Tag Archives: parenting

Bedtime Cookbook

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How far shall we flash back this fine Friday?  More than a lifetime for some of you, and just a drop in the time bucket for the rest of us.

What is more delightful than two recently bathed children with shiny clean hair all ready for bed?  Sitting together, sharing, being super good so bedtime will be delayed.

This was not a rare moment.  My mom often remarked on how well my kids got along with each other.  That changed for a while in their teens, but really, underneath the growing pains, they have always remained good friends.

I know it looks like the reflection of a halo on my daughters head, but don’t let it fool you.  She had her un-angelic moments.  And I never realized my son had such expressive toes.  I think that might be our polar bear hide on the wall in the background.  Hard to believe now we ever had such a thing.  But this is the NWT in the late 1970’s.  We didn’t know any better.  And that awful brown colonial furniture was in every government house.

One other thing I noticed in this faded photo is that the book they’re reading is not a kids book (although they had lots of those I swear). It appears to be a cookbook.  My poor children.  Is this what I gave them instead of reading them a bedtime story?  I can imagine the two of them pointing at the pictures saying – what is this yummy dish called?Mom has never made anything this awesome for us!  Maybe she doesn’t know how!  Maybe she doesn’t really love us!

Hey, they’re alive and clean.  Looks like it was a good parenting day to me.

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What Will You Remember?

“What do you want to be remembered for, Ainslee?” Lara asks the countryside flying by the bus window.

“Why, am I dying or something?” Ainslee pouts and frowns at her sister. “Why are you asking me that?”

“We’re all going to be gone someday, I was just wondering what memories you’d like your girls to carry with them for the rest of their lives. What kind of mothers you’ve inspired them to be. What things about you Matt would cherish forever.”

“Pfffft. Matt is NOT going to outlive me, so that’s nothing to waste my time worrying about, how he’ll pine away missing me. He’s got so damned much life insurance it would be a crying shame if I didn’t end up collecting it. And the girls becoming mothers? Man, I can’t even picture that. Dani is so headstrong and bossy and independent, who could live with her? And Allie with her portable medicine chest. A hypochondriac mother is just wrong on so many levels. She worries herself to distraction about her silly cats. Maybe that’s all the responsibility she can handle.”

“But Katie is the most like you used to be. Wild and a little crazy now, but she’ll get over that, just like you did. Someday she’ll have children her grandma will love to distraction. What kind of legacy would you like to leave for all of them?”

Ainslee frowns and sighs and forces herself to consider. Lara is always trying to make her think about stuff and it just goes so completely against her impulsive nature to sit down and thoughtfully consider things for no reason that she can fathom. Unfortunately, at this particular moment she must remain in her bus tour seat and is at Lara’s inquisitive mercy.

“I would like them to remember that I was fair, and giving and happy and that I loved them. I was a good mother. But that I was a person first, with an interesting life quite apart from them. That I went off to Scotland with my sister and sat in a bus and hardly thought about them at all except when I was forced to agonize over my imminent death and their uncertain futures.”

Lara laughs and nudges Ainslee with her elbow. It’s a good answer, she thinks. And now Ainslee insists on hearing her answer, which is only fair.

“I guess I just would like my sons to remember how much I loved them. I think that would be enough.”

“Loved them?” Ainslee snorts. “You spoiled the little buggers rotten is what you did. It’s a miracle they turned out so close to normal. I bet their wives curse you daily though, for what those boys must have come to expect from the women in their lives.”

Lara looks stricken and Ainslee laughs at her and tells her she was only kidding her. Lara knows how true it is though. She always felt Stan overdid it with the discipline, needing to be seen as the strong and stern parent so that she felt bound to offset his harshness with her own softness. And yes they got away with a lot behind their father’s back.

“And what about Stan?” Ainslee prods her.

“What about him?” Lara rolls her eyes. “He’ll have a couple of rums and tell a couple of stories and then he’ll forget about me and get on with his work and his life.”

“Are you kidding? You are Stanley’s ROCK Lara. He’ll be positively adrift without you!”

It’s Lara’s turn to snort. “I’m more like a boulder around his neck I think. My gravestone will read ‘here lies Stan’s Albatross’. The woman who spoiled his sons and didn’t like to dance.”

“I think that’s entirely too much information to be putting on a headstone, unless it’s ten feet tall. And you just couldn’t be that ostentatious if you tried. Oh My God Lara!” Ainslee practically screeches as she leans around Lara to peer out the window, her eyes like saucers. “SHEEP!”

And indeed, there they are, hundreds of them, more than they could have imagined all standing around looking bored with their little black feet planted firmly on a rolling green field. Although they have been on the lookout for sheep ever since they crossed the border into Scotland it’s still an amazing sight to see all those cottony white dots scattered everywhere.

Ainslee sits back in her seat and announces that they look like maggots from this distance. Crawling maggots on a dark green lettuce leaf. The image makes Lara laugh and she makes a mental note to pass that one on to Ainslee’s daughters for posterity.

“I was so excited to see them and then there they are looking positively gruesome. Let’s get some pictures!”

They snap a few blurred shots through the window as the bus speeds away. In a few days the sight of sheep will be so completely ordinary and repetitive to them that they will not feel bad at all when they sit down on their hotel beds one evening to begin the arduous task of deleting them from their memory sticks. Getting the images out of their heads is another thing altogether.

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Something I Learned Yesterday

Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis is a really smart guy! On my lunch break I was leafing through the March issue of “Men’s Journal” (the strangest things materialize in our lunch room) and came across this interview

http://www.mensjournal.com/what-would-bruce-do

and read the whole thing from start to finish! That’s a pretty amazing thing all on its own. But more amazing to me were some of the deep and insightful things he had to say about women, love, being a parent, and life in general.

A couple of excerpts:

What do women know about us that we never know about ourselves?

Forget “about us” — they know things in general, instinctively. Women can see through their own guy’s shit better than anybody can. And really quick. A woman can size up another woman in about 30 seconds……. And they are right all the time. Dead right. They are working on a wavelength that men could never get to.

How does a man remind himself to live in the moment?

I’m glad we’re talkin’ about this. Embrace your death. Make friends with it. Know it’s out there. Tickle it under the chin, and just know that it’s coming. And not in a bad or morbid way — or an “Oh, God, I’m going to die someday” way — but use it as motivation. Use it as an impetus to get everything you want to do in this lifetime done before you die. I was raised in a generation that was saving money for a rainy day: “Don’t do anything too rash while you’re young; save it all for when you’re older.” Well, I think it’s rainin’ right now. I think live it up.

Take a minute or two and read through the things he has to say! There are some gems in there.

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Having Babies

Having Babies: Part One

Okay,  where was I?  Brand new parents to a baby girl with more character than either of us put together – from day one she had an attitude.  And great lungs and a temper.  We knew lots about parenting, but nothing about actually BEING parents.   Any child is a challenge, but in hindsight I know D. was more than the usual handful.  Our spirited child.  Isn’t that a lovely way to describe it?

W. had another year of university to complete.  I had to go right back to work in a mere four weeks.  My mom came to stay with us for a few days after D. was born.  After she left, I stood staring at my sleeping daughter and was overcome with the enormity of the responsibility we were taking on.  This little life in MY hands?   What was God thinking?  All the pent up emotions from the past months welled up and poured out.  I crawled into bed and refused to get up.  Poor W.  He put up with this emotional wreck of a new mom, bringing me food and my daughter when she got hungry, and blabbering away about post-partem depression, sounding like he was trying to convince himself more than me that we could get ourselves through this.  Two days of being a drama queen was about all even I could stand.  And that’s when we made one of the two most asinine decisions we’ve ever come up with, and packed up ourselves and our newborn and took a two-day car trip to visit W.’s parents.  They were thrilled to meet their first grandchild.  I was exhausted, mentally and physically and spent the entire time there in some kind of zombie state.  So D. was at our island and a little camper practically from day one.

As much as my mother-in-law bugs the living shit out of me most of the time, I must give her credit for loving her grandchildren in her own strange way.  And she did help me realize a very important thing.  My daughter would not cease to exist if she was out of my sight.  She would not die if I left her with someone else for an hour or two.  MIL forced me to go fishing with W.  There was no heart to heart little talk about anything – that’s never been her style.  But one morning she just said that I needed to get out, and W. needed to take me, and to get the hell out of here, D. will be just fine.  It’s the closest I’ve ever come to having a panic attack.  Leave my baby?  W. didn’t have to drag me kicking and screaming to the dock, but it came close.  We lasted almost an hour with me constantly freaked out that D. might be hungry, or screaming, or in whatever state it is babies might get themselves into when their mothers aren’t around – I couldn’t even imagine.  And with W., thoroughly exasperated, saying JEEZUS Lin, my mother had three kids.  I think she knows what she’s doing.  We got back to find D. peacefully sleeping, exactly how we had left her.  How freaking amazing is that?  I know my MIL was trying to help me get out from under the enormous weight of the pressure I was putting on myself, to let me breathe and trust someone else to help.  I had to do it when I went back to work, like it or not.

We were incredibly lucky to find a babysitter that I felt I could trust.  She had six kids of her own, all in school, and she was missing the baby thing.  Her name was Mrs. White.  Isn’t it funny that I don’t even remember her first name?  She looked after my daughter Monday to Friday, 8 to 5, for the first year of her life.  It was kind of nice to have someone else to blame for how spoiled she was.  I often wonder what effect this all had on D.  Sometimes when we picked her up she would look at us with that little frown of hers, as if to say, ‘who the heck are you guys again?’  It was not an easy thing to do.  I probably missed a whole lot of her “firsts”, although Mrs. White was very kind and never said anything about D. doing something new until I mentioned it first.  D. never slept longer than a six hour stretch, from midnight to 6 a.m. that first year.  Her naps were short, few and far between.  She was active, curious, easily frustrated, loud, demanding.  We just assumed that was normal, having not much to compare it with.  We did have some friends who came over with their little Rebecca, who was a month younger than D. although bigger, and a child that they could plunk on the floor and she would actually stay in one spot.  I remember we thought there must be something wrong with that kid.

It was a hectic year.  We were all sleep deprived.  I don’t know if that’s a good enough reason for being lax with the birth control.  I recall having vague thoughts about not wanting D. to be an only child, and that if I ever had to make a conscious decision to get pregnant again, I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to do it.  So I did it unconsciously.  W. finished his year and applied for a gazillion jobs.  He got two good offers.  One was a teaching position in Lindsay, Ontario.  The other was as a Wildlife Officer with the government of the NWT in Cambridge Bay.  And there you have the second most asinine decision we ever made.  How different might our lives have been, if we had gone left instead of right at that big fork in the road.  At the end of the summer, following D.’s first birthday, we headed north.  L & W’s Big Adventure begins.