Jan 15

Who deviated my septum? One theory

A few years ago, I found out that a majority of my breathing issues (or snoring if we want to be blunt) was possibly due, in part, to having a deviated septum. I wrote a little bit about that here. And it has bothered me ever since, because while I talked in my sleep when I was younger (okay, yes, I admit it, I talked all of the time), I did not snore. Snoring is for old men and obese people and should I fall into either of those two categories then it is for people who are not me. And so I’ve gone over my life with a fine tooth comb to try to figure out the HOW of this truth that plagues my adult life and I think that I finally have an answer.

I grew up in a great area in Toronto in the 70’s and 80’s. Widely referred to as The Beaches, it was and still is, in all actuality, The Beach. At the time it was a true community, it was safe, we were free to roam the streets (‘be back when the street lights come on!’) and aside from the occasionally keyed car or ripped off car stereo, there was very little violent crime to worry about in our little corner of Hogtown.

But that is not to say that we weren’t forced to contend with some bad seeds. It wasn’t Utopia after all and not everyone was friends, even if we all knew or knew of one another, we certainly didn’t all play nicely together.

Both my parents worked, so I went to Kew Beach P.S. rather than the much closer Williamson Road P.S. because Kew offered before and after-school daycare on site. And it was while attending Kew, that I am fairly certain that my flawlessly functional, straight and perfect septum was mangled. Here’s what happened.

1983. In the fourth grade, there was a boy in my class who was not like the rest. He was kind of, well, bad. He had strawberry blond hair, a face full of freckles and a glint in his eye that told us that a) he’d rather set fire to his desk than clean it out, b) he was just putting in time until he was old enough to go to prison and c) he was always just about to ruin someone’s day. I’ll call him Malcolm, but only because that was his name.

One afternoon during recess I was running around playing with my usual group of girl friends and Malcolm and some other boys decided that it would be fun to chase us. They chased and we ran away. We ran all around the giant climbing apparatus (that no doubt has now been deemed far to dangerous for kids to play on and replaced with something padded or made of feathers) when Malcolm grabbed my best friend, Jeannette, by the arm and swung her around. She screamed, and you have to understand that Jeannette was little. She didn’t have a spare ounce on her frame. She was no match for him. So I charged over there determined to protect her and free her from his dirty, grubby, mean nail-bitten hands. I grabbed his wrist, yelled ‘Let her GO!” and then, before I knew what was happening, WHACK!

Malcolm threw a punch at me, aimed with a precision that only comes with experience, and his grime-smeared fist connected with my nose straight on. I fell with a THUD on my ass and the shock of what had just happened brought all the surrounding playground activity to a dead stop. Then he took off. He just ran. As though I or anyone else was going to chase him. Um, no, I was fairly certain that I was about to die. From either the complete humiliation or blunt force trauma.

I’m still not sure what happened to Malcolm for his savage assault on my nose that day. I do not remember many consequences ever following his demented behaviour, other than a teacher screaming at him and sending him out into the hallway (seen by him as permission to rifle through his classmates coats, I can only guess), but I assume that someone bought him a puppy or ice cream or something. As for me? The principal (Mrs. Boucher), called my mom who was understandably and appropriately pissed off, but much to  my horror, I had to stay at school anyway. For the rest of the afternoon, I kept touching my face with tentative finger tips, waiting for it to ‘look’ different to my touch. Instead it just felt tender and bruised, but to my touch, I still looked the same, just my sparkle was somewhat diminished.

And then I noticed that my mouth did not want to work right anymore. I could no longer bite down with any pressure. Just great. And with my jaw locked from the impact, I was unable to eat my dinner that night.

So, while ass-wart Malcolm was eating ice cream and playing with his new puppy, or killing the neighbour’s cat or whatever, I sat at the dinner table in my semi-detached Beach home woefully not eating my dinner and crashing into a crater of self pity that only a ten-year-old girl could dig. To hit a girl was a mortal sin and we all knew it (even though we were not Catholic something about concept of SIN was just irresistible and we labelled transgressions ‘sins’ with a quiet respect that we could not explain) but to take away the fat kid’s ability to eat dinner was just wrong. That is what he did that day, he hit a girl and deprived the fat kid of dinner. Guilty as charged on both counts. Oh, and I think that he deviated the fuck out of my septum.

I am no longer upset about missing that meal, to be honest I don’t remember what Mum served that night, but I am still grieving the loss of my straight-as-an-arrow-air-just-flies-through-like-a-hot-knife-through-butter septum and dealing with the jaw-popping, headache inducing TMD that I’m pretty sure is also courtesy of Malcolm’s right hook. Oh, and that bff who I was defending? She was more like a bff until junior high. More accurately termed, she was a bffn (best friend for now). After we graduated from the sixth grade and started at Glen Ames Sr. P.S., we barely muttered ‘hi’ to each other in the halls and now, for the past almost twenty years, we’ve had no contact at all. Totally not worth taking a shot in the face for, I’d say.

Moral of the story? Defend and stand up for those who need your help, but if you’re going to take a life-altering shot in the face for them, get some kind of pinkie swear that they really will be your friend forever or else let them take their own damned lumps.

Malcolm is not in the middle, but he is in this class picture. As am I. Except that my septum is blissfully unaware that it's straight days are numbered and soon it will be bent as fuck.

Malcolm is not in the middle, but he is in this class picture. As am I. Except that my septum is blissfully unaware that its straight days are numbered and soon it will be bent as fuck.

Jan 15

Some people are just born with it but I’m not one of them

My mother has always had it. I’m pretty sure that she was born with it. My husband and my eldest son also have it. I know for certain that Declan was not born with it, and while I suspect that my husband was, I cannot make that claim with any degree of certainty. As for me? Well, no. I wasn’t born with it and still don’t have it.

What am I talking about? Well, around here, we call it “Old Man Strength.” (herein known as OMS) And I don’t have it (gender discussions, aside). I’ve also heard it referred to as ‘real life strength’ but since I’m not living in the Matrix or some other sci-fi movie, I consider all strength to be ‘real life strength.’ That said, OMS is different than regular strength. It cannot be gained at a fancy-schmancy gym, or ordered online, and even the all mighty Bowflex will not produce this Herculean-like strength in otherwise average people.

Because, you see, OMS is not about how fit you are, how old you are, how much you weigh, how much you  can bench press or lift. It’s not about how many chin ups, push ups or sit ups that you can do. It is a rare and very desirable combination of grit, determination, mental strength, perseverance, intelligence, a bit of rage and the complete and utter ‘knowing’ that it is possible. And many of us have some of those traits, hell, many of us have ALL of those traits. But when all of those traits don’t kick in at the same time. The planets do not align and people like me are left with regular strength (um, none to speak of, really) and people who work out are just super fit gym worshipping average strong.

But when push comes to shove, I put my money on the one with OMS. Every time. Hands down. Because whatever the challenge is – getting some open, lifted, moved, lowered, shifted, two people with OMS are worth six people with ‘sculpted’ strength. There is something ingrained in the DNA of those people with OMS that just makes them different.

As for me? As long as I can wrestle open my Diet Pepsi, successfully open a chocolate bar and finagle access to the chips in the bag, pick up my kids when they are hurt, and carry my own body weight (albeit via my legs and feet) I figure I’m probably strong enough to carry on. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m surrounded by OMS when it matters. ;)

Because apparently, even though we've been using the term for years now, we weren't smart enough to patent and protect that shit and now there are tee shirts. Going H.A.A.M. Fml. Argh.

Because apparently, even though we’ve been using the term for years now, we weren’t smart enough to patent and protect that shit and now there are tee shirts probably making some Crossfit enthusiast a fortune. And I’m sure they are going H.A.A.M. Fml. Argh. 

Jan 15

Reclaiming the me I lost or updating my OS?

Earlier today I read an article entitled The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. It was excellent. It was thought-provoking, well written and unfortunately has sent me into a bit of a tailspin. Why? Because I don’t want to end up being that old lady fighting with a cashier over a .30 coupon because I have nothing else in my life worth giving a fuck about.


The article (you really should go and read it if you have not already) takes the time to differentiate between not giving a fuck and being indifferent. Which for me, was a useful use of time. Because I often find when I’m busy trying to not give a fuck about things that I force or feign indifference and that is counter-productive and soul crushing – to me and those around me. I’m not indifferent about things, but I have also not been brave or strong enough to give a fuck where it matters, opting instead to give a fuck about thousands of things that don’t count for shit.

Needless to say, in this, my life of one breakdown and breakthrough after another, I again feel like it’s time to take stock and make changes. Because as I’m coming to find out, it’s not about my diet, my weight, my wrinkles, my hair, my dry skin or if my floors are vacuumed and laundry folded. *I* am more than that. *I* am not here to make sure that I look right, act right, do the right things *for everyone else’s benefit at the expense of my life*

I’m not ok anymore with putting in time, trying to do everything right and follow all the rules and taking only the safest of chances. I am not ok with trying so hard to be accepted only to realize that I don’t actually have any control whatsoever over others’ acceptance of me and that people will accept or reject me in spite of my best intentions or efforts to ensure the outcome of my choosing. And I can’t own all this shit anymore.

So do I need to eat to hide, hide to eat, dress up or down, have ‘the right’ stuff? Or can I just let it all go (no Elsa jokes, please – My Ms. Moon is obsessed with Frozen, like 90% of little girls and sings ‘Let it Go’ morning, noon, and night, but I really was using the phrase long before we all fell in love with Olaf and Sven) and stopping waiting for ‘the right time or place’ to happen before actually changing my future.

last fuck given Elsa

Can I just let all of that go, after carrying it with me for all of these years? Can I release the shame, the guilt, the uncertainty and self-hatred. Can I decide to stop giving a fuck about absolutely *everything* and just give a fuck about things that actually matter? Like myself, my family, my friends and my cat? Can I stop being worried all the time about failing or not being good enough (for who?!?) and can I start to just DO things that I WANT to do because they matter TO ME? Can I go to the gym just because I want to and not because I feel like I should, or because I’m too goddamned fat or because it’s what I would have done when I was younger? And can I eat a one-pound peanut butter cup without feeling like a fat, gluttonous pig and instead just not give a fuck and enjoy it and really, honestly just not care of someone, anyone, chooses to judge me for having eaten it?

It would seem, that for me, not giving a fuck (or giving too many fucks) and fear are conjoined and that what I need to do is 1) figure out how to stop being scared of everything (what if they don’t like me, what if I don’t get the job, what if my kid hates me, what if this person doesn’t love me, like me, need me or want me, what if I get fatter, what if the person I’m speaking with thinks that I’m stupid or irrelevant, what if no one cares about what I have to say, what if I embarrass myself, what if they give me that look, what if I’m WRONG?) and 2) how to button down those previously given fucks just start giving a fuck about only those things that matter the most to me and letting the other shit take care (or not) of itself.

Writing this post is actually painful. Because I’m admitting inner-sanctum shit that I never admit to – either to myself or others – but what is the point of writing bullshit? And since it’s just you and me here, I figure that this is as good a place as any to stop lying to myself and to stop being complacent in my self-built house of fear and self-deception.

Truth: I love my life. I love my family, both the one I came from and the one that I have created. I love writing, music, reading, photography, eating, sleeping, and being quiet. And sometimes I love being dorky and ridiculous and talk non-stop, about shit that matters and shit that doesn’t matter, and beyond that, I’ve suppressed myself for so long, out of fear, habit, or the beliefs of others, that I no longer really feel like know how to dream, big or small, let alone make my dreams become my reality. I have let myself down. I’m like a fatter, older, duller, diluted version of myself and I’m waking up now realizing that I really don’t want to live a half-lived life. I don’t want to waste time of things that don’t matter or won’t make a difference. I don’t want to exhaust myself, spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. No. I want to exhaust myself doing things that I love to do. And yes, I know what some of them are, but I know that there are so many other things that I have yet to discover. And I want to discover them – even if they fall outside of the ‘comfort zone’ that I have so carefully constructed around myself. 

Fucks – consider yourself on notice. Far fewer of you will be released by me into the universe. So the ones of you who are tossed out there, be ready to go hard because you’ll be working for all of those left behind.

And she gave no fucks

Jan 15

Marching to my own drummer, my New Year starts now

Technically, I was not a New Year’s baby. But since my birthday does fall within the first week of January, I’ve decided to give myself the liberty of celebrating New Year’s on the first and my birthday. All this means is that 1) I can gorge myself stupid on NYE and on my birthday; 2) I clean the house like mad on NYE to ring in everyone else’s New Year; and 3) I get almost an extra week to pull together my New Year’s Resolutions, Goals, Plans, etc. This last one pleases my inner-procrastinator very much. Yes, yes.

But now it’s time to get real. There are no more New Years’ for me to fudge with for almost another whole year. So, now that most of the Christmas chocolate is gone, my birthday cake has a mere sliver for each of us left, and my pants are so tight they are cutting me in half, it’s time to begin.

New Year’s Resolutions – The Keswick Blog way

1) Eat less chocolate.

2) Drink some water.

3) Join a gym for six months and don’t lie to yourself or others about going.

4) Smile. Just smile. Not in that creepy “I’m about to stuff you in my trunk” way but in that “I love my life and look forward to each and every moment” way.

5) Compliment other people more. I’ve gotten better over the years at this, but I really want to ramp it up this year. And no, not insincere, lying toe-jam compliments like “I like your socks” but genuine, from the heart ones. Even if it’s as simple as “I like the way you remembered to put the toilet seat down so my ass didn’t go in for a swim.” The fact that it’s a sincere thought makes it an improvement over past performance.

6) Read. Just read. That’s all. Once one of my top five things to do everyday, this has fallen by the wayside after the chaos of my life.

7) Crochet six things. Real things though. Not Barbie hats and rhombus-shaped blankets.

8) Blog, journal, write, write, write. Another thing from my top five things to do everyday that has been woefully neglected. 2015 is the year of the pen!

9) Eat less chocolate. Needs to be repeated because, to be honest, I eat a lot of that irresistible, cocoa and sugar-laden legalized crack. And I need to cut back to being a social user and not a full-blown junkie.

10) Complete 12 30-day challenges. Be they house, self-care, kid, craft, food or art related. Start and complete 12 of them.  No excuses.

So, there it is. My ten 2015 wishes/goals/resolutions/declarations. I should update or revise monthly, but that would make eleven goals and I don’t want to risk falling into that overachiever category that often threatens to knock down my door.

What do you want for this year? Life isn’t getting longer. The days are flying by. Nobody is going to walk up to your door, knock politely and then hang a sign around your neck that says “All of your wishes came true while you were napping.” Nope. You need to figure out what you want, come up with a plan and GO!

One of my biggest fears is at the end of it all, I’ll realize that I lived my life hiding behind excuses, limitations, fear and indecision. If I never try, I’ll never achieve. This is true for us all.

Happy 2015 (she says, ten days late ;) )!


Dec 14

2014 in review – This year on The Keswick Blog

This will likely be my last post of the year. A little bit because my house is a complete tip and upside down after Christmas and I need to spend the time pulling everything back together for New Year. But mostly because I’ve successfully (winning!) procrastinated until December 31st. Like a boss. So, because I like to start the New Year with a clean, organized home, today is my last chance to blog in 2014, my last chance to get 2014 right and my first chance to get 2015 right. Shoot for the stars, that’s my motto. Or at least that should be my motto. It sounds so much better than ‘fuck this noise, I’m hiding under my bed with giant peanut butter cups and my iPad.’

So, in 2014, what brought people to the Keswick Blog? Every now and then I like to check out the site’s stats and see what people are searching that brings them to the blog. It’s usually terrifying and disturbing a) what people are searching for on the internet and b) that these searches lead them here. Without further ado, here are my top baker’s dozen of search terms this year (in no particular order):

1) keswick sluts – Nope, wrong blog. You won’t find any sluts here. Ain’t nobody here but us nuns.

2) chickens never wear shoes – I know, right?!? That’s what I tried to tell that guy, fake Steve, but he wasn’t buying it, but this just proves I’m not alone in this belief.

3) pickupfucker – I’m not even sure what this is or what they are looking for so I cannot be sure they that they won’t find it here.

4) snoring ain’t sexy – Yes, yes, I know that. I think it’s wrong, but until we get some big corporate money behind it, nothing will change. Ya’ll have seen that ‘pee happens’ commercial, right? Well, spontaneous peeing didn’t used to be sexy either, but look at it now!

5) keswick lap dancing – Unless lap dancing is happening at one of the handful of bars in Keswick (and I wouldn’t know since I don’t venture out after dark or without at least one minor minion), I think the people looking for lap dancers in the ‘wick will have to find a lap dance the old-fashioned way. Like at a strip club (which, unlike Tim Horton’s shops, I’m pretty sure, Keswick is woefully without).

6) real chickens don’t wear shoes – This is still true. They just don’t. But maybe those poser chickens wear shoes like mad. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for shoe-wearing poultry (real or fake).

7) shut the fuck up im talking – Um. Okay. Dude, you came looking for me, remember? This is my turf. But being that I am the consummate Canadian, I apologize. Sorry, you were saying?

8) am alwayes falure – Now you are too hard on yourself. I’m sure that you are winning at something and that you are not always a failure. Sure, I’ll give you that spelling is not your forte, but I am willing to bet my last stick of butter that you are the shit at tying your shoes.

9) a failure of mother – Not sure if these were searching for a failure of a mother or looking for support for being a failure of a mother. Either way, depending on the day, they may have hit the jackpot here.

10) is june cleaver in sixteen candles – June Cleaver (a.k.a. Barbara Billingsley) was absolutely NOT in Sixteen Candles (1984). However, the incredible Joan Cusack was and Joan sounds a little bit like June, so I get the confusion. You are forgiven. Check out IMDB for the entire cast and crew listing. And while you are at it, get educated on the classic films of the 80’s.

11) dirty granny ass hole – I have no words. Go away. There is nothing for you here.

12) chickens never wear shoes movie – A movie? Did someone say a movie? I smell a colossal blockbuster here. Unless of course the chickens hire hackers and intimidate the studios into never releasing the movie by slowly releasing internal emails that very few people in the world care about. But that could never happen. That would be insane.

13) sometimes i feel like giving up then i realised i have a lot of motherfuckers to prove wrong pictures – You, my friend, yes you. You have found your place on the internet. Welcome to the flock.

And so there you have it. 2014 at The Keswick Blog, in a nutshell. And now I am ready to jump on 2015 like a fat chick on cheesecake at a Weight Watchers meeting and have a great year. I’m still toiling away on my resolutions and goals for 2015. But I already know the first one – to blog like no one is reading. Oh, wait a minute. I may have already nailed that one *grin* Welcome to another year of my stream-of-consciousness blather. Happy New Year!


Dec 14

Some of my all time favourite Christmas music

Some of these are old favourites, some of these are new favourites. Since I’m always on the hunt for new music that will speak to some of the more broken bits of my soul, if the mood strikes, please share some of your favourites with me in the Comments section of this post.

I love, love, love this song. I first heard it while watching Love Actually. Which, incidentally, is at the top of my list of all-time favourite Christmas movies. This version though? Love.

Nope. Cannot pick just one song from this album. If you’re not familiar with Pentatonix, start here and then YouTube them – so incredible.


Dolly Parton? Yes, please. With Rod Stewart? Goodness, yes. I adore this woman – she’s just too much fabulous.

Robert Downey Jr. Singing to me. This song. So much love.

Because it’s not a holiday unless I cry uncontrollably about a child loving his mama this much.

Is there another version of this song. No, really. Is there? I thought not.

In case I flake out, get felled by this stomach bug that’s attacked a few of my minions already or just get lost on my way to the Blog, I will say, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Kwanzaa, and Blessed Be this Winter Solstice.

Drink ‘em if you’ve got ‘em. Hug ‘em if you love ‘em.

Dec 14

Dear L.L. Bean, I am sad. And it is your fault. Again.


Dear L.L. Bean.

I am a long-time admirer of your store. Since childhood I have coveted your monogrammed backpacks, warm sweaters and sassy summer fare. And as a child, you knew nothing of me. Just another Canadian kid with the L.L. Bean dream. But I knew of you and I would, on occasion receive a Christmas gift from one of our American relatives, purchased from your store and wowie wow wow, was I the Queen of the street in those years.

But alas, I am no longer a child. And my relatives no longer send me your lovely goods. And I am no longer Queen of the street.  As an adult (apparently, that’s what I am now) I have some buying power in my own right. And I have exercised that power and purchased online, from your very enticing website on a few occasions in past years. With the promise of free shipping and 10% discounts and the possibility of having my coveted L.L. Bean merchandise in my own home, I purchased. And each and every time, it cost me an arm and a leg. But this year, this year is the last year that I will (almost) fall for your shenanigans.

So this week, here I sit. Another Christmas season is upon me and your emails are flooding my Outlook inbox daily. Your offers of discounts, bonus gift cards, free shipping, and more dance before my eyes, more appealing than the Magic Mike dancers and more palatable than my beloved Snickers bar. So I fall for your sweet words again and I click on your latest link.

And in no time at all, I am adding an ultrasoft this and a Scotch Plaid that and one of those scoopneck whatsits, those tights and that tote to my online cart, while remaining mindful of how my credit card company will violate me with their criminal surcharges and inflated exchange rates. But the promise of FREE SHIPPING repeats in my mind and soothes the impeding sting of my credit card’s slap.

I too quickly reach my spending limit. I have some lovely gifts for others and maybe something for myself in that light-as-a-feather shopping cart you have so helpfully provided to me. I check it twice (it is Christmas after all) and I gingerly click the ‘checkout’ button. I enter my login, and yes, I’ll have a chance to review the order before it is submitted. Yes, I understand that.

I scroll through my order (sounds longer than it really is, but I scroll slowly, so it feels longer than it really is too). I look to the right of my screen, where the charges are laid out and there it is – 10% discount code applied! Shipping $0.00! Yay! I’m so happy, your products are within reach. I can almost feel the fabric of softest flannel shirt in my hands. I hate to pay shipping and it is always grossly over-inflated and who can help but love a discount code? But my list of charges doesn’t end there, does it? No, L.L. (may I call you L.L.?) You know that the list does not end there at all. HST? Duty? What the what? No. No. NO!

I do not want you to collect HST and duty for my government. I would prefer to pay it directly to the CRA myself, at the post office when I pick up the package (for Canada Post will not deliver it to my door anyway). And, in all honesty, I do not believe that all of the items that I am (trying, well, begging really) to purchase are privy to duty charges. NAFTA, maybe? I’m not entirely sure, but I do know that having the HST and duty come to more than 35% of the total charges, and having to pay them, at a premium in US funds at higher than bank rates just made the entire order outside of my financial grasp.**

So I close the browser window. I close my laptop. I walk away from my desk feeling so sad, disappointed and unfulfilled. My family will not get to experience the joys of L.L. Bean monogrammed backpacks, most excellent gadgets, beautifully soft and well made linens. And that makes me sad. So very, very sad.

Yours truly,
The Keswick Blogger – wife, mother, and 2014 unfulfilled L.L. Bean so-badly-wanna-be customer.

P.S. I think that I should get brownie points for this letter. I did not swear, curse or use a single inappropriate word. Not even once. I think that alone should earn me a break on all of those charges. I mean honestly, take a look at the rest of this blog, this place is riddled with profanity and inappropriate use of the English language. Wouldn’t you agree?

P.P.S. Despite it all, I still love you. I can’t help myself. xoxo

P.P.P.S. I’m sorry if my letter was mean. Please don’t ban me from your website or your Albany store. xo

Mostly a true story.

Mostly a true story.

** In the name of full disclosure and clarity, the subtotal for my most recent order was for four items and the subtotal was going to be $85.43 USD – ‘you have saved $39.37′ between ‘on sale’ items and the 10% discount code, free shipping. Duty and HST was going to be $29.45 USD or 34.5% of the total order price :(  My credit card would have been charged $114.88 USD.


Nov 14

I needed something nice to happen this week

I really, really needed something nice to happen. And just when I think that I am out of luck, it happens. And I have my eight-year-old son to thank. As an added bonus, it is nice when other people see how sweet one of your children can be.

This week, Deacon won a prize at school. And believe me when I say, it was a big deal.

When I saw him in the hall during the school’s lunch hour, he told me that he ‘won a present for Miranda.’ I asked him how, and he told me that he won a prize and he chose a doll for his sister.

“Here,” he said, pushing it toward me, “you give it to her.”
“No, honey, you go and give it to her, it was so sweet of you to choose it for her, I know that she’ll love it. She’s in her classroom.”

And off he shuffled, down the hall to her classroom.

A few moments later, Miranda’s teacher came in to ask me if I knew what Deacon had done for his sister. She told me that when he gave it to Miranda, that Miranda covered him with kisses and hugs. And later, after lunch, another staff member asked me if I had heard what Deacon had done and how sweet it was of him.

That night, as a special treat for all of them, instead of yogurt for a bedtime snack, my smalls had ice cream. And to say thank you to Deacon, he got a special addition of chocolate sauce on his ice cream. Which may not sound like a lot to you, but my kids know that if Mummy is giving them chocolate or candy anything, it must be for a pretty special reason.

I am always proud of my kids. They are smart, kind-hearted, sweet, talented, good kids. But this week, I took special pride in Deacon. He showed selflessness, generosity, and thoughtfulness towards his baby sister. And to me, that tells me that he’s growing up just right and that my mistakes, which have been plentiful, have not made a mess of everything. Because beyond the fighting, squabbling, whining and tantrums, they, my five baby loves, are perfect. Each of them, totally, completely and without a doubt.

And because of their daily reminders, like Deacon’s gift to Miranda, I will continue to strive to be a better mom for all of them, a better role model, a better person, just better.

This week, in our house, this is the look of love.

This week, in our house, this is the look of love.

Nov 14

Authentic living and no longer hiding my failure to do so

Today, I am finding that life is hard. Relationships are hard. Parenting is hard. Figuring out how to pay for all of this ‘life’ that we are not actually living is hard. Everything is just hard. Throw into the mix the feeling that I am not living authentically and you pretty much have my day today, or most days, I suppose. Yes, yes, we have running water, electricity, internet, enough (too much?) food to eat, clothes and all of the other creature comforts that were a luxury for many people not all that long ago (and yes, they still are in other parts of the world, I am aware that there is a more global perspective on life and issues facing women and families, but right now, I’m worrying about my micro-world right now). So chalk this post up to #firstworldproblems and #straightwhitewomanwhine if you must. Moving right along now…

Authenticity is a technical term used in psychology as well as existentialist philosophy and aesthetics. In existentialism, authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures [emphasis added]; the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures and influences which are very different from, and other than, itself. A lack of authenticity is considered in existentialism to be bad faith [emphasis added].

– from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I knew, very early on, that I really wanted to be a mom (and a writer, and a lawyer, and a musician, and hold a PhD in psychology and be the owner of my very own personal cash register, but mostly, to be a mom). At sixteen, I wanted a baby. I wasn’t having sex, so there was no real risk of having a baby, but I man, did I ever want one. And in my clouded adolescent mind, I was ready to be a good mom. At SIXTEEN. Flash forward a handful of years and I was a mom. To a beautiful, perfect, lovely boy. And being a single mom (by mutual agreement) was frustrating sometimes, but I never felt defeated by parenthood or like I was not doing a good job, or that I was really messing up this weird little dude who called me Momma and whom I loved beyond reason. Flash forward another decade or so and I become mum to two more beautiful little boys. And at first it was overwhelming, but so confident was I as a mother that I figured, ‘yeah, I got this.’ Only, sorry about your luck, but I didn’t have it. Not even close.

I had never before been half of a parenting couple. I did not know how to discuss and negotiate anything to do with raising children. I had always had the autonomy to choose what I thought the best thing to do was and there had no one to answer to, no one to check with – I was the boss and whatever I wanted was the way things went (again, talking about child-related decisions only). And then, falling in love, leaping into marriage and diving into a whole new life and suddenly I was no longer the boss. I was Mum, yes. But there were new rules, another person’s thoughts, feelings, and beliefs to consider. This is not a bad thing, by any means, but it was a new thing. And now, this many years later I can admit that I failed at figuring out how to make the necessary adjustments in my parenting modus operandi.

And I was no longer the mother that I had been. I did not speak my mind, or at least I did not speak it effectively. I was not able to convey parenting or life principles that I believed were important in a way that was credible. I acquiesced to my partner’s beliefs where we disagreed. And now, looking back, I was wrong. I should have been truer to my maternal instincts. But I was not. And now, I believe, life is harder because of that.

Flash forward almost another decade and now there are a total of five beautiful souls who call me Momma and need me to be more than I have been, more than I feel like am but not more than I believe I can be. Five pieces of my heart, all who need me figure shit out and be the mother they deserve. It’s not enough to cook, clean, tend to and chauffeur these fragments of my heart. They need me to guide them through their struggles. They not only need to know that whatever happens, I’ll know what to do, how to help, how to make things better, but that  I’ll teach them how to navigate the treacherous terrain of their respective lives with honour, honesty, creativity, and kindness.

So, here I am, almost halfway through my life and I am re-starting my quest to discover how to live life authentically and to figure out the best way to help and to guide each of these children with the challenges that they face. I read, I research, I talk to other parents, teachers and doctors. I seek information out at every turn and try my hardest to  hear not only the message “there’s no fixing this – you screwed this up but good” but rather to hear “yes, you’ve made mistakes, but all is not lost. You can make amends and be better and every moment is a new moment to do better, make wiser choices, and lead by a more positive example.” Because that is the truth that I really want, need and must to believe.

Each of my children is different from the other. They each have their own ways of dealing with life, problems, stressors, successes and disappointments. They each have their own way of expressing love, anger, sadness, disappointment and joy. They each have their own unique talents, points of view, strengths and weaknesses. Some of their traits are familiar to me, I recognize them and I’m comfortable with them. Other traits I see are foreign and scary to me, but Mum is not allowed to show fear, so I will push through and figure out how to help each of them make the most of their innate gifts, talents, personality traits and abilities. Acceptance of each of them, and myself, where and as we sit (stand, run, jump, scream, laugh) is an absolute requirement. But it’s not enough to accept. It is necessary to help them to KNOW and truly FEEL that they are accepted – just the way they are.

And I need to do this while also trying to figure out how to live an authentic, meaningful life that isn’t about appearances and chores and meeting the expectations of others, but rather about kindness, love, joy and honesty.

Wish me luck and please offer any advice, words of wisdom or warnings. If there is one thing that I have learned over the past twenty years of parenting is that the more that I’m sure I know the less I actually know.

P.S. My spell check must be on vacation, because the only things in this post that it objects to are the #hashtags in the first paragraph. Further evidence that my spell check is a broken, illiterate asshole because there is NO WAY that this post is spelled correctly nor that it is grammatically sound.

Nov 14

The best of the internet this week

Not all of these may be new you, but they are new to me this week. And so I’m sharing them. Because I’m a giver. It’s just what I do. And because I’m fighting and struggling with a few other posts, so I’m taking a step back from them and doing this instead.

First up – Bock, bock, bock!

I can’t tell you how much I want to have chickens. I’m prevented only by my own certainty that they will turn on me the first time I try to take one of their eggs and I’ll be found pecked to death and covered in chicken shit in my own backyard. Not exactly the glamorous, sexy exit I’ve always envisioned. But knowing this does nothing to curb my daydreams of chicken chasing.

Next – I’m too sexy for my television, so sexy it hurts

I’m not a big television watcher. I like a few shows (um, where IS the next season of Longmire, already?!?) and I have my guilty pleasure shows (that’s another post for another time) and I find most commercials insulting, stupid or yucky (think: “Hey, pee happens” Blech). But this banned commercial is funny. And it’s worth a look. And if there were more commercials like this, I would maybe watch more t.v. ;)

Third – A Natural Fix for A.D.H.D.

I cannot think of anyone who has not been effected or touched by A.D.H.D. and as far as I can tell everyone has an opinion about A.D.H.D., ranging from “it doesn’t exist, it’s just kids being kids” to “do whatever it takes to get that kid in line” to “yeah, it’s real but if you would just feed him less sugar, or more meat, or more Himalayan salt on Tuesdays at midnight, he’d be fine.” But this New York Times piece on the subject is enlightening and interesting and NOT the same old party lines we’ve been fed for years.

Fourth – A little bit of Oprah advice

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I’m generally a fairly highly charged emotional person. Mixing a creative, emotional mind with everyday life with other people can sometimes result in a huge outpouring of energy – good and bad. And for me, tears. I had a handle on it for a long time, but no longer do, and it bothers me, it makes me feel weak, out of control, and unworthy of being taken seriously. So I went on a search to try to find some answers, strategies, solutions and understanding. I found a few sites, but I was shocked to see that the one that helped the most was Oprah’s site. If you or someone you know tears up or even cries at inopportune times and wants to understand why and how to change it, this is worth the read.

Fifth and finally – DIY Fall Treats worth your time from America’s Test Kitchen

I love, love, love ATK and Cook’s Illustrated. I am slowly building up my library of their books and magazines. I turned to CI when I was looking for a pressure cooker. From recipes, product reviews and ratings, all things food-related, they have it all. And I have been eyeballing recipes for homemade marshmallows for a long time now. This article by ATK has pushed it to the forefront again, so, time permitting, next weekend, I’m going to give it a try. Homemade Nutella? Yes, please. Now, please. That is for me.

Nothing to do with anything in this post, but I just love this picture. This beach in Cape Cod quickly became our favourite - when the tide was out, we could walk forever to get to the edge of the ocean, where just hours before, there was barely enough beach to lay our towel on without the water hitting it.

Nothing to do with anything in this post, but I just love this picture. This beach in Cape Cod quickly became our favourite – when the tide was out, we could walk forever to get to the edge of the ocean, where just hours before, there was barely enough beach to lay our blanket on without the water hitting it. So grateful to have kids who love the water and the beach as much as we do.