We fight about clean-up a lot at our place. About keeping the common areas tidy. Participating in household chores.
During after-battle tears, yesterday, Lucy admitted “I know it’s for our own good, Mom. So we’ll know how to clean up.”
Then it hit me, I’d never really explained why we’d rather fight this battle than breeze through the tasks ourselves.
That it’s not about technique. And it’s not just about comfort and justice and self-discipline and space.
It’s about the mind-game.
Facing a mess and knowing we’ll get through it. One tiny bit at a time.
Accepting it’s there. Deciding how to look at it. Making the first move. Occupying our minds while we do it. And following through til it’s done.
Like illness. Like recovery. Like fear.
A year ago yesterday, was my first day back to work.
But yesterday, wasn’t.
Lucky, lucky me.
Before cancer, I led a charmed life. And I knew it.
I was happy. I was healthy. With two delicious daughters. And a vibrant relationship with a hunky, funky, fun-loving man.
We had good jobs. A cozy home. Consuming creative, hobbies. Tonnes of passion. And shared our time with interesting, intelligent, authentic, fun-loving friends.
I had stress. And I did torture myself. But I really did marvel at my miraculous life. And wondered how I’d stumbled into it.
Who’d have guessed it would get even better.
I love my life.
Thank you, Mark.
I truly hope to reach my golden years.
And if I do, I sure hope I don’t find that I have alienated myself from every one of my children.
And if I have, I really hope that none of my children has to endure the trauma of a life-threatening illness without one iota of parental support.
And if they do, I sincerely hope I won’t be so petty and poisonous at to leave snarky comments on their blog.
But that’s just me.
“As Hope Edelman puts it so well in her book Motherless Daughters: ‘Our mothers are our most direct connection to our history and our gender.’ By their presence or absence, the example they set or the lack of it, their positive influence or their negative one, by what they gave us and what they couldn’t, for every girl who makes the journey from child to woman, the first mirror in which she looks is the mirror of her mother’s face.
What we do and don’t see there is a part of us forever.”
— Girl in the Mirror: Mothers and Daughters in the Years of Adolescence. Nancy L. Snyderman, M.D. , 2002.
(Thank you, Janice.)
I would have much preferred to be the subject of the “Instant Stress Relief!” or “Make Good Sex Great” article.
Prevention Magazine. October 2011. Pages 94-95.
School started this morning.
Lucy and Bayla were thrilled. Mark was melancholy.
And I was chopped, tossed and tongue-tied by the schoolyard full of parents.
Stepping into that sea of smiling excitement knocked me flat.
I can’t think. I can’t smile. I don’t know where to look. Where to stand. My brain goes blank. I say stupid things.
It feels like I’m in a blender.
There were great friends in that crowd. And faces that maim me at the best of times. Both bowled me.
Sure, it’s all in my head. And I should probably ground myself, breath, repeat some mantra. But it takes me by surprise. I’m suddenly whirling and sputtering. And blank.
But I survived.
And today’s the first day of my first school year as a free-all-day mom.
I’ve got bon-bons to eat.
I’d better get to it.
It’s August 29, 1982. Five days after my sweet-17.
Relatives drop in and I’m sent to the local orchard to pick up some apples. It’s a 4km drive.
My 12 year old cousin, Susie, joins me for the ride.
We pick up the apples. Then, since we’re so close, I drive us down to the Rideau Locks. Park the car. Hop out and show my little cousin around.
But what’s that? A rusty little Civic is floating in the water.
The rusty little Civic that I just parked. Out of gear. On a slope. Facing the water.
My first full-scale failure.
A crowd. A boat. A tractor. A rope. Susie’s mechanic-Dad gets it running.
I squeeze out the seats. Cover them in blankets. Gussy myself up and pick up my hunky ex-boyfriend for our planned boat-cruise party date.
Twenty-nine years later — To. The. Day. — I learned that my long-lost cousin Susie and I are both breast cancer survivors.
Good thing we’re resilient.
We’re going to be fine.
Unbelievably, our long-awaited cross-country train trip has come and gone.
What a wild, wild ride.
It was our longest family vacation, to date. And certainly our most intense.
Compared to the hardcore Rocky Mountain hiking, biking and camping of my youth, it was physically a cynch. But boy was it emotionally explosive.
Here’s a random smattering of our two weeks away. You can snag a bigger peek here.
||3 days and 3 nights of luxury, relaxation and amazing scenery, Ottawa to Edmonton.
||A happy reunion with a long-lost friend.
||An afternoon of waves and water slides.
||Abrasions, bruises, a broken big toe and minus-one iphone, thanks to a harrowing afternoon on the Pembina River.
||Thrilling road-side views of bears, elk, deer, coyotes and mountain goats.
||Gorgeous views of mountains and lakes.
||Such sadness at the news of Jack Layton.
||An afternoon on horseback.
||A glacier tour. A boat tour. A gondola tour.
||A double-birthday celebration.
||A day of badlands, dinosaurs and hoodoos.
||An afternoon at the zoo.
||An afternoon of heartbreak and hope.
||A weekend of walloping western hospitality.
||A decadent dinner with long-lost cousins.
||A blast of all-consuming news.
||A day in the old west.
||3 days and 3 nights of luxury, relaxation and amazing scenery, Edmonton to Ottawa.
||A happy reunion with Phae and our home sweet home.
Huge thanks to everyone who made this a vacation to remember.
And especially to Janice for beckoning us out, sharing her beautiful province, keeping us safe and enjoying one billion laughs with us through all the ups and downs.
Twelve years ago today, our beautiful Lucy was born.
Thank you, Lucy, for sharing your warmth, your wisdom, your wit, your creativity, your love, your courage, your perspective, your passion, your steadiness of self. And thank you for your patience with us as we stumble recklessly into each new parenting realm.
I love you, my baby sweet.
Wishing you many, many, many more years of happiness and good health.
“You can keep them bottled up, but they will come out, Michael. Sometimes in the most unexpected… Hey, where the @!*# are my hard-boiled eggs?!“
— Tobias Fünke. Good Grief! Arrested Development 2004.
My life is brimming with beautiful people. Wise, interesting, creative, curious, passionate, compassionate, generous, articulate, level-headed, fun-loving people.
So I’m always shocked at the hair-trigger hostility I stumble into. Seemingly reasonable people who spray me with hatred over a sideways glance.
It confuses me.
Are they stretched to the breaking point struggling to maintain some decent facade? Are they barely bottling up frustration, dissatisfaction, loneliness, insecurity, envy and rage? And why bother spewing venom at inconsequential me?
In the online world, it’s especially easy to lay out and examine entire interactions. And I’ve often done just that. Weighing a scant response from me against the lengthy and personal ferocity that results.
And my confusion remains.
But I’m learning to scrounge up some compassion for their barely bound pain. Beam some healing, happy vibes.
And move on.
They sure looked innocent back then.
Actually, they still look pretty innocent.
I’m sure being trapped on a train with them for six days will improve things for all of us.
Wait a minute…