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Posts Tagged ‘questions’

‎I just finished a book and when I turned the last page I sighed a sigh of disappointment, as I often do. I wish I was disappointed because the book was so good and I didn’t want it to end but sadly that was not the case.

I like to think I read a wide range of books but if I being honest to both myself and the more book-knowledgeable people in my life, I tend to gravitate to a certain type of book. I like books about people, people with lives just dissimilar enough to my own so that I can feel like I’m experiencing new things, but not so dissimilar that I can’t find a piece to relate to. I like story lines that make sense and are at least somewhat based on reality; I can imagine certain things, but my logical Virgo brain can only be expected to bend so far. And, I like a little love. Not Harlequin love or Danielle Steel love or Fifty Shades love, but a little romance, a few wistful glances across the room and a little work along the road to the happily ever after.

‎But more and more I find myself dissatisfied with the endings, happy or not. I get to the last page and I feel cheated, short-changed, bamboozled. I find myself asking, what now, what next, what happens after?

And I’m slowly beginning to realize that maybe I feel that way because that’s where I am now, in my own life. I’m in the ‘after’ and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next.

What happens after you find the guy and fall in love and buy a ring and buy a dress and get a house and pee on a stick and bring home a baby and ‎fantasize about a full nights’ sleep and clean up spit and clean up toys and pee on another stick and bring home another baby and get a bigger house and send one off to school (finally) and breath a small sigh of relief and clean up more spit and more toys and then send the other one off to school (finally) and then sit down and look around and realize you’re now in the part no one talks about?

They have books about what to expect up to a certain point, but not for the ‘now’ that I now live in. Where’s the ‘what to expect when your kids are pre-teen and spend most of their day rolling their eyes at you’ and ‘what to expect when you’re neither a miss or a ma’am’ or ‘what to expect when you have 30 more years until retirement.’

I get that, in theory, the answer is that I can do whatever I want, that the book doesn’t end on the last page it’s just up to me to figure out what to write but I’m tired and lacking in imagination. I feel like there is a plan for the first part, and a plan for the last part but the middle is just a vast, open space for me to wander through aimlessly, putting in time.

I blame myself completely because I know I’m the one who put myself here. I know it’s my own fault for planning only far enough to get me through to here and not having the forethought to extend the plan further, but it pointing the finger isn’t helping me find an answer.

I just feel like I’m now too tired to plan any more; that the very act of getting to this point has taken all of the imagination and initiative I could muster and that now it’s about maintenance. Just stay the path, don’t rock the boat, bounce from minor crisis to minor crisis and keep your head above the water.

And I feel like no one else is having this issue. I feel like we’re getting better at talking truthfully about the difficulties of motherhood and how our lives change when kids arrive, but now I want to have a conversation about what happens when it gets a little bit less difficult and how our lives can change now that the kids have been here for a while, but I can’t find anyone having that discussion. It’s like the early days of motherhood when I felt I was the only one. I eventually realized I wasn’t and I hoping that’s the case again. As Dear Sugar would put it (much more eloquently than I), I am once again looking for my tribe.

‎I’m ready for the parent-tot groups that focus less on the tots and more on the parents. I’m ready to sit down and read a story that doesn’t end with happily ever after but digs deeper, goes further, looks harder. ‎I’m ready for someone to take my hand and help me find what comes next, and to show me the way to what happens after.

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Tag, I’m it!

My friend at Bees on Skis has included me in this fun little game and I’m more than happy to play along.  And not just because my bestie told me that for a change, I need to write something that doesn’t make her cry!

My relationship with Bees is kind of a funny one.  I know her in “real life” which is to say we knew each other in the actual world before we met again in the blogging world.  I’ve never been to her house and she’s been to mine only a couple of times, we live thousands of miles away from each other and see each other next to never, and yet I would not hesitate in the least to say we’re friends.  We met through our hubbies because they grew up together and what a bonus it was to meet her and find out that I really liked her.  With or without the hubby connection I know we would be friends anyway and I’m just counting the days until we can spend an afternoon together in London, drinking tea, talking about books and laughing, laughing, laughing.  We’ll get there…one day!

In the meantime, I’m excited to take part in her tagging adventure.  The rules are simple, she came up with a few questions that I have to answer and then I have to tag a few other bloggers and come up with some questions for them.

And here we go!

1.  If you could take one song/album to a desert island with you, what would it be?

Living Under June by Jann Arden.  If you’ve read this blog for a little while you know of my absolute love and devotion to Jann Arden and her music.  This particular album came out when I was in high school (holy moly that’s a long time ago) and I remember listening to it everyday on the way home on my yellow Sony walkman.  Wow, now I’m making myself sound even older.  As soon as CDs came out I upgraded my cassette copy and it’s one of the few albums I can say I still listen to on a regular basis.  This album has essentially been the soundtrack of my life and I can’t imagine leaving it behind.

2.  What one piece of advice would you give your child as he/she goes into high school?

Find your flock.  Find a group of people who care about what you think and allow you to share with them who you really are.  High school can be a scary, scary place and it makes things infinitely easier to not have to go it alone.  It’s not about popularity; it’s not about having the most friends or the coolest friends or the prettiest friends, it’s about finding a group who think you’re pretty great, just the way you are.  It will make everything else so much easier.  

3.  What is the one piece of advice that you remember most from your own parents?

My dad always encouraged me to go away to attend university.  He had done the same when he was growing up and he said it was the best experience he could have had.  Of course I’m not sure they planned on me going so far away but to this day it’s one of the decisions I look back on and know, without a single doubt, was the right one and I’m so grateful that they could see past their fears and doubts to let me go through with it.  It allowed me the opportunity to find out who I was once I was free from all that I used to be.  It was a fresh start, a chance to carry with me all of the things I liked, and a chance to dump all of the baggage I had brought on my journey up to that point.  It’s not often that advice becomes life-changing, but in this case it really did.  

4.  What is your dream job?

I don’t know quite how to put it in words, but it would somehow involve helping women through the emotional preparations and transition to motherhood.  I think we’re doing a better job supporting mothers physically and giving them the supports they need but I think we still lack in the emotional support.  I think so many of us went into this thing with such skewed expectations and ended up feeling lonely and guilty and unhappy.  And because this wasn’t the way it was “supposed” to be, we just feel more lonely and more guilty and more unhappy.  I would love to do something to help those women who go through what I have gone through, and to help them realize their feelings, no matter what they are, are exactly what they are “supposed” to be. By no means do I have all of the answers, but sometimes it’s a comfort just knowing others have asked the same questions.

5.  Would you change anything about what you studied in college or university?

It’s funny for me now to think about how far I am from what I actually studied, technically, and yet it still shapes me on an almost daily basis.  I studied Journalism because I thought I was going to be a writer.  All these years later I don’t do any writing on a formal basis and yet the principles and structure of it are with me all the time.  It taught me all of the rules and processes that I needed to know, and it taught me that I much prefer writing outside of all of that.  I want to write what I want to write, when I want to write it.  Going to school to “learn” about it taught me that at least.

6.  Who would you call if you had only one phone call left to make?

My hubby.  No matter the ups and downs, it all still begins and ends with him.

7.  Where is your favourite place in all the world?

In Ottawa, along the canal, right next to the university I attended there are locks where you can cross over to the other side of the canal.  One particular lock, once you get to the other side, takes you to a path that eventually leads you to a small foot bride.  Over the foot bridge there is a large tree and when you sit under it, you have a perfect view of a little stream that trickles its way through the park.  I found this particular spot in my first days in Ottawa, when I felt alone and unsure and it gave me some peace.  Whenever the weather was warm I would take a book down there and sit, sometimes reading, sometimes just watching the world pass by.  My last day in Ottawa, before we moved away, I went down there again, to say goodbye and whenever I’m back in the city I think of it and try to pass by as a reminder of who I was then, and where I am now.

8.  If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

The forgotten children.  The fact that there are still kids, right in our own neighbourhoods, that don’t get breakfast to eat or books to read or dreams to dream.  There must be a way, there must be a way to get around all of the judgement and the rhetoric and just help.  Just help them get what they need so they can go on to be the people they are supposed to be.  There are unwanted kids in one house and down the block there are people who want nothing more than to pass their love down to a child.  It shouldn’t be as hard as it is to bring the kids together with the love they so desperately deserve.  It really should be easier and yet it’s not.  

9.  What did you like best about your childhood?

The sheer “regularness” of it.  I grew up in the suburbs of a big city with a mom and a dad and a brother and a cat.  I walked to school and had a best friend and went for ice cream and dreamed all of the dreams that a kid is supposed to dream.  I grew up believing that I could do anything I had the courage to try, and be anything I had to imagination to dream.  Being on the other side of it now, being the one who’s responsible for giving two little people a “childhood” it has become clear to me how amazing that is.  

10.  Why/How did you start your blog?

I was feeling lost, stuck, unhappy with where I was and unwilling or unable to see another way to be.  Writing had always been an outlet for me but the idea of sharing it had always been a huge barrier to doing anything with it.  Until I decided I was tired of being afraid, tired of not writing and sharing because I was afraid of what others might think.  One day I realized that it wasn’t about them, it was about me and if writing the words helped to lighten the load, then that’s what I should do.  And the Polka Dot Palace was born.  A silly little place with a silly little name where I write about all the things that float around in my head and put them down on paper, if only to clear up some space in my mind for more things to think about.  It has proven to be a wonderfully cathartic experience.

11.  What is your favourite day of the year?

That first day of spring when it’s finally warm enough to open the windows and feel the warm breeze on my face.  When I can grab a light jacket and go for a walk, marvelling in the world coming back to life after a long winter.  When the grey gives way to the green and the darkness gives way to the sunlight.  When all I want to do is slide my feet out of my shoes and feel the grass between my toes.  When all that was dead begins to grow again.  That’s my favourite day.

Okay, my turn to continue the fun!  I’d like the tag the following bloggers and ask them to answer the questions below.

Fahrin Kermally

Shoes on the Wrong Feet

PaperKeeper

It’s not often that you are asked to think about “you” and what you like and what you want and what you see.  I know you are all busy with the million things you have to do each day but if you find a spare minute, sit down and give this a try.  For me, it was a really wonderful break in an otherwise regular Sunday afternoon of doing laundry and making lunches!

And I’ll ask my friend Bees to answer them too, not to tag her again but because I’m interested to hear her answers to the questions!

1. Who is your favourite character from a book, movie or TV show?

2. What does writing do for you that nothing else can?

3. If you could spend a month living in a foreign city, which one would it be?

4. Which thoughts run through your head and keep you from sleeping at night?

5. What is your greatest fear?

6. No matter how down you may be feeling, what is the one thing that can always make you laugh?

7. If a stranger came up to you on the street and gave you $100, the only rule being that you had to spend it on yourself, what would you buy?

8. If you had an extra hour every day, what do you wish you would do with it?

9. If you had an extra hour every day, what would you actually do with it?

10. If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would that word be?

Tag…you’re it!

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‎”Please,” she said, over and over and over again. “Please can I go, please, please, please, please?”

I saw the pleading in her eyes, like she’d never wanted anything as much as she wanted this and, in that moment, I believed that she probably never had.

A year ago she was crying herself to sleep almost every night because she didn’t want to go to a new school. Didn’t want to leave her friends, didn’t want to start fresh, didn’t want anything to do with the plans we had made. We tried to convince her otherwise, tried to explain how much better it would be, tried to help her see the bigger pic‎ture. Of course it was impossible. Of course a nine year old can’t see the big picture. Of course she just wants friends and most of all, the holy grail of friends, the best friend.

“I promise I’ll be careful, Mom. I promise.”

I hated that she could see the fear in my eyes so clearly. That she could already see, even at her age, that it is the fear, my fear, that stands in her way. I smoothed down her hair and answered that I know she would be and that I would let her know later that day what had been decided.

‎They came to the door last Friday evening and once the girls were upstairs he said he wanted to talk to me about something. My mind raced through all the possibilities of what it could be and I hate to say it but all of them were negative. Did the girls get in a fight? Did something happen? Was something said that shouldn’t have been said? I’m always so bad at dealing with these situations, what if I don’t know how to react?

But it wasn’t bad at all, it was good. They were going away for a couple of days, doing something really fun, and they wanted her to go with them. She had been picked. Their daughter could bring only one friend and my daughter had been chosen.

My heart warmed for her; that she would be able to experience, if even only for a brief time, being the chosen one. She was now what she wanted to be so badly all those teary nights before. She was the best friend.

Some people seem to come into the world with a place already waiting for them, a spot in the sun where things just seem easier and smoother and softer. My son is one of those people. He draws attention and bats his eye lashes and has people of all ages commenting that he’s adorable. He makes friends effortlessly because he genuinely doesn’t care if you like him or not, so convincingly that you can’t help but try and make him like you in return. He has his own struggles but even they have an effortless quality to them. It’s not a matter if “if” but “when.” You get the impression that he sees the world as being full of possibilities and his greatest challenge is deciding what to try next.

My daughter, on the other hand, will seemingly always have to work to find her place. ‎She has a hundred amazing talents but is satisfied with none of them; constantly trying to prove herself to some silent critic. She cares if you like her, she cares more than she wants to admit. She wants you to like her but works incredibly hard to look like she doesn’t. She seems to see the world as being full of obstacles, coming at her one after the other after the other.

And now she had almost made her way over a big hurdle , if I could only get out of her way. I wanted to, I really did, but at the edges of my happiness for her, I felt the fear creeping in. How could I let her go? How could I pack her bag and send her off with these people I know only in passing? How could I wave goodbye to her and send her off without me?

But how could I not let her go? How could I say no when she had been picked, been chosen, and when I know she would have such a wonderful time? How could I say no to the chance for her to make such amazing memories?

“Please Mom, please! Have you decided yet? Please?”

If I said no, if I didn’t let her go because of my fear, of my desire to keep her safe in the only way I know how – by keeping her right beside me – then what have I taught her? I have taught her not to be careful, but to be fearful. I’ve taught her not to trust her instincts, but to mistrust everything around her. I’ve taught her that while someone else may have picked her, I don’t believe in her enough to let her be chosen.

And so I finally said “yes.”

I hugged her close so she wouldn’t see the tears welling up in my eyes.

“You can go.”

She yelled with joy and ran to start packing her bag although she wouldn’t leave for four more days. It’s all she talked about and she hardly slept from the excitement. And when she left it was my turn to say please.

Please be careful. Please don’t do anything you know you shouldn’t. Please stay safe.

Please take care of my little girl. Please don’t think I’m crazy for all of my worrying. Please treat her like I would. Please bring her back safe to me.

That was two days ago and now she’s back. She’s sitting here beside me on the couch, home safe and sound with lots of stories of all the fun she had. I smile and sit back to listen to her, the words spilling out of her, tumbling one on top of the other in a hurry to be told.

I just sit and listen. I won’t tell her that I didn’t sleep while she was gone. I won’t tell her that I thought about her every hour and that I was sitting on the stairs just inside the front door waiting for her to get back. I won’t tell her that when I saw the car pull into the driveway I went and stood in the kitchen so it didn’t seem like I was hovering, even though that’s exactly what I was doing.

I know this is just the beginning. I know there will be many more times spent sitting inside the front ‎door, looking at the clock and waiting. I know there will be more questions and pleases and trips and answers I don’t want to give. More waiting for her to come home safe from wherever she was. Hundreds and thousands of silent prayers sent out into the universe to watch over her when I can’t.

Always bring her home to me.

Always keep her safe.

Please.

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‎Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed by everything I don’t know. I feel it swarming around me like dust being blown from a table, swirling and dancing about in the sunlight before it settles down once again.

There seems to be so much of it these days; so much that I don’t even know how to start wading through it all. And with it all inevitably comes the doubt that piles on top, making me wonder if there are even more things I don’t know, I just haven’t realized them yet.

It’s hard. It’s a hard, sticky place to be and, having been here before, I know it’s easy to get stuck here. It’s so easy to get lost in the down and out and forget about all of the ups that still exist, no matter how well they are hidden right now.

But I will try. I will try because what else is there to do? Succumbing to ‎the doubts never serve any purpose but to make it harder to see the outside. If I keep my head down much longer I may just forget how beautiful it is to look up.

So I will try. I will try not to think of the things I don’t know, the things I don’t understand, the things I don’t feel. And instead I will remember the certainties that follow me as I go; the things that will always be there to prop me up when I stumble.

I know the beautiful feeling of cracking open a new book, quickly escaping into the lives of those who live in its pages.

I know the love of spontaneous hug, small arms wrapped tightly around my waist and cheeks rubbing against the softness of my middle.

I know the choices I have made that have turned out more perfectly than I could have ever imagined, and the inherent satisfaction that can only come from following my heart.

I know the way things click into place when I find the right words, and the way that getting them out of my head and down on paper makes the load seem just a little bit lighter.

I know the people in my life who understand me and still choose to love me, those who hold my hand and show me the way through the dark, those who know that’s truly the only way to appreciate the light.

These are the things I know, and I will remind myself that one day I won’t have to work so hard to remember what I know to be true.

One day those are the things that will fill all the spaces in my head where the questions now live.

One day.

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I thought it would be harder.

I thought when the time came to finally say goodbye I would contemplate the moment, rolling it over and over in my head until I analyzed myself out of actually doing it. I’ve done it enough times to assume that’s the way it would happen this time too.

But I was wrong; this time something was different.

They were the maternity clothes that I wore long after I had any business wearing them. The fashionable (or so I thought) capri pants that were the only thing that fit after baby but before regular clothes. The red t-shirt I wore to the hospital hours before my son was born, which I told myself looked just like a regular t-shirt so it was okay. They were my favourites; the ones I hung on to long after the others were passed along to a friend of a friend who was expecting. They were the ones I refused to let go of.

I found the bag in my closet about a year ago and dug them out to look through. I had a moment sitting on the floor of my closet and then I put the bag in the trunk of my car. I thought it was time. I had a friend at work who was having a baby and I thought she might as well get some use out of them.

That was what I told myself anyway.

But as the days turned into weeks the bag took up permanent residence in the back of my car. I couldn’t give them away, but I couldn’t justify bringing them back into the house either. The bag was in limbo, just like I was. I couldn’t face making the decision so I didn’t.

The weeks turned into months and still the bag stayed in the back of my car. I would look at it every time I opened the trunk, but I wouldn’t allow myself to think about it. However, in reality it seemed like I thought of nothing else. The bag of clothes became a physical manifestation of the choice I was so afraid to make.

In my head I knew the clothes didn’t mean anything. I could keep the clothes and never decide to have another baby; or I could give them away and get pregnant tomorrow. It wasn’t the clothes. It was me.

But for some reason as long as that bag was rolling around in my trunk I felt like anything was possible. I had not closed any doors; or opened any for that matter. As long as the bag was there, things made sense. The decision could wait for another day.

We cleaned out the garage yesterday, piling up kids boots that had long been outgrown, yoga mats that had never seen the inside of a yoga class, kitchen tools that worked much better on TV than they ever did in my kitchen.

I was headed out to run some errands so we packed my car full of all the stuff and I said I would drop it off at Goodwill while I was out. When we got there my daughter helped me unload all of our treasures into a rolling bin and she started to push it to the drop off.

I told her to wait a second.

I grabbed the bag and stood there with it in my hand and waited to feel the familiar ache, but this time it didn’t come. This time I didn’t see what was missing; I only saw what wasn’t. My daughter turned and looked back at me. She was excited. After this errand we were going to shop for new shoes, and then to a movie, just her and I.

And so before I could think about it too much I ran up and threw the bag of clothes in the bin, watching as she rolled it away.

I knew in reality it didn’t mean anything, to an outside observer nothing had actually changed.

But to me it had.

The decision I had been fighting for so long had been made, in the one place that mattered the most: in my heart.

In the same way I knew all of the other times were the wrong time, I was now just as certain that this was the right time. I knew there would still be moments of sadness, but they would no longer be tainted with doubt, with questions, with anger.

And I was thankful I had waited; that I had trusted myself enough to know there would be a time when I could let go of that bag of clothes, and all it represented. A time when I would accept that in order to write a new story, you first have to close the cover on the old one.

I don’t know what that new story will be just yet, but I know I’m ready to find out.

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wondering

I wonder if positive thinking really does anything.

I wonder if getting excited about the possibility of something happening makes the disappointment worse when that something doesn’t actually happen.

I wonder if the brightness of the excitement makes the darkness of the disappointment even darker. I wonder if it’s better to just have the disappointment all on its own.

I wonder why the birds in the sky are flying in circles. Did they lose their way?

I wonder if the lady beside me can hear that I’m listening to Justin Bieber on my head phones. If she can, I wonder if I care.

I decide that I don’t.

I wonder how long it would take for anyone to notice if I decided to just ride the train all day, looking out the window, wondering.

I wonder who I would be if I could be someone different. Like that girl down there with the beautiful hair; I wonder what it would be like to be her.

I wonder if, right now, someone is wondering what it would be like to be me.

I wonder why I wonder about the things I do.

I wonder what other people wonder about.

I wonder if they have more answers than I do. I tend to have all of the questions; maybe someone out there has all of the answers to all of my questions and it’s just a matter of finding them.

I wonder if this is making any sense at all.

I wonder if I care if it makes sense.

I decide that I don’t.

Sometimes it’s just about the wonder.

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I am trying to watch the opening ceremonies with my kids. I thought it would be inspiring and interesting for them, while at the same time giving me time to sit in relative peace and watch them.

I love the Olympics. Every event, every montage set to an Eric Clapton song, every shot of an athlete’s parent in the stands, every interview with a first grade teacher. I love it all.

I will basically spend the next two weeks glued to the tv, alternating between wringing my hands in stress and bawling my eyes out. It’s like one huge hormonal tidal wave. Good thing it only comes around every two years.

Anyway, I digress, back to the opening ceremonies. I was looking forward to seeing the spectacle, the dancing, the costumes, the craziness that always occurs during these things. Not to mention critiquing the athletes’ uniforms (why does some country inevitably decide that wind pants are appropriate for the parade of athletes?), and screaming my face off at any sign of the glorious maple leaf.

But, from the moment they first started my kids let loose with a litany of questions.

“Who is that lady?”

The Queen.

“What does the Queen of London do?”

A lot of important stuff. And she’s not just the Queen of London, she’s our queen too.

“Can she come to our house one day?”

No.

“Is the guy beside her the king?”

No, it doesn’t really work that way.

“Why not? I thought the queen was married to the king?”

Um, oh look, there’s a bunch of little kids riding around on light-up hospital beds! Look!

(Yes, I’m a horrible mother – I change the subject rather than answering my kids’ questions. Sue me.)

“Isn’t it night-time there? Isn’t it past their bed time?”

Their mommies and daddies said they could stay up late because it’s a special day.

“If it’s a special day does that mean I can stay up late?”

No! Now shush, I’m trying to watch! Look tt’s Mary Poppins floating down from the sky!

“Who’s Mary Poppins?”

Sacrilegious!

And on and on it goes. Question after question after question. If there was an Olympic event for asking the most questions in the shortest period of time, my kids would be standing atop the podium with gold medals around their necks.

Maybe then they could do an interview with me and show it in one of those profiles; with an Eric Clapton song playing in the background.

I love the Olympics!

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