reasons to feel good about herself. I want there to be a village telling her she’s smart and beautiful and strong and funny so that she might never question that she is all of those things.
We bought a new car last weekend and we picked it up last night. While we were going over the paperwork the kid got bored, which was not unexpected. We told her that she could look at the cars in the showroom – something I used to love doing when I was a kid and we would go to the Hyundai dealership with my grandparents.
I love to drive. I had a shaky start, but since I learned I have loved to drive. There is nothing better than driving with your music playing and the window down with the sun on your face. I have driven a lot, from Ottawa to Alberta and back, from Fort Frances, Ontario to Ottawa. When I lived in Belleville I drove from there to Toronto, Peterborough, Barrie and Welland. I love this country and there is no greater way to see it – unless you go by train, which is a dream of mine.
Joe and I share the driving duties, though I admit I often let him drive when we’re all together. When my grandfather was helping me learn to drive he actually noted that it always seems like the man drives when a couple is out together and I guaranteed that I wouldn’t let it be that way.
Still, the kid sees me drive a lot, and my mother drives her, and Joe’s mother is often the driver when they visit, so I was taken aback when I opened the driver’s side door of the showroom car and she said to me “No, I want to sit in the woman’s seat” pointed to the passenger side.
I have no idea where she came up with that, and it upset me more than it probably should have. She’s three, she’s figuring out the world, it’s an easy correction – ‘passenger seat, love.’
Still, she’s been declaring all sorts of things to be for boys or for girls – Girls like unicorns and boys like Spider-Man, even though she’s knows her Auntie loves Spider-Man.
Every time this comes up we explain that anyone can like anything they like, being a girl or a boy has nothing to do with it.
Times like this I feel like I’m failing on the whole gendered thing, but then two of her female dolls get married and become two moms for her other doll and I feel pretty okay.
I’ve heard the denials of the existence of rape culture and continued getting angrier and angrier.
Today I was sick. I was dizzy all day, and nauseous and I spent the day in bed trying not to move and sleeping off and on. When I went downstairs to check on the family in the late afternoon I heard for the first time about explosions at the Boston marathon.
Since then I have been reading Twitter and watching the news and trying to keep up with the horrible situation.
It used to be my job to sit watching the news, keeping up with the details, but it’s something I’ve always done and will always do.
When I heard that some of the parents from Newtown were in attendance and that part of the race was dedicated to the victims of that horrible day I will never, ever be able to forget, my heart broke all over again. These parents, they will spend the rest of their lives reliving that day and now this.
I can’t imagine trying to continue carrying on.
And I’m so mad.
I can’t just be angry anymore. This anger has to direct itself and I have to figure out where.
Something that I have learned about young kids is that anything can become a fight. It can be totally exhausting to spend the day getting a toddler or preschooler to just do what you need them to do. Getting my daughter dressed and out of the house can take over an hour of telling, convincing, giving up and trying again.
This is why I’ve started letting her choose her own outfits. I don’t care what she wears as long as she’s wearing something.
Turns out my daughter’s taste is pretty awesome.
Stripes, floral and leopard print all in one outfit? Absolutely. A dress over a skirt? Yes. Two different socks? Of course. Two different shoes? I wouldn’t have it any other way.
She’s always proud of herself when she’s all put together, and she loves having me take pictures of her outfits.
The best part? When she’s a teenager looking back and asking me how I could dress her this way, I have the perfect answer.
My town has been hosting the IIHF Women’s Hockey Championship this past week. I used to be the sort who didn’t believe women’s hockey could live up to men’s, but a few years ago I had the chance to see the women up close in Winnipeg and I realized how wrong I was. These women have power and skill and they are a pleasure to watch.
Joe took the kid to see Canada play Finland during the tournament this week and I made sure to tell her to cheer loudly for Gillian Apps, who is my personal favourite.
It was important to both of us that they kid got the chance to see women play the game so she knows that they can be just as good at anything they choose.
With this tournament going on in Ottawa and the approaching 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi conversation has turned back to some comments around the last Olympics. There was talk that the sport is not competitive enough to be in the games – this because Canada and the US are always at the top.
Now the head of the IIHF says he thinks this week’s tournament has been enough of a display for the IOC and the sport will stay a part of the games, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Every time I hear this suggestion that women’s hockey is not competitive enough to be in the Olympics I start to get really angry. I don’t know why this issue bothers me so much, but it does. The fact is that if the sport was taken out of the Olympic Games, I firmly believe it would lose all momentum. The up-and-coming programs in countries like Finland, Russia and China would lose funding without an Olympic goal.
A sport shouldn’t have to be competitive to be in the Olympics, a sport needs to be in the Olympics to become competitive. Girls watching around the world will see the passion, the dedication and the fun and will want to get involved.
In Canada we are just entering a place where the women playing for the national team had women on previous national teams to look up to – Geraldine Heaney and Cassie Campbell passing the torch to Hayley Wickenheiser, now approaching her twentieth year with the team. (Yeah, I remember when Hayley Wickenheiser was a young upstart).
If the IOC does make the decision to kick women’s hockey out of the Olympics until it’s competitive enough by their standards I will be asking where to direct my angry letter.
My kid has been acting not too great sometimes lately. She’s not always polite, not always cooperative, not great at sharing. I’m told that she’s acting like your average three-year-old. It’s brutal.
This behaviour has not gone unnoticed by others, but I was still surprised by one comment. I’m not sure it was directed at me, but certainly meant for me to overhear. I had put the kid in childcare while I went to the gym. I go, I sign her in, she plays and I pick her up about an hour later. The first two times I did this she was fine, the third time she wasn’t so much. She apparently wasn’t too happy with sharing the dollhouse with two younger kids and when I got there she started crying as soon as she saw me walking down the hall.
While I comforted her and got her snack for her I talked to the two ladies who were in charge that morning.
“She’s an only, right?”
“Only and lonely.”
I didn’t say anything at the time. I wasn’t sure I had heard correctly, this implication that there’s something wrong with her because she’s an only child.
I tweeted about the comment and by the time we were home I had several replies from people who couldn’t believe it. I’m still not sure how I feel about the comment, except that it was a stupid thing to say and it’s a dumb thing to believe.
I’ve gone back and forth on the only child thing, and it’s especially hard when the kid turns to me and says “I want a baby brother.” The fact is I have no real desire for another baby, it would be difficult financially, it would mean less sleep, less me time, less time for Joe and less of him for me. It would mean being pregnant again. It would mean being pregnant while taking care of this child. This non-stop child. When I think ahead to all the activities she might want to try, when she advances to university, I think of the costs and the time. I think of our time and all the things I’ve never done and want to be able to do with my time and money as she grows older.
Am I being selfish by not giving her a brother or sister? Maybe. Is it hurting her? I doubt it. I know enough people who grew up only children that are not bothered by it.
Is she lonely? Sometimes, absolutely. So am I.
You don’t understand this right now, but I’ve made some great connections online – people that know about you and laugh with you and smile at you.
One of these people I connected with lost his wife to cancer today, and that means that two little boys lost their mom. I’ve been crying for her and for them, the time they lost. I think about you and me and what would happen if I got sick and what I would say to you.
The most important thing, little girl, is that you have some sense of the overwhelming love I feel for you.
No matter what happens in our day to day lives, the tears and the anger, no matter what, I go to sleep at night thinking about you and how dearly I love you.
No matter how bad a day we may have had, I marvel at you.
The fact that I get to be your Mama – the one you cry to when you get hurt, the one who gets to cuddle up with you when you’re sick, the one who talks you through nightmares – that is the greatest thing I have ever achieved.
Whenever we say goodbye, I want you to know that my love for you is more powerful than even I can understand and that will never, ever change.