I turned 35 last week, though many of my classmates don’t believe I am as old as I say I am. Apparently I don’t look 35, though I’m not sure what that means.
What I do know is that I don’t feel 35, though I certainly don’t feel 25 any more either. I have lived so much life in the last 10 years. I have spent a lot of time becoming who I really am. Particularly since who I am now and who I thought I would be in my teens and 20s is so very different.
A decade ago I went from being sure I would never get married and have children to knowing that I had to marry Joe.
A decade ago I thought I had all sorts of things figured out that I know now will never be figured out. A decade ago I was so self righteous.
I’d like to think I’m not quite that now, though I know what I believe and why. A decade ago I was missing a lot of the why.
Now I know what and who is worth it and what and who is not.
I am unashamed of who I am, what I believe, that things I love.
Yeah, I have a Muppet tattoo. I have Justin Bieber in my music library. I wear Converse sneakers to fancy events. I finally got rid of all the heels I own because really, that’s just not comfortable for me.
Because I’ve tried other ways and they don’t work for me.
Joe and I? We’re the right setting of adult for us. We fight back when it’s important and let other things slide. We are spending our lives learning and now we have a kid who will do the same.
And I sometimes think raising this fantastic kid will be the best thing I do, and 35-year-old me is just fine with that.
I can be very hard on myself sometimes. Tonight, for example, my self talk is cruel. The voice inside my head talks to me in a way that I would never let anyone else speak to me. But at the same time if someone else did part of me would believe them, and my inside voice would take me right down.
One of the first topics that I beat myself up with is my motherhood. Of course. It is truly terrible if I suck so much that I am adversely affecting my child. She’s not getting enough of me, when I’m here it’s the worst of me.
When she starts to cry my first reaction is please no, I can’t handle this right now. I’m asking her to do too much by herself.
I don’t know if I love her the right way right now. I don’t feel like the same mother that I was when she was smaller. I’m scared that I’m screwing it up. Because that’s what I do. I screw things up.
She wants to be with me and sit with me and cuddle me and I just want to be alone.
She comes in just to tell me she loves me. She just wants a hug. Why can I not handle her? Why is everything too much?
And then all at once she comes to sit with me and we just talk. For twenty minutes we just sit and talk and laugh. And here is this amazing kid. And she loves me and tells me what she needs. She is happy to have me as a mother. Even in my worst moments when I’m sitting by myself feeling that she deserves so much more.
Sometimes when she’s being raucous and loud and playful all I want is to sit with her and cuddle her. And sometimes she knows what I need.
Someone on Twitter shared this post from CBC Kids and I started writing it out to check things off, but I realized this is a better place than any other. I’m also wondering how many of these I accomplished as a kid. So I’m crossing out the ones my kid has gotten to do, and bolding the ones that I remember from my own childhood.
24 Ways Every Child Should Play Before Age 12 (We’re half-way there now).
1. Experience total weightlessness at the top of a swing 2. Skip stones across water
3. Play leap frog (I have no memory of playing leapfrog with my kid, though she may have played at school or daycare. My not playing with her could be a result of the fact that the last time I played leapfrog with a little kid I was a slightly bigger kid, she got hurt and I got blamed. Psychology!)
4. Hang upside down from a tree limb She hangs upside down virtually all the time, and I know she climbed at least one tree, but I don’t think she actually hung upside down from the tree…
5. Jump into water cold enough that it almost takes their breath away
6. Throw rocks or snowballs at a post from a distance until they get a bulls eye
Ride a bike with no hands
8. Paddle a canoe
9. Piggyback someone
10. Roll down a big hill 11. Try a sport that requires a helmet When I play sports I tend to get injured 12. Collect something in a forest 1 3. Make up a dance routine 14. Slide down something on a piece of cardboard 15. Build a fort
16. Hike somewhere for a picnic We need to go on more picnics…
17. Bury someone they love in the sand She buried my feet once. I have no recollection of ever doing this myself.
18. Play outside in the rain 19. Jump in a pile of leaves 20. Make a snow angel
21. Fly a kite She got one in her Christmas stocking
22. Create an obstacle course Does her messy bedroom count?
23. Swim in a lake or an ocean 24. Make up a game involving a ball
My kid is really good at playing, and increasingly good at playing by herself, which is awesome. She got a huge imagination and she makes me think about the times that I did too.
Life is a little bit of chaos right now. And when I say right now I mean ‘for the past several months.’
School, classes, work, kid gets sick, I get sick, Joe gets sick. I go a few days thinking it’s all going smoothly and then something crumples.
All this to say that when The Quick Maid offered to clean my house for free I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t? And I was happy to find that booking their services is not at all difficult. You just tell them how many rooms you have. They don’t have to come out for a consult or to see what they’re up against.
I try to keep up with everything, honestly I do, but sometimes laundry sits un-sorted for a week or two, the main floor hasn’t been properly swept since Christmas. I don’t want to talk about the basement.
I had to leave shortly after Stephanie arrived, but she seemed very pleasant and ready to get started right away. She brought all her own equipment, changed into shoes as soon as she came in, and didn’t mind the dog (who eventually left her alone).
She didn’t get to everything while she was here, but given the state of the place I can’t blame her for that. If we had more regular cleanings (Quick Maid offers scheduling for every week, every two weeks or every four weeks) the house would be pretty glow-y all the time.
Except for the kid’s room. You know how you tidy up before the cleaner comes to make sure that they only focus on the stuff that never really gets done? I gave up on the kid’s room and told her to just skip it. Someday we’ll get there.
What she did do is all the floors, all the bathrooms, the mirrors, the baseboards – do normal people dust their baseboards regularly?
When I got home the house smelled clean. The floors were shiny, the bathroom mirrors were shiny.
If you’re in Ottawa, looking to support a new local company, I’d recommend them. And their fees are about the same as other services I’ve looked at over the year.
Disclosure: The Quick Maid contacted me to offer a free cleaning to try out their services. Opinions are my own.
I’m starting to make my way. I’m getting set to finish my classes and move forward into the next part of my life and career. Moving forward generally means thinking about you, Jack, and what it would have been like if you were still with us. How long I would have stayed in my job, where the party would be now and how I would feel about it.
Moving forward also makes me wonder what I will do without the guidance I sought out from you, Dad. And the work you gave me that demonstrated your growing trust. Showing me that you had forgiven the things I failed to do when I was younger and that you knew that I was learning, I am skilled, I am smart.
So now I have to look back for your guidance and example. I have to learn by myself what your could have shown me.
Dad, there are many things about you I don’t want to copy. I will celebrate my birthday this year and I won’t wonder if you’ll forget again. But your career, your love of your work. That is where I want to follow in your footsteps.
But if my family starts to suffer, I choose family.
If you were a little bit proud of me – and I think you were – I can only imagine what you would think of her. She’s so awesome and you only got to know a little bit of that.
I’m thinking of you both and I miss you in very different ways. Jack, I miss you in the world. Dad, I miss you in my world.
We are one week from reading week, which marks the halfway point of this semester, which means only the end is nigh. Course work ends the second week of April and after that the world sort of opens up.
The other day I starting thinking more about what comes next. (Big red glittery letters – WHAT COMES NEXT) and I’m starting to get really exciting about what I can do.
This journey has not been easy, particularly with some of the extra work I have taken on…
I’m very close to burned out, and I’m very close to major life changes. But I’m also so close to major life changes. You know?
We’re moving forward, things are changing but all of these great friends and family will still be right there with me. Cheering me on, helping me, letting me help them. It’s pretty awesome.
I’m turning 35 at the end of the month
What’s another leap at this point?
Joe and I went to the Capital Hoops Classic today. Carleton vs Ottawa U. I missed last year’s, but Dad would have reminded me he would have gotten me tickets.
This was the 10th Capital Hoops and, as far as I know, the first one my father missed.
While I was there, watching the Ravens forget how to hit a basket, I thought back to my favourite times with my Dad.
The most time I ever spent with him was at Carleton’s old gym. He always sat in the same place and I knew where to find him on Friday and Saturday nights. He always sat in the back row on the right side. He knew the names of all the referees and felt free to yell at them.
I spent almost every Saturday with him at basketball during my last year of high school. It was the most time we’d ever spent together. And on Fridays he would occasionally join us at the weekly 67’s game.
I don’t think I became a sports fan to spend more time with my dad, but when I became a sports fan that’s certainly what happened.
It’s only fitting that I posed for a picture, my toque in Dad classic style, and realized how much I actually do look like him. People have always said.
It has been a long time since I’ve posted. It might be a longer time between posts than ever. The fact is I’m feeling not quite myself. I’m feeling sort of like an odd version of myself, or an outline of myself.
I have so many unanswered questions going forward that I’m hoping that’s what’s wrong. That once I figure out what comes after my coursework and what comes next it will all feel better again.
Part of that is that I have this kid, and she and I have always been a team, and I’m not sure if I’m ready and willing to jump back in to the workforce. It’s almost terrifying, the idea of having to find child care and commute and make our lives work like that. Even though I know thousands do it in this city. In my neighbourhood even.
I want to be all the mother my daughter needs. But at the same time I feel like I’m not doing my best on that front. She’s my favourite person in the whole world and she wears me out like no one else.
It’s not fun to feel like I’d be failing somehow by going back to work and finding a great, fulfilling job while also feeling that I’d be failing if I don’t.
I went to get a blood test this week because I’m so sure that something must be wrong. There are days that I’m so exhausted I could cry. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if this is how everyone feels. And if it is how they possibly function.
I am trying my hardest to keep myself organized. I have paper and online calendars and to-do lists. I spent part of Saturday prepping meals and snacks for the week. I got started. I asked for help and people gave it. I have advice to help me move forward.
And so I am thankful for my family, my husband and my daughter, my friends who are there when I reach out via Facebook to rant. And my classmates and professors who are always up for great passionate discussions. And amongst them I sometimes feel like who I am supposed to be, and maybe the percentage will start to increase as I figure more things out.