I have three children who happen to be girls.
This brings about the usual quips and remarks as we roll through life. “Your poor husband is outnumbered!” they say, “Must make for great hand-me-downs,” or “Oh, those teenage years will be interesting. Not!” Then occasionally a man – always a man, frequently with white hair and a thin voice – will point out that my husband didn’t get his boy.
Like talking about the weather, these responses are standard fodder, something to say when you have nothing else to say.
It’s required information, the sex of your children, just like the age of your children, and almost immediately follows the number of children you have. It’s part of the fabric of our lives, the questions we endure after announcing our name. It tells something about us, enables strangers to form a picture in their minds of what our lives must be like.
But of course, it tells nothing about us.
While pregnant with my third, with two very obvious girls in toe, I fielded questions fast and furious about the sex of my unborn child. Oh how those people hoped I would have a boy, almost as furtively as I wanted a girl. I have nothing against boys, in fact I love them; I love the different perspectives they bring to situations, whether it is one of calm rationale, or to infuse a situation with energy. Thank god for boys and men. Yet I felt totally ambivalent about the sex of my first child – a baby was a baby, health was my only concern. Once I had my healthy baby, a girl, it seemed easier to have another. And then another. I was completely happy with the score in our family, girls 4, boy 1.
Come on, fine for you, but what about your husband? People scoffed. Once, at a family gathering, I was chastised for not hoping for a boy. They thought it was selfish of me to not want a boy, for my husband’s sake. I found this hilarious, since it was my husband’s prerogative to wish for a boy if he so chose, and what difference did it make in the end? They were entitled to their perspective, but I didn’t like them imposing their thoughts on me. (I may have mentioned this to them.) I know there are people out there who feel your life is not complete unless you have the experience of raising both a boy and a girl, but I’m not one of them.
My children may share the same gender, but otherwise are as different as Barbie and Skipper. In fact, they are more like the children of Phil and Claire on Modern Family, three people thrust together under the same roof with vastly different personalities, entirely separate strengths and weaknesses, who bear little resemblance to each other.
My kids are now 8, 11 and 13. One likes pink, the other anything but pink, and my youngest prefers black, so they have carved out a need for individual wardrobes, laying to rest the hope of hand-me-downs. My oldest has a passion for fashion, my middle a passion for sports, my youngest a passion for debating. Yes, they are all gifted in their passions, which means we spend a lot of time spread out, trying to keep everyone happy, whilst arguing.
Still, I field the questions everyday about the genetic makeup of my children, and endure those occasional clucking sounds when they hear the score. To keep things interesting, I now reply, I have three children, three individuals, who happen to be girls. I think that paints a more accurate picture.
My daughter started high school this September, and we are floundering, groping for a life preserver in harrowing seas, searching for something to hang on to before the next wave pulls us under. Not her, my daughter – oh no, she is having the time of her life – but we, as in my husband and I, and my comrades, grade eight moms with whom I drink wine.
They make it look so easy on Glee, the parents don’t even have a role to play. Which is exactly the point. I wasn’t quite ready to not play a part.
We were excited to start high school, and this time I mean both my daughter and I. Eight years in the same school, ten if you count preschool, and we were ready for a change. Change is good, keeps you young, invigorates your mind, restores sanity ( so I’m hoping). Even though change meant leaving her idyllic and inspiring elementary school, we squared our shoulders and bought a new, sturdier backpack for those heavy textbooks she would be hauling back and forth, and showed up for the first day wearing new, albeit ripped, jeans and a slightly nervous smile.
It turned out to be as shiny as the apple she refused to eat, having discovered pizza bagels in the cafeteria. High school was all that and more: locating her classes and navigating between campuses was challenging and interesting, bigger classes and a much larger school meant more friends, more boys, more teams, more clubs, more everything. All good, all exciting, two thumbs up, four if you count mine. (I personally had a little trouble finding her classes for parent teacher night, so let’s downgrade that to three, but why am I even in the picture?) My daughter was loving high school, is loving high school.
The problem, however, is she outgrew her knee-highs and grew into a social life overnight, while I simply rolled over in my sleep.
In the good old days, like two months ago, she did what we did on the weekend. If that meant trooping to her sister’s soccer game and then visiting friends for dinner, we did it together. But not now. Now there are football games to watch and movies to go to and mass sleepovers to attend and dances and the all-worrisome parties. Our measly social life is in peril, our babysitter is perennially busy. That is sad, seeing as we have only recently rekindled our dormant extracurricular lives; but what is even worse is this feeling that our cozy little bubble, the one that was all-knowing, all-hearing, all-seeing, due to my ability to hover over my daughter and discuss with other parents the innermost thoughts of our children (and occasionally break into her computer when there were discrepancies), this bubble has been burst open to reveal one single bold question mark.
I knew that starting high school would be the beginning of new independence for her, even went so far as to wish for it; I just didn’t expect it to hit so quickly.
So now we are scrambling to find and institute new boundaries. Huddling with other parents to compare notes and gather whatever information we can. Enrolling in social media lectures to help with this affront. I book her weeks in advance for babysitting, and ignore her inevitable eye roll.
And now we hope. Hope that all of those lessons we droned into her made some tiny impact, and that the choices she will make – without us hovering – will be good ones.
It’s inspiring to watch someone realize a dream, more so when that person is your friend.
So I was excited to see Onelight‘s gig in Gastown on Saturday night, since the vocalist and keyboardist is Amy, a fellow mom I used to huddle beside while waiting to pick our children up from Kindergarten.
Back then, four years ago, when we chatted about how little we had accomplished while the kids were at school, my list went something like “I did laundry but didn’t get around to folding it”; and hers went, “I wrote music.”
I was amazed and humbled at the dichotomy between our answers. From then on, I invented more imaginative chores and threw in some volunteer work, but Amy’s answer remained steadfast. Making music was her dream.
Watching her up on stage, singing and playing keyboard and clearly in her element, was incredible. It was inspiration and hope and perseverance and courage all rolled into one moment. Aside from being a fantastic listening experience, it made me wonder what else I could accomplish during the day. It was a nudge towards grabbing life, like Amy has, and getting what you want from it.
The music of Onelight, is far more layered and richer than I thought possible from the duo of Amy and her music partner, Hamish. It had a mystical quality to it, a cadence of thoughtfulness, and an unmistakeable originality. Two talented musicians intent on making their distinctive imprint on music for our listening pleasure.
As they embark on a tour of India, and Amy sails off into the wide world of music and the many opportunities her talents will bring, I will listen to her lyrical, lovely voice, fold my laundry, and then get on with pursuing my dreams.
The small, benign, white box arrived with a knock and a wink from the postman. It looked harmless enough.
Yet it caused a firestorm of bouncing activity from my children. “Open it! Open it!” they screamed in unison, and I promised I would, if they would only come down from the rafters. “Aren’t you excited?’ my daughter asked me, once she was floor bound. I warily told her this little box was about to cause me a whole world of pain and frustration, so no, I wasn’t.
From their perspective, these innocent babes, all you needed to do was turn it on and begin enjoying your new iPhone 5, gaze at its vivid images, marvel at its lightness, and then download every gaming app known this side of Silicon Valley. If only. The seasoned veteran within me knew that opening this was akin to Pandora opening her box and unleashing evil on the world. That is if you equate evil with many hours of wrestling with technology, as I do.
Among my many hats I wear, the one I like almost as little as digging mold out of the seam of the kitchen sink is that of the Chief Technical Officer. I deftly donned it, brim at the back, before finding a knife to slice open the plastic that was tightly wound around the source of my future angst.
In this department, the angst one, that is, it has not disappointed. In the last week I have been to the local Rogers store for a new SIM card, since the one they had sent couldn’t be read. I went to the Apple store after my emails were not downloading, and they fixed it by doing a hard reset.
All before I had tried to sync it with my desktop computer. Cue the pain.
The whole point of getting this iPhone was to have my calendar on hand at all times. But because my desktop is ancient, being from 2007, they told me I have to upgrade my operating system in order to reap the benefits of iCloud. I pursed my lips and thought about the last time I upgraded my operating system, and about how my printer has never worked the same since. Oh no, they assured me, Lion is nothing like Leopard, it will be much smoother! Easy as pie.
I hit the ‘purchase’ button, and then spent the rest of the day fixing everything I cursed in that flash moment. My emails are organized poorly, my calendar is not as vibrant and in an inferior font, the music system in our house immediately went quiet, but most importantly, my treasured Microsoft Word, gone. GONE from my dock. I can barely make out the remnants of the W that once stood for ease and happiness in my world, a big circle with a line through it indicating I can no longer access it.
I haven’t tried to print anything yet, I can only handle so much at once.
I’m still in recovery mode, now researching whether I should buy Microsoft office 2011 or if I should buy Apple’s cheaper word equivalent, Pages. Slightly irritated, but still hopeful that this will be the last frontier I must scale before skating down that easy iPhone path promised by so many.