28 February 2011

Things That Are True - Ten Truths for Living

When an idea hits, it's better to act immediately than overthink. I have an unfortunate habit of questioning and analyzing and talking myself out of actually accomplishing much. Today as I was looking around trying to sort out what to tackle first on the Neverending Do List of Doom, it occurred to me that the first thing, the very first thing I should do, is write down ten truths for living.

So I did.

I didn't overthink, I just wrote. And I tried hard not to pass judgment; a particular struggle for me. To compile, in ten minutes or less, a list of Things That Are True. Not Things That Should Be, not Things I Need To Do, not Things I'm Doing Wrong. Just Things That Are True For Me.

A bit of the actual page I scribbled them out on. And look: I thought "truths" and wrote "rules" before I changed it back. Gah.

So here they are:

  1. My physical environment affects my mental and emotional state and vice versa.
  2. Procrastination is the dream killer.
  3. Creating, making, doing are as crucial as breathing.
  4. Physical well being - adequate sleep, good food, and challenging activity are essential.
  5. The company of others inspires me and keeps me striving to do better.
  6. Letting go of attitudes, patterns, and physical things that don't serve me is necessary to moving forward.
  7. Being kind to others allows me to be kinder to myself.
  8. Learning daily motivates me.
  9. To learn, risk is necessary. Do the scary thing!
  10. There is profound joy in being present during the smallest of moments.

The demons I fight daily tell me that the list is trite, that there's nothing particularly interesting there. That no one will care, or relate. I'm going to hit publish anyway, because I think that's how I'll be able to shout down the you-can't and the you-shouldn't and the why-bother.

Prove my demons wrong. Tell me: what are your Ten Truths?

If you'd rather write a blog post than reply in the comments, let me know - I'd love to link to it!

16 February 2011

Wednesday of Few Words - Croup

A visit from the Croup Monster is never fun. It's descended on our house again, bringing with it pals like Barking Cough, Snot Face, and my personal favourite, Febrile Seizure. Good times.

And a febrile seizure, even when you've seen them before, is a terrifying thing. Fortunately it was all over in about a minute, and The Imp (picture above taken about half an hour later, after my hands stopped shaking) went back to sleep almost immediately and remembers nothing today. I can't wait until he outgrows them. He's had three of them, and they freak me the fuck out every. single. time.

14 February 2011

Things I'm Learning - Toddler Crafts Sneak Up on You

I wasn't going to do a Valentine's Day type post - I'm not an especially Valentinesy type girl.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-Valentine's Day; I don't hate it. Nor am I against other people celebrating it. I'm not the cynic in the corner muttering into my glass of wine that it's a trumped up holiday, a Hallmark invention, an excuse to boost sales in February after the retail doldrums of post Christmas consumer burnout.*


People want to celebrate love, I say have at it! An excuse to eat chocolate? Um, okay!

Since I eat chocolate every single day anyway, I don't need February 14th to tell me it's okay. And since I live in the modern world in a country that allows me a great deal of personal freedom, I don't need February 14th to tell me to celebrate the love in my life. Every day, I get up and choose to spend my day married to HWSNBN. There are no constraints - moral, cultural, or financial - on my decision to stay with him. I want to be with him. Every day. Some days more than others; he does, after all, snore on occasion. But living in a world where I don't have to stay married to someone means that I choose, over and over again, to be with him. And he with me. If that's not a daily affirmation and celebration of our love, I don't know what is. So we don't do anything special for each other on Valentine's Day. And since we don't do anything special for each other, it never occurred to us to do anything special for The Imp.

(I will take this moment to apologize to his future spouse now: sorry for not teaching him to buy flowers and stuff on this most auspicious day. Hopefully our example will have taught him, however, to buy flowers and stuff for no reason at all, and that will make up for it. Still friends?)

That being said, we do have one small, goofy Valentine's tradition. Six years ago this month, we moved into our apartment. We were both working absurd hours at the time, and couldn't manage to schedule the move in of All Our Stuff until the weekend after Valentine's Day. For a couple of weeks we had our bed, our clothes, and not much else. No dishes, no books, no furniture... That Valentine's Day, we both arrived home late, and famished. Our romantic 9pm Valentine's dinner was a couple of slices of pizza HWSNBN picked up on his way home. Having no cutlery, plates, or napkins - not even a tea towel - we stood together over the kitchen sink hoovering back our lukewarm meal. As a joke, the next year I arranged to have pizza handy, and we leaned over the sink to eat it, giggling like fools. We've done it every year since.

But that's not what this post is about!

This is a post about Crafty Stuff. Although I'm not a crafty gal, despite my love of cooking, sewing and crochet projects that I never finish. I recoil from glitter and glue sticks with something akin to horror, and am mightily grateful that The Imp can get his craft on at daycare, and I don't have to a) come up with fun stuff for him to do or b) clean up the mess after. Score one for outside the home childcare!

And then daycare provided a class list for Valentine's Day.

They were careful to explain that cards were optional and not expected, but that if we were going to bring something, we had to bring something for everyone. Fair enough. I tucked the list into my bag and promptly forgot about it, until the evening of the 13th, when I suddenly remembered. We've never had to do anything for the big day before - at his last daycare all the kids were so little they wouldn't have known what was going on. But now he's hanging with the big kids, the 3-5 year olds, and they most definitely do know what's going on.

It was dark and raining. I did not feel like venturing out to buy cards that would almost certainly end up in the garbage within 48 hours.

So I dug through the "craft supplies" (a plastic bag jammed in the back of a closet) and found: construction paper (someone had given us a pad) and markers. And we have tape and scissors.

The Imp: What we doing, Mommy?
Me: (faking enthusiasm) We're going to make cards for all your friends at school!
The Imp: Happy Birthday cards? (he's made a few of those, mostly scribbles, for family)
Me: Not birthday cards, Valentine's cards!
The Imp: Okay!

I handed him a piece of pink construction paper and a red marker to distract him while I tried to figure out what the hell we were going to do. He promptly and happily began to scribble.

Inspiration! I swapped The Imp's well scribbled-upon paper for a clean sheet, drew heart shapes onto it, and cut them out. Great, now we have hearts. Um...

Green, blue, yellow, and orange construction paper became simple one fold cards. I stuck tape on the back of the heart shapes, The Imp stuck them on the front of the cards. Perfect. I wrote "Happy Valentine's Day!" and "From [The Imp]" on the inside and presto voila alakazam, we can haz Valentine's Day cards for 25 kids in twenty minutes or less for zero dollars.


We wrote his classmates' names on the front of the cards, and delivered them to everyone's decorated paper bag card receptacle this morning. Win!

One of the other parents at daycare this morning looked at our efforts and said, "I can't believe you made all those cards."

Truth? Neither can I.

And now I have a mess to clean up.

*Although in writing that, it occurs to me that it all may be true whether I'm a cynic or not.

10 February 2011

Things That Are True - UPIs

UPIs, I called them, with a shrug and a laugh.

Back in my early twenties, when I could drink and dance until the early hours with no consequences. A blur of friends, fun, and fluids of various varieties, made right in the morning by a twenty minute nap, a shower, and a fresh coat of lip gloss.

UPI: Unidentifiable Party Injuries

You know the ones I mean: "Whoa, how'd I get this giant bruise on my thigh? It just mysteriously appeared! How funny is it that I have no idea where it came from? Man, you'd think a bruise like that, I'd remember something!" I wore them like a badge of honour. The "I was so drunk!" rite of passage.

"UPI!" I'd giggle over drinks the day after. (Not to be confused with UPOs - Unidentified Party Objects - the debris left at your house after an especially raucous and well attended party. Mostly unwanted junk, but hey! that's a nice sweater. I'll keep that!)


UPIs, I called them, ashamed and not meeting your eye.

I didn't name them until well after that awful relationship, the bruises long gone.

UPI: Undisclosable Partner Injuries

The ones I kept hidden under long skirts and long sleeves. He was smart; he hit me in the face only once. My split lip, I passed off as a cold sore. That bruise on my upper arm was a fall in the shower.

A hand-shaped fall in the shower.

Maybe that's why as summer approached and clothing might betray him, the abuse grew less physical and more emotional. Emotional hurt doesn't give anything away.

He was smart; he knew I wouldn't tell anyone. He was the only one who ever saw me like that; covered in bruises. After a while, even I didn't see them. I got really good at not seeing them. I was so used to wearing clothes that made them invisible, that they became invisible to me. I became invisible to me.

Me in 1996. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

A month after I finally stopped going back for more, I tried on my bathing suit in my new by-the-kindness-of-friends home. A summer day, the sunlight was streaming in through the open window onto my too pale, too long hidden legs. I was startled by the sight of smooth, unbruised skin from head to toe. I couldn't recognize that body as my own.

"No more UPIs," I quietly said to myself. "Ever again."


UPIs, I call them now. Enough time has passed, the context has changed again. I'm back to the shrug and the laugh.

The bruise on my shin from lunging past the coffee table and not quite missing it in my haste to stop The Imp from leaping head first off the back of the couch. "I do parkour, Mommy!"

The sore ankle from the time I, sleep deprived and not paying attention, closed the car door on my own foot.

The bursitis in my left shoulder from carrying thirty pounds of squirm the times he refused to sit in the stroller and he refused to walk.

UPI: Unavoidable Parenting Injuries

The many and omnipresent small bruises from little knees, and elbows, and heels as I cradle a restive feverish toddler in my arms. The bumps and bonks as little hands fling toys across a room, or shove a book too close to my face. "Read me a story, Mommy!"

And this week, the large and unlovely bruise on my chest from a too-vigourous game of Tickle Me Mommy, toddler heel connecting with adult sternum as The Imp shrieked with laughter and kicked his little legs trying to squirm away from The Claw.


I stood in front of the mirror yesterday to take this picture, and the memories started to sneak out of the box where I'd hidden them. Friends came over and I quickly threw on a sweater over my v-neck top so I wouldn't have to answer questions, and it all came tumbling back. And this post, originally meant to be a lighthearted look at the way my life has changed since I became a parent, oozed darkly out of me, beyond my control.

What can I say? I bruise easy.

09 February 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Coolness Quotient

There is no doubt in my mind: The Imp is cooler than I ever was. Even back when I thought I was cool.

This post is part of A Lot of Loves' Wednesday of Few Words linkup.

08 February 2011

Tuesday Confession: Daycare

Fact: The Imp is the best thing that ever happened to me. Ever.*

Fact: Without daycare I would be a raving lunatic.

I'm just not that mom. Sometimes I wish I was; the mom that can come up with fun things to do, crafts that entertain and educate, classes that propel development, playdates with age-appropriate activities. I watch other moms, people in my family and circle of friends who excel at that. The moms that can spend every waking minute with their children, and revel in every second of it. But I just can't. I have tremendous admiration and respect for the moms that are, but I've come to accept that I'm not that person.

So, The Imp is in full time daycare. Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm.

I used to have a lot of guilt about it. I would berate myself daily, asking what kind of mother sends her kid to spend most of his waking hours with other people. (Other people who are vastly more qualified to spend time with him than I am - I don't have a degree in early childhood education, and they do, after all.) I worried about the cost, especially when launching a new business takes some time to show any income. The reason I started my own business was so that he wouldn't have to be in care, so that I could spend more time with him. So I could be that mom.

But the truth of it? It's not in me. I desperately need the me part of my day. I need that time to do grown up things, to have grown up conversations. And when I don't get that time, it is Not Good Indeed. I become impatient, frustrated, and highly irritable. I become Shouty Mom, and Shouty Wife, and I don't like myself very much.

So The Imp goes off to "school" every morning, and I run my business from home. Best of both worlds; The Imp loves daycare, adores his friends, and gets all the social stimulation, developmentally-appropriate play, crafts, and activities he craves. He's an only child - daycare has taught him him how to share, take his turn, and find his place in the world, independent of me. I'm lucky to have the freedom and flexibility in my work schedule to take him to swimming and gymnastics and pick him up early just for fun whenever I want.

So I'm not that mom. I no longer apologize for it - it's okay. Good even. Because I'm not impatient, frustrated, and irritable. Or shouty. And I'm not resenting the time I spend with him. I'm delighting in it.

And he's curious, and social, and a really, really fun kid to hang around.

And clearly he's thriving.

*Second best thing: HWSNBN, of course.