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Posts Tagged ‘love’

‎I heard a small cough from the top of the stairs as I checked my purse to ensure it contained all of the necessities I would need for the day ahead. Up until that little cough the house was quiet; I was the only one awake.

He didn’t need to be up that early, not today. On a regular school day this was the time I would be kissing his cheek in his bed and he would be groaning for just “five more minutes.” Of course today, the day he could have five more minutes, he was awake anyway.

I turned my head to see him slowly making his way down the stairs, his blanket and favourite stuffed animal – a little brown bear wearing blue pajamas which he has named Toby – in one arm and the other bent slightly, rubbing the last remnants of sleep from his eyes.

“Hi Mama,” he said softly, a little smile on his lips. “I heard you and wanted to see you before you left.”

Wanted.

He got up out of his warm bed to walk down the stairs because he wanted to see me, to give me a hug and a kiss before I left for work.

He wanted to see me.

Most of my days are filled with people who need things from me; people who call me and email me and stop me in the hallway because they need me to do something, finish something, read something, find something.

But this morning, with the early sun streaming in the window, a little boy placed a sweet kiss on my cheek and wrapped me up in a hug and held on tight for almost a whole minute.

And he did it for no other reason than because he wanted to.

And I can’t even put into words how great it felt to be wanted.

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“Mama, why did you throw this away?”

I turned around and saw that he was holding a small, pink heart in the palm of his hand.

“I found it in the dryer, Buddy. I didn’t know what it was.”

“I made it for you, Mama, because I love you.”

He held out the heart and placed it in my hand, smiling and giving me a hug before he walked out of the room.

I looked down at the heart, slightly warped from its run through the washer and dryer and a day or two in the garbage can.

It was pretty far from perfect.‎

But love isn’t perfect, right? It isn’t always smooth or pretty or ‎flawless. Sometimes it’s crooked and wobbly and uneven and sometimes it’s even been through the wringer once or twice.

But, holding that little imperfect heart in my hand, I realized that’s just the way it should be.

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I shot a glance at the rear view mirror and caught a glimpse of her in the back seat, sitting quietly, staring out the window. I knew something was wrong but she wouldn’t say what it was. I had questioned her a few times throughout the morning with no progress. I decided I needed a captive audience.

So we left a few minutes earlier for her hockey practice than we needed to ‎and I stopped at the drive through to grab a tea. Then we pulled into a parking spot at the arena and I asked her to come sit up in the front with me.

Apparently all she needed was a change in scenery because no sooner did she sit down in the passenger seat than the flood gates opened. She was feeling down, one of those days we all have when we think we’re not good at anything, a never will be. A day when everything seems hard and sad. A day when nothing is wrong but everything is wrong.

When I looked at her face, eyes down-turned and wet with tears I was struck suddenly by the familiarity of it ‎but in a way I couldn’t quite place. And then it hit me where I’d seen that look before. I’d seen it in the mirror.

I’ve felt the very same way, more times than I can even count. Feeling like you’re good at nothing, worthy of nothing, proud of nothing. All too often I try and give advice; try to find solutions to the problems and put band-aids on the cuts and watch from a distance as they heal, even with myself. But this time I tried to turn all of that off and just say what I thought she needed to hear; to say what I wanted to hear when I was feeling down on myself and stuck. ‎And when I thought about what I most wanted to hear at those times, I opened my mouth and said, “I will always be a fan of you.”

She looked at me with questions in her eyes so I asked her if she knew what that meant. She shook her head ‘no.’

I told her I would always be the number one cheerleader of her life. I would always keep track of all of the amazing things she did and does and will do and when she can’t remember them, I will remind her. I will always scream the loudest and yell the longest and embarass her with how much I love her. When she forgets how special she is, I will tell her, over and over and over again. When she fails or comes in last or falls on her face I will help her up and remind her how amazing the effort was and help her try again. ‎I will be the voice in her head that tells her she can when everything else is telling her she can’t. And I will tell her she can so loudly and so insistently that she won’t be able to hear anything else. I will be a fan of her.

And when she looked at me this time I could tell that she understood, and that the words I said were the ones she needed to hear. Sometimes her and I are not on the same page, or even in the same book for that matter, but this time we got it right.

We hugged and talked a little more and then headed inside. I smiled to see her step seemed a little lighter, her eyes a little brighter, her face more open than it had been before. It’s a wonderful feeling to find out you don’t have to carry the weight of the world all by yourself.

She scored a goal at her game that day, her first real goal of the season and I screamed so loud you could hear me through the entire arena. And oh the smile on her face, ‎I could see it from a mile away, even hidden behind the bars of her mask.

There is a time and place for teaching, for hard truths and stark realities. She will learn to lose and fail and be chosen last. The world will teach her all of those things better than I ever could and maybe I’ll stop trying to compete. Maybe, instead, I’ll just stand and cheer.

The world is a critic; maybe I’ll just be a fan.

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‎I planned to write tonight. I planned to sit down in front of my computer, a cup of steaming hot, sweet milky tea sitting on the desk beside me, and write.

I planned to finally try and write a submission for the short story contest that I entered last year and was hoping to enter again this year. I’ve had a few ideas floating around in my head for the last few days and I was planning to finally get something down on paper.

I should have known better.

It seems that whenever I plan to write, a dozen other things pop up and get in my way. It seems that whenever I plan to write, I actually fail to write anything at all.

Instead plans got changed and I ended up cuddling with my daughter on my bed, watching a movie we had already seen. We painted her nails and ate snacks and when we were done I put my arms around her and she tucked her head under my chin, her hair tickling my neck.

When the movie was finished I put her to bed and kissed her cheek, brushing her hair out of her face and inhaling the sweet scent of her. All too often these days I forget about these moments with her, I think she’s too old and I’m too busy and that we’re not in that place where we once were‎.

But then we have a night like this, a night where I was planning to do other things but instead spent the night curled up with a little girl who is not going to be little very much longer. And now, as the night draws to a close I haven’t written any part of a short story; I didn’t even turn on my computer.

I didn’t do anything at all that I planned.

And it was pretty great.

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‎My daughter hums, almost constantly. She does it when she brushes her teeth, when she put on her shoes, when she dresses the dolls I’m glad she’s not too old to still love playing with.

She doesn’t even notice she’s doing it. From time to time I will ask her what song she’s singing and she’ll look at me, not understanding what I’m asking.

That’s when it occurred to me that whereas I hear words in my head, she hears music. That is her comfort, her centre, her constant companion. And it makes me smile.

I sometimes wonder what it’s like to hear the music, because it’s definitely not something I have ever experienced. I’m basically as non-musical as you can get, but maybe one day she will explain it to me. I will have to ask her.

I’m glad she has it, has something to keep her company, even if she can’t yet appreciate it. And so I will continue to smile each time I hear the humming, off in the distance, down the hall, across the dinner table. And I will lean over and kiss her on the head, although she won’t know why I do it.

Because I love her, and I love that she hears music wherever she goes.

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A big thank you to Leslie for sending along this idea!

“List ten things you love and ten things you hate. Celebrate the former and ‘kill’ the latter by writing about them.”

It probably says something about my personality that when I first read this suggestion I wondered how I would only come up with ten things that I hate.  I am the kind of person for whom a lot of things rub me the wrong way.  Maybe I’ll have to do that part of the writing prompt more than one time!

Okay, so here it goes!

I love

1) I love the smell in the air after it rains.  Sometimes I stand outside my front door and just inhale.  I try not to think to much about what my neighbours must think of me.

2) I love getting mail from friends.  I have a couple of great people in my life who send me cards sometimes and I hope they know how much I love them.  I love to see my name hand written on the outside of an envelope when I open my mail box.  I love that someone took the time to pick out a card they thought I would like, write something sweet inside, riffle through their purse to find a stamp, and walk to the mail box to send it off to me.  That says love to me.

3) I love watching the previews in the movie theatre.  I love getting lost in the little stories and picking out which ones I want to see next.  I can’t be friends with anyone who doesn’t want to be there in time to watch the previews.  Sorry.  Deal breaker.

4) I love walking through the office supply aisle at Target.  I love looking at all of the different colour Post-It notes and thinking about all the places I would post them.  I love flipping through the journals, running my hands over the untouched pages and hearing the crack of the unopened spine.  I imagine all of the things I would write in there.

5) I love when my hubby or one of my kids reaches out to hold my hand, all on their own, just because they want to.  The way they do it without even looking because they know that my hand will be there, just where they expect it to be, whenever they need it.

6) I love being in the car by myself on a warm Spring day, the windows cracked, the radio just a little bit louder than necessary, singing off-key to some cheesy boy-band song.  I love feeling grown-up enough to have a car that I can drive and somewhere to go, without having to be an adult, shushing the kids in the back so I can hear the latest traffic report.

7) I love the first sip of a cup of tea.  No matter if it’s first thing on a cold morning, driving to the train station, or last thing on a summer night, listening to the rain bounce off the roof.  The first sip always makes me stop, close my eyes, and just enjoy.  Suddenly I’m eight years old again, home sick from school with my mom and sharing a cup while she lets me watch As The World Turns, feeling so special and loved.

8) I love bubble baths, the hotter and bubblier the better.  There’s just something about sliding down into that hot water and feeling the worries and tension just soak from my body that makes everything seem easier.  I’m sure none of the world’s problems have ever been solved in a bubble bath, but I’m just as sure that none of them were made any worse.

9) I love the feeling when I finish an amazing book and I just want to tell everyone I know to go and read it.  And then I want to sit in a room filled with those people and talk about all the things we loved about it.  I love getting to the last page and being glad to have reached the end but also totally devastated because it means I can no longer live in the world the book created for me and have to, instead, return to real life.

10) I love candles.  I used to buy them and then leave them in my closet to collect dust because I thought it was decadent to burn them.  I don’t think that anymore.  I light a candle almost every night after dinner, whenever I have a bubble bath, and some nights while I read a few pages before I go to sleep.  Something about the smell – I especially love any of the scented ones that smell like baked goods – just relaxes me and forces me to take a moment just to breath and quiet the commentary in my head.  I burn them all the time and when it has been burned all it can, I don’t feel guilty about having used it up, instead I celebrate the fact that it means I get to go pick out a new one.

I hate

1) I hate folding laundry.  I don’t mind putting the stuff in the washing machine and can usually remember to move it from the washer to the dryer but when I hear the buzzer go to tell me it’s time to fold, I can’t help but say a few bad words.  How does everything that goes into the machine right-side out come out of the dryer inside out?  Why are there always socks missing?  I mean seriously, where do they go???  And perhaps the worse part is that I know, as I stand there folding shirt after shirt, I know it’s not the end.  I still have to put them all away.  Hatred, pure hatred.

2) I hate people who walk slowly.  I am a fast walker and I’m not saying that everyone needs to walk as quickly as I do but really, if you can’t keep up can you at least move over to the side??  I don’t care if I don’t even have anywhere to go, I still need to get there quickly!

3) I hate french toast.  I hate that everyone acts surprised when I say I hate french toast, like I just said I hate babies or sunshine.  I don’t like bread dipped in egg okay?  If I wanted eggs and toast I would cook them separately, not together in the same pan, smushed together.  Get over it.

4) I hate the way people order non-fat lattes at Starbucks and then ask for whipped cream.  Really??  You didn’t want all of the fat in your latte, you’d prefer to just add it on top?  Give yourself (and all of us) a break and just treat yourself.  Go full fat once in awhile and don’t make apologies.  It will stop those of us in line behind you from having to roll our eyes at you.

5) I hate fake.  I hate people who hide behind fake instead of letting the rest of us see what’s really going on with them.  If you want to pretend you’re happy all the time, loving every minute of being a wife, being a mother, being a friend, being a daughter, then that’s your own business but I don’t have to go along with it.  Fake is boring.  Fake isn’t even worth commenting on.  If you want to be real, if you want to share what’s really going on and what you’re really feeling then I will be here, every minute of the day, 2 in the morning, whatever.  I have all the time in the world if you want to be real; but I don’t have time for fake.

6) I hate feeling out of place.  I hate not knowing where to stand or what to wear or which words to say.  I hate feeling like I don’t know what’s going on, or wondering if I’m doing it all wrong.  I realize this is a horrible thing to hate because consistent with trying anything new is the idea that there is going to be a period of time when I don’t know what I’m doing, but I hate it nonetheless.

7) I hate being late.  I can literally feel the tension in my body as the clock ticks closer and closer to the time I’m supposed to be somewhere.  I usually end up feeling slightly ill if I end up arriving after the time I’m supposed to.  In conjunction with this, I hate it when other people are late.  I know there are justifiable and unavoidable reasons why people are sometimes delayed but it still completely irks me.

8) I hate feeling like I have let someone down.  I hate thinking that somewhere out there might be a friend who wonders if I care for them, or a loved one who wonders if I think of them at all.  I hate knowing that I can’t be there for someone when they need me, or that there’s something about me that makes others not want to share what they’re feeling.  Because sometimes I feel all of those things and I know it’s not a nice way to feel.

9) I hate pants that gape at the back.  I hate the fact that people who make pants can’t grasp the fact that 99% if women’s waists are smaller than their hips, whether the woman is a size 5 or a size 15.  Why can’t they get that?  Why can’t they make pants that fit?  If it’s a physical impossibility then why don’t they put those elastics in the waists of women’s pants that you can adjust, like they do with kids pants?  We can put people on the moon and make chewing gum that tastes like key lime pie but this, this we can’t do??

10) I hate radio call-in shows.  They physically make my skin crawl.  As soon as I hear the words “Dave from Oakville, you’re in the air” my throat starts to close up and my arms start to itch.  I don’t know why.  I don’t know what it is about them that I hate so much but I do.  And now they even have call-in shows on tv, as if just listening to them wasn’t enough, now we get to see them.  There’s one on tv now where people call in and ask a guy about buying a car.  So now Dave from Oakville wants to buy a 2005 Honda Civic and wants to know how much he should pay.  Oh the agony.

I have to say, this exercise was quite an eye-opener.  I thought it would be easy to come up with ten things I hate but it actually took me way more time than the ten things I love.  It was also interesting to actually sit for a minute and ask myself what I love.  No one ever really asks that, do they?  And yet is there really anything that says more about us as people than what we love.

Maybe next time I’m having tea with a friend I’ll ask them, and actually sit back and listen because if we really love someone, shouldn’t we also care about and nurture the things they love?  I mean people are usually more than willing to volunteer to tell us about the things they hate, I for one know that I share that information more than others probably wish I would, but how often do we talk about what we love?

Thanks again for sending this along Leslie, this was a great one!

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the library

A special shout out to the Eagle-Eyed Editor for passing along this writing prompt in response to my “stuck on repeat” post.  As soon as I saw this suggestion on the list, I knew I had to write it.

“The Library that means the most to you.”

When my daughter was eight months old we moved to a new house, in a town about half an hour from where we used to live.  I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know where anything was, I didn’t know anything.  I was also on maternity leave which meant I had hours upon hours upon hours alone with my daughter during the day.  And, as those of you with kids know, there are only so many hours you can spend playing with Duplo before your brain begins to shrink.  After just a week of being in the house, I was bored.  I needed to find something.

So I packed my daughter up in the stroller and off we went, looking for something.  What we found was the library.

It was only about a 15 minute walk from our house, down a beautiful tree-lined street.  It was September, the leaves were changing and the whole street seemed to be on fire.  The library was at the end of the street, an old, dark, depressing looking building but, upon closer inspection, I could see some construction trucks tucked in behind.  They were in the process of building a new library, right behind where the old one stood.  Once it was done they would tear down the old one and put in a courtyard where it used to be.  It wasn’t much to look at, but it was what was inside that mattered.

We made our way up the ramp that led us to the second floor.  I had to struggle to get the stroller through the door and I was wondering if maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all.  But once I got inside I knew I was home.  All of the books, shelf upon shelf upon shelf.  The light was dim, the carpet was dark, the windows were small but I didn’t care.  My eyes adjusted quickly and my heart beat faster; I hardly knew where to begin.

I don’t remember how long we stayed that first day.  Knowing my daughter as she was at that age, she probably gave me 10 or 15 minutes before she started to fuss and whine in her stroller, no longer entertained by the crackers or toys or keys from my pocket.  I can’t remember how long we stayed but I can pretty much guarantee that by the time we left, the bottom basket was full of books.  I probably never even read half of them but just the idea that I could if I wanted to was enough, it was enough for me that day.  When my brain was shrinking from stacking and unstacking blocks all day, I could read a book and feel better, feel human, feel like maybe I could still matter.

As overly dramatic and cheesy as it may sound, I feel like that library saved me.  Whenever the walls of my house felt like they were closing in, I went to the library.  Whenever I felt out of touch with the rest of the world, I went to the library.  Whenever I just wanted 10 minutes to flip through the latest edition of People magazine and find out what the Kardashians were up to, I went to the library.  It helped me remember, if only for a few minutes, who I used to be.  When I used to read and read and read, hardly coming up for air, when I used to dream of one day writing a book that someone else would devour in the same way I had devoured the words of others.  Slowly I began to come back into focus.

When the new library opened, I went through the doors that first day and stood in awe at the floor to ceiling windows, the spacious aisles, the comfy arm chairs.  It was beautiful and filled with so many new books I hardly knew what to do with myself.

Nine years later we still live in the same little town but we’re in a different house and sadly, we’re no longer walking distance to the library.  No matter, I’m still there at least three times a week.  My hubby jokes that it’s my second home.  It’s really not a joke though because, next to my own home it’s the place where I feel most at peace.  There’s just something about being surrounded by all of those words, all of those ideas; it simultaneously makes me feel incredibly small and yet part of something incredibly big.

Maybe one day my name will be on one of of the books on one of those shelves.  Maybe one day someone who is lost, like I was, will find it and not feel so lost anymore.  Maybe.  You never know, amazing things can happen.

Especially at the library.

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