This kid has always had a problem with sleeping, she doesn’t like to go to sleep and fights every way possible. I’m not good at going to sleep either, so I understand somewhat. I hate thinking of what I might be missing out on, and I think she’s realizing more that we’re up after she goes to bed doing things, going places.
We’ve had all kinds of advice, tried different ways of doing things, we’ve had routines that worked for a while and then blew up in our faces.
Tonight she just wasn’t slowing down so I brought her into bed with me, made the room dark and I rubbed her back and her head because that’s helped relax her and get her to sleep in the past.
She was kicking her legs and when I told her to stop she started shaking her arms. It’s as though she was actually vibrating with energy to burn.
I’ve talked to her about why she needs sleep, we’ve read books, talked about what sleep is for. This afternoon she even said she was tired and would take a nap.
But she doesn’t nap. She hasn’t napped regularly since she was 1, she used to nap in the car so we could take her for a drive if she needed some sleep, but that doesn’t work any more.
When I told our doctor at our 12 month appointment that she’d stopped napping she told me that the kid should be falling asleep in her lunch. I didn’t know what to say, because clearly she wasn’t.
I know we’re just back from vacation, all summer she’s been off schedule, we’ve been sharing beds while we’ve been away which makes it harder for her to adjust back. I know I’ve been letting things go and choosing the easy route more often lately. We’re both so tired that no is that much worse.
I just want her to be happy and healthy and relaxed.
She’ll be starting preschool soon, she’ll have a regular schedule and activities, she’ll be interacting with other people and her brain will be working all day. Maybe that will be the change she needs. I don’t know any more.
We got home from our trip, I unpacked, organized, threw in a laundry. I had a bath, put on my pyjamas and lay down in bed. The window was open and a nice, cool breeze was blowing in. A cool breeze that told me something wonderful: Fall is coming.
I love the fall, it’s my favourite time of year. Fall is one of the best, most beautiful times to be in Ottawa.
I love cool evenings, cozy sweaters and gorgeous colours in nature.
I was always one of those kids who loved going back to school. I loved shopping for the new clothes and supplies. I loved the changing season and the newness of it all.
This fall brings new changes. The kid starts real preschool, four afternoons a week, I’m taking on more work and more professional development with the time I have. It’s the beginning. Next year she’ll be in full day kindergarten. Our days of doing what we feel like are over. My days of choosing whether to leave the house or not based on the weather are over.
I’ll have to schedule our trip to the apple orchard around her school, and picking out a Halloween pumpkin…
The future has arrived and we have a big kid.
I didn’t realize when I became a mother that having kids means you never get comfortable. When she was a baby people warned me that just when you think you’ve got them in a routine they’ll change it up on you. I didn’t think ahead to realize that will be true forever. Her interests and activities will be changing forever, her schedule, her body and brain.
I have gone through the stages and finally come to acceptance. After three years of encouragement I now understand: I have a child who does not like crayons.
It’s been hard for me. I loved crayons when I was a kid. I had my own little green toolbox that was full of them. I used to take the time to clean it out, get rid of the less than stellar or broken crayons, the bits of paper.
I loved to draw and scribble, pretending to write. I loved the wide array of colours, the patterns you could make. That thing you could do where you cover a drawing in black and then scratch it off to get the colours underneath.
I loved crayons.
I just assumed that I would have a child that would love crayons too. That we would hang out on the floor together making great crayon drawings, especially when she started showing a great interest in arts and crafts. She loves to paint, she loves to glue things and cut things, she’s very creative.
She does not do a lot of sitting and drawing. She doesn’t particularly like colouring books.
And she prefers markers to crayons. She likes making big messes, which crayons aren’t very good at.
It’s been hard. I’ve been in denial, saving a huge box of crayons, extra little boxes in the office and my bed side table.
This morning I decided to move on. I packed up her big box of crayons along with other craft supplies we don’t need any more and offered them up for free to any neighbour willing to come and get them.
We’re moving on.
It’s now two years since the day we lost you. Last year I noted that it seemed like such a long and sort time, now it seems like it’s been forever.
I still have your cell number saved in my phone. I doubt I’ll ever delete it, and I’m not even sure why.
Days like this I wonder if there will ever be a time when I don’t think ‘what if.’ My mother asked me not too long ago if I thought I would still be working full time if you were still alive. There is little doubt in my mind.
It’s been just over a year since I left work to be home with my daughter and take care of her, our family and myself. It was hard to leave that team that you built. The people you placed in that office were truly great, and they hired great people and it was so very hard to tear myself away, but things were so much harder without you. We were already struggling with the unexpected growth and we suffered the most terrible blow.
Now I’m firmly entrenched in this new life I’ve created – mothering, working from home, taking care of our new home. I worry that I’m disappointing people who built up my confidence, but at the same time I think you would understand my priorities and that gives me peace.
It’s so hard sometimes. Being a mother is wonderful and brutal, highs and lows. Like politics, almost.
Sometimes I deeply miss being so connected to a cause, so aware of current events and politics.
I’ve been in Toronto twice recently, passing Danforth, seeing Roy Thomson Hall. It’s impossible to be in that city without missing you. I’ll be back in October for the Blissdom conference and I’ll try to express some of the confidence that your people built up in me, the belief that you demonstrated.
Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.
This is the third time I’ve been to PEI in my life. The first was when I was very young – younger than 3 because both my parents brought us and that’s when they separated. The second was in 1989 or 1990 I think because in pictures from that trip I’m wearing my Joey McIntyre button.
A few months ago my mother decided that she wanted to bring my sister and me back along with her granddaughter, so we planned the trip and here we are.
PEI is very special to my mother, you see. She wasn’t born here and she’s never lived here, but she did fall in love with Anne and write her MA thesis on Lucy Maud Montgomery, favourite daughter of Prince Edward Island.
For each of my first three Christmases I got Anne books (Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, to be precise).
We had a cat named Marilla.
I didn’t read any of the books until I was older, and I started with Anne’s House of Dreams for some reason (that would be number six in the series). I can’t remember when I first watched Kevin Sullivan’s adaptation of the three first books, but I know I’ve watched it countless times since. I fell deeply in love with Anne and Matthew and Marilla (and Colleen Dewhurst), and Gilbert Blythe.
Gilbert Blythe was who I dreamed of marrying.
To this day any time I see a picture of an Anne that’s not Megan Follows it looks wrong to me. If I ever met Jonathan Crombie I would FLIP OUT. (Just upon searching to make sure I had his name right I found out he’s the voice of Benjamin Bear and my jaw literally dropped, no wonder I like that show).
My favourite books are the later ones, I adore Rilla of Ingleside, but those movies (the first two, that is, Anne: The Continuing Story is a piece of crap that messes with all the dates and characters) were a major part of my upbringing.
So here we are, introducing my little girl to something that has been a part of our lives for decades. She doesn’t quite understand, but I read her a shortened adaptation of Anne of Green Gables before bed tonight and she proceeded to tell me about when she met Anne at Green Gables and they told her she could stay.
She told me about playing with Anne and Diana, and things Marilla told her.
I told her that Anne has a wonderful, wild imagination just like her.
I love my daughter. She’s the world. Really, I do. I’m not just trying to convince myself.
It’s been a tough day. It’s been one of those days when she’s sucked away all my energy with major tantrums.
When she stomps and yells and demands and I give her consequences – I tell her what’s going to happen if she keeps going, thinking that she’ll listen, she’ll understand.
And then she doesn’t.
And that’s how I ended up in the car being screaming and cried at while my mother and sister finished visiting Avonlea Village.
I took her out of the village, I sat down with her and explained what was going to happen and I gave her one more chance, we went back in, and after about 20 minutes she started in again. I laid out exactly what we were going to do next: Visit the school house, ride in the horse-drawn buggy, have ice cream.
Don’t forget the ice cream.
Nope. Didn’t matter.
I know what happened, she didn’t sleep enough last night. I know that I handled it well. She got her consequence. This was a moment of good parenting.
But man oh man.
We’re here for another five days and I’m scared that I’m going to spend the whole vacation either fighting with her or feeling gun shy.
In my head I just have to keep telling myself: she’s a good kid, overall.
When the kid was a baby we had occasional naked time. Nowadays she often chooses to be naked, running around the house. The other day she tried to run right out the front door.
“Because you’re naked.”
“I’m naked?! Aaaaah!”
(That last part was her doing a take off from a Gerald and Piggie book).
These days when I tell her that she has to get dressed to play in the backyard or because we have a visitor coming she asks why and I’m not sure where to start.
I want to avoid that whole ‘naked is something to be embarrassed about’ thing, because it’s not. It’s also not something she can flaunt all the time. She can’t show off her underwear anywhere any time.
I have no idea how to approach the conversation. Moreover I don’t want to.
Having that conversation feels like closing up her world a little bit, taking away some of her innocence.
Realistically I know that the difference between private and public is important, that this conversation is the beginning of making her safe and secure in herself and from bad things in the world.
I felt so good about her learning the proper terms from a young age, now here we are at the next step.
Any and all advice is welcome.
Last week while we were on our trip the kid declared “Daddy, you don’t look like you.”
She explained that because Daddy was wearing a Hawaiian shirt that had flowers on it, he didn’t look like himself because boys don’t wear flowers.
Yesterday I was a bit happier when she told me something was a boy toy and I asked a few questions and got a better definition: Girl toys are toys she likes to play with. Things she doesn’t like to play with are boy toys.
Of course this only seemed like progress until I realized this means boy=bad.
I have yielded somewhat from my gender rants. My little girl loves pink and purple but also says she likes all the colours when asked what her favourite is. I’ve stopped buying t-shirts because she never wears them, it’s dresses every day.
When she declared a few months ago that ‘boys like Spider-Man and girls like unicorns’ we reminded her about her Auntie, who she adores, who is obsessed with Spider-Man and reads comics regularly. Also her friend – the little girl she often declares to be her best friend – who reads comics and loves Spider-Man and The Hulk.
Some days she tells Daddy she doesn’t want his help getting dressed because she wants a girl to help – but at the same time she’ll run naked out the door if I don’t stop her and tell her that’s not appropriate. (Post on that coming).
I don’t know where the ideas come from or what to do about them except combat them each as they come up.
This was a picture that Joe took of me with the kid on the beach at the family reunion. The kid wanted some quiet time so the three of us stepped away from the crowd.
The first time I saw the picture was when I downloaded all the pictures I had taken that day from the camera.
Honest to god the first thought in my head when I saw this shot: “That’s not me, she looks like a mom.”
Three and a half years into this gig and I still feel brand new. In my head I’m still a teenager, 16 or maybe 18, figuring out my life.
Realistically I’m aware that I’m a mom – a good one, if I do say so myself – and there’s this little person that I grew and gave birth to and love in big and unbelievable ways. But this woman in this picture? She looks like a grown up.
I’m not a grown up.
I spend time wondering if people around us even think I’m her mother because I can’t believe I look like I know what I’m doing, but here’s this picture.
That’s a mom.
I’m currently reading Dan Savage’s book American Savage. I was expecting more of an autobiography than what I’m getting, but I like Dan Savage and it’s an interesting read. So far he’s talked about Catholicism and his personal experiences with religion, he’s talked about monogamy, and I just finished a chapter where he declared Halloween something of a straight pride parade.
There was also a chapter on sexual education, which was a really interesting read. Sex ed is something I’ve thought a lot about and both Dan Savage and an episode of This American Life I was recently re-listening to have reminded me of something I was aware of as a teen – you’re parents can tell you the basics, but get further into it and everyone gets uncomfortable, so providing outside resources is key.
I was actually at a luncheon a couple of weeks ago and was introduced to Sue McGarvie. This was the woman who hosted a call-in show about sex on Sunday nights here in Ottawa. I listened to her on my walkman with the sound down. I also read Cosmo magazine and any other books I could get my hands on. Before I ever had sex I knew a lot about it, and I think I benefitted from that. I also think it helped me wait until I was past ready and found the right person.
But that’s not really what this post is about. This post, like Dan Savage’s book, is about being gay.
I am not gay. I did wonder when I was younger if maybe I was or maybe I was something else or what was wrong with me – which I think is a normal teenage thing. I am not gay and I have no idea what it’s like to be gay. That’s why it struck me when Dan Savage talked about the feeling of walking into a gay bar for the first time.
The same thing struck me when two friends of ours got married and headed off to their honeymoon at a gay resort.
At first I wondered about the choice, I wondered what that was like as a honeymoon and then I realized: Gay people can feel safe an open in such a place in a way they can never ever feel in everyday life.
I was struck. It had never occurred to me before that gay people will always have to think about who they are and how someone will react to them just existing as they are. I’d guess you have to assume the worst and hope for the best.
Of course, while I’m reading this book I’m also watching the world talk about the Olympics in Russia. I don’t know what the right thing is, to boycott or not, but a message needs to be sent.