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game changer

She can sit in the front seat now‎.

She has access to the radio and changes the station on a whim, even when one of my favourite songs is playing. ‎

Actually, she changes it especially when one of my favourite songs is playing.

I look over and am surprised to see her sitting there. It’s like when she moved from rear-facing to forward-facing in the car seat and I was shocked to see her little face when I turned around.

Now, like then, I feel like we’ve crossed some kind of invisible line. Now and then, before and after, never and always.

We talk about things, now that she’s there beside me‎.

We laugh.

She suddenly feels a little more like a friend and a little less like an obligation.

And, every now and then, I reach over and hold her hand.

And, every now and then, she lets me.

share

My daughter turned 12 last week. In the days leading up to the ‘big day’ all she could talk about / ask about / beg for was the thing she’d been wanting for weeks, and weeks, and weeks.

An Instagram account.

We had pushed it off in the past, saying we would “talk about it when you’re 12” as if it were some far-off milestone that would somehow never arrive, and therefore we would never have to deal with it.

Except, of course, it did arrive, and so we had to deal with it.

I went online and did all the research about how to lock down her account, enable all the privacy settings and had a serious discussion about the rules. The rules about it being a privilege and safety and (not so) common sense. (I also couldn’t help but throw in a few pleas for proper grammar and spelling‎ which were promptly ignored.)

Then I sat there and watched her post her first picture (a cartoon). She leaned over and said “do I press this button Mom? The one that says ‘share?'”

Share.

‎That word stuck in my head and rolled around for a few days.

Share.

I can try and help her navigate the world of social media (until her knowledge quickly overtakes mine) but how do I guide her about what pieces of herself to share, not only online but offline as well?

I didn’t grow up with Instagram or Facebook or the Internet for that matter (wow, now I sound old), but I still struggled with this very idea.

If I’m being honest, I still struggle with it now. ‎

Which secrets about yourself do you tell your friend over a cup of tea?

Which dreams do you bring out of the deepest depths of your heart and into the daylight for others to see?

Who is worthy of knowing you? Not just the you everyone sees but that other you, the one that exists in the corners and shadows?

How does someone prove they are worthy? Is there any way to know without risking being hurt? Where does the line exist between an open heart and a safe one?

To protect yourself is to close yourself off. To share too much is to be vulnerable. This was a hard enough road to navigate when secrets were passed around on tiny folded pieces of paper and whispered behind hands at recess. But now, now there is no end to how far and how fast the pieces of you can be spread.

Each and every time I put my words on this blog I wonder. I ask myself the question of ‘is it too much’? Too much to share, too big a piece of me to put out there? If someone turns my words around to hurt me, am I strong enough to keep going, keep writing, keep sharing?

And yet, what is the other option? A life lived only with boundaries and fences and people who know us just a little bit but never completely?

Is that worse?

These are big questions that I can’t answer, not for myself and not for a 12 year old just dipping her toe into the future that awaits her.

But I will try.

some days

Some days I look around and wonder how I ended up here.

Some days I look around and wonder how I could have ended up anywhere but here.

Some days I look in the mirror and smile.

Some days I avoid looking in the mirror at all.

Some days I only remember the mistakes.

Some days I’m quick to forgive everyone except myself.

Some days I look at you and see the best pieces of me.

Some days I think this is all there will ever be.

Some days I think this is all I will ever need.

Some days I wonder what might have been.

Some days I appreciate everything that never was.

Some days I can see past tomorrow.

Some days I focus too much on missing what I never had.

Some days it’s a cup of tea.

Some days the words are lost.

And some days they are found.

back to it

It’s cold today. Today, this ‘back to it’ day after two weeks of holiday activities, to-do’s and then – finally – relaxing and days spent in pj’s.

It’s the kind of cold you forget about until it smacks you in the face and fills your lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Not unlike when the summer sun hits your face for the first time after months without. “Oh right,” you think, “now I remember.”

‎The lake looks beautiful. There’s a mist rising off the surface. It looks almost like steam although I’m not sure that’s possible. I should look it up, figure out what exactly makes it look like that on cold days. I’ll add it to the mental list of things I mean to do, and then promptly forget.

There will be moments today when I wish it was yesterday again, or the day before, or last week, or the week before. I’ll tell myself if I could go back I would appreciate the time off more, but the reality is I’m sure I wouldn’t.

I tell myself I would do better (at so many things) if I had another chance – a ‘do over’ so to speak – but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. I feel badly about that‎. And then I feel badly about feeling badly about that.

So I’ll try to stop thinking back, except to remember the brief moments that I purposely savoured. ‎ I haven’t yet figured out how to enjoy all of the little moments but from time to time I manage to stop myself, take a deep breath and put the moment in my pocket, knowing I will need to pull it out some time in the future when the days are dark and cold.

It’s cold today – but the sun is shining. ‎Those moments will stay in my pocket, at least for the time being.

I will put on my gloves and hat and scarf and bundle up against the cold.

It’s time to get back to it.

the take down

There are many aspects of the holidays that, in reality, don’t quite happen the way they do on TV – or in my own head. Each year I try to loosen my grip a little more on how things “should” happen and instead embrace them for what they actually are – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Decorating the house, for example, usually ends up in arguments, a half finished tree that I go back and “fix” and something inadvertently getting broken.

Not exactly a Hallmark moment.

This year was no different. No one drank hot chocolate and sang carols as we gazed adoringly at a perfectly decorated tree. My two kids didn’t take turns hanging ornaments in just the right place, filling the whole tree and not just the bottom left quadrant.

This year was no different but I just chalked it up to “it is what it is” and moved on.

‎And then the other day it was time to un-decorate.

When it comes to putting up the decorations, the kids are all over it like a bad rash. I can’t get rid of them even if I wanted to which, truth be told, sometimes I do. But, when it comes time to take everything down, stuffing it into boxes and navigating the dark, dusty, bang your head into the ceiling fun of the closet under the stairs, they are nowhere to be found.

So this year I once again took on the task myself and, honestly, actually enjoyed it.

Rather than looking at each ornament as it was going on the tree, this year I got to cherish them as I was taking them down, tucking them back in the box until next year. I smiled at the homemade, popsicle stick trees and the picture of me, dressed as an elf from my own pre-school days. There wasn’t any hot chocolate or Christmas carols and I was dressed in my pj’s and my hair puled back in a messy ponytail but it was, in its own way, my Hallmark moment.

Sometimes you have to take them wherever you can find them.

four days

Over the last four days I’ve had the opportunity to spend more time than usual with my kids.

A day off on Friday for my daughter’s hockey tournament, back and forth to the arena and time in between. Saturday we decorated the house for Christmas, more hockey and dinner out. Sunday the regular errands‎, the annual wrapping of the Christmas books (a tradition in our house) and still, more hockey.

Yesterday was early pick up from school, doctor’s appointments and all the regular Monday things. A lot of together time.

When I leave for work most mornings and come home in the evening, I lament the time spent away. I think about what I’ve missed from their days and often, unfortunately, spend the time we do have together doing the things that must get done, rather than take the time to connect.

I fantasize about having a day with them, just to be with them.

And then I get four days strung together with them and I remember what it’s really like.

Bickering in the car, bickering at home, bickering, bickering, bickering. Making breakfast, then snack, then lunch, then snack, then dinner, then snack. Picking up toys and clothes and crayons and more clothes (why do socks never stay on their feet?).

They are lovely little people (I try to remind myself), and there were sweet moments in amongst the bickering. A quiet cup of tea across the table from my daughter, a stolen hug and a game of “I Spy” with my son. The touch of a soft, warm cheek first thing in the morning and a request for “one more hug” at the end of the day.

I know that as we get back into the regular routine those are the things I will remember and the bickering and the cooking and the cleaning will fade into the background.

‎Motherhood is lived in fast forward but perhaps, best appreciated in hindsight.

better

I thought the purpose of writing was to make me a better writer. Seems like a reasonable hypothesis. I would write, I would be a better writer, I would unknowingly impress someone who knows ‘good’ writing and they would tell me I could spend the rest of my life making a living from it (preferably while remaining ensconced a‎t home in my flannel pants.

Simple enough.

I slowly realized that was not going to happen – or at least not quite in that way. More importantly, I realized that thinking about writing in this way had turned something I loved into something else on my to-do list.

To be quite honest – it took the fun out of it.

The mere act of hypothesizing about ‎writing as a job made it feel like work. And I don’t know about you, but I do enough things every day that actually ARE work without turning the fun things into work as well.

‎It doesn’t mean I won’t still dream about it, won’t still fantasize about it in the same way I do about winning the lottery or running into Jann Arden on the street and having us become instant besties.

But, at least for the time being, I’m going to leave it over there – arms distance away in the dream corner. Because doing so allows me to realize that writing makes me better in so many other ways.

I’m more connected to myself and more observant of the world around me. I’m a better ‘noticer’ and watcher and recorder. I pay closer attention, to what is said (and not said) and the expressions, the sighs, the half smiles and shy glances.

I spend less time worrying about ‘taking it all in’ and more time actually ‘taking it all in.’ I feel less guilty about the time I spend away because when I’m there, I’m much more ‘there.’

So I’m going to kick off the holiday season by giving a gift – to myself. I’m going to give myself back the gift of writing (the good, the bad and the ugly).

The gift of letting myself off the hook about making it ‘be’ something and just enjoy the nothingness and pure enjoyment of writing just for the sake of it.

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