The Eagle Has Landed

So, to recap: I told you last time about how my mom did not find it necessary to tell me that she was off on a 3-week trip to Chile just after Christmas.

Here’s the thing: she tells me everything. Even most things I don’t even care to know. She lives a 3-minute drive from me, we see each other once or twice weekly, and chat on the phone. A lot. And yet, she had her ticket to go to my cousin’s wedding in Chile since August, and told me nothing about it. She dropped the fact casually into an email about 10 days ago. Just nonchalantly sends me this itinerary full of domestic flights in Chile and says, “can I get your help with this?”

Me: “What even is this? What do you want me to do with it?”

Mom: “It’s my flights! I’m not just going to be in one place, you know!”

Me: “What do you mean, your flights?”

Mom: “My flights! My flights! For my trip!”

Me: “WHAT TRIP.”

Mom: “Bah! My trip to Chile! Stop being strange!”

Me: “Mom: You didn’t tell me you were going on a trip!”

Mom: “Of course I did!”

Me: “No, you didn’t! This is the kind of thing I would remember!”

Mom: “Yes, I told you! Hmph, you weren’t paying attention, as usual!”

Me: “YOU DIDN’T TELL ME.”

Mom: “Bah. Now I told you.”

Nice.

So of course, on Christmas Eve at my place she asks what time I’m picking her up on the 27th. You know, to take her to the airport.  Also, not to forget to empty her mailbox. And oh yes, she’s leaving her car in my underground.

Sí, Mamá.

She got there safe and sound. She sends me this email:

I am here. I’m having fun with everybody. Don’t forget the mail. See you at the airport on the 15th.

So touchy-feely. She’d better send me her flight info, that would be nice.

 

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Quick & Dirty Update

I’ve been remiss here lately and as you know that has a profound effect on my sense of duty. It’s funny because I know I’m the only one who knows I’m not writing, but I DO KNOW and so here’s a multi-themed post to catch you up (hi Lisa! and Bev! and other reader(s)) and mostly, just so I can add a post.

  • My Habs are “slumping”. Lost 4 of their last 5. But here’s what: we’re still on top of the division, still 6 games over .500, and my boys are still all cute as buttons. Even you, Moen. The tendency is to panic, shake our fists at the sky, and call for Coach Martin’s head. But we should all just relax. Plus, we play later today and I’ve got a good feeling about it.
  • Our Christmas tree has been up since the last Saturday in November but it’s been hard to get into the holiday spirit this year. So busy, with a particularly busy month at work, but now the kids and I are all on holidays and my shopping is (pretty much) done and we’ve been blasting all kinds of Christmas music and will be hosting Xmas eve at our place tomorrow as we always do, so yes, we’re now fully in the spirit.
  • I have to feed my new sister-in-law something vegan tomorrow. Suggestions welcome.
  • I got a whole SCHWACK of new Habs gear from my most generous benefactor as a Christmas present this year. Colour me FREAKING DELIGHTED. It’s like I have one of everything now. Plus home and away Markov jerseys. I don’t care that he’s injured and out for the season. Markov is my dude.
  • I don’t ACTUALLY have one of everything. If you want to get me something, I can suggest lots.
  • Just found out from my mother that she’s leaving for Chile the day after Boxing Day, for like, 3 weeks. I had no idea about this. She’s bemused why I wouldn’t have known this. Um, because I’m not a mind reader. Nice communication. She said “that’s why I asked for your iPod for Christmas! For the plane!” She’s had her ticket since August.
  • I’m trying to figure out a way to get to the Heritage Classic in Feb. Yes, I know all the tickets are sold out. Apparently you are not familiar with my determination. I will things. Gonna start working the angles. Also, I’m a distant descendant of a famous Chilean witch. I have certain powers.
  • The kids spend part of the holidays with their dad and I hate it more than anything. I’m useless at being alone, I need people around. Am filling up my dance card for a bunch of days next week. Lemme know what you’re up to.
  • My place kind of looks like a cyclone hit it. I have so much tidying to do before tomorrow but I’m putting it off as long as possible. Working under pressure is kinda my thing. Also, procrastination.
  • WHAT DO YOU FEED A VEGAN.
  • I just got a couple of great books, The Greatest Game and Hitch 22. Maybe I’ll read those next week during my quiet time.
  • Who are we kidding. So, whatcha doin’ next week?
  • I didn’t send out a year-end letter this year. But we’ll be taking our family portrait either today or tomorrow and I’ll upload it.

Told you, quick and dirty.

I’m Just Doing My Best…And Who Asked You, Anyway?

Sanctimommies. A friend of mine recently sent me the definition from the Merriam Webster website.  The definition states:

a mother who points out perceived faults in the parenting of others

Want to use it in a sentence? “Sanctimommies of the world, rejoice! You have a new spokesperson, and even though she is a super model, she’s just like you: obnoxious, self-congratulatory and anxious to make all the other mommies feel bad.” — Dr. Amy Tuteur, skepticalob.blogspot.com, Aug 6, 2010

Guys, don’t get me started. Sanctimommies have been judging what I do since before I even got pregnant. “You shouldn’t eat that”, “tell your husband to wear boxers”, “you HAVEN’T been taking your folic acid for at least a year?”, “you should skip that wine. It will affect your fertility!”

I’ve got news for you. BOTH times I got pregnant was on nights I was drinking wine. Lots of it. Ha!

Unsolicited advice continued throughout my pregnancies, including where I should give birth, how I should sleep, that I shouldn’t consume caffeine as I would have tiny babies (with the blessing of my doctor I drank coffee every single day and still gave birth to babies who roughly weighed the same as baby horses), and the BIRTH PLAN.

When I was handed the birth plan form by my doctor (yes, I gave birth in a hospital and not an inflatable pool in my living room), the first thing I did was scan the form to find “epidural” and marked the box with an X although I was tempted to also use a big red Sharpie to draw arrows pointing to it, only because “HELL YES” didn’t fit into the box. What am I, a masochist? Last I checked, we weren’t being given “Mommy Who Withstood The Most Pain” trophies as we left the hospital. We were all leaving with the same prize. Our babies. More judging by other expectant Mommies. Without directly admonishing me, they’d say “I want to experience childbirth.”

Here’s the experience: When I was in labour with my son, after about 16 hours of pain, the final 4 of which were of the stupidest, most ridiculous pain I’ve ever known (and fyi I once snapped my arm in half. SNAPPED. In HALF), the anaesthetist FINALLY arrived and had to go through his whole warning schpiel. I wanted to throttle him but instead kept interrupting him, “yes oh god YES please where do I sign GIVE ME THE PEN NOW NOW NOW.” What followed after the epidural was such an enormous relief, I have never felt anything so amazing in my life, before or since. My then-husband told the anaesthetist, “I’ll bet you get all the chicks.”

My son wound up being delivered by c-section due to complications UNrelated to the epidural. I left the hospital with a beautiful, healthy little baby boy, which is all I went there for in the first place. All the months of wondering what the birth would be like were in the past, and the way he arrived didn’t matter in the least. The sister of a friend of mine who intended to have a drug-free, natural birth and wound up having emergency surgery as well STILL could not get over her disappointment over the way her baby was born, many months later. Seems like a lot of time to be griping over something there was no control over, don’t you think? She got a healthy baby out of the deal, that’s what matters, no?

The next time I was pregnant my specialist asked me if I wanted to try to go natural this time and I said, “can I book the c-section right now?” and this time he said HELL YES, because he was there the first time around. Turns out it wouldn’t have been a choice anyway, since 10 days shy of her due date my daughter already weighed 9.5 pounds – no question I couldn’t have opted for going the ‘natural’ route, as they wouldn’t have let me anyway.

Blah blah blah. Throughout the years sanctimommies continued to plague me, from their opinions on breastfeeding, their tut-tut-tutting over the horrible affliction of my son’s soother-sucking, to how it was practically child abuse to wait until he was THREE to put him into preschool, the eternal competition of how old/young your kids are when they are potty trained, etc., etc., etc. We’re all trying to raise people, isn’t it hard enough as it is without having to feel like we’re competing against each other? Worry about your own kid, I’ll see to mine.

You know what else wasn’t easy? Going back to work. I stayed home until my son was 3 and my daughter was 1, and had no choice but to go back. It was the hardest thing I ever did. I never thought I would want to, but after having my kids all I wanted to do was be a stay-at-home mom. The thought of not being with them all day killed me. But go back to work I did, with all the guilt that came with it.

What kills me more is that for the last 4 years, I’ve been a single mom. I freaking run myself ragged working full time and commuting, but I do it to support my family, put a roof over their heads, food in their tummies, clothes on their backs, and hopefully set a good example of what a responsible adult is supposed to do, that we don’t always get to do what we want, but we always must do what we have to. The time I’m not at work, I’m running around taking them to activities, puzzling over their homework and squeezing in as much fun as possible. Also, it’s a little time-consuming running a household with no other adult around to share in the duties.

Ah, but the sanctimommies. I can’t keep up to their standards. None of them speak to me when I am able to go to the kids’ school for their events or to pick them up. I’m not an ‘involved’ mom. They are  more mothers than I am, you see. I’m being all selfish and spending all this time away from my children, while they are devoted. Don’t get me wrong, I have many girlfriends who ARE stay-at-home moms and are wonderful friends who don’t judge. But the moms at my kids’ school won’t even speak to me, like some stupid high-school drama. Last year I took the afternoon off work to attend a parent-teacher tea. As all the moms were waiting outside the classroom where they were preparing the tea, I approached them, and they actually acted like I wasn’t there. If you know me, you know how I approach a group. Ignoring me is quite a feat. And they fully did. It was ridiculous! I was like, “Is this Heathers? Or am I Lindsay Lohan in this scenario (pre-anorexia, crack, cocaine and temporary lesbianism)?” In any case, you can imagine how it felt.

I’m less of a mom in their eyes, I guess. I’m thrilled for them that they have the good fortune of having husbands who financially support their families so that they can spend all their time dedicated to their children. So be it. My kids know who I am and what I do for them and with them. And this past summer, I was talking to my little girl about some kind of job (can’t remember for the life of me what it was), and I said, “wow, you would be so good at that. Is that what you want to be when you grow up?” And she looked SO disappointed and said, “no, Mommy. I want to be you when I grow up!” And although I wanted to squeeze her forever for the sweetest thing I’d ever heard, it was also the most horrifying thing I’d ever heard. I want so much better for her than this.

But I think of that every time I need to remind myself why I do what I do and that it matters. I might be considered less of a mom by others looking in, but the right people appreciate it. It’s just that lately I feel I have to justify myself so much – and it’s irritating.

THAT FELT GOOD. And I’m rather proud of myself that this was profanity-free.

You Can’t Make This Up

My kids are two very funny people. This is a quality not unique to my own kids, of course, as I think most people who say exactly what’s on their minds out loud are funny, because they’re spontaneous and genuine. Especially kids.

For a time, when I was an avid Facebook user, I would madly update all my ‘favourite quotes’ section not with Ghandi’s wisdom or inspirational passages or one liners from the funny English guy from the 1800s whose name now totally escapes me. Remember, the one with the funny observations? Gaaaa. What’s his name! Oscar Wilde! No. All my favourite quotes were the funny things my kids say. I don’t use Facebook anymore, I mean, rarely, compared to how much I used to. And the only real reason I keep it is because it’s pretty much the only way to be in touch with all my friends and family back in Chile.

Off topic! The point is, I’ve been writing down the things I consider funny that they say, pretty much since they could talk. And am I ever glad! When I was frantically trying to come up with something, anything, to blog about since the 10-day lapse between posts, I thought, maybe I could make a post out of what they say. Because people (okay, all people who know them and already love them and are totally biased) have told me and told me to write about it some day.

And while I thought, perfect! I already have a ready-made list of funny stuff on the Facebook! – I remembered a couple of good ones I never included, mostly because they were too wordy. Enter the happy coincidence of now having a blog.

All this build up, eh. I hope you find it as funny as I do. Part of it is being there. It’s all in the delivery.

***

OK, so my boy was probably about 2, perhaps younger, when he came up with these. He was a very verbal kid, speaking at an early age and very intelligibly. His father and I were still together at the time, and we were all at home one day together. My boy was having a conversation with me while I was bustling around in the kitchen, probably trying to wade through the toys on the floor. His father walked in, and started talking to me, right over my boy.

Son: Dad! I am talking to her, you are interrupting!

Dad: Oh, errrr sorry.

Son: (to me) He’s so bastard, isn’t he?

Dad: …..Nice. Where did he learn that?

Me: (Inside voice: oh hahaha, I have no idea, he certainly never heard me say that on the phone with one of my friends or anything, I mean, I really hope, um.) Out loud: I have no idea! Ummmm, buddy, you can’t use that word.

***

Another time, he was probably about the same age, and he was with me while I was lined up at the auto insurance place. What a boring place for a restless 2 year old to hang out, I know. So, he was passing the time playing with one of his little toys, and when he tired of that, he started looking around at other people.

In walked an older guy who was probably 10 years younger than he looked. He had definitely seen better days. He was pretty disheveled, lots of long, stringy grey hair, missing teeth, an earring, and he was wearing a do-rag on his head.

Son, with a fascinated look on his face, said: “MOMMY! Look!! A pirate!”

Oh, yes, he did. The best part was the guy guffawed right out loud, and said, “well, I’ve been called many things!” I quietly spent the rest of our time in the lineup explaining to my boy that the gentleman was not, in fact, a pirate, but the kid’s eyes stayed glued to him til we left.

***

It must be noted that the people who laugh the loudest at these stories are the little people who created them.

OK, and below is the list from Facebook. They are briefer.

Daughter: I will be right back after these messages.

Daughter: Mom, when we go to Elizabeth’s house, remember, when the flag is down, she’s not home.
Me: Elizabeth who?
Daughter: You know, Elizabeth. What’s her last name again?
Son: You mean Queen Elizabeth.
Daughter: Oh yeah, Queen Elizabeth.

Me: (pointing out the polygamist’s wives in People magazine) See those ladies? They’re a little cuckoo!
Son: Mom, come on. Those are guys.

Son: Mommy, is that a church?
Me: Yes.
Son: What IS a church?
Me: It’s where you go to learn about your religion.
Daughter: I wish I went to church.
Me: But we don’t have a religion.
Daughter: I do! I believe in mermaids.

Mom, if we didn’t have you, our food would be nasty.
– Son’s version of ‘my compliments to the chef’

Son: What time is it?
Daughter: (looking at the time on my cell phone) It’s nine, dot dot up and down, thirty nine a.m.

I don’t believe in God. No one’s ever even SEEN him. I just believe in the Prime Minister. Because HE’S the boss of CANADA. – Son

I’m going to have long hair, and my own baby. – Daughter, when I asked her what she’s going to be when she grows up.

Son: So Mom, you’re (insert age here)?
Me: Yes.
Son: But you’re still a teenager, aren’t you?
Me: No, I’m a grownup.
Son: (snorts) Yeah right.

Me: No jumping on Mommy’s bed!
Daughter: Mo-om. Why don’t you just try it?

Me: My son said he saw the Tooth Fairy last night, and that she had a ponytail, a magic wand and a sparkly cell phone.
Friend: Maybe he saw Paris Hilton.

Son: Mom, is it hard to have 2 jobs, to work for your boss and to be our Mommy?
Me: Sometimes it’s pretty hard.
Son: Yeah. I know just how you feel.

I have some tattle-taling. Do you want it before or after dinner? – Daughter

Son: (to my pregnant friend) I sure hope it doesn’t hurt when that baby comes out of your vagina!
Friend: Me too!

Son: Mom, can you please give me one of your spicy mints? I’d like some fresh breath.
Me: Sure, are you going to be kissing someone later?
Son: No. Not unless I get married. Or become President.

I’m sure it was very comfortable in your tummy, but I’m also pretty sure I wanted to escape.
– Daughter

Me: Hey buddy, don’t forget that I made you, and without me you wouldn’t be here.
Son: Does that mean that when you die I go to another vortex? That would suck.

***

Going to another vortex? That’s the part that would suck? Nice.

This Might Result in Unsubscribers

They say you’re not supposed to discuss politics, religion or sex. With whom? They make for the best conversations, come on. The first and last topics are infinitely interesting, but the one in between I seldom discuss because, but for these next few paragraphs, I don’t entertain notions regarding religion.

For starters – the competition between the different religions. Really? Why’s one superior to another? Aren’t you all just trying to get into heaven? Leave each other alone.

That’s another thing. As I always say, I don’t need the promise of heaven to be a good person while I’m here. And I know I lead an ethically ‘better’ life than a lot of so-called religious folks. We all know what’s right and what’s wrong. I don’t need no jive ass preacher teaching me about heaven and hell. Okay, I stole that line from The Blues Brothers.

Why am I required to recognize that Jesus died for my sins? Why is that, actually? I didn’t ask him to. And for real, I have a tough time with all that stuff in the bible. If it’s treated as a reference tome, a type of Aesop’s Fables, if you will, I can see the value, except for all that smiting and stuff. Each religion tailors it to suit their philosophy, and that’s cool, if you’re into that. If I think it’s cool you think dudes used to live til they were 1,000, you can think it’s cool that I think that’s highly unlikely.

I don’t mean any disrespect to those who have faith. But those of us who have not should have the same respect. Right?

This post is inspired by a little note slipped in to my daughter’s backpack at school last year.  I was going through it, and I asked her, what’s this? She had no idea, it was a sealed envelope that had nothing to do with school and that she hadn’t seen before. It turned out to be a sort of form letter, apparently given to her and all her classmates, an invitation to come hang out at a new Mormon church that had just been built and as I recall, any old heathen was welcome to come visit before it was officially open for business. I’m paraphrasing, of course. I was a little put off, my daughter really didn’t know this boy whose parent would have prepared this invitation, and expressed no interest in accepting the invitation.

And then, last week, on the second day of school, no less, another sealed envelope that she had no idea where it came from, appeared in her backpack. It was from this same boy’s parent, inviting her (with her name handwritten in the blank space on the form invitation) to his ‘baptismal’. I’ve met this little boy, he is sweet, but he’s not a friend of my daughter’s, whom she’d hang out with or anything. I’ve never seen a form invitation for a birthday party, but I’ve now seen two forms for these religious services.

What’s going on? Is recruiting at school allowed? I’m becoming irked by this practice. I will not say anything to this boy’s mother however, who is actually really sweet and incidentally has a terrific sense of humour.  Of course, I now know that she is Mormon, but I did not know that when a couple of years ago we were both at our kids’ baseball game and she was rattling off the activities of her children and started naming them all, and I stopped her at 5 names. “How many kids do you have?!” And she told me she was pregnant with her 6th. And I said, “Are you crazy! What are you, some kind of religion?!” And she just laughed and laughed. Imagine my moment of “oopsie” when I opened the invitation to the church-warming.

P.S. Don’t ever ask someone if they’re “some kind of religion.” I meant it humorously and she took it that way, but really, you just never know. I won’t use that one again.

So fine, I am happy to continue receiving these invitations and also happy to continue not acknowledging them. I won’t make a big deal of my daughter’s backpack being surreptitiously filled with invites to religious events, and I expect no one to make a big deal of our declining them. I think it’s very cool that people have all their faiths and very happy for them that they’re all getting to heaven. And people should be just as happy for those who just believe and have faith in themselves, their families, hard work and an honest existence, and nothing else. Well, plus, the Habs. But really that’s all.

Furry New Family Members

That’s right, not one but two. And it’s not what you’re thinking.

You may know that as recently as last month I talked about what we’d do if we won the lottery (i.e., get a DOG…or two), as well as the virtues and benefits of saying NO to your children (and may have bragged that I am pret-ty good at that).

Well, yesterday, without coming close to winning the lottery, we acquired 2 rodents (I’m getting to that), and I went against my ‘behave, wait & we’ll see’ rule and caved in to early pressure on what they wanted for their November birthdays. First, it was what they wanted for Christmas. Almost before I noticed it, they upped it by a month. They’re good.

It goes like this. My daughter got into her head that she wanted a guinea pig. It started out with the hamster that her cousins have, that she and her brother love like crazy, but makes my skin crawl.

I’m not joking. The thought of hamsters, mice or rats makes me shudder. It literally sends a shiver up my spine and makes me tense up. And having them as pets is absolute insanity. I even hate squirrels. Rats with bushy tails. The kids know this about me. One time a mouse raced across my living room when I lived by myself, as I was peacefully reading a book. It ran into a closet. And I almost passed out. Like that.

So my daughter was clever. Guinea pigs are FLUFFY. They’re BIGGER. And she began the great Get Mom to Buy a Guinea Pig Campaign of 2010. And talking without stopping from waking til bedtime about Guinea Pigs. She even went to the internet to do research on her new obsession. Below is a sample of one of her reports. I’m sure it’s fully plagiarized.

Exhibit A

What’s completely funny about this is that I’m South American, hahahaha! Relax, as if I’d ever EAT rodent.

Have you met my daughter? Some of you have. She has a one-track mind. And quickly got me from “uh-uh, no way – forget it” to “let me think about it” to “you’ll get one for your birthday if you PROMISE to not mention the word ‘guinea’ or ‘pig’ or use the 2 together in a sentence from NOW UNTIL NOVEMBER”. Which of course she didn’t. My mom tells me she gets it from me, but when this kid gets obsessed, she has no peer. NO PEER. My next step was frankly begging to keep my sanity.

My son wasn’t bugging me about anything anymore because he’d changed his mind and decided to ask his father for a chameleon, so at least they weren’t double-teaming me or however you say that.

Yesterday morning, as I was still off work and just for something to do, we visited a PetSmart store. I wanted to get a look at these animals and see what they and everything that goes with them costs, to see if I could even afford it. I’ll fast forward this now since we all know where this is going.

We walked out with 2 guinea pigs (since they’re meant to be kept in pairs), so each of the kids got one. 2 females. Named Isabella and Caramel. My friend Lisa burst out laughing when she heard that, and said, “hmmm, wonder who named which?” I’ll admit it, they’re cute. And they’re super fluffy so other than their little claws, they are decidedly un-rodentlike. And they’re kind of cuddly and super interactive. And the kids are in LOVE.

So now I turned into that mom. The one who willingly lives with rodents in the home for the sake of her children. But I’m never going to turn into crazy mom who also has chinchillas and birds and snakes and crap. I’m drawing the line.

Here are Isabella and Caramel. And their happy new owners.

Sofia, Izzie, Max, Caramel

P.S. Incidentally, with all the research they’ve done (Max has taken over – he knows virtually everything there is to know about these critters now) they know that guinea pigs live for 5-7 years. Caramel is 3 months old, and Isabella (already just ‘Izzie’) is 1.5 months old. Today, Max said, “in 5 years, when Caramel dies, and one and a half months later Izzie dies, we have to have a respectful funeral.” Look, in this family, we plan ahead.

Bella the Great

In Chile, and perhaps in other South American countries, I’m not sure, nicknames are often given based on what you looked like. To the uninitiated, and particularly to North Americans, they may seem cruel or politically incorrect, but in Chile, trust me, they are not. They’re terms of endearment.

If your ears stick out, your nickname could be ‘mono’. Monkey. If you’re pleasantly plump, ‘gordo’. Chubbo! (By the way, losing weight will not magically change your nickname, sorry.) Have a long, pointy nose, and small eyes? Rata. You don’t have to use Google Translate to know what that means.

Normally you’re given these names in school or by your family. And they will stick for the rest of your life. My own nickname, and I’ve been called it my entire life, is ‘Menoca’. It doesn’t mean anything. My older brother, when I was born, called me that because he was like, 1 year old and couldn’t pronounce Veronica. That was it. My entire family, including extended family, calls me that and always has. Some of my cousins don’t even know what my real name is.

My brothers and I call our mom ‘Vieja’. That’s her name. We also call her Mom a lot, but if we’re speaking in Spanish, it’s ‘Vieja’. Which literally means ‘old’. We also call her Bella. She’s beautiful, but that’s not why. There’s also a little tradition of nicknaming your grandparents. It’s whatever the first grandchild calls you. My nephew called her Bella because he couldn’t pronounce ‘Abuela’. My mom was obviously delighted by that one. She is Bella to her 3 grandkids, and very often to her 3 kids.

This post wasn’t going to be about nicknames, I just wanted you to know why my mom is called Bella. Since this post is about her, it was easier to refer to her as Bella than to say ‘my mom’ a zillion times.

Bella makes me crazy. She’s hilarious crazy, thankfully. My little brother has a standup act and I don’t know why he can’t base the entire thing around her.

  • Yesterday, we were driving along the Lougheed highway, where there was a Superstore about 300m up the road. The Lougheed is undergoing tons of construction right now, and there are so many pylons and lane redirections there it’s unbelievably confusing. Keep in mind, I was the one who was driving and having to deal with it. We were remarking about how all the highways (including the one near our homes) seem to be under construction this summer and what a pain it is. Bella said, “And they’ve even made turning into the Superstore confusing! Who can figure it out! Someone’s going to crash one of these days!” I looked up ahead and said, “I don’t think so, it looks like you can just make a normal turn up at the light.” Bella: “No you can’t!” Me: “I’m pretty sure you can, look.” Bella: “I’m not talking about that Superstore! Why would I talk about that Superstore? I don’t care about this Superstore, I care about my Superstore!” Of course.
  • On cell phones. This technology and the way it makes our lives easier has never been understood by Bella. She had a cell phone for about 3 years, which she used maybe 5 times, mostly by mistake, and she has since cancelled it (although she still says, “call me on my cell phone!”) A typical day: A cell phone is ringing. Bella: “Can you hear that cell phone? Someone’s phone is ringing! That drives me crazy! Why don’t people answer their phones? How annoying, phones ringing all over the place! Wait, it’s my phone! Where is it, where is it? Oh, there it is! Who can it be? You’re right here! Hello, hello? Bah! It went to voicemail! I don’t know how to get voicemail! No no no, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know! Stop telling me, I’ll never remember!”
  • When my mom brings the kids home for me if she’s babysitting, I am under no circumstances allowed to have set the burglar alarm. She refuses to learn how to disarm it, and hates how it beeps at her. “Stop beeping! Bah!”
  • Highways and exits make her nervous. There’s a particular exit off the Lougheed that is kind of confusing, to be fair. The signage isn’t clear, but if you keep going under the overpass instead of veering to the right, you get home. Well, one day Bella veered right when driving alone. “It’s the way the road was going! Then I said, this isn’t the way home! Where am I going? I don’t know this bridge! There were no more exits, and then it said, this way to the USA! The USA! All I could think was, I don’t have my passport!” Don’t worry, she obviously eventually made it home, but I’m sure the drive back was full of Bah! Bah!
  • I have had to go all the way to her house just to press the TV/DVD button on her remote for her. “There’s something wrong with my DVD player! Don’t tell me how to use a DVD player, I know how to press Play! It’s not working!”
  • Also yesterday, after buying her new widescreen HD TV, she said, “How do you get your TV to look like that? Why is the image on my TV so zoomed in? I can only see the middle of the picture! Something’s wrong with it.”  Me: “Every remote is different, but mine says ‘Wide’ and here, look at all the different settings”. Bella: “Wait, wait, wait, what are you doing? How are you doing that?” Me: “You just keep pressing ‘Wide’. But it might be called something different on your remote.” Bella: “It could be different? Wonderful! Now I’ll never be able to watch TV again!”

I could go on. She’s not completely crazy of course, she’s super smart and great company. Suffice it to say she’s a character, and the best part of when she’s her most colourful is she has no idea. It is not an act! But she should be my brother’s act. Although, it may only be funny to us. In fact, I’m sure this is only funny if you know her, which some of you do. We spend most of our family gatherings telling stories about her, and she just shakes her head and calls us crazy. “Bah! I do not! Stop making things up.” Yeah, as if we could make this up.

Out With The Old…Eventually

First long and lonesome Saturday with the kids being away on their trip with their dad. I’ve decided to go through the condo and tidy it up, like, really organize it, put stuff where it belongs, and throwing out instead of storing things I absolutely never use. I cannot accomplish this kind of thing when they’re home…I need to get in elbows-deep and go go go.

My bedroom closet is the biggest part of the job. There are so many clothes crowded in there that I can’t even see what I have. I know that this is partly my fault, not so much because I own so many clothes, but because when I bought this place, I did away with the whole lower hanging rack to put in SHOE SHELVES. Girlie closet FTW.

Here’s the thing. Do you know what’s still hanging in there? My wedding dress. Worn once, 10 years ago, still in the bag I put it in the day after the wedding, and if memory serves there’s a massive red wine stain on it. I know, I’m so classy. It wasn’t my wine, btw.

I have no sentimental attachment to it, but for many reasons, I can’t get rid of it. It’s horrible to say, but on my own wedding day, when I said, “I do”, in my head I was saying, “I mean, I guess so.” I know, it’s disrespectful to the father of my children to verbalize this, and I did make a promise to myself that I would not use this blog to slag him – it’s counterproductive, and I don’t ever want my children to read something mean about the man they love the most in the world.

It’s a pickle, because when I left my marriage, it was stay, or leave, and preserve my sanity. But I can’t ever and will never regret being married to him, because all paths led to mothering these kids of mine, who wouldn’t be who they are were it not for him.

Which leads me to why I keep the dress. And my rings. They’re in a ziplock bag somewhere. Because although my children don’t even remember what it was like to have 2 parents under the same roof, it’s important to them in kind of a historical way to see the wedding pictures, the wedding video, etc. They don’t understand yet that they’re just things, and I actually think it’s not great to be attached to symbols of a marriage that didn’t work – but I’ll let it be up to them when to get rid of them.

And free up space in my closet. Holy moly do I have work to do.

Many Hats

I wear 4 hats.

I’m an executive assistant. We used to be called secretaries, and somewhere along the line our title evolved. It’s considered something of a disrespectful gesture to be called a secretary now, but I’m unsure why. Our job is whatever our boss tells us it is. Our role has not changed. I happen to work with the world’s best boss. I have a job that allows me to provide for my family and be dedicated to my children the rest of the time. I’ve never had to work a minute of overtime, and anything I take care of outside of work hours is by personal choice. My boss makes me look good. And I often remark that after working with him, I could easily work for the President of the United States.

I’m a friend. I love my friends so much. I do anything for them, and they do anything for me. There has been a lot of turmoil in my life over the past few years, and I’m only not in therapy because I have my very good friends. They listen (and anyone who knows me knows that is a gargantuan task), they’re supportive, they offer advice, and they make me LAUGH. Very important: laughing til your face hurts.

I’m a daughter. My mother lives 5 minutes away from me, and we’re very close. We can spend hours on the phone; you have to know that although talking is one of my favorite things, I actually can’t stand talking on the phone. Other than 2 minutes of making arrangements, I hate it. But she and I cover all topics, nothing’s off the table. In part it’s because the kids are with us whenever we’re together, and you can’t discuss grown-up stuff around them. I am there for her, and she is there for me. It’s easy to forget that as a teen I was terrible to her and she couldn’t stand me, and she drove me crazy. Somewhere along the line, we accepted each other and became friends. It’s heartening, since I have a daughter myself. She will hate me, then we’ll be friends, I hope.

Being a mom is both the heaviest and lightest hat I wear. It’s the most demanding, fulfilling, thankless, rewarding, stressful, hilarious, infuriating, simple, complicated, exhausting and energizing job. I’ve had it for almost 10 years now, but you know that saying, you can’t even remember what it was like before they came along, it’s true. What did I do with all that extra time? I don’t know what to do if I’m not taking care of someone. Since splitting with their dad, I only see them 5 days a week (including all weekends), and those 2 days without them are eternal. It’s actually true. Of course they can make me crazy also, but they’re my favourite people, my best friends, I’m lost without them.

Max & Sofia today, fresh after Max's haircut

And now, they’re going away with their dad for 2 whole weeks. They’re leaving bright and early tomorrow morning, so spending tonight at his. In the 4 years since we split up, he’s never taken them away, and I’m at a loss as to how to handle this. My heart is already aching and I already miss them so much, even though they’re sleeping only 20 feet away. I’m working the whole time they’re gone, but the nights and weekend, I’m dreading them. I know what everyone says, I should “take advantage” of all that “free time”, but free time is one of the things I can’t stand in the least. I’m always doing something, and not having them to care for is going to make me mental. I’m trying to fill up my dance card, but my heart is not in it. Coming back to an empty home is going to be so hard.

That’s it. This is more like a diary entry, I know. I’m going to get my rascals up now. And in the next 2 weeks, if I have nothing funny or good to say, I won’t say it, promise!

Jackpot

Surprise! I didn’t win the lottery. Again. No matter how many times I buy a ticket (which isn’t actually that often), and no matter that I lose every single time, I’m always surprised. I never even get a single number. Not even a single number, when I buy like 4 sets of numbers. Not one!! It’s ridiculous.

We recently started getting Lotto Max tickets, because my boy’s name is Max. I buy Max paper towels too, and if I can prefer a brand that has Max in the name, of any product, I always do. My daughter Sofia is annoyed that nothing has her name on it, so if you know of something that does, please let me know! Max’s name is on everything, seriously, look around – from garage restriction heights to your gas pump to your coffee-maker water level.

I digress. Like anyone, we dream of how we’d spend the jackpot. When we bought the last ticket which was for a $49M jackpot, my mom said, “with $1M, I will be happy!” Which left us with $48M. Give $1M each to my brothers and other favourite people, let’s say we have $35M left. So much more than 1 wee family of 3 needs. Although my kids do eat like truck drivers.

No, all we really want is a dog. The kids desperately want one, and I would love to have one, too. Our family dog, the best German Shepherd in the world, passed away in 2006. What a great girl she was. Her name was Luna. She was so smart, so beautiful, so gentle. When my babies were born, she thought they were her puppies. She would follow me around when I was carrying them, making sure I was doing a good job, wouldn’t let anyone she didn’t know near them, not in a menacing way, of course, but she’d just plant herself between the babies and the stranger. When the babies would have crying fits she would lick them while they were in my arms, and worry over them until they finally fell asleep, upon whence she’d collapse in an exhausted heap. As the kids grew, and they would open up her jaws to have a look at her teeth, play keep away with her ball, etc., I always marveled that they had no concern in the world for the fact that she could swallow them in one gobble. Because she was the gentlest, most patient, intelligent, loving dog you could ever meet.

Our girl keeping watch over 2 toddlers, just out of camera range.

When we had to put her down, she’d not been herself for a day, had an accident inside the house (which never happened), and wasn’t hungry. The vet found that she had a tumour the size of a melon in her abdomen, and that she’d obviously been sick for a long time. She’d never even let on. It was such a shock. We spent 1 day after that saying our goodbyes, but weren’t going to be that family that keeps a suffering dog around forever because it’s too hard to let go. We knew what the right thing was to do for Luna. And she deteriorated so fast in that day. She could hardly get up – but when she saw her people, her massive tail would pound on the floor like it always had.

I’d like to have a dog again, and the kids REALLY wish for one, but it’s not possible. I won’t have a dog that can only see its people on evenings and weekends. Dogs need companionship. And since I work full time, and 10 months out of the year the kids are in school, it could never work.

Which is why we need to win the lottery. If we win the lottery, even just a little one, I could afford to be a full-time mom (which between you and me is all I ever wanted to be), or at least afford to work some low-stress job from home, and have a puppy dog to hang out with. Maybe we could get a house with a yard. When we get our tickets, we pick dog names – Sirius (like out of the Harry Potter books) or Lulu are front runners. I know they’re not great, but you should hear some of the other names they’ve come up with. I veto names that belong to people, like I’m never going to have a dog named Stan. I’m a big-dog person but I don’t know that I’d want another shepherd – we don’t want to replace Luna. We’d just like to add a member to our family. Although shepherds are my favourite breed. Perhaps we should leave that decision for when we actually win the lottery.

Because that will be all the jackpot we need. It’s how the kids equate wealth. When they saw the $49M to be won, they said, “MOM. We could get TWO dogs with that!!!” Jackpot, indeed! Fingers crossed.

And P.S. No. Cats are not an option.

P.P.S. We should name it Jackpot.

Update: I can count on 8 hands the people who’ve asked if they’re one of my favourite people. You guys: I’m never winning the lottery.

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