While last month marked 10 years since our first kiss and the start of our relationship, there is a very important role that Joe plays that I’ve never touched on.
Joe does something for me that I have never been able to do for him.
For almost a decade he has been my alarm clock.
I am terrible at getting myself up early. I have always been a stay up late kind of person. In high school I had it down – I could wake up at 8:30, get dressed and catch the bus to be at school for 9 o’clock.
It was awesome.
And then, through some cruel irony, I started a job that I loved, but it happened to involve a 7-3 work day. And when a campaign rolled around I had to make the 6 am bus – the first one that rolled out.
Now, if I’m bad at getting up early, I’m even worse at doing it by myself. Keeping the lights out, being quiet, not resenting the still sleeping person…
Joe gets up with me, often before me, makes the coffee and see me out the door; despite the fact that this is something that I could never, ever, bring myself to do for him in return. (And the fact that he has no expectation of that makes it even more selfless).
And even when I’m at home, still snoozing, he’ll make the coffee and bring me a cup. Seriously. That’s love.
When my daughter started preschool I managed to accidentally join the executive at the school. It’s a co-op so all the parents are involved in different ways, and we all had duty days when we spend the afternoon at the school helping the teachers.
As it turns out being on the executive and doing duty days at school were a truly awesome experience. I got to know other parents, I got to know the teachers really well, and I got to have conversations with them about the school and their training and curriculums and new things they’re learning about early childhood education.
As far back as high school I remember learning how important early childhood education could be. Taking care of young children can set them up for life. Studies have shown the kids who attend preschool or some other form of early childhood education are more likely to finish high school, less likely to be involved in crime, they have better social skills, they have more ability to focus, the list goes on and on. The fact is that the more funding you put into early childhood programs the less you’ll have to spend on an array of other things as these children age and the better off society will be.
So why don’t we focus on early childhood development?
This is an election year, and day care is part of the conversation. But a national day care isn’t the whole solution. We are failing so many kids.
There is a major problem with school attendance in the north, and I heard it put very simply recently while I was attending Progress Summit – the schools are in disrepair, the supplies are second rate.
If we don’t invest in those things to demonstrate how important education is, then why would any of those kids consider it important?
A good start in school can change everything about a person’s life. Everything. Starting at the beginning can change everything about our country. That’s the kind of long term thinking we need to see this election year.
I have the summer off before my Masters program starts in September. This also means that I have two months off by myself before my daughter gets off school. I am very excited about this time because it gives me more time to think and focus and prepare for next year and then what follows.
I opted to go back to school so that I am better able to do the work I am passionate about. This summer is an opportunity to do all the reading and work that I did not have time for during the last school year.
This summer is an opportunity to revise all the work I’ve done with Shelagh about why I do what I do and how to do it better. It’s an opportunity to volunteer and connect with other people and their passions. I plan on reading books and blogs, listening to podcasts, watching the news and documentaries. And, of course, writing.
All of this professional development will help set my focus so that I am prepared to get absolutely every ounce of benefit from my graduate degree so I can hit the ground running when it’s all over.
There is something wonderful about doing all this learning when I know what it’s for. The first time I was in university I went because I tried to succeed in journalism and it proved a lot more difficult than I was prepared for. This time, I know what I can do, I know why I’m there and I know where I want to go when I’m done.
I am going to make the world a better place, working within the system we have to change the things that are wrong. Because that is what I have to do. This work is in my soul.
Sometimes I think that I was given the child I ended up with through whatever greater power – as an aside, she once informed us that she chose us – to demonstrate for me a better way to live my life.
I mean, just for starters this kid opened me up to love. I’m not very good at love – giving or receiving – but I sure am good at loving her.
She’s taught me about putting someone else’s life ahead of yours completely. She’s also taught me that sometimes you need to take care of yourself first in order to take care of someone else.
She’s shown me that I can still be creative, that I’m more goofy than I ever really knew, and also that I am hilarious. Seriously funny.
She’s instilled in me a new kind of confidence that I never knew I had. And a fierceness. I will do anything to get her what she needs. And now, more and more, to get me what I need.
She’s taught me that I am an awesome mom, which I never expected.
Sometimes I sit back and watch her and she’s like a metaphor. All the little things she goes through somehow relate back to me and the things I’m dealing with.
It was a beautiful day and I took her out to the park after she got off the school bus and we dropped her backpack at home. We haven’t had many chances to play outside so far this spring. It’s not a big park, the one right down the street, but it has swings and things to climb on and she’s still little enough that it entertains her.
This little park happens to have a set of monkey bars that she has been eyeing since we moved here two and a half years ago. At first she wasn’t tall enough to reach them, but she had us hold onto her while she grabbed the bar and then she would hang for a bit. But she would always watch so closely when older kids would come and go back and forth on those darn monkey bars.
This day, too, she was watching a friend not much older than her, a little girl from the school bus, who had already mastered them. But my kid, she would just reach out and hang, or kick her legs up and turn upside down.
And then she came over to see me at the bench where I was sitting, holding on to the dog. She told me she really wanted to do the monkey bars, but she was scared. And I told her I knew that and that she could just try and practice for now, because if she drops she knows she’s not going to get hurt.
So back she walked, climbed up on the platform and tried.
And lo and behold she was successful. She went easily from one end to the other and the look of pride on her face was something I’ll never forget.
She was scared, she didn’t think she could do it, but then she tried and it turns out she could and she was not only fine, she felt great.
Yep, that definitely seems like something I should take to heart.
I watched a bit of the budget yesterday, I followed some of the coverage, I tweeted about some of the issues. It was until this morning that I saw Joe Oliver’s quip about leaving the repercussions of the decisions in this budget to “Stephen Harper’s granddaughter.”
It made me angry at the time. I shared the story, marking it as disgusting.
Tonight I was thinking about it and I actually got emotional.
You see, when I worked the 2011 election I was a new mother, just back from maternity leave. Moving from my regular day-to-day work was very stressful because I knew I wouldn’t see my baby girl very much with the long days at working – leaving the house before she was awake. Moreover she wasn’t old enough to understand what I was doing or why.
But when Jack talked to us that first day after the writ dropped he talked about the next generation. He talked about his granddaughter (who also happened to be toddling around the war room at the time). He talked about us being caretakers of this whole great country for the next generation and I knew that I had to put everything I had to give into this campaign for the next 36 days because I could tell my daughter later that it was all for her.
So I got a little teary and more angry tonight thinking about what Joe Oliver said – what the PMO called a ‘joke’ – and I thought about my grandparents.
My Tutu and Gramps helped raise me. They were always there for us, my grandfather still is. Always.
It would never, ever have occurred to my grandparents generations to leave something for us to worry about. Never would it have come to their minds to saddle us with debts or unintended consequences.
We have a responsibility to our children and their children, just like our parents and grandparents took responsibility for us.
Now Jack’s gone, but I can take what he taught me and what I’ve learned from my grandparents to fight to make changes. Even on days like today when politics and the way things work is so damn frustrating.
Joe’s birthday was last week, but it fell on the same day as my last exam and I’ve been sort of crazy for the past two weeks, and then the next day I slept all day and was still overtired and de-stressing. So basically, he got his presents, we went out for dinner, we had cake, but I didn’t even remember to wish him a happy birthday maybe at all.
And then today we took a day at home. We did things around the house – there was cleaning and tidying and electrical work. I got some work done. I’ve made a list of the things I want to do this summer with the time I now have.
And in the middle of the day I was scrolling through Twitter and saw the news that Jonathan Crombie had passed away.
Jonathan Crombie played Gilbert Blythe in Kevin Sullivan’s miniseries and I spent most of my life dreaming that I could find a Gilbert.
Someone who was a good friend, someone who loved me despite my sometimes crazy temper and wild emotion, someone who loved my brain and my thoughtfulness and my occasionally overly creative ways. Someone who will point out my flaws and mistakes but never make me doubt their friendship or love.
Well, there you go.
This morning I found out from Twitter that Jonathan Crombie had passed away. Crombie is best known for playing the most perfect Gilbert Blythe there will ever be. Hearing that he had died brought tears to my eyes.
I’d never met the man, but through dozens of viewings of the Kevin Sullivan miniseries I had fallen for Gilbert Blythe, like so many others. Because Anne was clearly an idiot and Gilbert was the perfect match for her and why couldn’t she just come to her senses. Dammit.
When I read the Anne series he and Megan Follows are the people I picture clearly in my imagination.
I know it must have been difficult for both of them, as actors, being so defined by those roles. I was so glad to read the interview with his sister who said he was happy to be recognized and remembered for it, and even responded to the name Gil on the street.
Rest in Peace Jonathan Crombie, you will always be Gilbert Blythe to me, and you will be my daughter’s Gilbert too. And thank you.
In 2004 I started my undergrad at Carleton. In 2007 I opted to do a three year general degree instead of an honours degree and graduated assuming that I would never go back to do any sort of post-secondary.
I got married, eventually found a job that I fell in love with, a couple of years later we had a baby. That baby changed a lot of things for me and in 2011 when Jack died I decided that I needed to spend some time at home, being with my family and taking care of myself.
And then two years after that she was starting school, I was growing my business and trying to figure out what was next. I was considering some kind of school and then an offhand comment made by my father started me thinking. In the years since I first graduated, Carleton has added a Masters in Political Management. Within a month I had applied to Carleton to complete my fourth year of undergrad so that I could apply to that program.
Fast forward 10 months – seriously, fast forward, I’m finding it hard to believe that second semester even happened – I write my final exam tomorrow.
And it just so happens that my final exam is Research Methods – the class that I avoided taking when I opted for a three year degree instead of a four year.
The exam is worth 40 per cent of my mark, I’ve got my labs and my essay back and I know that basically as long as I write it I’m going to pass the class.
And when I walk out of the field house tomorrow afternoon I am probably going to cry. I am excited about what’s to come next year, I am thrilled to be finished.
This has been one of the hardest things I have ever done, and this week of exams has been brutal. My kid misses me and I miss her, but I had to tell her that studying had to be my number one thing and that soon I would be done. And now I really almost am.
I am so excited for the spring. I’m ready to read for pleasure, watch TV, knit, play with my kid and even volunteer at the kid’s school. It’s going to be awesome.
I had my last class today. Now I have a week to study for exams. I have four exams, four days in a row and I’m trying to get everything organized so that I can quickly study for each class in the short time I have between exams.
All of this means that I have been in the office studying for most of the past two days, and I will be in the office studying for most of the next 10 days.
And that means that I had to sit the kid down yesterday and explain to her that my studying has to be the most important thing right now.
I have tried to explain that I have a long list of priorities and what sits at the top of that list changes constantly. Most often she is the top of the list, sometimes I actually make it to the top. Right now, school is the top.
It wasn’t something she was happy to hear, any more than I was happy to tell her. She’s been desperate for attention the past week or two. She wants to know what she can do and who can do it with her, which is very unusual for her.
Luckily I’ve had the time to go out on a couple of walks with her, talk to her, give her that feeling of importance I think she’s craving.
(Unluckily our last walk ended in tears and bandaids).
It’s wonderful to finally be able to get outside, walk in the sunshine and just talk. I look forward to so much more of that, but first I have four exams in four days.
My kid LOVES the Puppet Tamer. She loves puppets, she loves funny, and the Puppet Tamer is both. And so the Puppet Tamer’s appearance is one of the things I will tell her to get her excited about going to Kidsfest this year.
Also Peppa Pig, Junkyard Symphony, Splash ‘N Boots… the list goes on. It won’t take much convincing really.
She loved it last year, she will love it this year (and it gives my husband a great way to spend some fun quality time with her while I study for my exams, which are all packed intp the week following Kidsfest).
Kidsfest is happening this year at the EY Centre (out near the airport) on April 11 and 12.
Just like every year (and this year is the 14th annual) there will be a lot of great exhibitors who will be doing giveaway, hosting activities and providing attendees with great information.
Last year the kid came home very happy with her face painted and a craft she had made. And she met a princess.
You can learn all about Kidsfest here.
You can also buy tickets here. And you can use the discount code Blogger10 to get a family pass for $30 or to save $3 on an adult ticket, or you can comment below to enter a giveaway for a family pass (2 adults and 2 children) that I will be drawing on Monday, April 6 at noon.
And you can get updates about the event by following @capitalparent on Twitter.
Disclosure: I was given passes to this event in exchange for promoting it, but all opinions here are my own. It’s a guaranteed good time.