I don’t read the papers that come home from school. I don’t help her with her homework. I forward the emails from gymnastics to my husband and add invitations to the calendar so he can keep track.
I don’t remember any other time in my daughter’s life that I have been so terribly absent.
Maybe when I was in school and working an election campaign – but short term distraction versus inability to engage is a very different feeling.
Not only do I not know what’s going on with her, day to day, I don’t have the energy to work on finding out.
We have moved past the point where I automatically know what’s bothering her and maybe even how to fix it. She won’t listen to me when I try to talk her through things. I don’t have the patience to let her be and then go back and try starting again.
I don’t know what happens in class, I don’t know what she does at recess. I don’t know who she likes or doesn’t like today.
And when I do try to do something special, just us, I get it wrong somehow.
It is very hard, day to day, to feel as though she’s moved past needing me. It used to be that she wanted me, only me, all the time. Now I’m barely even here.
For a mere moment I had it all figured out.
I started watching Gilmore Girls as soon as it came on the air. I fell instantly in love. Rory was my age and she and Lane were going through was I was going through a lot of the time. Rory made me feel as though you could care about school and like reading and still have friends and maybe even boyfriends.
I have watched the series several times, each time at a different point in my life. The last time I watched it all the way through, now in my 30s with a daughter of my own, I thought I would feel the most like Lorelai, but the person I found myself aching for was Emily.
The pain of doing what you think is best for your own child and having them do nothing but run away from you.
I took the day off work on Friday. I needed the break and I wanted to spend the whole day with my girls under great big blankets, cuddling with my dog.
Now I’ve watched the whole new series twice through, and I am both satisfied and unsatisfied.
There is so much about it that was just right. So much nostalgia and so many tributes paid to fans. But that darn Amy Sherman Pallidino left us in shock again. Those famous last four words. I cannot imagine those four words 10 years ago, and now they leave me only wanting more.
But, in truth, I always would have wanted more Gilmore.
I did something to my shoulder over the weekend. My shoulder or my neck or both. I don’t know if I just slept funny or if I’ve actually done some damage, but whenever I move in certain ways I get waves of nausea.
Winter arrived yesterday. Nasty, frigid, howling winter. The kind of winter that brings terrible driving conditions and worse drivers.
The kid was sick all weekend, and yet things still seemed busy. I finally got some cleaning done, but little else.
I feel as though I can only think about doing things that would make me feel better but never actually get around to doing them.
I feel tired, sick, dumb and useless.
I have ideas I can’t quite conquer. My attention span is getting shorter. I’m tired. I’m cold all the time. I can’t breathe through my nose.
I miss my kid. I miss being the parent who is on top of things. I miss hanging out with her like we used to before she was in school and I was in school and now that I’m working. Days when I could just decide we were going to go off on an adventure together.
We had two great years.
I miss her, but when I’m with her I can’t quite handle it. I’m constantly on the edge of a cliff.
This doing it all business is hooey.
But on Friday, there will be rest and relaxation and Gilmore Girls. All the Gilmore Girls. Probably twice.
When I was a kid, my sister and I used to sleep over at our grandparents house fairly regularly – though I don’t remember exactly how often. I imagine my mother could have used a weekly break.
My grandparents moved a lot when I was a kid. I remember three or four different places, all around Ottawa and then in Almonte.
I remember sitting on my grandfather’s knee while he smoke his pipe and read us the comics. At least, until he thought better of it and gave up his pipe for us, and for my grandmother’s health. In his 90s he would start smoking again, because he enjoyed it and he’s in his 90s. The smell of pipe tobacco never fails to take me right back to a very happy childhood place.
I remember going to bed with my sister beside me – a pull out couch I think – and a bowl of apple slices as a snack. I remember waking up to the smell of coffee.
My mother doesn’t drink coffee, nor, now does my sister. But waking up at my grandparents’ meant the delicious smell of coffee. What mornings were meant to be. And also piles and piles of my Tutu’s pancakes.
I remember sitting on my new two-wheeler in our driveway, with my Gramps holding me steady, waiting for him to say go.
I remember sitting in my room, holding a book and crying tears of frustration as my mother and my grandfather tried to help me read. I was desperate to be as much of a reader as the rest of my family. And now I am.
I remember wielding a hammer and helping to frame a little wall for the playhouse in our backyard. Eventually we would dive off the roof of that little house into the snow.
And despite the memories of a father who never expressed love or pride, I remember feeling loved. I remember my Gramps never failing to express his pride in whatever I had done.
I remember growing up wanting to be like him. My Gramps.
I remember nothing less than desperate for him to meet her. And to know that he loved me as much as what I see when he looks at her.
It is now past midnight on November 12, which means I’m graduating today.
I never intended to do a Masters, but here I am. I get to add letters after my name. I’m graduating today, and neither my father nor my grandfather will be there to see it.
The man who helped to raise me and constantly told me he was proud, not matter how much I felt like a failure. And the man who never actually told me he was proud of me and probably thought I was a failure at several points in my life.
But you know who will be there?
A little girl who thinks I’m awesome. A little girl who is sure that I am the best mom ever and believes that I can do anything – and that she, by extension, can do anything.
And when we’re together, I kind of believe that too.
Every fibre of my being is still rejecting last night’s result. I can’t accept it. I saw the words President Trump and my brain couldn’t make sense of it.
There are so many things not okay about any of this. So much hatred. So many people who just really don’t care about anyone else. Who now feel more justified in their racism, their Islamophobia, their misogyny. And people who now have to fear their neighbours. People who don’t feel safe in the homes they’ve built in their own country.
And women once again reminded that we have to work twice as hard and make no mistakes to beat even the worst of men.
It might even be the worst of it that a majority of white women voted for him. I don’t understand those women. I don’t understand how you could vote to elect someone who so obviously and outwardly hates what you are.
In her concession speech today, Hilary Clinton said “Please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.” But I did. Last night, this morning. I did.
“And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and to achieve your own dreams.”
And then I finally cried.
For four years I have been the one at home. Mostly. Even when I was in school I was quite often doing the parent things – getting her on the school bus, checking her bag when she got home, occasionally volunteering – though Scientists in the School is Daddy’s jam.
Now I’m working full time. I started the week before her school got going and I’m totally lost. I know her teachers’ names. I went to meet the teacher night. But for the most part, day to day, I’m in the dark. I don’t read what comes home, sometimes I don’t even see it.
I feel very disconnected. More disconnected even than when I went back to work after my maternity leave. I’m missing out. It’s disorienting. It’s sad. I miss my little girl. I miss my morning’s getting her to the bus. I miss her smile when she sees me there, picking her up. Her mama.
I never, ever expected being a mom to be such a big part of my identity. It’s like being divided into quarters. Mother, wife, employee, me.
And one side is always winning. And it’s really freaking hard.
There is a song in the musical Wicked that spoke to me because it’s something I’ve told myself for a lot of my life.
I’m not that girl.
I went to school with mostly the same people from when I entered JK to when I graduated high school 15 years later. (We had Grade 13). A lot of things I didn’t do, I didn’t do because I felt as though I would get called out on trying to be different. I was in a box, and afraid to break out.
Not just because of my classmates, but also because of my family. There were definitions about who I was and what I was.
I worked for a year after high school and one of my coworkers declared that when I finally moved away for school I was going to go wild. Surprise, I didn’t. But I did become much closer to who I am now.
I like her. Most of the time.
But I’m still in a place where I think if I try to change too much people will notice and it will be embarrassing. If I try to push myself out of my comfort zone people will judge me.
I mean, this is a ridiculous train of thought. I’m in my 30s. Life is too short.
The past week I have felt off kilter. Tonight, as I think about it, I rather feel like I’m drowning. I was sick – stomach virus – my allergies have been bad because of the season change. I’ve been cold. I’ve not been sleeping enough. I’ve been working a lot.
Last Friday I fell asleep almost as soon as I got home, and then woke up to a phone call from my mother. My grandfather was in the emergency room. We stayed with him until about 2 am after we finally knew what was going on.
The past week I have been on edge every second waiting for the awful phone call that seems so likely to be coming.
Perhaps as a result of this added stress, along with long hours at work, home has been a struggle too.
I keep meaning to do things – clean the bathroom, sort the laundry, start that puzzle, take the dog for a walk, get to the gym – but none of it is happening. I get home from work and I do nothing.
Lately I haven’t even been feeding myself. When I can’t make a decision about what I want to eat I just don’t bother. That’s dangerous territory. Making that issue worse is the kid’s vegetarianism and Joe’s best efforts to get her to eat something – anything.
It didn’t occur to me until today that lentil loaf doesn’t only bother me because it will never be as good as my meatloaf, but also because my iron is low and not eating red meat could be causing problems I’m not even aware of.
I know what I need to do. I need to plan better. I need to sort myself out. I need to take a deep breath and start and then follow my own inertia. But I just don’t.
But I did read this blog post today, and it reminded myself that step 1 is really whatever I can handle and step 2 is whatever I can handle next.
I have spent the past few days feeling like I’m just not enough. At work, at home, for myself or my family.
The house is a mess, meal plans are out the window, exercise is non existent. I’m useless.
All of the things that make me feel better about myself have disappeared into the ether. And this when I’m a week from my official graduation. One of my biggest successes.
I look at things that need to get done and I walk away because it’s all too much. Think about how I need to snap out of it and then roll over and fall asleep again.
I think about reading. I think about writing. I think about doing a puzzle or drawing. I think about exercise.
It all stays in my head and I’m too tired. Too something. To get it all out.