Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Dearest Teenaged Daughter

Dearest Teenaged Daughter who is now dating (through the magic of cyberspace) for the first time,

Allow me to tell you something about love.

  1. Love is not jealous.  If you feel burningly possessive of your boyfriend you are showing a lack of trust in him and lack of value in yourself.  If he cheats, you're better off without him.  You're worth more than a man you can't put your full faith in.
  2. Love is not obsessive.  You don't need to know where he is every second of the day.  He should not need to know where you are either.  You're allowed to have separate interests and activities.  In fact, you're likely to find that your relationship will be stronger for it.
  3. Love is not exclusive.  By this I mean that you must continue to spend time with your friends and he should do the same.  If you find yourself slowly becoming isolated from those you used to hang out with warning bells should be going off.  This is a sign of bad things to come.
  4. Love is not violent.  It's never o.k. if he hits you.  It's never o.k to hit him.  Period.  If this happens tell me.  Tell your father.  Tell your best friend.  Tell anyone you trust to listen.  And get out because it will happen again and again and again.
  5. Love is not mean.  Someone who loves you will not insult you or tell you are being paranoid or crazy.  Love doesn't deride or downplay emotions.  Love supports you and lifts you up.  All too often evil words lead to evil actions.  Don't let things progress that far.
  6. Love doesn't pressure.  You need not rush a physical relationship.  You have your whole life to learn about that part of love and if you are having sex, then please only explore those activities that you feel comfortable with.  You don't have to try it all the first 6 months.  You don't have to try it all the first 6 years.  
  7. Love is silly and fun.  If you can't laugh freely and be goofy with the one you love there is no point.  It will not last.  I promise you.
  8. Love changes.  That passionate desperate longing you feel, that barely contained excitement, that need to be constantly touching the one you love.. that fades though not altogether if you're lucky.  But that companionship and trust and silliness and comfort ... that goes on and on and on.
  9. Love grows.  The love I felt for your father when we first met is nothing to the love I have for him now.  I thought I couldn't love him any more than I did on the day I married him until I saw him holding you seconds after you were born.  I thought I couldn't love him any more than that until I saw him holding both you and your sister in his arms.  I thought I couldn't love him any more than I did so many times only to fall even more in love with him again and again.
  10. Love means compromise.  Neither one of you should feel that you have to always put the other person first.  Sometimes one of you gives a little more, sometimes the other.  If you're always the one giving in you're relationship isn't healthy.  The same if you expect him to always give in to what you want.  It's a give and take.
Love freely my beautiful daughter but love safely.  Do not ignore warning signs of possible abuse and work to keep your relationship a healthy one.  Some days that is easy, some days not so much.  But know that you are worth it and that when it is good, when love is right - it's magical.

I love you.

Monday, May 25, 2015


Stereotypical Typecasting Overweight People -- specifically in Hollywood.

Watch enough Hollywood movies especially comedies and you will see that same stereotypes and typecasting for overweight actors.  They are almost always portrayed as:

  • loud
  • brash
  • a little (or a lot) dim
  • obnoxious
  • insecure
  • unkempt
Don't believe me?

Let's take Melissa McCarthy.  On Mike and Molly she's a teacher and like a real life person, she struggles to improve herself, maintain a relationship with her spouse and her family and generally acts like a normal albeit overweight human being.  She dresses well, speaks at a normal volume, combs and styles her hair and is a bright funny loving woman.

Now lets look at her filmography shall we?

Do you detect a pattern here?  These are by no means the only 3 movies in which Melissa McCarthy plays the overweight bumbling obnoxious buffoon.  As far as I know, she has yet to headline in a single movie where she plays anything approaching the Molly character but she has starred as many different variations of what can only be called the poster girls for People of Walmart.

Ok, so that's one actress you say.  Let's look at Rebel Wilson.  In her latest movie she plays a character who has named herself Fat Amy, who wears a T-Shirt that says "Born a Loser," flashes a full frontal to the U.S. President during a live televised performance and performs some crazy staircase slide for comic effect.  She comes off as a loveable but dumb buffoon who is both self-deprecating and horribly oblivious.  And this is what we find funny.

Need more examples?  Paul Blart Mall cop, just about anything Chris Farley or John Candy ever filmed, most Jack Black and Kevin Smith movies, everything Jonah Hill did before he lost weight, and the list goes on.  Rarely do we see top billed overweight actors that are not in comedies and even rarer still it seems do they play characters who are respected, intelligent and stylish.

There are a few exceptions -- Queen Latifah, Octavia Spencer, Vincent D'Onofrio, Pruitt Taylor - these are actors who have not let their size dictate that they be typecast as buffoons.  And for them I am grateful.

I wish the other overweight actors had the same self-respect because as long as obese actors are willing to act the part, Hollywood will perpetuate the stereotype.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Wow.. just WOW!

My eldest daughter is on a school trip to Europe.  I know I know, Europe!  But there you have it. She was in Paris yesterday and today she is in Madrid.  My youngest was invited to a two-night sleepover as it's a long weekend in Canada so today is a holiday.  That means that for the whole day yesterday we were childless and at home.

It was a brief biased and beautiful peek into what our eventual retirement might look like and let me tell you.. it was amazing!

We slept in, we cuddled, I read and did some gardening, Gunther did some laundry and called Rogers to get us a better internet package, we had lunch and supper together and we noticed a few things.

  1. Life without kids is quiet.  No-one interrupted me while I was reading, no-one wanted to watch T.V. in the room where I had settled myself in, no-one woke me up from my nap by barging into my room.  No-one came and told me they were bored or hungry or not feeling well or being picked on or having trouble with the computer.  I just read and gardened at my own leisure.
  2. Life without kids is tidy.  G did the laundry and cleaned the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher. I cleaned the powder room and mopped the floors and put 5 baskets of laundry away.  And everything we did stayed done.  Nobody dug through the folded baskets only to whine that their favourite shirt wasn't clean yet.  Nobody came into the kitchen and left snack wrappers and crumbs on the table.  Nobody had a hissy fit about how they couldn't fit all their clothes into their drawers.  It just got done and stayed done.
  3. Life without kids is freeing.  G and I watched Sin City 2, The Losers and Wanted all without having to listen to Chloe have a hissy fit about how it wasn't fair that we were watching shows that she couldn't (we only have 1 T.V.)  We could eat party mix in the family room while we watched our shows because we didn't have to worry about the kids getting Cheezie dust all over the carpet.
  4. Life without kids is slower.  G and I ate whenever we felt like it, puttered as we wanted to and generally just hung out.  We didn't have to worry about getting someone somewhere for a play date or activity.  We didn't have to make sure Chloe got enough sleep or that meals were on the table at a certain time.  There was just a general easy-going feeling to the whole day.
  5. Life without kids is bountiful.  I made a jug of iced tea in the morning and there was still iced tea in the jug when I went to pour myself some hours later.  I got to eat all of my steak without having to share it with the kids who always ask for mine.  I only had to make eggs for myself so I kept the one that still had runny yolks instead of giving them to Sarah.  There was always milk in the jug for my coffee and clean glasses and bowls for my snacks.
  6. Life without kids is romantic.  G and I got to talk without being interrupted; cuddle without having kids come in and want to snuggle with us, have meals together just the two of us; hold hands while we watched T.V.  It was like being young again before the kids came and honestly I have forgotten what that was like because it was 14.5 years ago.  
  7. Life without kids was nice.  
So I will be perfectly honest and tell you I thoroughly enjoyed my day.  But there were two parts of the day that were especially lovely -- When I got texts from Sarah telling me how amazing her trip was and when I got a phone call from Chloe checking in on me to make sure I was o.k. and to tell me how much fun she was having.  

Because I love my girls and I love my life with my girls even if it's messy and hectic and loud and involves sacrificing steak -- I just also love the idea that someday this stage will be over and G and I are still close enough and in love enough to enjoy the stage that is yet to come.  

Course I might price out some boarding schools just for shits and giggles ;)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I'm Not a Wine-y Mom.

I'm  modern day Mommy with all that that entails.  I've worn my children, breast fed my children, scheduled play dates and chauffeured them around from activity to activity.  I've got a Mommy-type blog and Mommy friends and I've gone to Scentsy and Jamberry and Stella and Dot parties.  I own every style and and shape of Contigo bottle for every kind of hot and cold liquid.  My Starbucks order has at least 3 qualifiers (tall non-fat, no-foam latte with 1 raw sugar and cinnamon please.)  My kids have "lunch systems" instead of lunch boxes and I pretty much live in Yoga pants.

But I don't drink wine.

Oh don't get me wrong -- wine is good.  It's never been my favourite as I prefer beer or even a cooler but I have drank wine in the past.  I'm so/so with it which seems almost sacrilegious to today's Hipster Mommy.  But I don't drink it because it interferes with my meds.  Well that's what I tell most people and for most of the time that's true.  I also don't drink it because it's expensive and I'd rather spend the money on a Starbucks or mani-pedi.

So I don't drink wine.

Which means I don't really get the dozen memes about how wine is life that get posted to my news feed everyday.  And in some small silly way, it affects me.  Because I'm not in on the joke.  I don't have that sophisticated end of the day ritual or share in the get togethers where the giggles become more frequent and higher pitched as the night wears on.

I imagine it's what non-coffee drinkers must feel.  How when they get the "lets get together for coffee" invitation they must question whether it's really the same if they're drinking diet coke instead.  I can get that.  It's a little off-putting because drinking both coffee and wine seem to have become symbols of the modern day Mother.

So I guess this is my whine about wine because well.. I don't drink wine.

But sometimes I wish I did.

Monday, May 4, 2015

You're Not Alone

I've been struggling with how and even whether to write this post.  I've finally decided that it needs to be said and needs to be read and with so many of my friends getting ready to send their children to high school next year, it's imperative for me to get it out there even if it's uncomfortable and difficult.

Let me start by going back a few years.  After months of trying to get pregnant again for my second baby I was overjoyed when we finally conceived.  I desperately wanted my children to be two years apart and it had thrown me for a loop when I didn't conceive again right away the way I had with Sarah.  But still, we found out we were finally pregnant again and all seemed right in my world.

Until I lost the baby at 10 weeks.

Up until that point, miscarriage was something I had read about in What to Expect When You're Expecting as the worst case scenario but it had never seemed real to me.  I mean miscarriages were what happened to other people like house fires or tornadoes.  People *I* knew didn't have miscarriages.  In fact, I remember my mother telling me "don't worry, we don't miscarry in this family;" which of course made me feel like an even bigger failure when I did.

Only as it turns out, miscarriage is one of those weird elusive clubs that you don't really find out about until you're member.  All of a sudden women I'd known for years started telling me about their own losses - losses I'd never known about, never suspected.  Kind of like Fight Club -- you don't talk about it.  And that is so unfortunate because the one thing you really need to hear after losing a baby is that it wasn't your fault and there was nothing you could have done to prevent it.  Oh and that you're not alone.

So today I'm telling you that my daughter is in therapy for anxiety.

O.k. now you're saying WTF?  She starts off with a sad miscarriage story and now we're going off somewhere totally different... Yes and no.

You know like miscarriage, therapy is still taboo.  People don't tell you about it until they find out you're already part of the club and that makes it so much harder to ask for and go out and get help when you need it.

S suffered with severe anxiety for months without telling me until she finally couldn't handle it anymore and told me what was going on when it became unbearable.  I had no idea.  I know that makes me sound like a terrible parent and I've castigated myself over it many many times, but it's true.  If I'm 100% honest all I saw was that Sarah was having a hard time with the social aspect of school but her grades had gone way up so I was happy.  Little did I know that her grades were a result of an obsessive fear of failure that was keeping her up nights and causing her severe anxiety.

Now you should know that anxiety and depression in teens often starts with the transition to High School.  You should also know that these disorders are more prevalent in teenaged girls than boys and that they are far more common today then they were 20 years ago when the pressure of getting into a good University wasn't nearly so intense.  Even my poor C who is only in grade 5 is feeling the pressure to start thinking of post-secondary education from her peers which is ludicrous but there it is nonetheless.

Add to this that young kids go from a small school where they know everyone to a High School where there can be up to 10 times as many students as they are used to and it's no wonder that many of them feel overwhelmed.

But there is help.  There are guidance counselors and there are peer counselors and there are medical professionals that can step in and help ease the way for those students who need it.  And you might be surprised at how many do -- how maybe even your own child might be one them.

When I asked her why she didn't reach out to me sooner she told me that she was scared I'd think she was crazy and she didn't know what, if anything, I could do to help.  She didn't know that this was something many people went through and that there was help available to her.

Yesterday she told me, "you know once I started telling people I was getting help, all of sudden I'm hearing from so many other people that they're getting help too.  I think maybe everyone needs counseling at some time or other in their lives." I think she's right and I think too many of us wait too long to realize it.

My daughter is doing SO much better now.  As of next month we will be going from once a week sessions to once every other week sessions. This is amazing news to me and I'm so proud of the work that she has done.

So I'm writing this to let you know, if you need help, if your child needs help, if your spouse or your parents or your neighbour needs help... you are not alone and they are not alone.  Help is there.  Please reach out and get it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

I just can't do it all. And that's o.k.

I have decided that I am done trying to be Super Mom. 

I originally went back to work 3 years ago and worked 2 days a week.  I enjoyed working and I enjoyed staying home but eventually decided I was ready to go back to work full time mostly because the staying home part became tedious and I felt that we needed to be contributing more to our retirement savings and home improvement funds.

Originally the idea was that we would live off Gunther's salary as we had being doing since the girls were born and use half of my income for savings and half of my income for home improvement.  However, as you undoubtedly know, the best laid plans don't always work out the way you'd like.

We had some setbacks and for months after I started working full-time my salary was what paid for the food and mortgage.  Fortunately things have improved and we were able to set aside some money for RRSPs and get new windows so things are now looking up again.

Only I'm miserable.  I work all day and then come home to a house that's upside down and start cooking dinner at 6-6:30 on a good night.  By the time I've eaten I'm exhausted and only want to flake in front of the T.V.  So the house gets messier and I get more and more unhappy with my home.

We have asked the girls to pitch in more and Gunther has stepped up his game as well but to be honest, we're all tired at the end of the day, Sarah is getting slammed with homework at school and Chloe is too young to have too many chores (she has some don't worry -- just don't think it's fair for her to have more than Sarah just because she has less homework.)

So I have decided enough is enough.  Right now conditions are right that I can go back to working part-time.  We're not that busy at work, I work for my husband so he's o.k. with my taking the time off and our finances are holding up o.k. for now.  I don't know how long I can afford to do this, but for now, I'm going to only work 3 days a week and take Monday and Tuesday to deep clean/purge/organize my home. 

I know I am lucky to be able to do this and I am telling myself that it is not a failure to admit that I can't keep up with today's fast paced Uber Mom expectations.  I'm going to do what's right for me and right for my family at this moment in time.. and at this moment in time, my working part-time works best.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

When I say...

When I say that I have eaten well or gotten some exercise I want you to say "Way to Go! and "Good for you!"

I don't want you to tell me that I'm your inspiration because that just puts way more pressure on me than I can handle and makes me feel super bad about all the time I've been told I was an inspiration in the past only to put the weight back on or stop exercising or let my house turn back into a hazmat zone.

When I say that I'm having a hard time I want you to say "That sucks!" and "I hope you feel better soon."

I don't want you to tell me how much I have to be thankful for or how much worse other people have it.  I know these things.  That doesn't mean I don't have a right to have a bad day or be bummed about the struggles in my life which are perfectly valid all on their own.

When I say "I'm sick" I want you to say "feel better soon!" and "that totally bites!"

I don't want you to recommend that I try ColdFX or increase my consumption of kale or that I start downing tablespoons full of honey.  I get all the same spam you do.  I know about this stuff too.  Being sick still sucks.

When I say my husband is driving me nuts I want you to say "Relationships are hard" or "You two will work it out."

I don't want you to tell me how good I have it because your husband is so much worse than mine or that I have no idea how crappy it is to be single.  I'm not looking for a pissing competition.

When I say my kids have problems I want you to say "that must be so hard, hang in there" or "you're a good mom, it's not your fault."

I don't want you to tell me it's because I didn't breastfeed them or discipline them or give them enough independence.  I don't want you to give me diet tips and medication referrals or try to solve their problems when you don't even know them because while I know you're really really REALLY well intentioned, I just want to hear that I'm not the one who broke them. 

When I say my house is a mess I want you to say "it's hard to have a full time job and raise a family.  You have to pick your priorities and a clean house isn't really a big one" and "You can't be Super-Mom - don't beat yourself up about it."

I don't want you to tell me that I need to get my husband or my kids to help out more because frankly I'm tired and discouraged enough when I get home that the last thing I want to do is fight with everyone.  

When I tell you that I am grateful to have you as a friend, I want you to say "thanks, I love you too."

Because I mean it and so even when I say shit that you really don't want me to say, I need you to forgive me and know that I meant well.