I tried to buy something and failed. Of course.

Anyone who knows me (all three of you), knows that I am obsessive about wearing my sunglasses anytime I am outside. Sunny, cloudy, sun up, sun down, I have them on. I stop just shy of  pulling a Corey Hart and wearing them at night, but I am not far off some days. Aside from how badly the sunlight just plain hurts my eyes, I have been lead to believe that people with blue eyes are more prone to sun-related eye damage and disease (and oh, hey, lookit here, it just may be true!) and I aim to keep my eyesight intact for the duration of my breathing days.

Accepting the truth of my previous statements, one would think that I must invest quite a tidy sum in sunglasses, yes? Well, one would be wrong. For the past ten years, I have been wearing $5.00/pair Giant Tiger sunglasses, and I have purchased four pairs (two identical pairs at a time) over the course of those years. They are durable, claim UVA/UVB protection on the tag, and have nice, dark lenses. Perfect. Or, they were until recently when I realized that the coating on my last surviving pair is bubbling and peeling off. Ugh.

I’ve now officially turned the mundane details of my life into a real thing. Someone save me from myself.

For the past three or so years, I have been debating with myself, thinking that just maybe it is time to buy actual real, quality adult sunglasses. To that end, I regularly check Costco online and this week, when I did, I found these with a cash and carry price in-store of $79.99. Expensive enough to qualify as ‘real adult sunglasses’ but not so expensive as to send me into a full-blown anxiety attack over spending so much money on something I could buy for $5.

Made in Italy. Nice and dark, nothing too flashy (don’t want anything TOO fancy that will compete with my sparkling personality), and just 80’s enough that they make me crave leg warmers and mini skirts again.

As luck would have it, our children continue refusing to give up eating and our rapidly depleting fresh food supply dictated that I was due for a shopping trip to Newmarket, and Costco was on my list of places to hit (5 lbs of organic baby carrots, you say? Yes, please!). So off I went. I pulled into the parking lot, scored a sweet parking spot without having to fist fight a senior citizen for it and wheeled my cart straight over to the optical  counter. I found the sunglasses, tried them on, decided that while I liked the frames, I hated the solid grey arms, so I tried the same pair in a slightly different colour and decided it was a go. I anted up my credit card to the tune of $90+ (tax, dontchu know?), I finished the rest of my shopping (baby carrots, 2 lbs of spinach, parmesan cheese, Skinny Pop (on sale!) and headed back to the mama-van.

It was a super bright and sunny day so I decided rather than saving my new sunglasses for another day (which historically is my m.o. with new things), that I was going to wear them right away. I unzipped the clunky hard case they come in, removed them from the plastic bag and cardboard packaging, put them on and, hated them instantly. The arms were SO long, much longer than the ones that I tried on in the store. They sat funny (and no, it wasn’t just my face, I checked in the visor mirror, the glasses were wonkier than my face). They just didn’t feel right. I debated with myself for a few seconds (I think I may do this more often than is healthy), and then jumped out of the van, locked up and headed back inside to return my disappointing purchase.

The clerk who sold me the glasses was busy with another customer by this time, but another clerk listened to my story, then opened the glasses to look at them, while telling me “you know, we can adjust them” as they fell from  her hand and hit the cement floor, hard. Um, no thanks. I for sure do not want them now that you’ve dropped them on the floor. But I had to say that politely because a) my money had not yet been refunded and b) she was bigger than me. The clerk bent down to pick them up, without a word, all the while acting like she didn’t just drop them, blam! on the floor. She extended the arms and said “these are  stretched out. You know we can still adjust them.” She gave me another pointed look.

Proud to say that I was very adult in that moment and did not scoff, roll my eyes and start my response with “ah, yeah but duh, you just frickin’ dropped them on the floor” but rather, maintaining eye contact (but totally not a creepy, serial killer gaze) I said “actually, this is a rather big purchase for me, and I think that I would like to give it some more thought before making my final decision. Thank you anyway though!” She looked at me like I was a dirty criminal who had stretched out the glasses and was now trying to pull a fast one over on her, but Costco policy reigned supreme and my money was refunded.

And that, long and drawn out story is why I am still wearing my five-dolla Giant Tiger shades and also why it is a very good thing (for me) that society defines ‘adult’ by a person’s chronological rather than mental age, or I would be so totally kicked outta da club.

Crying with my sunglasses on is still better than not having any sunglasses at all. That’s what is called being positive, Janet.

~A.

There is no point to this post

I am a weepy, sad mess today. I want to be invisible, quiet and alone. I won’t be though. I’ve felt it coming on for a few days now, but have ignored the signs and powered through my days, not allowing the tears to come, not allowing ‘it’ to win.

Today, ‘it’ is winning. Yes, I’m telling myself that ‘it’ isn’t real. That ‘it’ too shall pass. That ‘it’ is just part of me, a part that I control and doesn’t control me. But today, ‘it’ is winning.

I know this dance, it’s the one I know best. I will continue to go through the motions of my day. I will make breakfasts, lunches, dinners. I will mediate arguments, delegate chores, repeat myself numerous times, give hugs, soothe boo-boos and fold laundry. I will gather up my youngest four and head to Mass. I will smile. I will have conversations. All the while, I will be folding up inside myself, feeling the twisting and turning in my stomach, bending to the hold that ‘it’ has on me. I will argue with ‘it’ all day and into the night. And no one will know. I won’t share it with those around me, who need me, who love me, who are looking to me to make their worlds right. I won’t burden them with ‘it.’

Today I am especially grateful to have a home to hide in, an endless supply of music to help me steady myself, and access to language and words to write in a feeble effort to begin to untangle the furled crepuscular mass of anxiety, fears, sadness and uncertainty that is tightening its ever-strengthening grip on my inner world.

Yes, today ‘it’ is winning. But I know that ‘it’ won’t always win and that I will find my way back to the resplendent hopefulness and happiness that I know just as well as I know this darkness.

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas, 1914- 1954

This morning was hard and I owe them an apology. A letter to my smalls

Dear Mason, Deacon, Paxton and Miranda,

First, let me start by saying that I love you all, beyond reason and measure.

Second, let me admit to you all that I am human, incredibly fallible and flawed.

Thirdly, allow me to apologize for my outburst this morning. I could give you a hundred reasons why, lay blame on the four of you and others in my life, and make endless excuses for myself, but I will not. At the end of the day, I, just like everyone else, am entirely responsible for my feelings, thoughts, words and actions. This morning, I did not walk away, breathe, pray and ask God for the help that I needed in that moment. I did not keep my voice quiet and remain in control of myself and my feelings. I allowed myself to become overwhelmed by the chaos of my mind and my life and I brought you all along for the ride. And for that I am truly and eternally sorry.

I honestly do believe that as people, no one can “make us feel” or “make us do” anything. We have ultimate control over one thing in life. Ourselves. We choose our feelings, our reactions, our actions and our choices, and we always have more than one choice.

I promise to continue to strive to do better, to be better and to work harder to live the lessons that I try so hard to impart to all of you. Turn the other cheek, practice forgiveness and personal responsibility, be kind, always. Be kind even when, no especially when someone is not being kind to you. Think about what our purpose is in this life – to love, to take care of and be of service to others, to make our home, family and world a safer, better, more welcoming and loving place to be, for everyone and anyone who walks into (or out of) our lives.

I am enormously proud of each and every one of you, together with your brother Declan. The five of you, are collectively and individually, my entire heart, and are perfect both in your perfect and imperfect moments. Without you, there is no me.

You are, my beautiful babies, in three words, so wonderfully made.

Love,
Mummy.

Good bye, our Lucy

The Life and Times of our Lucy Liu, with us April 2012 – February 2018

The very thoughtful and kind gift from the 404 Emergency Vet clinic. Each of our smalls received one. Lucy 🐾

When we bought this house in 2012, it came with cats. Like fourteen feral cats with varying degrees of illness and disease. And in among the chaos of cats we were dealing with, was her. A small, black and white warrior, who survived despite her surroundings. She, who did not hiss, run or yowl. She adopted us quickly. The other cats were trapped and taken by Animal Control. Many went on to have litters of kittens shortly afterwards. Some were able to be adopted out. Others, well, I don’t know.

The bond between Lucy and ‘her kids’ was unbreakable, genuine and always loving.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not, by nature, a cat person. In fact, cats scare me, I never know if they’re about to attack. This cat though, was different from any other I had ever encountered. She very decidedly chose us. Lucy Liu (aptly named after the actress of the same name, by my husband, for her obvious, ‘Kill Bill’-esque ninja abilities) stayed with us and within no time at all, a matter of a few weeks actually, she gave birth to a litter of three kittens. We never even knew she was pregnant. She was just that tiny, undernourished and unwell. Immediately we could tell that she was an amazing mother. It was apparent that this was not her first litter. When the kittens were old enough to leave their mama, they were adopted out. But Lucy stayed with us. We had her spayed and microchipped and loved, cared and fed her back to health. She was amazing. She was also a bit blood thirsty, but only towards creatures we wouldn’t want in our house anyway. So we appreciated her huntress ways.

My husband snapped this picture on his phone a few days after Lucy had her kittens. We named them Squawker, Little Grey, and Butterball.

Lucy was never indifferent and uninterested in us. She trusted us with her kittens, she trusted us with her own care. She never fought or scowled at us. She would follow me down our driveway and along the road and around the corner to pick up our mail. She would respond to her name and come when called. She was the perfect blend of independent and social. She would join us in the living room for movie nights, lie on the floor with our smalls, she would even join us for bedtime story and outdoor movie nights. She was completely comfortable and at ease, blending in with our big family without missing a beat.

She was all in. Whether it was story time, movie time, playtime or sleeping time, she gave it her all.

Often in the mornings (during the months that she enjoyed the outdoors), she would walk with us down the driveway to see the smalls get on their school bus. She would check on the children at night, visiting each one of them after lights out. And sometimes she would stay with one or the other and sometimes she would settle in for the night in her own bed (a favourite cardboard box filled with baby blankets), or on a cold night, in front of the fire.

I loved when she slept like this.

She was definitely a cookie. If the box fits, sleep in it.

She would plank anywhere

 

 

 

 

 

 

She was an outdoor cat from April until October and absolutely agoraphobic between November and March. This always struck us funny, as before adopting us, she lived outside 24/7, 365 days a year. She rarely, if ever, really left our property. When other cats, both known to her and feral would approach her porch or deck, she would defend it with a fury that we otherwise never witnessed.

For such a tiny little thing, she sure knew how to walk menacingly.

She never grew to be much  more than 7 or 8 pounds, so stayed a small cat always. But she had the heart and spirit of a lioness and I often joked that one day we would look out and see her pulling a deer down the driveway after a day out hunting.

Lucy Liu, Boxing Day 2017.

Then, last night I had to rush Lucy Liu to the 24 hour, 404 Emergency vet clinic in Newmarket. She could barely breathe and was not acting like herself at all. She was immediately taken into an examination room and triaged and within 20 minutes of our arrival, Dr. Rebecca, very gently and kindly gave me the results of her assessment and the options available to us. There was very little doubt. I had to call my husband and let him know that it was probably best to get the kids (I had just put them to bed before Lucy and I left the house) and bring them down to say good-bye. Lucy’s chest was filled with fluid and making it impossible for her lungs to inflate, the most likely cause was cancer. Rather than putting her through endless tests and diagnostics and lengthy hospital stay with a poor prognosis and nothing but suffering on her horizon, we had to let her go. She deserved to go gently, without anymore suffering.

We were all with her to the very end, petting her, loving her and comforting her. When she was gone, we brought her back to the home that she loved and we will bury her here in the Spring. We miss her tremendously already. Today, our house is a little bit emptier and a whole lot more sorrowful.

Good bye our beautiful Lucy. We could not have asked for a better companion and friend than you. Thank you for all the gifts you brought to our family. We will love you always.

Just sitting here raising a big spender, is all. Paxisms

I took my smalls on a mini-shopping trip on yesterday. They all had Christmas money that they were desperate to spend. So, at the second store, Pax finds exactly that he’s been looking for and it’s on clearance – bonus! This was our conversation:

P: Mumma, how much is this with tax?
Me: Um, just over $20, maybe?
P (looking impish): Well, I’m going to give her a $20 bill and tell her ‘keep the change’
Me: Hmm. Okay, big spender. Except that $20 isn’t quite enough, so there will be no change for her keep and you’ll owe her a bit more.
P (crestfallen): Well, I’m still going to give her a twenty. I’ll figure out the rest when I get there.
Me: (to self): Where’d this kid even come from? (While picture him wearing a fedora and making it rain in Mastermind Toys one day).

This morning, Pax came down stairs with a croupy-sounding cough and the saddest little face I had seen since he came downstairs yesterday morning. I felt his forehead, checked him over and asked him what he would like for breakfast. This was our exchange:

P: Mummy, do I have to go to school today?
Me: Well, probably Pax. We still have an hour until the bus, so let’s wait and see, okay?
P: (Tears welling up): But I’m really sick. My throat hurts and I’m walking really slowly.
Me: Walking slowly? Oh no! Well, let’s just see how you’re feeling after you’ve been awake for a while, okay?
P: (sniffing): Okay, but I’m pretty sure I’m too sick to go.

Within half an hour, he had eaten, gotten dressed and made no other mention of staying home. Had I just listened to my heart when that sad little face that first appeared in the kitchen, he would have been home today and full of energy and jonesing for fun, while I spent the day trying to confine him to the couch. So glad I remembered to pause and think before blurting out the first thing that popped into my head (which is a bit of a trademark of mine).

Now if only I could do that in other life situations, I just know that I would start to make some serious traction on this adulting gig. As it is, I got the garbage and the recycling to the curb before the truck came, so yeah, I’m already feeling pretty grown up today.

~A.

P.S. Immediately after writing that big “I’m winning at being an adult” brag, I spilled my drink down my front and narrowly missed dropping the glass in the process. So, right then, never mind. Still a dork. 🤦🏼‍♀️

Guys, I think I’m making a pig’s ear of this parenting gig

Preamble:
Kids need to play outside. I mean, fresh air, physical activity, rosy cheeks and bright eyes, right? All good things that help promote healthy mental health (awkward, much?) and all that super popular back-to-nature stuff that I keep seeing posted on Facebook, right?

So, being a ‘good parent,’ my kids are outside. All bundled up and ready to frolic and play in the snow, fight with their siblings until eventually one of them breaks and tears and fists fly. Yes, I can see their mental health getting healthier by the minute outside these four walls.

So, out they go. Except one resister. My nine-year-old. He’s active and full of energy. Brilliant, funny, and cuddly as all get out. Unfortunately (for him) he was not built for winter (just like his mama, so believe me, I feel for him). He finds very little joy in sub-zero temperatures and being outside in the snow, just for the sake of it (again, I get it. I’m sitting bundled up in my kitchen and decidedly NOT outside improving my mental health) and while he won’t be openly defiant about going outside, he will delay the trip as long as possible. Someone else may let it slide and let him stay in. But I’m not that mother. One of the few perks that come with this title, is that I get to toss the kids outside to play every day and they have to do it. It’s in the rules.

So, now that I have (I hope adequately) set the scene, here is the exchange P and I just had at the door.

The exchange:
Me: No gloves? Here, at least take this one. I don’t know what you’ve done with the other one, but at least one hand won’t freeze. (Notice how much adulting I’m doing here. It’s breathtaking, yes?)

P: Nah. I don’t need any. I’m just going out to play dead.

Me: Um. Huh. Dead? That doesn’t sound like an awesome game, but okay. Take the glove. (Clearly, this kid is in dire need of outside play time. His mental health needs a boost. It’s okay. I am on it like he’s a cheesecake and I’m, well, me).

P: But I’m going out to play DEAD. I don’t need gloves.

Me: Well, when you decide that you’re not dead anymore, won’t it be nice to have at least one hand not get frozen in the snow trying to get up? (I’m on my June Cleaver game today, people. I’m owing this parenting thing).

P: Fine (taking the glove). But I’m telling you, I’m only going to be lying dead in the snow, Mummy.

Me: Okay, baby. Have so much fun!

He trudges outside with his sister who has been waiting patiently for him to get ready and I skip away, into the kitchen to wash pears and marvel at just how obvious it is that I was born to parent. When it dawns on me. “Um, did he just say dead?”

To make a short story long and back to short again, I am making a pig’s ear out of this parenting gig. Pray for my small humans. And someone, please. Start a GoFundMe to cover their future therapy bills. Those clinical hours add up quickly and the bills are going to be astronomical.

~A.

Dear 2017, it’s been swell, but this is where we part ways.

Dear 2017,

As was true of your predecessors, I welcomed you happily, full of hope, motivation and gratitude, a year ago today.

We had a mere 365 days together (or is it 364 – I never get the count right for some reason), and in that time, the U.S. has been under the control an obviously deeply disturbed and possibly organically ill leader and his misguided and twisted cohorts. Canada has fallen deeper into debt while applying band-aids rather than real ‘fixes’ to the issues that plague our society and nation, and the rest of the world has watched the events unfolding in North America with a mixture of revulsion and disbelief.

During your reign, we have witnessed horrifying acts of terror against the innocent, senseless death and destruction in all four corners of the (round) world, and countless incomprehensible acts of aggression and injustice against the very people those in power purport to protect.

But it has not all been bad news during 2017. Babies were born, marriages were created and a multitude of successes were achieved. It can be our tendency to remember the painful, negative, or scary events and this sometimes taints our ability to fully appreciate the happiness, the blessings and sheer wonders that surround us.

For me, I have five healthy, intelligent, compassionate, talented and completely fallible and human children. I have a husband who works hard to ensure that the needs of his family are met, even when he would rather stay in bed. We have a  home that provides us with sanctuary from the outside world and we enjoy an abundance of food that keeps our bellies full (and fills out some of our thighs, hips and butts, but, I digress, and that really only happens to me 🤭). I have parents who are healthy and in possession of their wits and independence. I have friends who understand my quirks, rants and shortcomings and talk to me anyway, almost always happily. My smalls and I have found a faith that feels right for us, and 2017 was the beginning of this exciting journey of faithful discovery.

So, 2017, while you have a been cruel and harsh at times ( for example, like your sister 2016 before you our creative talent reserves have really taken a hit this year), you have also been kind and awe-inspiring. 2017, you helped to make it possible for me to say good bye to you with a smile rather than with an eye roll and huge sigh of relief. Thank you for making it possible for me to welcome 2018 with an open heart, a willingness to strive for better, in all aspects of my life and the ability to look at events and circumstances through a more open, a slightly less judgemental and harsh lens while I make the choice to look for the best in all people whom I encounter this year.

Good bye, 2017, thank you for your lessons, gifts and blessings. I will carry them with me while I navigate the unknown terrain of 2018.

~A.

Engagement rings, history and searching for answers – Part 2 of 3

Part Two of the Engagement ring trilogy, examining the history of engagement rings and how diamonds got involved in this debacle.

Know her? Dude, I OWN her!

So, it turns out, this whole engagement ring business is pure fuckery. We have been had. Again. All the Jarrod’s, Zales, and Spence advertising is all hooey. But really, it should have come as little surprise that upon researching it, engagement rings originated as a public declaration of ownership. Of a woman. By a man. For fuck sakes.

During the 2nd century B.C., it is believed that the ancient Romans came up with the brilliant idea of giving a betrothal ring in lieu of giving the bride-to-be money or a valuable object (in effect, BUYING her, but with something worth LESS than cold hard cash). According to Pliny the Elder, the groom first gave the bride a gold ring to wear during the betrothal ceremony and at special events (because even back then, people cared what their neighbours thought of them, it would seem), then he would give her an iron ring to wear at home, which served to signify her binding legal agreement to his ownership of her. Well, that’s romantic a.f. Yes?

Enter, the diamond.

So, we trudge through history, wearing our iron bands, until 1477 when the uber-romantic and and completely politically manipulated Maximilian I, soon-to-become-the Holy Roman Emperor, presented the first documented diamond engagement ring to Mary, the daughter of his father’s chief political opponent, the reigning duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold. As the story goes, Duke The Bold, had but one daughter, who was called Mary of Burgundy, and Frederick III (Maximilian’s pop) was hell-bent to secure his son to her through marriage, in order to forestall military conflict.

Honestly. What woman could say no to an offer like that? Well, maybe a lot of women could. Like, I don’t know, just about every single woman? So, to sweeten the pot and Maximilian throws some diamonds in the shape of Mary’s first initial on that band of ownership he was hoping to win her hand with, and yeah, she (or her father) consented to the marriage. Ugh.

Although my purpose in this series is really to look at why I am (and many other people are) so obsessed with having, owning and wearing a sparkly diamond on my (her) left hand, the story of Max and Mary is fascinating, so I am going to continue this trip down memory lane bit longer, in the name of history. And in the name of it’s my blog and I can if I want to *spoiled brat moment exhausted now*.

Okay, so Max and Mary get married, and he gave her the diamond ring that would become the beginning of the end for potential grooms the world over, and then, wouldn’t you know it, they also lock into a pre-nuptual agreement (these fuckers were beyond forward-thinking, yes?) that stipulated that only the children of bride and groom had a right to inherit from each, not the surviving parent. Mary tried to bypass this asinine rule with a promise to transfer territories as a gift in case of her death, but her plans were confounded. After Mary’s death in a “riding accident” on 27 March 1482 (a mere four-a-half-years later), Maximilian turned his aim on securing the inheritance to one of his and Mary’s (dare I say, favourite) children, none other than Phillip the Handsome. I want to leave the story here, but I cannot.  Not before I note that Mary gave birth to three children during her brief marriage to Maximilian, the eldest two survived her. They were Philip the Handsome and Margaret. Yup, that’s it. Just Margaret. Not Margaret the Beautiful or Margaret the Brave, just plain Margaret. But Max and Mary loved their children equally. I mean, of course they did. When Mary died, Handsome inherited a world and two-year-old Margaret was shipped off to France, to marry the Dauphin, in an attempt to please Louis XI not to invade the territories owned by Mary of Burgundy. Because of course she was.

It is interesting to note that Mags outlived Handsome by almost 25 years. She went on to do amazing bad bitch work and helped pave the way for women rulers. She married twice and was widowed twice. Overcome by grief, she threw herself out of a window when her second husband died. One can assume she really loved that second husband quite a bit more than the first. But, as people often do, she survived throwing herself out the window and lived 26 more years, to the ripe age of 50 (Handsome and his devilish ways died at age 28). Magnificent Mags (as I’ve come to think of her), died after a splinter of glass became embedded in her foot which in turn made her foot gangrenous. While awaiting amputation surgery, she was overdosed on opium, which had been administered as a painkiller prior to surgery. Well. It certainly killed her pain, now didn’t it? Fucking narcotics. R.I.P. Magnificent Maggie.

Well, I am emotionally exhausted now, so with luck (and a wee bit of ADHD medication), I should be able to wrap this series up in the next post and maybe, just maybe, gain some insight and closure on my own quest for that elusive ice (which, incidentily is also slang for meth, so to be clear, I am not looking for meth, I just want a big diamond). Fucking narcotics always ruin everything.

P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all that I can manage to pull off.

Engagement rings, history and searching for answers – Part 1 of 3

This is a trilogy of posts looking at the history of engagement rings and what they really mean.

Getting married? Want to get married? Already married?

I was. I kind of did. Then I really did. Then I did and so I remain.

I got married without an engagement ring. Honestly, I never really thought that I would get married, I knew that I would have children, but marriage? It was a foreign concept to me. That said, I always knew that if I did one day get married, it would involve a HUGE dazzler on my finger. I never pictured myself in a big white dress and having a huge wedding, attended by people I barely knew, but of the ring, I was certain. And aside from my natural obsession and attraction to shiny things, I always just wanted a seriously big diamond ring. And like so many other people, I felt that a beautiful, sparkly rock on my finger would let other people know at a glance that;

1) I was loved and desired (and therefore worthy of their attention);

2) that I was worth A LOT as a person (because a bad or worthless person surely would not have such a beautiful ring? *insert eye roll here*);

3) that I was special enough for someone to spend a whack of cash (at least two MONTH of his salary, right?) on to gift me something so coveted and valuable; and

4) That I was finally pretty enough, smart enough, sexy enough, funny enough, just plain GOOD enough and someone amazing had sealed his promise to love me unconditionally forever by putting his money where his mouth was and I had the 1.5+Ct VVS1 or better, white gold/platinum, 3+ total carat weight knuckle duster to prove it.

Now, I don’t need you to tell me that this kind of thinking is some seriously twisted shit. I can read. I get it.

I have been married over a decade now, and there is no engagement ring in sight. We had a small, perfect ceremony (we eloped locally) and I would not have changed a thing (except perhaps to extend an invitation to our respective parents). Even so, it has always nagged at me that I do not have an engagement ring, that I lack that one, seemingly very important cultural symbol of love. What does it mean? Does it mean that I was not (am not) special enough or worth enough to deserve the very splashy and public declaration of love that only an expensive, flashy ring screams? It has bothered me so much so that over the years, I have started various savings funds to purchase my ‘dream ring’ for myself. But those funds always end up being needed for the family, so I use them happily and start again.

Recently though, I’ve been thinking – is my internal struggle over having an engagement ring about me, for my ego or well-being or it is for the benefit of others? Would it enhance my life or would it merely give me the false belief that other people will perceive me to be a ‘better’ or ‘more worthy’ person? Would it make marriage easier, would it make any difference in the day-to-day realities of being married? Would it mean that my husband loved me more or better than he did before the ring?

And the answer is, I just do not know. But I do know that I want to learn and understand how the engagement ring became such ‘a thing’ and how it came to represent of love and the worth of a woman within our society. Because if I can understand those things, then maybe I can get honest about the origins of my motivation and determination to have one of my very own.

The next two blog posts in this mini-series will explore some of the history behind the engagement ring ritual and try to sort out fact from fiction and meander through through centuries-old relationship drama (spoiler alert: not a hell of a lot has changed in the past 600 years). And by the end of it all, I hope to have a better idea of what I am really searching for and if it can really be found at the top of a band of gold.

P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all that I can manage to pull off.

If you need to know what love is, feel free to ask my eight-year-old. He knows the answer.

A friend on Facebook, who has a small army of young, adorable children, recently posted a list of questions to ask your kids, typical stuff like “what’s your name, age, favourite food, etc.” The last question on the list was “What does love mean?”

I do not usually do these with my kids and when I do, I won’t post their responses, but for some reason, this time I did ask them the questions, privately, without the other three listening in. And for the most part, their answers were not surprising, I like to think that I know my kids fairly well (well, except for finding out that my twelve-year-old believes that my favourite thing to do is wash dishes, but I digress). Overall though, their answers were not shocking. Until that last question, that is. Ugh. My heart is pulverized by the sweet, tender, kind, loveliness of it all.

My oldest small and my youngest both answered ” That you care about other people” and “that you care” respectively. My second youngest son answered “kiss!” with a giggle. And my youngest son, well, he had some thoughts on the subject and I took them down while he dictated. He propped up his head with his fists under his cheek bones, thought for a few minutes, then looked at me with his deep blue eyes, took his time and slowly answered:

How does my eight-year-old know and understand the answer to this question so completely,  but the people in positions of power, who are threatening to destroy every ounce of progress made toward equality and human rights over the last century cannot connect the dots?

For me, being one who is prone to great, big feelings, able to go from feeling great big happiness to great big sadness in a matter of moments, I needed to hear this today. It gives me hope. It makes me think that maybe things really will be okay.

#BeKindAlways

P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all that I can manage to pull off.