In summation

2011 is nearly done. 3 more sleeps until 2012, and the time seems right for rememberances. The year is winding down at work. I am one of three people here today and tomorrow. Manning the silent phones, as it were. I’m taking this time to get myself sorted professionally, emotionally and mentally to start a new job early in the new year. So it seems fitting to take a few moments to look back.

2011 started with a bang – right to my immune system. We returned from our annual trip to France, me looking like an extra from 28 Days Later. Winter turned to spring, racing past birthdays and anniversaries, into summer. And a glorious summer it was. Freyja and I spent nearly every day out in the back yard, gardening, puttering and enjoying each other’s company.

Then came fall, and the return to “work”. As in, paid, in an office, away from home. People had been warning me to prepare myself for the shift, and how. The first week I was back, we received an announcement that our entire division was Workforce Adjusted. Almost 60 people. Can you imagine? The retention exercises dragged out through the fall, while we shuffled feet, paper and dealt with sagging morale. Countless hours at the gym, taking long lunches, and enjoying the company of my dearest friends while we still worked in the same postal code. Not being retained, I went to interview after interview, balancing positivism with realism, until finally an offer came before Christmas.

December brought a trip to Chicago, long awaited and not nearly long enough. Too much eating, just a bit of shopping, and hours of sightseeing by foot. Chicago, I love you and will be back.

And now, the sun king has died and is resurrecting. The days grow infintessimally longer, though we are still plunged in the dark during the commutes to and from. Christmas has come and gone and was a breathless, magical delight that left Freyja speechless and our cat gripped by what can only be an allergy to pine sap in her ears.

2012 brings new work, a new hobby in the form of group leading for the Running Room, new creative projects, new challenges with our beloved toddler still in the throes of “no!” and “mommy go!”, and the ever anticipated return of spring with biking and gardening beginning to occupy my imagination. No doubt there will be new trips, new adventures, new discoveries, new hopes and new heartbreaks.

Tonight, tomorrow

So, as it turns out, I will be doing the Army Run. Thanks to one of my beloved’s co-workers, I will be running a 5k in the morning. It’s all very last minute, so the terror perhaps hasn’t had time to set in. Thankfully, I am going with a pair of incredible women, otherwise I would’ve talked myself out of this enterprise hours ago.

More tomorrow, a post-race post-mortem, if you will.

 

Poisson d’avril

Where did March go? Oh yes, now I remember. In a flurry of sickness and general dreckitude, the likes of which we seem to have been enjoying since Christmas. For myself, another ear and sinus infection laid me low, and at least a little reliant on Freyja’s beloved Wibbly Pig. Go ahead and judge, because I can’t hear you over the jaunty theme song now drilled into my psyche.

But now April is here, the weather is warm enough to invite open windows. My bike is once again ridable and towing an awesome and already-beloved trailer. Freyja is currently not waking every 20 minutes (though perhaps I’ve gone and jinxed it). This new course of antibiotics seems to be working and I can almost hear out of my left ear again. In short, things are looking up, and are bound to just get better.

And really, when you think about all the misery already afloat in our green and blue home, it kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

Now, I have to go lie down. I am tired from typing this all out with my new Google Motion app.

Family Day

Every family has issues, to be sure. Some graver than others, but all have their quirks and dysfunctions.

If I had to pick a historical personage to represent my father, Henry VIII would be a fitting choice. A sociopathic, misogynistic man who could be unbelievably charming and loving then hateful and cruel in turns. An alcoholic, an adulterer. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

I had very little contact with him as a teenager, and almost none as an adult. When my grandmother died, I contacted him. She was one of the few people he genuinely loved, and I felt he deserved to know. From there, we began a tentative reconciliation. I was living away by that time, married and doing my own thing. It seemed important to forgive him as part of my own healing. It was certainly an exercise in compassion. He was a broken old man who’d managed to drive everyone away save the gold digger who was his most recent wife.

All this came to an abrupt end in April of 2009. I’d been waiting until the beginning of my second trimester to tell him about my pregnancy when he passed away suddenly. I flew home and went to his funeral with my sister and best friend. It was awful, to be frank. The service was a memorial to a beloved husband, a gentle and wise man, and was a slap in the face to my sister and I. It had obviously been written and orchestrated by his most recent wife (as had his obituary which made no mention of his previous three wives, five children or brother or sister). One moment will stay with me as a final insult: the date proclaimed as the beginning of his relationship with the gold digger was solidly during the period my father and mother were together, reasonably happily. My sister squeezed my hand for all she was worth, and neither of us shed a tear for him. The rest of the funeral was a tribute to tastelessness, the final song being “Home on the Range,” featuring yodelling. We left as soon as possible.

After I flew home, my sister, her brother and I, began to ask about our father’s estate. The golddigger stalled and dragged her feet until we got a lawyer involved. After I read it, I understood her reluctance. His most recent wife had tried to convince us of my father’s essential goodness, his kindness, his big heart and gentle disposition. This document refuted all of that cruelly, completely and finally. What I expected was to be left out completely, simply absent from his will. Instead, the first paragraph provided a detailed list of all those forever excluded from his estate. Myself, my mother, my sister, her mother, our siblings, my aunt and uncle. Specifically mentioned. The cruelty of it took my breath away. My sister later told me she had to go and lie down. It was the only time she was overwhelmed. I deleted all the emails from the gold digger and decided it was time to put the past away and focus on the new life baking in my tummy instead.

Fast forward nearly two years. A frantic email, text and phone message arrive from my sister saying the gold digger has contacted her, looking for my phone number. Thanks to my curiosity and against my better judgement, I called her up. She had the good grace to apologize, but then took up the case of my dearly, departed father, defending him against my very own memories. I got off the phone as quickly as good manners would allow, then sat on the couch and ate a handful of leftover Valentine’s Day sugar cookies, vowing to myself, my husband and my daughter that I was done-Done-DONE with this branch of my family tree.

And now, two days removed, I am looking for lessons and attempting to gain perspective.  I am grateful to have been raised by an amazing, fierce, loving mother. She was a force of nature and an inspiration. I am grateful for my sister, who has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. And for as long as I can remember, she’s been watching out for me, giving me good advice. Plus, she just loves the hell out of my daughter. I’m grateful for my husband. I’m grateful for my cousins and my aunts and uncles. I’m grateful for my dear friends who are my brothers and sisters in spirit. And finally, though it is a struggle, I am grateful for the father I had, because he made me the woman I am today.

Unimaginable without him

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Essentials

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared the parenting essentials that they could not live without.
Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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The goofy couple, hiking Johnston Canyon in birkenstocks. Typical.For most of our marriage, Marc and I have been alone together. We spent the first 10 years together, living in Toronto, Montreal then Ottawa, being not only spouse, but best friends, playmates, helpmates, psychiatrists, antagonists, team mates, and lovers. Being without any other family, and sometimes without other friends, allowed us (forced us?) to learn to rely only on each other, to need only each other, and to protect and nurture our extremely exclusive club. Perhaps we’ve taken co-dependance to a whole new level, although I prefer to think of it as a true marriage of two souls. We are two limbs on the same body, two peas in the same pod, I’m sure you get it.

As life is constant change, our life did change radically on November 22, 2009. Freyja burst onto the scene and rocked us to our very core. I think for any new parents, the arrival of your child is a profoundly changing experience and we are no different.  Though we’ve had the inevitable spats and bickering, we’ve also become closer. Together, we’ve struggled our way through midwives, doulas, cloth diapers, cuddle wraps and the fourth trimester, co-sleeping, exclusive breastfeeding, babyled weaning and elimination communication. Together, we’ve found our path amidst all the well-intentioned advice and opinions, raising Freyja with gentleness, love and respect. And in turn, my love and respect for Marc has increased infinitely.

There is no way I can imagine my life without Marc. Because of him, I can be the mother I aspire to be, and that must be one of the greatest gifts you can ever receive.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Not Without Him — The love Starr at Taking Time shares with her husband is the foundation of her parenting.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without B(.)(.)bs — From an uneducated dreamer to a breastfeeding mother of a toddler, nursing has forever changed Kristy at Strings to Things’s relationship with her daughter and her outlook on life.
  • Raising a Child in the Internet Village — When Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has a question or concern about parenting, she turns to the Internet. What did parents do before Google?
  • Partner in Crime and ParentingBethy at Bounce Me to the Moon can’t imagine parenting without her husband’s sense of humor – he brings her laughter and love every day.)
  • I Make MilkPatti at Jazzy Mama can’t imagine trying to mother her babies without her breasts, but she could do it if she had to.
  • New Perspectives Bring New BeginningsMJ at Wander Wonder Discover, who is a former authoritarian mamma, has gained perspective via parenting.
  • Time Out!Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog explores how time apart can increase your capacity to give unconditionally.
  • Unimaginable Without HimKristina at heyred designs is celebrating her amazing partner, without whom none of her parenting experience would be possible.
  • My Parenting NecessityClaire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl needs “me time” in order to be the Mama she wants to be.
  • Babywearing As a Way of LifeDarcel at The Mahogany Way talks about the benefits of babywearing in everyday life.
  • Parenting Partnership — Sometimes Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter doesn’t appreciate her husband enough, but she definitely couldn’t imagine parenting without his help.
  • Parenting EssentialsMomma Jorje loves her parenting products, but she needs you even more.
  • My Parenting Must-Have: SupportJoella at Fine and Fair wrote a letter to her daughter about the role that support from friends and family plays in her mothering.
  • It’s More Than Just Hair — Think doing hair is full of fluff? Too girly? Useless? Karli from Curly Hairdo Ideas used to think so too.
  • The Minimalist Parent — The parents at Living Peacefully with Children embrace a minimalist perspective when it comes to baby gear. A good sling is all they need.
  • Without My BreastsCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama can’t imagine parenting without her breasts; here’s why.
  • Loves Books, Loves PeopleSeonaid at the Practical Dilettante discovers that the library is a perfect fit for her family’s needs.
  • An Ode to the Maya WrapRevMama’s next child might be named Maya, because of her fondness for the sling.
  • Avoiding the Padded RoomPecky at Benny and Bex is here to testify that it takes a village to raise a child.
  • My parenting essentials, from Tivo to battery-operated monstrositiesLauren at Hobo Mama presents a list of parenting essentials you didn’t even know you needed (and probably don’t…).
  • Attachment Parenting Through Separation: It Makes It a Little BetterJessica at This Is Worthwhile talks about how she couldn’t survive her separation without attachment parenting and the bond it’s afforded her with her 3 year old son.
  • Parenting EssentialsDeb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the principles she used to parent her children from infants to adults.
  • My Parenting Essentials — The things that are truly essential to Kim at In Desperate Need of Entertainment aren’t things at all.
  • I’m No One Without My Sling — How baby carrying is essential to the parenting of Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without…Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about what she needs to raise her children.
  • February Carnival of Natural Parenting — Through her experiences over the last five and a half years, Casey at Love What Is has discovered her most important tool for parenting is using her instincts.
  • CNP: I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without __________.The Artsymama discloses the one thing that gave her back control of herself as a parent.
  • Laugh Until I Cry — Laughing with her sons keeps Acacia at Fingerpaint & Superheroes connected and grounded.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting WithoutLuschka at Diary of a First Child realizes what the one thing she can’t imagine parenting without is, and it turns out it’s not a thing after all.
  • It Takes Two — Here are a few of the reasons why Jenn at Adventures Down Under cannot imagine parenting without her fabulous husband.
  • Stopping to Listen — Though it wasn’t easy at first, Knocked Up – Knocked Over cannot imagine parenting her daughter without listening first to what she is telling her.
  • The Essence of Parenting — There are many wonderful resources that make life easier for Michelle at the Parent Vortex to parent, but the essence is the relationship between parent and child.
  • What I Cannot Live WithoutSybil at Musings of a Milk Maker considers her computer to be a parenting lifeline.
  • True Blessings: White Noise and GrandparentsKat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment can’t live without her white noise machine and the support of her parents.
  • The Necessities! — What “stuff” does a natural parent like Lily, aka Witch Mom really need? Not much, it turns out.
  • Mama Showed MeMama Mo at Attached at the Nip writes about how parenting wisdom is passed on by example.
  • Ode to the Loo — For Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch, the bathroom is her safe place, where she can take a minute to calm down if she is feeling touched out.
  • Go, Mama. Go!Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has been able to integrate her many roles through her get-up-and-go parenting essential, exercise!
  • My Other HalfBecky at Old New Legacy realizes what a relief it is to have her husband parent alongside her.
  • Grace, Love, and CoffeeMrsH at Fleeting Moments realizes that lifelines can take the form of the profound, or the mundane. Both are ok.
  • Supportive Spouse, Check! — There are so many parenting tools and gadgets that are superfluous, but the one essential, for Danielle at born.in.japan, has been her supportive spouse.
  • Why I’m a BabywearerMeredith at Becoming Mamas reflects on the ways babywearing has enhanced her mama baby relationship…and made life easier to boot.
  • It’s Marvelous Out Here, Kiddo!Rachael at The Variegated Life can’t imagine parenting in the big city without the marvels of Prospect Park to share with her Critter.
  • Yes, Thank YouAmy at Anktangle offers tips on how to ask for and accept help, an essential for successful parenting.
  • Parenting Essentials Checklist: Mom’s Inner Rebel and Her Kids’ VoicesOlivia at Write About Birth reflects on raising global citizens and saying no to societal norms.
  • Eco-Mama Online! — An Eco-Mama living in the mountains of a nature island, Terri at Child of the Nature Isle finds it essential to connect to nature and to connect online.
  • Sorry, We Just Sold the Last OneNev at The Adventures of Lime confesses she missed out the day they handed out patience.
  • LaughTashmica at The Mother Flippin’ Blog reveals her super power, her talisman agains mean mommy.
  • My Priceless Parenting Resource — What do books, a magazine community, my mother and the local playgroup have in common? Lucy at Dreaming Aloud tells us…
  • The Gift of Shared TimeTree at Mom Grooves strives to experience the world from her daughter’s perspective.
  • Follow the GigglesDionna at Code Name: Mama can’t live without the sound of her child’s giggles – come watch her video and you’ll agree!
  • Can I Mommy Without Boob?Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama shares her fears about weaning and losing part of that the mother/child bond.