Maternal In Memorium & Mother’s Day Manifesto

IshtarToday marks the second anniversary of my mother’s death.

Ours was an unusually complex relationship, with  complete estrangement over twenty years ago. Despite the common cry of making amends by well-meaning acquaintances who do not know the depth of the family’s dysfuncionality, I have no regrets when it comes to this relationship, or lack thereof.

My mother was a victim of her times and of abuse. She was the poster child of body loathing and repression.  I grew up surrounded by women’s magazines, and I confess, I still regularly take Woman’s World for their feel-good stories and their little strips of inspiration. It reminds me of a simple time when my paternal grandmother would clip the posts and pin them to the fridge, or tear out the Ziggy comics and pin them to her inspirational bulletin board in the sewing room.

My paternal grandmother was in touch with her power as a woman. She was wise, fierce, kind and strong. She lived fully and taught me what it meant to be my own person.

ziggy Times have not changed so much, and maybe even for the worse. Not only are we expected to manage our homes, but bear the burden of less feminine roles as well.  We are still surrounded by racks full of magazines, air-brushed images of the female form, with covers that imply we are flawed; how to be thinner, how to be happier, how to please our men, how to de-stress so we can be all of the above. We are ingrained in a culture who continues to devalue the natural life-affirming work of women.

You may wonder what this has to do with the anniversary of my mother’s death. Everything.

I was raised by a woman who was  estranged from her own beautiful, glorious and powerful self. I had a choice as a young woman, continue the trauma, or claim my own glorious divine feminine. I chose the latter.

So many of us hate our ankles, our bellies, our hair or our skin.  We punish our bodies and ridicule our own needs. We ignore the call of primitive intuition, and we diminish the great power of fertility and motherhood.

We live in the world of magazine promises; to create a common, submissive self that perpetuates a world where our value and spiritual gifts are damned.

As the years passed and I healed into my own femininity, into my own woman, forgiveness came. My mother was not a bad mother as such, she was  truly a victim of her times, of her inability to seize her own power, and grow into her own, always determining her own worth by the praise of abusive men.

On this Mother’s Day weekend, I hope that all of the women in my life,  spend some quiet time, reflecting on their own beauty and how their body has served them well, their own natural, intuitive intelligence, and their own power to embrace the fullness of what it means to be a woman.

More than that, I hope that whether maiden, mother or crone,  that all of the ladies reading this live each stage of life and every transition fully.  I believe that is the secret to a well-lived life. That is the secret to having no regrets.

November 30th – Time to Commit to Christmas Carousing

women-coffeeThere’s nothing I admire more than a woman who doesn’t whine.

Perhaps a well matched wine to a hearty meal or a really comfy pair of walking shoes, but strong women always have a special place in my heart.

Whenever I get discouraged, down on myself, or frustrated, I think about how few women I know have overcome the adversity I’ve faced and kept it all together.

And then I automatically think of my mumster. The woman who took me under her wing when I was a rowdy thirty-something year old.  In my adult life, I never had a mum.  It kinda felt weird taking on a new one seeing as I was an adult already. But it was a good weird. It took me a while to understand that depth of kindness, even though I knew what it meant to be a mother.

Last night I came home from a weekend away, working on a relationship that only middle-age could inspire. Mumster had been here overseeing the household and my giant kiddo. The first thing that I noticed when I walked through the door was that the house was clean. Clean! My kiddo was still alive, and the kitties were happy. Prior to going away I had been working long hours, staying in the city, and trying to make everyone else happy. Mumster to the rescue.

Come to think of of it, it has been mumster to the rescue in a lot of cases; old broken down cars, old broken down hearts, and old broken down patterns of coping.

As busy as life gets, I think of her every day, I just don’t take the time I should to let her know. So, at Christmas time, I look forward to our visit, our time together, and giving her a thoughtful gift just for her.

I also like to take time to see the other fabulous women in my life; my bestie the Lovely Mrs. L, my crazy aunties, Cindy, Darleen, Virginia, Carrie, Karen….the list is long and beautiful, and yes, Carlo and Colin, rest assured, you are both considered one of the girls. You too Dennis.

Even though cynics criticize Christmas revelers as hypocrites for getting together only in December, I have to make a statement on the other side of the line. I really don’t care what the excuse is, I’m grateful for it and I will use it to connect with the people I love for as long as I’m able. Amen and hallelujah to that darlings, now pass the nogger and throw on your santa suit ’cause mamma loves to celebrate!

 

 

 

Solo-Parenting; What Solo Feels Like

walkingI’ve been darn lucky to raise such a really good kid.

I spent a lot of days worrying about how I would put food on the table, afford medicine when he got sick, and whether or not I was doing all I could to give him what he needed.

I stayed home for so many sick days I thought I’d lose my job. I stayed up late cooking and putting loot bags together for Hallowe’en parties and Valentine’s day parties, and Santa surprises. And I loved every single minute I’ve had with my child.

As one of my older and wiser gal-pals told me one day while I was laying like a beached whale on the sofa, pregnant and sick, “Guilt will be a constant for you once this baby is born. You’ll feel guilty about everything. You’ll always think you can do better.”

I remember thinking that I wish she would just shut up. I remember thinking that all of these little nuggets of wisdom were huge warning signs during what should be the happiest time of my life. But they were right. As a mother, you never stop worrying that your child is happy, warm, well-fed and as they get older, not being a little shithead.

Becoming a mother was the single-most amazing and terrifying thing that ever happened to me. I felt strong and  fierce and terrified and vulnerable all at the same time.

So here we are, on the cusp of having this child officially become an adult, and it’s all been worth it.

Luckily both parents get along as well as possible, and I believe we’ve provided him a good solid foundation for making decisions and embracing life.

Friends have been a wonderful support, surrounding my son and I with time, listening ears and rounds of congratulations.

But as a single parent even moments of joy and success have been bittersweet. For the most part, I attend all of his activities alone.  I feel great pride, joy and a sense of accomplishment with no one really to share it with. Information about new opportunities comes and goes, and at the end of the day, it’s on my own that I wonder about them, rationalize, hope and dream for my child. There is no partner to turn to for another perspective.

What I have learned during the past few months is that not only have I done my best as a parent, but I’ve done well in general, helping my child make decisions that will hopefully result in greater happiness and success for him.

You will walk home from first days of school with no one to reassure you that they will be ok. You will send them out on their first time away from home, watch them perform in plays, the band, sports, on their first date, taking the car for the first time, with yourself being the only cheering section.  You will do this alone, with no one to witness these passages from child to adult. Sharing great joy is what makes joy so wonderful.

If you are on your own I have two pieces of advice; don’t second guess your intuition when it comes to what’s right for your kids, and don’t settle for good-enough. It’s all worth it. Every single minute that you worry and wonder, and spend alone.

 

 

Everyone is a Kid at Christmas

kidsThis is for teenagers, young adults, and parents.

Let me tell you a short story. Today was my day off. I work long hours, at a very (physically & psychologically) demanding job (which I love). Even so, I L-O-V-E my days off.

No-alarm-clock days are luxurious. After all darlings, I have mastered the art of living and relaxing. But today I set my alarm for 6 a.m. You see, my kiddo had to get up and out before 7 a.m., and I wanted to give him a drive.

Yes, he’s old enough to get there himself. Yes, he knows how to pack his own lunch, cook, clean and do his own laundry. Despite the kiddo’s protests,  “Mom, why do you want to drive me? I’m fine on my own. Go back to bed“, I often get up even on the days I work a late shift.

Why? Well, as any parent will tell you, they cherish those moments with their children, and those moments come fewer and more far between as our children grow up.

The Christmas season offers many opportunities to argue, fight, and to feel annoyed with one another.

When we want to be with you to decorate the tree,  have dinner with friends, and participate in family traditions, please remember that it’s not intended as a form of torture.

When we ask how your day was, we’re not so much checking up on whether you were a stand-up human being, we want to make sure you’re ok. Ok as in, we’ve been there, and we know that the world can be cruel and hard. We want to make sure you never leave for the day, or go to bed at night feeling, ‘less than’.

When we pack you a lunch, or suggest you take more food, we’re not criticizing your menu choice. We don’t want you to be hungry.

When we make sure you have a winter coat for the season, and suggest you take a hat or gloves, it’s not because we want to send you out looking like an over-grown toddler or out of style. We don’t want you to feel the cold.

When we ask you about your first crush, we don’t want to give you a moral lecture on sexual behavior. We want to know if your crush is treating your tender heart with care. We don’t want you to feel heartache.

When we ask you what you want to study or what you want to be be when you grow up, we don’t care if you have a definitive answer. We want you to go after your dreams.

We don’t want you to suffer; to feel pain, cold, hunger, loneliness or sadness.

No matter how old you are, if you are lucky, you will always be someone’s little boy or little girl. At a certain point in life, the roles reverse, and like I feel about my mumster, you’ll want to swaddle us in protective love too.

Wishing kids of all ages, a very happy holiday.

 

 

Joy, Fear & Life As We Know It

bethemselvesandwinLife can be pretty crappy sometimes. It can be pretty freaking amazing too.

Having just had an absolutely amazing, rejuvenating holiday, I came back to the same house, the same job, and the same-old-same-old-everything. It was at best anti-climactic, and at worst depressing as hell.

But I knew this would happen. It always does. The reset-button on life gets hit during my holidays, and when I come back to the cold, earlier-than-jesus-wakes-up-alarm-clock, dissatisfaction and depression take up residence like Gertrude Stein hosting a salon. It’s here to stay until someone comes up with a brilliant idea which usually takes blood, sweat and tears to execute and bring into being.

Life and everything about it can either be wonderful or awful. It is a matter of perspective and practice. As pithy as it sounds, the vast majority of the time, it’s a choice. Most of the time attitude has more to do with how we perceive elements in our life; relationships, career, personal development.

The workplace seems to be a grand microcosm of our little places in the vast universe. There are always people who are positive, and people who see the glass as perpetually less than half full. I’ve always believed that the people who are positive just have a different processing mechanism, not that they are naïve to what’s going on around them. They have chosen a rose-tinted lens through which to see the world.

“Don’t mistake my kindness for stupidity”, I’ve said more than once.  Even as adults in our secluded career worlds, it’s the survival-of-the-fittest mentality that often slithers beneath the politically correct surface. The idea of personal leadership is important to my work ethic, and sometimes, like when I get back from a vacation, I need to remind myself of that. I need to remind myself that I have a choice about life, and although I’m just beginning to lay the mental groundwork for some changes, I have to be in the moment here and now.befuckingbrave

Why not smile? Life is now. As in: right now. This very moment as I type on my old keyboard, sip coffee out of one of my favourite mugs, and feel slightly guilty that my house is in disarray again. Check that – always. Life is happening right now. This one precious life.

Perhaps my dissatisfaction, depression and anxiety have all been popping in to remind me that fear is a great trickster. Anticipating change and new life-stages is scary and inspiring all at once.

Distraction is the go-to emotion when silence, and fear meet in our psyche. Stillness is difficult and painful. That’s why we often go out and buy something bright to spruce up the house, have a lusty fling, drink too much wine or lash out with negativity and sarcasm.

Stillness helps, and so do good friends who meet with us for talks that include everything from sex to manicures.  It is a fine balance this wearing of rose-coloured glasses. If yours have slipped off like mine have, maybe you just need a really great friend to help you pick them up, dust them off, and put them back on your beautiful face.

 

 

An Open Letter to Mothers With Young Children

"Mothers are the people who love us for no good reason. And those of us who are mothers know it's the most exquisite love of all." ~Maggie Gallagher~

“Mothers are the people who love us for no good reason. And those of us who are mothers know it’s the most exquisite love of all.”
~Maggie Gallagher~

I was you once – giddy with affection and unconditional love for my child.

Every moment was a miracle, and every second I could kiss, cuddle, snuggle or coo my little one, I did. Unapologetically.

I see you out there, proud as punch as you push your strollers and post your photos on social media of your naps, and first steps, and messy little-helping hands of your budding cookie bakers.

Don’t stop.

That’s right. You read that correctly. Don’t stop falling in love with your babies.

I’m the middle-aged woman you pass at the coffee shop, or in the shopping aisle who stops to tell you how beautiful your baby, toddler or young child is. I’m the woman who coos over the outfits and little faces, and even the tears.  I’m one of the kazillion middle-aged women who look at you through their newly increased lens prescription and says; “Enjoy them while they’re young.”

Don’t stop being amazed at every new stage. Ever.Don’t stop wondering how they are when they head off to school, and don’t stop bothering them for a hug, or stories about their day when they become teenagers. Trust me, they will challenge you sometimes.

Whatever happens and whatever they get up to, don’t stop being the ferociously loving mother that you are.

I’ll be honest with you. When my child turned three, I was tempted to see what the return policy was. Four was better. Like a light switch being turned on, the ‘terrible three’s’ (it was three not two) turned into the fabulous four’s, and I had my angel back.

It’s true, every age and stage holds some surprise. Some stages, much like the prize your potty-training-darling hands to you while proudly shouting, “Poo-Poo”  are less satisfying than others. Sometimes you will despair at how you will get through the day; emotionally, physically, financially. Sometimes, you will have nothing left to give. But that’s when us older gals come in.

We’ve been there; the smiling photo-posting-proud-as-pie times and the lonely-how-am-I-going-to-do-it-times. Pick up the phone, talk to us in line at Starbuck’s, or at the grocery store. We’ve been there sister, and lived to coach you through it.

For now, just keep doing what you do. You’re great at it, even when you’re not sure you’re doing it right, you are.

~Enjoy them while they’re little. They grow up too quickly.~

 

 

For Our Kiddos on Mother’s Day

mammaMother’s day, next to Valentine’s Day is a quintessential ‘Hallmark Holiday’. After all, great mothers are celebrated every day through the wonderful relationships which they cultivate with their children.

Whether you are a biological, surrogate, adoptive, or fur-baby Mama, you wake up every day, and do your best to make another  being feel confident, capable, loved and secure.

As a mother, I often reflect upon what being a mother has meant to me. All of a sudden, my baby has turned into a handsome, capable, thoughtful 6’3″ (and growing) young man with his own perspective and life.

I do believe that had it not been for motherhood, I would have been found dead in ditch somewhere by now, with fabulous stilettos, a designer bag, and a great tan.  Ah yes…becoming a mother certainly sets a girl’s priorities straight!

Motherhood is a journey of a lifetime, often only realized and experienced in retrospect. In present moments, we are bustling to cook a meal, do homework, get to practice on time and make sure everyone has what they need for the day.

…and then they grow up. Just a little bit. A little more independent. A little more sure of what their preferences are. A little bit more their own person.

You notice when you give them a kiss good night, or when they walk in the door after having been away for a few days. Your baby isn’t a baby, or even a child any more. They have, in those rushed moments, turned into a young woman or a young man, and they are their own person.

Sometimes, even when life happens right in front of us, it’s only through recollection and nostalgia that we piece together how those tiny babies we gave life to have become the wonderful, awesome people that they are at this moment.

From all of us moms out there to all of our kiddos –  Thank you for the most amazing times of our life.  We love you.

….did your take your jacket?….do you have enough money?….call me if you need a ride, even if it’s at 3am…