Direct Corrleation

Remember that Oath that I wrote and sometimes repost for an internal reminder to adhere to it? I’ve learned that lesson again.

During the time I was going through my significant observation about my grief and recognizing that I was using my mom’s death to define me, and the need to let that go, I also found something that I haven’t really written about yet. I filled the void that was created in letting my mom’s death go with spirituality. Female spirituality. Mother Earth. Goddess. Priestess. Crone. And it changed me. I tapped into my inner strength and power that is within us all. I plan to write about this more in detail in another post when I know it’s time to share, but my initial way to practice this, is simply to read. Read books that my mom had read, and that her Sisters had suggested I read. And I did. And I felt content. And my friends made observations about me, in that they saw a change in me. And how I needed less of other “things”. And then the reading slowed when I started a new book that I couldn’t connect with right away. And then the old ways slowly showed themselves to me again.

But this was a lesson I needed to learn for myself. It’s like someone I know who is on meds for his mental illness. He takes the meds, feels well again, stops the meds and soon becomes sick again. I stopped taking my meds. But now I know that I need to always find the time for my relationship with the internal me. My meds. And then I will always have the support I need that is created by knowing my own strength and power.

I am writing this less for you, and more for me tonight. As a way to hold myself responsible for the choices I have been making and scolding myself for it. Because this isn’t who my Mother knows I am.

Who is our Goddess?

Behold, she is ourselves.

How Did Your Mommy Die?

Arrine and I got home later than usual today after work and daycare. We stopped at the grocery store for a few things before getting home. So while I was making a quick supper and putting away groceries and tidying – yes, my life is multitasking – Arrine was watching a bit of Frozen.

My hand was halfway to my mouth with a piece of roasted chicken when Arrine turned to me and said, with no previous discussion, “How did your mommy die?” I stopped. Put the chicken down, paused Frozen and went and sat by her on the couch.

I asked her why she was asking, and she just said that she forgot how she died. So I told her that my mom was sick and had a disease that the doctors couldn’t make better with medicine. And her brain was sick. And that’s how she died. And I told her that I missed her very much and I loved that she was asking about her. Because I love talking about her. Arrine then asked to see a picture of her. So I showed her some. And then I asked her if she had any other questions and she said, “No.” And started to hug Alby and that was it.

I am so blessed to have her as a daughter. I adore her. So much that my heart hurts.

Tickle

I found my journals that I kept while in the hospital with my mom and then for a few months after her death. I always love re-reading them. I always hate re-reading them.

Never before have I written out what are in these journals to share. Today I think I can.

Here is something I wrote on Wednesday, April 22, 2009. Entitled Tickle.

Tickle

Watching over her.

A tear swells from her eye.

It slowly moves along her soft cheek.

Towards her ear, where it collects with

the others that have hardened into her hair.

Normally I would brush it away for her.

Because I know the feeling of tickling tears.

 

While watching over her, I do not cry.

It isn’t until I am home.

Lying on my back, as she lies on hers.

Then a tear swells in my eye.

It slowly moves along my soft cheek.

I let it move on my own.

Feeling what she feels.

I can imagine the thousands of tiny feet

the tear has to manoeuvre down my face.

Each tiny foot leaving a streak behind, drying

into a crust. A crust that is so easy

to wash away, when the reason behind it

will never leave you.

 

I let as many tears fall as I

can handle.

Each one finding the path of least

resistance.

Like raindrops on the car window when

driving on the highway.

 

But then I wipe them away.

They tickle too much.

As I would wipe them away for her.

Image

 

Flaws (You Post One Pic Of Yourself In Your PJs And Everyone Goes Crazy)

I have a jumble of thoughts in my head, all connected…somehow. So here goes, writing without a plan or clear thought process.

I saw the most amazing show last weekend. I saw Bastille at Union Hall and it was by far, one of the best live shows I have ever seen. And I have seen a lot of bands play. It was the energy the band demanded from the crowd. And the crowd delivered. It was like we each had a private conversation with the band for the entire show, while being surrounded by hundreds of people. When they played Flaws, Dan walked through the crowd. He. Walked. Through. The. Crowd. And since then, I have had this tune on repeat. Literally, repeating on my iPod in the car and at work. It’s now a part of me. And it has made me really think about my Flaws and what I do with them. Are they on my sleeve? Or do I bury them? I wear my grief on my sleeve when it comes to this blog. And that has caused concern and judgment. I wear my openness on my sleeve when it comes to certain things I post on social media. And that has caused concern and judgment.

Regarding my grief, I have only censored myself when writing, when I felt I needed to respect other people’s privacy, or it was moments that I cherished and I really wanted to keep them as something special that only me and my mom knew. But this openness, and seeing into my life in one aspect, was an easy way for friends and family to worry more about me than they needed to. Looking back, I really was struggling, but it was what I needed to do for me to get where I am today. And I received more feedback, thanking me for sharing so deeply, as it helped others with their journey through losing someone. So I felt that I was doing more good than bad with my honesty.

Regarding social media, I censor myself A LOT! The thoughts I have sometimes I surprise myself. Where some would be quick to post, I keep those ideas private. Or I only private message my closest friends who I know would understand me and leave judgement at the door. Because they are just as weird as I am. But I still do post things that others find ease in quickly labelling me. And I know this happens, and I don’t think about it much, because I know that the friends and family who really KNOW me, like see me in person and actually interact with me, don’t attach those labels to me. And that’s all that matters to me.

And then this happened. I was mistaken for a stripper. Read my dear friend’s post here explaining what happened. I laughed really hard about it, but again, didn’t give it much major thought. The labelling came through a friend of a friend that I didn’t even know. Not a concern to me.

But then I shared a pic of me from a photo shoot where I was wearing my pyjamas. It is tasteful and beautiful and the photographer is a true artist with her work. But the pj’s show off my butt a little bit. But sharing that caused another discussion amongst my friends about perception. (Nic – I adore you.) And I was quick to defend myself, but at the same time taking their views to heart. Which made me think of Flaws and being a stripper. Is this connecting for you? It’s connecting for me…all over the place.

When my mom was in the hospital, she said she needed me to share her story so others learned from her experience. I felt I did that, but then it morphed into me sharing my story, so others could learn from my grief. Now that I have made such great progress with letting go of her death, I am still wrapped up in feeling I need to share myself  - to provoke and expand and challenge. In other ways besides my grief.

I am a mom. And I am proud of my motherhood. But I also like to drink beer. And get dressed up and go out and have a fab time with my friends. I am a professional, overseeing projects worth millions of dollars with teams depending on me, as well as maintaining the safety of people, property and the environment. But I also pole dance. I am a daughter, sister, cousin and daughter-in-law with defined roles in each of those. But I also like to look good, because it makes me feel good. And sometimes looking good, means there being pictures of me in my underwear, taken by a gifted photographer, floating around out there.

But of course I am not labelled on my mothering, career or character. I am a partying pole dancer who is more risqué than she should be. This is where I would love to go on another tangent about society’s views on women – successful, good-looking, strong women, but this post is already all over the place. Instead I will try to wrap this all up.

Flaws. I feel I wear my flaws on my sleeve. That being my grief. That being a mom who still makes time to maintain my identity as an individual a priority which is easily judged. But are those really flaws? I wouldn’t think so. Maybe? I think they are things that make me me – and are just things that people have strong opinions on.

So where do I go from here? Do I censor myself more with social media? Do I completely retreat? Do I still fight the fight I feel I live daily, breaking the ideas of what a female engineer with a child should be? (Again, that needs an entire other post).

For now I think I’ll just take some to reflect on this. Decide what is important to me. And how those decisions can affect my family, personal life and professional life.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Carole Radziwell, NYC writer and featured on RHONYC. It seems very appropriate here, don’t you think?

“If you’re going to talk about me behind my back, at least check out my great ass.”

******************

Flaws – Bastille

When all of your flaws and all of my flaws
Are laid out one by one
A wonderful part of the mess that we made
We pick ourselves undone

All of your flaws and all of my flaws
They lie there hand in hand
Ones we’ve inherited, ones that we learned
They pass from man to man

There’s a hole in my soul
I can’t fill it I can’t fill it
There’s a hole in my soul
Can you fill it? Can you fill it?

You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve
And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground
Dig them up; let’s finish what we’ve started
Dig them up, so nothing’s left unturned

All of your flaws and all of my flaws,
When they have been exhumed
We’ll see that we need them to be who we are
Without them we’d be doomed

There’s a hole in my soul
I can’t fill it I can’t fill it
There’s a hole in my soul
Can you fill it? Can you fill it?

You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve
And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground
Dig them up; let’s finish what we’ve started
Dig them up, so nothing’s left unturned

Oooooh
Oooooh

When all of your flaws
And all of my flaws are counted
When all of your flaws
And all of my flaws are counted

You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve
And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground
Dig them up. Let’s finish what we’ve started
Dig them up. So nothing’s left unturned

Oooooh
Oooooh

All of your flaws and all of my flaws
Are laid out one by one
Look at the wonderful mess that we made
We pick ourselves undone

 

Let Me Check My Chart…Yes. You’re Barren.

Ok, so those weren’t the exact words that the doctor used, but that’s what I heard.

I love being a mom. I love it so much it hurts. I feel the love and joy to my core. I actually feel the happiness through my veins because of Arrine. I enjoyed being pregnant. I loved the female strength that surged through me and the beautiful natural birth of our daughter. The reading and preparing and mental challenge pregnancy and birth presented me was such an empowering time. So naturally I would love to experience that again. And have more babies.

Because I am not in the position to have another baby right now, but know that I would want another one, I spoke with my family doctor last summer about fertility options. At the time she put my name in for a referral. I did my own research, thought about it a lot, and as the months passed, I came to accept that I wouldn’t pursue the fertility path. But when I got a call from the clinic almost 5 months later, I decided to still go to the appointment. So half a year later, I found myself being tested and tested some more. All because I know I will ache for another baby one day. And every time I was reminded that my partner needed to be at the appointment, I would reply, “It’s just me.” And usually they would pause and take a moment before they responded. I could imagine what they were thinking during that pause, but I pushed those thoughts out of my head.

After the tests, I had to wait another 3 months for my follow-up appointment. So last week when I went in (“Yes, it’s just me. I don’t have a partner with me”), I realized I had already been mentally preparing for the worst news. Because that’s what I seem to do in these situations. But even though I was expecting the worst, I was still shocked when the doctor reviewed my tests, wrote some notes in my file, and within a few minutes, looked up at me and said, “I wouldn’t recommend we proceed with any treatments. Your tests don’t show results where we would expect success.” And the tears came. He followed up by saying, “I’m not telling you that you can’t get pregnant naturally, it’s amazing what the body can do. Just the results aren’t positive enough for us to continue.” And in my head all I am hearing is, “MODERN MEDICINE CAN’T MAKE YOU PREGNANT. WE CAN PUT A MAN ON THE MOON BUT NOT KNOCK YOU UP.” And he said it again, “I am not ruling out a natural pregnancy.” But that didn’t stop the tears.

And that was it. What else is there to say? It was like an awkward break-up. But I asked him to write out what he just told me, the detailed medical lingo, so I would have my own copy of the information. And I thought that is what my mom would have done too. And the doctor apologized. And I said it was ok, it wasn’t his fault. And that was it. I walked out through that waiting room, with all the other nervous and anxious couples (two people, no single people), eagerly looking up to see who was coming out from seeing the doctor, being so hopeful to see happy results. But I hung my head and let the tears fall and let them see my pain. I wasn’t going to censor myself for them.

And then the memories of crying in a hospital came back full force. It took me to the times I would be walking out of the hospital in NB, just crying. Like it was a completely normal thing to do in public. And I did not care if people looked longer or felt pity for me or wondered why this girl was just openly crying while walking to her car. But I needed that at the time. Just an open release of emotion, otherwise it would have stayed inside and consumed me.

So a week has passed, and when I told my therapist about it today, he gave me some great things to reflect on.

1. Don’t Rationalize – Telling myself that another child just isn’t meant to be or wasn’t in my life’s plan, won’t allow me to properly grieve. I need to acknowledge that these feelings I am having are not misplaced and go through the process. Which led to the next point:

2. This Is A Real Loss – You can experience a loss of something that hasn’t actually happened. Meaning that even though I haven’t lost a conceived baby, it am feeling the loss of the idea and further plans I had for children. So I need to allow myself the time to grieve. Because so far, I have been rationalizing and setting aside the grief.

And that’s when I made a great observation. When my mom died, within a few months I was pregnant and I set aside my grieving process, unknowingly, to focus on my pregnancy and new baby. It wasn’t until Arrine was around a year old, when I started to have time to my thoughts again, when the grieving kicked in. And that’s what I had started to do it again. Put the loss I was just told aside, making excuses being busy with work and Arrine and my own personal life, and not allowing myself to really think about it. And feel it. I haven’t been letting me feel it.

So now I am going to feel it. Let it hurt. Allow the tears when they come. Go through the grieving process. I have the strength to do it, so I will.

Here’s a major difference between this situation and my mom though. I have hope. There was no hope with my mom. The disease was what it was. It wasn’t an illness where there was a chance of recovery. But I have hope that one day I will have a new little one who will fit in my arms perfectly. And as the doctor said more than once, he wasn’t telling me that I couldn’t become pregnant naturally.

PLUS – My mom didn’t start getting white hair until her late 50s!! And she aged beautifully. So I hope her genes that carried her youthfulness are a part of me now, and even if my results don’t show the ideal numbers for modern science, they are more than enough for what our Goddess needs.

Toddlers & Tiaras vs Tiger Woods

This question has come up a few times in the last few months when I have been chatting with other parents:

How do you know the difference between pushing your child and teaching them to follow through with their commitment?

For example, Arrine is in gymnastics and dance classes. The majority of the time she is excited to participate and listens and looks forward to class. But I remember a specific gymnastic night when she just wasn’t into it. She wouldn’t listen to her coach and kept coming over to me. And I told her, “If you don’t listen and behave, we will just go home.” And that we did. After a few tears and judgey looks from other parents, we packed up and headed home. She was tired and moody and I wasn’t going to fight with her on it. Nick has had a similar experience with dance too. Again, these are very rare occurrences, but when they do happen, how should we handle it?

I have vowed to never be a Toddlers &Tiaras mom, where I am pushing my daughter to participate in things she really doesn’t want to do. But what if I register her in dance next season and half way through she decides she never wants to go again. Do I just allow her to stop going? How does this teach values of commitment and dedication and being accountable? I do realize she is only four, but at what age do you need to be forceful with this? And I do really see promise in her as a dancer, and so does her instructor, so is Arrine really the best judge of what’s best for her right now? Since she is still just a young kid?

Then I think of Tiger Woods. His father was dedicated to his golf when Tiger was so young. I am sure there were days when Tiger didn’t want to practice – like c’mon, he’s a kid – but how did his father know to stay committed to his son? And how did he accomplish it without creating resentment between golf and Tiger and himself? You want your child to learn the importance of finishing something, but at what cost? Do you become a Toddlers & Tiaras mom and force them to finish out the season? And then try something new when the commitment is over?

Is it seeing the love of the activity within your child and knowing that sometimes they will have an off day and let it go? Is that what we need to know to keep pushing? Maybe it comes down to their age and what’s an appropriate expectation? 

I think this is the post where I have asked the most questions and never actually answered anything. So this is a good spot to stop writing.

I Quit My Job To Do What I Love To Do!!

Letting go of my mom’s death has made me forgetful. I know March is a hard month for me because this was the time of year when she made her last visit to Edmonton, and now looking back, I knew at the time something was so very wrong. And then her symptoms were so significant that my dad took her to the doctor. And when we had that time of the terrible unknown. And then the diagnosis. And then the hospital…and then death.

But this year, it’s like I am thinking about this time of year without really thinking about it. Past years I knew the exact dates of hospital visits, hospital transfers, diagnosis, the last time she spoke. Now I think I know the dates, but I would have to go back to past writings to know for sure. And I feel so content with this. Her death is not who I am anymore.

But while writing this, I had such an odd thought come into my mind – I miss that time in the hospital with her. But not because I miss her, that time was not “her”, because I miss the routine and lack of external responsibility. I wasn’t working. I had no child. The only person that I felt responsible for was my mom. And it was my choice to be with her. She had the nursing staff, she had my dad, I could have stayed in Edmonton. But I chose to be with her. I did what I wanted to do and didn’t let anything else guide me – worrying about my work, or how would I pay the bills, or what would others think. I just did what I wanted to do with no regard for social repercussion. And my stress was only from one source. It really was a carefree time for me, in a completely unconventional way. And I am amazed as I realize this as I write.

It was a time for me to read and write and sleep in and wear comfy clothes whenever I wanted to. I only had three shirts anyways, as that was all that I packed with me for a weekend visit to the hospital in Saskatoon and then I never went back home for over two months. People cooked for me. Or my dad went and got me lunch. And I took care of my mom. I learned about her and myself, even though she couldn’t speak and I still don’t know if she could understand me when I spoke to her. But that was my sole focus. And had no other job to do. And that’s what I miss. Just the choice to let all other aspects of your life go and concentrate on only one thing. At the time, that was my mom.

So many times you hear people say, “Don’t you wish you could just quit your job and do what you love to do?” And I never thought about it before, but I guess I have done that. I wouldn’t say that caring for your dying mother is an expected outcome for “doing what you love to do”. But I did love being in that role. It was my opportunity to learn the mothering skills at an accelerated pace from my mom, as I was learning to mother her, from her. And I would never change that.

See? This is the reason I write. Not for validation or control. It’s for starting to write about one thought and it takes you on a path of realization that you weren’t expecting. It was recently the Vernal Equinox. A time of rebirth. Spring. Leaving the darkness behind and moving towards the light. Seems fitting.

Happy Birthday To Me! (Sort of…)

So my mom’s birthday came and went this year. Past years I have been focused to write about it and do things that *she* liked to do. I took a different approach this year. I decided to do things that *I* like to do, turns out, they are pretty much what she would have done too. Haha. Go figure. But the mind frame was shifted, and that’s what is the important part.

Grandpa Charlie babysat the night before. So I got him to put Arrine to bed in my bed (that is very rare) because I wanted to cuddle with my kidlet all night. And since I wasn’t working the next day, we could sleep in together and have a lazy time waking up. Which we did. Then it was a bit of a rush to get her to daycare so I could make my 10:15am massage appointment. Then I had these plans to go shopping or go for lunch or make a pecan pie (I don’t think I have ever made one and there was a recipe in Canadian Living that looked amazing). But instead I came home, ate lunch, did laundry and some tidying, and then got into bed and watched hours of The Bletchley Circle on Netflix.

Then it was time to rush to my two dance classes for the night. And that was it! I like the idea of starting to celebrate it with Arrine and the rest of the family if the schedule allows for it. Just going for supper or something. I told Arrine it was Grandma Anne-Marie’s birthday and she thought that was cool, but there was no cake???? Confusing for an almost 4 year old.

Maybe next year when I don’t have dance in the evening…I guess we will see how I feel next year.

But look at this kid. How could you NOT want to cuddle with her on the eve of your dead mom’s birthday? :)

Arrine March 4, 2014

Are You In Education?

Arrine loves Cobs. It’s this delish bakery in our neighbourhood and she always asks to go. She loves the double chocolate scones and croissants. And the staff there are always so pleasant and friendly. Arrine always places her order and interacts with them on her own. There is a young man who was working there this weekend. I would guess he’s in high school and very personable. He asked Arrine how old she was and then more questions about her upcoming birthday party. He said he has younger sisters and that supported his easy connecting with Arrine.

Then he asked me, “Are you in education?” And I replied, “No. But both my parents were educators.” And he said, “Oh, that makes sense then. I have read studies about how children who have parents are teachers developed quicker and show increased intelligence. And your daughter is more advanced that my sisters.” 

And I said, “Oh. Ok. Thanks!” And then I ate my spinach and feta croissant without any guilt.

(Oh, and a shout out to my parents and Nick’s parents for making us and our daughter super smrt).

I Almost Died 2 Times and Lost My Computer Today

That title pretty much sums up my day.

This morning after dropping Arrine off at daycare and on my way to work, my car found its way between a stopped car and a light post, right up on a snow bank. The car in front of me stopped suddenly, I swerved to avoid rear ending the car and hit a snow bank. I only had inches on either side of me between the car and light post. Immediately i knew I would have to call AMA, because it felt like my little car’s wheels weren’t even touching  the road. But, after a few rocks forward and back, I was out. And amazed. And started to cry as I drove away, thanking my guardian angel.

After work Arrine and I were walking in a parking lot at the mall and an SUV started backing out fast and didn’t see us (or didn’t look). I was holding Arrine’s little hand and I yelled and pulled us both back, out of the way of the SUV. Another lady seeing it even cried out as well. So as we walked away unharmed and I was trying to slow down my heart rate, I thanked my guardian angel for the second time.

Then leaving the mall after picking up my laptop that needed work, I didn’t realize until we were walking outside that I left my laptop in the washroom! Poor little Arrine ran beside me, carrying her bubblegum ice cream as I raced back to the washroom, but with the concierge directly outside I saw it on the desk right away. Holy Hannah. Some kind woman found it and turned it into the desk for me. So for the third time, I thanked my guardian angel.

While walking back to the car, again, trying to settle down after the laptop incident, I thanked my mom and told her I owed her a lovely gift for her troubles today. Like wine.

Thanks mom. Love you.

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