Monday, July 22, 2013

Gratitude #2

I'm grateful for the special time we had with my dad this weekend. You made him smile. You made all the nurses and other patients around him smile. You and your grandfather sat in dappled sunlight on the patio and made my world shine.

I'm grateful that we could take you to the hospital today for something that worked itself out, but the doctor made sure it was all okay. I'm grateful the choice to go to the hospital was not one that made our bills hard to pay this month. I'm grateful that you are okay little bean.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gratitude #1

I am grateful for:
A friend who will comfort me by text message.
Being able to read constructive critique without letting it bring me down.
Calling home to chat with my mom, but getting an unexpected talk with my dad. He wanted to know how you are, and he loved the story of you screaming as your you ran down the hallway. I loved the moment we had together.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How to love yourself. Tip #1

Don't take before and after photos.

It is possible to make healthy changes in your life without hating who you are now. But a lot of money is made by companies that profit from self-disgust. The discourse of self-improvement is thick with the condemnation of the Before. But working from a place of self-hatred rarely, if ever, leads to a place of happiness. Do what you do because you love yourself. If you don't have time to be active because you are busy being there for other people, dig down to the place where you know you deserve to spend energy on yourself. Work from the knowledge that you must take care of yourself. That is the practice that can move you forward in health and happiness.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Yogurt face

Right now you are chewing on the straps to your highchair. Your bib has been turned around into a cape, and you have yogurt in the creases of your thighs. That's our fault. We take your pants off to let you eat because it cuts down on the laundry. You've just shoved a green bean into your mouth and you are intently watching your papa work on a painting of a dhaka crow that we plan to hang on your wall. Watching the chaos of this meal is absolutely love to me.

Tonight I am remembering that you are not a project. You are a rapidly learning creature. You are becoming who you are, and while I hope to offer what I can, you will be who you are. I read a great bit of advice today about how to support an introvert. As an extrovert, it was priceless. I sometimes take my belief into experiential knowledge too far, and start to think that others think in the same basic way I do. Which they don't. I have no idea how you think. I also remembered that I do better in conversation than in monologue. Now you are making your zombie noises. You are moments away from a bath. But I just realised I haven't glue-gunned closed your new bath toys' orifices yet. That was a fairly difficult sentence in terms of grammar. But anyway, I love you.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Nice Day

Today has been very nice. Your dad got up with you when you decided that 5 AM was an appropriate wake-up time. Then we went and had brunch with your auntie leone and you got a lot of attention from our favorite server.Then you and I went and learned lots about our health at the Diversity Health Fair. But we drove there and took cookies, so we may have missed the point. You had a short zuzz in your ergo while I congratulated auntie Jess. Then you had a nice good nap in the afternoon - half of which was in your crib. Which is awe-some.
Now you are playing on the floor and having a great time. Your play is more and more independent and it is so neat to watch you figure everything out.  Although I'm not sure how I feel about you trying to figure out how to stand.  That kind of scares me.  Oh, and I'd kind of like it if you bonked your head less, but I guess that is life.  Oh, and you rolled off the futon today.  That's another thing we'd like to vote 'no' on for the future.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Know Your Crazy

(And the important things here are punctuation and grammar.  There is a big difference between 'know your crazy' and 'know you're crazy'.)

I'm not built to be a stay-at-home mommy.  You and I have a lot of fun, but there are also a lot of times when the walls of this house seem to cave in on me.  I talk to you a lot, but you don't yet respond.  And radio and TV just don't cut it for me.  Plus, if I watch too much TV I sink into a funk.  This is something I've always known and blame many a melancholy Saturday afternoon on a morning of terrible viewing.

So really - it's not you!

But the reason I'm telling you this is because it is really important for me to 'know' what I'm not good with, to 'know' what type of situations get me out of sorts - or in other words, to know my crazy places.  And one of those crazy places is at home by myself.  The first time I spent this much time at home was in between working in Sudan and Bangladesh.  It was almost three months of me looking to keep myself busy with a limited budget and everyone else I know off at work or school.  My facebook status update rate was incredible, as was my ability to watch 3 seasons of the 'L word' straight (heh).  But I was going kooky, and I was driving your dad crazy since I was picking fights most of the time.  And the other time I was in this situation I started trying to spin my own wool to save money (dear god) and did not get better until your aunt and I started cooking magnificent dinners and photo blogging about it all.

When I planned my maternity leave, I only booked off 6 months.  I was fairly confident I would be ready to work again. Everyone and their dog gave me the 'oh, you'll feel different when the baby comes, then you won't be able to leave her' [insert mommy guilt here]. And while I had to suspend a certain amount of disbelief, for in fact, I hadn't had a baby before, I did think I may have some inside scoop on this.

And I was absolutely right.  At home on leave, all the craziness that keeps me company when I'm alone too much totally returned.  I've had my brilliant times with you, and I've done my best to mitigate the loneliness.  We go for walks every day that it is sunny - including some 10ks in one day.  We've gone to tonnes of yoga and classes.  We've gone to visit grandparents six times in 4 1/2 months... And thank goodness for that.  I know that my favorite times right now are when we are just kicking around with family, whether here or away.  It makes such a difference for me to have other grownups around when we hang.  It's the same when we have coffee or lunches with my friends.

But the thing is, if I didn't know my crazy, I would feel awful about this.  I thought I was able to cast shame and guilt upon myself before, but now with parenting hormones, I'm a pro.  So I'm really glad that I already knew what my weakness was before getting into this.  And even if I hadn't known, learning this would still be great.  Because I know and accept this is one of my 'I'm not so good at this', I don't have to beat myself up or feel bad.  I have other strengths, and I'm comfortable with this weakness.

It's funny, I was thinking about this a lot in the past week, and then last night I started to re-read Brene Brown's "The Gifts of Imperfections".  In the first few pages I read " willingness to let someone I care about see me as imperfect led to a strengthening of our relationship that continues today - that's why I can call courage, compassion, and connection the gifts of imperfection."  For me, the first person to share the crazy with is myself.  When I can say to myself on a Monday night 'wow, I'm getting cabin fever', it makes it so much easier to deal with.  Instead of my 'imperfection' making me feel ashamed, it just simply exists.  And without all the emotional baggage around it, I can actually do something about it rather than diving into some pity party.  And by being honest, and working with my crazy, it shows people around me that it's okay to know their crazy as well.  I want you to know that.  I want you to grow up realising that you will have 'crazies'.  And at first they will confuse you.  But you get a choice to either accept them and learn to cope with them, or to pretend they don't exist and feel poopy every time their occur.  I vote for the former of course, but it will be up to you.  In the meantime, I promise to show you that I have many imperfections that I won't try to hide or cover up in front of you.  You'll see a mom who does who best with who she is.  And it's all I can hope for you in your future.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Privilege and Choices

Some months ago, when you were still content to kick me from inside, your papa and I were out for dinner with friends.  We started talking about my old job, and some of the people I had worked with and the situations that they survived in (or didn't) around the world.  We talked about aid work, and reporters, and the choices people make in those lines of work when they are from comfy and privileged worlds like ours.

Someone remarked 'It must be so hard for people to leave that field and come back home.  I wonder how they do it.'

It was like, for just a moment, they had forgotten I was there.  Not that I was easy to miss as I was nearly nine months pregnant and huge.  When I commented on the fact that, indeed, I had left the field and come back home, they remarked 'Well, I hadn't really thought about you, you had to come back to have your family.  I think it would be harder for the men to leave than the women.'

To be clear, I adore the woman who said this, and I understand why she did.  She had met me when I was already pregnant, and to her, it was an innate aspect of Who I Was, Woman With Family. It was strange, because from my perspective, I was still a childless, free, woman who could up and go any time she wanted regardless of the airline restrictions on third trimester travel. But my identity was about to change, and I would likely notice all future meetings with people started with different labels than I was used to.

But the question of 'why?' or 'how?' can you leave the work when you've seen what you have seen.  Knowing that so much goes on in this world, and that I could be working directly to change it - and yet I have stopped. I am now here in Canada.  I live in a decent home with clean water and doors that won't be broken into.  I buy my little girl expensive car seats and invest in an educational fund.  How can I be here when I know the world that exists outside of this.

And until I decided to come home, I didn't really know the answer either.  Even now, there are times that I revert to the old standbys of 'I know I am still doing good', and 'You can make change by how you live your life'.  I believe both of these statements, but they aren't what resonates with me.  I remember in Papua New Guinea, walking through our clinic, the walls lined with benches filled with women and their children.  This is when what everyone had been telling me, in every place that I worked, finally sunk in.  All people want is to live their life in peace.  To live with their loved ones without violence. To pursue their dreams without persecution. I had so many conversations where I talked to people who did not understand why I had come to their part of the world, when I could be safely at home. And never was this more true than in PNG.

It was in that clinic, surrounded by women who had been beaten or raped, and children who had seen it, or been victims themselves, and who were all looking to find peace, if only in their own bodies and minds from that violence, that I realised I needed to honour my loved ones and take advantage of all that I had.  I have grown up believing that when you are privileged, you are responsible to use that privilege to fight injustice.  I've also realised though, that the gift of peace, which is so rare in our species and on this planet, must also be respected.  Very few people in this world get to have what I have.  And that is why I came home to my friends, my family, and your father. That is why we brought you here.  And I know your life will not always be peaceful, but I hope you can take advantage of the privilege that you do have to both fight for justice, as well as relax in the arms of your loved ones.