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Posts Tagged ‘mothers day’

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.

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A New York State of Mind

May 7, 2012 11 comments

Many people have told me the best way to see New York is during the NYC Marathon. Mind you, these people were runners. And since I consider myself one, also, I have been holding off on a New York trip until I trained for that race. I wanted to see the five boroughs on foot, the arduous way, alongside the 50 000 other runners that make the trek out to Staten Island. I just had it in my head I would do this one day.

But sometimes life doesn’t play out perfectly on cue. Despite my best laid plans, a trip to New York has presented itself, but over the Mother’s Day weekend instead of race weekend. Far be it from me to decline, give or take the marathon. Marathon? What marathon?

Who cares? I’M GOING TO NEW YORK! This occasion absolutely calls for all capitals.

I am ecstatic to finally visit this iconic city that never sleeps, and experience it’s peculiar energy and buzz. I’m excited to browse through SoHo, drink a genuine Manhatten, visit the MoMA, Times Square, Top of the Rock, enter the New York Public Library, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and yes, run leisurely through Central Park. I’m going to a show on Broadway and will be eating in restaurants that are far too cool for me. We are going to an underground rave, and I’m told, will be conquering Century 21. We will do this, all of this, in three days. Of course no one ever sleeps in this city.

We are staying somewhere in Midtown; since someone fun and hip booked this trip, the hotel, I’m told, is fun and hip. Not that it matters. Sleeping isn’t on the itinerary.

I’m as excited to see New York as I am to get the monkey off my back of Not Having Been to New York. It is a conversation stopper, when people are musing about past trips to the Big Apple, to drop in the tidbit that I haven’t been before. Like blasphemy, or pant-wetting, it causes people to shift uncomfortably in their seats. They often mutter, “You should really go, you will love it.” Like I don’t know this.

So since I’m finally going, I’m going big, hitting as many highlights as possible. It will be exhausting, I know, but my children will totally permit me to sleep for a week upon my return. The more I see, the more I will be able to converse about. In my near future, when people say, “Don’t you just love the High Line?” I will say, emphatically, yes, I love the High Line; and the whole conversation will be much more comfortable without the slump in their shoulders on account of me never having been before.

What’s your favorite thing to do in New York City? I have loads of time to fill.

Lessons in Life (and Self-Publishing an E-Book)

May 4, 2012 12 comments

Not everything in life is fraught with difficulty, and littered with obstacles, like the garbage can I had to hurdle this morning while walking the kids to school. For instance, did you know any idiot can string a few sentences together and self-publish an e-book?

I’ve tested it. It’s true, and fairly easy. If you have all of your ducks in order, it takes about five minutes. By ducks, I mean a written manuscript, cover artwork, and a marketing description.

I thought it would be fun and fancy to put together a book of essays on motherhood in time for Mother’s Day. I found a graphic artist on Craigslist, Ed, who deftly assembled a cover for a miniscule amount of money. While Ed was creating his masterpiece, I cut and pasted essays I have written over the years into a Word document, and voilá, my main ducks were assembled. I planned on winging the marketing description duck. (In fact, I more than winged it, I wrote it in one minute when I heard my children coming up the driveway from school. In a bid to get something accomplished that day, I panicked and hit ‘publish’. I’m not sure what I said, but am hoping it can be changed if it’s as cheesy as the hamburger I’m about to eat.)

Since I have a Kindle, Amazon seemed the like the most natural recipient for my prose. They offer their own publishing service, Kindle Direct Publishing, and it’s simple to navigate the process. There were a few things I had to investigate further: ISBN numbers, Digital Rights Management, and the issue of dealing with an American company as a Canadian citizen, but nothing critical. It wasn’t brain surgery, or as difficult as getting my kids to eat vegetables.

I was hoping to publish it as a Kindle Single, but it turns out you have to apply for that special status. I am waiting for the Gods of Kindle Singles to get back to me on that one, fingers crossed.

But in the meantime, my status has changed from in review to publishing, so that has to be a good sign. I’m not trying to sell myself short here, but if I can do this, anyone can. Getting my children to eat vegetables, on the other hand, takes true genius.

A Mother’s Tonic: Tales from a Real Housewife of Vancouver, is available for $2.99 in the Kindle Store on Amazon, I think.

Mothering in Volumes

May 7, 2011 11 comments

How does one say Happy Mother’s Day to a mother who went so far beyond the typical realm of motherhood that she had NINE children?

Here we all are - Mom is feeding me in the background

As the last of the litter and the runt in the pack, I stood to gain a lot from her incredible patience and selfless work.

Constantly in motion, she went about her business and endured the craziness of our household without any frustration. As a mother of only three children, I’m not sure how she accomplished this feat. The noise level alone would be worthy of earplugs.

If she wasn’t in the kitchen she was doing laundry or vacuuming or washing floors. And consider, if you will, having six children under the age of eight, and no such thing as disposable diapers? No dishwasher? No microwave?

With part of the gang at my sister's First Communion

The funny thing is, my siblings and I wonder at her work ethic, but she just shrugs it off, saying it was nothing next to what her mother did. She comes from yet another incredibly strong woman, with thick skin.

My mother was one of fourteen children. She grew up in a small village in Newfoundland, in a small three bedroom house: one bedroom for her parents, one for the girls and one for the boys. They slept on mattresses made of horsehair, three or four to a bed, and long before luxuries like indoor plumbing. I imagine it to be like the fishing village version of Little House on the Prairie. There was a one room school house and lots of chores for everyone. Surviving the frigid North Atlantic winters that lasted into July was a task in itself.

When my mother was thirteen, she was enlisted to help her aunt in Nova Scotia, whose husband had died in the war. The distance between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, in those days, was not easily traveled. This essentially meant leaving behind all that she knew, to help someone she had never met.

Despite how hard this must have been, Mom talks fondly about her Aunt Mary. Childless, she treated my mother like her own, and sent her to nursing school in Halifax when she finished high school. While in training she met my dad, and after graduating got married.

Folklore has it that on the eve of her graduation ball, my mother swung from the chandelier at the Lord Nelson hotel in Halifax, fulfilling a dare she had made to her classmates for years. She was a bit wild and full of fun, that woman.

After a couple of years, my oldest brother was born, and the other eight children followed at regular intervals. Her nursing career was interrupted while she surreptitiously cared for her own ward at home.

I think about this and I’m impressed all over again. Kate Plus Eight has nothing on my mother, who unquestionably just did it all, without giving any of it a second thought.

When I was eleven or twelve my mom went back to work full time as a nurse, and worked her way up to being head nurse, where again her patience and hard work were put to the test. Talk about a life of servitude.

My father died of cancer in 1993, a devastating blow for all of us, and somehow my mom has persevered and continues to inspire us all. For her eightieth birthday seven of us nine children, plus her brother and his wife, celebrated by going on a Caribbean cruise together. We packed a lifetime of fun into those seven days, our motto was rock it till we dock it. And that we did.

Rocking it till we docked it

Happy Mother’s Day, mom, you continue to be our beacon, our guiding light, our inspiration. You are an amazing person and a woman to be reckoned with. But we’re still not sure how you did it.