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Posts Tagged ‘love’

All Dressed Up and Everywhere to Go

March 14, 2019 7 comments

Our 2001 babes are graduating high school this year.

Yesterday/twelve years ago we sat cross-legged on the carpet of Ms. Kocher’s kindergarten class with them on our laps, amazed our wee ones were embarking on their academic and formative journey, away from our watchful gaze and in the path of bullies, germs, detention, and other pitfalls elementary schools breed.

Grudgingly, bravely, and in need of a five hour break, we let them go.

At first, they returned from school enthusiastically sharing stories about what happened on the playground, who was friends with who, and what they learned in science that day if it involved bugs. But the stories dwindled to a drip as they advanced through elementary school, halting completely in high school. You can’t put your finger on the moment it happened, where and when the line was drawn, but they eventually stopped seeing you as their confidante and most trusted resource and instead view you as solely – cue the eye roll – their parent.

Mourning the loss of our identity, we take a trip down memory lane to when our peanuts were newborn, and our hearts exploded with joy and optimism and also fear and anxiety should anything interfere with our precious nut. The power of these mixed emotions was the most intense love you’ve ever felt. No one mentioned when you were pregnant that this would happen. Sure, they warned of the cost of diapers and the lack of sleep, but neglected to mention the mountain of emotions your head and heart would scale – only to stumble and plummet from – daily.

Parenting is a serious mind feck.

So when this most perfect being created in your likeness (but is not, as they assert, us at all but a completely different individual from whom we expect them to be, thank you very much) can’t stand the way you chew your food or part your hair, that explosion of love experienced at their birth remains steadfast.

Behind their monosyllabic answers to our questions and closed bedroom doors they are growing, expanding, enduring heart break, learning calculus, coordinating outfits, Snapchatting and finding their voice.  Determining who they are is a full-time job and they are exhausted. We watch in awe and in terror as they morph into their identity, wishing we could help, daring to make suggestions, but keeping our distance.

Our soon to be graduates had their prom last weekend. Beautiful in their uniqueness, our babes from Ms. Kocher’s class have transformed into athletes, artists, academics, fashionistas, vegans, ravers, rappers, techies and wellness experts. They coiffed and tanned and donned fancy clothes over their full grown bodies for their event but we still recognized their newborn faces. They remain our babies, they just have become themselves.

And the unfathomable thing about the tidal wave of love we experienced the day they were born is this: it grows.(Their grade three classroom art project still hangs prominently in my house)

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Oh To Be Young and Vampire

November 28, 2012 3 comments

I have my ticket in my hot little hands and I’m excited.

We’re off to see Breaking Dawn Part 2 tonight – my teenage daughter works well as a prop in this instance – and I can’t wait to see Bella as a vampire. I was born to be a vampire, she says in the trailer, and I was born to fall in love with people (or werewolves, vampires, robots, whatever) falling in love on gigantic screens while eating popcorn. We all have our things.

I realize it’s not cool for a person of my vintage to love the Twilight series, and I have patiently waited for the super-crazy Twilight fans among us to attend their midnight showings and wait in line for hours to see the movie during opening week. I’m a fan but I’m not an idiot. I’m hoping for an empty seat in front of me on which to fold my coat, ensuring a clear view of the shirtless Jacob.

I’m bemused that even after four movies, the series isn’t getting old for me, unlike the Sex and the City movies, which should have died on the table after movie number one. Will tonight be the final straw? Will Edward’s sparkling skin no longer appeal? Will the vampire and werewolf culture fail to interest me? Will I be done with this love triangle, and be happy to say goodbye to rainy Forks? Will I finally have outgrown my addiction?

Stay tuned.

In the Stillness We Remember

June 7, 2012 11 comments

If you stare straight at the sun, it burns your eyes. And so it is when you lose someone you love.

It’s been a year now. There is a yawning crater where once there was an incredible person, and it’s difficult to navigate. John was a unique blend; he had the wisdom of a village elder coupled with the energy and enthusiasm of a puppy. He was a shooting star in the Milky Way, someone we gazed at in wonder. His friend said God needed John to liven things up in heaven, and that seems to be the only explanation that makes any sense.

If I ruminate over those last moments together, or the injustice of it, or just the fact that he is gone, it scorches my heart and torches my mind. Reality blinds me as though I’m gazing, unblinkingly, into the sun. Life becomes a game: do what you can without thinking about it.

It’s easier for me. I’m thousands of miles away and have three kids to distract me. Much harder for his wife and children, and for our mother.

But still, I have trouble living in a world without my brother, who was no less a superhero to me than Superman himself. Some days are more successful than others. The minutia of life keeps me away from my thoughts, and I skate along the surface of life, doing what needs to be done. Occasions are trickier. When his two children graduated from university last month, I’d guess their focus was more on the one person missing in the audience, than the occasion at hand.

Times like these, waves of memories are too strong to be swept aside. The thin ice that I skate on gives way to shockingly cold water.

The thing about grief is that it doesn’t abate in a clean, linear line, once the empties have been cleared from the funeral reception. It’s more like the tide; it stems and flows and visits you relentlessly. It is a common misnomer that time heals all wounds. Time doesn’t heal anything. Grief hovers beneath the surface of your life, it’s just a matter of how good you become at masking it.

Of course, I don’t want to forget. I will never forget. Who could forget? His smile. His energy. His wit. His intelligence. His light. His magnetism. He was one in a million. He was one in a lifetime. No, I will not ever forget. If grief means remembering, then so be it. I will learn to shield my eyes when I stare at the sun.

And still, I know. John is in the whisper of the wind, the whitecaps on the lake, and in the beautiful blooms in his garden. He’s absent from this physical world, but lives on in our hearts. Someone of his magnitude, who made an indelible mark on so many lives, can never be gone. He’s everywhere.

The Mother Lode of Love

May 8, 2012 8 comments

I have received countless homemade Mother’s Day gifts from my gang. A hand-painted coffee mug, several cards where triangular globs of tissue paper form my body, etched pencil drawings of my likeness, and one year, a handmade lilac scarf with a stick-figure of me drawn in fabric markers. So many Mother’s Days, so many treasures.

But how to tell them that their gift to me is themselves? The amazement I experience as life happens to them. Just yesterday, my seven year old learned that dolphins sleep with one eye open, and she now tells this fact to everyone she encounters, the pride in her knowledge unmistakeable. My ten year-old sporty girl throws herself body and soul into every game she plays, and doesn’t leave an ounce of regret on the field. My twelve year-old daughter laughingly tells me every detail of her first date – how much longer will that last? I am privileged to be a voyageur into their world, and my nose is pressed up against the glass tight.

Easily, the most precious gift they give me is the chance to be their mother. I am quick to point out the pitfalls of motherhood, but this doesn’t mean I don’t bask in its sunshine, and at times its rays are blinding.

True story: I encourage my youngest daughter to stay in her own bed, telling her I can’t sleep as well when she is wedged in between myself and my husband.

She thinks this is due to the cramped quarters, but actually it is not. I can’t sleep because I can’t help staring at her face, perfectly lost in dreamland. I can’t sleep because I can’t believe my luck and fortune that this little face beside me, this beautiful person is my daughter.

She is seven years old, but the wonder of her is new to me everyday.

Their gifts to me far exceed the cardboard box that is kept underneath my bed. Their gift to me is the very meaning and embodiment, the mother lode, of love itself.

Wishing all mothers, everywhere, a very happy Mother’s Day this Sunday.

Rites of Passage

April 16, 2012 5 comments

There are many firsts to celebrate: first words, first steps, first day of school. Before the dust has settled on the dazzling accomplishment we start to look forward to the next, with hopeful hearts. They are precious, these firsts, and so we mark them with balloons and cupcakes, we snap a hundred photos when one would suffice, we take video footage we may never watch. We sigh and oh and ah and gaze in wonder at our talented, beautiful protégé. These moments are our payback for all those times we thought about packaging our sweet darlings up and shipping them to where the sun doesn’t shine, but then thought again.

Today, her first regulation field hockey game, followed by her first date. The game was exciting, but it’s the date we are buzzing about.

At this very innocent and tender age, parental involvement is a key component, so when she asked would I drive her to the theater to meet her date, there was no hesitation. In the midst of a crazy weekend that involved too many things, book clubs, skiing, soccer, field hockey, and dinner parties, the answer was a resounding yes. For you, I would move mountains. Not that I’m keen to thrust her into the world of dating, but for this first, her first innocent coupling, which caused a glow in her eyes and a blush in her cheeks, this we can manage.

He asked her over Skype, which is apparently how it all shakes down these days. My instructions were to deliver her to the theater at the appointed time. I quelled my desire to phone or email the boy’s mom, to her great relief, as apparently landlines are provincial and only a step above snail mail. Yet checking with other moms is as instinctive as putting butter on my popcorn. It felt funny to not double check the time and location with another adult; leaving the logistics up the kids is foreign to me. This is a first, I reminded myself, this is what it must be like, back off.

Sensing this moment called for something – advice? didactic story from my past? lecture? – I readied myself to impart wisdom, but she wanted to listen to the radio. She spotted the boy and his mother waiting outside the theater from two miles away. I instinctively reached for her hand as we approached them, which seems more awkward since we are the same height, and she politely rebuffed me, of course.

Mercifully, the other mother was as perplexed as I was about how to handle the situation. We laughed and talked and watched our kids turn three shades of crimson before sending them in together. I resisted the urge – however powerful – to record the moment with a snapshot, and instead recorded a mental image of two kids, both with freckles, braces, and red ears. Another first to celebrate, albeit quietly.

Lives Lived

October 27, 2011 7 comments

There were many stories to choose from, so writing a 500 word story about John was difficult. Yet when you have known someone like him, and he is taken too soon from his life’s course, you want to tell everyone you pass in the street about this incredibly dynamic person. As if the loss will start to make sense, the more you speak about it.

So the Lives Lived section in the Globe and Mail was a natural target, and today they published my little story about John. For the link to that story, click here.

I had to virtually sum up his career of teaching kids with a short sentence – hardly doing it justice, knowing that he was a positive influence on countless students. I barely mentioned his close relationship with his wife and children. But that’s national newspapers for you.

At his funeral, his past running coach told me the story about how he ran a 5 minute mile in his hungover state one day. His coach was clearly impressed at John’s abilities, (perhaps less impressed, but still slightly amused, by his priorities). So many athletes wouldn’t have turned up for that practice at all; his youthful bravado and competitive spirit shine through this story – a story long since forgotten by John, but remembered by his coach.

Golfing with John was a treat for anyone, so that story had to make the cut. He took fewer swings than most golfers, so I think he came up with the idea of being the sharpest ball hunter that ever walked the links to challenge himself while the rest of his foursome duffed it out. He proudly told anyone who would listen how he had never in his life bought a golf ball, since he had buckets full of them from his jaunts through the rough. He would stuff handfuls of balls into my bag before we teed off. I blame him for my enduring inability to read a putt, since I would arrive on the green and he would hold his putter where I needed to aim, either to the right or left of the hole. He was always right.

Waiting for knee surgery didn't stop him from being Ella's running pal for a 2 mile race

There were so many stories that couldn’t fit. Like the time when travelers were stranded in Halifax during 911, and John ended up bringing two men home, making space for them until they were cleared to fly again. Countless stories about the times he coached Peter or Julia, about trips he and Debbie had taken, and many, many about his antics that were uniquely John. There was truly never a dull moment when he was in a room.

His large personality paved the way for thousands of funny situations. Let’s say he was no shrinking violet. But for the complete picture, he was also smart, generous, warm and caring.

For some people, the word “brother” conjures someone who they rarely speak with and can barely tolerate. The relationship means different things for people. But I was madly in love with my brother, and I know the rest of my family was, too. He was a rare and unique gift. We are missing him, but he is lodged somewhere between our hearts and our minds.

With every breath, I feel his presence.

A Nauseatingly Warm and Fuzzy Story About my Kid

October 21, 2011 10 comments

Sometimes, in fact almost all of the time, the magic of motherhood can be lost somewhere between packing the lunches and shuttling to soccer. There is a fair amount of work required in rearing children, and by work I mean constant nagging. Make your bed, stop texting, feed your fish, stop texting, eat something green, stop... Honestly, I can hardly stand myself by the end of the day. I don’t know how they put up with me.

But occasionally, something sweet and tender happens that is absolutely divine, and I want to freeze time. Generally, I feel these cute-kid stories are overdone, and therefore I shy away from them (but you can’t say I didn’t warn you with the title).

My husband returned from a business trip yesterday. On the way to gymnastics the kids were musing about what little gift he would bring them. Yes, I wonder what he’s bringing me, I joked. My oldest daughter immediately picked up her phone to text him a warning that I was hoping for a present. I laughed, and told them I was kidding, I didn’t really want a present. My youngest daughter said solemnly, I’m going to make you a present anyway, Mummy. I told her a hug from her was all I wanted (my originality is not at its peak that time of the day).

While I was making dinner, she was conspicuously absent, whereas usually she is underfoot. She finally emerged from her room with a piece of paper, laden with her writing.

Why I love my mom - the front

...the back

Here it is, transcribed with her creative spelling:

from Ella

Why I love my mom

1. She bys stuf for me

2. She loves me

3. She takes kare of me

4. She comeforts me

5. She buys me food

6. She gets me toys even when she dose not want to

7. She touks me in at niuht

8. She sins me up for camp and attivitey

9. She helps me whith math

10. She helps me sleep

11. She buys some stuf for crismess and a bunch of other stuf

12. She gives me money

13. She gave me a houes

14. She gets me brthday

15. She payes alot of mouney

16. She gets me stoueys (stories)

I flipped the paper over, and on the back she wrote a poem.

every night I sing a song

about How I love my mom. And

How she gives me vegtbaball

whith out her Id be so fat!

I love her whith all

my mite and I love you

so mouch that Id clim a ben soukc (which she told me was bean sprout)

(and then she drew a picture of her and the bean sprout.)

At the wise age of seven, she was perceptive enough to see through my rather pathetic ploy for recognition. Her gift made me speechless, which perhaps was the real goal – to dissuade me from nagging for an evening.

Stop growing, stay little, I whisper to her when she’s asleep.