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Posts Tagged ‘appreciation’

It was your birthday yesterday.

When you woke up in the morning (to the loving sound of your sister singing ‘Happy Birthday’ at the top of her lungs from the bottom of the stairs) you were still seven, but a couple of hours later you officially turned eight.

Your teacher emailed me to say the class sang ‎to you at exactly 9:11am (the time you were born) and I knew you would get a kick out of that. For all of your easy-going ways, you still appreciate the clarity that comes from precision.

I got to drop you at school, something that almost never happens. You took my hand as we walked down the stairs at the back of the school yard and chatted away about something I no longer remember. Truth be told I wasn’t listening very closely; I was too busy looking at you and wondering how it’s possible for eight years to seemingly pass in the blink of an eye.

As we neared the corner where we would turn into your play yard you slipped your hand out from mine and started to run ahead, eager to see your friends, your baseball glove and tennis ball at the ready.

A glimpse.

I wonder how much longer you will let me hold your hand ‘in public.’

I wonder how much longer you will let me kiss your cheek and smooth your hair and cheer (embarrassingly) loudly for you from the stands of a hockey arena or baseball diamond.

Your older sister has taught me that these things are fleeting, only lasting a definite period of time, based on a timeline that I can neither predict nor change.

One day you will do what you have always done, and the next day you will not. You won’t even realize the change, but I will. A line will be drawn in the sand between then and now and I won’t fully realize how much I miss ‘then’ until I can no longer go back.

We went out for dinner last night and you brought along two friends from your hockey team. The three of you sat across the table from me, still young enough to have little plastic lids on your drinks but old enough to order for yourselves and go to the washroom together chuckling the whole time about a joke I probably wouldn’t understand.

You chatted with your aunt on the phone, at one point telling her you were out for dinner and “had two buddies” with you.

Buddies.

Not friends, but buddies.

For some reason the way you said it gave me pause.

You now have buddies.

All of a sudden I could see you at 16, you and your ‘buddies’ coming through my front door, in the house only long enough to empty my fridge and grab some sporting equipment from the garage before jumping in the back of someone’s car and being off again. I can almost feel the words ‘drive safely’ and ‘wear your seatbelts’ caught in my throat.

‎I try to reassure myself that there is time, so much time between now and then, years and years to get used to a new normal.

And then I realize how quickly the last eight years have gone and say a silent prayer that the next eight pass just a little slower.

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‎Up this morning and look out the window to see the snow falling.

Quick hugs and kisses, cereal in a bowl and juice in a cup.

Pull on jeans, curse under my breath.

Teeth brushed, hair combed, two new grey hairs examined and dismayed.

Boots on, hat on, gloves on.

Purse? Check. Grocery list? Check. Hockey equipment? Check.

Into the car and out we go into the snow.

Down the same roads, past the same houses, ‎around the same corners.

Tie the skates, snap the helmet, fill the water bottle. Give a tap on the shoulder pads and tell her to have fun.

Now I sit in the stands, cold butt on a hard wooden bench, shivering, chattering, trying not to spill the tea I hold in my mittened hands.

A regular Saturday morning.

There are probably those who see my life and think it is small.

From time to time I am one of those people.

And then there are times like now, when I can appreciate the small, taste the sweetness of the small like the warm tea on my lips.

‎Wishing for a beautiful, small Saturday.

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‎”Why are you going so fast” she said, spitting the words out in such a tone that meant even I, a stranger passing her on the street, knew she wasn’t happy.

“You need to stay with the pace” he snapped back at her, running his hand through his hair in what I assumed was a sign of frustration.

I felt for her, standing there holding the hands of two young boys dressed in their baseball jerseys and matching hats. I surmised ‎that she couldn’t keep up because she was dragging the kids along behind her, only able to move as fast as their little legs and short attention spans would allow them.

I wanted to turn to him and tell him to relax, to give her a break, couldn’t he see she was trying to keep up? But of course I didn’t. They may have been having their spat on a street corner, in full view of dozens of strangers, but this was obviously just between them.

I guessed they were coming from the baseball game that just finished and then made the leap to assume they were probably tired from a day out and about, rushing to get home before the real meltdowns started, only to find themselves caught up in rush hour and‎ the mad crush of people trying to quickly exit the downtown core.

I felt for them, all of them. I immediately identified with her, having been in almost exactly her shoes on more than one occasion. I imagined that she got up this morning with high hopes and maybe even a little bit of excitement about the day ahead. A trip downtown, an afternoon at the ballpark, a day with the family. But all too soon reality probably set in.

Kids asking for this and that and the other thing. Unforeseen complications that inevitably creep up. ‎Something gets lost, something gets forgotten, someone gets tired or hungry or both. All of that and before you know it the day you’re living looks nothing like the one you imagined.

I also felt for him. I’m sure he was just trying to get everyone home quickly and safely and I’m sure his response to her words was more about frustration than anger. How many times had I been in the same situation? How many times had I been the one snapping, at hubby, at the kids, at strangers, when it really had nothing to do with them and everything to do with me? How come it’s so much easier for me to see these things in others but not in myself?

Why can I see it so clearly when it’s someone else, but not when it’s me?

When it’s me, I can’t see the looks on the kids faces when I get angry and snap and lose sight of the bigger picture.

When it’s me, I can’t hear the tone of my own voice and how it comes across because I’m to caught up in my own emotions.

When it’s me, all that seems to matter is what I’m thinking and feeling and how I’m reacting, rather than those affected by it.

I hope after I turned the corner she went up and kissed him on the cheek and suggested they grab a couple of cool drinks for the kids and sit on a bench and let the crowds pass. I hope he smiled and pushed the hair out of her face and tucked it behind her ear, agreeing that yes, that sounded like a great plan, they would catch the next train, no need to rush.

I hope their day ended with smiles and good memories instead of cold shoulders and bruised feelings.

And the next time, when it’s me, I hope I remember her and him and those two little boys and what they taught me that day.

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‎The place is so quiet that I can hear the clock ticking. The clock has been in the wall the whole time we’ve been here but with four kids running around it’s usually much too chaotic and loud to hear the tiny sound of a ticking clock.

But the kids are out for now, up at the pool with the dads and so the house is quiet and I can hear the clock ticking. I went to the pool yesterday and the day before but today is overcast and cool and I barely get into a bathing suit when the weather is scorching, let alone when the sun is hiding and my body is covered in goose bumps.

My friend is asleep on the couch. She will wake up in a few minutes and claim she was not sleeping and, in fact, was only resting her eyes but I know the truth. ‎Her kids are younger than mine and so she is still in the stage when days start early and nights are never uninterrupted. She deserves to grab sleep, any sleep, wherever she can find it. I, on the other hand, feel somewhat guily napping when I had a full nights’ sleep last night (and the night before and the night before). I know she looks at me and wonders of she will ever get here, to the other side, where I now am. I remember being her and hating people who told me this phase will end, so I say nothing and just sneak quietly from the room so she can rest her eyes for a bit longer.

‎I should probably fold something or pack something or tidy something but I tell myself I’m on vacation so I don’t have to. Chores still exist on holidays, especially those with children, but I take the position that they become optional rather than mandatory. Whatever gets me through the day. We go home tomorrow so soon enough there will no longer be an option.

I sit here and look out the window, expecting to see the rag-tag bunch trudging down the hill from the swimming pool. They will be cold and tired, although they will admit neither. The quiet will be broken and there will be showers to run and soaking wet bathing suits to wring out and stories to listen to about who dove in and who swam the fastest and who stole the beach ball and wouldn’t give it back.

I will feel both happy and sad to see them. Happy for all of the reasons I’m supposed to but also sad because quiet time is done, and perhaps I’ve wasted it. Time alone is so precious that I feel I should have accomplished something amazing, although what that would look like I’m not sure. Instead they will return and all I will have done is pinned a new muffing recipe on Pinterest and written this post. Amazing? I fear I will once again have fallen short.

I look out the window again, and again no sign of them. It’s almost as though I don’t know what to do when I’m sitting here without them, without a constant list of things to do. Apparently I’ve lost the ability to be left to my own devices. When my kids are present I don’t know what to do with them, and yet when they are gone I don’t know what I’m supposed to do without them.

But soon enough they will be home and it will again be loud and chaotic and all of those other things that kids bring along with them wherever they go. And I will love them for it (at least a little bit) and I will fondly remember my time alone, when it was quiet enough to hear the sound of the clock ticking.

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‎I will remember…

Feet on the coffee table.

Pool towels hanging over the balcony, drying in the breeze.

Birds in the trees.

Sand on the floor.

Shoes piled by the door.

Splashing in the water.

Clapping from the deck.

A cold drink, warm sun and laughter.

Breathing deeply.

A clear mind.

Old friends and new memories.

Lazy days.

Peace.

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‎For months he’s been asking when it will happen, coming home from school or hockey or a birthday party telling me everyone else has lost a tooth and asking when he will finally catch up.

I told him it will happen when it happens, the kind of wisdom you hate as a child but what else could I say? If it was my first child I probably would have been calling the dentist and looking it up online – he’s almost seven, shouldn’t he have lost a tooth already?

If it was my first child I would have assumed something was wrong, not wanting to deviate at all from the standardized development charts that I pretended to ignore but actually refered to religiously.

But he is my second child, and so I know it will happen when it happens, ‎and because he is also my last child, I know I will be sad when it does.

I will be happy because he is happy, and I will be happy because it’s a confirmation that things are going the way they should, but I will be sad because it’s yet another step on the path away from his childhood.

‎Happy and sad.

Bitter and sweet.

Too fast and too slow.

Before I became a mother I did not know how these opposite things could exist together, in the same moment.

Now that I am a parent I understand that they exist together, side by side, in almost every moment.

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‎Yesterday my best friend got on a plane and flew almost 3,800 km from here. And by here I mean here where I am, away from me.

I know it’s almost 3,800 km because I googled it. When your best friend tells you she’s moving away, return date unknown, there’s actually very little you can do, or at least very little I felt like I could do, except determine exactly how far away “away” actually is. For some reason it made me feel better, to know the number

She’s only technically been gone a day but already it feels different. Even when we lived much closer together, physically, we still did most of our communicating electronically. The pace of our lives didn’t leave much time for face to face but still there was the idea of it. The idea that if we needed it, wanted it, there could be a quiet cup of tea across a kitchen table, a bag of cookies open in front of us.

There is no doubt in my mind that our friendship will continue. I believe in my heart that it will and that’s really all the guarantee I need. I also have no doubt in my mind that she will one day return, not necessarily because it’s true but because sometimes we need to have ideas to hold onto, whether they are the truth or not.

I know I will miss her, miss her at get togethers when normally she would be in the next room or the next seat beside me on the couch. I will miss her when August turns into September and we don’t celebrate our birthdays together. I will miss her in December when our annual holiday party doesn’t include a few stolen moments to do our own little gift exchange. I will miss her in February when the Academy Awards are on and I will miss her in the summer when we used to sit on the grass and solve the problems of the world.

But mostly I will miss her in the quiet moments when I feel alone and need to hear her voice or see her words written on the page. Fro so much of my life she has been the voice inside my head telling me, contrary to what I may think, I can actually do it; whatever it may be.

And the good thing is, the thing that I am holding onto in these first days as I adjust to the new normal, is that I know she’s still there when I need her. I can still send her an email or a message and she will be there to tell me exactly what I need to hear. If I need to hear her voice, I still can, through the wonders of technology I will be able to see and hear her on a little screen and we can still sit across the table and have a cup of tea. Only this time we’ll each have our own bag of cookies.

She is 3,800 km away from here, away from me. But I know in my heart we are true friends and no distance can change that.

And that means 3,800 km is not really that far after all.

Almost 3800 km

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