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Beyond the Birds and the Bees

30 May

There’s a fabulous new site called ” Beyond the Birds and The Bees”-it’s talking about sexuality, and children, and how we as parents handle it.

If you’re like me, and worry about how to say things, or handle stuff, it’s a great place.

You can also submit your stories, as I have. Jump over here to read Cherries. (It’s not a happy story, so a trigger warning might apply)

“When you really trust someone, you have to be okay with not understanding some things.”

14 Mar

When she’s gone my mind begins to fill up with all the things that can happen, slowly like I’m filling a pitcher from a drowsy tap. Images fill with bruises and indignity, how well do I know this other mother? Where have they been all day? What might be happening-what could be happening, the things I know that DO happen.

It’s not paranoia, not really, despite being impossible to explain to other parents, women and men who didn’t spend their childhood in a currency usually left to adults. In my brain lies a summer I can never leave behind, and it colors everything. I’m not paranoid, knowing that the worst can happen.

Rationally, I know it likely won’t. But it could, it can and I worry for all those reasons, even if it’s buried in my brain somewhere and the other mother laughs when I call and says “Man, don’t WORRY! She’s great!” I can’t tuck her away in my back pocket and hope nothing ever happens. I have to let her free-but that freedom costs. It huddles in the corner and whispers to me about boyfriends, neighbours, people she might meet. It whispers that they could be holding her down right now, taking pictures, ignoring her crying, hurting her.

It whispers of all the horrible things that happened to me, and more. “Be the person your mother wasn’t!” my body shouts, “Make sure she never hurts!” but then she walks in the door, eyes lit with 5 year old joy and frosty air and I know my fears are relatively misplaced, and that people, most people are good people who wouldn’t help someone else abuse a child I know this and try to wear the callous off my heart.

Pregnant I foresaw this. I felt her tiny feet in my ribs and knew that, if a daughter, I would place the little girl I was over top of her-I would make a transparency of my childhood and hover around it, waiting for the chance to erase the potential of what could be. I would protect her from everything that tried to destroy me.

I can’t though, you know? I can’t protect her from the world anymore than I can get North Korea to stop being asshats. She is in the world, on her own terms and while I can still guide and try to shape that world, I cannot prevent the bad things as I could when she was just an infant. That lesson they warn us, as parents that will hurt the most, it hurts doubly, knowing exactly, in technicolor, what terrible things could happen to her.

I might not ever get past it, the tenseness in my chest when she’s not home when she was to be home, the quiet worry when she walks out the door, into the hands of another woman, the possibilities of caution, the frank terror some of this holds for me, trusting someone, not just with me, but with my child, with the creature that turned beneath my heart such a short time ago.

Letting go of this, my worst fear, my scared little girl trying to make sure the worst doesn’t happen to my daughters-it’s a struggle. And maybe I’ll never grow past it and will always freeze up with momentary agony, remembering, wondering.

But maybe not. Maybe she’ll just come home, smelling of smoke and hay and joy, as a kid should.

When the least they could do to you was everything, then the most they could do to you suddenly held no terror.

26 Feb

Most mornings, rain or shine, I walk Vivian the kilometre to her school, trudging with half shut eyes through ice and slush. Most of this isn’t just walking-it’s tugging, cajoling, threatening and bribing for speed. We walk so slowly that sometimes I swear we’re going backwards in time. You’d never know that she loves school.

Winter in a schoolyard is a magnificent thing. Snowbanks to climb, to slide down, to jump in and off. Snow, simple, intricate snow becomes so many places or things. After the last snowstorm, I smiled, thinking of all the joyous voices I’d hear, running and playing on those hills.

We walk onto the schoolyard, and all the kindergartners are restrained to one, sterile area, trapped even, pacing in many cases, the length of the “play area” they’re allowed. I walk past a group who have started sliding on their bottoms down a tiny, foot high snowbank. Immediately a “teacher” rushes over, and micromanages them to the point that it’s just not fun anymore, and they scatter.

I stand with my mouth open, confused and sad.

******************

While I don’t trust people necessarily, I firmly believe in independent children. I believe in bruises incurred falling down on the driveway, small cuts after wandering around in the woods, skinned knees after tipping over your bike. The possibility of danger, the thirst of fear. I believe children should have these simple things, and I don’t mean it in that old foggie, uphill both ways kinda way.

What do we lose when we take a person’s sense of adventure? When we remove the potential for harm, for consequence? What core part of our being is affected when we minimize the world down to things you can touch, and things you can’t? We’ve evolved chasing fricken mammoths after all.

I think back to the playground “equipment” we had when I was Vivian’s age. This rickety, rusty metal spinning merry go round type thing, some metal bars that ripped the skin from your hands, a yard. In the front of the school was this huge wooden climber, complete with a long, wide metal slide. It was likely 12-15 feet high.  I remember vividly the time a classmate jumped off the top, completely missed the snowbank, and shattered his elbow. No one ever did something that dumb again.

Some kid got his tongue stuck to the fence one cold morning, the little brother of a friend. The blood mark stayed forever it seemed, and in my head, I can see, exactly where this happened. I rode a bike into a moving car once, skidded under a parked one another, tearing up one side of my body impressively.

Sure, these are stupid acts, the acts of children. But they’re more than that.

They are lessons. Mistakes let us determine the right path, on our own, or damn close. Watching Jeremy screaming and crying as hot water and blood poured down his front, we all learned in a much more lasting way, why you never EVER stick your tongue to anything metal, no matter what anyone says. Healing from road rash, I learned to pay attention to whether the bike has pedal brakes or hand brakes BEFORE trying to make the corner that fast. I also learned to better anticipate events, plan a little better (snort. that lasted) PAY ATTENTION!!! as my mother was always yelling.

The point is that I began to come to my own conclusions, learn my own lessons, and actually take them with me. As opposed to every time an adult told me something. I was one of those kids, who just HAD to do whatever she was told was bad.

Yes, I’ve stuck my fingers in a light socket. Literally. It’s not that bad to be honest.

I never wanted to listen, and take some one’s word for it. I needed to prove it. And then learn the lesson that in some things, my father wasn’t lying.

The problem with the cocoon, and managing every single second of a child’s life, telling them how and where to play, what’s safe, what they can eat, what they can wear, is that you might turn around in 15 years and have an adult living in your basement who is COMPLETELY incapable of anything resembling acting like a mature human. Because you’ve done all the acting for them. They might not have the courage to fly the coop because they’ve never truly spread their wings.

We complain that kids are far too wrapped up in themselves and their things-what else do they have if we’ve taken exhilaration from them? They have what, new cell phones and fucking left? If you take the thrill from life, what’s left to it? If you destroy the chance to hurtle down a snowy hill on a rickety piece of wood doing close to 10kms an hour, if you keep your children from feeling the snow in their face, the sun on their neck as they laugh as much from fear as from joy, are they even still human? What are they? Who are we raising then?

We truly have so little to fear now, that we create boogeyman. I know people who see the world outside as riddled with scary men in the bushes, who can’t imagine leaving their children where they might get a bruise or stumble a little. We cover everything with helmets and protective gear, leaving me thinking wistfully of long bike rides on Sunday afternoons, the silky August wind in my hair, bathed in the sun as the world felt so open and fantastic.

What will freedom be for our children?

*************************

I pick Viv up, the sun warming the snow, melt water trickling down the roads. She sprints immediately for the giant snow hills, those which are verboten during the day and taunt her. Her friends join her. I stand with their mother and watch as they slide, with absolutely no regard for their safety, down the hill, bouncing and jolting, avoiding pointy parts the next time.

“They’re still bendy at this age” I laugh with their mother, and she nods, and we just watch, the joyous cries of youth filling the air between us, around us.

That laughter sounds long into the night in my ears.

Oh, darling, let your body in, let it tie you in, in comfort.

16 Feb

 Diane E. Levin and Jean Kilbourne’s So Sexy So Soon seeks to address this very type of childhood experience: a complete lack of awareness about sex and reproduction coupled with a media-fed understanding of sexiness – that is, as one young girl in the book explains, getting boys to chase you and try to kiss you – that revolves around emulating TV characters and buying as many products as possible.

There’s a great book review of So Sexy So Soon at Feministe-please, go read.

But it got me to thinking.

How much time can we, as parents and mothers, spend blaming the media, the western world, capitalism, Walmart, etc, before we also realize the true impact we have on our daughters?

I firmly believe in openness, to the point of irritation I imagine. Vivian telling me that “that place” feels good when she touches it-that filled me with pride. Pride that she was able to say this to me with no fear or pretense, and that she took such obvious joy in herself. Pride that I’m starting to create a woman who isn’t afraid of herself, knows where all the proper things are, and just exists in this manner.

Because I disagree that this is fully the fault of what Mattel is selling this season, or that sitcoms have taken things too far. I disagree that it’s those damn music videos, or those stars that kids want to emulate. Not fully.

Cues are taken from parents.

How many of us were raised in a don’t ask, don’t tell sort of environment, where the most sex education you received was 2 weeks in Grade 5, and maybe a book left covertly on a counter top by your mother? How many women can’t bring themselves to call a vulva a vulva, or even know that their vagina is only on the inside? How many women can’t bring themselves to orgasm, or help their partner to do so? How many women blush at the thought of talking about all of this? How many of us learned, early on from our parents, that our hands can be dirtied so easily?

When I was Vivian’s age, I liked to rock on a specific doll-I remember, it was a pink stuffy with one of those plastic kewpie doll faces on it. It made me feel good-happy, in touch with myself, like a sun rising, so I wanted to tell my mother. I showed her.

She didn’t hit me. Instead, she looked completely horrified, and I never saw that doll again. Standing in the hallway, my mother stared at me, and held her hand out. I handed it over, cried, and stumbled back to my room, confused.

Later, a few years perhaps, when my neighbour molested me, I remember feeling like I had no control over my body, that it never belonged to me, and I should submit. I could never tell my mother-it would be my fault. I would be punished, and would still not know what was mine in terms of my body. For years I dreamed of being abused by conveyor lines of robots, people. Just my lying there, at the whim of others.

It was my mother’s responsibility to teach my about my body, about myself. It was her responsibility to teach me that there is no shame in acknowledging my humanity in this way, in embracing my sexuality, even at that young of an age.

Make no mistake-we are sexual creatures the day we are born. Which is why as parents we need to step it up right off the bat, in the most normal way, as if explaining how to make bread or why you have an elbow. Blaming media and society for one’s child wanting to dress like a Bratz doll or a 13 year old knocking up a girl-it’s a cop out. It’s easy to say “The school never taught it!” or that “Miley Cyrus made her dress that way!” and turn the other way.

Much more difficult to raise your children with appropriate sexual values and mores, to have those conversations that at times, are less than easy.

Being sexual is part of who we are-and it always has been. We now treat even into mid-twenties like teenagers, so why is it so strange that a seven year old starts to act as they might? Why is starting the mating dance at 12 so odd? What if, biologically, that’s where the drive can start for some. I began menstruating about then-if I can bear children, if I am considered a woman, physically, why can’t society, or parents be bothered to?

I may not necessarily agree with a pre-teen acting out in any way sexually-but I’m raising my daughters with the knowledge to make responsible choices, when appropriate. Will I always win? No, not with two daughters. But I refuse to use the cop-out that the world around me has more bearing on how my daughters come to their womanhood than I do.

It took me years to come to grips with my sexuality, having children being the last nail in that particular coffin. I don’t want that for them. Our bodies are wonderful, beautiful things, and by telling our daughters on what’s bad, and horrible and not allowed because they’re too young/not ready/just can’t only serves to increase the need and make it more attractive.

Refusing to speak to your children out of embarrassment, or fear-to me, that’s worse than all the Bratz dolls and belly tops. Because our parents are our guides, for good or ill. And we do ourselves a grave disservice by leaving our daughters out to dry.

Carry Me

25 Sep

Did she hold me now? Three hours ago? 12? Did they leave me in her room, snuffling, comatose little child beside her as colostrum poured from her breasts? Did she look out the window, perhaps at the rain, as they wheeled me away from her 17 year old unfinished hands, clutching at her elbows as she suddenly felt emptier than ever? Was I alone, screaming in a room, my echoes covered by those of a multitude of other lives I’d never touch again, their mothers waiting in their rooms, warmed by the slow engorging of their breasts, the blissed tiredness of their labours?

Did I know she had left me? Did my small trembling fists know what had happened, that she had signed a paper releasing me from her, just another cord to slice through? Did I feel the gulf then, as I do now, wavering and shimmering, a golden forest of time, of pressure, of regret between us.

Does she think of me today, now? Does she drink the beer she drank for years, not knowing, or is she at peace, knowing I survived, knowing that I have grown strong and tall, if not a little knicked and torn in place?

Did she love me, ever?

**************************************

Do you love your mother
The way I love mine
Expecting nothing of her
’cause she was changing all the time
I couldn’t take my mother
And I’ll never hate my home
But I learned to rock myself child
And get on

Do you feel your mother
The way I feel mine
I tried to change the nature
But now I like it ’cause it’s mine
And I let you love me up
And I let you bring me home
And I could go away
But I don’t wanna

I don’t wanna be too smart
I don’t wanna talk too fast
I don’t wanna look too precious
First impressions never last
There’s always complications
Weird vibrations
Frustrations
Have patience

Do you love your mother
’cause God I love mine
In a dream she let me love her
Gotta hand it to my mind
In case you never meet her
I’ll tell you what it is
She was lonely like a woman
But she was just a kid

Oh mama
What are ya doin’
Yeah yeah yeah
Ooohhh
Shit
Carry me

**************************

Today I turned 31 at around 2:15am. And it hit me, mid afternoon, that I’ve never known when my mother said good-bye to me, when the finality of all she had done and decided had hit, when she last touched me, held my fingers. I’ve never known, and when I met my biological mother, I was too young to think of these things, to young to understand the heartbreak of saying goodbye to your first born.

All my life, I have felt lonely on my birthday. I have always craved as much fuss and bother as I could get, and rarely, if ever, have had it. I figured this had much more to do with losing my adoptive mother than with being adopted. But what if? What if a body retains that initial abandonment, what if it remembers that hand leaving, tears trailing, months of unwillingness swirling in the womb. What if the body remembers what the brain dare not?

I don’t much like my biological mother. Or much of my biological family for that matter. Blood isn’t thicker than water in my case. But when I met her, I wanted, more than anything, to find a mother, my mother. I wanted to be embraced, welcomed. I wasn’t, not as I needed, and perhaps finding her at 18 wasn’t the best of ideas, but there was something poetic about meeting her around the age of when she lost me. I couldn’t grasp the enormity of it-bearing life at that age!

I’m sure it hardened her. She told me that for years, she would get stinking drunk on my birthday, wondering where I was, how I was, and that the year she found me, that was the first time she didn’t have to drink herself to sleep, wondering. Turns out I was 40 minutes down the road after all, blissfully ignorant in the arms of two parents who loved me more than I could wish. But she never told me how it all felt, how long her labour was, how scared she had been, if she saw me, or if they took me before she could.

My narrative is incomplete. I feel the echoes of that part of my life, my beginning on every birthday. It no longer hurts, I don’t know if it ever did. But it was a space yearning to be filled, a place that will likely never know fullness. A place to honor what she gave, the arms she left barren, the people who she gave such joy to.

Happy Birth Day to you Mother. I hope your womb has healed.

More than the sum of her womb.

28 Jul

You know what I’m sick of.

I’m sick of this shit.

Bitch, where’s your kids? Here’s Britney Spears hard at work on a plan to get custody of her kids back

. Her plan so far involves some pool lounging and flirting with anonymous dudes.

But we know Britney. We can see the gears sparking and grinding in her head. It smells like beef jerky. That’s how you know Britney’s plotting something.

 

Yes, Britney surrendered custody of her children to their father. Yes, she’s had various problems in the last little while. We know.

What drives me nuts each time I open my feed reader are posts that basically stand back and point a “HOLY SHIT DUDES! HORRIBLE MOTHER AHEAD!!!!!” finger at her, which numerous male stars walk out on their children, likely every day. And it’s everywhere-how dare someone with a working womb and vagina give up her kids, maybe to get better, or maybe because, like men all over the world, she can’t handle having them all the time.

This constant assumption of the sainted perfect mother who can’t be separated from her kids-this drives post partum depression, this drives women who work 60 hour work weeks and yet still make the cookies for playschool. It drives women not being able to make the reasonable decisions regarding their children because only bad monster mommies leave their kids. Only evil mommies dare act like men. How on earth could the womb that bore them walk away so easily?

To which I ask, how on each can the ejaculator who created them walk away so easily?

It’s so pervasive, so easy to think “Geez, what a cooze, leaving her kids and going sunbathing.” It’s so easy to judge, so easy to believe she’s a bad mother for leaving instead of a good mother for removing herself in order to get better for them. I could be wrong. She could be a brainless idiot who created a mental illness to rid herself of two children she didn’t want.

Somehow I doubt it.

It’s easy though isn’t it, to point at a woman in a way that we wouldn’t dream of pointing at a man-how many have children in or out of relationships, and all they’ve done is throw money at them? I’m sure you’re all counting right now.

What I expel from my uterus does not make me sacred, or special, or holier. It makes me a mother, as it makes the father a father. He is not blessed with special properties-hell, if he takes custody, he’s some sort of sacrificial cow, gazed at adoringly as a perfect piece of man. The woman-not so lucky, as she is selfish enough to not want her pwecious bebes. 

I don’t want my daughters to grow up in this world-in a world where every tabloid sings the lusty sins, perceived or real, of 15 year old girls, where your gender casts you out in specific ways, where the “good kid” doesn’t always win. I want a world with real freedom for women, not viral campaigns against something written on shitty underwear at K-Mart or pissing matches on the internet.

I want us ALL to have the freedom to walk away if need be. Just like our men do.

1984, the years you stole.

26 Jun

stopped in the store, glaring white light

she cries “Mommy! Cherries!” and a moment a skip

I find myself swallowing bile and vomit and 20 plus years of

squeamish denial.

 

One hand in, one round fruit out. A perfect stem

stretches towards me. “This one is perfect!” she blurts.

I turn my head so the clenching will go unnoticed.

 

Inside, in the distance, an unfurling, unravelling.

 

I place the fruit singly in the bag, each contact

weighted down, a jolt, a bridge.

That day, any of those days that summer, somewhere

around 1984 and I had that red bathing suit with the

racer back and yellow straps, and sun shone a

chemical burn between those rotten apple trees.

 

Those days, pocketed in my hand the smell of him, the

taste of him his wetness and his burden on my face his fruit

passed between us.

 

Unravel.

 

They ask for them, the one fruit denied the thing

I couldn’t bear to look at, to listen about “Wow-look at these cherries” the

hurried wives and businesswomen would say “so lovely” under the 2.99/lb signs

while I

did my level best not to collapse and teeter around them,

my mouth turned to stem.

 

Thumbs bore inside as the kitchen light

shines off their edges, as the light of my daughters lies stark 

across them and I’m covered in it, the stain of them

bloody across my hands and fingertips those same

fingertips which opened that door and opened that drawer

filled to flowing with those bloody lush fruits.

Filled to flowing with that one particular torment. Filled to flowing with

his tongue down my mouth and cherries floating past, excuses.

 

Unraveled…

my door holds the remnants

holds the last story, moldering inside clear.

 

They will not be eaten.

“Let us stifle under mud at the pond’s edge and affirm that it is fitting and delicious to lose everything. “

29 May

I’m sitting in the waiting room to do my stress test, staring at an older woman, and a younger man. He’s going on and on to her about his stroke-how it felt, what happened, matter of fact like, as if telling a fable he’s told a hundred times before.

She’s desperate for it, for his pain and suffering. She’s desperate for an opening, a chance to say “Me too, but”. You can smell it. I smelled it when I walked into the unit, all full up of the infirm, and sometimes the not so infirm, people waiting to be told if they’re dying, if their breaths are all used up, if they are not so solid, not so balanced on terra firma.

They watch the young people when we enter. I feel eyes on me, misty eyes with more memories than time I’ve used up. I don’t belong. I’ve entered their space, their world. Weekly check up’s maybe, casual familiarity with nurses.

The youngish man leaves to do his testing, handsome in a mature way, but scared, settled by scared. The woman sets her sights more firmly on me, and I make the mistake of mentioning a sudden wave of nausea a few days past, similar to what he described. The clammy skin-she reminds me-you have clammy skin when this happens.

I smile and nod, absently, but she launches into what sounds like a practiced speech about losing her sister last year. Funny thing was, as she spoke, I realized she was speaking of someone I worked with, sorta, someone who worked for our company, who had a sudden heart attack while working from home. I casually said I’d love to go like that, quick, simply, no mess.

Oh how old ladies can glare.

I mentioned that I new here sister’s daughter in law, and her babies, and how lucky she was to be there when they were born.

“But she doesn’t get to see them grow up. She doesn’t get any of it.”

For one hot blinding second, I wanted to stand up and scream at this woman, wrapped up in bitterness and all the wrong kinds of anger and screech that my mother never got to even meet mine, that she wasn’t lucky enough to be given that time. My mother didn’t know it might happen, didn’t have something wrong with her heart from day one. She was snatched. She didn’t have a chance to be an old bitter lady in a hospital.

That of course passed, and I moved on to reminding myself that relativity is looking into what you despise and forgiving yourself for hating it. Something in this woman ached endlessly, rattled her bones and held her trapped in her little world. She was waiting for death it seemed, eyes at once shrewish and hopeless. She was transparent, in my memory she’s like the skin of a snake, discarded and hanging from a tree.

Finishing my test, with the usual “nothing wrong here-you’re fat, that’s why you can’t breathe” lecture to bid me farewell, I walked again through the lobby, through the 70 and 80 and 90 year olds who followed me out with their eyes. I had an urge to run back and ask them to tell me one magical thing about their lives, one thing I should do, one thing they could have never lived without, one regret. I wanted to ask them to bless me with the knowledge of their years, so they could remember they’re adults and not the children the medical staff treat them like. I wanted them to remember when their hearts beat strong and they were more than cast offs in the wind. I wanted the color to flow back into their eyes and their skin.

But I was late for work, and besides, the TV was on.

 

(Title taken from Affirmation by Donald Hall)

Living Color

22 May

In my head, they all merge into one woman. Graceful, creative, caring-they are everywoman-or perhaps the idealization of her. They speak with one soft lyrical voice, laugh with wisdom and ache with sadness.

I rapidly page through all of them, pausing to evaluate, lips twisted in thought.

The girl I wanted to hate, before, whose beauty and talent far surpass my own, who seemed to have it all, but more than I could dream, simple loves, quiet content and adventure. Then came the rabbit hole, and then this past weekend, when she became real to me, flesh and feeling and raw seething. She glowed though, even if she thought she didn’t, with an expectation, a knowing even she might just be ignorant of. Something burbles for her. I see her in green, for growth.

Someone else, the age my mother was at death, exactly, but different, easing only lately into motherhood, far enough removed from my past, but maybe not quite enough. Sharp edges and primary colors-simplicity of thought and singlemindedness-the solid stance of someone who knows exactly who she is. I see her in red, and smile.

In an obnoxiously upholstered arm chair sits yet another woman, angles corrected and purposefully maintained. A place for everything and everything in it’s place, well researched, well spoken. A laugh that fills the house and your heart-a woman you’ve known time and time again, and trust, implicitly,without question. You’re at ease with her. Perhaps you are her. Jests are easily found, yet seldom meant. Her eyes dance. She’s striped in reds and yellows, the duskier versions, the muted, vastly more interesting ones.

Another, I recognize before meeting as a soul I’ve known before, an immediate kinship, an exhaled breath saying “oh thank the lord you’re here.” We don’t recall this feeling, or why it stretches between us, but we don’t mistake it for anything other than friendship. She has an easy laugh and silky voice you could listen for until slumber, a simple motherhood I envy, finger permanently crooked in a tiny baby mouth. She’s coated in purple, tangy grape purples.

More pattern, more riots of color sits a woman I hardly know, a woman bearing more substance than I. A grey, the grey of possibility and clearing. A pause.

Red hair, the color of melon and sweet flesh, a color that brings my memory back many years to a boy who fascinated, and I find myself feeling yet again enthralled with a voice and an eye that sees what many do not, a life that calls foul on my excuses of no time, no chance to do the things I feel prone to do. She lives-she really lives, the joy of her son flowing clear through her and onto all of us. She’s no single color, no steady influence but a jumble, a rainbow, a can of paint half stirred. In my mind, her head is thrown back, crowing, Peter Pan….

Delicate neck, delicate wrists and scarves and all those things this 15 year old drama student strived for but didn’t have the bone structure for. Delicate like spider web though-deceiving and free, awaiting. She is bigger than herself, bigger than the room-her smile so simple and yet like a lighthouse, a beacon we crave. Not her approval-her happiness. She is earthy brown, green, the moss beneath our feet balancing us and cradling our heads. Her sorrows countered by living. I see her long brown hair, and grin.

One last, one quiet, one ponderous and questioning, watching. I clawed myself back and waited, unsure, curious, yet not. Then she opened, and I felt myself smile quietly at finding a truly interesting person, finding someone I wanted to ask questions of, someone who seemed new and eternal all at once. She was blacks and greys for me, but in the simplest and best of ways. A sharp laugh, a sharp wit, all edges but not painful.

In many ways, we’ve all suffered our losses, then, or now. Yet when coming together, the loudest sounds heard were laughter, the laughter of being understood, the laughter of being together, of having nothing to prove and no where to be. Even the soft sad moments have their value, memories and actions borne aloft and aloud for the first time ever or the first time in 20 years. There is healing to acknowledgement. There is healing to a circle of women, even if they hover on the dessert tray.

I am not known as someone who usually finds much value in the company of other women. But last weekend, I felt so much at home that it scared me more than the likely haunted bathroom in my room. It felt real-it felt like I was doing something real for the first time in years.

Wandering through shops full of incredible soul swelling pieces of art that spoke on that other level, that ethereal level-I felt peaceful and anxious and happy all at one time. I felt peace. I didn’t feel crazy or mannish or fat or annoying. I felt normal.

And what a gift that is.

I saw all of you in colors ladies, as part of an ever changing rainbow of life and personality, each as valid and pointed as the last. Even if I couldn’t keep my mouth shut half the time, and kept saying stupid shit, I felt enveloped and cared for in a way I haven’t felt in many years.

And I thank you.

 

4 Pink Pills

24 Apr

 

Pretend for a minute that I’m holding 4 pills in my palm, 4 pale pink capsules containing the salt Li, 4 pale pink solutions to a problem that has plagued me for a long time.

I was scared to death of this drug, this innocuous looking pill, this wonder of our world, it’s inexplicable reason for ending the terror of bipolar in some people, in many people. I ran from it faster than I run from most.

It’s hard to look back at the me before this pretty pink friend. As Mogo and I talked, and he spoke of the relief of not worrying, day after day about me, and the freedom of not trying to hold down a swinging pendulum, I started thinking about my brain without this drug, this salty dog. The difference, I remarked, is like one day sitting in a screaming concert full of a million fans, all yelling at once while you try and do needlework, and the next day, being in a quiet, white room with only the sound of your breathing for company.

It’s that different. It’s that much Calgon take me away relief.

*************************************

When I was 17 or so, I returned to my original high school, a small catholic school in eastern Ontario. I had moved back in with my father as I understood something in a rare moment of clarity during a year of what I can only describe as highly manic behaviour. I knew that I had a choice-I could go down the road to nowhere, or I could try and claw back into a normal life. I chose my father, and normal.

I made friends with a boy, we’ll call him Marc. At first, everything was fine. We had fun, we joked around, he was fun and interesting to be around. He read a lot, and much of it was similar stuff. We had the same friends. We drove around, hung out, did drugs, had your normal teenage experience.

Marc and I developed a weird relationship-as far as I knew, and he told me, he was bisexual, but leaning at the time more towards guys. Typical teenage stuff right? Trying to place you identity. To an outsider, we seemed to have a “couple” vibe-people remarked that to me at the time, and each time I denied it. I had no real desire for the guy. Just a strong, almost loving friendship. We were close.

Marc was also bipolar.

I remember going with him to appointments at the mental hospital (and there was one where I went to school-I remember some guy escaping with an axe once-that wasn’t cool. I think it’s closed now) and him telling me about how useless his doctor was, and how he could get any drug he wanted but none of them helped. He even showed me the lithium, the lithium he hated from that first day he put it into his mouth.

Not understanding the disorder at the time, and likely wanting to distance myself from it since I had a vague understanding of what was and was not happening in my brain, I didn’t understand what was happening with Marc. He went one day from being happy and fun to the next day being sadistic and mean. He’d delight in saying horrible mean things to everyone around him, just to watch what happened. He’d shut you out, then let you back in again if you showed your devotion.

And we just lapped it up. It seems strange now, in hindsight, the pull this guy had. He was nothing to look at, but there was something about him I can’t even explain. Something compelling.

I found it strange, but was so locked in that what was happening didn’t even seem like a form of emotional abuse. It just seemed…normal. Not strange.

He’d rail at me about his pills, how they were making him crazy, how they weren’t happy and how he stopped taking them a few weeks after he started. He was enraged, and I tried to comfort him, tried to hold him, make him feel better.

That’s when he slapped me clear across the face.

I had never been hit like that in my life. I’ve been punched, but within context, or hit accidentally, but never, in a moment when I wasn’t defending myself, have I been hit like that.

I can still remember it. I can still remember just staring at him from the floor, and bracing myself for me. I can still feel the hated passivity that rose in my, the inability to fight against him. I felt helpless before him, and I couldn’t even figure out why.

If I didn’t move for a moment, if I didn’t speak, I figured it would blow over. I couldn’t stop the tears though.

He snapped out of it, and I watched the hate pour off his face as he bent to help me up, apologizing and apologizing. Never again he repeated Never again.

I told him to take his pills. He said it was the pills that made him like that.

What did I know?

Of course, things weren’t the same after that. I was scared of him, plain and simple. There was a glint in his eye I couldn’t place or understand. I was bigger than him, likely stronger than him, but I feared him. I feared him because I couldn’t anticipate him. I watched his rage burn through him for no reason at all, and lash out at me. I could never let my guard down.

Our phone calls went from being fun gentle calls to ones berating me. If I was having a bad day, zero support. I’d feel worse after speaking with him, yet compelled to call him. I felt suffocated, my chest constricted. I felt trapped, and scared and I couldn’t talk about it to anyone. No one would get it.

Yet finally, someone did. A new friend came into my life, observed what was happening, and told me flat out it was basically abuse, and it didn’t matter what was wrong with him, what pills he was taking for what or how they were affecting him. He was toxic.

With her behind me, I screwed up the courage to rid my life of him. I can still feel the anxiety in my gut when I called him from her house at the expected time and purged him from my life. The circles my stomach was making. The fear and the near relief, all at once.

And with that, he was gone.

*****************************************

I feared Lithium since then. I feared that I would become the monster he was becoming, the terror. I couldn’t separate the bipolar from the drug, I didn’t understand that his imbalance had nothing to do with Lithium itself. It was him, the manic swings, the rage he couldn’t control. I know that rage now, I’ve felt it’s embrace, and it’s coldly attractive. But ultimately destructive. If not for the Lithium, I would be him, the him that was, the creatures we call evil.

I live the aftermath that is unchecked bipolar. I never got to the point where I was a true threat to anyone other than myself. But I felt that capacity in myself, the roaring, empty void, the spastic need to lash. I began to understand Marc. Not forgive-I will never forgive him for the lesson in trust he gave me. But I understand now why I take my little pink pills every day without fail.

I see those reasons in the faces of the people I love, everyday. I struggle for those faces some days, knowing I swallow those drugs as much for them as for me. Maybe Marc never saw those reasons, maybe he didn’t truly have them. Maybe his parents left him alone in the basement far too often.

I’ll never know. My fear and anger still lives for him-I couldn’t bear to accept him on Facebook, and even the friend request sent pangs of pain through my chest. He likely doesn’t even know what he did, or remember.

If only I hadn’t feared so badly.

” A reform is a correction of abuses; a revolution is a transfer of power.”

12 Apr

When I was 7 or 8, I was molested by my neighbour, a near quadriplegic, and his helper. This went on, as I remember it, for the duration of a summer, maybe longer, until I finally refused to go over there ever again.

The details of the abuse are unimportant-they are listed in various other places on this site, and are not much different from the stories many women carry.

What’s important to me today is explaining what the life left looked like. It’s National Sexual Abuse Awareness Month, and I want to tell this part of my story. It always feels like a dream, like a story I made up. But the consequences of that summer have lingered.

For a very long time, I wouldn’t admit to myself what had happened. I knew what did. The images would replay in my head at night, or at other times when I should have been innocently discovering my body on my own. I’d have dreams about being abused by factory lines of robots, my body privy to anything, tied down and unable to move. Dreams that my body did not belong to me.

My body became a foreign organism, something I didn’t understand, something that didn’t work.

I told no one. He never told me not to, or rather, I don’t remember hearing those very words, but the implication was there. I had done something bad. No one would believe me. My parents had enough going on.

He lived right next door, his helped across the street. In truth, I think I was frightened of what could happen if I did tell.

So I told no one, and grew into a woman’s body too fast, and was lost within it.

In a way, I’m happy that I was unattractive, strange looking and just fucked up at 13 or 14. I didn’t have a chance to make those mistakes that girls usually make. The opportunity just wasn’t there. Unless you count the 19 year old I dated at 14, who was (obviously) after only one thing.

I finally admitted, out loud to someone that I had been abused when I was 16. A relative stranger. We were walking to the liquor store or some one’s house from a party, and she started talking about her own abuse. At first I whispered. She stopped and waited for me to finish speaking, asked me to speak louder.

I said I had never told a soul, except her now. She told me it would get better.

In a way, she was right. Once I was able to get the words out, the admit to someone my harsh dirty secret, it didn’t feel so bad. It didn’t feel like a rotten dream I was trying to put to bed. It felt real. It still felt fucking horrible, but it existed in someone else’s life now. My hatred for cherries, my discomfort around the disabled, it was real, and not just something frivolous on my part. She made it real. Breaking my silence made it real.

It didn’t make being touched any easier. I still dislike having anyone touch me, some days even my own husband. The right sequence of events can trigger a massive panic attack, except I can’t run away because my body never learned how, instead willing to lie there and accept what’s coming. When threatened, my body lays down to die instead of fighting. I wonder how much of my proclivities in terms of submission are truly mine, and how much is a product of being abused by two much older men.

This isn’t an easy post to write. I’m sitting here, my chest tightening, wanting to stop. But I won’t. I have never truly dealt with being abused. I have tried to, and have had nearly ever therapist or shrink blow me off since “it doesn’t seem that bad”. Becoming nauseous sometimes when touched-isn’t that “that bad”? Being unable many days to even kiss my husband, isn’t that “that bad”? Feeling like I should just suck it up, it wasn’t that bad, is that “that bad?”

It was a long time ago. The one bastard who did this to me, the cripple, he is long dead, and I sang a fervent joyous song in my heart when my father invited me to the funeral. The other still lives across from my father, helps him occasionally. The thought of that man seeing my small naked body as he talks to my father sickens me, and I hope that he sees those images as regret. I rather doubt it.

It’s one of the reasons I’ve been “home” once in 7 years. I can’t bear it. I can’t bear to see that man, I can’t bear to see that house, that yard, that place. That place where a chunk of my innocence was lost, was buried. The place that stole my love for cockleshells and cherries and birds.

I am still mad as hell, and would love to burn that place to the ground. I’m madder now knowing, looking at my daughters and understanding exactly what I lost. But I am freed somewhat from the shackles of that sick old man by using my voice, and refusing the silence he smothered me with.

“The timing of death, like the ending of a story, gives a changed meaning to what preceded it.”

1 Apr

 This year, this April marks 19 years without my mother. With her, but not with her.

The dead never really die you see. They hang around us, clammy on our skin, infesting our hearts and minds and memories. Every step I take, every word I breathe-they are formed and guided by her.

I have been on this earth longer than I knew her. I cannot remember her voice, or her touch. I mourn and desire a ghost. I mourn a woman who knew me not, who I hid the more painful moments of my childhood from. I mourn a woman who sent me into hell.

And I miss her. I ache for her so. In that primal way, that most sacred need-the arms and the voice of a mother. I’ve dreamt of her-arms wrapped around me as I moaned and whimpered, in a delivery room, her hands guiding and helping, the red emergency lights blinking their obvious terror at the wrongness of it all. I ache for the woman I should be, I could have been, had she not left, had the cancer not ravaged her body so, stealing her breasts, her movement, her life.

It’s not a dagger point any longer this pain. It doesn’t twist inside me, it doesn’t shake the barley in the fields. It merely twitches now and then-a glance from my daughters, a moment that feels so familiar that my eyes well up for no reason. This pain gently strokes my heart, a reminder of the shrieking horror I’ve come through, the maelstrom I survived.

Of course, it could have been worse. I knew that then. The girl I knew who lost both of her parents within a year-that was worse. The kids raped, not just molested. That was worse. The blank eyes of the children who had two parents who just didn’t get them, didn’t love them. The daughter of divorced parents, who had a mother who broke her heart every 6 months.

Much, much worse.

 My mother loved me. My mother waited for me, took my into her arms and raised me as she could. My mother did not want to leave us, my father forcing the doctor to tell her the horrible terrible news that it was no use, and she could let go and die. My mother was not a lay down and die kind of woman, and I’d like to think that those instructions are what killed her, not a desire to leave me.

But isn’t that the wish of every bereaved child, parent, lover. That their love would be enough to sustain their dying? That we be ripe juicy fruit, plums, peaches, mangoes, waters dripping into dry mouths. That we could give them strength.

There are many things I resent my mother for, many things I am still angry. Her leaving. Being unable to tell her when her favorite neighbour was doing horrible things to her daughter. Never feeling good enough for her, girly enough, perfect, careful enough.

But I loved her. And I still do. And I miss her terribly every single day-no matter how old I get, I wish her for strength and grace near me, I wish for her courage.

I wish for her.

 

Stop Toying with Mothers-SUPPORT the Mother’s Act

29 Feb

Now, I’m not even American, and this is making me hot. As in PISSED OFF.

Some of you might remember the Mother’s Act-back in October there was a blog about day for support. Many of us who have suffered under PPD or PPP supported it.

One day I visit a favorite site of mine. (Well it WAS a favorite. This got it removed from my feeds I was so bloody pissed off) There’s a rambling article about how the Mother’s Act is nothing more than a way to push drugs.

I blinked. I went back to read the bill again. The only reference I could find was under “Findings:

Postpartum depression is a treatable disorder if promptly diagnosed by a trained provider and attended to with a personalized regimen of care including social support, therapy, medication, and when necessary hospitalization.

That’s it. That’s the terrifying “big brother”-oh noes! Someone wants to help women!

Seeing someone equate talking to women about PPD before hand to convincing her she had it really REALLY pissed me off. Reading these stories of women on these crazy mixes of drugs for what seem to be other psychiatric conditions that were incorrectly treated-that’s the fucking POINT of this bill. To HELP.

What in the FUCK is wrong with mothers (and fathers) today. EVERYTHING has some sort of agenda-things aren’t “natural” enough for them. You know what’s natural? Mother’s killing their children because they can’t parent them effectively. Natural is leaving a baby out to die of exposure. Natural is mother’s beating their children from frustration, or working them all hours of the day.

NATURAL IS NOT BETTER. Belladonna is natural. Want some?

I am irate with these people. Talk to me about militant stances on breastfeeding, baby wearing, co sleeping-I will absolutely support you. Start screwing with the first REAL movement towards doing something about postpartum depression, and my claws come out. The absolute IGNORANCE of these people astounds me. The selective tunnel vision amuses me. The odds that any of them have ACTUALLY read the bill…well, that just makes me giggle.

But it makes me want to cry as well.

Even the fucking Wikipedia page has been contaminated by this stupidity.

The most important thing I can remind you of are the women who killed their children because of PPD/PPP. The women who didn’t make it. The lives destroyed, lost forever, the women abandoned. The women we currently can’t help, regardless of what’s wrong. The children who were innocent in all of this.

Andrea Yates

Mine Ener

Dr. Debora Green

Dena Schlosser

Dr. Suzanne Killinger Johnson (This was at my usual subway stop. My mind went wild wondering “Was it here? Here?”)

Leatrice Brewer

Gilberta Estrada

and many more. There are so many of us. So many chances to get it right, to help, to prevent such horror that we close our eyes and refuse to read. To hear people, to see people trying to fight against something meant to do good sickens me. Is only they’d spend the same energy fighting the men and women who torture their children, fighting the system that leaves the poor hungry and without mental or physical health care.

If only they cared enough to truly make a difference, instead of making sound bites.

If only.

“Nay, do not grieve tho’ life be full of sadness, dawn will not veil her splendor for your grief”

2 Feb

We’re eating breakfast when the news comes on the radio-two little girls to be buried today, after freezing to death one night, because of, or in spite of their father.

I cling to Vivian for a moment, longer than she likes, but still, I press her slight body against mine, feel it’s warmth, it’s passion and strength and wonder just what I’d do if I found her sapped of all these things. If it were I that would find her rigid in a snowbank, bare legs pointed, eyes blank.

I ache and anger all at once. The waste. The fucking waste of it all-raising your children, birthing your children, and yet being unable to defeat your demons in order to protect them. Living with the knowledge that, mens rea, you have slaughtered your babies. You have destroyed your legacy.

This week has been rife with news of children, bad news. A child abandoned-imagine, abandoning a small baby, not where it would be easily found, but hidden away, where only luck saved her. Was it a mother, afraid that a husband or a boyfriend might harm her further? Was she desperate? Or did they just want to be rid of her? Did her father leave her there, tired of the work, the late nights, crying?

Who leaves their child in this way? What’s so wrong?

Right now, she sits in the arms of a foster mother, trying to engage her. She has no last name.

*******************************************

What causes us to value our children so little, to be so careless and callous? I try not to think each day of the children being harmed as I walk with my daughters, hand in hand, roaring like dinosaurs. I think of my unexpected love for them, but I think too of the hard days when they were first here. I know I haven’t been, and will never be a perfect mother. But I would never harm them on purpose. I would never leave them to the elements. I would never let someone hurt them. Am I stronger, or just luckier?

*******************************************

It’s been a bad news kind of week. A week where I question my devotion to the news, to my insatiable lust to know. I step away and remind myself that this kind of thing has always happened, and always will, sadly.

It doesn’t make it any better.

Our trees are coated in ice this morning. Their beauty locked inside a crystal cocoon, one that can shatter, or melt away. It magnifies, makes the mundane wonderful. Asks me to look closer, look past the obvious rough edges. Tells me it’s not all bad.

And maybe it’s not. But today, today it feels like it is.

************************************

Village Song, Sarojini Naidu

Honey, child, honey, child, whither are you
     going?
Would you cast your jewels all to the breezes
     blowing?
Would you leave the mother who on golden
     grain has fed you?
Would you grieve the lover who is riding forth
     to wed you?

Mother mine, to the wild forest I am going,
Where upon the champa boughs the champa
     buds are blowing;
To the koil-haunted river-isles where lotus lilies
     glisten,
The voices of the fairy folk are calling me:
     O listen!

Honey, child, honey, child, the world is full of
     pleasure,
Of bridal-songs and cradle-songs and sandal-
     scented leisure.
Your bridal robes are in the loom, silver and
     saffron glowing,
Your bridal cakes are on the hearth: O whither
     are you going?

The bridal-songs and cradle-songs have cadences
     of sorrow,
The laughter of the sun to-day, the wind of
     death to-morrow.
Far sweeter sound the forest-notes where forest-
     streams are falling;
O mother mine, I cannot stay, the fairy-folk
     are calling.

“there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.”

22 Jan

I open my reader and see that Heath Ledger is dead. I read the details-it sounds like a suicide attempt. I feel many things-he’s younger than me-he has a child-he’s an incredible actor-what went wrong-why is he dead-if he did kill himself, why?-my daughter is only a few months older than his, and she’s now without a father.

They say we eat our young. But anymore, it feels like we eat our idols-the people we place above us. If they get too high, or too human, we consume them. We fixate on them, arrange them just so. If their hips get too broad, or their hairlines too high, we cast stones, we mock, we laugh.

How we laugh.

When is it enough? When are we satisfied? When do we understand that no matter how much money you give, we cannot own a person, not their image, or their movements. No matter how well paid they are, do they not deserve their humanity? Or is this something they must sacrifice for all of us, for our amusement? Are you amused? There’s a little girl somewhere who will only know her father in movies and soundbites-are you amused?

If Ledger took his own life-a seemingly inexplicable act to someone like me who really doesn’t follow the lives of celebrities-if he swallowed a handful of pills and went to sleep, how culpable is the viewing public? How much responsibility should the end user pay? If fame, and fortune, and a life I cannot even imagine is too much for a person, for people, when do we stop, really stop, and change the way lives are lived, change our expectations of what it means to be a celebrity, what it means to be responsible in front of millions, a face that’s known? When do we, the 99% who will never make that kind of money stop reveling in the divorces and the breakdowns and the naked and shaved women who parade in front of us each day?

Why are we unable to allow celebrity their basic humanity-privacy? When did we start to think money was a fair tradeoff for a life lived behind shutters?

****************************************

I’m not just all “wordy” about Heath. One of my favorite movies “10 things I hate about you.” contained him in all his young glory, and I enjoy his performance everytime. I loved his acting in Brokeback, and I am so very much looking forward to the newest Batman, where he is (was) Joker-the trailer made it look awesome. It saddens me to know that we’ll never get another movie from him. It saddens me to know that even with ‘everything’ shit like this happens.

The fact that I’m surprised anymore is what really gets me.

Blog for Choice Day

22 Jan

Going through my reader, Mad reminded me that it’s Blog for Choice day. I had no intention on participating since I’m not American, until her post reminded me of my last pregnancy.

Both of my pregnancies were accidents of positioning and stupidity. (Let’s just say that my fertility happens in a very specific way) The first one we could handle-while we had been “childfree” on purpose, we had been dithering about the future, and when we sat and thought about it, it seemed like maybe, we had been careless because on some level, we wanted a child, but were scared of the concept, the responsibility.

Finding out I was pregnant 10 months after having Vivian was not a joyous occasion. I did not want another child, not then. I didn’t not want to be pregnant. I did not want it to be happening.

I tried megadosing on Vitamin C to induce a miscarriage. I researched various herbal methods, black cohosh, pennyroyal, evening primrose. I researched every method available because the only place I could get an abortion was 2 hours away, and the thought of riding a Greyhound bus home, bleeding and cramping with the knowledge that I just ended a potential child didn’t sit well with me.

When I originally found out the “2 doctors” rule, I was incensed. In New Brunswick, in order to get an abortion, you need to have two separate doctors give you permission. Two doctors need to “allow” you to do what you need or want to do with your body. I made an appointment with my OB/GYN who was an older man who once did abortions in this city-I knew I wouldn’t have any trouble getting the referral from him. He understood. He got it.

We all know that I never followed up with that. I changed my appointment to a prenatal appointment instead of a consult for abortion services. I kept my pregnancy, and birthed my daughter 9 months later. At the cost of my sanity.

I’m sure some people would consider this a victory for life, but it’s not. While it’s true that if I really wanted an abortion, I would have found a way there despite everything and I didn’t, I did want one. I love my daughter to death, but I didn’t want to be pregnant again, and feeling forced into the situation from one mistake I made didn’t sit well with me. And in hindsight, I wonder if my body didn’t know something that my mind did. I had already teetered on the crazy fence with Vivian. Maybe my mind knew being pregnant so soon was a bad idea. Who knows.

I have always resented and despised this province for this. For the fact that I felt forced into a pregnancy I was ill equipped to have, because other people, mainly men, have made these decisions for me. These men who are the same people who steal funding away from mental illness programs, only promising more when people kill or are killed. (Mike Murphy, I’m looking RIGHT at you) The government in this province are making decisions for women that will continue to impact towns and cities and people.

I should have been more careful, and not gotten caught up in the moment the day Rosalyn was conceived. But I wasn’t. And when I needed the services I pay for with 20% of my income, they weren’t there.

Hardly a fair and equitable health care system now is it.

“Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

21 Jan

Often, I don’t think very nice things about myself.

Maybe because I’m bipolar. Maybe because I was abused. Maybe because I’m fat. Maybe because I’m just bigger than other people. Whatever the reason, I have, quite possibly, the worst self esteem you can find.

I hide it well. I try not to make depreciating comments in front of other people, since they find it annoying, and think I’m fishing for compliments. But I find myself ugly, stupid, inconsiderate and small minded most days. Perhaps I’m too hard on myself like Mogo says sometimes. But I hold myself to a higher standard than I hold most people to-and that’s pretty damn high. I’m not easy to please, and I don’t suffer fools.

It’s not to say that I don’t enjoy life-I do. But I don’t really look at myself as a good person.

Which is why lately, people have been surprising me by being good to me.

I’m sure there’s some kind of meme attached to “being nice”, but I can’t be bothered to find one. But I wanted to recognize three individuals who are being extra special nice to me, for no apparent reason.

  • One of my daily smiles, Marcela, decided to not only send me some Hello Kitty Chopsticks that I lusted after, she also decided to throw in some local goodies. For me! (She also said some super nice things.) I love reading her thoughts about her family and her love for them. Every morning she puts a gentle smile on my face, and a reminder in my heart to love the people around me, even when they drive me batty. She tells me I make her think-she makes my heart hurt.
  • Daureen, who is currently beautifully pregnant with her first daughter, sent me a special something for Amazon. (And we all know that the way to my heart is to let me buy books without guilt) She tells me it’s because I give so much of myself when I write, which honestly, I don’t think is true. I let go of what needs to be purged, nothing more. Now run on over there, and tell her how lovely she looks, mid way through her first pregnancy. I’d pay money to look like that NOW. 🙂
  • Eden is being nice enough to record an entire tape of Yo Gabba Gabba for me since we don’t have the show up her in the frigid north. Now, while I’m bribing her with some kid mohair I won’t be using from my Louet stash, she’s still being awesome enough to do it for us. Now all I need to do is drag my sorry ass up to the post office.

Many of you say so many nice things to me all the time, and I forget to properly thank all of you as well. Many of my days have been made that much more tolerable knowing that you all are out there.

But I really wanted to give a shout out to these three women, who have made my gloomy January a lot sweeter. YOU FREAKING RULE.

that is all.

I’m sorry Britney Spears.

4 Jan

Who isn’t there honey? What caused that aching void that eats you up at night, that fills your body with toxicity, which keeps your hands shaking and your mouth turned up slightly in a nervous grin? What monster moves you, jerks your body from side to side, makes you late, makes you sick, makes you so unreal you nearly cease to exist?

Today, in more places than I could count, on freaking BBC News you were there, on a stretcher, in your glory. I can’t watch, I won’t watch, but despite myself I read. I read about a hammer being used to tear down a door, small children held as pawns, a woman surrounded by people incapable, or perhaps unwilling to help. I can imagine you there, huddled between the toilet and the wall, shaking, wailing silently into yourself, your money no protection or solace, maybe just the cold clink of a whisky sour in your hand, diluted only by tears. Maybe you stare into the distance, giggling through tears about ending it all, about the fantastic movie it will make some day, about how your sons will have money, in their trust, for years when you aren’t there.

Maybe you stare at your wrists and will it to be so.

They laugh when we call it bipolar, or post partum. How could we know? We only see what we see, what they let us see, what we want to see. But some of us know, oh how sorrowfully we know, the full depths of despair, that which cannot be quenched with things or placating voices, that place that calls to you late at night, the place which spurns even the fruit of your loins, and beckons, like a siren calling you home.

I ache for you Britney. I ache for what you’ve become-for what has happened, for what people have done to you. I can see some of me in you-two children too close, an itch that cannot be satisfied, a need to be recognized. A want for love and security and all those things Hallmark has told us were simple and true and available at any time. You want the dream, and dammit, you were supposed to have it. So what happened? Why did your brain, and body betray you so?

We’ll blame your mother now you know. Not your father, oh no. Just your mother. She who raised you, who raised two daughters who seem to not know any better. We’ll hitch up our pants and feel superior, clearing our throats we’ll say “Not my daughter, nope.” and gloat silently, unaware of what awaits us in 10 years or so.

It’s so easy to be right when we aren’t there yet. It’s so easy to forget that children are people, not merely stretches of light from their parents arms, but people, cacti that will do as they wish, especially with an entourage and millions of dollars. All the mothering in the world can’t fix the worldly overwhelming you endured.

You’ll make some people feel better about themselves, having someone to laugh at, to point at, to consider worse than them. You’ll be the worst case scenario, but they won’t write a book on how to survive you. You’ll be laughed at, mocked, judged, and eventually forgotten until you manage to slice through your delicate wrists, or you perform a comeback tour at 50. We’ve destroyed you, yet we will completely, and utterly forget you. Pop WILL eat itself.

I’m sorry Britney. Mother to Mother, crazy to crazy, I’m more sorry than you’ll ever know.

Question on asshatery.

18 Dec

Is it more classist to

-clear the sidewalks around the local low income housing days (i.e. a week) before the rest of the neighbourhood (i.e. the owned homes)

-point out the inherent disconnect on having on specific section cleared days before the rest of the neighbourhood strictly based on their economic base and potential “mobility” issues.

Mogo managed to kick up a dust storm on a local message board complaining about the fact that the low income “project” up the road from us has it’s sidewalks cleaned (and I mean cleaned) at least a week before the rest of the area. The add insult to injury, they’ll  clear 2 blocks of a 10 block street, only clearing the area in front of the low rental.

Is it classist to be irritated that I, a mortgage paying, property tax suffering person, has to wait longer to use the sidewalks than those who aren’t?

I don’t think they should wait longer-I just don’t understand doing only their little area, and leaving the rest of us to walk on the road.

Are we being asshats?

“There are only two creatures of value on the face of the earth: those with the commitment, and those who require the commitment of others.”

17 Dec

The wind howls and moans at the windows, snow dusting up against them. I can feel the cold without feeling it. I’m Canadian, remember? My bones can tell you the difference between -25C and -50C. The difference? At -25, you can still feel your skin and wish you couldn’t. At -50, you can feel your skin trying to fall off, and then feel nothing. My body tells me that the wind outside conspires to keep me safely tucked indoors, at least until it’s time to go home. Today, I’m glad I have to work a little late, in the hopes that the wind will die off, move along, bother Newfoundland with it’s displeasure and general scroogishness.

A few days back, one of our nicer neighbours mentioned to Mogo how much she enjoyed seeing the girls out for a walk, how she could never quite grapple with the fact that there were never kids outside anymore, not in our neighbourhood. Apparently, she wasn’t counting the hoodlums picking fights out of the low rentals across from her house.

She’s right though. You never see children out anymore, not often. We’re too busy, or too scared. And of what? An invented boogeyman, a creature the media plays up despite the falls crime rates? Those mean evil molesters, hiding in the bushes? We all know they hide out in plain sight most of the time, so what’s the fear?

What the hell has happened that we’re scared to death of our own shadows?

I have very clear memories of my mother leaving me in the backyard for hours in the winter, and I’d play my ass off. Sure, sometimes I’d whine at the back door like a puppy, red nosed, fingers stiff until she’d relent and let me back in the house. But most of the time, I was happy to be out there. Inside meant chores, and we didn’t have cable. You can only reread your books so many times.

I plan to do this myself as the girls get older. We have a massive deck (as you can see here) which is great right now since I do worry about Rosalyn running off. We have a nature trail, stream and a large field behind the house, plenty of places for kids to run and play in, and they will be let loose to do so. Not that I see many kids doing kid things back there ever. Aside from leaving garbage around, I rarely ever see any kids out and about.

It’s really strange to me, as someone who spent so much time outside. I can’t imagine spending a childhood indoors. I know things are different now-technology has changed things so much. But what ever happened to the plain and simple joy of sitting outside and finding something to do because you were bored? Thinking outside of the box to get a bottle of pop?

Even when we take the girls for walks, it’s rare to run into other kids. If we do, it’s usually a mother and a stroller. No roving bands of children, playing, yelling. Nothing. Most nights, our neighbourhood is silent as a tomb.

I don’t want their only memories of childhood to be so silent. I want them outside, experiencing the weather-the wind, the rain, the heat! One of my favorite memories from when I was younger is getting caught in a thunderstorm during a Shakespeare in the Park with my Dad, and walking slowly home. We were already wet, and it was incredible, being pelted by the rain as we giggled our way down the street, his cigarettes becoming waterlogged, my glasses useless, hair plastered to my neck. I will never forget that night, the smell of the rain, electric in the air, the smell of my skin, clammy, salty. The glare of the street lights in the raindrops, hard and heavy against the asphalt.

Should my children miss that? Should they miss the heat, heavy on their heads, because we fear the sun? Should they miss the snow, up to their waist so they have to swim it it, because we fear the cold? Should they miss the first real spring rain, delicate and tentative, because we fear the dirt?

I don’t want that for my girls. I want their feet to be firmly rooted on the ground, touching the earth. I want them to feel it in their fingers as we plant herbs, tomatoes, peppers. I want them to understand why the trees sway in the wind, and why the birds don’t fall off. I want them to understand that they are part of the earth, and are indebted to her.

We can’t raise children to protect the earth if they feel no love for it. We can’t grow people who will guard it if we never let them near it.

We must raise children to love the howl of the wind, the piercing light of a storm, the calm summer night equally, as pieces of a whole. We owe them, and the earth, at least this much.