Superheroes, surfer dudes and dads…

When it comes to cars, perhaps the one thing I’ve paid the least attention to is the roadside assistance package.  Mag wheels, spoilers, off-roading capability – these are the things I’m interested in…it’s not that I don’t value emergency preparedness, it’s that I’m fortunate to have a superhero for a dad who has gotten me out of every conceivable vehicular mess I’ve ever been in and who, virtually from the moment I got my driver’s license, handed me NOT my own car but a CAA (or AAA in the US) membership card.  I was given a physical representation of “responsible” rather than the teenage dream of a brand new car wrapped with a shiny red bow…would a library card be next?

But as teenagers, what do we really know anyway?

In our teens, our hormones have us wired to be adventure seeking daredevils – well at least they did me – ready to push some boundaries and certainly prepared to aggravate my parents’ collective temper and anxiety.  In fact, I recall going out with a friend on an “unauthorized road trip” significantly out of the city where we blew a fuse and had to use a flashlight as a proxy for headlights on a small highway with no streetlights just to get home…

With time and age, that CAA card has come to represent much more than the boring gift of responsibility.  I have come to appreciate it as my father’s acceptance that his daughters (yes, my sister got one too) would be released to explore the world.

My parents witnessed my many road trips to visit friends and head off to new opportunities in different cities, and all the while they took comfort that their daughter had that magic card in her wallet – to this day, my dad still pays for my CAA card and after the very first long weekend this summer, boy was I ever glad.

Once again Mr. Niceguy had signed up for an obstacle course this time one developed by US Navy Seals and I swear he’s living out his dreams of being a super “double-0” agent!  I admire him tremendously; a former cheeseburger and beer connoisseur, Mr. Niceguy is now in the best shape of his life thanks to an unwavering dedication and discipline to improving his physicality.

Bonefrog Challenge_20160521_090953_RJM_0735Incidentally Mr. Niceguy is also a constant reminder to me that I need to get off my duff and do a leg lift or put aside my third coffee and croissant…

So off we went, kids in tow, to the Bone Frog event in Charlemont, Massachusetts; aka the middle of nowhere about 2.5 hours outside of Boston.  This trip would do us some good as we would be giving my poor parents a break from our collective craziness and the 9 year old and 6 year old would have an opportunity to visit with some cousins.  Plus, travelling is in my blood and who doesn’t love Boston?

A lazy start to the day had us hit the road about two hours behind schedule but we were in no rush and were enjoying our conversation – all made possible by the liquification of our children’s brains in the backseat thanks to a portable DVD player, the iPad and Nintendo. I’ll go on record and say that I encouraged said liquification, though I did make them stop and look out the window as we passed some cows and horses.

Suddenly Mr. Niceguy said, “I’m losing power.”  Of course the first thing I thought was, what have YOU done to my beloved car?!?!?!?! And, ugh!  Just get out of the driver’s seat and let me take over!  But when he said, “we’re overheating” and I saw the white smoke coming out from under the hood, I realized we were in trouble.

IMG_8397Thank goodness for my superdad, and my CAA card.  At that moment, that card meant I didn’t have to panic – even though I did, a little…ok, a  lot.  While I made the necessary calls to get us on our way, despite my state of disbelief, calm, cool and collected Mr. Niceguy treated the boys to a little adventure in the middle of nowhere.  He took out our jackets and made a picnic blanket for the boys to sit on, brought them their crayons and colouring books, and turned our mishap into a memory.

Two hours later we were back on our way in a rental that was clearly loaned out to an owner of a kennel and despite the allergic reactions of Mr. Niceguy and the 6 year old as well as my asthma flare up, we were able to accomplish all of our weekend plans.

It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, though.  While the boys did get an adventure, I got anxiety – particularly when the 9 year old exclaimed, “Awesome!  What car do we buy next?” and every part of my insides were screaming OH MY GOD!!!!!  Mr. Niceguy ignored my thoughts of impending doom and said the following, “How lucky are we that this happened on a major highway and in daylight?” and “Thank goodness we didn’t hit a deer” also, “Lucky the car didn’t burst into flames, right?”  Hrrrrmmmppphhhh….

Parking brakeI resisted the urge to “pull a Mike Tyson”…and a good thing I did because once the nerves settled I could hear what he was saying, this cool surfer dude, and I allowed myself to get swayed.  Each time I would revert back to my  panic, he would make a joke like, “at least the tow truck driver wasn’t a serial killer” and I would go through my cycle again:  Tyson, no don’t do it, it’s not so bad, I can be cool too, but can I really, panic again, insert Mr. Niceguy…

So there it is.  I know I’m not being totally fair to myself when I say that my crazy often needs the balance of both my superdad and my super cool surfer dude.  Sure I can be cool to but in the wise words of my mom-in-law, thanks to my wonderfully calm, cool, collected and highly wise men in my life, I can take wings.  Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads out there – YOU are the best gifts!

IMG_8394

Advertisements

Thanks Mom…Just for being YOU.

Being a mom is part of my identity, but although I carry that invisible mom pass in my wallet (right next to the Costco card, the Gap Cash and every other points card under the planet), I sometimes struggle with my club membership. Is that all I am? Is that the most important part of me – being somebody’s mom? Does that membership card take precedence over my hard earned travel miles, gold card and driver’s license? True, I birthed two young boys, but sometimes it feels like the moment you become a mom, it becomes your whole identity…

The stakes are high when you’re a mom. So too are society’s standards…sometimes so high that they’re virtually impossible to achieve. I must keep a clean house that is totally “de rigueur”, be able to produce gourmet meals, my children must have manners, like to eat sushi, get A+ on all subjects and must excel in at least three extra-curricular activities, one of which must be “elite” or “extraordinary” like sailing, downhill racing or equestrian, and all of these are my responsibility – plus I have to look and act the part and in some instances hold down a full time job!

Well…I’m at a slight handicap here because I’m struggling to define myself beyond my “mom-borders”.  And I love it when the universe reminds me that my own definition of mom is allowed to be different.

Be trueBeing a mom is a raison d’être but certainly not my seule raison d’être, if you will.

I’m a wearer of many hats and among my many roles, my latest is that of construction project manager…ME! This is one challenge that I’ve readily accepted particularly this past month when my home renovation project really kicked into high gear. I have ignored family, friends, my children and Mr. Niceguy while I’ve poured over drawings and various engineering calculations, learned about air velocity and balancing, insulation and grading, and the list goes on. I’ve appreciated (virtually) every stressful second of it.

Despite the fact that we are temporarily being housed by my gracious parents (thank you, thank you, thank you!  They are readers and perhaps my only fans despite my many ramblings about them and I could use all the brownie points to make up for my constant outbursts, fits of rage and bouts of tears) I am still the primary caregiver of my children. It’s my job to make sure they eat their dinners, do their homework and not let their brains go to MUSH because they’d prefer to spend the entire day holed up in my parents’ basement in front of the big screen playing video games.

Vow Mr NiceguyI’d like to report that while I’ve assumed the role of project manager, my children’s brains have officially liquefied. I’m not entirely certain what’s making their guts move and I’m quite certain that it will only be by the grace of the Almighty that they will pass grade 4 and graduate kindergarten. Thank goodness Mr. Niceguy made a vow to love me for better or for worse…

All this because for the past month (or so…if I’m being honest), I put something other than being mom first. Go ahead and judge. But I won’t be blamed. And I refuse to take it on because I’ve already beat myself up about it enough, thank you very much, and I’m done. I’m a modern day renaissance woman and that means I’m a renaissance mom too after all, my teacher is one too…

My primary role model in the world of motherhood has been my mother. She grew up in a household filled mostly with boys. Not willing to be left behind, she would run alongside them – and oftentimes, ahead of them. She displayed as much grit, courage and bravery than any one of the others and while most girls her age would mind their chores and preserve their dresses, she was jumping from rooftop to rooftop along the buildings in Lebanon, sporting blue jeans and running off to the beach.

She is my non-traditional, traditional mom. And while she always makes sure that we are well clothed, fed and taken care of, she has a life of her own and I absolutely refuse to pigeon hole her into one role. Her life is a full adventure – and I hope mine will be nearly as full as hers.

It follows that I believe motherhood has to be the greatest adventure of all. There is no real, set, tried and true course – despite the fact that I’ve poured over dozens of popular baby books and scientific articles on child rearing. I could never have imagined the incredible joy that my children would bring before I became a mother…at the same time, I would never have imagined the feelings of tremendous guilt, frustration, and exasperation over little things like an unfinished plate of dinner or settling a child down to do homework and especially getting them to finally go to bed so that I could enjoy a moment’s peace after the never ending tidying, cooking, cleaning, monitoring and answering one hundred plus questions about the locations of any one of the following: “Mom, did you see my video game controller / the iPad / my book / my pencil / the red bouncy ball with the blue stripe – not the blue bouncy ball with the red stripe / my socks / my gym clothes / my special Pokemon card…blah, blah, blah!

I appreciate my role and the blessings (and heartaches) that come with it so I won’t feel guilty for the moments I yearn for the days of yore when dinner would be brought to me, when I could ask for my favourite dish, or when I take more than just a moment to pretend I’m something other than a mom. No. This month, when you write your mother a card, or bring her flowers, or just sit and think about her, take a moment to think about who she is (or was) as a person and thank her for just being her.

Me and Haig

Keeping “cool” in the sandbox…

Isn’t it amazing how, no matter your age, you still find yourself in the sandbox?  That metaphorical playground for society, or your own social circle?  The one where “they” decide your status, as much as you think only you do…  And while in there, you’re either blocking your eyes from the stinging sand that’s being flung in your face or you’re fighting off the hordes from filling your “deep hole to China” that took forever to dig and taking the only shovel in the pit?  All the while, trying to maintain your “cool.”  Yes, the sandbox is truly a metaphor for life…

Lord of the FliesOne look south of the 49th parallel only confirms that even those who have reached the world’s pinnacle are very much playing in a sandbox.  In the run-up to the US Presidential elections, it’s amazing how candidates for the leadership of the world’s most powerful country can act, well, totally insane, territorial, and like they’re on the island with Jack and Piggy from Lord of the Flies.  I mean, Trump’s whole idea of building a wall is like barricading the sandbox from “infiltrators” and making sure that he doesn’t have to share his “shovel”.  And (I can’t believe I’m going to say this) given his polish, Jeb Bush could’ve been a more qualified choice for the GOP ballot but he just couldn’t hold onto his cool against Trump’s golden blowout.  No…I don’t believe we ever truly leave the sandbox…

As bewildered and confused as I can get when I find myself engaged in the sort of the behavior that I would equate with the happenings in an elementary school playground (“It’s my turn!” or “Oops!  Did she hear me say that?” and “She copied MY outfit!”), I’m also concerned about the kind of sandbox that our kids are going to inherit:  suicide bombings, being under high alert, curfews, and the sort of terror that one used to mostly see in the movies.  Thankfully my boys are still at an age where they only actually fight over real toys and not any metaphorical ones…

Though well advanced and in my early forties, I feel like my own innocence, my swagger, my cool, is also dissipating (and quite frankly, under attack).  Am I supposed to fight and try to hold onto it?  Most days all I want to do is watch the politicos vying for power in House of Cards and the hordes fight in Vikings rather than navigate the social scene and fight off the hordes myself.  I want to wear “Blublocker” sunglasses and block out the stinging sand, filter out the light, and climb out of the sandbox.  Press pause on the fight?  Peace out?

IMG_8049Ahhhh…I think back to my singleton days…

Me:  Hey, pick me up at 8:30 tonight so we can go to my BFF’s birthday party dinner for 9pm. 

Mr. Niceguy:  OK.  Usual gang tonight? 

Me:  Yes.  I even got us all on the guest list!  No waiting around outside.  Just please don’t wear messy jeans…dress code is tidy jeans.  And no sneakers…or purple docs.  ***Please, oh please, oh please, be cool in front of my friends tonight.  Ooouuff boys!!***

One of my very dearest friends put it well when she asked, “Will I ever be cool again?”  She recounted how she knew she was in a total state of “un-cool” because she kept looking at our children (in a very misty way) and saying, “God bless them” – akin to the style of the old granny who had Tweety Bird for a pet…remember her?

So is she right?  Did we actually lose our cool?

Somewhere along the way with all the baggage we picked up, did we just decide to put it down and never went back to retrieve it?

When she first brought it up my initial reaction was indeed to fight back.  I responded, “Who even cares?!”  Like any of that really matters anymore.  I mean, I’m just going to rock my mom jeans and comfy orthopedics if I want to.  I earned it.  I’m not going to sweat the small stuff.  I’m going to have my chicken soup for the soul.  But then I thought – wow.  How uncool.  And I know that’s not me.  And it’s not her either.  Nor is it most of the women of our generation.  We. Want. It. All.  Including that cool status we put down for a moment.  It did NOT go out the door as soon as we hit a milestone or start to pop babies and begin our families.  We just forgot to focus on it and we forgot about the sandbox…  Cool is just on PAUSE.

IMG_8051Unlike when we’re in our roaring twenties, we now know that we can push the pause button anytime we want.  PRESS.  Like my parents and my grandparents before them, I’m happy to say to my boys, “Oh, life is so easy for you now – just wait until you have kids of your own,” or “When I was your age I used to walk 5 miles to school in hip deep snow with no shoes on” Or my favourite Armenian saying, “When you get older, you’ll forget.”  UNPRESS.  I danced on the bars on the beaches of Mykonos!  I hopped up on stage and played the piano in a random restaurant in London!  I’m going to blaze my own trail, you don’t have to like it, you don’t need to “get it”, just watch me rock it – mom jeans or not.

Traditions, traditions…??

Traditions are developed over long periods:  decades, centuries, millennia…or so I thought. 

It’s the time of year again when traditions take centre stage.  The holidays are approaching and everyone – every family, every social and religious group – has their own way of celebrating all based on their traditions.  But traditions aren’t just about holidays or special events; they also govern the way that we interact with one another in our day-to-day lives.

This year, I am spending the holiday season together with my own family, as a tenant in my parents’ house. For those who missed my previous post, let me catch you up.  Aged forty-something, mother of 2 boys and wife of one very Mr. Niceguy, I’m undertaking the ambitious project of renovating my house into my dream home (or as close to it as budget will allow!).

It goes without saying (though must be said as both parents are avid readers of my work) that my parents are making the ultimate sacrifice.  I’m sure that when my sister and I first moved out they must have breathed the largest sigh of relief: “Finally…”  They had accomplished what I believe all parents hope to achieve (which I now appreciate):  two married daughters, established, homes of their own – now they could relax.

Until they took us in.

Only months after they had taken in my younger sister and her family…

And only weeks after they completed their own renovations…

But (I believe) as parents, they’d signed a deal (perhaps with God or the universe) and in so doing, upheld their traditions of always caring for family so on November 2 (Mr. Niceguy’s birthday!!) we moved in.

I had prepared my brood for how they’d need to behave:  be neat and tidy, no eating in front of the television, no yelling/screaming/fighting/pretend skiing or car racing in the house/and always, always finish the food on your plate.  I thought I had it figured out what with years and years being under my parents’ roof – surely things could not have changed that much, could they?

What I hadn’t banked on was just how much I would change (or come into my own) after flying the coop…

Kim K ArmeniaWhen I married Mr. Niceguy I thought to myself, I will absorb this man.  I come from a culture that is as old as Ancient Egypt (and incidentally has produced some of the sexiest people in the world including Kim Kardashian!) while his is only a few hundred years old.  I will convert him to an Armenian and he will adopt all of our traditions, our ways of being – he will no longer be phased by my air-traffic-controller hand gesticulations or jump at my voice as I yell commands from just the other room as though I was on a trans-Atlantic telephone call circa 1979 – incidentally my dad still does this whenever he’s on a long-distance call…even if it’s just to my aunt and uncle in Hamilton!

Oh how wrong I was.  While Mr. Niceguy did get used to me and my ways (he loves the cuisine and even raises his voice above a whisper from time-to-time)…I hadn’t realized until I moved in with my parents just how many of his traditions I’d adopted.  He quietly, stealthily, converted me into a person who went from blurting, “Huh?” and “What?!” to “Pardon?” and “Please.”  Living with my parents, I see where so many of my quirks and foibles come from but having had time apart, you really do develop your own traditions.

Our life has become so individualized:  each of us has a schedule – I volunteer, write, and am managing our home renovation; Mr. Niceguy has a full time job and is constantly in training mode for one obstacle race or another; and the 9 year old and 5 year old are a couple of jumping beans bouncing between school, soccer, swimming, piano, skiing, judo, jiu jitsu and everything else in between!  We have what’s a very modern “grab-and-go” lifestyle.  We eat on the run, do homework on the run, catch-up on the run and perhaps the only two things we do staying still are video games and sleep.  (And TV for me!!)

Just the other day I was standing in the kitchen having breakfast for dinner:

Elegant mom:  What are you doing dear?  Why are you eating like that, hunched over your plate?  Why don’t you sit down?

Me:  ***Food stuffed cheeks***  Pardon?

Elegant mom:  I said, why don’t you sit down while you eat?  And what is it that you’re eating anyway?  Are you having eggs?  For DINNER??!

Me:  ***Swallow quickly – don’t talk with mouth full***  Yes.  It’s Wednesday.  Wednesday is Judo night.  I got the boys from school, cleaned up, did homework, made breakfast for dinner, and now I’m just eating quickly so I can get them to their class…

Elegant mom:  But eggs?  For dinner?  Surely dear they must need better nourishment.  They’re growing boys!  Look here, I’ve made green fasoolia with rice – why don’t you feed them what I made?  And where’s Mr. Niceguy?  Should I fill a plate for him?

Me:  ***Totally exasperated – I don’t have time, I don’t have time, I don’t have time…*** Mom I don’t have time!  I have to get them out of the door.  Mr. Niceguy will take care of himself!

Elegant mom:  “Take care of himself?”  No.  That’s not right.  He must feel comfortable and be well fed in our home.  You know dear, you must make time for good nutrition.  Look at you. Did you sleep well?  You know, if you don’t take care of yourself…

Carrie Post photoThis is one of just a myriad of interactions…in a day.  But I’m beginning to realize that perhaps I shouldn’t depart so quickly from my “old” traditions. While loud and food centric at times, these traditions are rooted in taking the time to have real interactions – not just those on-the-go – they value a slower, more humane pace and while I seldom have the patience for “twenty questions” (“Where’d you go? What’d you do? Who’d you see? Who’d you know?”*), they’re an indication of real, genuine interest and caring: the cornerstone of family.

So, while you make your lists for Santa this year consider the gift of family and good friends.  I am getting the gift of knowing my parents as the people they are now, Mr. Niceguy is getting a front-row seat to my history, and my children are not only getting to build memories with their grandparents, but getting first-hand experience with our rich and unique culture laced with ALL of our traditions.

Now, if only I could put a stop to the teen angst flashbacks that keep cropping up like my chubby days, the mean girls, the countless crush dramas, getting caught, the heartbreaks and, and, and…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, your families and loved ones.  May 2016 bring us all more of what will fill our hearts and souls, and make memories we can recount for years to come…

*Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City, recounting discussions with Aiden Shaw after moving in together to her girls.

christmas-wallpaper-196

 

Green eggs and ham!

One of my favourite people is moving on and another is hitting a major milestone – you could say they’re both on the cusp of change which I’m resisting…

Seems like the start of summer has always been full of change:  the end of the school year, the start of a new summer job, a trip somewhere exotic and of course, the promise of a summer fling!   These changes were always easy to accept, but as we age, it seems we move farther and farther away from these “fun” changes and approach different kinds of change – riskier change:  do I risk a steady paycheck and quit my job to pursue my dream?  Do I leave the man that’ll make a perfect husband and son-in-law and follow my heart?  Do I pick up and move across the world to chase my destiny? 

Another birthday comes, another candle is added onto the cake.  Why is change so hard to accept?  Is it the fear of the unknown?  Does the law of physics have anything to do with it?  (You know, an object in motion, stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest.  However in this case, the status quo or the “known” is akin to the “rest.”)  Is it sheer laziness?

Whatever their reasons, most people tend to resist change – and some with utter and abject vehemence.  Like the other day, when I was rushing to get the kids to school – ok, truth is that with just several days to go to the end of school (at time of writing), I was late…waaaaay behind and I couldn’t be as I’d been chosen to be a parent chaperone on the 5 year old’s field trip!  The bus would surely leave without us and then I’d have to find a way to make it up to him like having to bribe him with (again!!!) this gift or that and I’m seriously turning into the worst – parent – ever!!!

A furious man driving, as seen from behind the wheel. Shot using a very wide fisheye lens.

A furious man driving, as seen from behind the wheel. Shot using a very wide fisheye lens.

Anyway, we raced out the door, toaster waffles hanging out of our mouths, into the car, en route to school…only the intersection was blocked!  So irritating!  Didn’t we all learn in driver training that you are NOT supposed to block intersections?!!!  While a couple of cars made way, one remained steadfastly put, despite having ample room to move.  Suppressing my inner, road-rage-prone monster, I lowered my window and asked kindly, “Pardon me, sir?  Would you mind moving a little forward and letting me through, please?”  He snapped, “I’ve gone as far as I can!  I can’t move any further!”  Fortunately, he got dirty looks from all those around and moved up all the same, letting us through.

Why was he so opposed?  Why are we all so resistant when faced with the impetus for change?  Is it because we’ve just become comfortable with the status quo…even if that status quo became the status quo only a moment ago?  Confused?  Think of it this way.  Imagine having to get across a stream.  To do so, you have to jump from one rock to the next until you make it across.  Each rock represents change from one to the next.  When you’re preparing to jump you are most uncomfortable – most fearful of change – and as soon as you land, you are at once relieved and comfortable again.  Change can be risky…you could land in the water and most situations in life aren’t so bad that you would actually fall in the water and drown.  Most of us draw on ourselves to figure things out – to swim to the next rock, if you will.

A-Family-Crossing-Stepping-Stones-On-A-River

So now, my one friend is reaching a major milestone and while I’m happy that she’ll now be in the same decade as me, she is also the last of our “Fantastic Four” to reach it.  In a way, we have now all moved on to adulthood.  If I think about it enough though, I no longer have to feel like she could still claim to be in her thirties when I couldn’t so that’s not such a bad thing, right?  Pfft.  But that’s really not what’s bothering me at all.  I pretended like hitting that milestone was no big deal…but now that I’m in the decade – and becoming ever more entrenched – I’m not only facing change but fearing it!

My other friend is doing what I only dare to…in my dreams.  She is moving her family halfway around the world to realize a goal that she set for herself – to rediscover and make a go of it in our homeland. To some, this seems crazy – I admit it did to me at first too – leaving the creature comforts of home, the routines, the stability and security for something completely different, new, and unknown.  For me, all I can think of is the loss I’d feel of leaving behind my friends, my family, MY LIFE!!!

I do not like them, Sam I am.  I do not like green eggs and ham.  I do not like them here or there, I do not like them anywhere.

2739-3-green-eggs-ham-dr.-seuss-liteLike the stodgy, unhappy character in the famous Dr. Seuss children’s book who does not want to try something new like green eggs and ham, I admit it, I fear the unknown…I fear change.  In particular, I fear the kind of change that is thrust upon me like, “You’d be perfect for this new job – c’mon you’d be a fool to turn it down!” (despite the fact that you weren’t looking and are enjoying being master of your own domain…) or “I know you like roller coasters…who cares if this one is higher than any you’ve ridden before, you’ve just gotta try it!” (despite the fact that while you love adventure, perhaps you prefer the kind with both feet on the ground…waaaaaaay on the ground.)

But just like the Dr. Seuss character…you’ve got to try it, because you just might find that you like green eggs and ham!  Interestingly enough, one of the key traits that all happy people exhibit, aside from living in the present and trusting that everything happens for a reason, is that they all embrace change.  So join me, let’s embrace change this summer!

Life’s too short to make up all sorts of rules for ourselves that keep us from realizing its full potential.  Take a look around.  What change have you been resisting?  Why are you resisting it?  What is the chance that you’ll slip and not land on that next rock?  Will it be the end of the world as you know it?  I mean, really?  Then DO IT!  If I can ride the Behemoth roller coaster at a peak height of 230 feet (despite my hypochondriac woes about dislodging some blood clot, popping a spinal disc, or having an instant heart attack), who knows, then perhaps being fully immersed in this decade isn’t so bad…and my other friend?  Well, she’s just a plane ride and an email away…

Behemoth

Delayed at Procrastination Station

This one’s for Mr. Niceguy…who ever so sweetly purchased a book for me all about being Happy!  xoxoxo

Once again I find myself in procrastination station but instead of beating myself up, I got a little help from none other than the Big Man upstairs…

It’s 1:05pm and just over 96 hours ago, with the prospect of a long weekend ahead, I had compiled a list of much needed projects to complete:  tackle new outdoor lighting, replace kitchen faucet which has been on the fritz for over 3 years (no word of a lie but a fritz that just doesn’t really merit the effort), consider applying for a blogging gig, and buy outfit for special dinner in my honour.

Oh, and of course, being one who is very involved in my culture and community, I have about a million obligations borne out of my volunteering.  So where do I begin?

Here I thought that leaving a job that afforded me with very little time to manage house, home, family and self, would now provide me with the kind of space I needed to “get it all done.”  Not quite.  But then, I can’t blame it all on the work – or no work.  For you see, the reason for my procrastination is not because of laziness, fear or an unwillingness for change.  Rather, it is my absolute tendency towards being ever-so-slightly, a self-diagnosed ‘haver’ of ADD.

royal-tenenbaumsLike just this past weekend out of the sheer goodness of my heart and inherent, perpetual guilt, I had agreed that Mr. Niceguy, the 7 year old and 4 year old would accompany my parents to a post-church Easter dinner.  While I wasn’t thoroughly excited to attend this dinner, I’m glad I did for what I observed would have provided much fodder for a Wes Anderson movie (think The Royal Tannenbaums or The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou)…

As we took our seats, I thanked the heavens that I’d had the wherewithal to bring along gaming devices for the boys for like most large-scale dinner events, we were in it for the long haul.  At every place setting there was one ruby coloured egg to be used for the “Easter egg wars” (he or she who has the last remaining, uncracked egg, wins!) and a cookie in the shape of the cross.  While the priest announced that we were not to touch the eggs, the cross appeared to be fair game and while I was busying myself with my own diversions, before I knew it those crosses were being held by guns by the 4 year old (!!!) and while he virtually stood on his chair yelling, “Pow!  Pow!  Pow!” I had to fight my every instinct to crawl under the table or smack that cookie out of his hands and politely asked him to please refrain from such boorish behaviour and to recall that God was watching him from above and so every single Octonaut toy would be confiscated by Him, never to be returned again.

Seemingly, everything was now in the “all clear” and I could return to the task at hand:  research for one of my volunteering commitments.  When all of a sudden, I heard a light rustling…and a little bit of a ‘crack-crack’.  Then that sweet, sulphuric, signature smell that can only mean one thing…an egg that would never make it to the egg wars.  Staring down both of my children, asking them to reveal to me who had broken the egg, they looked at me with those cherubic eyes and swore it wasn’t them.  So I turned, and right next to me was a bag, which formerly housed the cross cookie (now gone), filled with none other than ruby coloured eggshells, used tissues, and all sorts of other garbage…there on MY bread plate left by a neighbouring dinner companion!  This person had also hijacked my fork and was ever-so-slightly inching her seat over so that my claustrophobia started to kick in!

I felt grossly violated – at least my personal space did.  In an effort to avoid an absolute meltdown, I buried myself in my phone – from Instagram and Facebook to the new Realtor App (always getting ideas…) and Houzz – and neglected much of what was going on around me.

I began to block things out and in turn, found solace.  So what if I couldn’t be enjoying the sun, watching the world go by at a café with a latte in hand, so what if I was on automatic pilot and had responded to the dozen or so questions from my children about when the dinner would finally be served or for that matter, what we would be having for dinner, and so what if I was blatantly bribing them to stay put, stop using the cross cookies as guns and stop asking about the egg fights that they could stay up later and watch the shows they’d missed since they had to be at this event.  I was trying to survive.  Until…

Lo and behold, all of a sudden, I came face-to-face with the priest – and unfortunately I was the one uncensored.  My face was frozen in a weird sort of scowl slash look of disgust as I thought long and hard about the contents of that bag now on my bread plate, the lady at the next table making strange pucker faces at a baby who probably couldn’t see farther than its own hand and didn’t have the neck muscles to turn away, and the smell of cigarettes that somehow kept wafting over thanks to a group of “young adults” that kept ducking outside for a quick smoke making my throat constrict and my eyes water.  Had he been alerted by the “higher-ups” of my uncharitable thoughts?  Had God himself sent him over to remind me that there are more important things than my sense of space or my laundry list of things to do?  Either way, there he was, right in front of me.

I don’t consider myself a religious person.  But I do believe that there is something greater than us all.  Connecting us all.  And the thought that there is someone that watches over me and keeps me from, well, I’ll just call them life’s great burdens, is comforting.

96 hours after listing all of my “grand plans” I have accomplished nearly nothing…but I did watch the 7 year old make it as a finalist in the egg wars and the 4 year old try and skip stones at the beach afterwards while Mr. Niceguy and I took stock of our present.  I think I’ll hang out here, in procrastination station just a little while longer…although wait, what’s for dinner?!

sign from heaven

Battle of the Sexes!

This week I have thought a great deal about the never ending battle of the sexes…and I’ve concluded, women win.

We survive continuous changes from puberty to our death, and we do it in stride!  Women are reminded virtually every 28 days of a “weaker state” yet we overcome.  We can bear another human being.  We can go through “the change” and still come out the other side while physiologically, the greatest challenge a man has is his daily routine of shaving a beard.

Now I’ve completely distilled it.  I’ve used a trump card that can’t be beat.  I realize this may be fighting dirty but I know I’m right.  For this week I have endured.  I have lasted.  I have won.

I have been ruminating about the battle of the sexes because I’ve been surrounded by two, very feverish children with undulating colds and a very ill Mr. Niceguy, poor, sweet Mr. Niceguy, who has been in a state of malaise.  And at every turn I have been met with one runny nose or another and the fear that every surface is contaminated with germs and so I must guard not to touch, sit, eat, smell or even look at anything!  Still, after a very extended weekend in our virus-laden house, I have endured.  I refuse to succumb to the illness that has gripped every male person in my household.  And I have concluded, it must be because I AM A WOMAN!!

I am told, women have stronger immune systems and we eat better, are neater, better at organizing, etc.  Surely that can’t be the only claim to superiority?  No.  The battle between the sexes has been raging through the ages and here’s how an article in the Mirror begins:

Men joke that women can’t parallel park, women say men have all the emotional intelligence of a plank of wood…

male-vs-female-brainThe article actually does go on to cite that Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania found unique differences in brain connectivity between males and females:  male brains are structured for perception and coordination (like ducking if a ball was being thrown straight at them) while the female brains are wired for coordination between analysis and intuition (like examining evidence in a high profile crime case and knowing when your client is lying to you).

Essentially, we are two different species when it comes to how our brains work.  But like the article asks, who’s best?  I’m quite certain it will (unjustly) be a tie…

From the standpoint of intelligence – women win.  They have been scoring higher and higher scores on IQ tests and likely that is due to the fact that we, as women, have had to deal with greater complexities in the last century such as juggling family life while building a career.  Male brains are also adapting to the faster moving modern world, however not at the same pace as women’s.

Women also win when it comes to medicine – female doctors are said to be more cautious in that they order more vital tests, more likely to prescribe the right drugs and essentially, are less likely to tell a patient to swallow two Tylenols and call back in the morning.  I can’t say I’m one to speak on this as I’ve known great male and female doctors…but yay, another point!

We know women are great multitaskers – after all, they have to be.  And this may be an unfair challenge, but take it from me, as a woman, sometimes I wish multitasking was not an inherent, ingrained requirement.  Having said that, we win.    We are superfast at making dinner, doing homework, paying bills, writing up proposals and preparing lunches for the next day…ALL AT ONCE.

What I didn’t know, and was so happy to read about, is that we make great bosses – this is because I am bossy and now I have validation.  Truth is, however, that female bosses are fairer and make decisions that are more likely to benefit all stakeholders (also, if you don’t believe me or the Mirror, the International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics found that female-influenced companies are generally more successful than those dominated by men).  Hear that?  Stand up women and let’s take over the world!

brain scanHere’s where we lose: at throwing, driving (WHAT?!), sleeping (no surprise) and at boozing.  Hmm…so what if I can’t throw a ball like Blue Jays’ pitcher, R.A. Dickey?  And ok, apparently men’s brains are better than women’s at visualizing 3D images which helps when it comes to parallel parking – I would like to add here that I am the QUEEN of parallel parking, even with my oversized Mom-UV!  Truth is, in general, I do have to agree with this one.  And sleeping – why of course men are better.  Remember that multitasking thing?  That doesn’t just shut off because it’s 11pm and time for bed…  And as for boozing.  I had to laugh – I am the cheapest date!  Apparently it’s because men are full of more water and so do a better job at metabolizing alcohol.  So touché, besides, I’m full of more brains…

So that’s it and just as I predicted – 4 to 4.  But is this really an even split?  I mean, can we weight these?  Surely intelligence must count for more than throwing?  Unless of course you had to “throw” a lasso to swing yourself out of a burning building?  But dare I ask, how would you know whether a lasso would be the thing to throw if it were not for intelligence?  Am I being too petty?

Uh-oh.  What’s that?  *cough, cough*  My throat is feeling scratchy.  My eyes are tearing up and watery.  Oh…I feel so tired, my body hurts, my head hurts…oh no!!  Can it actually be a TIE?

timthumb

Sisters before misters

We’ve all heard the term, “Bros before hoes”…how about, sisters before misters?  We too have an unwritten rule of backing up our girlfriends and not being sellouts…

Some time ago, I was out and about with Mr. Niceguy at a park.  And though I’d love to say we were alone and were on a romantic stroll, gazing into each other’s eyes, whispering sweet nothings, and getting ready to settle down for poetry over a nice picnic with some beaujolais, baguette and brie…the reality was that we were chaperoning our children which meant screaming at one not to throw sand at the other kids in the sandbox, while pushing the other for what felt like an eternity on the swings while having this type of conversation:

Me:  Hey, how was your day?

Mr. Niceguy:  Hmmph.

Me:  Did anything interesting happen at work?

Mr. Niceguy:  Nope.

Me:  How are the markets?  Are they up?  Are they down?  Are they up and down?  (tee-hee)

Mr. Niceguy:  Yup.

Me:  So things are going well then?  TSX hit a new high?  Or they could be better?  Markets still reacting to Russian aggrandizement?

Mr. Niceguy:  Huh?  Ya.  Hey, what are we doing for dinner?  Where are the boys?

frustrated-momSo, it can be a nice change to run into other parents at the park.  I find it’s a good way to have some adult social time and to commiserate.  After all, how else are we supposed to get through the sleepless nights, the teething, the terrible twos, the not wanting to wake up and go to school, the nagging and whining and all that other not-so-great stuff?

While children are definitely one of life’s greatest joys, let’s be real…all good comes with some bad and having a support system to deal with some of their curve balls is an absolute must!

Anyway, on one such occasion we met a couple while at the park.  The conversation flowed freely and we were all enjoying ourselves, reveling in the happenstance for adult time while the children ran around, until the moment when the woman from the couple had to tend to her tantrum-having-toddler and her spouse came over and made a slight complaint to me…about her!  I was completely taken aback.  Now while what he said really wasn’t a big deal, it was really weird – not only because we’d just met but also because it felt like I’d been transported right back to high school, like to an episode of Glee – yes, I still watch it, and did you see Gwyneth last week?  She was AWESOME – where I was now put in a position of “high drama” and “inner conflict” and had to figure out “the right thing to do”…  My inner monologue started to work overtime as I broke out into a cover song and dance routine in my head.  Hadn’t this guy heard about “sisters before misters”??  Didn’t he know the code?  Things just got a little too intimate…

Now let me explain what I mean when I say, intimate.  Not intimate like being intimate with a loved one in the bedroom when you’re…well, NO!  Intimate like when you’re getting ready for a very important first meeting so you try and retry outfit after outfit and finally settle on a cute skirt paired with a sweater and booties that will carry you from that meeting to an après work drinks party that you just got invited to and can’t miss because since you left your middle-management-downtown-financial-district-career, gone are the days of regular Thursday night drinks and throwback parties where the beers are bankrolled and you don’t just talk about homework and compare extra curriculars but bitch about bosses, new initiatives and unreasonable work expectations.

After all that daydreaming, you realize that you’re going to be late and so no more revisions on the last outfit iteration and off you race to the subway (which before, was the bane of your existence, but now, an out-of-the-norm treat) only to realize when you get on the train that your sweater shrunk more than you thought after you freshened it up in the dryer (bloody merino wool and bloody hard-to-set-dryer-timer!!) and that you’re going to have to sit through an entire quasi-interview / meet-and-greet / bacon-to-my-bread meeting fidgeting with a now very tight and itchy crop top and though you try your best, you are no match for nature and you flash your still-not-washboard stomach and belly button to the utter amazement and surprise of not just you, but the prospective employer.  THAT kind of intimate.  (Oh, and true story by the way)

So how does one respond?  By now, I believe I’ve expressed (in rather eloquent detail, if I do say so myself) that while I can have the strongest of opinions, I can also be a cowardly jellyfish – I responded from a place of great surprise in between nervous giggles:  “Oh, ha ha.  OK.”  And while that would’ve normally been enough, the puzzled look on his face revitalized me enough to say, “Well, to each his own.  I think she’s doing a great job.” And walked away.  Though we’re not in high school anymore, it’s still sisters before misters…except where Mr. Niceguy is concerned, of course!

frozen sisters

 

‘D’ is for Double-standard…

Earlier this evening, Mr. Niceguy was preparing dinner – once again relieving me.  And I think mostly because I’ve been subjecting the family to fat free, low cal, protein and veggie rich fare which totally goes against his constitution.  That, and I’m officially off pasta (at least, most of the time…ok, as best as I can…all right I limit it to no more than two intakes a week unless there’s leftovers and well, then, it’s just wasteful if you don’t finish things off).  And Mr. Niceguy, like most guys I know, LOVES a meaty, hearty, saucy pasta.

We decided that two dinners would be better as I had indulged a little during the afternoon siesta with some salt and vinegar flavoured ‘chackers’ (part chip, part cracker?) so while he prepared his hearty pasta for himself and the boys, I prepared a nearly fat free  egg white and veggie omelet in my new, white ceramic non-stick pan.  And while dicing the veggies I blurted, “Oh wow.  Tomorrow’s this guy’s birthday that I used to have a massive crush on when I was 17!  I wonder what he’s up to…”

And I thought to myself – if similar words had come out of Mr. Niceguy’s mouth things would’ve gotten pretty ugly tout suite…and therein lies the inherent double standard.

I find men and women to be very different on this point.  And before I offend my kind, I’m just putting it out there as it is…for me…and if many a woman’s willing to admit it….probably for you too.   As a woman, there is nothing more off-putting to me than the walk down memory lane about the relationship that never was with the girl that was just too cool or just a snick out of reach.  That perfect girl next door, or perhaps that exotic exchange student.  The girl who was just so laid back and effortless.

On average, it takes me at least 20 minutes just to get going in the morning.  Up, a quick surf on the iPad (I have an addiction which may be the subject of another entry someday), run through outfits in my mind (black top, short skirt?  Too tarty for work…grey pants and white shirt?  Too dull.  Sweater dress with stilettos?  Hmmm….just the right blend of daring and demure).   Then comes the debate about washing or not washing my hair, full make up or natural look (both take the same amount of time…don’t kid yourselves and when you get to my age…there’s no such thing as truly au naturel), and then on to the jewelry…

I guess what I’m saying here is that I’m totally high maintenance and as laid back as I may seem about certain things – like I’m a hamburger and French fries kinda gal over a fancy four-course meal – there’s no way I would ever consider myself “easy-going.”

At best, I’m diplomatic with a dash of crazy.

So when conversations about the past come up, I have a very predictable response:  at first, I’m easy going, effortless and laid back.  But it doesn’t take long for the crazy to come out…

Me:  “So, umm….tell me about your university days…how many serious girlfriends did you have?”

Mr. Niceguy:  “Uh…I dunno.  I can’t really remember.”

Me:  Getting slightly hot under the collar.  “What do you mean you can’t remember?  Think…first year?  Anyone caught your eye?  Or when you were graduating?  Anyone you thought you’d take the plunge with?”

Mr. Niceguy:  “Why?  I mean, who cares?”

Me:  “Well, I’m just trying to get to know you better.”  Feeble.  Totally weak.  “Seriously?  You can’t remember?”

Mr. Niceguy:  “Well, there was that girl in high school that I also dated while I was in first year.  I think she became a doctor.”

Me:  Interrupting – “Really?  Who?  That girl with the dark hair?  A doctor?  Was she even good looking?  Did your parents meet her?  Did they like her?  What did your friends think?  Did you think you were going to marry her?  What was so great about her?  Did she hang out in your dorm room?”

Mr. Niceguy:  “Well, we didn’t last.  And after her…well, I can’t really recall.  There were some girls…but not any really serious girlfriends.”

Me:  Internally screaming, WHA???!!!!!!!  “Oh, that’s nice.  Ya…who would want to get serious during university?  I mean, sheesh, I would tell our boys not to get too serious too…”

Mr. Niceguy:  “Well, there was that one girl.  The ballet dancer.  I met her during a school trip.  I always wondered about her afterwards…”

Me:  HMMMPPPFFF.  Why did I start this conversation??  A ballet dancer no less…  “Well, if it means that much to you, you should just look her up and see what happened.”  Maybe she put on 60 pounds and drives a school bus!

So what happened right after I uttered those words while cooking side-by-side with Mr. Niceguy should come as absolutely no surprise:  nothing.  Silence.  And a smile while continuing our efforts to get dinner on the table.  Plus the realization, on my part, that perhaps next time I could extend the same kind of courtesy to Mr. Niceguy and not poke and prod him into revealing things that are perhaps better left unsaid…but then where’s the double-standard in that?

jealousy

I’m a convicted felon!

Well, not quite…but I sure do feel that way…bridget1

About ten months ago I parked in a spot I really shouldn’t have, for a reason that probably wasn’t good enough…I had found the perfect dress for a very fancy wedding but when I went to pick it up, there was no parking to be found, except…

After swearing to Mr. Niceguy that I had absolutely nothing to wear, and scouring most of the stores near my work for an option (or two?), I ducked out of the house earlier than I had promised (okay, escaped) for a meeting I had to attend.  Even the MOST quintessential multitasker can use a few extra minutes!

What Mr. Niceguy along with most men don’t understand is just how difficult it can be for a woman when it comes to events.  No, I cannot just change my tie and therefore the whole outfit is new.  I have spent literally hundreds and thousands of dollars on dresses that have only been worn once or twice – I’ve even been known to buy a replacement dress or outfit just hours before because it was more perfect than the one originally intended!  But I digress…

My route was clear…no real traffic (given the horrible snowy weather) and I was in front of the store before I knew it…destiny was on my side!  But, destiny knows that I like a challenge and so despite my easy travels to the store, there was nowhere to park.

At that time, I was nursing an extremely painful injury sustained after a car accident which had resulted in sciatica; on most days, the pain would be a constant reminder of that single event.  So, ignoring my better judgment, I pulled the car into one many empty handicap spots rather than park significantly farther away.

I felt very guilty doing it, but the pain that radiated from my back, to my butt cheek and all the way down to my ankle was all the justification I needed – that and some quick thinking on my part as I called the store and informed the salesperson that I was going to jump in for a quick swish-swipe of my card and to please have everything packaged up for me and ready to go!

Upon entering the store I didn’t waste a single moment:  I handed over my card and voila!  I was with outfit.  With a very large smile across my face, I started on my way out of the store…but then something shiny caught my eye…a beautiful, bejeweled belt.  And surely this belt would really make my dress pop! Surely this belt was the finishing touch; the subtle green colour of the jewels would be a nice contrast to my dark hair and olive skin.  And after all that I’ve been through, don’t I deserve the opportunity to look really good?  Don’t I deserve the right to dazzle?  Ahhhh…the way the light reflects off the belt…it’s perfect! 

A second swish and a swipe later, I walked out feeling complete.  Realizing that I had spent much more time picking up my outfit than originally intended, I picked up the pace and started to rush back to my car as best as I could…only, Oh.  My.  God.  To my absolute horror, I saw a police officer the size of a house come into view after looking at the dash of my car.  I could feel the red heat rise up from my chest.  My hobble turned into a full-on limp run (picture Captain Hook running on his wooden leg), my garment bag dragging in the slush, bejeweled belt clasped in hand and I made it, right to my car door!!

Panting, totally out of breath, hair sticking to my face and cheeks flushed from the biting cold, I tried to compose myself and sweetly greeted the officer with a pleading look on my face…

But just one look told me that baby, although my dress was the bee’s knees and the cat’s pajamas, my goose was cooked, see.  This officer was the real McCoy, totally on the level, and wasn’t about to bend any rules for this doll, you hear?

In other words, like Bridget Jones in Thailand, I was totally screwed.

Bridget Jones in jailAnd more than 11 months after the fact, I finally made it to court.  The road was not easy – what with the occasional night sweats and the fear of the book being thrown at me.  But more than that, I truly felt bad for what I had done – the guilt that I may have taken a spot from someone who couldn’t even hobble…the atonement felt like justice being served.  But my reality was even more impactful.

On the day of my trial, I matched my demure outfit with my feelings of regret and attended court.  I stood in line with all of the other rule breakers.  And while I thought that I’d be surrounded by a motley crew of real evil doers, they were people just like me…my imagination had run wild and I’d forgotten – this was only traffic court.  From my seat in the middle of the courtroom I shyly looked around and saw him:  the house of a police officer.  I remembered that moment all over again.  How he wouldn’t let me explain.  And next to the terror and remorse that washed over me came just a little bit of anger for not having been heard.

To my relief, the prosecutor announced a massive reduction in fines for the guilty.  And while I waited to be called to the bench, relieved that I would tell my story and the “house” would have to listen, the most unexpected thing occurred…

Together with a handful of others, I was moved to a different courtroom, where a different justice of the peace was dealing harsher punishments than to what any of us had agreed.  And probably against better judgment, this time I found my voice.  This time I explained my situation.  And feeling a renewed sense of courage I explained that although I was guilty, I’d already come to terms with the reprimand of the other court.  At which point I was told that I should have simply applied for a permit and was lucky to not be receiving the full punishment of the crime.

And in a moment of absolute clarity, I agreed.

 

 

Pride and Prejudice…the spincycle version

One of my all-time favourite movies is Pride and Prejudice – the BBC version.  I’ve seen it more times than I can remember and at first, I thought the title should’ve been, “The Charming Mr. Darcy” (swoon).  But after watching it many, many more times, I came to appreciate its meaning…how both Elizabeth Bennett (the heroine) and Mr. Darcy both prejudged each other given their circumstances and ingrained thinking.  In the end, they realize that their prejudices were ill-found…

It’s just past 7:30 and I’ve decided to skip the 3 year old’s soccer game this morning  and instead decide to lounge around…beep-beep-beep-beep…

Hmmm…it’s Saturday.  Who could be texting??  I can’t really be bothered…I mean, it’s the weekend…everyone should just chill and relax, like me.  I can be the Queen of Relaxation – when I want to or more like, when I allow myself – I can be so good at it.  Mr. Niceguy has taken care of everything and the 7 year old is downstairs playing video games (sue me, it’s summer vacation).  Beep-beep-beep-beep…

Why does it keep beeping?!  It’s breaking my focus.  My concentration.  My zen.  Oooommmmm….

Beep-beep-beep-beep…

Ooooooommmmmmmm…..

Beep-beep-beep-beep…

OOOOOMMMMM!!!!!!!!!…..

BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP…

OK!  OK!  I’ll just check it…OH NO!  Texts from my mommy friends…Oh.  My.  God!!!  The playdate is TODAY and I forgot that I was supposed to get up early and prepare!  Quick scan fridge…nothing.  Pantry….nothing.  Basement pantry….boxes of mac & cheese and our emergency if-the-world-comes-to-an-end cans of chili and space age/military grade, vac sealed meal replacement kits that Mr. Niceguy bought from some kind of disaster readiness website.  How could I let this happen?!  Incidentally, I’m more ready for the end of the world than I am a playdate!

Not a problem.  I can put it into full gear – besides, I’ve had a few hours minutes seconds to relax.  I am recharged, refreshed and raring to go!

T-minus 1hr 45mins:  In car, 7 year old in tow, pull up to grocery store.  Veggies, fruit, cheese, bag of chips (again, summer, sue me), juice, and a diet coke for me.

T-minus 1hr 30mins:  Need more caffeine!  Hit up a Starbucks…can’t do the day without my latte fix!

T-minus 1hr 24mins:  I wonder…if I add up all the time I wait for the baristas to prepare my lattes how long would that be…and why can’t they ever get my name right?? What if I started pulling some Bart Simpson name pranks…

T-minus 1hr 23mins 30secs:  REALLY?!  I don’t have time for this!!!  NEED MY LATTE!!

T-minus 25mins:  At home.  Fruit chopped, veggies chopped, cheese cut, house tidied up, beds made, teeth brushed (I had no time!), hair straightened (this could be a blog topic all on its own) we’re ready.

T-minus…THEY’RE HERE.  Kids all run into the basement and chaos ensues!  And moms can all relax, put their feet up, and dish!

I’ll digress now and say that I have chronic foot-in-mouth-itis.  I frequently say things that I shouldn’t say…and consequently, do things that I shouldn’t do.  For example, when kicked under the table to keep quiet or go along with something, I have often blurted out, “hey!  Whatchya kick me for?”  And after each occasion, I remember that perhaps I should’ve tried to be a little more incognito – and perhaps I should remember that my actions (and lack of discretion) result in the “outing” or inconvenience of someone else.

Sometimes I’m like a toddler with no filter.  I chalk it up to honesty and being an open book, but one mustn’t forget about tact…

So at this playdate, a few weeks ago, I said something I really shouldn’t have said.  Something that I didn’t even realize was in me.  And I remember the moment, the instant the words were out of my mouth:  I felt hot, I felt a flush rising from my chest to my face and head – I felt so uncomfortable that I just wanted to black out (like that may have been an easier out and I could’ve blamed my momentary lapse in judgment on something medical).  What I really wanted to do was to rewind, go back in time, and never utter those words which were made so carelessly and without any cognition. Thankfully when I apologized, she accepted my apology.

This was all the result of an ill-conceived bias…like group think and blindly following along with a majority’s views.  Like being under compulsion (Vampire Diaries reference here…and yes, I’m still addicted).  It can make an appearance at the most unexpected times – and when it’s someone like me, with no filter, it really can pop out of nowhere.

For example, when walking into someone’s house for the first time and there’s underwear in the middle of the floor.  Look, this really has happened to me and it made me feel totally uncomfortable.  It made me question what I thought about that person. Like who leaves their underwear on the floor knowing that they’re expecting company?  Who??  Feels a little intimate…no?

And now I was the one that had dished out the uncomfortable.  I was the one that had put someone else in a very awkward position.  I was the one who had “left underwear on the floor.”  And for a penance, have been feeling absolutely horrible – despite remedying the situation.  I’ve totally beaten myself up and cringe every time I replay that careless, awkward moment.  (You know that face…the “oooh” smush face and shrugging of shoulders made when thinking about it.)

But I think it’s time to move on and time to take it a little easier.  We all make mistakes and hopefully, we learn.  After all, that’s what I would tell my boys.  That, and I am fortunate that my mommy friend could look beyond this one instance.  She has taught me the lesson of being more gracious – and she was tolerant of my toddler-like ways.  Just like Elizabeth Bennett changed her views when she ran into Darcy after he had taken a swim in his “underthings”, the next time I see underwear on the floor, I swear to be more discrete, shrug it off and not jump to any conclusions…oh, and save everyone’s pride, including my own.

PRIDE-AND-PREJUDICE-1995_400

Charlie’s Angels…all rolled into one!

A very dear friend of mine, let’s call her Madeline, or Maddy for short, is one of a group of 5 (and sometimes 6) known for their sense of humour, perspective, inner (and outer) beauty and overall capability…she is a friend that I met once I became a mom.  And I have her to thank for the latest of my over-analytical queries…thanks Maddy.

In one of our more recent conversations, Maddy reminded me about how she always got stuck playing “the brainy one” of the Charlie’s Angels while she was growing up.  And that got me thinking about myself…and my cousins’ basement.  For as long as I can remember, my cousins’ basement was the absolute coolest place to be.  My VERY cool aunt allowed her two daughters to completely annex the basement of her house which meant that posters and magazine tear-outs covered every square inch:  Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp (circa 21 Jumpstreet), James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Star Wars and the Dukes of Hazzard (with the original Bo and Luke Duke along with Daisy, of course).  And in one corner, the absolute perfect poster of the original Charlie’s Angels:  Sabrina Duncan (the brainy one), Jill Monroe (played by the one and only Farrah Fawcett – the tough, resourceful one) and Kelly Garrett (the really pretty one akin to a damsel in distress).  And while Maddy had to be Sabrina, my cousins were gracious enough to let me be Kelly.

Kelly had long, bouncy hair, she wore the very cool bell bottomed jeans and cute tops – my version of a Disney princess – smart, with cool martial arts moves and able to handle a gun.  I could swear that without realizing, I have aspired to be her ever since (minus the gun part)!  So this got me thinking about a couple of things…first, who are the role models for our children today?  I mean, there’s the obvious:  Iron Man, Spiderman, Merida (Brave), Rapunzel, Cinderella, etc. but what if your kid’s really, really into Spongebob??!!  Are you screwed?

And then…isn’t it interesting the way TV shows always portray women in groups with one overly dominant trait or characteristic?  We already covered Charlie’s Angels, but here’s what I mean:

  • Sex and the City:  (the pinnacle of all shows, if you ask me)  Charlotte (prim, sweet), Miranda (brainy), Samantha (ballsy…in more ways than one) and Carrie (outgoing and flighty)
  • 90210 (original):  Brenda (dominant and easily swayed), Kelly (the pretty one), Donna (the comedic, not-so-smart one), Andrea (the brainiac)
  • 90210 (revival):  Annie (original main character, easily swayed and sweet), Silver (broody, philosophical, smart), Naomi (resourceful, younger Samantha), Adriana (artsy and troubled)
  • Golden Girls: Dorothy (smart and manly), Blanche (the original Samantha but super sweet and southern!), Blanche (the original naïve blonde) and my favourite, Sophia (tough)

And there’s more!  From Lipstick Jungle to Designing Women, and even Keeping up with the Kardashians!  Surely we’re a lot more complex…

At what point do we start identifying with just one characteristic?  And why are they always cute?

What if you’ve had a morning like the one I’ve had?  I need these characters to identify with:  angry, disappointed, raging, crazy!  Better yet, disgruntled, disenchanted and disenfranchised…or unmotivated, bitter and haggard.  Too much?  You be the judge.

Last night, after organizing one of the most perfect days for my two boys (playdate at a best friend’s house, surprise trip to Toys R Us, staying up waaaaaay past bedtimes and extra video game time, etc.) I had to wrestle them to bed (I can feel judgement here:  I admit, I spoiled and wound them up with all the great stuff during the day and they weren’t prepared for it to end).  Unfortunately, I was then too tired for Thai takeout, TV and QT with my cutie.

No mind, dugout seats at the Jays game on the agenda today.  So I wake up with a little bit more energy and excitement, tell Mr. Niceguy that I’m ok with both kids on my own so that he can run an errand (my birthday’s around the corner and I’m fiercely collecting brownie points!) and within moments things start to unravel…more wrestling as I struggle to get the 3 year old in a “tidy” outfit – no Angry Birds, Skylanders, monkeys or monsters, for the big game today.  What should have been a 30 second exercise took at least 10 minutes and was laced with crying, shouting, exclamations of wanting daddy, throwing, flailing on the floor…and he did all those things too!!!  Oh boy.  And there was still one more child in the house to get ready…

I take a moment to collect myself…brush teeth, wash face, moisturize…wait, what’s THAT?!  I swear I am being mocked.  Not only did I wake up with an extra bushy head of frizzy hair (which the shower took care of) but a gigantic ZIT in the middle of my nose.  And OUCH, it hurts!  It’s not even a superficial zit.  What if I’m on the jumbotron????  OMG.  Now I’m really going to start identifying with those girls on 90210…

But, I manage to put it aside. And I catch my breath.  And after a very quick 15 minutes I can actually look in the mirror, admire my quick work and say, not bad.  And in the meantime, the 7 year old gets dressed without hesitation and my little guy apologizes, unprovoked, for his earlier tantrum….could things be turning around?

I know I can be crazy.  I know I can get angry and bitter, unmotivated and disenchanted.  And I also know I can be brainy and ballsy along with sweet, naïve, flighty, artsy and indecisive.  And given the time, I can pull it together like Kelly Garrett too…and I’m not alone.  As a renaissance woman, which so many women are, we are charged with so much and if we’re going to thrive, we have to be able to play not just one or two characters, but so, so many more…

I’m feeling good, I’m feeling like Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte all rolled into one…except, when we head down for a late breakfast they both declare:  “We want to stay home today.  We don’t WANT to go to baseball!!!” @#$%.

Casting stones from glass houses…

This next piece is dedicated to a very talented graphic designer, Sho Demirjian, at Blue Mango Graphic Solutions.  Collaborating with her has resulted in this fantastic image which I think really encapsulates the “magic”…  Thank you.

Let me start by saying…I haven’t fallen off the 30-day challenge wagon!  130 squats, 80 crunches and a plank held for 140 seconds and I’m not feeling squished in my jeans…on my way to bikini beach ready!  Things really seem to be going my way…

But no.  Massive signal problems for the subway so once again I squish my way onto the train.

Generally speaking, I like to mind my own business on public transportation…you never know who (or what) you may encounter – I have been shouted at, shoved, knocked over, asked what planet I was from, and run into all sorts of other people I “should” remember.  So this particular morning, I have my nose buried in my latest favourite book (Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella – I just can’t put this down!!) when I overhear a conversation:

“Oh hi Cindy?  Cindy, it’s Mike.  Cindy, I’m on the subway.  I’m just at Eglinton Station.  There are signal problems on the Yonge-University-Spadina line and so I’m definitely going to be late.  I guess I’ll just miss the meeting and catch up with everyone later.”  Only, we weren’t at Eglinton Station…we were much farther along.

This man, this “Mike”, had lied and I thought, wow, what a dishonest individual…how shameful.  And he didn’t even care that everyone else around him had heard his lie – we had all become his accomplices!  And for some reason, I felt horrible for this poor Cindy especially when, no exaggeration, two stops later, he made the call again and once more lied about his location.

I was thrilled when the train finally arrived at my destination and I jumped off…

LUNCHTIME!!!  Standing in line, waiting to order a sandwich and two I-bank types (you know these guys…über confident wearing the most fashionable Strellson and Brooks Brothers suits with great hair and abnormally white teeth) just stood in the middle of a very busy food court and like peacocks who fan their feathers to intimidate and attract at the same time, start talking in very loud, booming voices about what they feel like eating, the people they know, the weekends they had, and so on, and so on, and so on – each was trying to one-up the other.  They’re attracting a lot of attention.  Oh brother.  It’s like watching Thor and Superman posture for the title of Greatest Superhero of Bay Street.  Only the gig is up – they’re neither!  Please.  Besides, I’m a fan of Spiderman…Peter Parker is ever so sweet and humble – and I can totally relate his spidey senses…a combination of female intuition and my “mom radar”!

Work complete…rush home…prepare dinner for out of town guests…can’t wait!  But…what’s this???!!  While sweeping the front steps, I witness a neighbour from around the corner leaving a little “gift” from his dog in my garden refuse bag…  I mean, I’m glad he didn’t leave it on the street, but to deposit your pet’s excrement in someone else’s garbage WHILE THEY ARE OUTSIDE AND IN YOUR FULL PURVIEW???!!!  Is there NO shame??  It’s not like it’s an empty coffee cup!

We’ve all been there, right?  We’ve all exaggerated or told a little white lie to get out of something?  We’ve all puffed out our chests and pretended to be more than what we are, no?  And certainly, we’ve all done something we knew we probably shouldn’t, but did it anyway for one reason or another. But how much thought have we given to what other people may think?  Should we not be more concerned with the impression we leave?  Should we not be more concerned with their judgement?

I continued to think of this the next day…en route to dropping my kids off at school.  When, to our surprise, we arrived at the school, which due to an unforeseen power outage, was closed.  So, doing what any other resourceful woman would do, I took them to work with me…downtown…on Bay Street…in an office full mostly of male accountants and finance types.  Not exactly a daycare.

A little background as I haven’t spoken too much about my work – I am a financier (aka financial advisor).  I build financial models, write business plans, develop financial strategy, and negotiate multi-million dollars in long-term debt using forward interest rate swaps, among other things. And on this particular Friday, I was hip deep in a particular transaction.  And I brought the almost 7 year old and 3 year old to work.  Without any preparation:  no diapers, no snacks, no colouring books, no iPad!!  And here’s what happened…

They tore through the hallways like it was a private racetrack…

They did NOT use their indoor voices…

They ran through nearly 100 sheets of paper and drew all over my desk and nearly my walls…

They raided the supply cabinet (I should’ve expected that one)…

They emptied out my goody drawer (emergency stash of chocolate and candy for late nights and complex model building fuel)…

They had aromatic bodily functions…

And worst of all, they started World War III while I was on a conference call…with my boss… and I couldn’t reach the mute button as they were precariously balancing on a swivel chair each trying to push the other off while drawing all over my white board!!  Oh, and did I mention?  My office is TINY and has a glass wall…it’s actually called a “fishbowl” office.  WE WERE ON TOTAL DISPLAY.

I was absolutely mortified.  Horrified.  I had done such a good job separating my personal and career life.  Though I have often spoken of my funny and crazy boys (not crazy insane, but crazy cute, or kooky) all I could think was what impression I was now leaving others with:

Wow…poor woman…those two are just insane…

Oh, another woman trying to climb the corporate ladder and have a home life…there’s a “balancing act” gone totally out of whack…

She really should do a better job controlling those kids…

Thank goodness I don’t have kids yet…

Oh brother.  I can’t tell you how fast I loaded up all the files I needed on my laptop and got the @#% out of there!  And as if that wasn’t enough…the shenanigans continued all the way to the car and that’s when I totally lost my marbles.  In the middle of the financial district I absolutely lost my mind and just let out all of the morning’s frustrations.  I did NOT care how I looked.  I did NOT care what people thought.  I did NOT care that I was now a spectacle.

And you know what?  Doing what I needed to do…what I wanted to do…well, it felt damn good.