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enough already

I try to find the positive side.

The snow is beautiful.

I love wearing scarves and mittens.

I just bought new boots and I’m glad to have a reason to wear them.

Having a toque on is a good excuse not to do my hair.

If I’m lucky, the positivity pushes me through until the end of January.

But then the calendar turns to February and I’m done being positive. Instead I’m just friggin’ tired of being cold all the time.

And then the automatic window of my car freezes shut in the drive thru lane and I wonder why, why would anyone actually choose to live here?????

I’m done with winter.

Too bad it’s not yet done with me.

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Last night I was crying…and making lunches. 

I hate making lunches. 

I hate it more than I ever hated changing diapers or playing blocks or watching Caillou – and don’t get me wrong, I hated all of those things. 

But I wasn’t crying because I hated it. I was crying because we had just come home from my daughter’s high school orientation night. 

I had the night marked on the calendar for weeks and I was super excited about it. Have a tour of the school – amazing! Learn about the policies and rules – love it! Meet some of the staff and hear about all of the great courses and programs – can’t wait!

Of course, as is inevitably the way of motherhood, the milestones I so eagerly anticipate also end up being the ones that slap me in the face. 

I listened intently as the principal outlined course credits required for graduation, supports available from the guidance team, and the importance of each student “finding their own path.” I even chuckled a little (on the inside) comparing it to my own high school course selection process – pick what you’re supposed to pick and move on. 

I was feeling good as we headed out on the tour, my daughter walking ahead with a friend as hubby and I exchanged wry smiles at the back of the line. I soon became disoriented- hallways filled with lockers, stairs and more stairs, doors and doors and more doors. I was already lost. 

The lump in my throat started to form in the “construction” classroom. In my day we called it IE – industrial education. I’m not sure why I took the class in high school but the smell of the sawdust and the sight of the big saws took me right back.

I made a cutting board – which my parents still have – and I worked to perfect the look of “cool disinterest” when interacting with Clayton, my heart thumping crush of the time. Come to think of it, embarrassingly, he was probably the reason I took the class. I don’t remember what I did last weekend but I can close my eyes and clearly remember every detail of th day he asked to borrow a pencil. 

We were there for her – my daughter- but for 10 minutes in that classroom it was about me. Or at least the me I was back then. 

We switched gears and moved to the arts wing. The drama teacher ran through all of the great programs and I beamed at my daughter – this will be so great! – I mouthed to her beside me. A musical! A Spring play!!! I could picture it all so clearly for her – and in that excitement I also felt the first tear tickle the back of my eye. 

I mostly held it together on the car ride home. My daughter was venting about how hard it’s going to be and she’s not going to understand any of the math stuff and did I know she’s terrible in science and what if she fails gym and can’t get into university?

I nodded and hmmmmd and said all the things I was supposed to say. But inside my head I was screaming “NO”!

How can this be happening? How is it time? A single blink of the eye ago I was laying on the floor of your room with my arm stuck through the bars of your crib wishing – praying – that you would just go to sleep already!!!! And now we’re here. And in a few short months you will be there, in the school with all of the hallways and the stairs and the doors and big saws and musicals and I can’t. 

When I opened the front door I wanted to stagger upstairs, lay down in bed and pull the covers over my head. But, as is almost always the case, there were things that needed to be done first. 

And that’s how I ended up standing in the kitchen, cutting up cherry tomatoes…and crying. 

At one point I had to put down the knife because the tears blurred my eyes so much I couldn’t see. Hands braced on the counter, I was 5 seconds away from a full-on ugly cry. 

Then it hit me that this moment, this very juxtaposition of things, summed up motherhood for me in a way I could never articulate myself. 

Motherhood is crying…and making lunches. 

Motherhood is feeling all of the feels…while still doing all of the things.  

It’s holding hands…and letting go. It’s glimpsing foggy memories of who you were…while holding the light up so she can see all the possibilities of who she can become.  

It’s excitement…and sadness – woven so closely together that you can’t even see where one ends and the other begins. 

And it’s knowing that if things go the way they are supposed to go, it’s a million more moments just like this. 

the best part

The best part of my yoga class is the part at the end when we lay on the floor. 

That’s it. 

We just lay there. 

Flat on the floor. 

There’s some music playing in the background. My eyes are closed. The room is not too warm and not too cold and I’m just laying there. 

On the floor. 

If I’m being honest, it’s not just the best part of the class, it’s the best part of every Wednesday; sometimes the entire week. There are other good times, fun times, great times – but nothing else that quiets the noise like those five minutes on the floor. 

Because it’s easy. Because I don’t need to think or react or have the answer or know the next step. There are no expectations, no anticipation. 

Just me and the floor and the quiet. 

Surrender. 

My yoga teacher uses that word and it always touches something inside of me. At no other time do I feel myself surrendering to anything. But for those five minutes, on the floor, that’s exactly what I’m doing. 

While I’m laying there I ask myself why I don’t do this more often. I mean seriously – it’s not difficult, it doesn’t cost any money or need any fancy equipment. Me – laying on the floor – done. 

I don’t have the answer. Maybe because it’s easy to do the things we have to but hard to do the things we want to. 

Surrender. 

choose

A month from now I will be forty. 

Less than a month actually, but one month from now I hope the dust will have settled and I can just be done with this whole thing already. 

I’ve never been one to make a big deal about the number. Instead I’ve been firmly entrenched in the “it’s more important how old you feel” and blah blah blah. 

That was me, before now. 

Now the number is a big deal…because the number is big. 

In my head I get it, believe me I do. I know it doesn’t really matter and it’s fine and I’m fine and forty is fine. 

Fine. 

Until I think about it. Until I sit down and roll the number around in my head and suddenly I’m standing on the front lawn of my childhood home in my pyjamas looking at the pink flamingos my mom’s friends put there for her 40th birthday. 

My mom is forty, I can’t possibly be forty.

Can I? 

My bestie turns 40 two weeks before I do and she’s embracing it just the way I hoped I would. Eyes open, arms open, jumping two feet in and if you don’t like it then get out of the way.  I know that could be me, that I could do that too but something gets in the way. I feel like I can see it over there on the other side of the glass but I don’t know how to get there. 

She said I just need to choose it. It’s really that easy. Stop feeling what you think you should be feeling. Be happy if you want or sad if you want or somewhere in between if you want. It’s all fine as long as you decide for yourself. 

It doesn’t matter what you choose – she said – just make sure you choose it. Don’t fall into it or let it happen or go along to get along. 

Choose 40 and figure out what it means – for me. 

Choose adventure and learning and different; or choose tranquility and quiet and the same. 

Choose to write something I’ve written before and not care that I’ve written it before; or choose to write something brand new even though the words look weird on the page. 

Choose to spend time with the people I want to, not because I have to but because  they make my life better and in their eyes I can see myself more clearly. 

Choose to ask myself the questions I can’t answer – or don’t want to answer; or choose to cut myself some slack and not answer them at all. 

So I’m trying. When things get hard and I can’t see a way to the other side of the glass I’m trying to remember to choose. 

Choose to watch through the glass or climb over the top or walk the long way around or sit down on the grass and try again another day. 

I’m trying. And sometimes it works better than others but I’m choosing to keep trying. 

Choose forty. 

ass backwards

I went to a conference on Wednesday and the final speaker spent an hour teaching us how to be happier. In truth, because of the type of work I do, he was actually teaching us how to teach other people how to be happier because happy people make happier workplaces. But whatever. 

You may have heard of him – Neil Pasricha. He’s written a couple of books including the Book of Awesome. 

There was actually a lot of great stuff in the session. Most of it, as is often the case with these things, was common sense. 

Of course I feel happier after I’ve taken a walk outside. Of course I know I should journal and focus on gratitude and make time for things I enjoy. 

I get it. 

I know. 

But then he actually got to the crux of the issue for me – the motivation part. He pointed out that so many people think they have to be motivated to do the thing, before they can do the thing. That the “want to do” comes before the “do.”

If I buy the right Moleskin notebook, I’ll want to write the book, and then I will write the book. 

Ouch. 

That one hit a little close to home for me.  

I have a dozen “right” notebooks…and just the right pens to go with them. All the right tools but no closer to having actually written anything. 

Then he explained the way it works. 

Do the thing. Do it badly and wrong and one word, day, action at a time, but do it.

When you do it – you realize you can do it and then an amazing thing happens. 

You want to keep doing it.

So you keep doing it. 

Apparently I’ve had it ass backwards the whole time. 

this time

Am I the only one?

I sit waiting in a cozy booth at a restaurant. A table for four occupied, for the time being, by only me. They’re on their way – I can’t wait to see them. An evening with hubby and another couple, no kids, good food, maybe even dessert.

But for now I wait. And waiting involves thinking.

I play a game I often play – “last time / next time” I call it. What was the last time I was here? Can I remember – how many details can I recall? And then, try to imagine, when will I be here again? For a birthday? Just because?

It takes me a minute to remember the last time. Dinner with friends? Was that it? No wait, it was a birthday. Right.

It comes back to me.

A night that started off well but didn’t end that way. Details not worth rehashing here but I re-live them in my head. A disagreement, a misunderstanding. Everyday things that happen every day.

But it makes me wonder (again). Why can I remember the difficult times so clearly? I can remember the nuance, the look, what was said and left unsaid. The ‘bad’ memories rush back so much more quickly than the ‘good’ ones.

Is it just me? Am I the only one who does this?

It’s like I etch these moments so deep in my mind that the good memories have less room to stick – and instead fade so quickly.

I remember words said in anger, criticisms that made me flinch, sighs of exasperation and looks of frustration. I remember the 2 things I did wrong; but not the 8 that I did right.

Tonight will be a good night, I’m sure. And I will try to hold the memory close, the sound of the laughter, the feeling of connection, and hope that it stays.

I will try to colour over the last time with new memories and maybe, just maybe, they’ll stick.

goodnight

They’re finally in bed.

The battle that started 90 minutes ago with my first request to get in the shower has now ended with their last ask for a glass of water.

Tonight – like every night – I’m not sure who won the war.

Turn off the lights.

Check the lock on the door.

Up the stairs, a bowl of cereal balanced in one hand and a glass of juice wedged under my forearm.

Into the bedroom.

Exhale.

The blissful sound of the door clicking shut. Checking the box on another day.

Baseball game on in the background. Flipping through the hangers for something to wear tomorrow. Something, anything, as long as it doesn’t need to be ironed. I just don’t have the energy.

‎A spoonful of cereal. A few pages in a magazine. My mind wanders – to all the things that didn’t get done.

Oh well.

I’ve gotten better at letting things go. The perspective I often lack in the daylight hours at least cuts me some slack in the dark.

Pajamas from the bottom drawer. The ones with the hole in the leg that I should throw out but can’t bear to part with.

Teeth brushed, contacts out. Then stand back and survey the damage in the mirror. Not bad – could be worse. Probably because everything is blurry without my contacts in, but I won’t think about that too much. Sometimes being your own biggest fan needs a little help.

Under the covers.

Head on the pillow.

Silence.

Bliss.

Is it wrong that my favourite part of the day is the very end?

Goodnight.